Update to Freenode Press Release Statement

By thomas | Jun 12, 2021

We have now fully withdrawn from the Freenode Partnership. The below blog post will be kept for historical and referential purposes, though the vision remains unchanged.

Fosshost is a non-profit home and superstructure of FOSS projects. We provide a range of services to support, promote, advance, and underpin the global FOSS community, comprising 130,352 active open-source projects.

In twelve months, we have grown significantly, offering our services to more than 160 open-source projects, including x86 and AArch64 hosting, download mirrors, email/web and domain name hosting.

We currently have a PoP (point of presence) in more than seven countries globally, and major sponsors include developer cloud service provider DigitalOcean and ARM-chip maker Ampere Computing.

The Vision

Our vision is to be a pillar for the open-source community, acting as their trusted advisor, mentor and conservator, whilst ensuring FOSS projects can develop their concept, project or idea on a rock solid foundation.

  • To deliver world-class, no-cost, elastic FOSS hosting services in x86 and AArch64 architecture throughout the Fosshost Global CDN;

  • To provide guardian services to FOSS projects, including administrative, financial, legal and custodianship, allowing projects to focus on core development;

  • To provide financial support and grants to FOSS projects, to remove the barriers associated with developing and maintaining free, open-source software;

  • Champion and advocate FOSS by running networking events, creating volunteering and employment prospects, mentoring, and project pairing services to allow open-source developers to network and share resources.

Towards the end of May this year, Fosshost began a process to create an advisory Committee Board (ACB) that will report directly to our Board of Directors. The committee members invited thus far are leaders in open-source excellence, recognised for eminence, authority or seniority. These individuals are likely to have a substantial record of published work and public speaking and have contributed to advancing the knowledge and understanding of their chosen discipline.

We invite interested and well-qualified community members to apply to participate in our ACB and help advise future difficult decisions, such as those we write about here, today.

Recent Developments

On the 1st of June, 2021, we released a press statement called Freenode Partnership. The blog post articulated a collaboration with Freenode. The partnership was the culmination of several verbal discussions with Mr Andrew Lee, President of Freenode Limited.

Within the press release statement we briefly detailed the mechanics of the collaboration, using our experience in providing FOSS hosting services, and to further advise the current Freenode Management on how to develop the thriving online community that Freenode has been for the past 20 years.

When we announced the collaboration, many of you reached out to voice your concerns. The main reason for your feedback was that many in the community did not agree with Fosshost supporting Freenode.

As a UK-registered Community Interest Company (CIC), we are required to complete appropriate due diligence and governance processes when voting on significant organisational change.

As part of this process, and alongside the feedback from the community, we have reviewed our decision about the Freenode partnership. This process has taken some time to complete whilst we engaged outside professional services to provide an independent review and analysis of our actions.

On the 11th of June 2021, we formally asked all staff (volunteers who are not directors) to participate in a vote to understand their preference for the described partnership. The result was unanimous that we should end the partnership.

During the volunteer vote process, we informally reached out to Mr. Lee to inform him of the community feedback and position.

Mr Lee has been incredibly supportive of Fosshost. He has personally advised in writing on multiple occasions that these donations/gestures/support as shown to Fosshost have been philanthropic donations and clarifying they are not and were not the basis for a partnership between freenode and Fosshost. Further, when we reached out to share the consensus of our volunteers, prior to sharing this note with you, Mr Lee expressed only understanding well-wishes for our project, accepting that Fosshost must now relinquish the pursuit of the Freenode partnership. While we act now to align to the wishes of our volunteers and community members who ask that we retain a strict focus on our central mission of providing hosting and organizing support for projects, we do so candidly acknowledging that Mr. Lee has shown good faith and firm support toward our project throughout our conversations.

Freenode has applied to and been approved already for certain hosting services (not currently including any networked IRC nodes). Further, freenode remains welcome to apply for more/additional services in the future. Applications from Freenode, as from any project, must (and do) meet our published eligibility criteria. While some Fosshost staff may remain as volunteer Freenode Staff to help advise the development of the freenode IRC network, staff who volunteer with freenode do so outside of (and unrelated to) their commitments to Fosshost.

Concluding Remarks

We made mistakes as we started our dialogue with Mr. Lee, and these mistakes resulted in some knee-jerk decisions. In hindsight, we did not carefully consider this decision in advance with input from our volunteers and the community. We will seek to remain good friends with Freenode; we cannot stress enough how much the level of support shown to our project will mean to our mission and our ability to continue to work on that mission.

I am very grateful to all of those who have supported Fosshost during these difficult times. As we share this decision I and the rest of the Fosshost board would like to be clear that we have taken your feedback seriously. I further add that I would like to personally apologise; if we have damaged your ability to trust and entrust us with your projects, know that we intend to demonstrate clarity regarding the lessons learnt: we will become stronger by listening more urgently to our volunteers and community and by staying steadfastly focused on our core mission and vision.

You will see these lessons reflected across our actions going forward. We are here to stay.

If you require any further clarification regarding this memo, please contact me personally, and I will endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Markey Founder and Chief Executive Officer

E: Thomas@fosshost.org

For and on behalf of Fosshost C.I.C

Updated FAQs

Was Fosshost ever sold or acquired, and who owns it?

Fosshost is Limited by Guarantee (without shares). Our assets are locked. If we wind-up all of our assets immediately become the title of Oregon State University Foundation, as described in our articles of association. Fosshost may reinvest profit only back into the project/community.

Have you spent any of the money so far?

No. We are, however, making plans to look at how we use donations to become sustainable to protect our future for as long as possible.

Has the Fosshost Team/Board Changed?

No, there have been no changes since we have started exploring a partnership with Freenode.

I am a corporate sponsor. How can I explore supporting Fosshost?

Please email board@fosshost.org

Are you giving the money back?

No; all monies received were purely on the basis of a donation.

Yes, we received professional legal advice from a reputable, London-based technology law firm.

What will your relationship be with Freenode after this?

Freenode is a hosted project, treated like any other according to our criteria. Our directors plan to continue as staff of Freenode providing advice personally from our own skills and experience.

We left Fosshost after hearing about the Freenode Partnership and would like to return to using your service.

You are always welcome back, providing you continue to meet our eligibility criteria and legal terms of service.

I want to donate!

Thank you! Please visit https://fosshost.org/donate to see how you can donate and other ways to contribute to our project.

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  • Fosshost C.I.C LBG (without share capital) is registered in England and Wales. Company Registration Number: 13356530. All rights reserved © 2021