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To: gentoo-devrel@g.o
From: Michael Tindal <urilith@g.o>
Subject: Exchanges with Ciaranm
Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2005 01:30:17 -0500
These are all of the emails that were exchanged between myself and
ciaranm.  They're the raw form of the email, just pasted here.  I do not
agree with everything he put, as he obviously does not agree with
everything in the proposal, however, he does bring up several points
worthy of discussion, and I do not want to paraphrase it and
unintentionally misinterpret what he meant.  Also, do not take these as
me or him attempting to flame or undermine devrel.  These reponses were
in reponse to the proposal and the problems the proposal intends to fix.

---

First email (From me to ciaranm):

Hey Ciaran,

	I wanted to write you to let you know some things that have happened
since you left, and should help ease some of your concerns.  Your
observations were spot on, but I'd like to clear up some things.  Devrel
did admit there were problems in the process, and I have written a
proposal which should be instituted within devrel on Tuesday, and
clarifies the process, makes the process more transparent, and ensures
that something like your situation happens again.

	It ensures that any evidence used in a decision to take action, and the
details that determine that action are publicly viewable from the start.
 It also takes the power to make those decisions from one or two people
and puts it into a group of people.  It also includes some clarification
of who devrel answers to, and makes it so devrel isnt immune to being
changed or challenged.

	You can view this proposal at
http://dev.gentoo.org/~urilith/devrel-proposal.txt.  I'd definitely like
to hear your thoughts on it, whether you think its a good step forward
(its not trying to solve every problem, just giving us a base from which
to work forward), and what you would have changed.

Mike Tindal

---

First reply from ciaranm:

On Sun, 05 Jun 2005 18:54:07 -0500 Michael Tindal <urilith@g.o>
wrote:
| 	You can view this proposal at
| http://dev.gentoo.org/~urilith/devrel-proposal.txt.  I'd definitely
| like to hear your thoughts on it, whether you think its a good step
| forward (its not trying to solve every problem, just giving us a base
| from which to work forward), and what you would have changed.

Hm. It's a start, but there're things it doesn't address:

* The outcome can still be decided by a very small number of devrel
members. With the current situation, even various devrel members are
calling their own system a "kangaroo court". I was told by no less than
three different devrel members that dmwaters and jhuebel were dead set
on suspending me and that nothing said at the meeting that they were
planning would affect the outcome. With this proposal, a few highly
biased members on the Judiciary project can still skew the outcome for
personal vendettas.

* The people who will not be able to act in separate capacities during
the Investigation and Judiciary phases are the people who will claim
that they can. Being involved in one phase must utterly preclude being
involved in the other phase.

* The proposed system is still heavily skewed in favour of anyone who
happens to make a complaint. There is a huge 'Investigation'
(prosecution) group. We've already seen that devrel will attempt to
obfuscate any complaint by using pseudo-legal jargon (and getting it
wrong, no less). There should be an equally huge defence group.

* The proposed system is still heavily skewed towards a very small
number of people having all the power. Being on the Judiciary board
should utterly preclude also being a manager, foundation member or being
in any other position which has influence upon how devrel operate. The
final paragraph is insufficient.

* The proposal does not address devrel's lack of perspective on what the
real problems are. From experience, any complaint to devrel regarding
technical aspects, tree breakage or the like is met with "We are not
prepared to discuss this". However, devrel will be quite happy to
investigate claims from people who put out intentionally false press
releases when someone objects to us lying to our users, and they will
quite happily investigate claims from the ricer crowd that were clearly
just put together to cause trouble.

* The proposal does nothing to discourage people from using devrel as a
way of avoiding having sensible discussion. There is still no reason for
someone who thinks that they have a complaint to ask for clarification.
For example, a forums mod could still quite happily take some quote
completely out of context, misunderstand it thanks to not speaking
english english, use it as a complaint and not bother to find out what
the actual issues involved are. Sure, it *might* be caught later on if
people are actually ever told what the charges against them are, but
that's a hell of a lot of mess.

Incidentally, it may amuse you to find out that devrel still haven't
told me what the actual charges against me were, and the only reason I
know about them is because someone was kind enough to give me an HTML
dump of a restricted access bug. What's worse is that of all the things
that devrel *could* have legitimately gotten me for, not one of them is
in that bug.

Anyway, have fun. By all means use my observations thingie as a
justification for your proposal if you haven't done so already.
Something else that may help you -- I've received quite a few emails
from people saying they're seriously considering resigning because of
the behaviour from a few people in devrel. Might add some clout...

*shrug* I think it's a nice start. I don't think it's enough, but
equally I don't think anything that would really fix things would be
accepted.

