copyleft conf just clarified that sponsors are not endorsements including of things like proprietary software so fyi to folks like @wolftune who said they'd like to hear that
You very well know a lot of people boycotted the #copyleftconf fire this very reason, so saying this is quite an open washing move.
One thing that appeared at #FOSDEM is that some people are willing to find other ways of funding the event without having to abandon it to surveillance capitalists.
Having a FOSDEM sponsored by smaller companies would save the day. Otherwise it will split the community and see that free software die for good.
FWIW I don't think the *size* of the sponsors matters much—a "long tail" of small sponsors could collude to exert significant pressure.
From my experience with academic conferences, I think what matters is whether the talk selection process is shielded from sponsor influence or not. E.g., are sponsor representatives on the program committee? Do the conference have slots reserved to sponsors? (And if so, are they clearly advertised as such?) etc.
I wanted to ask about that, so thanks for anticipating the question :-)
I do agree that legitimacy/visibility is more of a concern than actual influence on conference content, but I wasn't sure we were on the same line.
Having clarified that, the visibility issue is shared by a lot of FOSS conferences (including #FOSDEM). It deserves: a) broader conversation than #CopyleftConf, b) sustainable alternatives (donations? higher registration fees? etc).
I went to the #CopyleftConf to see for myself. While there was interesting content, the conference felt very corporate and very American - but this is not the organizers' fault. It's rather the European copyleft community that should step forward and reclaim its space there, even with content that the sponsors might not like. That would also be the test for the "sponsorship is not endorsement" statement.
I've been thinking about these challenges as organizational counterparts to this series of personal explorations which I think a lot of us are treating as old news, since it is, to us. Less so to a broader public:
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