Re: [Last-Call] Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins

Adam Roach <adam@nostrum.com> Sun, 02 October 2022 04:37 UTC

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To: last-call@ietf.org, IETF Chair <chair@ietf.org>
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From: Adam Roach <adam@nostrum.com>
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Date: Sat, 01 Oct 2022 23:37:27 -0500
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Subject: Re: [Last-Call] Last Call: BCP 83 PR-Action Against Dan Harkins
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I absolutely believe the cited messages display a pattern of 
unprofessional commentary in a manner disruptive enough to warrant a 
PR-Action. Please put me in the "support" column.

Building on what others have said elsewhere in this thread, I'd like to 
speak very frankly on the impact of this /kind/ of behavior on 
community. Some may have noticed that I went fairly directly from being 
an Area Director to being mostly absent on most mailing lists. I've been 
participating in the IETF in various capacities since 1997 -- frequently 
in areas that were unrelated to my day job -- because I believe in open 
standards, free standards, and standards in general. I like the stated 
ethos of the IETF, as described in the Tao and elsewhere. I have poured 
many thousands of hours of work into the IETF over the past 25 years.

Dan's behavior is an extreme example of a pathology that I've seen grow 
in the IETF over the past decade or so: while the magnitude of his 
actions is exceptional, the general direction they're taken in is sadly 
less so. It's not the sole reason, but I'd attribute most of my 
near-absence from the IETF to the pattern -- from some small but growing 
minority of participants -- of personal attacks, hostility, apparently 
intentional misinterpretation of good faith statements, transparently 
feigned offense, backlash against efforts to be more inclusive and 
welcoming, and various other misanthropic behaviors.

Gentle attempts by working group chairs and the ietf@ietf.org Sergeants 
at Arms (SAAs) to provide feedback about these behaviors don't seem to 
have been effective. Far more often than not, I've seen such gentle 
reminders met with even worse behavior -- often quite abusive towards 
the chairs or SAAs -- and a continuation of the pattern of problematic 
messages. What's even worse is that a lot of this behavior comes from 
people who are giants in their field, who have contributed great 
technologies to the IETF and the Internet over the past 50 years, and 
who should be serving as role models for others in the community rather 
than pulling at the fragile threads that hold that community together. 
The local tragedy here is that Dan isn't a nobody: he's done good 
technical work for a long time in the IETF. The systemic tragedy is that 
we've somehow reached a point where he AND OTHERS feel that they have 
some kind of permission (or at least entitlement) to abuse people trying 
to get work done in the IETF.

PR-Actions are big hammers. I don't like seeing them used. Gentle 
reminders about the IETF code of conduct clearly don't work, and appear 
to do more harm than good (aside from the administrative effect of 
setting down a fossil record for future actions as necessary). I don't 
know what the answer is, and I spent a lot of my two terms on the IESG 
thinking about how we might make this better. Maybe we could build out a 
culture where violation of our code of conduct is swiftly called out as 
inappropriate by everyone -- and I mean everyone -- who sees it, so that 
the offenders can clearly see that their behavior is not appreciated by 
a majority of their colleagues. Maybe we build smaller, more nimble 
sticks into the system than only having a huge ban-hammer that takes 
years to swing. I'm not sure how to make any of these happen, though, 
and I have very little will left to function in the hell-pit that this 
small percentage of IETF participants who choose to be assholes has 
created. So I'm not around much any more, and I don't expect that to 
change much until the IETF, as a community, figures this out. If you 
have ideas, feel free to reach out -- I'll help work on any plausible 
approaches. Barring that, though, the toxicity is just too much for me 
any more. And if it's too much for an old-timer, imagine what this all 
looks like to newcomers.

But getting Dan Harkins off the mailing lists is at least a good first step.

