Debian Outreachy intern relationships

Debian Community News Team published some pretty heavy stuff about the former Debian Project Leader, Chris Lamb, courting a woman from a developing country over 2 years before finally conceding an Outreachy internship for her.

Some Debian insiders spent a lot of time trying to suggest another mentor is guilty but they never provide evidence. It looks like they only want to cover their own exploits.

The photos speak for themselves

I’m a bit disappointed, that a Debian related community is doing such Facebook-talk. This could go straight up to the Daily Mail or whatever tabloid "news"paper you can think of.

Additionally, if that topic alone wasn’t already obnoxiously irrelevant enough, it has to of course be related to an internship that itself is already extremely questionable and not trustworthy, at first glance.

I didn’t read everything in those links, but I skimmed them enough to get the gist. I still don’t get what’s so screamingly outrageous about it.

I looked at all the pictures. The first links shows generic posts with pictures showing a conference and its members. Looks like a conference. Nothing out of the ordinary.
The second links shows two girls and a boy, each having their own photo. Looks also very generic.

Women in developing countries do not have money to fly to these conferences

Why did a free software organization give the money and travel tickets to this woman?

She is not a developer.

There are many women who have more qualifications and they are not being considered for these internships.

These are very valid points. I missed that part where she is actually unqualified to be in the position she was.

Perhaps someone, maybe this Lamb, misused money/power to bring along someone, who shouldn’t get a free ride.

However, it’s important to not forget, that the internship is generally implying that it’s not trying to help people based on how well they do something or, for example, on how well they perform as a developer, but mainly based on less important facts, like e.g. your looks.
So, I don’t find it explodingly surprising that such organisation, that openly admits to not look too much at merit but instead at superficial attributes of a person.

Still, even then, I agree there is something fishy about it, when she is not a developer. Is there no way someone could invite a friend to just come along?
I’ve been at conferences where I was allowed to bring someone unrelated with me, even though I didn’t have to pay for it.

That is not just a free entry, it is a flight, accommodation, visas, airport taxis

She was taken from a developing country where women earn $450 per month and she was given a flight to Brazil, value $1500

No genuine business would justify that expenditure for a woman without qualifications

As the blog says, it is people trafficking

It seems to be a law of nature that organizations, for-profit or not-for-profit, tend to become places of corruption and nepotism, once there are resources to allocate.

I won’t get into the internal gossip of the Debian foundation, because I’m personally not involved, and I don’t know anything about the details. Just this: It wouldn’t surprise me if the allegations of trading favours were true. I have seen enough companies and charities from the inside to affirm that my confidence in people not putting the hand in the jar when there’s a chance, is extremely low.
There also seems to be a sense of entitlement that comes with merits for building institutions from the ground: Wikileaks and the Free Software Foundation are also examples of this.

This should remind us of how important principles of corporate governance are.

BTW: @linuxgrrl - welcome to our community. I hope, you find it a friendly place for exchanging tips and FOSS related chat.

Okay, I understand better now. This is definitely not right and this behaviour should be met with consequences. Still, I wish, there weren’t need for making a drama out of it. I wish it would be possible to just fine the person who is responsible for it or maybe even bring them to court, without making this some “OMG LOOK AT DIS” public issue, because it’s not relevant enough for a majority of developers.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s true that something wrong has been done and consequences should follow. I just am opposed to those publicity Facebook/Twitter style reactions (like these community blog posts), which are more about screaming and less about solving the problem.

I wouldn’t call it “people trafficking” because it sounds like a girl was kidnapped in Mexico to be brought to Columbia and be forced to do illegal stuff. This is “just” a case of some moron stealing money from a company they are related to. It’s still wrongful, however it’s not a crime against a human right.

Perfect. Can’t add any to this. You explain so well, it’s amazing. This is exactly what I think.

Especially this is so true! There are certain core aspects about humans which barely evolved in the past thousands of years. Sure, a lot of things change, but there are some things about humans that seem to never change. All the wars, all the trouble, all the idiocy, all the wrongful behaviour. Same with organised humans. In the beginning they are often truly standing up for something. However, once they gain power in any form, for example, in the form of wealth, things often change.
For such a topic I usually take Apple and Jobs as an example. Apple became big, because it was actually good and actually delivered good hardware. Now, they are using exactly this fame to scrap the most bucks out of their customers, even if their hardware quality continually degrades in one way or the other. Not to mention the whole CSAM on your phone disaster.

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Debian, Mozilla, Fedora and other big organizations censored all their mailing lists and moved people to Discourse so they can censor posts about these topics. They are using censorship to hide questions about money and misconduct. If anybody asks questions, the leader complains that he is the victim of harassment. Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and Chris Lamb all insist they are victims of harassment.

