Announcing my resignation from the ZOMG

Dear Zcash Community,

I am writing today to announce my resignation from the ZOMG (formally: the Zcash Foundation Technology Advisory Board called the Major Grant Review Committee) and my intent to not participate in future instances of the CAP (Community Advisory Panel).

In the interest having this post understood, I will try and keep the following sentences short.

When I put forward my candidacy I did so because the world needs censorship resistant, private transactions. The communities I live and work in need financial privacy.

I believed that zcash had a rare combination of robust technology, a community of amazing technologists, and the beginnings of an ecosystem that had a chance to deliver on that vision.

The events of the last week have shown me that I need to take some time to re-evaluate that belief. It is now clear that the vigorous commitments to privacy and radical transparency I made during my candidacy are not aligned with the current desires of much of the community.

I now see, through recent conversations on the forum and in other spaces, that many of the issues I set aside as temporary and localized are deeper and systemic to core parts of this ecosystem. While those may be fixable on some horizon, I don’t perceive a will in the community to even acknowledge them, let alone work towards fixing them.

On a personal note, I chose to undertake this work voluntarily, but it is clear that any attempt to uphold these principles in the scope of a role on the ZOMG would exhaust far more effort than I would consider reasonable, with little to no expectation of impact, and with a constant background of personal attacks from core community members. There are more effective ways for me to contribute to the larger goal of systems that enforce consent and resist censorship and surveillance.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my ZOMG colleagues, we have had many great discussions in my limited time on the committee, I do believe that there exists some will on the committee to move in the direction of positive change, but it is clear that while I remain on the committee any such movement would be misattributed solely to me, and not the collective - and as such my presence is likely to hinder any progress that might be possible.

I wish Zcash community the best in the hopes that you can one day see over that horizon and deliver on a vision that the world desperately needs. I will sign off with the following thoughts:

Promising security or privacy is a responsibility you shouldn’t take lightly. It’s not about your brand; frankly, it’s not about you at all.

People will put their lives in your hands, the mission must always be about their ability to manage risk and reduce harm. It must always be about their safety, and informed consent.

The only way to build a robust system is to open it up to the world. To have it be radically transparent from end to end. You must not shy away from accountability.

Privacy is not a responsibility you should take lightly. It’s not fast, or glamorous or easy. It’s not a path to riches. The thing you are supposed to be decentralizing is power.

We don’t do those things because they are efficient, we do them because to keep us accountable to those who entrust us with some of the most precious parts of their lives.

Large amount of funding in this space should come with the expectation of responsibility. If you want trivial responsibilities, take on trivial projects.

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(Going to post what I sent Sarah in our private ZOMG chat)

Sarah: Thank you so much for taking the time and effort towards ZOMG and Zcash. I hate that this happened and hope that people really read your resignation post and start to realize that there are issues within the Zcash community (sexism, conscious and unconscious biases, attacking others, etc.) that need to be dealt with firmly. I have great respect for you and your work at OpenPrivacy and wish you nothing but the best for your future :slightly_smiling_face:

Zcash Community: We all need to take a hard look at these issues that will be difficult to face, but necessary to address. In an effort not to beat around the bush, sexism, biases, and how power is structured in the community are three issues that immediately come to mind. This is not to say no one is consciously working on these and in fact I’ve received messages from Zcash community members in the past who are trying to figure out how to improve on some of these things.

The main point is we must do better.

UPDATE: See my updated thought here - Announcing my resignation from the ZOMG - #43 by Souptacular

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It’s unfortunate to see your passion leave this program. I’m briefly read up on the issues involving why you’ve decided to leave, so please forgive any misunderstanding on my part. I can’t help but feel like there is miscommunication around responsible disclosure of vulnerabilities and what that really means to each of the parties involved. Hopefully we can create a healthy balance in this community that provides time for responsible disclosure. It will take healthy communication from all orgs involved. Thank you for your time spent on the ZOMG.

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Thank you so much for your contributions @sarahjamielewis both on the ZOMG and your efforts to help the Zcash ecosystem become more secure for users.

