[Dev] Some doubts about Parabola's donations

Luke Shumaker lukeshu at lukeshu.com
Mon Apr 10 05:07:11 GMT 2017


Sunday   : <fauno> i have the feeling this will get ugly
Wednesday: *it gets ugly*
... well shit.

From: fauno <fauno at endefensadelsl.org>
Message-Id: <87y3vdjufz.fsf at endefensadelsl.org>
> all of this made me lose sleep over a week, not knowing what kind of
> mess i would find every morning, 

I was worried about it for you, and what you would have to deal with
in the morning.  I know on IRC you queried me and asked me to weigh
in.  You are a stronger man than I, because I saw the mess, and was
like "I don't have the will to deal with this", and buried myself in
code.  (I've also been traveling and availability of my email has been
sporadic).  I apologize, to fauno especially, that I didn't really
contribute to the discussion until after the dust had somewhat
settled.

This is one mega-email that responds to a bunch of things that have
been said.

----

The server purchasing decisions were being had by only 2 members of
the Parabola community (gaming4jc and emulatorman), plus fauno and
Tiberiu on the receiving end of the requests.

  https://share.riseup.net/#bZqxbeJ5xair5HlVOk-Afw

While I understand, and am a fan of, the "you don't need to ask for
permission to get things done" aspect of Adhocracy, given the size of
Parabola's developer community, and that the costs of the server were
a fairly substantial part of Parabola's funds, it absolutely was a
mistake to not have this discussion with more members of the
community.

It is debatable whether it should have been totally public on dev@,
but it should have happened in view of more than 3 people with
@parabola.nu emails.

To be clear, I 100% DO NOT blame Ceata or Tiberiu for this; the
members of the Parabola developer community who engaged in this
discussion are to blame.  Our charter with Ceata specifies a single
community delegate to interface with, and that is what they did.
Responsibility for proper involvement of the community falls on the
delegate's side of that contract.

I suppose that means that fauno shares a part of the blame, for not
saying "hey, we should be having this conversation with more people,"
but that is a very, *very*, small part of the blame; those trying to
use the community's funds without first discussing it with the entire
community are the ones truly to blame.

Beyond a vague awareness that a build server was being acquired, I had
no knowledge of the details of it; and I believe that this was true
for most of the Parabola developer community.  We should not have been
kept in the dark.  If I were Emulatorman, this is where I would
condescendingly link to the "cliques" section of the Adhocracy
article.

From: André Silva <emulatorman at riseup.net>
Message-Id: <b0d4491b-a233-85c5-be85-17d242f3ed26 at riseup.net>
> If it isn't possible, then we should open a legal entity (eg.
> offshore)

(to pick one sentence to quote)

Look, handing money to someone is easy.  But then governments get
involved because taxes, and everything gets complicated.  Even if it
"should" be simple.

Half of the things you've suggested are "probably technically tax
fraud (ask a lawyer!), but you'd probably get away with it."  When
dealing with governments and taxes and non-profit/not-for-profit
status, shit gets painful.  That's just a fact of life.

When companies do crazy shit like setting up wholly owned subsidiaries
in off-shore tax havens and whatnot, it's made possible/legal by a
high-powered, high-paid, lawyer (or, more likely, a team of them!),
whose salary is less than the crazy-large amount of money being saved.
They essentially get an economy of scale.  Unless we somehow find
ourselves in a situation where we are overflowing with enough money to
retain a lawyer, then going down this path is going down the path of
"accidentally committing tax fraud, and hoping we get away with it."

I volunteer with a local high-school robotics team.  They build a
robot every year, and take it to competitions.  When there's a part
that we indisputably need, has an established and accepted price, and
an universally agreed upon vendor, we STILL have to go through a
process.

What I saw of the records of emails that I've been shown, the process
with Ceata was NOTHING unusual.

From: Isaac David <isacdaavid at isacdaavid.info>
Message-Id: <1491599607.2564.0 at plebeian.isacdaavid.info>
> Le jeu. 6 avril 2017 à 12:51, fauno a écrit :
> > then i'm invited to a tox channel where i read some people basically
> > think ceata and tct are keeping the money for themselves and their
> > task is to recover it, given their "unwillingness" to make expenses on
> > our behalf, which i found ridiculous. i mention it looks like a coup,
> > since it's a secret meeting to form a consensus out of reach from the
> > whole community.
> 
> did anyone mention FUD? Beware the sarcasm in my reply...
> 
> so they wanted to form a consensus that wasn't a real consensus,
> how would that even work fauno?
> 
> on what universe does a coup consist of organizing around making
> Parabola development more lively and sustainable for more developers,

In the same universe where a discussion among 3 members of the
community on various private forums forces the entire community to
have severed relations with their fiscal sponsor.

Beside the pad, there were various other private communications to
various other members of the community, that are perhaps best
described as "indented, at least in part, to plant the seeds of doubt
and mistrust toward Ceata, and toward fauno."

