NixOS Foundation board announcement: Moderation concerns

This thread is a distilled microcosm of a lot that is going wrong within this community. And one of the big reasons why some people do not feel welcome or safe in here.

What privileged people often times miss, is that most of the time discrimination isn’t something obvious that you can just point at and have everybody agree “that’s bad”. Most of the time, it’s very subtle (at least to those who don’t want to see it). It’s the constant questioning of people’s existence, people’s experiences, asking them to justify themselves.

It starts with asking about “a verbal assault thread” or “any instances of such harassment to abuse”, or denying the very real experience mere hours later (“I don’t feel that is true in this community”).

And then when you point out to Jonringer’s horrendous thread about gender minorities, people won’t see the problem in there –because it’s not obvious “verbal assault”–, asking for what exactly is wrong with that, asking for more explanations, and always saying no that’s not enough, and implicitly, no your feelings and experiences are not valid.

And then it continues with taking away any means of protection: Putting abusive patterns like sea lioning in scare quotes or otherwise (“subjective terms such as sealioning without strong evidence”), instead of seeing that it precisely represents the “verbal assault” they asked proof for. When Jon Ringer finally got suspended for the harm he’s caused, they’ll say “been suspended solely after being attacked by people purporting to represent minorities without any justification for that other than his repeated statements trying to keep focused on the what these forums are for”.

And once all of that is in place, one can finally start the actual harassment. Starting with “there appears a narcisstic trend today of many believing they should have a voice anywhere and everywhere simply because they are a ‘minority’, whichever of thousands that may be” and ending with “woke” power-grab fantasies.

Looking for proof for verbal abuse against minorities? Look in the mirror. People like you are the problem, and the people who defend that kind of behavior against moderation action.


@lassulus Thank you for unlocking.

@TLATER Thank you for providing the historical context. Leaving my thoughts below as a general principal, but will not be adding anything further to the discussion as I don’t have the complete background on why it was necessary to state in the first place.

I hope I didn’t misrepresented myself earlier. I am a minority. I’m an African American male in the United States. Even though I don’t think it should matter, this forum is pretty anonymous unless I chose to expose myself.

All I was pointing out is that most forums offer protection from hateful rhetoric already. My concern with the language specific to “Protecting Minorities” stem from my experience here in the US where there’s is a chilling effect in question the opinions of a “Protected Class” else this person maybe accused of bigotry.

Sometimes here, if a person “felt” that if they weren’t (input protected class) then there would not have been pushback or a person would not have debated their opinion and therefore don’t feel safe to speak and the person with the dissenting opinion is some how bigoted. Even if it isn’t true.

I debate ideas, I feel others should be free to pushback and debate ideas they don’t agree with. You can’t protect against that. I can’t help a person with an idea don’t agree with might feel the only reason I don’t agree with said idea is because they are (insert protected class).

I chatted with a Taiwanese member here, and was advised that maybe I need to consider that some people may not have been respectful of Pronouns in this forum on occasion, which I may have missed. To me that falls under the general guidelines of RESPECTING others. And we should call out explicitly that we DO respect people’s pronouns and will absolutely ban for disrespecting a person period. But I don’t see how demanding respect is somehow an additional protection.

I may not agree with another person regardless of their race, gender, political affiliation etc, I don’t want to withold my opinion else be accused of being insensitive or bigotry. Nor would I want some else not to pushback on me.

So I think again saying that we “Welcome and Encourage Minority Participation” is saying that this is a Safe Space, we call out explicitly what disrespect is, especially in regards to not respecting pronouns, and it is the world most of us live in.

I know it isn’t easy.

Edit: I grew up black, impoverished and very heavily discriminated against. I know what discrimination looks like. I know how people behave when they don’t want you in their neighborhood. I also know that isn’t most of the people here in this forum. And unlike my real life, no one here can physically or verbally assault me.

There isn’t a policy in place that will keep a bigoted person from being bigoted, but we can make sure that person will be respectful. Maybe because I am black, I already know it’s an impossibility, I can’t help it that some people just won’t like me, but all that matters is that they don’t have the institutional right to actively disrespect me.

I am failing to see where that isn’t the case with this forum already.

