Should organizations relating to the defense sector being able to sponsor NixOS?

As someone who knows people in warzones(not someone in them myself), and as someone who is left-leaning politically, I believe anything Nix-related should not accept contracts or sponsorships from companies whose main business is killing others. I find those kinds of companies to go against my personal beliefs, and I believe that many others(as indicated in this thread) hold that belief as well.

Also, many friends of mine(along with myself) who may attend these events otherwise may not feel comfortable with coming to events sponsored by such companies. In general, these companies don’t seem very good for humanity in general, and I feel that as an organization, the NixOS Foundation should be trying to position itself and the community at large as a community that cares about accepting others(of any gender, race, age, creed, etc) and cares about human rights for all. These companies are antithetical to that, and so I vehemently believe that it would be a bad decision to accept any defense contractor or other company that relies on killing as their primary business.

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I think it’s important to keep in mind that the ‘defense sector’ is not homogeneous. Some entities specialize in specific applications and methods. A person can think that providing arms for traditional warfare to the armed forces is on one side of an ethical line, and providing equipment designed to target noncombatant refugees to immigration enforcement departments is on the other side. A person could also think that some entities are more responsible about which states they choose to do business with than others. It isn’t necessarily appropriate to have a single ruling on whether the entire ‘defense sector’ is an ethical sponsor to court.

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TL;DR: No, the Nix community shall not accept any military companies working on immediately violent projects.
It’s never easy to exactly figure out where to draw the line between slightly acceptable and slightly unacceptable, but that is no excuse when it comes to excluding obvious cases.

NixCon was and still is a community conference. A conference of various people¹ interested and involved around the wider Nix ecosystem. (Human) Beings from different backgrounds coming together due to their shared interests.

This means that the design of such a conference should be focused on the event being welcoming to all these human beings first and foremost.
Others in this thread have already outlined that the offensive presence of military actors can be off-putting to people at different levels – or not. There are former military filks like @jonringer who feel positive about the presence of military actors. Others might not care at all in any way. Then there are folks who feel uncomfortable because this conflicts with their ethics or politics.
But those which a caring community needs to consider explicitly are marginalised people who might not just be made uncomfortable, but are affected so strongly that they do not feel safe at the conference and thus cannot take part. People like those described by @shanesveller.
In the specific case of Anduril, it’s not just the military part that might ostracise certain marginalised groups, there are also Palmer Lucky’s right-wing ties that can make the event even more hostile. [that’s a different can of worms though]
It is unlikely that folks like Jon won’t contribute to NixCon when military corporations are banned as sponsors. But it is likely that larger parts of the community won’t come when such sponsors are permitted.

Because sponsorship of such an event might be partly rooted in the honest desire to give back, but there are of course additional perks of being a sponsor.
Having your company logo all around normalises your presence, frames all visitors of the conf to be somehow part of the same community as you.
Also, buying into such a conference inserts a sponsor at a central interaction hub visitors cannot really avoid. As an individual community contributor you have a more fine-grained choice in which projects to be involved in and with whom to interact. When visiting a conf, you cannot avoid having to deal with their sponsors.

At NixCon23, Anduril employees where still among the visitors, one of them even held a talk. But there, he was only responsible for exactly this work he presented. By being a sponsor in contrast, you make the full conference in-scope of your name.

¹Yes, I know the idea of corporations being people in the US-sphere, but even there the people representig that corporation are still humans.

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A concrete suggestion for a sponsorship along the stated lines would be Shahed Aviation Industries.

They have certainly gotten media exposure, but a sponsorship would definitely be in their interest - not just to help diversify income streams/client base, but certainly for community networking & recruitment.

I think that the correct course of action would be to heavily disrespect military contractors:

  • Allow them to sponsor events
  • Do not allow them to advertise, set up booths, give special talks, or distribute swag
  • Bury the list of sponsors deep in the programme, perhaps only available by request
  • Set up a special working session, titled something like “How to prevent military contractors from influencing Nix,” which will focus on how to minimize their effects in the ecosystem
  • Distribute an open letter condemning military contractors and invite folks to sign physical copies at a special session
  • Expressly make at least one keynote include the topic of how to minimize corporate influence on the Nix community
  • For bonus points: invite a keynote speaker to give an openly anti-military-industrial talk

In general, the idea is to take their money, refuse their influence, and shame their choice of occupation. If that means that they suddenly don’t want to give money, then let them walk away.

