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09.07.20

Debian Expulsions and Defamation Were Also Common in the 1990s

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux at 11:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s not a new or “woke” thing but a long tradition — a conservative habit of distrusting and banishing particular developers, sometimes wrongly (and mistakes/misjudgments can be corrected)

The king's gravesSummary: The ‘gossip mill’ in Debian is potentially harmful to innocent people and their reputations; the problem is, due to secrecy there’s no accountability for slander and self-serving horse trading tactics

THE Debian-Private E-mails from 1996-1997 were published here 10 days ago. That’s more than 8,000 E-mails. We try to refrain from linking to pertinent mails if or where it can harm the privacy of those who are no longer involved in Debian (or may no longer be alive). So far we’ve mostly highlighted mails from active contributors (Ts’o, Perens, Jackson, Shuttleworth and so on) because they at least have an opportunity to respond, just as Torvalds did earlier this week.

So far nobody has found an error in anything that we published on this topic. Some try to label it “old news” even though the E-mails in question were published for the first time just 10 days ago (and are therefore newsworthy).

“So far nobody has found an error in anything that we published on this topic. Some try to label it “old news” even though the E-mails in question were published for the first time just 10 days ago (and are therefore newsworthy).”These E-mails are relevant to the present. For instance, we’ve noticed one expulsion (later revoked, as it was based on a misunderstanding), whereupon Ian Jackson encouraged to use the phone (order to avoid misunderstandings, due to lack of nuance/verbal tone). Bruce Perens lost his temper when he spotted what seemed like an ethnic word (generalisation, not a slur). This was later clarified and rectified.

On another occasion we saw an eager developer, at one point a technical student, being denied access based on nothing but wordings in an E-mail sent to Perens. Some developers were fanning the flames of a fire (presumption of red flags) and also using hearsay/malicious rumour to block this person’s access to “master” (the name of the main machine/source repository), albeit the policy later changed (probationary) when clarifications were offered. What I personally disliked or what truly troubled me about the whole thing/espisode is the degree to which rumours and gossip were used to malign a potentially productive contributor (never confronting him directly!), painting him as some sort of mischievous cracker looking to vandalise Debian from the inside (based on the perception of some past behaviour, unverified or not properly verified based on actual sources or first-hand accounts/experiences). Only years ago something similar happened to Jacob Appelbaum, who would soon be expelled also from Tor, Linux Australia and then be morally silenced by public shaming at Twitter (he phased out his participation in Wikileaks and focused on his doctoral studies instead, never to be a published author again). Words can hurt reputations and when trust depends so heavily on people’s reputations those words can finish people’s careers.

“…a lot of the political issues of Debian aren’t a new thing; they’re persistent and recurrent because ‘herding cats’ is difficult (Perens admittedly hated his job as DPL and eventually handed over the role to Jackson, who was the only person to step up as a candidate as soon as Perens bailed out).”We’ll avoid adding links to pertinent E-mails; they’re in the archive, which is now public, but direct links are omitted for privacy reasons (the people whose reputation was harmed in a secret mailing list are named explicitly).

It’s important to note that those practices are very common also in the proprietary software world (part of what background checks and job interviews are all about), but those rarely become public knowledge or trickle out to the press. A culture of secrecy is by no means superior to one of open collaboration and mailing lists' transparency. As we noted over the weekend, a lot of the political issues of Debian aren’t a new thing; they’re persistent and recurrent because ‘herding cats’ is difficult (Perens admittedly hated his job as DPL and eventually handed over the role to Jackson, who was the only person to step up as a candidate as soon as Perens bailed out).

‘Blacklists’ in Free Software Communities

Posted in Debian, Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 10:47 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

Have you ever caught somebody in the act, committing an act of character assassination?

Most of us simply couldn’t imagine writing an email like the example below about a fellow volunteer. Maybe that’s why people are fighting tooth and nail to keep independent candidates from running for Debian Project Leader.

But it now appears that there has been more than one case where a member of the Debian community has been betrayed like this by the leader.

The defamatory part of the email received by other community members has been redacted:

debian smear

Given the personal circumstances this volunteer had recently informed Lamb about, sending this type of message is completely unconscionable, especially for somebody in a trusted position of leadership.

