[foundation-board] URGENT: Problems with a specific individual and OKF projects

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Mon Nov 15 11:40:07 UTC 2010

Hi All,

*Sorry to impose on board members time but please read and respond to
this email.*

As some board members already know we have had persistent problems
with one individual (Paola Di Maio) behaviour's within the OKF
community, specifically in her posts to various OKF mailing lists (see
section below and forwarded email)

While Paola's existing reputation is such that it is unlikely these
sort of statements will be given any consideration, dealing with this
absorbs time and does undermine the work we are doing (e.g. Paola's
interventions on the coord group have already put off some people [3]
and unfounded criticism of our project by someone who claims to be
part of our community is obviously not help especially to those more
on the 'outside').

[3]: http://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/okfn-coord/2010-September/000195.html

Our general approach is be ultra-tolerant of discussion in the wider
community. However, the situation has now reached the stage where I
feel some action must be taken, especially where Paola claims to be
part of the 'OKF(n) Community' or representing an OKF project. (I note
also that several efforts have been made by e.g. Jonathan and myself
to talk with Paola in person about her issues with little positive

I therefore propose that:

a) Jordan or I will write directly to Paola on behalf of the
Foundation stating something along the lines of

  a) no merit in the claims she has been making
  b) she is not running an OKF project
  c) she has no authority to speak as an OKF community member or on
behalf of the OKF
  d) she should consider her "membership" (if she thinks she is a
member) terminated (the current governance document specifically
provides for this

b) We will turn on moderation for her posts on relevant lists

In addition I think it would also be good to send a public email to
the coord group explaining this decision -- it may even be better for
this discussion to take place on coord (Jordan and I can represent the
board) though this could be difficult if it involves publishing
Paola's email to Soren which was forwarded to us directly.

Please respond to let me know whether this seems sensible.



### Paloa Issues

On several occasions Paola has made unsubstantiated criticisms of both
of specific OKF projects as well as the Foundation generally. More
worrying she has now claimed to be acting on the OKF's behalf or
otherwise involved in an OKF project (e.g. LOD2) and has written to
the project lead (Soren Auer) and, apparently the Commission, alleging
various failings at the OKF together with a veiled accusation of fraud
(see email forwarded below). [1][2][3]

[1]: See forwarded email below and this email [2] sent yesterday in
which she claims (incorrectly) that she has started an OKF project for
which the OKF is seeking to find funding
[2]: http://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/open-government/2010-November/000466.html
[3]: http://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/okfn-coord/2010-September/000237.html

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sören Auer <auer at informatik.uni-leipzig.de>
Date: 12 November 2010 13:09
Subject: Re: re. problems with OKFn
To: paoladimaio10 at googlemail.com
Cc: Jordan S Hatcher <jordan.hatcher at okfn.org>, Rufus Pollock
<rufus.pollock at okfn.org>


Thank you for writing. However, I don't share your concerns at all. If
you have these concerns I suggest you take them up with the specific
project partner, i.e. the Open Knowledge Foundation. I am therefore
cc'ing Jordan Hatcher and Rufus Pollock and suggest you discuss this
further, if need be, with them.



