DPL Sam Hartman proves blackmail is alive and well in Debian

Earlier this year, Debian Community News published a step-by-step guide explaining how Debian blackmails volunteers.

Rather than seeking reform, Debian's outgoing leader, Sam Hartman, has decided to double-down on the blackmail strategy.

Sam Hartman, DPL

On 12 February 2020, Developers announced they would host a Mini DebConf because they are unwilling to attend DebConf20 in Israel.

While another Debian Developer's offer to give the same speech in both Israel and Palestine was censored by Alexander Wirt (formorer), the message about an alternative event, promoted through multiple channels simultaneously, was impossible to block.

Hartman's long-winded emails are often quite painful to read and decode, we highlight the key points and the mentality behind them.

In an email on 17 February, Hartman writes:

I'm quite frustrated, disappointed and angry reading the above.


I was not expecting this sort of messaging to persist based on our previous conversations.

What are those previous conversations? Is Hartman referring to a mutual agreement of all community members? Or is he suggesting the cabal gave orders not to mention Palestine again and everybody is supposed to obey them?

Two days later, 19 February, Hartman sent another one of his long-winded messages, explaining:

as DPL, I could deny the budget and force the Montreal event to be outside of Debian.

There it is, the smoking gun. The Debian Project Leader, Sam Hartman, blackmailing the people organizing a Debian event. In fact, it isn't so long ago that the same people organized a full DebConf in Montreal, DebConf17.

Community reaction to blackmail

Various people have called out Hartman's behavior, for example, this comment from Thomas Goirand:

It feels like the DPL is kind of blackmailing the Montreal team...Hopefully, that's not the intent, they will receive financial help by the project, and they will not have to self-humiliate publicly.

The possibility that they might have to self-humiliate appears to be a reference to the blackmailing of Dr Preining.

Finally, a new thread has been started:

I looking for ways to moderate a mailinglist distributed. Distributed as: serveral people do the job (not a job for a single person)

Goal is a healthy (mailinglist) community.

Vision I have for a healthy ML is like nice village that is becoming a nice town. Citizens are aware it is their own habitat and it is their interrest to keep in a good shape.

In other words, people won't be allowed to talk about either Palestine or the blackmail.

Nonetheless, the email states

Posting of subscriber with establish repuation go through without a delay. It skips "review queue"

As the original blackmail message was sent by Hartman himself, the leader of the project, shouldn't he be the benchmark for reputation? If project leaders consistently behave like this, how can they expect anything better from any other community member?

Hartman's email of 19 February also comments:

We need to support a diverse community of political opinion. We want to be welcoming to people who commit to our principles and want to work together to make a free software operating system.

This is an outright lie. Debian has gone as far as humiliating and shaming people on a number of occasions to force them to bend over and submit to the monoculture. That may work with one or two victims at a time, as revealed in the Debian Christmas lynchings but the number of people expressing concerns about Israel appears to be too large for plain vanilla blackmailing.