The monumental breach of trust compromises the privacy of multiple people, some of them never had any interaction with the Debian Project.

How would you feel if you were the one stumbling into the fallout zone of Lamb’s email vendetta at Christmas?

When Enrico Zini of the Debian Account Managers team was asked about messages like this being sent, he replied:

No, we did not send any communication about this to —–, and this is getting ridiculous.

Integrity is priceless.

Why did Lamb have no time to meet with people he targetted, despite numerous requests but all the time in the world to send malicious emails?

When Lamb rides off into the sunset without apologizing or retracting harmful emails he sent as leader, does the new DPL inherit responsibility for Lamb’s actions? When people who hurt volunteers like this come face to face with their targets at a free software event, who would want to be anywhere near them? Or could the toxic consequences of this hurtful behavior be the reason nobody else wants to wear the DPL hat and nobody else nominated?

Does this type of behavior make you feel good about contributing to a large free software project?

This email and the emails Lamb sent personally had one purpose: to create shame and fear. Tools of oppression. Fear that people who speak up or ask questions will have their name dragged through the mud. Many developers comment privately they are afraid to speak up now because they don’t want to be abused next, they don’t want to be on some blacklist. What a chilling thought, blacklists in free software communities.

The fact that the only replies to an independent platform on debian-vote smell of bullying and not one point from the platform has been discussed proves the fear culture is working as intended.

Thanks to all those people who have continued to inform volunteers privately when they witnessed so-called leaders behaving badly like this.

[Meme] Words Can Hurt Feelings. But So Can Eugenics and Wars (Not Mere Words) of Conquest.

Posted in IBM, Marketing, Microsoft at 10:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reference to IBM’s past, which it is still trying very hard to bury or distract from

Bans words, proceeds to ethnic cleansing

Summary: The corporate media no longer speaks about a corporate-led (or oligarchs-oriented) PR push to ban “bad” or “offensive” words such as “whitelist” and “master” (mostly a zero-cost publicity stunt); what we really need is media that boldly speaks about bombings and the ethical concerns associated with corporate complicity in them (e.g. Microsoft with its notorious “JEDI” contract, subjected to injunction because of Trump intervention and nepotism/collusion/retaliation)

Debian-Private Teaches Us GNU and Linux History, Based on Words and Actions by Prominent Developers and Project Administrators

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, GPL at 10:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Honest Abe

Summary: What we learn and what everybody else can learn about the point where GNU (or GNU/Linux) became just “Linux”, as revealed or illuminated by newly-disclosed private mailing lists of Debian

THE Debian-Private archive that we’ve been studying for about 10 days is interesting because of the many E-mails that allude to kernel development, the FSF, and Richard Stallman. There are also many discussions about licensing, the GPL in particular, and inclusion of non-free (or partly free, i.e. still proprietary) software in Debian.

“Transparency isn’t to be feared and and “public interest” (as in SPI) projects need to be understood, if not at present, then at least historically.”As we said before, we choose not to highlight too many pertinent messages because that would harm privacy of people who have long not been involved in Debian; many of them are no longer alive, either (some E-mails turn 25 years very soon). The conclusion I’ve reached, having gone through a couple thousand of these messages (not at random), is that many people are supportive of Stallman (RMS), GNU, and the FSF. There are also some who are hostile towards RMS and the FSF, alleging that they try to micro-manage Debian (the same accusation with the same wording persists to this very day; some GNU developers too have made complaints to that effect). Bruce Perens routinely spoke to RMS and received backlash for it; he called that “politics” and alleged that it had interfered with technical (development) work. He noted that RMS annoyed many kernel developers (when he stated that Linux itself was not an operating system) and also noted that Ian Murdock had enjoyed the FSF’s backing — financial included — at the earlier days of the project. One can often relate to Perens, who certainly received a share of abuse (despite his very hard work and dedication if not sacrifice) from fellow developers. Some did not want him to speak to RMS and the FSF at all. Some resigned in protest, some flamed him on- and off-list. It’s not pretty, but at least now we can see the naked truth. Transparency isn’t to be feared and “public interest” (as in SPI) projects need to be better understood, if not at present, then at least historically. We’re talking about the 1990s here!

