Why was Jon Ringer banned from GitHub?

The stated reason is:

repeatedly derailing sensitive discussions and willfully furthering the division in the community

That doesnt sound like transparancy to me, with this justification most things could be blocked, banned, muted etc. and users still wouldnt know why.

I think the old “with great power comes great responsabilities” applies to moderation as well.

To be meaningful and transparent, we should get:

  • Moderator responsible for the ban
  • Message that triggered the ban
  • Clear pointing to the rule that was broken

If you can ban people, you should be able to stand by that with your account, no hiding behind shared , generel purpose Mod accounts. I get that there comes heat in the direction of the Mod/s, but this comes with the title. If youre not willing to stand by your actions publicly, you shouldnt perform those actions. This also lowers the chances of rogue actors, because the community can identify them and hold them accountable.

If the users dont have the Message and the clear pointing to the rule that was violated, they might not understand the ban and might have problems following the rules, if the rules and the applications arent clear.

Adding to that, why do people get banned from github instead from discourse? It seem like this ban has nothing to do with commits/ actions or in-actions on the code base . So why block this person from performing tasks that are needed and add to the project and the community? Give a temp ban here on Discourse, it seems like that the violation happend here anyway.

As a new user im already scared of the moderation and voicing my opinion.

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I’d like to see some more details about why he was banned. Most of the posts I’ve seen from him were pretty respectful and reasonable.

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While vague on its own, I think it’s fairly clear what the reason given in the moderation log means if we just look around the Discourse, GitHub, and Matrix space where Jon participated over the past week and especially at the flashpoint which I believe was 2024-04-25T00:00:00Z. [^1] Whether the reasons are sufficiently strong for the suspension, and its being issued at this time, I don’t know; But, I expect (or even hope) that the moderation team at least considered that carefully, right or wrong. It would be very cumbersome to document all of Jon’s behaviour in the log, both due to the effort of compilation and writing, and the larger diff size (not such a big deal imo, but still). Further, I believe (and this is speculation on my part) that the moderation team has also made this decision based on other prior instances where no action was taken. Since the issue the mod team was addressing was probably not an isolated incident (even if it was one that prompted the action) but more likely a pattern of behaviour and Jon’s disposition on certain subjects, which he expressed frequently, it would be very difficult to produce an exhaustive and thorough explanation.

[^1]: I won’t link to any instances here, but I assure you that they aren’t terribly hard to find. In fact, I wasn’t looking for them but merely stumbled upon them. And what’s more, it’s conceivable that you might find Jon’s position in those instances to be reasonable. Even so, I think it’s recognizable that his behaviour was plausibly actionable.

P.S. Did we disable footnotes? That makes me sad.

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Some people are accusing the moderation team of bias in banning Jon. To address these concerns, please provide specific examples of his violations instead of relying on vague insinuations.

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Jon himself has said he is “not innocent” on the reddit post. There’s no need for you to litigate this.

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I’m brand new to Nix, and I was just checking out the release schedule (NixOS 24.05 — Release Schedule · Issue #303285 · NixOS/nixpkgs · GitHub) to figure out if I should hold off for the new release (I prefer sticking to stable branches) or not. While browsing, I stumbled upon a comment regarding Jon’s ban, which piqued my interest to learn more about how the project operates. I’m keen on diving into NixOS, so understanding why Jon got banned, whether it was justified, and if I want to be part of a community that bans people like him is important to me.

Now, bear in mind, all I have are speculations as I’ve only spent about an hour looking into this.

Despite going through the ban reasoning (Suspend jonringer for 6 weeks · NixOS/moderation@c0f7744 · GitHub), I couldn’t find a clear reason for his ban. So, I turned to Jon’s activity history on Discourse (Profile - jonringer - NixOS Discourse) to see if there were any red flags. Nothing really stood out to me at first glance. He appeared quite level-headed—no signs of aggression or a tendency to escalate situations. I stumbled upon this thread (Should organizations relating to the defense sector being able to sponsor NixOS? - #32 by no_name) where some folks were acting in a way that, personally, I would consider bullying, but Jon handled it very calmly. I also found this Reddit post of his (written in a calm and reasonable tone, almost seeming like he’s been gaslighted into believing he’s wrong here) https://www.reddit.com/r/NixOS/comments/1cd5fod/in_case_im_unable_to_return_wish_you_all_the_best/, which led me to an open letter https://save-nix-together.org that I haven’t had time to read yet, but it seems Jon’s stance on this letter might’ve played a part in his ban.

