Discussion:
Q to Mehdi: safe and fun
(too old to reply)
martin f krafft
2017-03-25 12:52:32 UTC
Permalink
Dear Mehdi,

among your priorities for your next term, should you get elected, is
"Ensuring the community remains safe and fun". Yet, I cannot find
much about that in your platform.

Could you elaborate how you're intending to ensure a safe and fun
community?

What are some examples in which our community is safe and fun
already?

What are some examples in which the opposite applies, i.e. where we
need to act? What's missing?

What is your perception of the Debian code of conduct, and related
institutions like the anti-harrassment team? Are they working well?
How would we know?

What is your perception of the DebConf code of conduct and incidence
response?
--
.''`. martin f. krafft <***@d.o> @martinkrafft
: :' : proud Debian developer
`. `'` http://people.debian.org/~madduck
`- Debian - when you have better things to do than fixing systems

"eine schlechte sache erregt, eine gute verträgt viel kritik."
-- charles tschopp
Martín Ferrari
2017-03-29 05:58:36 UTC
Permalink
Mehdi,

In your platform you list "Ensuring the community remains safe and fun"
as your first priority for the next term.

I need to ask why you think in this term you will manage to do so, when
I believe you failed to do so in the last year.


Some context for the rest of the readers.

For many years, my main involvement in Debian has been helping with
DebConf. I was delegated as DebConf Chair by Lucas in August 2014, a
position I held until October 2015 when all three chairs resigned in block.

I resigned because I could not withstand the burnout any more, the
sleepless nights, and being in anger all the time.

For me, all that harm came mostly from one determined person, and a few
followers. Many current and former DebConf-team members agree with this
diagnosis.

This person, and a couple others can be blamed directly for the burnout,
resignations, and vacations many valuable volunteers took during my tenure.


The DPL at the time knew about this, but he did nothing to improve the
situation.

After you were elected as DPL, me and many other people spent loads of
time discussing with you the problems within DebConf: political and
personal.

Later last year, a large number of long-time core DebConf organisers
asked you to find a way to remove from the team the person we all agreed
caused the most damage.

After two months, you came up with a compromise that I found severely
insufficient. To this day, I can see that not even that compromise
solution was followed.

I am not coming back to DebConf-team, other people I know are not going
back either, or have drastically reduced their involvement. We've burned
through many volunteers along the years, our most precious resource.

It seems that Debian has not yet managed to get rid of the “But he does
good work” mentality.
--
Martín Ferrari (Tincho)
Tiago Bortoletto Vaz
2017-03-29 12:53:02 UTC
Permalink
Hi,
Post by martin f krafft
Mehdi,
In your platform you list "Ensuring the community remains safe and fun"
as your first priority for the next term.
I need to ask why you think in this term you will manage to do so, when
I believe you failed to do so in the last year.
Being also touched by the same issues so many times I share Martín's
concerns here.

[...]
Post by martin f krafft
It seems that Debian has not yet managed to get rid of the “But he does
good work” mentality.
Exactly. As a local, I'm quite involved in DebConf orga this year and
can state that this mentality is still quite present, unfortunately.

Thanks Martín for bringing this. I'd like to hear both candidates about
this matter.

Bests,
--
tiago
Chris Lamb
2017-03-29 16:13:52 UTC
Permalink
Hi Tiago,
Post by martin f krafft
It seems that Debian has not yet managed to get rid of the “But he does
good work” mentality.
[..] I'd like to hear both candidates about this matter.
Unfortunately I've nothing insightful to chime in with here except the
rather trite remark that doing good work is no justification for poor
etiquette, let alone anything more damaging to people or the project's
goals.

I had a few long conversations on this topic in general recently with
folks like Nadia Eghbal, Deb Nicholson et. al which made me feel
optimistic that it is possible for free software culture to evolve.

Perhaps it will take longer in Debian given our relative vintage but it,
doesn't mean we shouldn't try.


Best wishes,
--
,''`.
: :' : Chris Lamb
`. `'` ***@debian.org / chris-lamb.co.uk
`-
Sean Whitton
2017-03-29 20:37:27 UTC
Permalink
Dear Chris,
Post by Chris Lamb
I had a few long conversations on this topic in general recently with
folks like Nadia Eghbal, Deb Nicholson et. al which made me feel
optimistic that it is possible for free software culture to evolve.
Could you share some of the reasons for your optimism?
--
Sean Whitton
Chris Lamb
2017-03-29 21:20:57 UTC
Permalink
Hi Sean,
Post by Sean Whitton
Post by Chris Lamb
I had a few long conversations on this topic in general recently with
folks like Nadia Eghbal, Deb Nicholson et. al which made me feel
optimistic that it is possible for free software culture to evolve.
Could you share some of the reasons for your optimism?
Well, the needle on diversity/gender issues is certainly different from,
say, five years ago. This shows that social change is possible even if we
are not where we might want to be just yet.

