An apology to the Drupal community

Last week Megan Sanicki, executive director of the Drupal Association, and I published a joint statement. In this blog post, I wanted to follow up with a personal statement focused on the community at large.

I've talked to a lot of people the last two weeks, and it is clear to me that our decisions have caused much alarm and distress in our community. I feel this follow-up is important even though I know it doesn't undo the hurt I've caused.

I want to deeply apologize for causing grief and uncertainty, especially to those in the BDSM and kink communities who felt targeted by the turmoil. This incident was about specific actions of a single member of our community. This was never meant to be about sexual practices or kinks, so it pains me that I unintentionally hurt you. I do support you and respect you as a key part of our community.

Shortly after I started Drupal more than 15 years ago, I based its core values on openness and equality. Gender, race, religion, beliefs, sexuality ... all are welcome in our community. We've always had people with wildly different views and identities. When we walk into a sprint at DrupalCon, we've been able to put our opinions aside, open our laptops, and start collaborating. Diversity has always been a feature, not a bug. I strongly feel that this foundation is what made Drupal what it is today; a global family.

Serving a community as unique and diverse as Drupal is both rewarding and challenging. We've navigated through several defining moments and transitions in our history. I feel what we are going through now is another one of these defining moments for our culture and community. In an excruciating but illuminating way this has shown some of what is best about our community: we care. I'm reminded that what brings us together, what we all have in common, is our love and appreciation of open-source software. Drupal is a positive force, a collective lifting by thousands and thousands, created and maintained by those individuals cooperating toward a common goal, whose other interests have no need to be aligned.

I want to help our community heal and I'm open to learn and change. As one of the next steps, I will make a follow-up post on improving our governance to a healthier model that does not place such sensitive decisions on me. I love this community, and recognize that the things we hold in common are more important than our differences.

(Comments on this post are allowed but for obvious reasons will be moderated.)

Comments

tstoeckler (not verified):

Merriam-Webster defines apology as "an admission of error". While I genuinely appreciate the willingness towards governance change, I fail to see how this post lives up to its title unfortunately.

April 09, 2017
Dries:

The Community Working Group, the Drupal Association and I tried to resolve a difficult, sensitive situation that was put on our plate to the best of our ability, following our process. We made mistakes in how we handled and communicated it, myself included. Our mistakes hurt people who were not even involved, and made some members of our community feel unwelcome or even unsafe.

We already committed to re-open the conversation with Larry, and we do still intend to do so. The original issues that brought on all this out do still need to be addressed, though. The earlier joint statement is still accurate insofar as it goes. The Community Working Group and myself are discussing how to best organize that (e.g. should we get from experts in deciding next steps?). We'll talk more with and about Larry, when the time is right. But for this blog post, I want to apologize to everyone else who I hurt with my initial post and limited ability.

April 09, 2017
DHW (not verified):

"But for this blog post, I want to apologize to everyone else who I hurt with my initial post and limited ability."

Including Larry? No? Oh.

April 09, 2017
Ryan Szrama (not verified):

DHW, it's clear you're not interested in good faith dialogue. You're not scoring rhetorical points by throwing "everyone else" back at Dries. The fact is other people have been worried as a result of how this has played out, and you're minimizing their concerns by insinuating that Dries is not allowed to address them clearly and directly without first addressing Larry's grievances.

April 09, 2017
Shannon Vettes (not verified):

+1. Happy to see this comment, hits it right on the head. A "sorry I hurt you" to the community is a huge step. One that shows humility and a real desire to do better, to do more of what the community wants. What more can you ask of a leader?

There are further steps to be taken, more dialog to be had - Dries has said this. I know people are upset, but the more faith you put in BOTH of them to figure it out + time = more likely they are to come to a mutual agreement. I wish you would all stop rushing this, it's a bfd, not something to be decided on a whim.

April 10, 2017
Marco Pivetta (not verified):

Soo... Larry is still expelled, and no valid reasoning was provided​?

As much as you drag it around, this is still making the DA look like a poisonous place, where personal politics overrule righteous arbitration.

> I'm open to learn and change.

Go back on your steps and revert the damage that was done, or at least as much as possible. Saying "I was wrong" is not something to be ashamed of, especially if it helps someone.

April 09, 2017
anonymous (not verified):

Re: "Go back on your steps and revert the damage that was done, or at least as much as possible. Saying "I was wrong" is not something to be ashamed of, especially if it helps someone."

Pretty sure that's exactly what he's trying to do?

The person who was banned maybe still needs to be banned. I don't know. It's a good apology though and thank you.

April 09, 2017
Ryan Szrama (not verified):

It isn't clear to me how well you understand the situation, Marco, but I believe reducing it to "personal politics" is unfair and conflating Dries's leadership with the DA is inaccurate and unhelpful.