From an outsider’s perspective, it all appears like an internal power struggle—someone possibly wanting Jon to keep quiet not because he’s bad for the project, but because he crossed paths with someone.

I’m not taking sides here because I don’t know enough about the situation, but I strongly believe in transparency, and this whole scenario doesn’t seem transparent at all. Hopefully, this situation will prompt the Foundation to move towards a more open approach.

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I could be wrong (and welcome any corrections from people who actually know), but it seems to me that the Foundation is not effectively a governing body: all actual governance (such as deciding who is part of the Github org, or who gets to speak on this Discourse instance or in the official Matrix chats) is done by a team of “moderators” who operate in an intentionally-opaque manner and are not accountable to the Foundation. Moreover, the Foundation seems to have been made further irrelevant by certain recent public statements.

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From an outsider’s perspective, it all appears like an internal power struggle—someone possibly wanting Jon to keep quiet not because he’s bad for the project, but because he crossed paths with someone.

It appears to be a power struggle because it is one. A politically motivated one, at that. It’s a shame, we picked probably the worst possible time to be seriously interested in NixOS, but it is what it is.

At some point, people are going to stop pretending to themselves that the mod team are working for the good of the NixOS project. Until then, (and until morale improves), the beatings will continue.

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To be honest, this doesn’t really quell any concerns. When I looked at Jon’s posts I couldn’t find anything that looked remotely like misconduct, certainly not something that would warrant a 6 week suspension. Jon’s civility, if anything, makes the need for moderator action like this seem even less likely.

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Answering your question is tricky to say the least. You are right that Jon appears quite level-headed and polite! He doesn’t call people names, he doesn’t outright troll people, and overall he seems very reasonable (and I’m still of the opinion that he is).

That said, our community as a whole is at the peak of years-long crisis. Historically, Nix community has been very welcoming of anyone tech-savvy and not outright hostile. We haven’t even had any moderation at all for a very long time, and we used to do things based on lengthy discussions and implicit authority that is based around people’s contributions. This might sound like a good thing, but it had backfired horribly on so many occasions. Flakes are in a half-baked limbo for eternity because people used their authority to push the feature without properly addressing community’s concerns. We are permanently short on people, because people with authority block any attempts to expand the teams. We are struggling with getting a lot of basic things done, because people with authority block any progress on that.

This is no exaggeration that this is a years-long crisis. There are people with authority in our community that are destroying the project and the community, and this authority is all implicit. A reasonable thing to do would be to ban those people from the project, as they are doing a lot of harm. But we can’t. We don’t have any formal structures in place to do that. Our moderation team is very limited in scope (as a result of people with authority limiting it!), and we don’t have anyone with actual explicit authority to ban people from the project.

As you can see, the situation is extremely dire. We desperately need to take decisive actions. The open letter was one of those actions. Jon’s input is, unfortunately, counterproductive in this case: the concerns he raises are valid, but he also misses the very important context of the situation being extremely bad. As such, he derails the sensitive conversation and wastes everyone’s time, when the clock is ticking like it never did.

To be clear: I’m not part of the moderation team, and I don’t speak for its behalf. This is my vision of a situation as someone who involved themselves with Nix Project for 3 years, without assuming some formal position. While I don’t want to see Jon gone from the community, I support the 6-week suspension: we really are in a terrible situation, and his input right now doesn’t help.

Regarding the Foundation: it is not a governing body. It just takes cares of administrative tasks, such as setting up events, NGOs, interacting with the sponsors, and so on. Moderation team isn’t a government body either: RFC 98 tried to establish it as such, and failed miserably. There are reasons to think that this failure (as long as all other failures at establishing a coherent governance model) are intentional sabotage from people who enjoy the implicit authority under the status quo.

The open letter calls this situation out, and wants to fix it. The open letter also depends on knowing a lot of internal context, so I’ve put out a text that aims to explain the situation concisely (shameless self-plug!).