/a

On 9/29/22 06:15, IETF Chair wrote:
> Following community feedback after various incidents, as documented below, the
> IESG has initiated a posting rights (PR) action that would restrict the posting
> rights of Dan Harkins, as per the procedures found in BCP 83 (RFC 3683).
> Specifically, his posting privileges to these lists would be suspended:
>
> * admin-discuss
> * gendispatch
> * ietf
> * terminology
>
> In the IESG's opinion, this individual has a history of sending emails that are
> inconsistent with the IETF Guidelines for Conduct (RFC 7154) and thereby
> "disrupt the consensus-driven process" (RFC 3683). Among these are contributions
> that:
>
> * Express racism in the form of denying, belittling, and ridiculing anti-racist
>    sentiment and efforts
>
> * Are rude and abusive, and often amount to insulting ridicule
>
> (Links to examples of such emails sent to the lists above during the last two
> years are provided at the end of this email.)
>
> Multiple attempts have been made to enter into a private discussion with this
> individual, both by IESG and community members, to communicate disquiet with his
> conduct on the lists. These attempts to restore respectful and courteous conduct
> on the lists have been rebuffed with communication that can be considered both
> antagonistic and hostile, and the pattern of behavior observed has continued.
>
> The IESG also notes that the following actions have already been taken in
> response to the individual's actions:
>
> * Two I-Ds were removed from the public archive due to their offensive nature:
>    https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/draft-les-white-intersectional-dots
>    https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/draft-les-white-tls-preferred-pronouns
>    (following these links displays the tombstone notice explaining their removal)
>
> * His posting rights were restricted on the admin-discuss mailing list:
>    https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/admin-discuss/ZANH2VPN-U8VMvvOWLb5l03FdCs/
>
> * A final public warning was issued on the gendispatch mailing list:
>    https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/gendispatch/68a4amMa1aiaRUPzPGgXdiY9gHg/
>
> None of the attempts to discuss his participation style or warn the individual
> have led to any improvements. The IESG therefore believes that a PR action is
> the correct response to his continued problematic behavior across a number of
> different lists.
>
> The IESG plans to make a decision in the next few weeks, and solicits final
> comments on this action. Please send substantive comments to the
> last-call@ietf.org mailing lists by 27 October 2022. Exceptionally, comments may
> be sent to iesg@ietf.org instead. If sending private feedback to the IESG,
> please indicate if you would be open to having your comments anonymized and
> shared in a summary.
>
> Please note: Comments should be limited to the criteria described in BCP 83,
> notably on whether the individual in question has engaged in postings that are
> "unprofessional commentary, regardless of the general subject" in a manner
> disruptive enough to warrant this action.
>
> Lars Eggert
> IETF Chair, on behalf of the IESG
> –-
>
> Examples of problematic emails during the last two years include:
>
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/gendispatch/zdq3F0PV40Cyw5ooj0orOWaYyUw/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/gendispatch/i-d7HlWgrkmrVlC7JZQSXDwIJCQ/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/gendispatch/YhPI9zZ_3xfidt5V-ORRnET36yY/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/gendispatch/B33zk8VfOYt4b4Cj-kIHXG3AXdg/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/gendispatch/d3iDS4WNkCJA3aMFnX2HjP4tsps/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/gendispatch/-On8AHrdnnCMlJOOyb1M1nlYMpk/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/terminology/n6UMvDuYLKmmvpP1ajICFvf634M/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/terminology/QCdjDbokmlARcwVqQ1TV3Rlz7eQ/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/terminology/X6OF0MBKAzyLhYaAfAxS6srXRNw/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/terminology/idJhG1MsLmKHyRlaAafcW2JF6Z8/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/ipsec/LoGSVatZ4EsYRq4K52rmvRZTndk/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/ietf/pl2lVqhtF4Z-0YuTjhCOmdyi1qE/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/ietf/DFgnF_j8py_eMBGI1IUFdMahTKw/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/terminology/T3oCpY3BbTNLXWAWsCnFvahRLUQ/
> * https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/admin-discuss/xLuz4WTCm5ibIiMVN5ID8OWsCI0/
>