From the first hour the news broke until now, people have implied or stated outright that nothing short of a full reversal of this decision would be acceptable. (See the comments below...) Many others refuse to be satisfied with the outcome unless they have access to all of the facts or at least more detail than the CWG, Dries, and Megan have seen wise to make public. Those strike me as knee jerk demands that minimize the months of consideration that went into this decision and naively assume everything can just be "undone". They also ignore the historical context of Dries's leadership and the creation of the DA, CWG, Code of Conduct, etc.

Leadership involves making unpopular decisions while also learning from your mistakes. I see this post as evidence of Dries doing just that. I invite you to do the same and to be as slow in impugning their motives (not just their actions) as they were in making their decisions with respect to Larry.

April 09, 2017
Tony (not verified):

Again, another non-info post from you. What actions?

And rather than thinking about how to avoid future incidents, why don't you fix the issue at hand first. Are you planning to sweep this under the rug? Rhetorical !! Obviously, that's what you are doing.

I am sorry, I am not interested anything you say, unless it's about fixing the current issue. Either justify your actions or reverse it.

April 09, 2017
AB (not verified):

Tony, well said. I've yet to see self accountability for the violence of supporting an outing campaign and what terror that puts in the hearts of people who have alternative sexualities, life styles, queer experiences etc.

April 09, 2017
Ryan Szrama (not verified):

I disagree that every decision must be fully supportable by public evidence. In a large community like ours that seeks to create a welcome, productive environment for a diverse group of contributors, decisions must sometimes be made in confidence.

This is not the same as in private or in secret. In the Drupal world, these decisions are made by a wide variety of people we have entrusted leadership to through a process have collectively agreed to. I believe it is more beneficial for us to give them the benefit of the doubt than to force the reversal of unpopular decisions when we aren't all privy to the details. It is also beneficial for us to engage our leadership to improve our governance / processes where it is clear they were insufficient.

AB, let's not forget that Larry is the one who outed himself and that Dries and Megan both expressed 1) that their decisions were not based on Larry's private sex life (indeed, Larry continued to serve as a track chair for some months after the disclosure of these details precisely because the DA does not discriminate on these grounds) and that 2) the person(s) responsible for invading Larry's privacy are indeed being held accountable for their own activity by the CWG.

In the end, Larry may have felt his hand was forced, but he is still the one who published the details of his private life to the general public. (I personally knew nothing of the controversy until he broadcast it.) Based on his own retelling of the events, he did this with the understanding that he was short circuiting a conversation Dries expected to continue in private. Since it was clear to him that Dries would not be changing his mind, we can assume he did so to gain an advantage by appealing to the community to take up his cause.

April 09, 2017
Preston So (not verified):

Thank you for this, Dries. For myself and my friends in the kink community, this is a resolute expression of unequivocal support and welcome with open arms for those who have found horrifying stigma elsewhere in society and now feared for their place in Drupal. The kink community has always been an important facet of the Drupal community and is now recognized as such.

It's clear to me that you never intended to engage in kink-shaming or kink-phobia. I do believe, however, that sometimes we all have to apologize for the impressions our actions give and unintended impact rather than the actual intent of our actions.

And that, in my opinion, is one of the most honorable things any of us can do.

April 09, 2017
DHW (not verified):

Wait, what? Until Dries clearly states the nature of Larry's crime, you don't actually know that there's some reason besides having an unfashionable kink for Larry's expulsion.

April 09, 2017
Shannon Vettes (not verified):

In all fairness, you don't know either. Only Larry, Dries, the Board & the CWG know what is going on. I wish we'd all stop speculating and make these assumptions instead:
1/ There was a *real* problem, and it's not about Kink.
2/ There was a need for more conversation on *both* sides before taking actions that lead to our current situation, and there is room to improve so that people's careers and reputations do not get damaged.
3/ They will find a solution together if they can both come to the table.

I'm not so quick to judge Dries OR Larry in this. I wish more people in the community would adopt that stance - give each other the benefit of the doubt.

April 10, 2017
webchick (not verified):

Thanks for this, Dries. Among the more heart-wrenching things in this dispute has been the fear, uncertainty, and doubt experienced by people who were absolutely not involved with the matter at hand. I'm glad to see this cleared up, and our community's commitment to diversity restated, as this certainly speaks to the Drupal I know and love.

I'm greatly looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work with you on evolving the governance of Drupal to more sustainably allocate responsibility of incredibly difficult choices like this in the future.

April 09, 2017
chx (not verified):

When I did my AMA on reddit, someone asked "Why is the Drupal community so much more collaborative than most other open source projects. Do you have an opinion about that?" -- I answered "Well, ask Dries how this started. We just maintain it: we try very, very hard to be pleasant to our newbies. We try really, really hard to make the debates be about the technical merits of your work and not you. Making this a priority helped. That's my best guess." Well, now one needs to guess less.