What does protection look like, what can this forum protect me from that it doesn’t already.

That’s all I am asking.


This reminds me: should genocidal slogans proudly featured on Github homepages (I am specifically alluding to a certain recently-departed prolific contributor, FTR) be construed as something that questions people’s existence & experiences (I mean, the specific slogan totally does all that, with bells on)? Because I’m fine with that: I consider myself a professional, I consider Nix* a professional setting, I can compartmentalize, and I think everyone in a professional setting should. Just stop politicising everything. Nix* is worse for that contributor’s departure.

[NOTE to the deliberately-obtuse: this is not an invitation to discuss the nature or meaning of said slogan here]


The current discussion is establishing that around the NixOS community. Rather than digging into this exact topic over and over as @piegames points out, it’ll be a lot more productive if people got into that constitutional discussion and talked it out once and for all.

People have been raising their concerns about potentially unjustly silencing folks ever since that person who linked to their socials where they were advocating for killing trans people was banned. Back then this was controversial because those comments weren’t directly on discourse, but just linked on their profile (which was no longer present after the ban), so at face value it looked like mods banned them after digging through their socials. They weren’t banned just for that, but also aggressive reviews and other such things.

This nonetheless resulted in lots of complaints about power grabbing from the mods, just like the current situation. Jon Ringer typically took part in these discussions, and was one of the main reasons they never ended. A code of conduct and the moderation log were suggested to give mods a way to be more transparent, only to be met with more threads announcing unjust censorship.

Ultimately this discussion kept going in circles for years, with people stating that they were uncomfortable, and others responding that it could be problematic to ban people for speech. Such as this very thread! That discussion is likely as old as humanity, and either side is correct in theory.

However, in practice, rather than a hypothetical “chilling effect” of shutting down opinions as bigotry, threads like this are referenced by several of the leaving contributors as the reason for why they actually left over the last week. This is why it is mentioned by the board.

That first ban several years ago, through years of domino stones including the anduril sponsorship and their employees’ comments landed us in this mess in the first place.

Anyway, my point is, people are clearly lacking historical context. Unsurprising, the discussion will be new for someone every time it happens, and it is politically charged, so everyone wants to chime in. But these threads have been had many times. I’m tired of this.

Please, just take part in the discussion where the board suggested it should be had, raise your concerns there, vote, and take the outcome. Then maybe all this can finally end.


There are also people asking for guidelines about moderation action, to what level moderators should intervene, and what intervention can achieve the best result. And they are dismissed as sea lioning. Not sure if this really serves the goal of building a better community when you just ignore the trust issue. If you just temporarily mute someone in matrix, for example, it is fine to have no concrete guideline on that, as that is quite minor. But if you ban someone across the entire “official communication channel”, maybe you should have some guideline, or it is not unreasonable for others to think that this may be an abuse of power? Saying those people are the problem, from my point of view, is also dividing the community.


Indeed, to me the ends does not justify the means. Without a just institution and a just procedure even the most just outcome is meaningless. A lot of people are having a trust issue with the moderators (me included) and some are suspecting there’s partisanship and bias (me not included) and some are even suspecting there’s agenda. Simply using “sealioning” as a catch all term to silence anyone that dares to argue about moderation action is very unhelpful, to say the least.

To me the core issue is that moderation lacks guidelines and oversights. The current code of conduct are basically useless because how short it is an how vague it is, so moderators have to come up with their own rules to moderate public discourse (which is by no means their fault, also I think moderation is definitely necessary). These rules are not visible to the public and exist solely in the head of the moderators.

To me and to many of the doubters, I think publishing out a formal guideline/rule for moderation can greatly help with the trust issue.

Another issue is of course transparency. (TBA)


Statements such as: “People like you are the problem” and “your narcisstic paranoid victim mentality”, where you can envision someone pointing a finger in the direction of someone else is not part of a gentle discussion.

@dedguy21 raised a valid question about what “Protecting” in “Protecting Minorities” means, there is no need for giving live counter examples.

To answer on this topic, I do not think there is any way to “protect” (prevent), but only ways to moderate once the event happened. To that extend the Mozilla Community Participation Guidelines provide a section with consequences.