On 12.11.2010 11:06, Paola Di Maio wrote:
> Soren
> Thanks for reply.
> No, the problems are not of personal nature at all, and are not with
> other activists
> (however other members of the team  and OKFn foundation may be having
> problems of personal nature among themselves, that may contribute to the
> collaboration between various team members having weakened in recent weeks).
> I am afraid that what you are getting from the legal representative is
> only part of the picture.
> Jo said she did not get to talk to you much to her when she came to
> Berlin (in the sense that you were busy talking to other people).  (Jo
> was my primary contact with this project at the time, but she says that
> now she is not working on the deliverable anymore
> The problems are of 'organisational' , transparency and management
> nature if the way OKFn manages its participation into LOD2, and the
> participation of OKFn community members (in which case me).
> Some of us (the wider OKFn community) have already started working
> towards the deliverables of the package. Have you been informed of this?
> The legal representative does not seem to be informed of such
> activities, or is deliberately concealing from you information about
> them, because the organisaion  designed to run in a dysfunctional way.
> They can tell you what they want, it does not correspond to fact.
> I understand you have to deal with the legal representative, but I hope
> you consider your duty also to verify the informatin you are supplied with
> In open collaboration with OKFn representatives,  as well as other
> researchers, work toward the data repository and toward the guide to
> publishing open data started  and is currently taking place, in various
> distributed groups,  and I have all the correspondence to support the
> exchange.
> I am not sure this information has been presented in the meetings you
> mentioned?
> I think as a project coordinator it is your duty  also to establish what
> is prior art
> you should be interested in learning of the efforts being made toward
> the project irrespective of what the legal representative tells you.
> I obviously I intend to do something about this situation, as there is
> no point in spending public money to pay for work that has already been
> done for free by community members
> If as a project leader there is no further action you feel you can/want
> to  take, I ll progress my by publishing a dossier with all the
> documentation on this case and informing the Commission accordingly that
> there may be possibly even some fraud going on.
> Best regards
> Paola Di Maio
> On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 8:42 AM, Sören Auer
> <auer at informatik.uni-leipzig.de <mailto:auer at informatik.uni-leipzig.de>>
> wrote:
>    Hi Paola,
>    I noticed, that there seem to be some personal tensions between some
>    OKFN activists and you. However, I think nether me nor LOD2 has
>    anything to do with that. Please understand, that I as LOD2
>    coordinator have to communicate primarily with the legal
>    representatives of OKFN and the people that were assigned by them to
>    work on LOD2. So far, I can not say that the collaboration of OKFN
>    in the project lacks any commitment or management problems. We
>    already had a number of meetings in Leipzig, Berlin, London with
>    various people - e.g. Jo and William visited us recently together in
>    Leipzig as were Jonathan and Friedrich a little earlier. The
>    development work seems to be progressing. Also, OKFN is very
>    actively organizing and participating in events. Taking this into
>    account I can not see any issues with OKFN's involvement in LOD2
>    and/or the management in general.
>    Given that the problems between you and OKFN seem to be primarily of
>    a personal nature, I would strongly advise to try to resolve them
>    also as such and not escalating this personal problem to projects
>    (e.g. LOD2) and organizations (the commission) having neither a
>    stake nor any influence on that.
>    Best,
>    Sören
>    On 11.11.2010 7:11, Paola Di Maio wrote:
>        Hi Soren
>        I hope you are well
>        I presume you may have not be informed of the background that
>        led to my
>        involvement with OKFn.
>          I have correspondence between Jo, Rufus, Jonathan and myself
>        showing
>        that I was asked to work
>        as organisational consultant by OKFn board member, and various
>        exchanges
>        in relation to my work  for an open government directory and all
>        discussions that emerged.
>        I intend to put forward an official complaint to the commission in
>        relation to how  OKFn participation to the LOD2 consortium, as
>          it is a
>        highly unreliable organization  with serious transparency and
>        management
>        issues.
>          I am not sure if the 'deceit' is intentional, or the result of the
>        deliberate fragmentation in formation flow, I do however
>        have full documentation,
>        I am in informing you in advance as a matter of courtesy, as you
>        are the
>        project coordinator of LOD2,. that I have some problems I intend to
>        address, in case you may be able to resolve the conflict before me
>        officially blowing the whistle.
>        It is not my intention to disrupt the progress of the LOD2
>        project, but
>        I am not at all happy the way the foundation has
>        handled the project proposal so far nor my relation with you as
>        coordinator (ie, effectively prevent my further participation in a
>        project that I initiated). This is really evil.
>        I hope this does not become an headache for you, but I intend to
>        take
>        legal steps if nothing can be done to rectify
>        the situation from your end
>        Let me know if you  have questions or need more info
>        Best Regards
>        Regards
>        PDM

Co-Founder, Open Knowledge Foundation
Promoting Open Knowledge in a Digital Age
http://www.okfn.org/ - http://blog.okfn.org/

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