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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<html newsdate="2020-03-27">
<title>FSFE in times of Corona: How a virus affects us</title>
<h1>FSFE in times of Corona: How a virus affects us</h1>
<p>Among all the serious diseases and deaths it
causes, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its accompanying COVID-19 disease also
keep the FSFE and the whole Free Software community in suspense. For
our community and other charitable organisations we would share our
experiences and lessons learnt from the Corona crisis.</p>
<p>First of all, we are glad that we can fall back on years of
experience with remote collaboration crossing borders and continents.
Since its foundation, the FSFE has had its roots in all over Europe,
working together with people and organisations in various time zones.
Luckily, we are trained to use asynchronous communication tools. But
the FSFE as an organisation and community still has to deal with new
challenges and serious drawbacks that make our work for Free Software
much harder. Your help is needed to balance these!</p>
<h2>Office activities mostly continue as normal</h2>
<p>For the FSFEs 9 staff members, albeit the long-term experience with
remote collaboration, the current situation still causes a few
disruptions. Although we have a long history of having some employees
working from elsewhere, the majority used to work in our main office.
Until recently, e-mail and mailing lists, XMPP for text chats,
collaboration tools like Nextcloud and Wekan, and Jitsi for phone and
video conferencing were sufficient for effective collaboration. But
since the situation in Europe has gotten quite severe, we asked all
staff members to work from home to reduce the probability of infecting
each other. So instead of connecting only 2-3 parties with each other
for our daily short meetings, we now have up to 9 persons who should be
able to be on a call to coordinate our activities.</p>
<p>Like in the past, weve settled so far with using Jitsi, a Free
Software application for audio and video conferencing. To our utmost
delight, it scales very well for audio-only conferences and makes even
longer conversations hassle-free. We are also going to test Mumble, a
VoIP application which has more features and a focus on good audio
quality, and Nextcloud Talk. Unfortunately, for video conferencing with
more than 4 participants, we did not find a suitable Free Software
solution yet which we can self-host on our aged and limited server
<p>But there are also processes which cannot be conducted normally
nowadays. Unfortunately, we had to temporarily stop sending out <a
href="/contribute/spreadtheword">information material</a> and <a
href="/order/">merchandise articles</a> which usually is a great way to
spread the word about Free Software and inform about activities like <a
href="/activities/android/">“Free Your Android”</a>, <a
href="https://publiccode.eu/">“Public Money? Public Code!”</a>, the <a
href="/news/2019/news-20191113-01.html">campaign against DRM</a> and <a
href="/activities/activities.html">many more</a>.</p>
<h2>Physical distancing contradicts our typical work</h2>
<p>Apart technical challenges, the biggest impact we face is the
cancellation of Free Software conferences, our own events, and
scheduled FSFE team meetings. Booths and talks have been one of the
main channels over which we informed people about Free Software and the
FSFEs work. Losing those also means a heavily limited visibility of
our organisation, and thereby also a loss in new <a
href="https://my.fsfe.org/donate?referrer=corona-news">supporters and
donors</a> for our cause. In the case of our events, like the annual <a
href="/activities/ln/llw.html">Legal and Licensing
Workshop</a> or the <a
Money? Public Code!” conference</a>, it is a even more direct financial
burden due to already invested work and non-refundable costs. </p>
<p>But also the cancellation of working group meetings like the
webmasters or country teams hurt us as a community. These have been a
great opportunity to meet each other, efficiently coordinate activities
for the benefit of Free Software, and of course also to have fun
together and motivate each other. The restriction of in-person meetings
hits the FSFE local groups even more. Most groups meet once or twice a
month to discuss Free Software issues and plan activities on a regional
level. </p>
<p>We are working on mitigating these effects and providing alternative
options for meetings and remote collaboration. On the one hand, local
groups adapt by meeting virtually and continuing to coordinate their
activities for the promotion of software freedom asynchronously. On the
other hand, we offer various ways to stay informed about Free Software
and the FSFEs activities while staying home. Our <a
href="/news/podcast.html">Software Freedom Podcast</a> regularly
features inspiring people and topics ranging from political to
community to legal issues. On our <a
and <a
video channels we collect talks by FSFE community members and otherwise
thrilling material for hours of binge watching.</p>
<h2>Your help is needed</h2>
<p>Large parts of our usual operations are limited, but since we are
based on digital widespread cooperation, we are still effective.
Especially at times like these, it is important to monitor the rapid
developments and advocate for Free Software for remote schooling and
collaboration. Our ongoing activities like <a
href="https://reuse.software/">REUSE</a>, <a
href="/activities/routers/">Router Freedom</a> or the <a
href="/activities/ngi/ngi.html">Next Generation Internet project</a>
are not dormant either, and we will intensify the communication with
the public via established and new channels.</p>
<p>The FSFE and other Free Software groups have the slight advantage of
having long-term experience with remote collaboration over e-mail,
instant messengers and conferencing services. However, as many other
charity organisations, we suffer from a limited visibility and
community interaction which usually are the foundation of our work.
Additionally, the expected economic distortions will seriously affect
mostly all economic areas and will have unforseeable effects on our
supporters, donors, and eventually ourselves.</p>
<p>We and other Free Software organisations do need your help to get
through this phase reasonably well. If you can, please consider <a
href="https://my.fsfe.org/donate?referrer=corona-news">joining us as a
supporter</a> or, if you already are one, increasing your contribution
or making a
<a href="https://my.fsfe.org/donate?referrer=corona-news&amp;period=o">one-time
donation</a>. If you cannot, please spread the word among your friends
and colleagues; and we hope that your situation will improve soon.</p>
<p>In these difficult times specifically, but also in general we would
like to thank the volunteers who form the foundation of the FSFE with
their invaluable contributions, and the <a
href="https://my.fsfe.org/donate?referrer=corona-news">supporters and
donors</a> who enable our work for Free Software. Thank you!</p>
<discussion href="https://community.fsfe.org/t/fsfe-in-times-of-corona-how-a-virus-affects-us/413" />
<tag key="front-page"/>
<tag key="internal">Internal</tag>
<tag key="corona">Corona</tag>