Also, thank you for providing me personally with insight into areas around inclusion and culture that I am not well versed in.

I wish you and your project OpenPrivacy the best and hope that you will continue to visit the forums to provide your perspective on Zcash projects.

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This is very upsetting and I do hope you’ll reconsider. I can only apologize for not speaking up more because I now see how truly exhaustive that resiliency was. You’re an inspiration to the community, please don’t let the asinine comments of a few people make you believe otherwise.

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I voted for you, I thought you would bring balance & push the community & Zcash in right direction even though there were certain things certain people disagreed. In fact, I voted because of your responses & position you took regardless of the push back you’ve gotten. I’m so sad that you are leaving ZOMG & Zcash.

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Sarah is the only one of us on ZOMG with deep technical experience in information security and resisting government surveillance, and we were extremely lucky to have her.

Her leaving is a huge loss, and I share Hudson’s sense that this loss is happening due to sexism, specifically because I’ve seen reactions to her from multiple people over the past year that were suspiciously and sometimes tragicomically out of sync with or disproportionate given the content of what she was saying and that—taken together—I can’t explain in any other way.

A lot of people think about sexism in terms of its basic unfairness to the person affected, but for anyone here who can’t or doesn’t want to see it that way, I urge you to try thinking about it instead as unfairness to any group like ours that is working towards a common goal. Sexism stifles and drives away colleagues whose work we need, destroying potential collaborative work. Sarah will go on to do brilliant work with her own organization, but we are all losing a colleague with a unique and extremely unusual mix of skills and experiences, and it’s infuriating.

Stepping back from my own anger about this, and I say this in the most neutral way possible, it was more than clear from the start that having a 5 member committee with 1 woman member was a problem, and I don’t see a practical way to move forward without addressing it now.

If we’re going to have an election to replace Sarah, it seems best to give the CAP the opportunity to elect two women to ZOMG. Whoever picks up where Sarah leaves off will run into sexism too, and if there isn’t at least one other person on ZOMG who’s also been directly affected by it and can support or co-strategize, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect any progress addressing the problem—or even the creation of a healthy working environment.

I’ve proposed to the group that we all voluntarily agree to randomly select one of us to resign, to make this possible, not because we don’t want to continue the work and not out of anger or spite, but simply to make room for a ZOMG with the minimal degree of gender balance it needs to successfully confront these issues and create a healthy working environment.

We’ll keep you posted!

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For refresher on diversity

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Please elborate. I dont want these things in my communuity and I am offended you are saying not only they are here they are driving people out.

Not binging this up again. No, no misunderstanding at all. the 3 people who all do it for a living said the same thing. People are in prison in 1st world countries for less.

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For the sexism/biases: since this thread is very new I want to give some people in the community time to reflect and address their own biases so I won’t be naming names or situations at this time. It also may not be my place to take lead on addressing these specific issues because someone from an underrepresented community that is directly feeling the effects of these biases may be better to address them. I have only received some stigma once on this forum because of my mental health issues and self-admission to a mental health facility. Those comments were quickly tagged and moderated as inappropriate by the community and many people defended me (thanks for that all).

For the power structure comment: The two largest pillars of power in the community are the Zcash Foundation and the Electric Coin Company. It appears to me that within them there are personalities that hold influence over the direction of Zcash in ways that are a net negative for adoption and the chance for community input. I don’t blame anyone specifically for this and it’s likely just a growing pain of becoming more mature of an ecosystem. Everyone I have met from both orgs mean well, work incredibly hard to bring privacy to the masses, and are generally nicer than most other cryptocurrency communities. There’s a brewing cauldron of disagreements that are building about the direction of Zcash, culminated by previous disagreements and sour feelings over things like the temporary trademark disagreement. I don’t personally have clarity in how Zcash as a whole plans to accomplish it’s goals. Maybe the goals are too broad to be accomplished without some sub-goals or a non-technical roadmap. I could be very off base on these assumptions and I don’t have the answers for how to resolve this, but think this will be an important and exciting challenge for the Zcash community.