> then writing a pad whereby interested hackers brainstorm their ideas
> to be posted for public opinion? perhaps Mr. Adhocracy wanted us to
> ask him for his blessing before we got into a pad. also, this wouldn't
> have been the first time things are put together in "private" group
> conversations and collaboration pads before they reach the mailing
> lists, but whatever, welcome to coup #437 everybody!

Yeah, 'cause those start on IRC, and if not, are quickly opened to the
entire community.  Most of the community didn't even know that the pad
existed, or that there was *any* issue or concerns regarding funds and
Ceata until after §7 had been invoked.

That's a coup.

From: Isaac David <isacdaavid at isacdaavid.info>
Message-Id: <1491673595.1506.0 at plebeian.isacdaavid.info>
> I truly suspect fauno gave you [Tiberiu] his lopsided rundown in
> private before you replied to this thread,

Tiberiu was witnessed much more of this "first hand" than I did, but
the "rundown" that fauno gave me was not a rundown at all--he pretty
transparently gave me (overwhelmed me) with complete transcripts.

Isaac, I suspect you are more the victim of a lopsided rundown than
Tiberiu is.  I don't know which things you saw, but there was much
more communication than what you witnessed on the pad.

From: Isaac David <isacdaavid at isacdaavid.info>
Message-Id: <1491605908.2564.1 at plebeian.isacdaavid.info>
> I hope you aren't implying that some of our most active
> contributors are selfish brats for the sin of wanting to
> actually benefit from donations. that would be on a whole new
> level of nonsense.

Ah yes, because being a prolific developer makes one's behavior beyond
reproach.  If he were on the other side of the issue, this is where I
believe that Emulatorman would link to the "Overview" of the Adhocracy
article, mostly intending to the invoke the bit about the difference
between Adhocracy and Meritocracy.

Maybe moving away from Ceata is the right decision.  I don't think it
is, but I don't know.  It should have been discussed by the community.
It was really shitty of Emulatorman, g4jc, et al. to have forced the
issue the way they did.

From: André Silva <emulatorman at riseup.net>
Message-Id: <6f664041-8d5a-24d6-018d-fe02599b88cc at riseup.net>
> i would say that **the community is its pillar** and not a single
> person because AFAIK Parabola isn't based on **Meritocracy**, but
> **Adhocracy**.

No. Shut up.  fauno is a pillar of the community.  This is a fact.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pillar_of_the_community
| Noun
|  pillar of the community (plural pillars of the community)
|
|   1. A prominent member or supporter of a particular community.

From: André Silva <emulatorman at riseup.net>
Message-Id: <6f664041-8d5a-24d6-018d-fe02599b88cc at riseup.net>
> I suggest read "Overview" in Adhocracy article for further details [0]
> 
> [0]:https://wiki.parabola.nu/Adhocracy#Overview

I suggest you re-read the section on cliques.  While I support many of
the purchasing decisions that I've tried to use the Ceata-held funds
for (now that I know about them), these were being made out of view of
the community.  Not being blessed with getting Cc'ed on your emails
meant to everyone else "that their participation is not welcome".
Discussions happening away from public spaces mean that "what is
happening in the group is a partial assessment does not include those
that are not."

From: Luke <g4jc at openmailbox.org>
Message-ID: <5ebb8582-565c-26aa-1f3d-928908e0d72c at openmailbox.org>
> On 04/07/2017 09:37 PM, hellekin wrote:
> > I had a conversation with fauno.  I'm very disappointed at how things
> > were (mis)handled and I am quite upset.
> It's also nice that you had a conversation with fauno without
> discussing it publicly.  If the community wants to split, so be it.

I assume that hellekin's private communication with fauno began much
the same as mine did:

  <lukeshu> hey
  <fauno>   hey
  <lukeshu> So I guess I've been oblivious to some drama about access
            to donations?
  <fauno>   yes
  <fauno>   what have you heard?

That is: It happened in response to other private communication.

----

Even if everything with the build server does work out, and we get the
server worked out in Uruguay; Ceata generously offered to allow us to
co-locate a server in their datacenter for free (and the server would
be acquired much more cost-effectively than shipping one to Uruguay).
Remember how the build-server plan I posted on the 31st involved 2
servers?  Beside the all of the community and relationships stuff, I'm
pissed that the behavior of members of our community screwed us out of
a 2nd bare-metal server.  Shit, even before they pushed Ceata to walk
away, they rejected the offer for the co-located server.  That was a
great offer!  Why did only 2 members of the community get to weigh in
on it!?

----

Of the things I've gotten upset about with Parabola in the recent
past, it has all been because of lack of communication/documentation.
Adhocracy means that you can just do things, and don't have to waste
time discussing it first.  However, for the community to survive,
things need to be discussable; when you do something, you need to
write down why you did it, and make it visible for critique, and
correction.

For decisions involving how to use the community's funds, maybe that
means pasting a transcript of an IRC conversation to the
mailing list, or a wiki page.

Just about every time you run 'sudo' on one of the servers, that
should probably be an email.

We need to be more aggressive about documenting and making public what
we do.

-- 
Happy hacking,
~ Luke Shumaker



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