Regards,
-- Ciaran McCreesh Mail: ciaranm at firedrop.org.uk

---

Second email from me to Ciaranm:

Ciaran McCreesh wrote:

>> On Sun, 05 Jun 2005 18:54:07 -0500 Michael Tindal <urilith@g.o>
>> wrote:
>> | 	You can view this proposal at
>> | http://dev.gentoo.org/~urilith/devrel-proposal.txt.  I'd definitely
>> | like to hear your thoughts on it, whether you think its a good step
>> | forward (its not trying to solve every problem, just giving us a base
>> | from which to work forward), and what you would have changed.
>>
>> Hm. It's a start, but there're things it doesn't address:
>>
>> * The outcome can still be decided by a very small number of devrel
>> members. With the current situation, even various devrel members are
>> calling their own system a "kangaroo court". I was told by no less than
>> three different devrel members that dmwaters and jhuebel were dead set
>> on suspending me and that nothing said at the meeting that they were
>> planning would affect the outcome. With this proposal, a few highly
>> biased members on the Judiciary project can still skew the outcome for
>> personal vendettas.



Thanks for your quick reply.  I will definitely reword some of this
then, since the entire proposal was brought about by my utter disgust in
how they treated your situation.

The proposal isn't supposed to be a means by which to solve all
problems, I would expect that to take more time, however it does attempt
to address several issues that exist within devrel at this time.  Under
this proposal, any evidence used to reach a decision (which was not
presented to you, for example) must be available to the public at the
time that decision is reached.  If for some reason the members are
biased, the evidence available will point to that, and the decision
overturned.  Having too many people sit on the panel just increases the
chances for bias.


>> * The people who will not be able to act in separate capacities during
>> the Investigation and Judiciary phases are the people who will claim
>> that they can. Being involved in one phase must utterly preclude being
>> involved in the other phase.


I will add that clarification then.  I didn't get enough comments from
-core to justify changing the wording, but since the proposal was for
your treatment, I value your opinion above others at this point.


>> * The proposed system is still heavily skewed in favour of anyone who
>> happens to make a complaint. There is a huge 'Investigation'
>> (prosecution) group. We've already seen that devrel will attempt to
>> obfuscate any complaint by using pseudo-legal jargon (and getting it
>> wrong, no less). There should be an equally huge defence group.


Hmm, I do not believe I limited the size of the defense group.  The
system within the investigative subgroup still favors complaintants, I
agree, however, the requirement of being publicly available should keep
the judicial subgroup from favoring any party.  I will however add
specific wording to the effect that a defendant may have any number of
peers dispute evidence or claims in their defense.  Would this be
sufficient to avoid bias at the judicial level?


>> * The proposed system is still heavily skewed towards a very small
>> number of people having all the power. Being on the Judiciary board
>> should utterly preclude also being a manager, foundation member or being
>> in any other position which has influence upon how devrel operate. The
>> final paragraph is insufficient.


I will add wording to that effect then.  Like I mentioned previously, I
did not receive strong enough opinions.


>> * The proposal does not address devrel's lack of perspective on what the
>> real problems are. From experience, any complaint to devrel regarding
>> technical aspects, tree breakage or the like is met with "We are not
>> prepared to discuss this". However, devrel will be quite happy to
>> investigate claims from people who put out intentionally false press
>> releases when someone objects to us lying to our users, and they will
>> quite happily investigate claims from the ricer crowd that were clearly
>> just put together to cause trouble.


Unfortunately that is beyond the scope of this proposal.  If you would
like, I can write up another proposal to discuss with devrel that would
add specific policies dicussing the differences between these
complaints.  This proposal is just trying to open the process up so
someone isnt unjustly suspended like you were.


>> * The proposal does nothing to discourage people from using devrel as a
>> way of avoiding having sensible discussion. There is still no reason for
>> someone who thinks that they have a complaint to ask for clarification.
>> For example, a forums mod could still quite happily take some quote
>> completely out of context, misunderstand it thanks to not speaking
>> english english, use it as a complaint and not bother to find out what
>> the actual issues involved are. Sure, it *might* be caught later on if
>> people are actually ever told what the charges against them are, but
>> that's a hell of a lot of mess.


Under this proposal people must be told what the charges are, or no
decision can be brought against them.  If you would like, I can add
specific wording to say that evidence must include the complete context
of the quote (perhaps the whole page, relevant posts, etc), or the
evidence cannot be used (much like the proposal states private evidence
cannot be used).


>> Incidentally, it may amuse you to find out that devrel still haven't
>> told me what the actual charges against me were, and the only reason I
>> know about them is because someone was kind enough to give me an HTML
>> dump of a restricted access bug. What's worse is that of all the things
>> that devrel *could* have legitimately gotten me for, not one of them is
>> in that bug.


