Delroth's muting in the Moderation Matrix room

I call this situation: the pitfalls of silencing frustration.

Facts : delroth has been muted in the moderation channel following You're invited to talk on Matrix.

Recently, a significant voice within our (infrastructure) community, delroth, was muted following a moment of frustration. This action, taken by the moderation team, raises critical questions about our values and the direction of our community.

Let me provide some context: delroth, a stalwart in our community, has tirelessly dedicated themselves to enhancing our infrastructure. Their contributions extend far beyond mere participation; they have spearheaded initiatives that have significantly bolstered our performance, security, and overall functionality with consequences of our financial situation. In essence, they’ve accomplished what others haven’t managed in years.

Let’s delve into the circumstances: delroth reached a breaking point (which I personally also reached at that moment) after encountering repeated dismissals of valid concerns as “just politics.” This isn’t an isolated incident; it’s indicative of a larger issue where genuine dialogue is stifled under the guise of neutrality.

The decision to mute delroth sends a troubling message. It suggests that expressions of frustration, especially from those deeply invested in our community’s welfare, are unwelcome. By prioritizing superficial decorum (aka “no violence” policy or no bad words) over substantive engagement, we risk alienating passionate contributors and perpetuating a culture of silence.

Furthermore, the individual who consistently brushes aside discussions as “political” bears scrutiny. While claiming to care about the community, their actions undermine this sentiment. Continuously downplaying genuine concerns not only hampers progress but also fosters division and frustration.

I am sure that what I’m saying is not news for the moderation team, and I am sorry I have to *splain people about that, but this is about external perception now and my external perception of your (:= moderation team) actions is that you are not understanding this concept or are not aware of what’s going on.

It’s time for a collective reassessment. We must recognize that silencing frustration does not resolve underlying issues; it merely buries them. Instead, let’s execute on proactive moderation actions. Let’s prioritize respectful discourse while acknowledging the validity of emotions and concerns.

In light of recent events, I propose a bold step, albeit absolutely necessary, step: a temporary ban on the individual who habitually dismisses discussions as “politics.” This is not an act of retaliation, but a necessary measure to safeguard the integrity of our community. It’s a call for accountability and a commitment to genuine dialogue. In addition, I ask that the moderation team present public apologies to delroth.

Our community’s strength lies in its ability to confront challenges head-on, not sweep them under the rug.

Failure to address these issues properly could lead us down a path of ruin. Let’s not allow that to happen.

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I, personally, would find it useful to know which specific comment or set of comments led to this user being muted. That Matrix link will likely not be available to most people reading this.

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Let’s delve into the circumstances: delroth reached a breaking point (which I personally also reached at that moment) after encountering repeated dismissals of valid concerns as “just politics.”

I don’t know about other incidents or the larger scope, but in this discussion (about a maintainer leaving the project) there were absolutely no “valid concerns” being raised.
jonringer share his opinion on the state of things and delroth “intervention” was limited to an insult and a personal attack.
They later proceeded to hijacking a discussion in the moderation room and repeating the insult.
This is not an acceptable behavior, period.

By prioritizing superficial decorum (aka “no violence” policy or no bad words) over substantive engagement, we risk alienating passionate contributors and perpetuating a culture of silence.

True, but it also doesn’t mean we have to put up this kind of behavior, repeatedly, even more so.

Furthermore, the individual who consistently brushes aside discussions as “political” bears scrutiny.

This is seriously alarming: I hope you’re not proposing to round up people you don’t agree with to later purge them, because this is what it sounds like to me.

In light of recent events, I propose a bold step, albeit absolutely necessary, step: a temporary ban on the individual who habitually dismisses discussions as “politics.”

You call it dismissing a discussion, but I think the idea that politics (I mean real world politics, not technical or internal to the project) should have little to do with a free software project is a reasonable position to hold.
If you think a comment does not contribute meaningfully to a discussion you can just ignore it and continue the discussion as you like, banning the people for differing, instead, goes against the moderator code of conduct, about “Being respectful of differing viewpoints and experiences”.
(In any case, I don’t think jonringer dismissed anything in this instance)

This is not an act of retaliation, but a necessary measure to safeguard the integrity of our community.

