Rado S wrote:
> [To James:] But when it comes to matters belonging to the council's area of
> concern you're fast (and often the only one) to respond.
> You're very public, you'd be a good representative for netrek or the
> council.
> Then please suggest some way to make the council more public in its
> functionality. How to interact with the council when it's secret and
> no speaker in their name known?
> What benefit has a _secret_ council when public requests need public
> responses?
I think you are showing some confusion over how organizations of many 
sorts function. I am going to provide some details for you to consider.

A friend of mine, who is a free mason would say: The organization has 
secrets. The organization is not secret. :-)

I am a board member of a member-owned organization called the National 
Capital FreeNet. As a board member, we keep secrets both for the 
benefits of the organization, and due to government requirements. For 
example, discussions regarding the salary of our Executive Director, or 
firing an employee are held "in camera", and not open to "the public". 
Other examples are strategy meetings, or meetings where the board will 
agree on a stance to have as a board with one voice. The practice of 
having secrets is normal to most organizations whether public or private.

At our meetings throughout the year, we try to invite the public, but 
there is no guarantee that the public will be allowed to speak. It is up 
to the chair person to decide whether or not to acknowledge questions 
raised from the floor. Members of an organization must now confuse their 
membership as a right to speak. We offer members the right to speak in 
the yearly AGM (annual general meeting). At this time, the members are 
invited to nominate candidates to be their representatives, and to elect 
the representatives that will serve them. General members do NOT have 
the right to speak. They have the right to elect representatives. If 
their representatives fail to serve them, they can gather sufficient 
support to have a representative evicted, or they can wait until the 
term ends and elect somebody else instead. This is much like the 
government. You can vote George Bush in. If he does things you don't 
like, there isn't much you can do except wait until his term is up and 
elect somebody else.

What rights do you believe you have? If your primary argument is that 
you do not understand how a "secret" council can provide value, your 
argument has no weight. Councils can serve members both in public and in 
secret, but often both. See the minutes from any meetings and see how 
they can be read in 5 minutes or less, for a meeting that took 60 
minutes or more to complete. What happened to the other minutes? Where 
are all the subtleties? What of all the inside jokes that were cut, 
because they might be offensive or misconstrued? These are all 
"secrets". Stuff that the minute taker didn't feel you needed to know.

In terms of Netrek - I wasn't aware that any official Netrek 
organization or committee existed. I don't think the name is 
trademarked, and I don't think there is any official entity, whether a 
person, or a business, who *owns* Netrek. There are copyrights from the 
last two decades that cover the works that make the source code 
available for nearly any use you wish. As such, I would say that you 
have many rights. Which also means that James, and the "secret council" 
also have many rights. In particular, just as *you* have the right to 
collect a few like minded people, meet at a bar, and discuss the future 
of Netrek, so do they have this same right. There is no requirement that 
they provide location and time to all players at least 5 business days 
in advance. There is no requirement that they ask your opinion.

In most open source movements, maintained by individuals who are 
primarily motivated by personal pride, the "leaders" are usually the 
people who step up to the plate, who are accepted amongst their peers. 
James has this authority. He stepped up. He is accepted. I accept him, 
and find myself offended by statements you have made about him that hint 
at malicious intent. If James and a few other share this respect, and 
elect to meet amongst themselves in private, they are fully within their 
right to do so *without* condemnation from you.

This is your rights: 1) You can continue to email people. I would 
suggest using a more respectful tone in order to maximize effectiveness. 
2) You can branch netrek, and see who jumps ship with you. If you really 
do know what you are talking about, you should be able to get a large 
enough base to move with you, and you can invent something like Netrek 
Paradise. Call it Rado Netrek. Whatever you wish. You remain fully 
empowered whichever route you take.

Good luck.


Mark Mielke <mark at mielke.cc>