In addition, various success stories — admittedly in more plastic and
hierarchical communities — show that toxic behaviour can be managed to
some degree.


Best wishes,
--
,''`.
: :' : Chris Lamb
`. `'` ***@debian.org / chris-lamb.co.uk
`-
Mehdi Dogguy
2017-03-31 02:00:49 UTC
Permalink
Martin,
Post by martin f krafft
Mehdi,
In your platform you list "Ensuring the community remains safe and fun"
as your first priority for the next term.
I need to ask why you think in this term you will manage to do so, when
I believe you failed to do so in the last year.
I think you are being unfair here. You can read my reply to madduck's
question on the same subject "safe and fun".

But as a reminder of a few points:
- I was able to restaff the AH team quickly and do regular pings to ensure it
remains functional
- I am really optimistic the AH team will be able to publish regular reports
- The new DebConf Committee delegation is working properly and I do not see
major issues putting DebConf or Debian's finances at risk
- I have encouraged sprints, BSPs, acquisition of hardware, etc... and worked
on simplifying a bit the reimbursement process.
- I have automated production of DD certificates and thanks to nm.d.o's
notifications, I contact every new DD to make sure they get all the attention
and help they need.
- I have organized multiple sessions at DebConf to make sure important
subjects get some attention.

And I am pretty sure I'll have new ideas to implement or suggest with time.
So stating that I failed is a bit harsh, IMHO.
Post by martin f krafft
Some context for the rest of the readers.
For many years, my main involvement in Debian has been helping with
DebConf. I was delegated as DebConf Chair by Lucas in August 2014, a
position I held until October 2015 when all three chairs resigned in block.
I resigned because I could not withstand the burnout any more, the
sleepless nights, and being in anger all the time.
For me, all that harm came mostly from one determined person, and a few
followers. Many current and former DebConf-team members agree with this
diagnosis.
This person, and a couple others can be blamed directly for the burnout,
resignations, and vacations many valuable volunteers took during my tenure.
The DPL at the time knew about this, but he did nothing to improve the
situation.
After you were elected as DPL, me and many other people spent loads of
time discussing with you the problems within DebConf: political and
personal.
In fact, this is not really true. I have tried really hard to find people
ready to talk about DebConf, its issues, how to enhance it, etc... For a
long period of time, I have not managed to find anyone to have that
discussion. So "many people" is a bit exaggerated.

I think we have had a really nice and productive discussion during Debian
SunCamp. And I remember other attendees of the event that joined us (a bit
later) and shared their thoughts on DebConf in general.
Post by martin f krafft
Later last year, a large number of long-time core DebConf organisers
asked you to find a way to remove from the team the person we all agreed
caused the most damage.
After two months, you came up with a compromise that I found severely
insufficient. To this day, I can see that not even that compromise
solution was followed.
It was not a compromise (and still isn't). It is a first step solution.
You may accept that complex situations require complex paths for resolution
and take time. And this first step solution is still implemented as of today.
We cannot reasonably expect anyone to resolve in a few weeks (or even months)
issues of this complexity lasting for more than a couple of years.

I said explicitly that a DPL is not the good person to talk to when it
is about expulsion. That's DAM's territory. I can relay them the case but
at some point, they will also need to talk to all involved parties in order
to make a decision. And the decision is really theirs.

If you want to ban someone from a mailing list, you may contact list-masters.
If you want to ban someone from IRC, you may contact IRC operators.
if you want to ben someone from the project, you may contact DAM.
If you contact the DPL, then you're asking for some mediation.

I have done a mediation and I did implement something that solves some
issues in the short term. There is still a fair amount of work to do in
order to fix the problem on the longer term. But, in such complex and long
lasting situations, it is very important to work together. I do not expect
anyone to reach any useful result while working alone on the matter.

After all the energy and time I have invested on this matter, I have to admit
that I found a bit rude to get a synchronized reply like "We did not expect
this solution. Sorry, you failed". It was like a sentence and I did not have
the right to respond. To this day, this is the first mail I get from you
and you (and any other from the signees) did not want to work with me on
the matter. I recognize my mail back then could have been better worded
and I am really sorry for that. I can also imagine that the outcome was
not the one you were looking for. But if we cannot discuss together calmly
about this subject, I fear we will not be able to get anything positive.

