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Re: feeling intimidated for endorsing the GNU social contract

From: Mark Wielaard
Subject: Re: feeling intimidated for endorsing the GNU social contract
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2020 14:59:46 +0100

Hi Mark,

On Sun, 2020-02-23 at 11:36 -0700, Mark Galassi wrote:
> I wrote to endorse the GNU social contract and received an email which
> made me feel insulted and intimidated (this one said "F*** you", so not
> much risk of misinterpreting the language).  I also got a sequence of
> replied from people telling me I was wrong to do so.  These seem to be
> canned replies that are sent to other people who endorse it.  They did
> not make me feel as intimidated, but it still seems like a strange
> campaign.
> [...]
> A person responded to my endorsement of the social contract (which I had
> misspelled as social construct - ooops).  This person wrote back to me
> and the list saying:
> > F*** you and your illconceived campaign to destroy GNU
> > And f*** that mailing list run by a theif and a bully
> [they had the full swear word in there; I replaced part of it with *s so
> that we don't vent it too much and end up in search results for hostility]
> [...]
> I feel that this mailing list has people who get really hostile and
> insult people like me who have dedicated their lives to being GNU
> contributors (in my case since 1985).
> I will not get turned off of the good work for GNU by this specific
> insult targeted at me, but I can see that in the future I might get
> dispirited, and I know new people who have decided to not get in to the
> internals like this.

I am very sorry for this. And I apologize because I was one of the
people who suggested people discuss things on this list. And I was one
of the original moderators of this list till Mike and Brandon decided
they wanted to do moderation on their own without my and Carlos help
[*]. In hindsight suggesting this list was a terrible recommendation
and I realize now that I put some people, who just wanted to discuss
what they love about being GNU, through a lot of pain. I am very sorry
for that. I am certainly not recommending people make themselves a
target by publicly posting to this list anymore.

I have heard from various people they felt intimidated both by
reactions on the list, some by fellow GNU participants and from 
outsiders sending them some of the most offensive email they ever
received. Some contain direct personal threats, extremely racist or
sexist language and even antisemitic views (luckily most of the worst
ones aren't posted to the list, but there have certainly also been
implicitly/implied threats and racist or sexist views posted on this

The FSF keeps ignoring our calls for a neutral discussion space. And I
think it is unacceptable that people are afraid to publicly discuss why
they participate in GNU because they feel intimidated and fear to get
personal threats or have to endure racist or sexist language. IMHO the
FSF really has a responsibility to the GNU volunteers to be able to
work and communicate with each other without having to feel harassed
all the time. And I have recently withdrawn most of my funding to them
because they are not taking this responsibility seriously.

We are working on providing a better discussion space for GNU
volunteers, but that is taking some time. I hope we can soon though, so
people who do want to publicly discuss why and how they want to
participate in GNU can do that in a more safe space.




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