Since the events took place, the foundation has been working with all parties to both understand and try to help resolve the situation. We wanted to share the context, information and actions we’ve gathered for full transparency and to allow those interested to help get involved/support.
NixCon 2023 faced an incident involving one of its sponsors. Following the announcement of the sponsorship as part of the general sponsor post plan for NixCon, a series of events unfolded, which led to the NixCon team’s decision to rescind the sponsorship from Anduril.
Similar to many other open source projects, especially those that are in the initial phases of rapid growth, the Nix community has many teams which are majorly volunteer-driven in a distributed structure. NixCon is one of those teams and is the organizing group for the yearly event. The NixOS Foundation serves as a fiscal host and supports the team. The Nix Marketing team helps out with social media communication. This was the first year that all three worked together.
When Anduril became a sponsor in August, the NixCon team considered the issue and decided to proceed with the sponsorship and accept a talk submitted by an Anduril employee.
Volunteers from c3voc, who were responsible for live streaming, also considered the issue and decided not to distribute talks by Anduril or those containing Andruil branding, but otherwise cover the event.
Three days before the event, the NixOS marketing team promoted the sponsorship of Anduril on social media as part of a series of announcements provided for the sponsors. This created more awareness than the information previously available on the NixCon website and generated a strong response from some community members.
The event venue, TU Darmstadt, became aware of the situation and sought additional information to determine if the sponsorship was in accordance with their policies (this is when we learned about Civil clause - Wikipedia). The venue asked to fill paperwork in a very short timeframe (4 hours).
Given the close proximity to the event date (48 hours), the uncertainty about the venue’s policy, potential for further escalation, and risk to the event itself, the NixCon team made the decision to withdraw Anduril’s sponsorship. This decision was made to ensure the event could proceed as planned, as many attendees were already traveling.
This was communicated to Anduril via email, and to their employees who were going to attend.
Some miscommunication happened between the NixCon and Nix marketing team which led the marketing team to issue a statement on social media that wasn’t reflecting the previous point.
At this point, the NixCon team decided to leave things as they stood so they could focus on the core event.
The community is small but growing; this is surfacing new problems that weren’t there just a day before. While we are excited we also understand the importance of establishing gulidelines and taking action to help support the future of Nix. We believe that everyone involved cares for Nix, the community and the project and wants to work together to ensure its success. There are multiple efforts across the community and in the foundation, working on this very topic and wanted to share a few of the following actions that will be implemented:
- Formulating a transparent sponsorship policy after consulting with the community to clearly outline acceptable criteria for future sponsors.
- Enhancing feedback mechanisms to allow community members to express concerns in a structured manner.
- Upgrading internal communication systems to better coordinate among the various teams and stakeholders in our community.
Despite this challenging episode, NixCon 2023 was a highly successful event. The NixOS Foundation remains committed to evolving in a way that best serves our increasingly diverse and growing community. We take this incident seriously and will incorporate these lessons.