[OT] Russ Nelson's public relations

Squiggle Slash squiggleslash at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 10 02:11:01 UTC 2005

Hi, squiggleslash here. I will try to keep this brief
- I know this is meant to be a mailing list for
discussing licenses and I'm jumping in on an existing
thread but I know you all would probably rather the
issue go away... I'm going to quickly respond to a few

Before I do: There's no hidden agenda here. I'm
concerned, because of postings Russ Nelson made on
Slashdot shortly after the announcement he was taking
over (generally to the detriment of RMS) and because
of the apparently racist (intentionally or otherwise)
comments he's making in public, that he's off to an
absurdly bad start as OSI leader, and I think the OSI
really owes it to itself to do what it can to stop
this happening.

If you are the public face of an advocacy group, you
owe it to that group to be polite, diplomatic, and to
show tact, when in public. It may suck, but you never
had to be associated with that group in the first
place. Like it or not, people will associate you with
the group - that's the point, after all, of being the
public face.

Earlier today I said I felt the OSI should distance
themselves, possibly even getting rid of Russ. I'll
temper that by suggesting that this isn't necessary if
people start to think about what they're writing
before hitting the "Submit" button. But diplomacy and
tact are critical for the position, and the OSI's
President needs to show them.

Ian Lance Taylor: I understood Nelson's argument.
Nelson's argument didn't justify its premise (no
evidence was presented that blacks actually are lazy),
and, as I posted, the issue wasn't even that so much
as the posting of something that'd be taken by most
reasonable readers to be blatantly racist.

Stephen Pollei & Rodent of Unusual Size: I withdraw
any intent to submit any story on Slashdot. I think
the fact I was considering doing so probably made the
whole thing look like an "enemies of Open Source are
trying to attack us."  (How would you have preferred
to hear it, from me, or from some Microsoft
spokesman?) In any case, there's nothing constructive
about making people feel obliged to defend the
indefensible. I don't want to do that.

Rick Moen: A blog is just another medium for writing
publicly. "Personal" within the context of a blog
means it belongs to a particular person, not that
they're the only person that can read it. What the OSI
President says in public is going to reflect on the
OSI, whether it's a newspaper interview or a website.
If you are the public face of a group, what you do in
public reflects on that group. Sorry, but it's always
been like that, and always will.

I'm far from the only one concerned about these kinds
of issues. The OSI needs to be professional in how it
faces the world. Its President must be professional
along with it.

With best wishes,


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