I've just returned from vacation and taken a couple of hours to catch up on mail I missed. It was nice to be entirely without email for a week. During that week, there was a discussion on debian-private about how to handle abuse and harassing email both on debian-project and in general. The immediate take away is https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=952465 a proposal to make debian-project moderated. Please follow up with that bug for the specifics of that proposal. There was a large and diverse group of people who volunteered to be moderators. However, I wanted to summarize the discussion along the lines of the consensus building work I've done because I think that it will be valuable going forward. This summary is going to be looser than other work I've done intentionally because it was a private discussion. My suspicion is that the consensus of -private will be validated by the larger community. Moderation ========== There was strong although not universal support for the idea that we need to be doing something about abusive mails we're receiving. People describe the current climate as toxic and several people said that if we did not succeed in doing better, it would drive them away from Debian lists as a communications medium. Others indicated through words and actions that they were already cutting back their Debian involvement as a result. Moderation of problematic lists was by far the best supported option for responding. Many people spoke in favor. Many people volunteered to help. I am not aware of anyone who favored any technical choice over moderation. People First ============ There was strong support for the idea that we need to take care of our people. We were reminded that some of these patterns of harassment have been targeting individuals for over a year, and that we need to help and take care of members of our community. This idea had strong support and no descent. Our community members are our important resource. In working on problems like this, we need to keep that in mind. Concerns About Openness ======================= Several people want to make sure that Debian remains open to contribution. They want the bar to contribute to be low. Concerns were raised that having to subscribe to a list, create accounts etc, in order to make a contribution of a patch or suggestion might take us away from our core values. However, the current environment is already driving people away today. We got several examples of this in the private discussion. The discussion supported the idea that moderation is a reasonable balance between keeping Debian open and not driving people away with a toxic environment. Technical Limitations of Moderation with Our Software ===================================================== Listmasters noted that with our current software, we cannot moderate based on sender. If I'm understanding things right, we can moderate an entire list (all postings) or not at all. It sounds like the listmasters are open to improvements to fix that, and it sounds like there were enough people interested that we'll see development effort spent in the near future. debian-project is *not* the right place to discuss the technical details of our list software. The only part of that that even plausibly belongs on -project is a discussion of where you are moving the discussion. Even for that, CHANGE the SUBJECT LINE, THANKS! DPL Support =========== If listmasters or anyone else feel that they need broader authority for action they would like to take, I'm very open to supporting people getting the mandate they need to help make Debian less toxic. Multiple options are available: Documenting discussions like I'm doing here helps establish project consensus. That is sufficient for most things in Debian. I think that the situation is serious enough that action under 5.1 (3) (urgent action) would be appropriate. Again, I want to stress my goal here is to support people doing work, not to override anyone or get in the way. Finally, if needed, we always can call a GR. When there is broad agreement in the project, but an official statement is needed, GRs do not need to be a emotionally tense mechanism. Although obviously, GRs do take up project resources so when other options are sufficient, they are probably better choices. Feedback Welcome ================ As always feedback is welcome, both on whether I correctly captured the discussion and on whether this is the direction we should take. As a reminder, on the specific proposal to moderate debian-project, please follow up on the bug, not here.
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