Henry this or that: It's called GNU/Linux. Can't I just call it 'Linux'?

There’s that certain sadness/melancholy going through all these messages, putting aside nostalgic aspects. Back then FSF was big and mighty; many spoke of “GNU”, not “Linux”. Some said “GNU/Linux”; RMS was only starting to more emotionally (albeit factually) complain about misattribution. It didn’t take long before just about everyone simply called the entire thing “Linux”. In that respect, RMS lost the cause. His movement was barely recognised anymore and only a couple of years later there was this thing called “OSI” (founded at least partly by those looking to elbow RMS out of the picture) and some junk called “Open Source”, which right now in 2020 is a farce.

“There’s that certain sadness/melancholy going through all these messages, putting aside nostalgic aspects. Back then FSF was big and mighty; many spoke of “GNU”, not “Linux”. Some said “GNU/Linux”; RMS was only starting to more emotionally (albeit factually) complain about misattribution.”So what can we do about the whole thing? For starters, speak about software freedom and remind people why Free software matters; terms like “Open Source” mean different things to different crowds, but to a lot of people it means “code on GitHub” (proprietary) and “Summer of Code” (Google, surveillance).

The world deserves better than subjugation and abduction. If we truly wish to regain control of computing (us controlling computers rather than computers controlling us), we ought to change the conversation.

“RMS has long read Techrights and it’s nice to know that Torvalds too reads it sometimes.”A couple of hours ago Linus Torvalds responded to an article we had published earlier this month. He had nothing negative to say about that article; “Honestly,” he said, “I think those emails are more about Debian culture than they are about me, and you should probably ask the Debian people about them rather than me…”

RMS has long read Techrights and it’s nice to know that Torvalds too reads it sometimes. We wish to see a strong and durable GNU/Linux system (we have nothing against Linux as a kernel; the Linux Foundation isn’t the kernel but an aberration working against the kernel, helping to put DRM and stuff inside it) and reconcile all or at least most of those differences, as witnessed in the Debian-Private archive (even in the mid-nineties).

[Meme] Not Everybody (Especially Corporations That Push Windows and NSA Back Doors) is Capable of Love

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 9:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements.”

Microsoft Confidential

A gorilla smashes PC: Microsoft loves Linux

Summary: We must never tolerate the lie that “Microsoft loves Linux” because it is designed to lull us into passivity while the Microsoft-funded (and partly run) Linux Foundation whitens Microsoft's reputation or portrays Windows as an acceptable choice (the Linux Foundation also uses Windows) and GNU/Linux on the desktop/laptop as pure rubbish not worth pursuing

Giving People Credit for Their Work

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 5:38 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

One of the essential steps that we take when packaging software for major Linux distributions is finding the names of the copyright holders and ensuring that these are preserved in the final package of the software.

Debian even took this a step further by requiring developers to spend extra effort extracting the names from source code and copying them into machine readable debian/copyright files that are convenient for large corporate users. Some have come to see this as an extra barrier to new contributors and new packages.

While the administrative effort of processing this information is important, how seriously do we take the principle and philosophy of it?

Giving people credit for their work doesn’t only support the person who made the contribution, it also shows everybody else that their contributions will be treated with respect. The opposite also holds true: if leaders fail to give credit for somebody’s contribution or they give credit to the wrong person it can be demotivating for everybody else.

Non-coding contributions

The same principle holds whether it is for source code or other contributions, like investigating a bug, mentoring or doing administrative work.

Many people have been puzzled by the email from former Debian Project Leader (DPL) Chris Lamb where he fails to acknowledge the work another volunteer contributed as admin and mentor in GSoC over many years. Furthermore, reading emails like Lamb’s, you might come to the conclusion that other people, including Molly de Blanc, who it is alleged Lamb was secretly dating, did the work in GSoC 2018. Yet people who participated in the program didn’t feel that is accurate. Why has Lamb failed to recognize or thank every volunteer for their contributions?

At first, the problems in Debian’s GSoC team were puzzling for many of us. The allegation that Molly de Blanc was Lamb’s girlfriend shines a new light on Lamb’s email. Neither of them declared their relationship to other members of the GSoC team, it was a complete shock for most volunteers when we heard about it.

