Challenges are a normal part of life; and seeing opportunities is a skill all of us can get better at. This past week, though, has been something new.
The Ubuntu community and philosophy has been home to me. The Ubuntu Code of Conduct is not just about individual conduct, but how we make a community. In fact, the first sentence is Ubuntu is about showing humanity to one another: the word itself captures the spirit of being human. This is my kind of place, where we not only have high ideals, but live those out in our practice. And so it has been for many years.
So it was a complete shock to get a secret email from the Community Council to me as a Kubuntu Council member announcing that Jonathan Riddell had been asked to step down from Kubuntu leadership. We (the KC) recently met with the CC, and there was no discussion of any issues they had with Jon. They never wrote to us asking for feedback or discussion.
Jonathan's questions to the CC about a legal issue and that of funds donated to the flavors were not personal, but done on behalf of the Ubuntu community, and on behalf of us, the Kubuntu Council and the Kubuntu community as a whole. We are still concerned about both these issues, but that pales in comparison to the serious breach in governance we've experienced this past week.
The Code of Conduct states: We expect participants in the project to resolve disagreements constructively. When they cannot, we escalate the matter to structures with designated leaders to arbitrate and provide clarity and direction.
The CC did not follow this basic procedure. The Community Council is full of great people; a couple of them are personal friends. The CC was established after the Kubuntu Council, and while the KC consists of members nominated and elected by the Kubuntu Members, the CC candidates are selected by Mark Shuttleworth, and then elected by the Ubuntu Members. All Kubuntu Members are also Ubuntu Members. I first stated that the CC is unelected, which is incorrect. I regret the error.
The fact remains that the CC did not follow the Code of Conduct in their procedure.
We have had a number of emails back and forth during the week. What has stood out to me is the contrast between their approach, and our own. They have focussed on their feelings (feelings about working with Jon), whereas we continue to point out facts and ask them to follow the Code of Conduct. Naturally, we all experienced emotions about the situation, but emotion is not a basis for decision-making.
Of course, the members of the CC may perceive the situation entirely differently.
I wish I knew how this conflict will work out long-term. The Council supports Jonathan, and continues to ask for resolution to the issues he has raised with the CC on the community list. We have done so formally yesterday.
Jon is the person who brought KDE to Ubuntu, and Ubuntu to KDE, and has always functioned as a bridge between the two projects and the two communities. He will continue to do this as long as he is able, and we rely on his faithfulness for the success of Kubuntu. He is the magnet who draws new developers to us, and his loss would spell the end of Kubuntu-the-project.
The CC did not follow the basic procedure and raise bring the issue they had with Jon to us, the Kubuntu Council. We await their return to this principle as we work to find a way forward. We are determined to find a way to make this work.