[Board] Some issues occurred with one potential GSoC mentor (Warning: long email)

Margherita Di Leo diregola at gmail.com
Fri Apr 1 06:11:47 PDT 2016

Dear members of the Board,

I am writing to you because I am experiencing some issues with a person
that applied to be mentor for GSoC. I don’t think it is any news that as
admins are responsible for the mentors and, should they disappear during
the year, admins should take over. It is our interest to *select* mentors
that are reliable, and have a solid record in the community they contribute
to. Managing mentors from all the project communities under OSGeo’s
umbrella, as well as guest projects, is not easy, mostly because we don’t
know each and every person that apply to become mentor. Most of the times,
it is sufficient to browse the code contribution of these people. We have
also simplified the procedure to become a mentor, so that the mentors have
to appoint themselves in a wiki page [1], the more transparent the
procedure is, the better. We normally contact would-be mentors if any
information is missing or unclear, especially if we don’t know them.

Now, it occurred that one of those people, that I don’t personally know,
had indicated several entries in the field of “software community”, some of
which are not under OSGeo umbrella. Normally, what I do in these cases, I
contacted him asking to clarify what exactly was the idea he wanted to
mentor for. I also discussed with Anne and she was in cc in the whole email
exchange. This person never clarified his intentions, remaining vague. Anne
and I were in doubt whether the procedure was not clear to him. I can
extrapolate some sentences from the email exchange:

Me: “I'm writing you because I saw that you requested to mentor this year
for GSoC. Could you please specify for which software community and which

He: “I am new to GSoC. After many years of building the SciPy Geo stack for
OSGeo-Live, I believe I could take a student through many different paths.
I have not looked at the ideas page much -- what is the protocol there ?
  Do I add ideas ?”

He had not specified OSGeo-Live as a project he wanted to mentor for, but
since he specified several, and cited it in his first email, I assumed he
meant to mentor for OSGeo-Live. However, I requested him again to specify
at least one idea he wanted to mentor for, and linked him some resources,
because he was clearly confused about the whole GSoC concept. Waiting for
his answer, I have hold to appoint him as mentor.

He never got back with a reply, but his next email was: “Hi Margherita --
 whats going on now ?”

You can imagine my surprise, however, I replied that we received no
students submissions for OSGeo-Live. Moreover, student submissions were
closed and we accept further mentors only if they are already bound to a
specific proposal. Then his answer was the most surprising one:

“Hi Margherita -

 this is confusing, since I am not listed as "OSGeo-Live" mentor.. perhaps
someone else is giving you information and you are distracted ?

You might be mixing this with last years OSGeo-Live and your brother-in-law

I had two students, but I don think they were clear on the process, either,
since this is their first time too

 I am available as listed - thanks”

So he never mentioned who are the students and what are the ideas that he
is up to mentor, but he is accusing me to be distracted and confused, and
he is mentioning my brother in law, that is, no mystery, epifanio. At this,
I perceived his intention was more like spamming / bullying rather than
mentoring, and I replied :

“this is confusing indeed, because you were not clear at all about the
OSGeo or guest project you wanted to mentor for! I guessed it was the
OSGeo-live because was the only OSGeo project you mentioned in your email!
Please try not to mix my family ties with gsoc and make clear to yourself
your plans about mentoring.”

However, the reason why I’m writing is that this person has started to
slander my work as admin in public chats, like this:

x: ah hm interesting -- my student just wrote me and said that he DID
supply the application for PostGIS in time for the deadline

x: thats a neat twist, considering that my mentor status was listed as
"PostGIS" .. and the rejection email from Margharita definitely said "We
did not receive any applications for OSGeo-Live"

x: and, there is one and only one PostGIS mentor listed, which is me

x: -

x: so I have to give you some credit epifanio for actually feeding your
sister-in-law some story that got me out .. effective "revenge" there

x: you said you would get me, and you did

Now, I’m not impressed by his bullying, and I pity him. But, beside I don’t
have a clue of what he is talking about (not that it interests me in the
slightest) I need to maintain my reputation crystal clear, and since this
is a delicate matter about privacy, I don’t feel like sharing to everyone
all the email exchange revealing the name of this person and so on. This
would be mean. But I remain at disposal of any member of the board that
wanted to go further in this matter.

I also would like to point out that this is a very serious matter, since in
the GSoC program, money are involved and I don’t want to raise the
slightest doubt about my respectability or my favouring a member of my
family in any circumstances. If this person continues on this way, I’m
afraid I’ll be forced to do anything is legally in my power to protect my

Finally, as far as GSoC is concerned: I have always given the benefit of
the doubt to anyone. English is my second language and I cannot be always
sure to understand every shades of what people mean, and in the doubt, I
always assume that they mean good. However, it looks clear to me that this
person’s behavior demonstrates a childish attitude (not to say worse) and,
as long as the mentors selection is under my responsibility, I don’t
consider him mature and reliable to become a mentor for any of our students.

Please, pardon the length of my email, but I needed to bring this matter to
the Board in order to make the situation as transparent and crystal clear
as possible. Allow me to add that behaviours like this one really
dishearten people from taking the initiative of doing something on a
voluntary basis.

[1] https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Google_Summer_of_Code_2016_Administrative

Margherita Di Leo
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