Supporting Rob Levin is like supporting the PDPC

Rob Levin, the founder of PDPC (the Peer-Directed Projects Center) blogs about being under attack from Patrick McFarland. You can read Patrick’s side here, where I left a comment. Since I’m concerned that the comment won’t be published, I want to repost it here in my own blog:

If you think raising funds to support Rob Levin through the Spinhome project doesn’t benefit PDPC, Freenode and their benefactors, then you aren’t smart enough to successfully “liberate” the Freenode IRC network and PDPC. Rob has contributed a good portion of his life, has sacrificed much, has been living close to the poverty level supporting a spouse and a young child on the generosity of the community, and has persevered much grief heaped upon him by others who haven’t even accomplished a small fraction of what Rob has already done. Supporting such a person to enable them to continue giving what he already gives selflessly is a win-win for everyone involved.

If you have real, tangible criticisms of PDPC and/or Freenode (or even Rob Levin, himself), I suggest you think them through and express them in an intelligible way. While everyone has their emotional moments, generally adults respond better to reasonable people more than they do to ad hominem attacks.

The way you are currently going about things will accomplish very little.

The sad reality is that any time you provide a service, there will always be customers who you just can’t satisfy. Perhaps Patrick is just one of those people. The fact still remains that Rob is trying to raise funds through his Spinhome project, to help improve his situation so he can continue to focus on improving PDPC and Freenode, which almost 30,000 people benefit from every day. His fundraising goal is in the ballpark of $300K, which might sound high, but just think: if each one of those 30,000 people donated $10, he’d hit his goal. However, since this is a personal project and Rob has very firm convictions about not using PDPC or Freenode for his own personal gain, he won’t even consider directly soliciting support from Freenode’s many users.

Well, as his friend and someone who benefits from his services (the #aolserver IRC chat is hosted on Freenode), I’d like to ask that if you also use Freenode, consider taking the time to make a one-time donation of $8 or $16 to his Spinhome fund. If you know people with open source projects who use Freenode, please pass the word along to them. A small investment from each of us will help ensure that Freenode continues to operate and improve for years to come.



  1. We run #space on freenode, and I discovered this story last night. Patrick McFarland aka Diablo-D3, has been a real problem in our channel in the past. He has had to be banned sveral times for cussing, arguing, and causing mayhem. I consider us ops.. and there are more than 14 of us.. good gauges of his character.

    His character is flawed, immature, zealous, and mean spirited. It is highly unfair to attack Rob Levin, or his family for reaching out to the community for voluntary donations. Even the freenode donations are purely voluntary. Its quite disturbing to see someone in a free and open community using any tactic to further their own agenda. This is not the last of my visits on this subject. I intend to to pursue this to the fullest of my abilities.

    I joined #debian and asked those in charge there if they knew that McFarland was using the recent move of thier bot out of context, and recieved some encouraging signals.

    The debian folks did not know that McFarland was using their move to justify his own crusade.

    They know now. Thanks for the good article. We should coordinate if he continues this evilness.

  2. I just noticed this comment by Dusty Bradshaw. I used to be a regular on #space, and I left because I found the place to be very unfriendly and not worth sticking around. I guess elitism even finds it’s way into the space community.

    As for “my agenda,” what agenda? The only agenda I have is to stop people from abusing the FOSS community for thier own gains, and I believe that is what Rob is doing.

    And as for me using Debian for my “crusade”, no, Debian left Freenode of their own accord, with little or no input from me. They had threatened to move two or so years ago when Rob had done his original fund raiser where he posted global notices constantly asking for donations, and Rob curtailed those constant global notices under their threat of moving.

    As such, Debian left for the same reasons I do what I do: Rob likes to take donations and do nothing in return. And on my blog, I stated as much.

  3. Patrick, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    I think it’s unfair to say that Rob “[does] nothing in return.” The fact that Freenode runs as smoothly as it does is testament to the fact that he and the other volunteers are doing whatever is necessary to keep things going.

    I’m not trying to raise Rob to sainthood: I know he’s made plenty of mistakes over the years. I do believe they are mistakes, not genuine attempts of profiteering off Freenode or some other greedy motive. He tries to do as much for Freenode with as little as he has and that’s not easy.

    If your issue with Rob is that he’s made mistakes, then we’re in agreement. If you think that Rob is accepting donations and providing no value in return, I think you need to take a closer look at the situation. You’re not being very objective about the matter and that’s not fair to Rob, who is trying really hard to support a community (Freenode) and is having relative success doing it. That doesn’t all just happen by doing nothing.

  4. I have nothing against the volunteers, infact, I think they’re great people. They happen to do all the actual administration work, while Rob basically sits in the background and takes credit for everything.

    Very rarely does Rob actually do any actual work. I’d think more of Rob if he’d pay the volunteers instead of letting them do this for free. If it wern’t for the volunteers, there wouldnt be a Freenode.

  5. These kind of asshole really pisses me off. He stomps on the poor (Rob) which has done much good for us. WTF ?!

    He didn’t bother to remove his sick accusations even after Rob died !

    Here’s a comment I left in his blog post in case it’s not approved by him :

    Well done ! You’ve accomplished your mission ! Rob has finally left Freenode.


    Leaving a wife and a disabled kid in a very poor financial situation.

    Happy now ?

    Patrick McFarland is the worst.
    We need to stand up to these bullies.

    I’ll be donating monthly to Rob’s family through Paypal. Let us all do the same.

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