It does not amuse me, since that was the entire reason I wrote this
proposal.  This proposal requires charges to be publicly documented.
See http://dev.gentoo.org/~urilith/warning-suspension-draft.txt for some
drafts of the forms.  In your case, your charges would have been in the
first URL, the evidence in the second.  And I agree the bug is bullshit.
  As do many people.  It might also make you feel better to know
g2boojum agrees the bug is insufficient.  You might wish to appeal the
decision following Tuesday's meeting, stating that there is not enough
publicly accessible evidence to justify your suspension.  There's quite
a few people in the project who would agree with me (myself included).


>> Anyway, have fun. By all means use my observations thingie as a
>> justification for your proposal if you haven't done so already.
>> Something else that may help you -- I've received quite a few emails
>> from people saying they're seriously considering resigning because of
>> the behaviour from a few people in devrel. Might add some clout...
>>
>> *shrug* I think it's a nice start. I don't think it's enough, but
>> equally I don't think anything that would really fix things would be
>> accepted.


I don't think its enough, either, incidentally.  However, my main
concern was trying to get something in to make it more transparent, and
hopefully convince you to come back, either when you appeal or when your
60 days is up.  Theres many people in the project who miss your
technical knowledge and the things you have done.  If theres anything
else you would like me to bring up to devrel, I would be more than happy
to.  Also, would you mind if I shared these three emails with devrel to
show that you do indeed have legitimate, reponsible claims?  It would
definitely provide proof that you're not just trying to turn the issues
away from yourself.

Thanks,

Mike Tindal

---

Second reply from ciaranm:

On Mon, 06 Jun 2005 17:40:00 -0500 Michael Tindal <urilith@g.o>
wrote:
| The proposal isn't supposed to be a means by which to solve all
| problems, I would expect that to take more time, however it does
| attempt to address several issues that exist within devrel at this
| time.  Under this proposal, any evidence used to reach a decision
| (which was not presented to you, for example) must be available to the
| public at the time that decision is reached.  If for some reason the
| members are biased, the evidence available will point to that, and the
| decision overturned.  Having too many people sit on the panel just
| increases the chances for bias.

Problem is, this still leaves judgement in the hands of a very small
number of people. If these were people like g2boojum or fmccor, who
really do seem to be capable of acting without bias, it wouldn't be a
problem. On the other hand, give it to the current crowd and we're back
at the kangaroo court. At the very least, the committee would need to
include people from a variety of roles -- ensure that there are some
real 'tree' people in there as well as the current PR and relations
shower.

Whilst we're at it, there's another related issue which I'm probably
not going to explain very clearly.

We're dealing with a bunch of developers who, by and large, use words to
mean exactly what they're intended to mean. Equally, we've already seen
that devrel love incorrectly using various pseudo-legal terms because
they think that it tries to add weight to their arguments -- the
warning I was sent was very much a Humpty Dumpty ("When I use a word, it
means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.") use of
English. So if, say, someone is accused of "slander", chances are
they'll respond to the allegation of slander, and not to the allegation
of "not being sufficiently tactful when making truthful statements",
which is what devrel actually mean.

If the judiciary committee happens to consist of (as it probably will)
the types who are currently highly placed within devrel, they'll
interpret the incorrect accusations as what they were trying to say, not
what they actually meant. This is an immediate and extremely large bias
against the accused, who will be busy trying to defend himself against
what he was actually accused of.

There are ways around this. I'd suggest requiring that all warnings are
given in plain, straight forward english and that they must state what
is meant.

| > * The proposed system is still heavily skewed in favour of anyone
| > who happens to make a complaint. There is a huge 'Investigation'
| > (prosecution) group. We've already seen that devrel will attempt to
| > obfuscate any complaint by using pseudo-legal jargon (and getting it
| > wrong, no less). There should be an equally huge defence group.
|
| Hmm, I do not believe I limited the size of the defense group.  The
| system within the investigative subgroup still favors complaintants, I
| agree, however, the requirement of being publicly available should
| keep the judicial subgroup from favoring any party.  I will however
| add specific wording to the effect that a defendant may have any
| number of peers dispute evidence or claims in their defense.  Would
| this be sufficient to avoid bias at the judicial level?

