09.17.20

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When Attempting to Run for Debian Project Leader (DPL), Only to Realise the Process is Rigged (and Censored) to Protect Past Leaders

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, Google at 9:16 pm by Guest Editorial Team

[Editorial note: What we’re seeing in Debian right now is very similar to the EPO under Benoît Battistelli; in order to cover up abuses the leadership race is being rigged in favour of ‘favourable’, ‘safe’ candidates like António Campinos, who would not investigate past leaders for potential abuses because they’re indebted to them]

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

This is the question nobody is allowed to ask:

Imagine you are DPL. In January, an experienced and respected volunteer writes:

You can use my name temporarily while looking for other people to help you in this role… However, I can’t officially commit to help with the duties of an administrator right now.

and in July, he follows up:

Due to unforeseen and extraordinary personal circumstances that I don’t wish to discuss…

The volunteer visits your city every month for work and asks if he can meet you in person. Do you:

    • Use the volunteer to tie up all GSoC and DebConf loose ends over another 2 months
    • Wait until you bank the $17,200 from Google
    • Ignore the volunteer’s public resignation
    • Send a complaint to Debian Account Managers
    • Send emails to other organizations denouncing the volunteer
    • Receive and brag about another big cheque from Google
    • When the volunteer works up the courage to challenge you publicly on debian-project, lie and deny what you wrote
    • Prompt people to stalk the volunteer at events?
  1. Or do you accept the suggested meeting, do the right thing and try to find a low key solution?

Ballot


DPL elections 2020: nomination censored (reprinted with permission from Debian Community News)

Many people wondered what all the fuss has been about banning and censoring people from Debian in recent years. The answer? Dirty politics. Nominations for Debian Project Leader were announced on Saturday, 7 March and the next day, outgoing leader Sam Hartman attacked another would-be candidate with false accusations of trolling.

The candidate has chosen to share his platform publicly. Do you think this would make Debian a more friendly place for everybody?


Subject: nomination and platform

Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2020

From: a volunteer

To: debian-vote@lists.debian.org

Dear Fellow Developers,

I’m running for DPL again this year. This is my nomination.

I have a clear platform and I can deliver what I promise.

In August 2018, while dealing with a number of extraordinary situations in my life outside Debian, I politely informed people that I was resigning from the GSoC team. I had planned to take a rest. It was completely appropriate at that time. From Debian’s point of view, there was nothing more to it than that.

A few weeks later, as I departed on my vacation in September 2018, a vacation I really needed at that time, I received some emails from certain people in Debian. To quote Sam Hartman, it felt like a “Campaign of Harassment”.

Linus Torvalds took a widely publicized vacation, nobody attacked him for that. Why can’t Debian Developers take a vacation too?

My policy therefore is that if you vote for me as DPL, I will end the experiments started by previous DPLs. Then I will immediately try to have my vacation again. While I’m on vacation, you won’t hear from me. Its a new experiment:

How does the project survive when the DPL goes walkabout?

I may well head off to the outback for some indeterminate period of time, free from any concerns about Coronavirus and DebConf’s foray into middle east politics.

While I’m on holiday, I’ll prepare a constitutional change that protects the rights of all Debian Developers to have holidays without interruptions. Any decisions made while a Developer is on vacation, at Christmas, in hospital or otherwise unavailable will be null and void. This is retrospective from the beginning of the project, therefore any previous communications sent while Developers were on vacation, at Christmas or late on a Sunday night are also null and void. I feel that is good for every Developer and the project as a whole.

That is my platform and I’m confident that it can be delivered.


Debian, Chris Lamb and a Campaign of Harassment-by-Proxy (reprinted with permission from Debian Community News)

One of the law suits to define the age of social media is Herrick v. Grindr LLC. Herrick’s ex-boyfriend has created fake profiles impersonating Herrick, inviting arbitrary strangers to visit Herrick at his workplace. The case has been escalated all the way to the US Supreme Court. It is an example of harassment-by-proxy.

In a recent email, the Debian Project Leader made a rather confused report about a campaign of harassment. It is confusing because officials in the Debian aristocracy have used the project’s resources to pretend they are victims. It is otherwise known as victim-offender reversal.

The simple fact of the matter is that a volunteer resigned from a post in August 2018 and cited extraordinary personal circumstances in a private email to the former leader, Chris Lamb.

Nobody from the project made any attempt to communicate with this volunteer for a month. Then, just as the volunteer was departing on vacation, Enrico Zini, one of the Debian Account Managers, sent an insulting email alleging the volunteer wasn’t a real developer. This intrusion on a developer’s vacation is a pretty grave example of harassment. People have complained about trolls on Debian’s mailing list but none of them have stooped so low as sabotaging a volunteer’s vacation.

At the same moment, the former DPL, Lamb, was sending out messages to denounce the volunteer. He conscripted an Albanian to relay those messages into other parts of the free software community.

As a consequence of those messages, initiated by Lamb, the volunteer is constantly being confronted with questions about his family and personal life. People asking the questions don’t know enough about the case to know they are intruding on somebody’s private life. They have been used by Lamb, Zini et al. to cause extreme discomfort to another volunteer. This is a campaign of harassment-by-proxy, orchestrated by Lamb, much like the harassment described in Herrick v. Grindr LLC.

Rogue elements of the Debian aristocracy, using proxies, have stalked him at free software events. Over a period of 15 months, they have sought to burn and desecrate every area where the volunteer contributes to free software.

Some people are asking who is harassing who. Yet the facts are clear: the volunteer resigned from his role in August 2018, the first abusive messages were unilaterally sent by project officials towards the volunteer some weeks after that. Lamb and Zini lit this fire.

This persistent campaign of harassment, the leader and office holders using Debian’s otherwise good reputation to suck other people into insulting a volunteer, is about as bad as it can get. It is scary to contemplate where it will end.

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