April 09, 2017
Ordermind (not verified):

Sounds good, this is a step in the right direction. Of course Larry is really the one who deserves an apology, not the community. I pray that he is willing to come back to the community in spite of the ostracization and trauma he was subjected to. I assume that an attempt to bring him back is indeed what will follow this statement, right?

April 09, 2017
skaught (not verified):

+1

as a community member, thanks Dries. We all need to take baby steps forward. This is a good step. Of course, not all steps can happen here or today ... either in public or private.

April 09, 2017
Francewhoa (not verified):

Thanks Dries for courageously growing through your challenging experience. Thanks also for sharing and contributing your experience with the Drupal community. I also feel that diversity is a strength. Not a weakness.

Indeed some valuable members expressed that they felt hurt and or concerned, while at the same time it's likely that your latest message will make some members of the Drupal community feel the Drupal community Love ♥

April 09, 2017
Media Crumb (not verified):

Are we really call this "courageously growing"? Oh dear.... I don't see anything from this post that moves the issue forward or works to improve Larrys now tarnished career. Can we please stop patting ourselves on the back and actually wait for so real ACTION here. It's posts like these that downplay the severity of the situation. Action is what matters. Action. This is just yet another post about the "promise" of action, only with very little substance.

April 09, 2017
Barry (not verified):

I believe you need to right this wrong. Very poor judgement. No process shown. No reasoning given and not a full apology.

April 09, 2017
Ryan Szrama (not verified):

Thanks for writing this, Dries.

I've always appreciated your slow, deliberate approach to decision making. While you're still working to discern the community's real concerns with respect to governance, that makes me appreciate even more that you've prioritized addressing the fears of those who were clearly concerned for their own place in our community in the meantime.

I'm sure plenty of folks won't accept anything other than a reversal of your decision re: Larry, but I hope they can see this apology as an example of our community's leadership accepting responsibility even for the unintended consequences of their actions. Even more, I hope those who had real concerns for themselves are encouraged by this post.

(Accordingly, thanks for your vulnerability, Preston!)

April 09, 2017
Marko B (not verified):

Great Dries, step in right direction! Lets get of the island on this one as well. Ask for outside help and expertise. Get opinion from experts on this one, I for one would love that mine DA money is spent on that.

April 09, 2017
ConcernedCommu… (not verified):

The #1 rule in PR is to never double down in situations like this, and you just doubled down for the second time. The community is not healed, there is still a ton of devs, maintainers, and others who are calling foul, and demanding a clear cut reason why Crell was outed. Your inability to recognize this (or just a simple lack of willingness to admit you were wrong) proves that you are so out of touch with the community that you have no choice but to step away yourself. Aquia and any of its brass should recuse themselves from the DA, CWG, and any of the major decisions that need to be made involving the community, and the path Drupal takes from here. Remember, we are legion, and we are more powerful.

April 09, 2017
ShelLuser (not verified):

The only reason I'm responding is because as an outsider I also got heavily upset over all this. But the more I follow this story the more inconsistencies I discover. For example:

"This incident was about specific actions of a single member of our community. This was never meant to be about sexual practices or kinks, so it pains me that I unintentionally hurt you."

Unintentionally? You specifically stated yourself - several times - that part of the reason to expel Larry was based on information which was gathered in an unethical way and that you did not condone that. I also can't help begin to wonder if you actually understand why people like myself get so upset over all this.

So if you didn't intent for this then why include that information in the first place? In a courtroom any illegally obtained information gets thrown out, and for very good reasons. Yet not here, you even used it to justify your actions. Your words, not mine. That is part of the reason I myself am upset.

The other reason for my annoyance is that despite what you say you won't share what those real reasons to expel Larry actually were. Not even to Larry himself, at least that's what he claims. Yet that claim has never been contradicted so far. So obviously members get upset over all this because you don't provide any transparency, only more contradictions and thus you create more controversy.

Personally I believe that the only thing you didn't intend for was the way it escalated. I can't help wonder if you simply wouldn't even have thought twice about it were it not for the fact that several online news agencies suddenly also carried this news, and many bloggers followed, which basically forced your hands to try and apply some kind of damage control.

No offense but that's all I'm seeing here: damage control, while I'd rather have seen something which at least seemed sincere to me. But sincerity isn't shown by changing your story dozens of times, which is exactly what you've been doing.

As always, just my 2 cents.

April 09, 2017
EclipseGc (not verified):

We can't always control where life takes us. Sometimes, situations arise for which we are not fully prepared. For almost 12 years I have used Drupal (the software) and for almost 11 years I have been a part of this community. In all those years, I've had ample time to watch and see how our leader operates and not once have I ever suspected that Dries didn't have the absolute best for the Drupal project in his mind and heart. People should remember that. Drupal's always been an open and fairly safe place where different opinions co-mingled and collaborated to create something unique and beautiful.

