FreeBSD Community Distances Itself from Notorious Activist Randi Harper

FAndrey / Flickr

The creation of a community code of conduct has led to infighting among contributors to the FreeBSD project, an open source operating system, after concerns that controversial “anti-abuse” activist Randi Harper may have been involved in its creation.

The code of conduct bans “bullying and systematic harassment” within the FreeBSD community, as well as discrimination on the grounds of “gender, race, nationality, sexuality, religion, age or physical disability.”

However, members of the FreeBSD community on Reddit have concerns about the way the code came into being, particularly on the level of involvement of activist Randi Harper, who was a vocal advocate for its creation.

Harper is a highly controversial figure, and her credentials as an activist against “online abuse” have recently been called into question by a string of Breitbart reports exposing her own abusive behaviour. Despite claiming to be a feminist, she has led vicious harassment campaigns against two diversity activists, Roberto Rosario and Vivek Wadhwa, both of whom had long track records of advocating for the representation of women in technology.

Harper is happy to attack fellow feminists, too. One of these women, Claire Schumann, claims she was bullied to tears by the notorious activist. And after her harassment of fellow Amazon author Vivek Wadhwa was criticised by Vampire Chronicles author Anne Rice, Harper accused the 70-year old of being a “toxic cyberterrorist.”

It doesn’t end there. Harper has also been involved in animal neglect, allowing her pet dog to imbibe leftovers of her own cocaine supply, according to a personal blog she has since deleted. In 2011, she revealed the personal contact details of a debt collector and then threatened to release the details of his family as well.

Despite this eye-watering track record, Harper continues to pose as an “anti-abuse activist.” She was vocal in her support for a code of conduct in the weeks prior to its introduction. But members of the FreeBSD community, many of whom were aware of her past, began to raise objections.

“The person who pushed for it has a history of harassing people they don’t like off the internet for even slightly disagreeing with them”, complained one member of the FreeBSD Reddit community, who received over 40 positive votes for his comment.

Harper attempted to defend herself in the Reddit thread by alleging that her critics were not real FreeBSD contributors. But her post quickly descended to a score of -71 votes, while other commenters pointed out that she herself had not contributed any code to the project for three years.

“It is hard to turn a blind eye to her sh*t-slinging within the FreeBSD community”, stated yet another FreeBSD contributor, highlighting a recent example where Harper repeatedly called an active FreeBSD contributor a “privileged dumbass” who should “go fuck himself.”

Harper also accused the same contributor — without evidence — of being a “rape apologist” and a “creepy abuser.” After the FreeBSD Code of Conduct was released, she joked about collecting the “male tears” of its critics.

As several members of the FreeBSD community pointed out, this behaviour means Harper is herself is in violation of the code of conduct, which prohibits “bullying and systematic harassment” as well as discriminatory statements.

Nevertheless, concerns about Harper’s involvement in the creation of the code of conduct appear to be unfounded. After being questioned on Harper’s involvement by Breitbart, the team of “core” FreeBSD contributors who drafted the code of conduct did not acknowledge her as an influence.

“The core team neither solicited nor took advice from anyone outside the core team when developing the code of conduct”, said George Nevill-Neil, a member of the FreeBSD core team. “The topic had been brought up several times in the last year by different members of the community.”

Another FreeBSD contributor, who preferred to remain nameless, said the code of conduct was already a “done deal” months before Harper began publicly advocating for it on social media.

Harper has also taken issue with the code’s promotion of meritocracy, casting further doubt on claims that she influenced its creation.

Harper’s claims to wield influence within the FreeBSD community, much like her commitment to preventing online abuse, is most likely overblown.

Follow Allum Bokhari @LibertarianBlue on Twitter


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.