[kde-community] FOSDEM Organisation

Carl Symons carlsymons at gmail.com
Sun Dec 7 17:15:57 GMT 2014

On 12/06/2014 04:26 PM, Rick Timmis wrote:
> STOP, That is Enough !!
> This conversation does not belong here, it is devisive, confrontational
> and can not be resolved here..
> WE - The KDE Community have a responsibility, and duty first and for
> most to protect the unity of our community
> PLEASE Cease with this thread of conversation.
> IF YOU Feel strongly on either side of this argument then please make
> you feelings known directly to the organisers of FOSDEM
> Thanks
> RIck Timmis

I debated with myself about this message and the thread subject 
matter...and decided to speak up about a couple of issues.

The bossy tone of the Rick Timmis message is unusual for KDE. In the 
spirit of working together, assuming the best, uninhibited 
self-expression, I cannot see any conversation not belonging here if 
people want to express their opinions. I want to hear from others and 
encourage people not to stifle themselves.

Anyone who doesn't like the subject matter is free to ignore the thread.

I simply do not agree that our primary duty to protect the unity of our 
Community. I find that the KDE Code of Conduct and the Manifesto are 
clear about how we do things. In particular, the Code of Conduct 
addresses inevitable disagreements. It does not say anything about 
stopping uncomfortable or contentious conversations.

Re: the thread subject

John's original message laid down a pivot point for the thread. It 
raises a hot topic, one that generally is not dealt with effectively, so 
that there continue to be oppressive, harassing environments around tech 

The question for me about FOSDEM is "So what?" KDE people have 
interacted with the FOSDEM organizers. Some are dissatisfied, although 
not much specific information was shared about why they feel that way. 
I've now heard from 4 people who are closely involved with FOSDEM 

My sense is that Pau is well-qualified to speak to the issues...he has 
been closely involved with KDE's participation for several years. As one 
of the Desktop DevRoom organizers, he almost certainly has recruited and 
selected speakers. His views on the welcoming atmosphere and the 
speaker/attendee gender ratio carry weight with me.

Likewise John Layt, who has been one of the primary organizers of the 
KDE exhibit space. IMO, he is clearly speaking from a solid position, 
although I don't know the basis for his opinions.

I've worked closely over some months with one of the organizers on a 
non-KDE open source project, which involves mostly men. She is a savvy 
techie, hardworking, insightful, cooperative, collaborative and more. I 
emailed her about these issues. Her views on the subject under 
discussion mean a lot to me. She doesn't see anything to be alarmed about.

Based on my own work on a Code of Conduct for linuxfestnorthwest.org 
[1], the FOSDEM Social Conduct Policy seems to be what the conference 
needs. The FOSDEM organizers are aware of potential problems and have a 
way to address them.

So what?
* There is not likely to be any KDE policy regarding the policies, 
recruiting and selection criteria of other organizations. Any effort in 
this direction won't end well. For example, KDE adopts a policy that 
encourages people to boycott FOSDEM. Do we then have policies about 
other tech conferences? Who decides what is a "proper" code of conduct?
* It is helpful to me to hear various views on conference Codes of 
Conduct, people's opinions, what makes people feel oppressed, harassed, 
unwanted and unfree. I don't see the kinds of offensive behaviors that 
others report, but I'm certain that it happens. There is a long history 
of man's inhumanity to man.
* There are efforts [2],[3] to deal with unacceptable conference 
behavior. People who feel strongly about the issues can support those 
* Regarding FOSDEM specifically...24 members of the organizing team are 
listed at the FOSDEM website. Presumably someone who advocates stronger 
stances on the subjects at hand could join the team.
* Don't participate if a conference has a reputation for being 
unfriendly or unwelcoming to women that one finds offensive.
* Get on with it. John's not attending and not bringing equipment that 
has been used in the expo space in past years. Who can pick up the slack?


[1] http://linuxfestnorthwest.org/code-of-conduct. I wrote the original, 
lifting as appropriate from similar documents from other organizations.
[2] http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Conference_anti-harassment/Policy
[3] http://www.ashedryden.com/blog/codes-of-conduct-101-faq

> Sent from Blue Mail <http://r.bluemailapp.com>
> On 7 Dec 2014, at 12:08am, Valorie Zimmerman
> <valorie.zimmerman at gmail.com <mailto:valorie.zimmerman at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     Woah. I never thought I would hear such things here.
>     On Sat, Dec 6, 2014 at 9:22 AM, Pau Garcia i Quiles
>         John,
>         You couldn't be more wrong.
>         I have been organizing the Desktops DevRoom for the last 4-5
>         years (cannot
>         really remember), so I can speak from reality.
>         There is no discrimination against women in FOSDEM. It's just
>         they do not
>         submit talk proposals. Simple as that. E. g. this year we have
>         only had one
>         talk proposal from a woman and I had to chase her! In the very
>         few cases
>         where they do submit talks, more often than not when you tell
>         them "you've
>         got your slot" the answer will be "oh, I won't be attending, I
>         need more
>         time to plan". Well, sorry but everybody is notified of
>         acceptance/rejection
>         with exactly the same amount of time (4-6 weeks) due to the
>         timeframe FOSDEM
>         manages. If men can come, why can't women? (we do also have some
>         rejections
>         from men due to too-late notice but it's less frequent).
>     There are many reasons women don't submit talk proposals. One of them
>     is the perceived unfriendly, unwelcoming nature of the conf. I'm not
>     saying that FOSDEM *is* unfriendly or unwelcoming to women. However,
>     it certainly has that reputation.
>     Some women are "pioneers" enough to attend, or even speak. That can
>     require a great deal of courage, which is not always on-tap. Those who
>     are experienced speakers of course often come up with a talk on short
>     notice -- I know of many good female speakers. Why are they not
>     speaking at FOSDEM? Seriously, if the steering committee wants more
>     diversity, it should be talking to these experienced speakers and find
>     out why they choose not to come.
>         People are overreacting with these CoC's (or lack of). For some
>         reason, and
>         it's not discrimination of any kind, women are by far not
>         interested in
>         technology and engineering. In the same way they are by far more
>         interested
>         in Nursery, Medicine, Psychology, Marketing & Advertising, etc
>         than men. Is
>         there a CoC about men for Nursery or Midwife conventions? I
>         don't think so.
>     This paragraph here leaves me shocked and speechless. Say what?
>     Valorie
>         On Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 2:21 AM, John Layt
>             Hi,
>             Just a heads-up that I will not be attending FOSDEM next
>             year and will
>             not be assisting in any way with preparations for FOSDEM or
>             providing
>             any hardware. This is the result of the FOSDEM organisers
>             refusing to
>             institute a proper Code of Conduct for attendees or to take
>             any other
>             steps in addressing the dreadful gender ratio of speakers on
>             their
>             program or attending the conference itself. I have attempted to
>             discuss these issues with them and found their attitude and
>             beliefs
>             completely unacceptable to me. As such I cannot give them
>             any form of
>             support, and sadly that means not helping the KDE community
>             at this
>             event anymore.
>             John.
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