I’ll end by saying I am giving a perspective of someone who doesn’t have as much insight into the Zcash ecosystem as other members of the forum, including you @mistfpga, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Losing @sarahjamielewis is a huge blow. Sole blame should not be placed on @zebambam but he helped create the toxic culture, that I believe influenced her resignation. The community voted for her being fully aware of the security disclosure issues that @zebambam continued to attack her for after the election. I think most of the community agrees with @sarahjamielewis about how FOSS security disclosures should be made and trusts her judgement as part of ZOMG.

I have spent a lot of time integrating Zcash into my systems over the past few weeks. I am now having second thoughts about my future development plans if ECC leaders like @zebambam continue creating an environment where valued contributors face personal attacks for sticking to their principles.

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I think part of the problem is that at least one of the worst offenders for the culture she faced is a leader at ECC. She won the election with community support and was still attacked for election issues long after the election was over. I love her principles. She was the most qualified person on the ZOMG board in my opinion

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Diversity matters but has nothing to do with her election to the board. She was the most qualified candidate on the ballot! I was a fan of hers long before ZOMG was founded

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This is because we are a community and when we need help we have each others back.

I will level with you. I have been where you were.

Unfortunately the best voices are v busy an quite. I can say that the situation is being addressed. @anotonie is amazing, so is @dconnolly. @alchemydc is very receptive to community feedback and I am glad bambam (I a guy I chekced out and is 100% legit) - he was clearing the air.

and offering his amazing skillset (I offered mine too, but im sec test he is sec dev.)

I am amazed it caused this reaction.

@Souptacular you dont have to be a victim to point out how others have been victimised. I am not a girl, so I cant speak to that, i need someone to explain it to me.

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why not use this chance to expand to 7. we can have two admins to deal with the forums, etc and 5 decision makers - I dont know sandy at all, just she is highly recommended. @ml_sudo is legend, one of the reasonable people i know.

but I think we might have an issue as in sandy, ml, and alchemy will already be involved in other projects.

may I remind everyone that @ttmariemia is not just a girl, but financial stuff for a non profit, she was also very heavily involved in thedev fund.

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Then we will have @Vish as well :slight_smile:

This is why the community loves you.

I am willing to work towards a fix, even if it includes a shakeup in ECC and ZF leadership. Can you make some specific recommendation. Feel free to send me a PM if you wish. I’m willing to discuss by encrypted memo or other means

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Agreed, we need her on ZOMG & be part of Zcash. I’m sure ZOMG folks have tried to convince her not sure what we can do to have her back. Can someone who can reach out to her, ask her if there is a possibility of her re-considering ZOMG?

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i get its a joke, but i think admin is beneath vish and sudo. their time, especially sudo could be spent much better due to the exchange connection

@Vish why are you not answering my PMs?

Ehhh… it seems to me like you’re picking an odd dimension to maximize diversity in.

What’s the ZOMG representation for non-native English speakers? Non Europe/North America country of origin?

I mean… if diversity is the value, why not take the opportunity to include persons with those perspectives?

To be clear this is a yes-AND idea. I’m not saying sexual diversity isn’t valuable (I suppose that would make me definitionally sexist?), but it’s not the same as linguistic/genetic/geographic diversity.

Finally… whether, or not, @sarahjamielewis suffered from discriminatory behavior, diversity on the ZOMG is something I believe that the community should place a high value on.

We need diversity on the ZOMG so that we can have a wider perspective, in the halls of power (so to speak).

With all due respect… when the community voted for the members of the ZOMG, we (well they) since I couldn’t vote, were expecting the candidates to Assume Responsibility.

Obviously no-one can be prevented from resigning, but choosing to do so without consulting with the community seems to me like a rather glaring abdication of responsibility and betrayal of trust.

Also… I’m not sure what ZIP 1014 says about replacing ZOMG members. Can current ZOMG members simply dictate… e.g. who is allowed to be considered as a replacement, according to their own criteria? Perhaps, in the spirit of Reason, there should be some sort of inclusive conversation?

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