Neil McGovern, Molly de Blanc: were they sacked from GNOME?
Around 22 June 2021, volunteers observed Molly de Blanc removed from the GNOME web site and looking for a job on social media.
In February 2022, Neil McGovern announced he would leave GNOME. A six month notice period was mentioned and GNOME began posting about the search very publicly in August 2022.
In February, when McGovern blogged about leaving, did he know what his next job would be or he was just taking a step out into the unknown?
In February, did GNOME have a new candidate in mind, somebody who backed out and forced them to go back to the market in August 2022?
We found some clues.
McGovern registered a domain 30 November 2009, Tenterfell.com. Whois records link it to McGovern's DNS. Archive.org shows that he did nothing with this domain for more than 10 years. On 21 June 2022, a web site appeared for the first time, right in the middle of McGovern's notice period.
McGovern left GNOME immediately after GUADEC 2022 at the end of July 2022. That is roughly six months after the community was informed.
McGovern's hiring by Ruby Central was only announced on 29 September, roughly two months after leaving GNOME.
The long delay before GNOME announced their search for a replacement suggests they may have had somebody else in mind. This would imply McGovern was pushed out and then the replacement candidate subsequently disappeared leaving GNOME empty handed.
The two month gap between McGovern leaving GNOME and starting at Ruby Central and his attempts to set up a consultancy web site, Tenterfell.com also suggest he didn't know exactly where he was going next.
The GNOME vacancy is still open. They are openly offering a salary of $150k and one interpretation of this figure is that salaries are rising and this simply isn't enough money to get a developer who is willing to suffer the politics of an open source organization while still keeping abreast of the technical work.
Both Neil McGovern and Molly de Blanc had been very active in discrediting Dr Richard Stallman. Github activity suggests they were doing that during GNOME working hours.
Moreover, McGovern presided over the decision to hire de Blanc. It looks like de Blanc had been romantically involved with McGovern's Debian/DebConf world. Independent members of the GNOME community were always uncomfortable with the perception that McGovern hired somebody's girlfriend. McGovern gave de Blanc a big title, Strategic Initiatives Manager but there is no sign of what she actually did.