I'd rather see something along the lines of a dedicated defence group,
*on top of* the extra peers. It's unreasonable to expect some people to
be able to compete fairly with the hard-core witch hunters.

| > * The proposal does not address devrel's lack of perspective on what
| > the real problems are. From experience, any complaint to devrel
| > regarding technical aspects, tree breakage or the like is met with
| > "We are not prepared to discuss this". However, devrel will be quite
| > happy to investigate claims from people who put out intentionally
| > false press releases when someone objects to us lying to our users,
| > and they will quite happily investigate claims from the ricer crowd
| > that were clearly just put together to cause trouble.
|
| Unfortunately that is beyond the scope of this proposal.  If you would
| like, I can write up another proposal to discuss with devrel that
| would add specific policies dicussing the differences between these
| complaints.  This proposal is just trying to open the process up so
| someone isnt unjustly suspended like you were.

I'm not sure that separating it is a good idea. Devrel's current "stuff
we can enforce" rules are limited to the self-written never agreed upon
"Etiquette Policy". Trying to get any reasonable sense of justice out of
this would be a lot easier if the scope of devrel's investigations were
properly set out. Currently devrel's response to any technical
complaints is "we are not prepared to discuss this" or "isn't that QA's
job, not ours?".

| > * The proposal does nothing to discourage people from using devrel
| > as a way of avoiding having sensible discussion. There is still no
| > reason for someone who thinks that they have a complaint to ask for
| > clarification. For example, a forums mod could still quite happily
| > take some quote completely out of context, misunderstand it thanks
| > to not speaking english english, use it as a complaint and not
| > bother to find out what the actual issues involved are. Sure, it
| > *might* be caught later on if people are actually ever told what the
| > charges against them are, but that's a hell of a lot of mess.
|
| Under this proposal people must be told what the charges are, or no
| decision can be brought against them.  If you would like, I can add
| specific wording to say that evidence must include the complete
| context of the quote (perhaps the whole page, relevant posts, etc), or
| the evidence cannot be used (much like the proposal states private
| evidence cannot be used).

Guess I didn't explain that point too well. Any issues should be
discussed with the relevant parties before they get to the devrel stage.
At least one of the allegations on the bug I'm not supposed to have seen
is a result of someone not understanding what I was actually saying.

| It does not amuse me, since that was the entire reason I wrote this
| proposal.  This proposal requires charges to be publicly documented.
| See http://dev.gentoo.org/~urilith/warning-suspension-draft.txt for
| some drafts of the forms.  In your case, your charges would have been
| in the first URL, the evidence in the second.  And I agree the bug is
| bullshit.

Bleh. That reads like "we are going to open a can of devrel-style
whoopass on you", not "there is an issue which we would like to have
resolved sanely".

|   As do many people.  It might also make you feel better to know
| g2boojum agrees the bug is insufficient.  You might wish to appeal the
| decision following Tuesday's meeting, stating that there is not enough
| publicly accessible evidence to justify your suspension.  There's
| quite a few people in the project who would agree with me (myself
| included).

Bleh, I've had enough of arguing with devrel. Their "no discussion"
policy precludes any reasonable dialogue. There're far less futile
things upon which I could waste my time.

| > Anyway, have fun. By all means use my observations thingie as a
| > justification for your proposal if you haven't done so already.
| > Something else that may help you -- I've received quite a few emails
| > from people saying they're seriously considering resigning because
| > of the behaviour from a few people in devrel. Might add some
| > clout...
| >
| > *shrug* I think it's a nice start. I don't think it's enough, but
| > equally I don't think anything that would really fix things would be
| > accepted.
|
| I don't think its enough, either, incidentally.  However, my main
| concern was trying to get something in to make it more transparent,
| and hopefully convince you to come back, either when you appeal or
| when your 60 days is up.

If me coming back is going to involve me having to watch out for
vindictive trouble-makers, I don't see any point. We all know fine well
that there're some people out there who will use any excuse to try to
get me kicked off again.

| Theres many people in the project who miss
| your technical knowledge and the things you have done.

What, my "net negative contribution" to Gentoo?

| If theres anything else you would like me to bring up to devrel, I
| would be more than happy to.

Heh, I think they already know my thoughts. Or at least, they know where
to find them should they ever decide they want to read what I actually
wrote.

| Also, would you mind if I shared these three emails with devrel to
| show that you do indeed have legitimate, reponsible claims?  It would
| definitely provide proof that you're not just trying to turn the
| issues away from yourself.

Feel free. Heck, print them out and nail them to a church door if you
think it'll make a difference.

-- Ciaran McCreesh Mail: ciaranm at firedrop.org.uk

--------------

Since my internet access went out early Monday afternoon, that was the
last correspondence I had with him.  Any opinions expressed here by me
are my personal opinions based on the evidence presented in the bug and
elsewhere, and do not reflect upon my opinions of devrel or devrel's
members.  That said, I would appreciate your comments and suggestions so
I can update the proposal and respond to Ciaran accordingly.

Mike Tindal
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