We are judged, not just by our actions, but also by how we respond to the consequences of our actions (intentional or otherwise). Not one single person in this debate can honestly say they have never unintentionally hurt someone else. Leaders are more prone to this than anyone because of their position. This is true of Dries… this is true of Larry… This is true for anyone stepping into a void in any project anywhere. Leadership is power. It’s the power to help, the power to hurt and the power to heal.

THIS is a step toward healing. I know this process has been opaque. That opacity has been my primary criticism, but to me, this blog says the leadership of the Drupal Community is committed to:

* Continued dialog among those directly affected
* Apologizing for unintended consequences (this blog)
* Taking steps to prevent this sort of misunderstanding in the future

These are the things the community wants and needs in the wake of this sort of controversy. I hope everyone in the Drupal community will take this as the beginning of the healing process. One which will build more bridges of trust and understanding.

We have a long way to go yet, but we will never get there if we can’t all get on the same page together. I know people are upset, but outrage won’t solve anything. Communicating clearly, and often will solve things. I hope we all let that start today.

April 09, 2017
John A. De Goes (not verified):

So, let me get this straight: you are sorry all the people who read your posts came to the wrong conclusion that this was about Larry Garfield's participation in BDSM & Gor, and about his beliefs — about men & women, evolutionary psychology, and gender-identity? But you're still completely unwilling to tell anyone what it's REALLY about, or to deal with the harassment, bullying, intimidation, secret meetings, and illegal dredging of private of information from members-only sites?

I would humbly suggest that being sorry that people don't understand you is not really being sorry. Failing to address issues is not really addressing them. Wrong is not really right. And the community will not so easily forget the destruction, deception, and mismanagement that has characterized this entire incident from day one.

April 09, 2017
Dries:

Many have expressed anger over how the information about Larry came to light, and whether there will be consequences for those who participated in gathering information about his private life. As I have stated before, I do not condone their behavior.

The Community Working Group is currently handling this situation through their standard process. I'm not a member of the Community Working Group. As I don't participate in their meetings, I don't have enough insight or clarity on their progress or decisions at this time. I'm talking to the Community Working Group this week and hope to learn more then.

April 09, 2017
Joachim Noreiko (not verified):

You're not a member of the Community Working Group, but nonetheless it's you that took the final decision to expel Larry. So you're not a member, but you step in and make decisions for them when you feel like it, is that how it works?

April 10, 2017
Shannon Vettes (not verified):

They escalated the issue to Dries because the guidelines did not cover the management of the incidents which were reported to them.

April 10, 2017
xjm (not verified):

The documented governance is that the Community Working Group escalates things to Dries in the edgecases where they are unable to address it. In this case the Community Working Group did identify that there were issues out of the scope of their charter, and so escalated the issue to Dries. The process was followed and Dries did not interrupt it at all.

You can see the documented governance in the repository at:
https://www.drupal.org/project/governance

I also think you missed where Dries says above that he wants to change the governance to not rely on him as the escalation point in this way, because this incident makes it clear how fragile it is (and unhealthy for both Dries and the community). You can see more about how to address this weakness in our governance on Dries' next post:
http://buytaert.net/next-steps-for-evolving-drupal-governance

I hope that information helps.

April 10, 2017
Berend de Boer (not verified):

Isn't the issue here the parallel justice system of Drupal's Community Working Group? It seems to me you will always have issues where you implement a parallel legal system (code of conduct), jury, judge and executioner, without the benefit of relying on 1000s of years of practise. I can't see reform is possible, as it is the system that is the issue.

April 09, 2017
Lowell Montgomery (not verified):

Thank you for your post, Dries. I do think this is a step in the right direction, at least, toward healing the rift and the hurt in the community. That said, I'd like to see Larry reinstated, if he'll come back... and otherwise, I think the community will want more explanation for what real motives were involved in asking him to leave.

April 09, 2017
Pol Dellaiera (not verified):

Thanks Dries.

I hope you'll find a way to fix the issue with Larry.

He, you, us,... doesn't deserves such a situation.

April 09, 2017
Jose Reyero (not verified):

Dear Dries,

You are the well respected leader of the Drupal community and so far I think most of us understand that whatever you've done, right or wrong, has been made with the best intentions in mind towards the project and the community.

However, you seem to be missing the point. For many of us this is not about who's in or who's out of the community, the project, etc.. The real issue here is that someone / some group / some organization may believe they have the power to make such a decision.

I just believe they don't. For the same reason someone cannot be banned from using Drupal, they also cannot be banned from contributing to it. Of course everybody else is very free to use or not someone else's contributions if they don't like the person, that is their problem.. Well, they may need to fork Drupal core for that but as I say, that is their problem...