On a similar topic (or to be forked to its own topic?), I would be interested on feedback on why “Protecting Minorities” should be preferred over “Protecting all community members against …”.

While I can understand that some issues might be specific to some groups, I do not understand why we would not offer the same promise of “protection” equally.

The reason I am asking is if we had only 10 rules [1] to write as part of “constitutional rules” for guiding the community should these rules mention minorities at all, or should these rules be broader and more general?

[1] 10 is just a random number which limits the number of rules to something which can be remembered, such as the Mozilla Manifesto


I suspect what’s being referred to here isn’t a thread though? It’s an RFC, right?

I believe the person you’re responding to has identified as one of those minorities.


They should mention minorities.


People like you are the problem, and the people who defend that kind of behavior against moderation action.

I see it as a pretty concerning statement, and I’ll talk about the the political context of my country to explain this:
Basically, there’s a judge that has a lot of power here, and he censors everyone that speaks against the government under the the premise that it’s to “defend the democracy”. In the last elections, a president was elected (a president which is from this judge’s political side), so, people were wondering about there was an electoral fraud, the way to check it is by inspecting the electronic voting machine software, but the access to the software was limited and there couldn’t be made an assertive inspection on whether there’s something wrong or not with it.
Later, political figures started to demand for a “real inspection” to make 100% that there’s nothing off with them; with that, this judge started to censor these people because it is “against the democracy, you are trying to question the result of a just democratic election”, yes, it seems pretty absurd, how could question if there’s an anti-democratic thing going on be against democracy? And people believed that, as illogical as his statement was, they believed that due to how current politics work, people don’t think, they prefer to stick to a side of the political spectrum and follow their political agenda blindly.
After this exemplification, I say that the phrase

People like you are the problem, and the people who defend that kind of behavior against moderation action

concerns me, because you’re assuming that the moderation should not receive criticism.
Another point about the phrase: you don’t seem open to consider the possibility that you could be wrong about something, because you say “people like you are the problem”, you’re considering these people necessarily as less worthy of respect, thus they should not be considered. Skepticism is something I see as one of the most important things for a human to follow, I won’t even dare to be certain about my own existence, I analyze and suppose something is closer to the truth, but never assume it as the truth, because I could be wrong and should be open to new ideas.
If the a subject such as @dedguy21 had actually advocated for violence or other form of attack against one’s existence, then you could say that it’s dangerous for him to be offered a place to express these destructive ideas, but that was not the case, he was very respectful.
There’s a distinction between people who want to harm and people who want to improve and help with their opinions (you should have contrary opinions to improve something, it’s diversity of ideas, don’t get stuck inside an echo chamber).


I have to ask: what, exactly, are people trying to accomplish by posting in this thread?

The board statement was pretty clear in the next steps: a constitutional assembly will be created within 14 days, more details will be announced, and that’s the venue where further input on governance should be directed.

Why continue relitigating the same topics over and over again in forum threads that aren’t the clearly-indicated venue for governance discussions? What is the goal here?


I agree that throwing around terms alone is not productive. But in this thread an actual definition was provided for the term “sealioning”.

But it’s often a stilted dialogue to just ask questions that seem to want to lead readers to a predetermined conclusion, to not try to reflect where you are coming from/your own motivations when/if someone is questioning the motivations of others, to not try extend some assumption of goodwill to the other person (a two-way street that of course should happen in both directions).

So it could be more productive to do the some of the following (which likely won’t be labeled as sealioning)

  • Ask questions, but also include your own motivation for asking it, and maybe even acknowledge what the legitimate reasons could be for what you are questioning, unless you really have some evidence that the actions of the person or group are nefarious.

  • Maybe try to acknowledge the points the other person makes or at least try to reflect your understanding, because in asynchronous text communication, it’s better to try and do that, than to keep it sparse, and leave the other person to infer what you meant.

  • Perhaps offer a solution the other person, and the community can use. Even if it is rejected, it is usually more constructive to try this.

I agree that we should not just invoke terms. But I think in this thread people both invoked terms and explained what they mean by it.

I think their goal is to increase the quality of experience and discussion here.

