Flashback 2003: Debian has always had a toxic culture

People are estimating that Debian has spent over $200,000 paying women to be volunteers through Outreachy. At the end of their Outreachy programs, they all disappear. Would it be better to use this money to get advice about fixing the culture? The payments to women are an admission that Debian culture is bad and women won't have anything to do with it voluntarily.

Despite everybody knowing the culture of the group is the root of all evil, they continue to look for scapegoats. If they can just punish one more person, everybody else will behave nicely, Debian will be "safe" and women will join.

Here is an email from the debian-private (widely leaked) gossip network giving an insight into the culture in 2003. It looks a lot like the culture today. In 20 years, despite all the forced resignations and expulsions nothing really changed.

Subject: Re: Fwd: Rejecting NM applicant Norman Walsh <ndw@nwalsh.com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jul 2003 20:47:58 +0000 (UTC)
From: Martin Wheeler <msw@startext.demon.co.uk>
To: mark@dulug.duke.edu
CC: debian-private@lists.debian.org

On Wed, 2 Jul 2003 mark@dulug.duke.edu wrote:

> > Dang. Maybe we should streamline our process.
> Double dang. If we can't find a way to get Norm in (who BTW offered to maintain
> all the DocBook packages), then something about the application process needs to
> be fixed.

 . . .

> > I am rejecting the Debian New Maintainer Norman Walsh <ndw@nwalsh.com> on
> > his own request. Norman, unfortunatly, does not have enough time to spend
> > for the NM process

I heartily concur.

I too, have abandoned the process of attempting to become an NM.
And, I suspect, for many of the same reasons.
Having had to wait for over a year for any real response to my initial
enthusiasm, I had already lost most of my interest in becoming a DD
(for documentation only), and had only lukewarm reactions to the mails I
eventually received.  (Mainly upbraiding me with comments like: "you have to
really, really want this, you know" -- at the same time making me wonder why
the hell I ever thought I might want to join this group of narcissistic
navel-gazers -- and generally attempting to make me feel like a fourth-class
citizen because my interests lie only in lowly documentation, NOT in the
highly-valued elite skills of programming/packaging.)

Overall, I was given a very strong impression that DDs regard themselves as
being the 'l33test of the 'l33t; that in going through the NM process it is
more important to be recognised as being a putative member of a highly
exclusive undergraduate-style sorority / club than it is to have any
expertise to offer to the group; and that unwarranted sobbery and attitudes
of exclusivity of the group reign supreme.  (Really.  This attitude came
to me more strongly than any other -- which surprised me greatly, as I am
personally acquainted with a few DDs, none of whom comes over to me in that
way at all.)

Frankly though, I eventually lost interest.  (Is it any wonder?)  To the
point where I couldn't even be bothered to reply any more to any of the
I received.  (Round about the P&P stage.)  There was NO real or effective
dialogue between myself and the group I thought I could offer something to;
and in fact, very little real desire to offer anything any more, on my part.
Is it any wonder then that in these circumstances once-enthusiastic
folks just
quietly drift away?

My last dealings with the NM process were when I went on an irc channel
-- to
be met instantly with a hostile: "what are you doing here?  I thought we got
rid of you two weeks ago."

Why on earth should I persist in trying to offer my skills to a group like

Genuinely puzzled,

Here is what the thread looks like. Women seem to have a nose for this type of thing. They feel really uncomfortable when their name appears in something like this so they don't even begin to get involved.

Norman Walsh, Debian, gossip