It seems to me that this will bring even more division and lead to even more contributor leaving the project.
The best outcome is that some will just stop engaging in discussions, because they know their ideas are unwelcome, and (hopefully) go on with their business as contributors.

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I might have used my superpowers to silence @jonringer (on Discourse) for 2 weeks, because I was tired of his antics.

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I raised specifically issues of internal / technical nature in that thread. I tried to signal—In response to you, @Pamplemousse, and others—that the state of the project is alienating to me and demotivating my further contributions. @jonringer (whom I have never previously engaged with in any capacity) decided to dismiss my concerns rather than attempt to understand or otherwise encourage me to continue contributions. It’s bad leadership. Good leadership puts the well-being of the community as a whole first.

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You call it dismissing a discussion, but I think the idea that politics (I mean real world politics, not technical or internal to the project) should have little to do with a free software project is a reasonable position to hold.

Your opinion, or thoughts on the topic don’t matter.

Guess it needs to be repeated one more time:
Free software projects do NOT exist in a vacuum. They do NOT happen in a magical land suddendly disconnected from society: real humans interact in them, cast their voices, hold positions of power, come with their privileges and biases, get dismissed, etc.

Avoiding this simple fact is either being ignorant, or willing to protect one’s privilege (consciously or not)…

There are marginalized groups in society. Do we want to be a community that empowers them, or not? Simple as that.

(In any case, I don’t think jonringer dismissed anything in this instance)

Repeatdly playing dumb, and casting again a narrative that causes pain in our community under the pretense of “stating an opinion” (which many of us have read or dealt with too many times already) tantamounts to fueling the fire (or lighting a new one - but is that better).

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Both users have been muted / silenced on respective platforms. How long for each user? Both are great contributors to this community and would hate to see either of them go. Hmmm. I miss @worldofpeace at times like this. Could we close this thread? Could a mod try to summarize all the decisions made and why? One of these users is a current release manager. This causes me mild concern−I think there is no linchpin here or anywhere in the end but nevertheless…

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The moderation team moderates according to the Code of Conduct. Did delroth’s comments violate the Code of Conduct or not? If they did violate the Code of Conduct, on what basis should the moderation team reverse or apologize for their decision?

I can’t see the Matrix logs, but someone already commented that the remarks were insults and personal attacks, which are both listed under “examples of unacceptable behavior” in the CoC. Given the situation, it’s certainly understandable. But if being sufficiently frustrated justified ignoring the CoC, what would be the point of having it?

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After days of passive scrolling through discourse I just wanted to mention that I’m really sad to see how some people cannot stand from deviating off from writing factful posts into insulting. This is absolutely not the way to achieve anything neither is it an appropriate way of communication in any case of emotional state. And I know for one this one is pretty emotional.

Since I don’t know where this should go I’ll just leave it here. Sorry for interrupting, but I just had to get this out of my head.

EDIT: this is not an entry to this discussion, is addressed to everyone on any side and is not intended to be used to pull me into any discussion

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I beg you all not to turn this into the ‘every problem all at once’ thread.

With respect to delroth, the moderation team will review the decision in due time (the delroth mute specifically is not our highest priority issue at the moment, and if we take too long hold us accountable). As a matter of factual update, delroth is no longer muted in the channel, and though I was not the moderator to mute (or unmute) them I believe the intent was always for this to be a very temporary mute to keep that conversation from exploding.

With respect to other individuals, expect information from us soon—I think I can safely say for the team that we all feel that it has taken us too long to address some long-standing problems.

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sorry but “no violence” is absolutely not “superficial decorum” and is certainly not the same as typing a few swear words, even if those swears are directed as a specific individual.

If the moderation is done merely by enforcing the word of the policy, then you’re always going to have outcomes like this. I think part of what long standing people in the community earn is a little bit of grace granted. Everyone is going to have a bad day/reactioin/mood at some point, and it is important to give them that and then grant them the grace to recover from it.

