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Re: Truth matters when writing software and selecting leaders

From: Jacob Bachmeyer
Subject: Re: Truth matters when writing software and selecting leaders
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2021 21:16:22 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20090807 MultiZilla/ SeaMonkey/1.1.17 Mnenhy/

Kaz Kylheku (gnu-misc-discuss) wrote:
On 2021-03-25 18:57, Jacob Bachmeyer wrote:
Kaz Kylheku (gnu-misc-discuss) wrote:
On 2021-03-24 19:55, Jacob Bachmeyer wrote:
[...] I now wonder if
we may be seeing a different angle of an attack on the GNU project
that RMS did not anticipate.

I also have similar suspicions. If you can replace the stewards of
free software with meek, emotional weaklings, or fools, you can easily
manipulate those projects in whatever direction you see fit.

"You must accept this backdoor patch because it's written by a
member of a vulnerable, disadvantaged group."

If you don't think that's coming, just sit back and watch.

I have vague memories of similar incidents having already occurred,
although I do not recall exactly what they were.  I think they were
actually demands for direct commit access, on the grounds that none of
the active developers were [insert FOOBAR group name here].  I want to
say that the attempts failed, but I am not certain.


Those incidents could have been "innocent" in the sense that
the person was really just working on their own and actually member
of [FOOBAR group], just with a really oboxious personality and
way of thinking.

The conspiracy-like theory of mine that I'm referring to is that the
submitter is not actually a member of any [FOOBAR group]. The claim is fake,
used by some nefarious agency to push rogue commits.

There was a time when I would call you paranoid for that, but then Snowden (never mind how that guy somehow got a security clearance after publicly stating his intention to leak whatever he could grab -- my tax dollars at work bungling a background check, obviously) dumped a bunch of documents, and even if I still doubt the NSA would go quite that far against the GNU project, I am convinced that there are plenty of foreign agencies that would try it.

To make it crystal clear, I am not in any way "FOOBAR-phobic" or

I think I might remember what FOOBAR actually was, but I deliberately replaced it with a placeholder to exclude any question of irrational fears related to any specific group.

That strategy will easily work if the project leaders have been
replaced by mental/emotional weaklings, by some coup in which the original
leaders were displaced for faintly smelling of being resistant
to unconditional "inclusivity".

You mean like the ousting of Brendan Eich, who had stated in no uncertain terms that Firefox would not support DRM, after which Mozilla reversed that decision?

That also ignores the harm that that larger incident has likely done to the cause of transparency in politics, since the activists specifically promised the court that there would be no harassment of the people whose names they wanted revealed, a promise that was quickly shown to be utterly worthless. The next shady group that wants to keep their donor list secret can now point to that case and its aftermath as justification.

I'm not even saying anything like that the new project leaders are
moles.  Basically everyone involved, up to that point, had just been
a pawn being played.

Let me articulate the crazy conspiracy theory more precisely:
some nefarious agencies are injecting animosity into free software
communities in order to create disruption which will have the result
of bringing changes into projects, such that the leadership of those
projects becomes more docile and pliable in the face of pressure from
those nefarious agencies. Nefarious agencies could be corporations,
governments (local and foreign), you name it.

The major problem I have with this is that I do not recall seeing any of the initial disruptions your conspiracy theory posits.

The disruption is what causes certain social activists to take notice
of free software and become attracted to free software projects
in the first place.

Can you show such disruptions prior to the arrival of the certain social activists?

I suspect that the activists were also the sources of the initial disruptions. This is one of the reasons that they have not gotten very far, as they are simply invaders in every sense and they do not fit amongst us at all. Even the attacks on RMS are predominately based on pressure from outside of our community, although they may expose foolish, cowardly, or deluded members of our community.

"Hey there is this world of free software which is really great
and powers most of the Internet. But I hear stories about how it's
run by volunteers some of whom are bad people. Racists, trans-phobics,
defenders of pedophilia and sex trafficking. That's how I even heard
about this stuff in the first place, sadly! Well, we can fix that.
Gosh, darn it, I'm gonna join one of these projects and do something
about it!"

The solution here is to refuse to create sinecure positions of any sort and to demand technical competence for technical work. The worst of the social activists, whose only skill is whining, will be effectively excluded. Let them whine -- and keep them thoroughly excluded because they are simply toxic people whose only skill is whining.


Projects must put up a barrier against allowing manipulation via
irrelevant politics.

We have (<URL:>) such a policy in GNU. Even the Kind Communication Guidelines (<URL:>) which do make a small concession to "gender identity" include a footnote that explicitly endorses the use of gender-neutral pronouns and they do not suggest accommodating "snowflake" pronouns. The Guidelines also (implicitly) leave the option of not using pronouns at all, which is typically appropriate for email lists anyway to avoid confusion in larger discussions.

-- Jacob

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