I humbly propose that we should leave off the “which implies zzz” as much as possible. and instead ask the person respectfully if they could expand on what they did, and then discuss their explanation.

Not trying to negate you @Poscat and personally I welcome your view. But I think the way we communicate in an async or synchronous text medium can lead to serious problems and conflict that has proven to be destructive to the community, if we don’t try to put some care into it and take responsibility. I don’t think that trying to address those issues and improve the quality of communication in text mediums should automatically lead to the exclusion of certain groups of people. I think instead that we here, plus anyone who would like to be here, should try to accept responsibility for the nature, direction and outcomes if our communication here. We should try go far enough beyond just asking questions, demanding evidence, or stating that someone’s actions implies something, and instead ask the person to state why they are doing something. (and offer space and understanding if they are not able to).

If someone is a minority, and they state they do not want any “special treatment” then we should respect that. If someone else is a minority, and they state that they need help from the org or community with having agency, access, avoiding harassment, etc then at the same time we should respect that. It’s situational, and we should treat it that way.

We as a community can achieve being co-responsible together.If you think that certain people are being excluded, or end up in a position of injustice: what is a pragmatic solution that could be considered? Is there a way we can reconcile what you propose with what other people propose instead of just contrasting the differences?


Respect to you @samerose, but this juxtaposition of the two sentences is problematic.

There is no “special treatment.”

Removing or helping to remove obstacles to agency, helping people avoid harassment are equalizing actions, they attempt to make things equal to others in the community.


I’d say the goal, at least indirectly, is making visible that there’s a problem with the moderation team, its actions in the past months and the possibility that this situation is unchanged going forward.

The fact that these topics keep appearing indicate that they haven’t been adequately addressed, there’s a trust crisis, and I’d say people want to know more details about how the current state of things will influence the procedures mentioned in the board announcement.

In the original board announcement some people already asked related questions:

  • What is “the community” here exactly?
  • Will the current moderation team, which is in the middle of an accountability crisis, moderate these assemblies (I’d say, as if nothing had happened)?
  • If the above is true, given the precedents, how would people trust that the decisions of these assemblies have been made in a transparent and honest way, truly representative of the diversities of “the community”?

I think this very much merits discussion and deserves visibility.


I’m also having a hard time figuring out what is the actual topic of conversation here. The topic title mentions “Moderation concerns” and that’s what my post was about, but then the body of the very first message and much of the conversation deals with diversities/minorities.

Is this the correct place to discuss concerns about moderation itself? This was my understanding but now I’m not sure. If so, why are we conflating two different conversations? Should we split this into separate topics?


Why continue relitigating the same topics over and over again

Because that’s their objective in the first place, using sealioning? Not sure, just my guess

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I’m new here, but this is an issue near and dear to my heart, so I guess I’ll let this be my first post against my better judgement.

There should be both general rules and specific mention of protecting marginalized groups. You reinforce the parts of the structure that are most under stress.

I’m not going to pretend this issue is apolitical and I will simply get to what is the heart of the issue to me. Currently in many countries to which our community members and contributors belong there is a concerted effort to attack people of specific identities in a variety of ways on both a personal and legal level. This is not a niche issue, this is every day life for some people.

I am of the strong belief that we should specifically rebuke these ideas due to their magnitude and severity. We should make it quite clear that this not a neutral space, but a positive space. That these identitarian attacks found elsewhere are not simply forgone here as a matter of civility and decorum, but explicitly forbidden. That these harmful ideas will not, under any circumstances, be tolerated to take root in our community or culture.

I also don’t believe we require an existing inciting incident to occur first before making such a statement. I believe that this has inherent value that will improve the community and its outreach. I believe we should make a forceful statement that it won’t happen on our watch.

I further reject the very idea that such a rule could be used to deflect substantive criticism against somebody by simply invoking their minority status. A rule stating that identitarian attacks are categorically forbidden is not a rule setting up a protected class immune from criticism, unless what you want to “criticize” is their identity.

Similar ideas, though somewhat vague, already exist in the Contributor Code of Conduct adopted last year, and I’m sure exist elsewhere in the wider NixOS ecosystem. I see no issues with enshrining them directly into the constitution, or another relevant high-level document, to ensure they are always taken into account as part of the broader project’s governance.