So it was not the wrong decision. It was wrong to make a decision. But it was also wrong to ask for such a decision to be made and about this I think we haven't seen enough people apologizing.

Anyway, we don't need them to -apologize-. I think we just need to be reassured no one else will be put to trial like this ever again, not to mention secret accusations, etc... The whole thing has been shameful IMO, but as I say, I don't want to know who did what, I really don't...

...my point is, the thing -the 'expulsion' process- should have never existed in the first place and this is what needs to be acknowledged.

April 09, 2017
Perry Brown (not verified):

Thank you for your humility, Dries.

While I don't agree with the entire article, Christie Koehler makes some poignant observations that need to be heard, especially by those who want all of the details.

"Those of us who have been a part of FLOSS communities for a long time are used to certain ways of working. We’re used to “working in the open” via written, recorded media. We expect to be able to get up to speed on an issue by reading through a mailing list’s archives, an IRC channel’s log, or a bug’s comment thread. We feel entitled to access and absorb this information and then chime in with our own view of things, be it lay opinion or reasoned expertise, or something in between. We expect to have this point of view meaningfully considered in the process of decision-making.

These norms work relatively well for collaboratively producing software. They do not, however, work for addressing certain community governance topics, including most conduct issues. These require private communication, limited numbers of people involved in making decisions, and a vagueness when publicly reporting outcomes.

All but the most trivial issues regarding community members’ conduct requires careful handling. The security principle of least access necessarily applies. Only those who need to be a part of the decision-making process should be party to the often very private details of conduct-related incidents. This is especially true of situations regarding on-going or long-term abuse.

When a decision is reached it is unwise and likely unethical to share the details of the evidence that was considered in making that decision. Public statements you make about individuals involved in the decision are subject to libel and defamation law suits. The more specific your statements, the greater the risk. Not only do project leads have an obligation to limit the liability they expose their projects too, they also have an obligation to protect the privacy of all those involved, perpetrator and victim alike.

Unlike with technical decisions, decisions about governance, especially conduct, can never be as transparent as we’d like. As such, a certain amount of opaqueness is not necessarily a sign of bad governance. In fact, it can be a sign of good governance. At best project leads should, if they are able, share the nature or category and volume of evidence considered as well as the process that was followed.

Because in these cases good governance prohibits complete transparency, it’s incredibly important that you trust your project leaders. And, likewise, it’s important that project leaders work to establish and build trust continually, not just when code of conduct issues arise."

https://subfictional.com/thoughts-on-recent-drupal-governance-decisions/

April 09, 2017
Shannon Vettes (not verified):

Thanks Dries for this post, and the apology. I have witnessed the intense community reaction, and I am very glad you have so clearly explained that you do not support discrimination in any way and are distressed that so many people think you could. I also imagine it must have been a hard thing to apologize since this decision comes from a place in your heart that is meant to safeguard a community you care so much about.

And now I'd like to comment to people who are angry/upset about this. I have a lot of things to ask of you.

I consider both Larry and Dries my friends. I was very surprised by all this. I don't want Larry to be banned, and I really want to see an end to this conflict as soon as possible. I also trust Dries and support him because I know he is a level-headed person who doesn't discriminate, and this decision can't have been an easy one. I truly believe he would only make it if it were necessary. Given the givens, he probably would have gotten stuck in a lose-lose situation no matter what choice he could have made. Being a leader is sometimes an impossible win.

I can hear the anger and frustration in these replies, and it makes my heart ache. I urge you to follow your heart and continue to care about the rights of people in this community. That's what makes this such a great bunch of people to work with in the first place!

I ask that you read beyond your own initial reaction. I think many of you are going to read this, and think "Oh he's not apologizing to Larry and retracting his previous decision, who cares". Please care. This is a real apology. This is a real reaction to the concern that this situation has created, and Dries clearly wants us all to understand where he is coming from.

Please listen to what he is trying to tell you, instead of getting enraged that you cannot be privy to private information and *immediately* get your way. I understand you. So, please, let me repeat: He is trying to reach out to Larry and find a solution, condemns doxxing and other forms of intimidation, and is letting the correct channels deal with the inappropriate behavior which started this whole thing in the first place.

I also ask that you express the tolerance for which you are such a strong advocate and stop repeating the behavior which is hurting my friends, Larry, Dries, Angie and others. Threats? Blackmail? This is not what we are about. I'm saddened to see us stoop to "revenge". Treating each other with respect is critical to preserving the group dynamic we all agree is worth fighting for; especially during the roughest of patches. Can we not find a way to rise above and become better? Can we not learn from this? Dries is trying to from what I read in this post.

I ask that you give it time. You would not expect to get over your feelings overnight, and so please allow Larry and Dries the time to work through this. I have faith in them both, and so should you. I hope they will both be patient with each other, and try to see each other's perspectives.