Please note we don’t wish to encourage anybody to vilify either of these people for their secret romance: the issue at hand is the effect of the relationship on the way they performed their roles and the impact on other volunteers.

The Mollamby affair, even if it is over and Lamb didn’t run for the leadership again, leaves many people wondering if their work will be recognised fairly.

This type of thing is not without precedent. Consider Elena Ceaușescu, the wife of former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. 17 December, the day that de Blanc’s Anti-Harassment team ordered the Debian Account Managers to terminate a developer without any hearing or due process, was the anniversary of the day the Ceaușescus ordered the military to shoot their own citizens.

romania_timisoara_prisoners

It is alleged that Elena Ceaușescu obtained her Ph.D and pursued her career in chemistry by having her name put on other people’s work. They even pressured the British Royal Institute of Chemistry to make her a fellow in exchange for business contracts. Is there any organization money can’t corrupt?

After the Ceaușescus were overthrown and executed, people came forward and revealed the truth:

We were told: no paper could be written or published, no conference delivered publication could leave ICECHIM without Elena Ceausescu’s name appearing in first place [...] we were producing papers with words which, we knew, she could not pronounce, let alone understand (Corciovei, quoted on p184, Kiss The Hand You Cannot Bite, Edward Behr, Villard Books, NY, 1991)

A Google Scholar search finds many of those papers, Ceaușescu always appearing ahead of other names, just as de Blanc’s name now appears at the top of the Debian Outreach team delegation. An effective admin in this program needs to be able to provide coaching and backup to the mentors, yet de Blanc does not have any prior experience mentoring any student in Debian. She never even wrote any code. Meritocracy, or a cynical power grab by the leader’s girlfriend?

As Stalin famously put it:

power alone is not enough, you need to gain prestige

The Ceaușescus got this point: they were the first communist dictators to get themselves invited on a state visit to the UK.

romania_uk_state_visit

The feeling that the DPL’s girlfriend takes credit from somebody like Daniel Pocock who mentored three interns, spent a week visiting the interns in Kosovo as well as doing an admin role is really quite demotivating for most ordinary volunteers like us.

For any organization to be healthy, it is essential for the leader to be setting a good example of giving credit to the people who deserve it. How can we expect new package maintainers to put effort into the tedious process of writing machine-readable copyright files if the leader himself can’t give credit to somebody who made a major contribution to a program like GSoC over six years? How will other developers in the wider community feel now that these allegations about the former DPL and his girlfriend have emerged?

Some people would rightly point out that the regime of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu was one of the most barbaric in Eastern Europe and that as well as benefiting from nepotism to advance her chemistry career, Elena Ceaușescu had been involved in propaganda and torture. Despite de Blanc benefitting from the work of others and quickly gaining titles for herself, it wouldn’t be fair to compare Mollamby to the Ceaușescu regime if phenomena like torture were absent from Debian. We’ll get to that.

Building a smear

Sadly, the new DPL Sam Hartman has continued in the same vein as his predecessor. Hartman started a thread on debian-project suggesting somebody adopt the RTC services Pocock introduced to Debian. It looks like he didn’t contact Pocock before doing that. Hartman doesn’t give any recognition for the effort Pocock put in to get these things up and running in the first place: he doesn’t mention his name at all. It is as if he wants to make him vanish like Arjen Kamphuis.

In fact, Kamphuis and Pocock had collaborated on a number of activities in the Balkans before Kamphuis’ disappearance, here is a photo from the Tirana cryptoparty:

CryptoParty_Tirana

Most organizations would provide volunteers with some empathy and support at the time that one of their collaborators or associates disappears like that: Debian may be the first to take inspiration from such a disappearance.

Pocock has been responsible for a sizeable amount of the upstream development of those RTC services (reSIProcate and JSCommunicator WebRTC projects), release management, packaging (both Debian/Ubuntu packages and Fedora packages), documentation and managing the successful deployment to production in Debian’s rtc.debian.org service. He did the same to create the FedRTC.org service for Fedora users, running the same stack as Debian but linked to Fedora SSO.