No, sorry that’s not correct. Look at the join dates of people who liked that post.

Also, I’ve been here and I’ve had issues with all of these things.

I’m not alone.

Luckily it looks like steps are happening in the right direction to address these concerns.


Expand on the topic so there’s already developed ideas/points to be brought, for my case at least. This thread can be used as a resource to discuss about the moderation concerns.

The explicit point about “censoring” was brought by me, and I never talked about the nature of the rule surrounding inclusivity till now; this direct correlation doesn’t exist in my discourse, this thread isn’t talking about one single major point, but I would say two:

1 - mine: concerns about silencing unpopular opinions.
2 - others: concerns about the rules surrounding inclusivity

I also didn’t see (2) point being correlated to the (1) point, thus i their discurse, I didn’t see them associating the inclusivity rule with censorship, so that doesn’t happen in their discourse; I believe you somehow merged both of these and defined that there’s the existence of a point where (1) and (2) was correlated by someone, but I didn’t see that, instead I say (1) being said by “ones”, and (2) being said by another one; maybe you decided to make sure to express your idea in case there’s one who associates both points, even though no person explicitly said so in this thread.

About my point, It goes beyond the case of the “identity” aspect, it’s much more general. Basically: I have seem enough of human behavior to conclude that when given the opportunity, one will silence opinions that doesn’t align “well” with ones beliefs, it doesn’t matter the political compass; have in mind when Plato was ostracized for 10 years out of Athenas for his beliefs, or the folk praising the burning of witches some hundreds of years ago, mindlessly following something they accepted as truth. These are absurd examples, while this one is way less destructive, but the reason they exist are the same: this specific part of the human nature.

There should be effort to prevent this, a set of moderators that can differentiate between hate/destructiveness and valid discourse, neutral and thoughtful community moderators that aren’t too inclined to a political side and can identify when something is destructive. This community flag system to hide comments makes me doubtful, I don’t want the community to censor me because I said something that they don’t want to hear, I want neutral people that have the thought and concern to filter what should be filtered.

I was about to develop more here, but it would turn too “deep”, so I simplified everything.

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You can be more confident next time because many of us, some who have been core developers here for several years, support your point of view.

I would like to extend this a little further:

Some people always want to contrast “minorities” with “majorities” and firmly believe that they (will always be) among the latter. Based on this logic, they believe that “protecting minorities” is to give special rights to these people, therefore, their rights is compromised. I believe this is why people say this is “political” and firmly believe that we should be “apolitical” because it is these minorities who are actively “stealing” this rights and the act will harm the “interests of the whole”.

This is not the case. Minority is more of a situation rather than an identity. People may be trapped in them for various reasons. “Protecting minorities” is not just for some kinds of them that can be enumerated regarding race, gender identity and disability, but also protecting everyone, and ensuring that as we move forward, no one will be left behind because of others’ bad behavior towards their own circumstances. This creates a sense of security for all contributions, just as Nix creates a sense of security for packagers to avoid dependency hell. That’s why this rule is so important.

I am happy to see that NixOS is improving accessibility and putting it before closure size in many cases. Consider this as an example: suppose adding a screen reading library might add 100MB to the system closure, but make it easy for the visually impaired to use a minimal NixOS image. On the face of it, this behavior harms many users because they waste extra traffic and disk space just to add a read-aloud option that doesn’t seem to be of use to them. But in reality, can you guarantee that your eyesight will not deteriorate after decades? Can you guarantee that you won’t need to use NixOS after myopia surgery? Can you guarantee that after you introduce NixOS to your visually impaired friends, they will not fall into disappointment and self-deprecation due to poor accessibility? “Minority” is always an inseparable part of “majority”. The two are closely related and share weal and woe.


(emphasis mine).

What the majority who raise this concern completely miss is that the status quo societal structures ensure that their rights are always there. What “protecting minorities” means is that there are structures in place to make sure their voices are heard and their experiences are not questioned into silence. That is, we must ensure that the structure that already exists for the majority also exists for minorities if what is desired is that minorities participate.

The difference is that we don’t have to work for the structure that is already there for the majority, but we do have to work to build the one for minorities.