Please, everyone: Take a deep breath. Remember why we are here. Dare I say it: get back to work and give them BOTH a moment to come up for air.

If nothing else, this conflict has yielded a very positive side effect: awareness and concern for our community's rights and recognition that we need a better system in place to protect them. So let's please turn our attention to that goal, and be a little less wrapped up in the #drupaldrama.

Thanks for your kind attention, here's hoping our community shows its true colors (tolerance, teamwork, dedication, talent, and generally just being wonderful).

Shannon

April 09, 2017
Tony (not verified):

"He is trying to reach out to Larry and find a solution"...

How do you know?

I am asking because what I know is just the opposite. According to the post on his website, Larry sent an email to Dries offering a proposal. A specific, detailed proposal that protected both Larry's name and reputation and Dries as well; with reduced involvement in Drupal while still not interfering with his (Larry) career.

According to Larry, he doesn't hear anything back from Dries several days. Right before Dries & Megan issues the joint announcement, Dries replies. Totally ignoring the proposal. There is more info on Larry's latest post. He also adds that the offer is still on the table.

On the other hand, Dries likes to use open ended words "committed to" , "intend to do so" and such...

@Ryan
Where is the good faith dialog here?

April 10, 2017
Meredith L. Pa… (not verified):

Indeed, all this focus on Dries produces more heat than light. I've yet to see anyone address the question of why Klaus Purer thinks that it's his business to investigate other Drupalers' private lives or to blackmail them.

Given the (deliberate?) inattention paid to this topic, should onlookers then conclude that the CWG quietly supports those who attempt to dox and blackmail other Drupalers? As Drupal's figurehead, it is Dries' job to absorb whatever flak comes the project's way -- to "keep the s*** from rolling downhill," as they say in the military. One way that this often fails spectacularly in the military is when commanders take the fall for their subordinates' wrongdoing, leaving the subordinate to continue doing wrong.

Klaus deliberately, intentionally targeted Crell for purging, exactly the same way that he did to chx. Now that he's gotten away with it twice, do you really think he's going to just stop of his own accord?

In my experience, people who taste that kind of power and get away with it typically don't. They keep doing it because they've convinced themselves that they're doing it for a good cause. Maybe they even are, at first. But it quickly becomes very, very easy to also convince oneself that the reason one dislikes Person X isn't a personal grudge -- it's because Person X is a sexist, or a racist, or a transphobe, or has Odious Personal Beliefs. And that's how the purges continue.

If you can get anyone who was involved to talk about it, the collapse of the Ada Initiative is instructive here. In that case, the project lead was the one with the targeting-and-purging habit, but a subordinate who has the leader's protection can tear a project apart just as effectively.

Good luck. Drupal's going to need it.

April 10, 2017
tony (not verified):

You do not need to apologize, just allow crell to keep being part of the community. Most of us can understand he cannot be director as it would place Drupal under a hard discussion. But cutting out a member without a strong (and public) reason makes Drupal a dangerous place to invest.

April 09, 2017
Dave Terry (not verified):

Dries,

Thank you very much for the apology. It was obviously genuine and empathetic.

As others have so eloquently said, I would simply encourage you to continue to use this experience as a learning opportunity. The foundation of any relationship is predicated around trust.

For those who do not agree with the decision (I am one of them) to ban Larry, we should allow the process to continue v. innuendos and insults at Dries integrity. Personally, the initial decision was stinging, surprising, shocking, etc. However, I also realize the people involved cannot undo their original communication and decision - what is done is done. What they can focus on though is a go forward plan that continues to improve existing processes and systems that caused this situation. In short, you will either trust them to do this and the final outcome or not.

If the decision does not align with my own thoughts, I'll judge and respect Dries and the people who made the decision based on their existing track record, reputation, and my direct experience with them - and maybe realize they are entitled to make mistakes or hold views contrary to my own.

April 09, 2017
Taco (not verified):

Thanks for taking this serious Dries and to continue to keep this open dialogue. I understand the dilemma and the test for the community. I hope the people who were elected to decide on these matters will take the necessary responsibility.

April 10, 2017
Miroslav Banov (not verified):

I've read up on the many reactions and statements regarding Crell's expulsion. Frankly a lot of people are displeased with having a dictator at the top of the project. And to me as well, this is not a good situation and I would very much prefer that the project governance is reorganized so it does not have an unelected central authority.

At this point, there is nothing that anyone can do that will right wrongs. Not even reinstating Crell will do that. What can be done is for those involved in the decision and who contributed to this crisis within the Drupal community to resign from their positions. That will show us that someone is taking responsibility, and will get the attention of community members who are demoralized by recent events.

