Nicolas Dandrimont, Pauline (or Maria) Climent-Pommeret & Debian, Outreachy, GSoC Conflict of Interest policy scandals
The Fellowship has recently blogged about FSFE President Matthias Kirschner misusing screengrabs from video calls with interns.
We hate to see interns names and photos brought into these disputes. The Debian Project Leader has been asked to cease vendettas against other volunteers. He continues the vendettas, he continues to let rumours hang over the heads of innocent volunteers so we have no choice other than showing who is really guilty.
Nicolas Dandrimont (olasd), an administrator in both Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and Outreachy, sent the email below, announcing that his girlfriend would apply for an internship. Dandrimont indicates he would still lurk around the administration of the program. He takes a swipe at the RTC projects managed by another volunteer. Incidentally, those RTC projects have been essential for many Free Software communities to work remotely during the pandemic. This is the email from Dandrimont:
Subject: Recusing myself from Outreachy applicant selection decisions, internships funding
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2016 12:37:46 +0200
From: Nicolas Dandrimont <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
CC: [mentors, redacted]
As of today, the person I'm involved with, Pauline Pommeret, is applying to an Outreachy internship in Debian (on the GPG cleanroom environment project - I don't see her mail on the list archive yet, so something must have gone wrong, but it should arrive soon enough).
To avoid an obvious conflict of interest, I am recusing myself for any decisions regarding applicant selections for this round.
I am of course still happy to serve as a liaison with the Outreachy program administrators, and to forward our applicants to them for general funding when selected, if the money allocated by Debian runs out.
This would especially be relevant, in my opinion, to RTC projects, as I'm not sure at all that we should fund them from Debian money directly. Karen Sandler also told me that one of the Outreachy sponsors was interested in funding interns on Reproducible Builds. All in all, we should be able to have two or three internship slots with Debian only disbursing one.
I'll stay on the firstname.lastname@example.org alias for now, but let me know if you need help ranking applicants, and I'll ask DSA to remove me so you can discuss at ease.
An application was commenced by this woman using the name Pauline Pommeret. Investigating, we find that she also uses other names, such as Maria Climent-Pommeret and chopopope. Some people have used aliases like this when doing something wrong in Debian but we don't want to jump to conclusions. It might be because she saw how people are subject to doxing in Debian. Some people don't use their real names to avoid consequences for their mistakes. The public shamings and Maria / Pauline's decision to use an alias could be a hint about why so few women volunteer in Debian.
As this woman hoping to become an intern began discussion with the Debian mentors, Dandrimont participated:
Subject: Re: Details concerning my application to the Outreachy program
Date: Sat, 15 Oct 2016 17:15:43 +0200
To: [redacted mentors], Pauline Pommeret
(on mobile, sorry for the short reply) Just a detail, the contribution can happen/be merged after the application deadline too, no need to rush it. It only needs to happen before the selection, and the earlier the better, of course.
Le 15 octobre 2016 17:01:55 GMT+02:00, [mentor] a écrit :
On 15/10/16 15:37, [mentor] wrote:
I don't know if ...
A few days later, on 18 October 2016, Dandrimont advised mentors that Pauline would withdraw from the selection process. At this stage, for privacy reasons, we decline to publish the withdrawal email.
In 2017, Debian did not participate in GSoC
In August 2017, Dandrimont resigned from the role of administrator. He did not give any forced public confession for the situation with his girlfriend. Dandrimont was not removed from the Debian keyring. He was not subjected to doxing in LWN and other places.
Some people in Debian appear to have immunity, like the leaders of communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Other people have been subject to severe punishments for the smallest mistakes.
In 2018, a similar situation occurred with other contributors to Debian in Google Summer of Code (GSoC). By way of precedent, mentors handled the case in the same way that Dandrimont had handled the case with his girlfriend.
In the 2018 GSoC case, all admins and mentors were made aware of the conflict of interest. Nobody kept it secret. Everybody in Debian knew. When the manager at Google, Stephanie Taylor, found out, she had a fit. It was Friday the 13th.
Subject: Concerns around Debian GSoC students and conflict of interest
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2018 UTC
From: Stephanie Taylor <email@example.com>
To: Pranav Jain <firstname.lastname@example.org>, prabaharan jaminy
, Alexander Wirt , [redacted], email@example.com
Hello Debian Org Admins,
It has come to our attention that one of your [name and title redacted], is the [relationship redacted] of one of your students - [student redacted], which is in clear violation of the GSoC Rules both [redacted] and [redacted] agreed to. We will have to remove [redacted] from the program immediately.
One of the Debian people explained to Taylor the precedent set by Nicolas Dandrimont and Pauline (or Maria) Climent-Pommeret in Outreachy 2016. Taylor sent additional comments
Stephanie Taylor (Google): It is never okay to have a conflict of interest like you had with [redacted/leadership role], having a [redacted/relationships], etc. in the program as a student. That is a clear conflict of interest that would influence the mentor whether or not they intend it to. No one wants to fail the [redacted/leadership role]'s [redacted/relationship] during the program, there is already favoritism even if the [redacted/leadership role] is not involved in the student's selection or mentoring.
The volunteers who were blackmailed, removed from the Debian keyring and subject to sustained public attacks that continue to this day were not involved in any romantic conflict of interest. It looks like Debian uses people as scapegoats so that other people can get away with anything.