It wouldn’t be consistent with the message of this blog if we didn’t also emphasize that deploying and running services like that in production requires effort from a lot of other people too. For example, members of the Debian System Administrator (DSA) team who helped integrate all the services with Debian’s user data (Luca Filipozzi helping at the most critical stages) and the Prosody project lead, Matthew Wild and package maintainers like Victor Seva who do most of the work on the XMPP side of rtc.debian.org. Not only have all these people made important contributions, but it also has to be acknowledged that the successful deployment of the services in a large organization like Debian is also a credit to how well everybody worked together as a team.

For two successive leaders of the Debian project to fail to recognize sizeable contributions like these is incredibly toxic. It is inconsistent with the basic principles we follow crediting people for their code in our packages and therefore it is unfitting for the leader to behave this way. If a Debian Developer removed the main contributor from a debian/copyright file, they would attract strong criticism. Why does the leader get away with such behaviour?

Is there torture in Debian?

Pocock revealed there had been a number of significant issues in his private and family life that impacted his voluntary contributions to Debian over the last couple of years.

debian_pillory_stocks

In January 2018, he wrote to Molly de Blanc, as a fellow member of the Outreach team, advising he couldn’t fully commit to the GSoC admin role but would help out temporarily to get Debian GSoC 2018 up and running. July 2018, he sent another private message to de Blanc, Lamb (as DPL) and Stephanie Taylor (Google) informing them that extraordinary personal circumstances had limited his role. In August 2018 he thanked the rest of the team and advised he wouldn’t participate in 2019. No volunteer should be obliged to give any more details than that.

Yet people weren’t happy with that. He reported that people sent him threats and insults and they saw it as an opportunity to start gossip. Lamb has tried to evade responsibility with the excuse that gossip sent in private emails and not a public mailing list is acceptable. Is that the attitude of a mature leader or does it sound more like a fudge constructed by a mischievous child?

By forcing people to question a volunteer’s absences, Lamb forces the volunteers to recall and explain to people some of those private circumstances. This ruthlessly degrading aggression from Lamb compromises the privacy of other family members who may not wish to be named or discussed. It is irrelevant whether the gossip messages fit Lamb’s childish definition of public or not.


In Pocock’s case, one of the reasons for his absence was the death of his father.

At a time of pain and grief, is it appropriate for the leader of Debian to put such immense pressure on a volunteer as suggesting they explain all that and put their membership up to a vote of the whole Debian community?

Is it even human for him to dismiss such significant loss as minutiae?

But he did those things, the hideous messages relayed to through a puppet, Enrico Zini of the Debian Account Managers.

There is no hint of anything positive or constructive in those messages. Their only purpose appears to be the pursuit of some sadistic pleasure, believing shame would prevent anybody from calling out Lamb’s bullying.

Is it acceptable for Joerg Jaspert to denounce multiple volunteers in front of a journalist? Yet he did that too.

Who is harassing who?

After Pocock informed Lamb about his circumstances in July 2018 and completely resigned from the GSoC team, Lamb’s decision to seek political mileage from that and sustain a state of hostility with threats and constant gossip may be one of the most brazen examples of harassment ever seen in a free software community. But if the leader’s girlfriend is an “Anti-harassment” team insider, maybe he can get away with harassing volunteers.

When other people hear what has been happening in Debian recently, it brings unreserved scorn. People have compared the tightly coordinated process of threats and defamation to the work of gangsters and the mafia.

One reader of this site has commented that it looks like the workings of Scientology, who also use excommunication and demotions to maintain control through fear. Her brother had joined that organization some years ago and disconnected her, which is scientology-speak for pretending she doesn’t exist. Sam Hartman’s recent emails asking somebody to take over Pocock’s work are eerily similar. Together, the “Anti-harassment” team and Debian Account Managers have parallels with Scientology’s notorious Sea Organization. For Lamb to impose that type of psychological violence on a volunteer in a time of grief is horrendous.

Scientology

Even GSoC interns have noticed that another Debian Developer’s recent apology email to the debian-project email list looked like a forced confession. An observant reader compared it to Mao’s notorious Thought Reform programs.

Yet if Norbert Preining can be broken down in just three months of gangster-like blackmail, threats, defamation and humiliation, take a moment to imagine what it is like being subject to Mollamby‘s mind control games for over a year while also dealing with significant personal tragedy and grief.

