How does Debian handle tragedy?

We need to recognize that there is has been heightened risk to people in Debian and some other free software communities.

A number of people were made to feel unwelcome in very cruel circumstances during the Christmas week, some have spoken publicly about being threatened, feelings of shame or apprehension and others have started giving me private feedback about similar encounters in the community.

In mid-2018, when a member of the community was in a period of pain and grief, the project leader, Chris Lamb, saw it as a political opportunity and took it upon himself to try and shame and humiliate that person with a series of sly and malicious emails. Relentlessly pouring on undeserved blame and guilt with a series of condescending emails over half the year.

Towards the end of the year, the same leader lit the fuse and then stood back and allowed a lynching culture to emerge and thrive during the week of Christmas. This is normally a period of rest and reflexion for people and that has been taken away, replaced with a period of vindictiveness. In a large distributed community like Debian, the consequences of such leadership/bullying can be dangerous and unpredictable. Nobody in an official capacity has even acknowledged that a problem exists and Lamb has yet to show any remorse.

An important point to consider: people who witness bullying by Debian's leadership may be more deeply affected than those who are bullied.

Once again, in such a large community, the probability that at least some people will find this deeply disturbing is quite high.

In another well-known NGO, Amnesty International, there were two work-related suicides during 2018.

Amnesty decided to get external help and made the report public. A number of similarities with free software culture jump out of the page, consider the quotes from the Key Findings section (p14).

I notice there has been only one nomination for the role of Debian Project Leader. The secretary brazenly decided to ignore the candidate and reopen nominations. The organization's culture and structure may well be a factor in Lamb's shortcomings and the apprehension that other people have about the role. While it may seem daunting to recover from such a position, I fully believe it is possible to do so for somebody who is simply willing to meet with people and listen to all sides of the story. That is where leadership begins.

If you have concerns, I would encourage you to speak to somebody offline. Amongst other things, only those viewpoints compatible with the Debian monoculture are now permitted on Debian's mailing lists but more importantly, when you speak to somebody face to face, it may be both a safer and more effective way to explore your feelings about the issue.