openSUSE Board Forced to Terminate Membership

by Susan Linton - Jan. 14, 2011Comments (1)

openSUSEToday Pascal Bleser, openSUSE packager and Board member, posted a message to the openSUSE Project mailing list announcing the decision of the openSUSE Board to "revoke an individual's membership as well as his access to the openSUSE infrastructure." The only explanation given was that this member had repeatedly violated the Guiding Principals and rejected any attempts for intervention. The message was so cryptic and secretive that it actually provoked more questions than it originally had intended to answer.

The message stated that the Board has received numerous complaints that a certain member had been violating the Guiding Principals over an extended period of time. Board members had attempted to work with the individual to resolve the conflicts "through discussions and mediation," but had to issue a warning of expulsion. Then in December, complaints continued as that "certain member" continued to violate the Guiding Principals. So, the Board has no choice but to revoke "his" membership and ban him from openSUSE.

The message continued to state why the Board it had the right to revoke "his" membership in accordance with the Guiding Principals. The message ended solemnly with the statement " thankful for what that person did for the project, and deeply regret that it had to come to this, but it was really the only option left."

The fallout came fast and furious following the announcement. Many wanted to know more details and specifically who was being discussed. Their inquiries were met with privacy protection reasons. The offending member was apparently respected for his work and the board didn't want to jeopardize his future job prospects by naming him and his actions publicly. But details were still wanted. The discussion progressed until one particular member finally let the nickname slip out and what the possible violation was in a general sense.

The slip of the tongue said, "Me and Carlos have also been victims of gnokii and his bullying..." Gnokii is the nickname for Sirko Kemter, who had recently been nominated in the upcoming openSUSE Board election and was very active in openSUSE artwork. Apparently as the teaser eluded, he had been guilty of bullying. Another poster stated he had been insulted by Kemter. The poster who spilled the beans felt the revocation was excessive given Kemter's contributions and wondered if he was given a chance to defend himself. It was also suggested that language differences could have led to misunderstandings. But according to a message by Matt Hayes this had been habitual and addressed numerous times by Board members. Most seemed to agree this is what the Guiding Principals are for and violations can not be overlooked for anyone. Bullying has become a major concern in recent years across many realms, and is usually dealt with harshly. The discussion continues.

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That citation in last paragraph is quite misleading. It continues:

"Strangelly, we have worked out with gnokii, without any intervention from the board."

And it continues that they became friends ;-) It wasn't complain, it was more like a defense and an example that with a good will, it is possible to settle things out without the need of the Board intervention.

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