April 10, 2017
Juan Rodriguez (not verified):

I fully support your decision Dries, don't get down and please don't step down as project leader, we all appreciate all you do and all you have done during the last 15 years. It was the right decision at the right time. Courage.

April 10, 2017
A Drupal contributor (not verified):

Dear Dries,

Thank you for your response and apology. It is very appreciated.

I sincerely believe you think this is just a misunderstanding in the community.

Unfortunately it is not.

This is about the topic: Do _beliefs_ make it impossible for people to _act_ in a good, professional way?

Lets take a neutral look at the secret evidence.

Even if its not possible to disclose it, it should be possible to characterize it using a list of binary questions. The "decision" in the following means "the part of the decision taken based on the secret evidence":

- Q.1 Was the decision based on bad conduct (e.g. actual mistreatment, harassment, harm of a community member that is not at the same time a member of the Gor community)? yes/no

- Q.2 Was the decision based on a violation of the code of conduct? yes/no

- Q.3 Was the decision based on beliefs (e.g. assumed sexism, published and removed GitHub presentation, public chat logs, private chat logs)? yes/no

And further (assuming that conduct was flawless):

- Q.4 If tomorrow someone else in a leadership position was outed / outed themselves as a member of the Gor community, would they be asked to leave the project, too? yes/no

- Q.5 If tomorrow someone else in a leadership position was outed / outed themselves as a member of the KKK, would they be asked to leave the project? yes/no

- Q.6 If tomorrow someone else in a leadership position was outed / outed themselves as a fundamentalist christ that believes that "women must obey and serve man", would they be asked to leave the project? yes/no

- Q.7 If tomorrow someone else in a leadership position was outed / outed themselves as a fundamentalist muslim that believes that "women must obey and serve man", would they be asked to leave the project - even though they are a member of a marginalized group? yes/no

Overall there are two schools of thought:

1. "Actions speak louder than words." / "Sticks and Stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

2. "Beliefs influence actions, actions lead to suffering. Therefore beliefs lead to suffering." / "Beliefs make it impossible for the person to not act in a biased way." / "People with the wrong beliefs need to be excluded for the benefit of the marginalized."

Both are equally valid beliefs and in a way are only systems of thought themselves.

I personally find the Gor philosophy distasteful, but would we not need to check the private lives of every member of the community to be "fair" in this treatment?

Or at least of everyone in a leadership position? Is that even possible - unless they publicly (accidentally?) push commits presenting their secret views to a GitHub presentation?

Lets assume Larry violated the Code of Conduct: Then this story is over. Just say so and this whole thing is done.

Lets assume for a moment Larry behaved flawless in his public conduct with female colleagues, female co-workers and female community members and did not violate our Code of _Conduct_, which is saying how we treat each other, not what we do outside of the community:

Is it fair to ask him to leave the community based just on public and private written things - even if he renounces the beliefs that violate the values of the Drupal Community publicly?

There is indicators that there is still widespread sexism in the Drupal community. There has also been rumours that violations of the code of conduct was not dealt with in an appropriate way, hence making female members of our community unsafe.

Does it help to exclude a member that (assuming the above) has never made the community unsafe by his conduct if at the same time we tolerate bad conduct (as has been indicated) as long as they have the "right" beliefs?

Further given the wide spread sexism indicators:

Lets assume 60-90% of men share the same general sexist view points (women subservient to men - which is bullshit btw.), but keep them even more secret than Larry.

Don't we just virtue signal that - yes - we _did_ something about sexism?

Is this not just picking a scapegoat and now we don't have a problem with sexism anymore and we can get back to business?

I want my female co-workers, female friends, sister, etc. to feel safe in the Drupal community. For that there needs to be a no-tolerance policy of bad _behavior_ and code of conduct violations (harassment, etc.).

But I also want e.g. secret conservative view supporters to feel safe in the community. For that there needs to be a no-tolerance policy of bad behavior and code of conduct violations (doxxing, stalking, etc.).

As written before to punish beliefs (sexist, racist, xenophobic, ...) is very difficult as it can never be fair as the one keeping things secret will always have an advantage.

One could argue that you can "silence" persons that way and keep those poisonous beliefs from spreading, however that holds only true as long as those persons actively promoted or expressed those beliefs within the Drupal Community - which is not the case here.

Pushing a presentation about Gor to GitHub is questionable - however given that the Gor lifestyle was kept a secret for 12 years, the benefit of the doubt here for Larry is that promotion via official GitHub was _not_ wanted. I however wished he had included that part in his defense.

To punish bad behavior is easier as the behavior either violated our Code of _Conduct_ or did not.

Now we could take everything that Larry has ever written or done (as actions) and judge him based on that, but again those issues are more complex than a simple:

Gor philosophy belief => discriminates against female speakers

The issue is for this particular problem different and affects all track chairs:

- Female speaker submits
- Female speaker is selected
- Female speaker does not get reimbursed for travel and hotel
- Female speaker declines the invitation
- Result: No female speakers even though female speakers submitted sessions.