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Well, this is what I mean. How is a guy stealing less than $2000 bucks from an organisation comparable to suspects in a case where actual humans were physically and mentally harmed? This is the over-emotionalisation and type of exaggeration that I disagree with, strongly.

If everyone on the fora and mailing lists talking about this topic is comparing this guy to others on a complately different level, it wouldn’t surprise me, if they called it harassment. Secondly, the fora where technical issues are first, are often not the right place to discuss such issues. I did not see what exactly was deleted and why. So, I cannot judge that. However, if those are aggressive posts, comparing the guy in question to very harmful people, a deletion of such type of aggressive posts would be not that outrageous, in my opinion.

In the case you describe, I would recommend to stop trying to talk about it on official channels, when it’s clearly unwanted.
I would instead recommend to create a spin-off community, for example, through a self-hosted Discourse, and then let the people freely talk about that topic there, so everyone can read and be read by everyone. No Debian or whoever can take down a forum for talking about this topic, except there is illegal content on there.
You seem to also imply, that a lot of people are complaining and a lot of people know about the problems. This is why I am convinced the new forum would be quite well populated and enough people would know about this to share it and therefore make all the issues more public.

You can be a victim of harassment, even if you are the first one engaging in wrongful behaviour.

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Nobody is saying these crimes are equivalent.

It is only a comparison of their responses: they all claim to be victims and they refuse to admit or apologize for crimes whether they are small crimes or big crimes

Allow me to be frank. This sounds like intellectual dishonesty to me. You cannot pull these people out of nothing and then compare a guy who stole $2k from an organisation to such harmful people. Whoever makes such comparison, knows exactly what associations a reader creates, when seeing those guys being mentioned in a single row.


Vegetarians are partially like Hitler, because Hitler was a vegetARIAN. Don’t worrry, I am just comparing their reactions to eating meat!!

This is not a relevant example. There is no known relation between diet and genocide.

On the other hand, the comparison of abusive leadership figures making denials is very valid. It happens at every level of leadership and every level of criminal. But I agree the level of criminality is different in these cases.

Sure. It would be fine to compare them to other idiotic leaders making illegal use of their power. But for that we do not need to go on an entirely different level of evil.

That said, this is just a symptom of the whole situation. People on the one side are very emotionally moved by what has happened, while the other side is mostly annoyed by accusations. Such situations quickly escalate.

Therefore, if most people related to the situation are geniunely interested in solving the issue, then there should be a businesslike discussion between both sides. Without attacks. Without comparisons to next level criminals.
Both parties need to talk about the missing money, if there are questions about it.
I’m sure most people would agree with such an open discussion, without aggressiveness from either side.

In the worst case scenario someone, probably the person or party suffering the most from the loss of money, should hold the person responsible for this misappropriation, by e.g. taking them to court or maybe by excluding them from the organisation or by moving them to a different position. Whatever the consequence may be, it should not be tried to be achieved by forcing an aggressive behaviour on people who might not even be primarily responsible for this situation, in the first place.

That said, I cannot go into much detail about this situation anymore, as I’ve read only a single opinion on the topic from a single person. I would need to see the accounts of other people involved in this scenario, to be able to make a better assessment of the situation.

Additionally, I am a bit skeptical about the situation. All the “evidence” there is, are some random pictures and explanations about a conference. Is there any hard evidence the person was actually paid because of being a developer, when she in fact wasn’t?

The reason for my doubts is, that you make it seem like it’s absolutely and totally clear what has happened and that it is absolutely undeniable.
However, if that is really so undeniable and so totally and absolutely clear, what has been going on, them I am a 100% sure this guy would’ve already be kicked out everywhere for literally stealing money.
This whole “everything is so clear but nobody does anything about it” situation seems like it’s not as clear as it seems to some people involved in this situation.

Finally, it’s important to not forget that we are talking about $2000 from an organisation here. It’s wrong to steal and misuse that money. Whoever did that, should be punished, if the accusations are true. We all agree on that.
However, stealing $2000 from an organisation like that is not a capital crime or whatever. It’s not like this guy should spend 10 years behind bars for it. If he would lose in court because of this situation, he probably would need to pay back the $2000 dollars and maybe pay an additional fine of about $5000 to $10,000 dollars. At least, that’s what I would consider reasonable.
If the accusations are true, someone made a stupid mistake. Nothing new.
I would be more aware and alerted, if that same person would do that extensively all the time. Then yes, I would understand the whole thing more. But, as it seems now, this over-dramatisation is a bit much for what has supposedly happened.