Thom Henderson, chairman of the International FidoNet Association, announces that a FidoNet-wide referendum will be presented to all FidoNet sysops over whether to pass control of FidoNet to the IFNA.
Chairman of the Board (?!?!)
International FidoNet Association
IFNA: Do or Die
I just got back from FidoCon'89 late last night (early this
morning), and right off the bat the very first thing I want to
say is that it was a great convention! Let's have a round of
applause for the gang in the Bay Area for doing such a wonderful
job! (clap, clap, cheers from the sidelines, whistles, et
There were a lot of good seminars with good speakers, somewhat to
my surprise there was a very good after dinner speech by John
Dvorak after the banquet, and there were scads of interesting
people (i.e. sysops) to meet and talk with. One rather odd thing
did happen, though. Somehow I wound up as Chairman of the Board
of IFNA. I'm still not quite sure how/why that happened, but it
made for some interesting experiences (and I'm sure it'll keep a
couple of echomail conferences from getting too dull in the next
So what am I going to do as Chairman of the Board? Not much, and
mostly it's already done. A Chairman doesn't do much of anything
except chair the board meeting (just like the title says), and
that's over (more on that in a minute). The chairman doesn't
make motions and can't even vote (except to break a tie).
While I'm on this subject, let me mention a few things that I
most certainly WON'T do. There were a lot of rumors and a large
measure of loose talk and fairly brainless gum-flapping going on
in a couple of suites about What I'm Going To Do that ought to be
* I'm not going to outlaw Wazoo.
* I'm not going to mandate that GroupMail replace echomail.
* I'm not going to charge people to be in the node list.
* I'm not going to "use my position to commercialize the net"
(whatever THAT means).
Let's get real, people. Even assuming I wanted to do any of that
(which I don't), none of it is anything that a chairman of the
board can do. For that matter, none of it is anything that
anyone could do if the sysops don't want it done. Anybody who
thinks they are going to make 4,000 sysops (or even one sysop) do
anything they don't want should have his head examined. The
FidoNet sysops are going to continue to do as they damned well
So what *AM* I going to do? Like I said, chair the board
meeting, which is over. If you don't mind, I'd really rather
talk about that.
It was a heck of a board meeting! The best I've ever seen. I
guess an advantage of me being the chair is that it got a lot of
people involved. The first board meeting was Friday night, and
it was pretty much restricted to a few officer elections. Me as
chairman, Kris Veitch as secretary/treasurer, and John Knox as
acting secretary. Everything else was postponed until Saturday
night. Then all day Saturday right up to (and even into) the
board meeting phone calls went all over the place, locating every
board member who wasn't there and obtaining a proxy for someone
who WAS there. The only one who couldn't be reached was Henk
Wevers, who is on vacation. The two vacancies on the board were
both filled as soon as the board resumed session, so as a result
23 out of 24 board seats were represented during the session.
That's the highest percentage we've ever had!
And John Knox did a great job of keeping track of everything that
happened (I'll say he did an outstanding job if I get a copy of
the minutes later this week [*grin*]). Full minutes should be in
the next issue of FidoNews. (If they aren't, then my own somewhat
less complete notes will be in the following issue and I'll be on
a plane to Oklahoma to visit John [*wider grin*].) The full list
of everyone who served on the board will be in the minutes, but
here's my own slightly sketchy list:
My apologies to anyone I left out. Lest I forget, the new
President: Les Kooyman
Vice President Fabian Gordon
Vice President/TC: Bill Bolton
Secretary/Treasurer: Kris Veitch
As you can see, we had a pretty high-powered meeting.
Surprisingly, it went very smoothly (aside from the occasional
curmudgeon in need of sitting-on). There was a lot of serious
discussion, but it never got heated. We were never even close to
having a shouting match.
A lot of the attendees had very definite goals they wanted to
accomplish. Said goals weren't always compatible, but a plan of
action was hammered out that is going to make major changes in
what IFNA is and how it works. To sum it up in a nutshell, one
of two things is going to happen:
1) IFNA is going to become what it was meant to be, the
democratic voice of the sysops in network management.
2) Or, IFNA is going to be dissolved.
The choice, of course, is yours. You'll be hearing soon (if you
haven't heard already) that there is a referendum coming that
will be asking YOU which of the above you would like to see
By "you" I don't mean "you who paid $25 to join IFNA", I mean
"you the sysop of a public BBS in FidoNet". One of the things
that happened was that the IFNA bylaws were amended to make every
sysop in FidoNet a full voting member of IFNA -- no dues or fees
required. IFNA is now where it belongs, in your hands.
Furthermore, if the majority of *ALL* FidoNet sysops don't vote
in favor of rebuilding IFNA, then IFNA will be dissolved. No
hanky panky, no hedging, no waffling about what the lack of a
vote means. If IFNA does not receive a solid "YES" vote from the
majority of all sysops, it's history. If a sysop cares so little
that he does not bother to cast a vote, then that will be exactly
the same as voting against IFNA.
Furthermore, the referendum is mandated to be completed no later
than 1 December 1989. As far as I'm concerned, that means that
if it isn't, then IFNA will be dissolved. Granted that a net-
wide referendum is a fairly major undertaking involving a lot of
cooperation from a lot of people (including, I'm sure, the
existing *C structure). But if IFNA is unable to garner the
support or the manpower to coordinate the vote, then in my
opinion it is not worthy to be trusted with network management.
It goes even beyond that. If passed, the referendum mandates
that IFNA must submit a new set of bylaws and a new network
policy document to the sysops for approval no later than 1
February 1990. This means that before the February board meeting
1) Run a net-wide vote of all sysops asking if IFNA should
2) Win the vote by a clear majority of all sysops.
3) Draft new bylaws and a new policy document.
4) Run another vote for approval/disapproval of the proposed
bylaws and policy.
5) Have the proposed bylaws and policy approved by the
membership (i.e. the sysops).
Anything less than 100% and IFNA will be history. If it can't
get the support and/or can't do the work, then it's high time we
quit wasting time on it.
We'll soon know if IFNA can handle the job. Even sooner we'll
know if YOU want it to try.
* My thanks to Randy Bush, who was instrumental in developing
the wording of the referendum. I'm looking forward to seeing
him again at the February board meeting.
* My special thanks to Phil Buonomo, who through months of
seemingly endless devotion, persuasion, legwork, and sheer
drive is the man who really made all this happen.