If you have enough empathy to understand, you may well realize why normal people feel completely comfortable comparing Chris Lamb and Molly de Blanc to people like Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu. If not, go and read this article on methods of psychological torture and see how many you can relate to the practices people have complained about in Debian recently. The repetitive assertions that some people are not real Debian Developers, for example, are a form of gaslighting, number 12 in that torture-master’s recipe book.

Here is what Psychology Today says about the practice:

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed.

The way a victim would feel reading Hartman’s email and the subsequent thread is much like what an artist or painter would feel if somebody broke into their studio and set their work on fire. Multiple people doing that deliberately during a time of pain and grief is far worse than the act of a lone vandal.

Have you witnessed abuse in free software communities?

Our advice to anybody else witnessing or experiencing abuse like this is simple: speak up, don’t bottle it up or leave it to somebody else. Don’t assume the leaders or some distant community “safety” team will handle it, as we’ve seen in Debian, those teams have their own agendas. Speak to people face to face, starting with those you trust most.

[Meme] Sensitive to Freedom and Insensitive Towards Those Who Promote It

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Kernel, OSI at 9:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mac, PC, Linux meme: LF, OSI, FSF

Summary: The corrupt Linux Foundation and the infiltrated OSI have nothing to do with software freedom; in fact, they actively work to undermine it and those who speak about it

Weakness of Debian Voting Systems

Posted in Debian, Deception, GNU/Linux at 9:11 am by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

On 9 March, when only one member of the Debian community submitted a nomination and fully-fledged platform four minutes before the deadline, he did so on the full understanding that voters have the option to vote “None of the above”.

In other words, knowing that nobody can win by default, voters could reject and humiliate him.

Or worse.

His platform had been considered carefully over many weeks, despite a couple of typos. If Debian can’t accept that, maybe he should write typos for the White House press office?

One former leader of the project, Steve McIntyre, snubbed it:

I don’t know what you think you’re trying to achieve here

Hadn’t this candidate explained what he was trying to achieve in his platform? Instead of pressing the “send put down” button, why didn’t McIntyre try reading it?

Any reply in support of the sole nomination has been censored, so certain bullies create the impression that theirs is the last word.

He had put himself up for election before yet probably never been so disappointed or shocked. Just as Venezuela’s crisis is now seen as a risk to all their neighbours, the credibility of elections and membership status is a risk to confidence throughout the world of free software. It has already happened in Linux Foundation and FSFE and now we see it happening in Debian.

When the same candidate volunteered to be FSFE Fellowship representative, he faced six other candidates. On the first day of voting, he was rear-ended by a small van, pushed several meters along the road and thrown off a motorbike, half way across a roundabout. He narrowly missed being run over by a bus.

It didn’t stop him. An accident? Russians developing new tactics for election meddling? Premonition of all the backstabbings to come, right up to the fall of Richard Stallman? Miraculously, the 1500-member Fellowship still voted for him to represent them.

Bike accident

Nonetheless, Matthias Kirschner, FSFE President, appointed one of the rival candidates to a superior class of membership just a few months later. He also gave full membership rights to all of his staff, ensuring they could vote in the meeting to remove elections from the constitution. Voters: 0, Cabals: 1.

This Debian Developer’s platform and photo for the FSFE election also emphasizes his role in Debian and some Debian people have always resented that, hence their pathological obsession with trying to control him or discredit him.

Yet in Debian’s elections, he’s hit a dead-end. The outgoing leader of the project derided him for being something less than a “serious” candidate, despite the fact he was the only one who submitted a nomination before the deadline. People notice things like that. It doesn’t stick to the victim, it sticks to Debian.

We must all thank Chris Lamb for interjecting, because it reveals a lot about Debian’s problems. A series of snipes like that, usually made in private, have precipitated increasing hostility in recent times.

A strong and stable

When some people saw Lamb’s comment, they couldn’t help erupting in fits of laughter. The Government of Lamb’s own country, the UK, was elected under the slogan Strong and stable leadership. There used to be a time when the sun never set on the British empire, today the sun never sets on laughter about their lack of a serious plan for Brexit. Serious leadership appears somewhat hard to find. Investigations found that the Pro-Brexit movement cheated with help from Cambridge Analytica and violations of campaign spending limits but the vote won’t be re-run (yet). Voters: 0, Cabals: 2.