I’ll add the section about RFC 98, Moderation team, and how it plays into this conflict, since it seems very apparent that people are confused about it, and are questioning moderation decisions in this case.

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There are people with authority in our community that are destroying the project and the community, […]

I’m having a hard time figuring out whom you’re referring to. Could you help me?

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No sealioning please.

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Transparency about jonringer’s suspension

On Thursday, the moderation team, in consultation with members of the Foundation board, made the decision to issue a six-week suspension to Jon Ringer, effective in all NixOS project spaces. Jon has been a prominent member of the community for many years, and so we felt it important to share some details of our decision-making on this issue to which we ordinarily would not call attention.

As many of you are aware, since last year the community has been heatedly debating decisions made by NixOS event organizers and the Foundation with respect to a particular event sponsor. Jon has been a frequent participant in these conversations throughout, arguing in support of the decisions made and the sponsor in question. The overall quality of most of these conversations has been, frankly, dreadful, for reasons that involve many participants—we don’t consider Jon to be an outlier in this respect.

We recognize that it is important for the community to be able to freely discuss topics like this, and we are unwilling to arbitrarily exclude viewpoints with which we personally disagree on that basis alone. We also believe that, if such conversations aren’t carried out carefully, they can create an environment which becomes intrinsically unwelcoming to members of the community we don’t want to exclude. We have struggled with finding, in real time, the appropriate balance between these two values, and we don’t expect other leaders in the community to be any more successful at this than we are ourselves.

What has been disappointing to us about Jon’s behavior is that he has taken a position that, to all appearances, is wholly insensitive to the nuances of this conversation and the way it is affecting the community, and to his role in the conversation and what his actions signify. We, along with other community members, have attempted to point these issues out to him, but we have not seen a change in this behavior.

We present some examples below, but please understand that the issue here is very much about context. Jon has generally used language that, out of context, is civil and otherwise unobjectionable. We don’t expect community members who have little awareness of the entire conversation to understand, from these examples, why a six-week suspension is a proportionate response. In addition to its own judgment, the moderation team is using feedback from the board and other senior community leaders to calibrate its perceptions of this, and we are explicitly not inviting debate on this topic from people whose involvement in the NixOS community has heretofore been minimal.

  • Jon’s PR applying to become an observer on the Foundation board (the issue here is not that he dared to apply; it’s the complete absence of sensitivity—in the best case, assuming that this was not Jon’s intent—to what his application, at that time, after the way he’s been engaging with Foundation decisions, would do to the community—continued and exacerbated in more recent comments after his application was formally declined): Add jonringer as a board observer by jonringer · Pull Request #133 · NixOS/foundation · GitHub

  • This thread, concerning the (not ultimately implemented) suggestion that particular attention be paid to gender minority representation in the event sponsor selection process (the issue here is not the disagreement, but the pattern of engagement involving repeatedly resetting the conversation back to zero—asking if there are any specific suggestions, as if the entire thread isn’t his response to a specific suggestion; saying he’s not interested in debating, while debating; making value statements and responding to other people’s value statements with, ‘Stating […] something doesn’t make it true’, etc.): Objection to minority representation by a single class in NixOS sponsorship policy

  • Jon responding with ‘everything is political’ in a way that both denies that his engagement has itself been deeply political as of late and shows an insensitivity to the issues previously raised: Major Nixpkgs contributor leaving - #11 by Pamplemousse

This is an incomplete list of interactions that have made up the general pattern, extending back to at least the beginning of this calendar year. In each case, the community has been reinflamed due to Jon’s lack of sensitivity. We feel that, after enough such interactions, failing to recognize the impact of one’s behavior and not changing it constitutes reckless conduct for a community leader. The word ‘reckless’ is chosen with care; we are not accusing Jon of having malicious intent against the NixOS community. But based on the impact of his behavior, we believe a temporary suspension is justified and necessary.

It is our hope that Jon will choose to take some time during his absence to reflect on the impact his actions have had on the community and resolve to behave differently if he chooses to rejoin us. The moderation team will take swifter and more permanent action against Jon in the future if this pattern of behavior resumes.


In the context of the broader conversation around the NixOS community’s culture, and the decisions made by the moderation team and the Foundation board, we want to highlight some things that are not the case:

Jon is not being suspended because of his employer.