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To clarify my personal position. There’s no hard obligation for corporations to contribute back to FOSS. I would rather have them contribute back, than give nothing at all.

This would be a broader scope than just defense, but any entity which has had a [potentially] “dark past or present” ethically. E.g. Nestle, Bayer, Monsanto, facebook, google, etc.

People and corporations should be incentivized to the do the right thing. Pushing them away from contributing seems to hurt both Nix and their desire to do better.

This is what the companies get in return when buying sponsorships. Awareness.

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This is a classic case of arguing in bad faith and derailment of the discussion.

gatekeep and dictate who is allowed to contribute to open source communities

Not the topic of discussion. This is about sponsorship, which is not a unilateral action but essentially, at the end of the day, a form of paid advertisement.

Should we ban companies that sell private user data? Should we ban companies that contribute to global warming? Should we ban companies that don’t have high enough diversity metrics? Should we ban companies that have customers or offices in countries we find oppressive?

Ridiculous line of reasoning and barely coherent. What does “ban” mean? Not taking money from these companies? Strange definition. But something tells me you don’t care that much about global warming, diversity or oppressive governments anyway.

Just to get back to what this is actually about: companies making killing machines for killing people. Pretending that opposition to this line of business is stepping over some sort of line does not make sense. I suggest you have a look at the reasons why many academic institutions refuse to take money from defense companies.

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TLDR: let them be sponsors, don’t harass/shame them
I personally believe that the time for “shaming” the military and weapons builders is over. They are the only thing keeping Ukraine right now alive. We live in uncertain times and having the capability to defend the nation you live in shouldn’t be shamed but cherished. They are needed right now and that is a fact.

Additionally, I think it is a very cheap argument to say they kill people, or they build tech that kills people a lot of companies destroy the environment or exploit the Third World and the line of good and bad is so blurred into oblivion. I also probably wouldn’t like to see recruiters running around, but I think they should be able to give back to the community without being harassed or shamed.

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Less of this, please.

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Okay, hold up right here. Nobody has to dox themselves. Bias can be relevant but any of us could be working for the defense sector and so you have to argue against the argument, not the person.

No personal attacks, or this thread gets locked.

[Edited to add: patka requested that I delete the above comment. The admonition stands.]

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Accepting questionable sponsors like Anduril these drives away more ethical sponsors and contributors.
The long term cost is simply too high to accept them.

This is effectively just like E.A. is trying to make money, by just being good enough to not lose customers completely.
We should strive to be better instead of stopping short of a sellout.

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I would consider conflicts of interest highly relevant, actually. “Anyone could be working for a defense contractor” is not a good reason to deliberately shroud that fact in darkness.

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It’s only a conflict of interest if they’re in a position of power over the situation. Asking someone to dox themselves is not ok in this forum IMO.

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This is why Copyleft licenses were invented :yum:.

On a more serious note, I guess it’s been said often enough in this thread that sponsorship with its perks and other ecosystem contributions are different things. So I am fine with this part of your position.
Of course there are specific cases where I’d also hope the community or the respective maintainers are going to reject code contributions if possible. I’m thinking about companies like HackingTeam or NSO group which cannot be deemed to be trustworthy, when they’re mainly working on exploting vulnerabilities for their own good and making the whole software ecosystem a less safe place.
But these are very specific cases and not what we’re discussing here.

And I outlined why this might be problematic and has the potential to disrupt a community conference.
If they care so much about Nix they’ll find other means to contribute if they really want to. But if they’re just doing it for the perk of exposure, then they might not care that much. And we might to make a choice.
We need to be aware that even a welcoming conference always ostracises some people. There are the active decisions like dropping problematic sponsors, those may be the loud ones.
But then there are the silent non-decisions through which we cause people to avoid community spaces. Those might feel like passive ones, but they are not, as we can know what we’re allowing to happen there.
If I need to choose between the marketing effects for a sponsor and the well-being of several community members, I know which choice to make.


