Read and share online: https://www.fsf.org/blogs/membership/introducing-our-new-associate-member-forum
Dear Ruben Safir,
I'm excited to share that we've launched a new forum for our associate members.
We hope that you find this forum to be a great place to share your experiences
and perspectives surrounding free software and to forge new bonds with the free
Participation in this forum is just one of
many benefits of being a Free Software Foundation (FSF) member – if you're not a member yet, we encourage
you to join today, for as little as $10 per month,
or $5 per month for students.
The purpose of this member forum is to provide a space where members can meet,
communicate, and collaborate with each other about free software, using free
software. While there are other places on the Internet to talk about free
software, this forum is unique in that it is focused on the common interests of
FSF members, who care very much about using, promoting, and creating free
The forum software we chose to use is Discourse.
One of the technical requirements for the forum was that it needs to work well
with single sign-on (SSO) systems, specifically our CAS system. In the process
of launching the new member forum, I patched our CAS server so that it would
verify FSF associate membership. I also wrote a patch for the Discourse CAS
SSO service so that we can require email validation when users log into
Discourse for the first time.
We built our own patched instance of Discourse's base Docker image to resolve a
freedom issue, and as preparation for any times in the future that we may need
to make changes to the upstream source code for our local installation.
I spent some time trying to set up Discourse without using Docker, but getting
email delivery to work without a Docker image proved to be very challenging. In
the end, we decided that using Docker adds complexity when making patches to
the software, but think that it makes using Discourse easier overall.
One of the reasons we chose Discourse is because it allows users to respond to
conversations via email. Users may enable the "mailing list mode" in their user
settings, which allows us to interact with with member forum as if it were a
I would like to thank the Discourse team for creating this software, and for
their responsiveness to my questions about Discourse patching, new features,
configuration, and deployment. They responded very quickly to a security issue
that I reported, and donated a hacker bounty to the FSF.
If you want to chat with other members via IRC, I suggest joining
the #fsf-members channel on Freenode, where I made an early announcement about
the member forum launch.
I hope you are excited to use our new forum.
I certainly am! I look forward to the great conversations that we will have
among members who care very much about free software.