Instead of being vague, please be concrete in your statements.

Same as above, please don’t be vague or smug. If you did ban them, own it and be transparent. “Maybe i did it” is not helpful.

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My view of the series of events - as someone who was present for both conversations - is that an explicit singular “fuck off” in response to activity that has directly resulted in people leaving the project shouldn’t result in an immediate muting when the same actions are permitted as long as they are worded politely (nice words do not always represent nice sentiments).

Delroth’s response in this instance might have been impolite. But when (either through malintent or genuine ignorance, it doesn’t matter) driving away minority participation by (baselessly) classifying representation as discriminatory in threads like this is ok because they are written “civilly”, the only real difference is that one of them was direct and to the point.

This highlights a serious issue with our uneven code of conduct application. If any of the long threads on Discourse and GitHub where exclusion of minoritised groups is argued for through the proxy of “fairness” and vague allegations of “discrimination” aren’t treated as bad faith concern trolling that lead to even temporary suspensions - neither should a simple “fuck off” from someone tired of their peers being pushed out of the project. Both are explicitly called out in the code of conduct as unacceptable behaviour, but the decision to only act on one is tacit approval of exclusionary sentiments.

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FWIW it was not singular:


I completely agree, but you are applying the uneveness differently than many others have already pointed out.

So its okay to lower our dialog and communication to delroth’s level if its for “the right reasons”? I think not.

I and many others share this same sentiment for the last few years or so. It goes both ways.

100%

What rule did he violate? Where’s the moderation log today?
This is completely out of control.

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For the record, I was the one who issued the mute. First of all, let me say that generally I am very much aware about the issue of tone policing, and for that reason I want to allow people to be angry and express frustration within reasonably large bounds. See also for example me explicitly not acting upon Joepie telling Jonringer to fuck off months ago (n.b. see a pattern?), because of the context of situation which caused that statement.


You can also see concurrent reactions by two effectively asking for disengagement, followed by another message from delroth. (In retrospect, that may have been written earlier due to federation delays, but that is only of secondary importance.) In that moment, I saw a situation escalating further and the quickest way I could find to force disengagement was to issue a mute. Delroth immediately left the room thereafter.

In my moderation actions, I make a difference between actions targeting people and actions targeting situations. However this is a difference in intent, and may not easily be differentiated from the outside without additional communication. The latter is usually quick and temporal in nature, and thus only documented in rare occasions (imagine writing down every time a thread gets locked). The former is a lot heavier and usually takes a lot longer, especially since many actions require a wider team consensus.

In retrospect, I think I made the wrong judgement call in a heated situation. But more importantly, there was a communication breakdown, because there was no clarification about the intent of the actions taken. I deeply regret that this turned out to be the one drop too much for a person already on the edge of leaving.

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Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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Hey

Thanks for giving context and sharing your thoughts. I think we all are trying our best, and even when we try our best we sometimes mess up. And that’s okay; we learn, we do better, and we move on. I can’t see the whole conversation but I don’t think I need to. I can guess based off of what you shared that the conversation had been heated for a bit. Based on what I can see, I don’t think that a temp mute is the worst decision. And arguably it is a good move when tensions are running high and people need to step away for a moment. Still it is sad to see delroth leave because of it.

Lastly, thanks for being a mod and doing this incredibly tough job. I appreciate your and the rest of the mod team’s hard work.

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I’m not sure, but I think you and the other mods are doing a fantastic job in general. Thank you!

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The moderation log has since been updated after deliberations in the moderation team.

If you want to discuss the ban specifically, please note that we have a policy in place, about where that discussion needs to happen. Further interaction on this particular subthread will be considered off-topic.

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Second this. The usual approach to moderating public spaces is to not allow sensitive discussion at all: not as a policy of censorship, but as a policy of not burning out the entire moderation team within a week.

NixOS moderation team actually facilitates difficult conversations, and imo they are doing an excellent job here, given the inherent complexity of the problem and the sheer amount of hard work this requires.

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Can someone explain why @chrism 's post is flagged?

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