Bayley wrote: "I'm fairly conflicted about my choice to quit the tech industry. I don't want to be part of some statistic about retention rates, but on the other hand, I need to do something that feels rewarding and fun, and the work I was doing - which involved lots of speaking at conferences '” wasn't giving me that any more.
"So, here's our situation. We have a man (presumably; at any rate he appears to want to be identified as such) in the Australian Linux community, who targets women by sending them private abusive emails from a throwaway address and with a name that can't readily be connected to any publicly known member of the community. His ISP won't hand out information about him without a court order, his abuse doesn't present the kind of imminent threat to physical safety that might interest law enforcement, and despite Linux Australia's diversity statement and Linux.conf.au's anti-harassment policies, it's not clear that there's any practical thing that either of those groups can do about him."
Asked by iTWire what she thought was the best method to deal with situations such as this and whether a public complaint would be a good idea, Bayley responded, "Thanks but no thanks - I'm not interested in speaking to the media about it at this time."
The co-founders of the Ada Initiative, Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner, were also approached for comment; Aurora replied that the Sydney-based Gardiner would be providing comment on behalf of the project which has been set up to try and boost the participation of women in FOSS projects.
Gardiner responded: "This kind of harassment and bullying is endemic in many circles, including towards women in technical communities, particularly if they complain about community norms.
"Public reporting has a major advantage in exposing the scope of the problem: not only how many people it happens to, but sometimes that there are relatively few perpetrators. In this case, Alex Bayley's (Skud's) reports quickly showed that two incidents of harassment linked to the Linux Australia community have the same perpetrator 'markus g'. Online harassment is an iceberg problem: a great deal of it happens in private communications and is never identified as such.
"However, public reporting may not be the best response in all circumstances: if you report to an entirely unsympathetic community you will simply receive more of the same in response. However in a community whose leadership has taken a stand against harassment like Linux Australia has, it can gain you support and bolster the community's commitment to anti-harassment norms."
Gardiner also pointed to a post she had written on the topic.