Forgejo sacrifices inclusiveness and calls it healing
By André Jaenisch on 11.04.2023. About 4 minutes reading time. This text is estimated to be very confusing to understand.
This is going to be a blog post I wished I wouldn’t have to write. Yet here I am. I am going to present you a little bit of background, the facts and my interpretation and will close with my expectation.
What is Forgejo?
Forgejo is a forge. You may be familiar with GitHub, Bitbucket or GitLab. You can think of them as forges. It is a soft-fork of Gitea which is forked from Gog. The origin is linked to the foundation of Gitea Ltd. which received the domain and trademark without seeking input from the community. Read the Gitea Open Letter for more. I am one of the signatories.
The thorn in Forgejo’s side
Now the monthly report of Forgejo for March 2023 reports about someone that caused mischief in the community. Now there is a story behind this. It’s true that moderation was attempted on multiple levels and that a ban was enacted. We observed that some people announced to feel uncomfortable and move away from the project before the ban. The remaining community members took on the work and continued to thrive. But we also noticed a sudden turnaround and announcement of a reboot. Because that single person did not feel comfortable with the existing structure and deemed it necessary to create new ones and violate all previous communication processes that the community agreed upon.
No more moderation
As part of the bootstrap of Forgejo, a well-being and a moderation team were formed to manage the community and enforce moderation if necessary. Shortly after, our community manage suddenly resigned from the position and left the whole community after a series of direct messages with the above person that felt unsafe.
A few months after the same pattern occured again, this time with our moderator resigning. At this point there was only one member in the well-being team left.
The ban hammer
Now there was a long discussion about relicensing Forgejo. No clear direction was visible, so we decided to have a vote. Enough arguments were exchanged to form an opinion and we had roughly the same number of people engaging as with the votes for team members.
However once the results were in, the situation went ugly. You see, there were community members like tallship, fsologureng and myself really happy to see a forge deciding for a copyleft license. Finally free software! We were so excited that we took to Matrix channel and talked about it. This was felt as a distraction. Out of nowhere dachary - who withdraw an application for this position - granted earl-warren - who applied for the position - administration permissions and then us three as well as circlebuilder were muted in Matrix channels on 25th March. We were told that this was in order to prepare for the release of Forgejo v1.19 and will last for two weeks.
Not only that, comments were deleted on the Forgejo issue tracker as well. Only after another community member spoke up and called this behaviour intransparent the comments were edited and changed to declare an ongoing moderation enforcement.
I have yet to see the moderation report to learn about why we were silently removed from the Forgejo organisation without our consent or information.
This behaviour is running against the proclaimed right to be forgotten. Not the affected people asked for the deletion but it was enforced upon them.
There is also a forgejo-moderation account now with no visibility whatsoever about who’s behind it.
There was not even an apology. The closest I know is that the action was deemed inadequate and reverted (except the comments that were deleted).
As far as I see it, speaking up against a certain person will lead to backlash. So much so that the people who are engaged will leave the community. This happened with fsologureng and tallship now, too. So a single person managed to drive away at least four people over the course of a few months. I don’t know about you, but this is not healing but a scar over the damage that was done. I for one experience a chilling effect when interacting with these people and will limit my communication with them to an absolute minimum. We have not only no community manager and moderator in the team but also lost someone who’s engaging in public relations and accessibility.
I still believe that Forgejo is a software that is needed. I don’t want to move into a world that is dominated by a handful of players that dictate the rules.
In order to heal the community I expect dachary to give up administration permissions in all channels. In the same vein I also expect earl-warren to either disclose the people behind forgejo-moderation (because he granted the profile permissions) and remove himself from those moderation and administration permissions. I can see that both are not able to wield power but instead use it to suppress opposing views.
Only then I have hope that the project has a chance of thriving.
If this is deemed too much then at the very least update the documentation and remove claims you cannot stand by. Unless you also do not deem transparency to be something to strive for.