Only two people thanked Frans Pop before his death

In my last blog, I revealed that Frans Pop was exposed to over 700 emails on debian-private in the weeks before his suicide.

It is one of several important facts to reflect on if we care about the lives of those we collaborate with online.

The email where Pop resigns the night before Debian Day may look innocuous to outsiders. Most outsiders would not realize it was the night before Debian Day. Most would not realize the sentence about revoking his PGP key is far more grave than a resignation.

For personal reasons I will be revoking my GPG key. However, it is not compromised and the validity of this mail can still be verified using my public key from current keyring packages.

In hindsight, it is clear he was contemplating suicide when he wrote that message and it is clear there is a connection with Debian. We can extrapolate from that to see that he was contemplating suicide the next day, Debian Day.

While he was thinking about that, he may have been looking at the reaction from other volunteers. In fact, only two volunteers responded to thank him for his years of work on Debian. In 2007 Frans had thanked specific people for supporting him during tough times but none of those people spoke to thank him in the four days between his resignation and his death.

Frans Pop, Christian Perrier, Thijs Kinkhorst, resignation, Debian, suicide

Compared to 700 other emails on debian-private in that period, there were only two emails to thank Frans. It is interesting to compare that to the thousands of unnecessary emails people sent micro-analyzing the words of Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman.

The response was even more dismal when I resigned from a leadership role in Google Summer of Code. We had 30 students in the program in 2018. I wrote a lengthy report about how we made it all work. Looking at the replies, there was only one person who replied to ask for help with more GSoC issues. Nobody said thanks.

When organizations start proclaiming a Code of Conduct, they go to great lengths to publicly shame and insult volunteers. Would it be more wise to invest in thanking people?

More blogs about Frans Pop, the Debian Day volunteer suicide.