It is crucial to be able to identify scenarios, analyze and evaluate them
together. I cannot read minds, but I can discuss until I get a clear
understanding of the situation and, more importantly, a perfect understanding
of your expectations (and criteria for acceptable solutions). We may have
failed to get our mutual expectations right. And it goes without saying that
I am still ready and motivated to restart our discussion from scratch in
order to get better solutions.

Telling me "here is a problem. now it is your problem" doesn't work.
Replying once "your fist attempt is not the one I wanted. you failed. good
bye" is not helping anyone of us.
Refusing to talk to someone putting huge efforts and motivation will not
help your cause.

Sincerely,
--
Mehdi
Holger Levsen
2017-03-31 10:38:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mehdi Dogguy
If you want to ban someone from a mailing list, you may contact list-masters.
If you want to ban someone from IRC, you may contact IRC operators.
if you want to ben someone from the project, you may contact DAM.
If you contact the DPL, then you're asking for some mediation.
I must say I'm disappointed by this response in the context of debconf-team


Banning someone is a last step, what's lacking are steps before that.

Granted mediation *is* a step before banning, but IMO it didnt work well in
the context of debconf-team
 though "didnt work well" is a very mild way to
put it :-(

Also, I think mediation was tried way too late (=years), after several team
members burned out, left and were not interested in mediation anymore.

(Sadly I have not much constructive to say here right now
)
--
cheers,
Holger
Mehdi Dogguy
2017-04-01 21:52:51 UTC
Permalink
Hi holger,
Post by Holger Levsen
Post by Mehdi Dogguy
If you want to ban someone from a mailing list, you may contact list-masters.
If you want to ban someone from IRC, you may contact IRC operators.
if you want to ben someone from the project, you may contact DAM.
If you contact the DPL, then you're asking for some mediation.
I must say I'm disappointed by this response in the context of debconf-team

Can you please clarify what you find disappointing and why here?
Post by Holger Levsen
Banning someone is a last step, what's lacking are steps before that.
Granted mediation *is* a step before banning, but IMO it didnt work well in
the context of debconf-team
 though "didnt work well" is a very mild way to
put it :-(
Also, I think mediation was tried way too late (=years), after several team
members burned out, left and were not interested in mediation anymore.
(Sadly I have not much constructive to say here right now
)
Holger Levsen
2017-04-06 17:17:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mehdi Dogguy
Post by Holger Levsen
Post by Mehdi Dogguy
If you want to ban someone from a mailing list, you may contact list-masters.
If you want to ban someone from IRC, you may contact IRC operators.
if you want to ben someone from the project, you may contact DAM.
If you contact the DPL, then you're asking for some mediation.
I must say I'm disappointed by this response in the context of debconf-team

Can you please clarify what you find disappointing and why here?
in the case "of debconf-team", I dont think banning $that person from the
lists or from irc would be appropriate (one can be very very annoying and
yet not violating any rules) and offering mediation by the DPL *now*, after
several people left or severely reduced their involvement, is also way too
late.

hope that clarifies.
Post by Mehdi Dogguy
Post by Holger Levsen
Banning someone is a last step, what's lacking are steps before that.
Granted mediation *is* a step before banning, but IMO it didnt work well in
the context of debconf-team
 though "didnt work well" is a very mild way to
put it :-(
Also, I think mediation was tried way too late (=years), after several team
members burned out, left and were not interested in mediation anymore.
(Sadly I have not much constructive to say here right now
)
--
cheers,
Holger
Mehdi Dogguy
2017-04-08 09:17:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Holger Levsen
Post by Mehdi Dogguy
Post by Holger Levsen
Post by Mehdi Dogguy
If you want to ban someone from a mailing list, you may contact list-masters.
If you want to ban someone from IRC, you may contact IRC operators.
if you want to ben someone from the project, you may contact DAM.
If you contact the DPL, then you're asking for some mediation.
I must say I'm disappointed by this response in the context of debconf-team

Can you please clarify what you find disappointing and why here?
in the case "of debconf-team", I dont think banning $that person from the
lists or from irc would be appropriate (one can be very very annoying and
yet not violating any rules) and offering mediation by the DPL *now*, after
several people left or severely reduced their involvement, is also way too
late.
Ok, thank you for the clarification. FWIW, as you guessed, I was recalling
the role of DPL in such situations. Everyone has the right to ask for
expulsions. It is up the team in charge to decide on the matter.