Maybe we need a "declined" flag on speaker submissions to make that process more transparent, but that is also error prone as someone might not submit in the first place if they are not reimbursed.

Solution: Create scholarship program for speakers of marginalized groups.

So that problem is fixable - maybe even a sponsor can be won that promotes inclusiveness and sponsors that part of the conference.

Long story short:

- I don't think it is okay to exclude someone from our Community just based on their allegedly _sexist_ beliefs assuming conduct was flawless. And especially not if they renounce their views publicly. This does not make the community more safe in any way.

- I don't think it is okay that we tolerate doxxing, stalking, whisper campaigns, etc. Those are actions that directly violate our code of conduct "We will not tolerate bullying or harassment of any member of the Drupal community". This does not state of the "good" members of the Drupal community, but of "any" member.

- I believe that ethics must be based on "we are all equal" not on "because this is a 'bad' person, this behavior is justified." It means that bad behavior is judged first and foremost just by observation of actions, not _who_ someone is or identifies as. And even then very careful steps need to be taken to not submit to confirmation bias. (and yes this post obviously is also subject to a certain bias; that is unfortunately not avoidable)

I urge you Dries to please re-consider your decision to exclude Larry from the Drupal Community in total - based on his allegedly _sexist_ beliefs and allegedly horrible written things.

I am kinda "okay" if you decide you don't want allegedly sexist, racist, xenophobic, transphobic, etc. persons in leadership positions, but then it would be honest to state:

"We won't tolerate anyone in a leadership position that has publicly or privately stated sexist, racist, xenophobic, transphobic, etc. beliefs or is a member of any organization, sect or philosophy supporting anything like that or has behaved in an exlucsionary way towards marginalized groups."

Then people could honestly choose if they want to support a project with a policy like that or not.

However be aware that this slope is very slippery:

- Are persons allowed to change? How do you know they have really changed? Have they removed their allegedly sexist blog post, because they have changed their beliefs or because they want to maintain a good image?

You are a thoughtful insightful leader and you have always adapted to the challenges. Therefore I believe you will find a good way how we can avoid the problems of "thoughtcrime" while improving the Community in ways that it is more safe and inclusive for everyone.

Sincerely,

A Drupal contributor

April 10, 2017
Christian Meilinger (not verified):

Thanks for the apology, I appreciate the humble post. I agree that it is very important to talk with Larry directly and on a personal level to solve the situation.

While the public has no right in every case to get to know the full charge, e.g. in case of courts there can be non-public court sessions, the defendant has this right in a constitutional state.

The way to go is, to give Larry the full information on what he is accused of. This is the main error in the proceedings so far, if we follow Larry's statement of not having received the accusation.

When you have started a personal conversation with Larry, ask him to publish a statement that, together, you are working out a proper solution, so that the community feels a progress here. Then the DA and Larry can get outside help in solving this case, if still needed.

Afterwards, you (Dries), the DA and Larry, each can publish a final statement to the community to settle the case.

I see that the Belgium statutes and bylaws of the DA don't contain a paragraph about an arbitration board, if there is an unsolvable disagreement between the board and a member. Despite them being Belgium originated, in two other European not-for-profit (non-Drupal) organizations I know, an international one based in The Netherlands and a national one in Austria, they've added such paragraphs into their statutes. To solve matters, if they've come so far, unfortunately.

April 10, 2017
Sam (not verified):

It's a defining moment alright... for whether you fully commit to letting platitudes and double-speak substitute for consistent principles and actions.

Despite having agonized over the precise wording of the Code of Conduct, it is clear that following it is not enough. A "not guilty" verdict is merely a reason to escalate to the non-accountable parts of the apparatus, instead of letting the accused go free. Violating its rules in order to bring potential thought-criminals to light is endorsed, instead of grounds for dismissal. These are not the actions of people who believe in principles, they are acting purely on feeling and in/outgroup dynamics.

You cannot improve a governance model until you identify its true weaknesses and how they are exploited, and by whom. What you have is aggressors who paint themselves as victims, and present their persecution as a defense, couched in the language of empathy, trust and justice. Each incident caused by their malicious influence is presented as all the more reason to expand it. This is a consistent pattern of abuse, with years of precedent to look back on.

Professional Diversity and Inclusion(tm) mongers like Christie Koehler tell us about the importance of trust, but all they demonstrate is that you should never put your trust in them. If it was really about trust and justice, they'd welcome impartiality, a presumption of innocence, a right to appeal, and to face one's accuser. That they consider these measures unacceptably biased tells you where their heart really is.

April 10, 2017
xjm (not verified):

Thank you for this, Dries. It means a lot.

April 10, 2017

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