We don’t exclude people from this community based on who they work for or what they do for a living, in any circumstance. Members of this community are expected to understand that the sometimes-pseudonymous usernames they interact with on this project could be anyone who do anything. You are entitled to your opinions about what other people do with their lives, but you are not entitled, here, to use those opinions as grounds to make anyone feel unwelcome.

He is not being suspended because of his political beliefs.

As with the above point, members of this community are expected to understand that they may be interacting with people they consider to be political adversaries. It is normal for a multicultural community to contain people who possess different beliefs. The moderation team draws a distinction between beliefs and actions, and we will not tolerate actions in this community that interfere with fostering a welcoming environment for as many people as possible. If you are concerned that, because your politics align with Jon’s, you too may end up suspended, we want you to understand that it is only Jon’s actions that have put him in this situation.

He is not being suspended for disagreeing with us or the Foundation board.

We welcome disagreement that is respectful of our time and communicated in appropriate channels. We have heard, privately, from several people who have expressed support for various sides of moderation-related issues, and we appreciate all of their input and their continued participation in this community.

He is not being suspended because a mob has demanded it.

We have received multiple reports from community members about Jon over the past several months in particular. We appreciate these reports and consider them an essential part of the moderation process. In the end, it is our judgment that we use to decide how to respond to situations, and you should hold us and us alone accountable with respect to our goal of fostering a welcoming environment.


Given that our goal for this community is a welcoming environment for many people as possible, we do not lightly make decisions about suspending long-standing community members, even temporarily. Every suspension or ban of a contributing member of our community is an event that we hope to avoid, understanding that in some cases this is unavoidable.

Creating a safe and welcoming community is our mission, but it’s not only our responsibility. We share that responsibility with you, and the choices you make when you interact with others in our space have a big impact on how successful we all are at that mission. We rely on you to work with us in difficult situations and to remember not only to use polite language, but also to exercise common sense and empathy to anticipate the effects your words will likely have on others, and to listen and give consideration to others when they tell you about problems you may be causing. All of this applies extra when you have a position of leadership in the community, but in a community as anarchic as this one it can’t be just something for leaders to keep in mind.

Finally, please refrain from starting new public threads on the subject of Jon. Direct feedback on our decision can be sent as private messages to moderators here on Discourse. We may not get back to you right away; we are volunteers with outside lives, and the last few days have been very busy for us.

The NixOS Moderation Team

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It was a unanimous decision, or can we have each member vote on the six-week suspension?

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This post really cleared up the situation for me.

At first glance, it looks like a standard case of the individual coming from a technical environment and not realizing that meritocracy doesn’t actually work to produce well represented leadership structures.

Whether that’s in good faith or not doesn’t matter if it keeps leading to disruption of discussion.

The links to relevant discussions made it pretty clear. I was kind of leaning towards “pics or it didn’t happen” until I found this post.

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What is the point of that question? The decision was made as a team, and its consensus finding process (usually unanimity btw) is an implementation detail.

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I personally support you doing what you can as a team in a well reasoned way, given the circumstances. I don’t have a beef with people, but it’s time to stop divisiveness and fighting in spaces where people are communicating.

Tit-for-tat exchanges to struggle for control will destroy the community, and you can’t let it go on.

Ultimately this community needs help with social negotiation around collaboration from an impartial party with real experience stewarding that, in my opinion. And it needs appropriate affordances to give agency to people who participate. That will take time.

In the mean time, if we are all as people to participate together, we need to individually stop playing the tit for tat control game, or we need someone to try to impartially (as much as possible) stop us when we go too far.

Let’s try to genuinely learn to put our energy into slowing down, understanding each other, figuring out what it takes to be in a community together with whoever is left willing to be in it. Let’s treat each other like the human beings that we are. For better or worse, we are the people. Let’s understand one another, and try to make this work.

IMG_7760

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(implied: and not tossed into this topic)

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The flagged posts in here are clear indication of silencing opposing opinions and building an echo chamber. It is frankly revolting to see this with civil discourse.

EDIT: I ask that the moderation team lock the thread if discourse on this topic is no longer accepted.

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I’ve flagged the posts that don’t follow a direct instruction on how to give feedback about this decision. I don’t know how to be more clear. If that revolts you, I regret that I have no substantial response to that.

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