March 9th, 2020

Forged Email

Last night, a series of forged emails was sent to a number of places around the Debian, Ubuntu and Free Software communities. The meat of the mail was a fake message from me to debian-private with the subject "DebConf19 Diversity Girls." I didn't write such a message.
I view this message as the latest installment in a campaign of attacks on Debian that attempt to undermine the project and take up the time of our members.
I was expecting something like this: yesterday, I banned Daniel Pocock from the project.There's been a pattern of related events over the past year and a half:

  • Confrontational messages from Daniel that do not stop even when moderators of the discussion forum ask him to stop.
  • Anonymous messages that expand on the points Daniel has been making accusing people and organizations of misconduct
  • Without claiming authorship of these anonymous messages, Daniel quickly expands on the messages in his blogs and goes forward assuming these anonymous claims are true
  • Use of mechanisms described on Daniel's websites to bypass moderation of community forums and other mechanisms designed to reach people who are not interested in the communication on the part of Daniel and the anonymous messages
  • And now, forged emails

  • This campaign involves a lot of activities hurtful to members of our community. The "DebConf19 Diversity Girls" message was no exception. It alleges misconduct on the part of members of our community. Through the #metoo movement we've seen countless examples of victims standing up, demanding to be acknowledged and demanding that abusers are held accountable. That's not what is happening here. This message combines half-truths with a shocking presentation to damage Debian. It does not work to improve Debian. It is not championing the cause of someone trying to get redress for wrongs done to them.
    I reject this approach and the intent behind this forged message and the broader campaign that it fits into.


    However, I also feel it is important to reassure everyone that Debian is committed to creating a safe and welcoming community. We take concerns about misconduct seriously. We particularly encourage anyone who has concerns about their safety in the debian community or concerns about how they are treated to talk to us. I am available as the project leader. Our community team is available. We will work to understand and resolve your concern.
    While I think the presentation was hurtful and inappropriate, I also do acknowledge that personal conflict of interest is something that we all should be aware of. When we are taking on roles that have power within the project, we can create situations where we need to be extra careful to respect people's boundaries. There are cases where a personal conflict of interest may prevent us from being in certain personal relationships while also acting in a role within the project that could affect those relationships.
    I think we are already generally aware of these issues. Even so, as we continue to build a community that does a better job respecting its members and their boundaries, it benefits us to continue to refine our approach to important issues like conflict of interest. Sometimes that will involve awareness. Sometimes that will involve crafting more clear policies around the issues. It does not involve vague accusations spammed to the entire Free Software community. If I were actually writing a message on these topics, it would look a lot more like the paragraph above than the message forged in my name.