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

Brian M Hamlin maplabs at light42.com
Fri Apr 1 07:20:59 PDT 2016

Dear Board Members, all --
  this email concerns me.  I am surprised at the amount of effort 
here to spin this story..   I am available to answer any questions.. 
Default action is -- no action. Many people are productively working 
away and there is no action item on any of this, as far as I know. 
  best regards from Berkeley, California
  Brian M Hamlin

On Fri, 1 Apr 2016 15:11:47 +0200, Margherita Di Leo  wrote:

       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 idea?”

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 
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 respectability. 

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


Board mailing list
Board at lists.osgeo.org

Brian M Hamlin
OSGeo California Chapter


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