I agree that the issue at hand should have been dealt with in 2014 or 2015
(where most of the damage was done). But we cannot cross arms and wait until
things move away. I still believe we can find an acceptable solution for both
parties (which doesn't mean both stand on their initial position and we
are able to find magical solutions
). So discussing with both is still useful.
(at least IMHO). So "way too late" (maybe yes) but still not useless!
--
Mehdi
Martín Ferrari
2017-04-11 00:02:57 UTC
Permalink
I started many drafts responses to this, but I've decided I won't keep
flogging this particular horse.

Nevertheless, since this is on the record, I want to clarify a couple of
things, otherwise people not familiar with the issue might think I am
making a fuzz about nothing.

What I am talking about here is a years-long harassing problem that led
to the burnout of many contributors of one of the core teams in Debian.
As a community we had been unable to handle this person, after many
attempts.

Previous DPLs were asked -and tried- to mediate, without success. Mehdi
was aware of the issue and after he was elected DPL in April 2016, he
was asked for help. After DebConf16 passed with no visible changes, a
group of long-term and core organisers asked the DPL to help find a way
to remove this person from the team --but not from Debian.

After waiting for two months we were informed by Mehdi that as
first-step solution, he had asked this person to "stay away from
Debconf17" (which had started being prepared almost a year before). This
person supposedly agreed to stay away, but he continued being visibly
active to this day.

Furthermore, we were blamed by the DPL for "no-one asking him to stop"
in public during sessions at DC16, even if it was already expressed that
we were burnt-out and stressed from the constant struggle. And that we
should ask DAM to remove him from the project if we wanted him out,
which was never our request.

Finally, the DPL stated that if the signees wanted to stop him from
contributing to DebConf in the future, it was our responsibility to
ensure that he gets this information straight during DC17.

All this seems to me like a typical case of victim-blaming and
protecting the harasser. And that is why I bring all this noise to the list.
--
Martín Ferrari (Tincho)
Holger Levsen
2017-04-24 21:34:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Martín Ferrari
After waiting for two months we were informed by Mehdi that as
first-step solution, he had asked this person to "stay away from
Debconf17" (which had started being prepared almost a year before). This
person supposedly agreed to stay away, but he continued being visibly
active to this day.
yup, the dpl asked kindly and the DD didnt comply.
Post by Martín Ferrari
All this seems to me like a typical case of victim-blaming and
protecting the harasser. And that is why I bring all this noise to the list.
kudos for your energy.
--
cheers,
Holger
Mehdi Dogguy
2017-03-30 00:48:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by martin f krafft
Dear Mehdi,
among your priorities for your next term, should you get elected, is
"Ensuring the community remains safe and fun". Yet, I cannot find
much about that in your platform.
Could you elaborate how you're intending to ensure a safe and fun
community?
Last year, I had to find new volunteers for the Anti-Harrassment team.
Since then, I pinged the team regularly (by mail or by discussing over
IRC with some of its members) to make sure someone is dealing with mails.

I also tried to encourage press, anti-harassment and DAM teams to work
together whenever an issue comes up. I believe they should work tightly
together because they can have complementary roles in the same problem
and synchronization between them is quite important.

We have discussed with A.H. team about the idea of making a short report
about current issues and how the team dealt with them. This could be a
way to: a) inform project members regularly that they are active and
working on issues raised by individuals; b) be transparent about issues
Debian's community might be facing. Of course, the report would only mention
the nature of the problems and solutions brought by the team. It must
not disclose private information. Unfortunately, we did not make much
progress on this report, but I am convinced this is something we need.
And I really want to make this happen.

About Code of Conduct, I think it can be enhanced in two simple ways:
1) make consequences of misbehavior more explicit. We are really not
only talking about banning members from mailing-lists, but persistent
offenders can be truly banned from the project.
2) List contacts directly in the code of conduct and do not link to the
organization page. The information about whom to contact in case of
issues should be easy to find and we should force readers to go
through a long list of teams.

The fun side is related to safety. People gather often to work together.
We should encourage them to meet and socialize. Encouraging more meetups
is a way. We should ask every team to try to organize a sprint. Make it
regular. In order to keep such events safe, we must remind attendees about
the values that are important to our community (which are well described
in our CoC and our diversity statement) and tell them which team to contact
in case of problems.
--
Mehdi
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