Better than a decoder pin: New FSF bootable membership cards

Better than a decoder pin: New FSF bootable membership cards

Summary: It just isn't the holidays without "A Christmas Story," and Ralphie's quest for his decoder pin and Red Ryder BB Gun. Like Ralphie, the Free Software Foundation understands the benefits of membership and they have a unique hook for prospective new members: A bootable membership card.

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It just isn't the holidays without "A Christmas Story," and Ralphie's quest for his decoder pin and Red Ryder BB Gun. Like Ralphie, the Free Software Foundation understands the benefits of membership and they have a unique hook for prospective new members: A bootable membership card.

Loaded with gNewSense Live!, they are shipping out to members first thing in January 2009 (production problems have caused us a delay). Each card includes a member user name and member number and on the back displays an extract from the free software definition. We've also included some exciting advocacy tools, like speeches from Richard Stallman and videos about free software. Since the card fits right in your wallet alongside your credit cards, you can take the message of software freedom with you everywhere you go.

As an added bonus, parents don't have to worry about junior shooting his eye out with the bootable business card. Membership will only set you back $120 per year, which can be chunked into monthly payments if you don't want to cough it all up at once. Now you can really be a card-carrying FSF supporter.

My question to the audience -- does a membership card (bootable or not) inspire support of the FSF any more than understanding that the money goes to support the FSF? Why or why not? This is a serious question -- I'd like to understand whether a bootable business card would inspire a $120 payment if a person wouldn't already be inclined to support the FSF.

(Whether gNewSense actually qualifies as an entirely free distro is still a matter for debate, but they should at least get credit for intent.)

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Software

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11 comments
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  • Set-Your-Own Membership Fee option

    Interested in this cute little card, I looked into the FSF Membership fees. It appears that there are a variety of ways to donate and become an Associate Member of FSF (and get the credit card sized bootable USB membership card running gNewSense).

    The defined Associate Member donation level is $120, as defined by FSF. There is also a Student level at $60, and a set-your-own-membership-level with a write-in text field. Based on the design of the membership form, it looks like someone can donate any amount of money and still get the USB membership card.

    I perused the FSF site for a while and couldn't find anything that explicitly stated that the USB membership card is only available to people who donate $120 or more.

    As far as donating to the FSF, the card is geeky enough to lure me in. I suppose I knew that FSF was run on donations, but I had never thought about contributing until now. $120 is a bit steep for me, although I like the option to breaking it down into a schedule of $10 per month.

    Instead of not donating anything, I am now going to donate [i]something[/i] and hopefully get that USB membership card. If I find the card useful, even once, you can bet that I'll continue to contribute to the FSF (perhaps up to the $120 Assosiate Member level).

    I'll get back to you if my USB card arrives or is denied.
    R_Connelie@...
    • Donation not accepted

      Welp, my under-$120 donation is being denied. When I click the "Continue" button on the "join_fsf" page, they redirect me to the same page with a message that the minimum membership dues are $120 for non-students.

      Guess they're getting $0 from me instead of [i]something[/i] (an amount that I don't find unreasonable, and certainly pays for the USB card many times over).
      R_Connelie@...
      • One-time

        They accept one-time donations (https://www.fsf.org/associate/support_freedom/donate/index_html), just not through that link.
        mattflaschen
        • One-time donations

          Thank you for that link. That page accepts less-than-$120 donations.

          That donation page is distinct from their "membership" pages, so no "exciting gifts and incentives" like the bootable USB [i]membership[/i] card. :)
          R_Connelie@...
  • Why should any get paid if programmers aren't?

    Staff, posties, every one can get paid, but not programmers! Why don't they insist on no one getting paid. All should work for free!

    Something not consistent in the free software thinking here.
    Patanjali
    • Confused

      I don't think you understand what free software is. It means users have freedom, not "no money". See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html . There are thousands of people working on free software. Red Hat alone employs 2200 (http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=RHT).
      mattflaschen
  • RE: Better than a decoder pin: New FSF bootable membership cards

    I couldn't give a crap about a f***in' bootable USB membership card. I'd like to donate what I can realistically afford. Student or not.

    The Gnewsense distro is a very welcome addition, but I do wonder how they intend to maintain the pure-free software claim, as it gains in popularity, and attracts more developers.
    I mean. Who's going to be vetting the code? (or coders?) As to what is original and what is a *direct-rip* of some proprietary code that was previously in the non-free universe?
    Pressure to deliver compatible drivers for *newer* hardware causes the most complaints from users of the Linux/Debian based OSes, so it's the most likely category to 'fall under the wheels', sooner or later.

    All my hardware checked out as supported, so I've downloaded the iso, to see how much the lack of non-free impacts the usefulness.
    V@...
  • Already a member - best tenner a month I've ever spent... (nt)

    ....
    BanjoPaterson
  • Depends on your initiatives...

    I think that the bootable membership cards are great "icing-on-the-cake", or as we say in Louisiana "lagniappe" (a little something extra) in addition to a membership to the FSF. If I was a member of the FSF and really supported their cause (I'm a big supporter of free & open source software, but the FSF tends to take things to extremes that I don't agree with), then I would be stoked about this idea, and yes, if I wasn't a member, I'd probably think about joining. That's what this is trying to attract, people who are already close supporters but haven't ponied up the $120, and on that front, they'll probably be successful. For me, there are more important and deserving organizations that I'll gives my $120 too, but I do wish them the best of luck.
    KevinYeaux
  • RE: Better than a decoder pin: New FSF bootable membership cards

    It was certainly nice to get a free trinket (which doesn't cost that much for them, and is actually relevant to their mission), but I would support them either way.
    mattflaschen
  • RE: Better than a decoder pin: New FSF bootable membership cards

    Part of the hope is that the card will be a useful advocacy tool for members to recruit new members - both as a conversation piece and with the speeches/video/etc included on the card.

    Also anything new like this inspires news articles / blog posts / etc like this, which often get a lot of people who haven't thought about membership before to become members. For example a recent piece on the card by some German magazine got us several new members.
    djbclark