Re doxing/ conflict of interests:
As a privacy advocate I share the concerns and agree that you cannot force people to dox themselfs.
But when it comes to conflicts of interests, it is the individual responsibility of everyone to declare their own (potential) conflicts of interests if there are any – or not take part in the discussions. Otherwise it is hard to have an honest debate.
If someone fails to do so and such conflicts are later revealed, that’s not doxing IMO.

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Opinion noted. Don’t do it anyway. Message me if this is a problem for you.

I agree with this. If someone with hard power here—like a mod—is in your opinion using their power in a way that is influenced by where they get their money, that is an issue. The recourse available to you is to bring it up with a (probably different) mod, not to dox or ask others to disclose details they aren’t comfortable volunteering.

My DMs are open if you want to discuss this without the 1-hour waiting period.

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Strong +1, and I will add that the foundation’s complete lack of care about ethics is making me reconsider how much I want to be involved with the project right now. This NixCon NA incident is ridiculous due to being an almost complete re-occurrence of the NixCon EU incident last year. The fact that the foundation decided it would be OK to approve this without having figured out where the community stands on this ethical subject makes me wonder whether they really have the health of the NixOS community as a top priority.

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This is essentially asking to dox myself to clear my name in Nix the community.

I was hoping to keep my personal (Nix life) separate, as I consider being a Nix contributor very close to my identity (or at least had prior to Nov 2021, RFC 98). Actually fell into a deep depression while sorting myself out after having the perceived “loss” of the community. (Then again people are looking into my personal life for malicious intent).

My employment was not an influencing factor in any of this. I’m a recent hire, had no connection to Anduril during the 2023 NixCon “situation” (as labeled from the other thread). Took no part in securing the sponsorship, and the NixOS Foundation was not aware of my employment (this would have likely had no effect anyway, but felt like being transparent).

I’ve been a Nix member first for the past 5 years, in which I worked at 6 different institutions. I’ve been a Nix community member long before this job and will likely be a Nix member long after this job. Adopting policies like sponsorship criteria extends much further than the average stint in a particular position.

However, I don’t appreciate people looking into my personal life. You would have had to gone outside of any Nix platform to find the information. (I’m not trying to hide it, just stopped updating it outside LinkedIn).

To reiterate from the CoC:

Examples of behavior that contributes to creating a positive environment include:

  • Focusing on what is best for the community

Examples of unacceptable behavior by participants include:

  • Trolling, insulting/derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks
  • Public or private harassment
  • Publishing others’ private information, such as a physical or electronic address, without explicit permission
  • Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a professional setting

If the NixOS Foundation decides to filter their sponsors, then I will respect it and move on with my life. Whether they do or don’t get financial kickback is not relevant to me submitting or reviewing PRs to improve NixOS.

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@no_name please change your communication style if you want to take part in this discussion. I see you concern trolling, derailing into tangential topics and generally your arguments feel like made in bad faith. Your tirade of rhetorical questions feels overly aggressive. This is not constructive.

@johnny your point would be no weaker if you removed the ad hominem attack from it.

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I personally don’t think any defense contractor should be able to use our platform and events for advertisement, if they wanna give us money, they can use the open collective and I have no problem with that. But if they expect us to give them publicity in return, then absolutely not.

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Totally onboard with this. And there are enough baddies in the world. I am a bit surprised that not more got a proper wake-up call on the 24 February 2022. That militaries and the military industrial complex are needed and serve a purpose in such times.

I personally think that the argument, some people might feel intimidated by military sponsors shouldn’t be our problem. You could be intimidated by a lot of things. I could hold a crutch against e.g. determinant systems and maybe don’t come to nixcon because of that. Does that make determinant systems a bad sponsor? - no. The same goes for Anduril in my mind - people maybe don’t like them: (okay - their opinion) - but that doesn’t make them a bad sponsor.

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