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Exodus at the Perl Foundation: Employees go to Code of Conduct after affair

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At the Perl Foundation (TPF), the house blessing is currently hanging crooked: since spring, at least four prominent, sometimes long-standing foundation members and other employees have thrown in the towel, most recently several in a row within a week. In the midst of the partly public internal power struggles between the Board of Trustees, the Community and the Community Affairs Team, no single reason for the problems can be identified, but rather a structural mine area: According to a blog entry on the foundation’s website and statements on Twitter, the background to the recent disagreements is probably differences about the Definition and punishment of misconduct in the community.

Last week, the Board of Trustees temporarily shut down the CAT (Community Affairs or Action Team) department responsible for settling community disputes after a review and withdrew the investigations published by CAT on misconduct in the community, but left the sanctions imposed . the According to a blog entry, the reason for the intervention is the reviewerthat the CAT team so far only had a provisional draft of the guidelines (draft charter) on hand.

De facto, the foundation withdrew the working basis from the CAT team, which was described as provisional, and put the department on hold – “until a regular statute comes into force”, although no date is given in the article. The previous chairwoman of the Community Affairs Team Samantha McVey then turned away from the foundation by tweet on the same day Elizabeth Mattijsen of the TPF Grant Committee also pulled the rip cord.

The disagreements are likely to be more far-reaching than the current dispute over the actions of the CAT team, structural deficiencies had been causing displeasure for a long time. Sawyer X, previously a member of the three-person Steering Council and a key figure in the development of the core programming language who was considered the maintainer of the entire language, had already withdrawn from working for the foundation in April 2021. After criticizing some elements of the language (“there is cruft in [Perl]”- cruft stands for redundancies) he had apparently been flooded with hate messages from the Perl community and had to shut down his Twitter account ) proves what later toned down to a one-year exclusion became.

Then in June the Perl developer and SUSE employee Sebastian Riedel are leaving the Perl Foundation – Obviously frustrated, according to a Twitter post, as he perceived the wider Perl community to have “absolutely no impact on the Perl Foundation.” This is “dominated by nepotism, and as a simple Perl developer you can’t fight it”. Riedel had reported racist statements by a Perl developer, which he said had been ignored. Employees of the technology portal Ars Technica were able to verify its representation, since the compromising files are apparently still available on the network.

The TPF still lacks binding statutes, members complain in the social networks about the lack of a code of conduct that steers cooperation within the community, but also within the foundation and among each other, in an orderly manner. The previous CAT manager McVey justified her withdrawal with the lack of an official statute and announced that her activities would be suspended at least until the TPF had given itself a clear structure. The tweet leaves open whether she can imagine a return in principle. In the meantime, the Perl heavyweight Curtis Poe (author of, among others, “Perl Hacks” and “Beginning Perl”) has withdrawn from his previous functions on the Board of Directors. On GitHub he justifies his withdrawal with a “burnout”“.

It is currently unclear what will happen to the Perl Foundation after the exodus of its members. Those who want to delve deeper into the subject will find an extensive, albeit depressing, collection of original tones and Primary sources in a report by tech journalist Jim Salter in the tech portal Ars Technica. Parts of the argument (“The Cat Saga Rumbles on”) can be read it on Reddit and give an impression of the established discussion.


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