It is disappointing when a leader seeks to vet his replacement in the way Chris Lamb did. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez assured everybody that Nicolas Maduro was the only serious candidate who could succeed him. Venezuelans can see the consequences of such interventions by outgoing leaders clearly, but only during daylight, because the power has been out continuously for more than a week now. Many of their best engineers emigrated and Debian risks similar phenomena with these childish antics.

chavez

The whole point of a free and fair election is that voters are the ultimate decision maker and we all put our trust in the voters alone to decide who is the most serious candidate. It is incredible that Lamb called himself a leader but was not willing to talk face-to-face with those people he had differences with.

In any other context, the re-opening of nominations and the repeated character attacks, facilitated by no less than another candidate who already holds office in the Debian Account Managers team would be considered as despicable as plagiarism and doping. So why is this acceptable in Debian? Voters: 0, Cabals: 3. If you ran a foot race this way, nobody would respect the outcome.

relays

Having finished multiple cross countries, steeplechases and the odd marathon, why can’t an independent candidate even start in Debian’s annual election?

In his interview with Mr Sam Varghese of IT Wire, rival candidate Joerg “Ganeff” Jaspert talks about “mutual trust”. Well, he doesn’t have to. Credible leaders put their trust in the voters. That’s democracy. Who is afraid of it? That’s what a serious vote is all about.

Jaspert’s team have gone to further lengths to gain advantages, spreading rumours on the debian-private mailing list that they have “secret evidence” to justify their behaviour. It is amusing to see such ridiculous claims being made in Debian at the same time that Maduro in Venezuela is claiming to have secret evidence that his rival, Guaido, sabotaged the electricity grid. The golden rule of secret evidence: don’t hold your breath waiting for it to materialize.

While Maduro’s claims of sabotage seem far-fetched, it is widely believed that Republican-friendly Enron played a significant role in Californian power shortages, swinging public mood against the Democrat incumbent and catapulting the world’s first Governator into power (excuse the pun). Voters: 0, Cabals: 4.

terminator

If the DAMs do have secret evidence against any Debian Developer, it is only fair to show the evidence to the Developer and give that person a right of reply. If such “evidence” is spread behind somebody’s back, it is because it wouldn’t stand up to any serious scrutiny.

Over the last six months, Jaspert, Lamb and Co can’t even decide whether they’ve demoted or expelled a number of people. That’s not leadership. It’s a disgrace. If people are trusted to choose somebody from outside this bubble of immaturity as the Debian Project Leader, intimidation and shaming would probably come to a stop.

After an independent candidate wrote a blog about human rights in January, it is Jaspert who censored it from Planet Debian just hours later:

censor pocock

Many people were mystified. Why would a blog post about human rights be censored by Debian? People have been scratching their heads trying to work out how it could even remotely violate the code of conduct. Is it because the opening quote came from Jaspert himself and he didn’t want his cavalier attitude put under public scrutiny?

This is not involving anything from the universal declaration of human rights. We are simply a project of volunteers which is free to chose its members as it wishes.

which is a convenient way of eliminating competitors. After trampling on that blog and nomination for the DPL election, it is simply a coincidence that Jaspert was the next to put his hand up and nominate.

In Jonathan Carter’s blog about his candidacy, he quotes Ian Murdock:

You don’t want design by committee, but you want to tap in to the wisdom of the crowd…. the crowd is the most intelligent of all.

If that is true, why is a committee of just three people, one of whom is a candidate, telling the crowd who they can and can’t vote for?

If that isn’t a gerrymander, what is?

Following through on the threat

If you are going to use veiled threats to keep your volunteers in line, every now and then, you have to follow through, as Jaspert has done recently using his DAM position to make defamatory statements in the press.

If Jaspert’s organization really is willing to threaten and shame volunteers and denounce human rights, as he did in this quote, then who would want to be a part of it anyway? Voters: 0, Cabals: 5.

Pocock has stated he remains ready and willing to face “None of the above” and any other candidate, serious or otherwise, on a level playing field, to serve those who would vote for him over and above those who seek to blackmail volunteers and push them around with secret evidence and veiled threats.

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