Shell's TechBlabber

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Drupal: where people fail to understand the basics of freedom & tolerance.

Drupal is an open source content management system which allows you to build websites. There’s also a community involved around it which is said to be open to everyone; you’re more than welcome to participate and help out to make Drupal even better than it was before.

… unless you happen to be into certain sexual desires and private fantasies which might not be publically understood or accepted, in this case specifically referring to SM and/or BDSM.

What happened?

We have to be realistic here: we’re hearing one sided stories. But the bottom line is that one of Drupal’s more active developers / members was urged to leave the project shortly after it became known that he was involved with BDSM in his private life. Note: private. Apparently someone recognized him in a private online community involved around BDSM, violated all of the BDSM community rules by copying and sharing that information with others within the Drupal community (most notably the community “leaders” (dictators seems more to the point in my opinion)) and that eventually resulted in the member being forced to leave the project.

Ironically enough the “leaders” (dictators; editorial opinion) try to deny this while refusing to share the real reasons, they even admit that this developer did not violate the Drupal code of conduct yet simply shroud themselves in mystery because “Our decision was based on confidential information conveyed in private by many sources.” (see here).

But it gets worse…

Because those community leaders (dictators; editorial opinion) heavily contradict themselves as well and even admit that they based their decision on information which was not gathered in a very ethical way. I quote: “The matter is further complicated by the fact that this information was shared by others in a manner I don’t find acceptable either and will be dealt with separately.” (see here).

SO here comes the worst quote, from that same article: “However, when a highly-visible community member’s private views become public, controversial, and disruptive for the project, I must consider the impact that his words and actions have on others and the project itself.“.

Wouldn’t it be fair to say that this only became disruptive to the project after these so called leaders (dictators; my editorial opinion) decided not to punish those responsible for using these unacceptable tactics to gather this information about someone else and instead take it out on the developer involved?

You know: there is a good reason why law enforcement are bound by rules and ethics when trying to obtain evidence against someone. And why a police officer cannot decide to invade someone’s private life merely because of a hunch. Why it needs to be judged and ruled by a judge. Most of all: why a trial cannot be based on evidence which was illegally obtained and why such evidence would be a direct reason for dismissal.

Unfortunately a “professional” project like Drupal knows none of these basic elementary aspects it seems. And I say “project” for a reason because pay close attention to the Drupal website: “Drupal is a registered trademark of Dries Buytaert“. The same person who is now taking it out on this developer. Seems obvious who is to blame here.

Also note that this developer has been involved with these BSDM communities for years already. So I think it’s also fair to say that it wasn’t him who allowed his private life to have any affect on his community work. In fact, just read several other comments on those links I posted above: you’ll read many comments from people who’s opinion should matter more than mine because they worked with this developer. Including several women. You’ll see a lot of respect for this developer, as well as shared surprise because no one knew about his sexual preferences.

Sounds pretty private to me!

Who was this developer?

Yeah, there is a reason I don’t mention names. Because I’m merely an outraged bystander. I will point you to a blog post written by this developer in which he shares his opinion on this whole ordeal, you can find that one here.

I do this so that the decision to remove this information is still left with those directly involved. If both blog posts were to disappear then I will also feel compelled to do the same thing. But until that happens…

Why the outrage?

Because of the obvious display of hypocrisy and intolerance. Obviously they’re not going to admit that they removed this developer because of his believes, yet they also refuse to share the real reason why. Even though one can argue that he’s entitled to that, especially considering the fact that they admitted that their “evidence” was not exactly obtained in an ethical manner.

Hypocrisy you ask? Lets read another statement of this so called professional leadership (dictatorship; editorial opinion): “In the end, I fundamentally believe that all people are created equally. This belief has shaped the values that the Drupal project has held since it’s early days. I cannot in good faith support someone who actively promotes a philosophy that is contrary to this.“.  There are two major problems with this statement:

  • First and foremost: the programmer never actively promoted his philosophy nor his believes and/or fantasies, this becomes plain out obvious when you read the comments from the people who have worked with him directly.
  • Second: So people are created (and thus are) equal. Yet it seems this individual cannot treat someone as an equal when they don’t follow that believe themselves. That’s a serious contradiction right there and a very problematic believe. Note: the statement mentions “actively promoting a certain philosophy” but as shown above that never happened.
    • Think about this very hard please. It doesn’t matter what the believe in question is: the problem is that someone has a believe, yet cannot respect the fact that someone else doesn’t uphold that same believe as well. THAT is the issue here.
  • Third (written on a whim): It also totally ignored the fact that within this sexual fantasy roleplay both involved people are adults, and both get willingly involved with it. Who are we to judge someone on their private and personal preferences?

Summing up

I am disgusted and appalled and felt like using my own venting space to out myself. Lets be tolerant towards specific individuals, but only when we have to, not because we want to. That’s what I’m seeing up there.

For the record: I could most definitely support this decision if the developer was being a nuisance, it he tried to push his fantasies onto others and if he tried to coerce people into practicing all this. So if he basically brought his sexual fantasies into places where they didn’t belong.

An IT project might not be the right place for outing sexual fantasies, a Minecraft forum may not be the best choice to discuss world politics and we should respect that. But you cannot punish someone simply because he disagrees with this opinion, or because he upholds other believes while making sure to keep these private to himself.

Update 4th April 2017

Although I am very cynical about the whole proceedings (as can be read above) I also think that the Drupal community deserves respect for the way they handle all this, specifically the aftermath. Meaning: in the involved blog posts they allowed people, even outsiders, to speak up and also share their criticism. To me that accounts for something.

I just re-read several blog posts and right now there’s even talk about a Drupal fork, that blog post could be found right on their front page for a while.

It’s one thing to apply controversial decisions, it’s another to allow people to speak up about it.

Update 9th April 2017

You know what the problem is with taking a certain action and then getting called out for it? The way you respond to the given critics. So far many official statements have been given regarding all this, the amount is really surprising to me. Personally I can’t help think that they’re trying to bury this in a wall of nothingness. You know: using a lot of words which basically say nothing at all, merely repeat what has already been said.

For example here is a post which tries to address the concerns of the community. Unfortunately without giving any clear statements other than “something needs to change”, yet that statement is mind boggling to me. Because they also continue to claim that they did not expel the programmer for his sexual believes, yet also won’t provide the real reason (not even to the programmer himself). Yet now they also claim that things need to change. But if you claim not to be at fault then why would the system you’re using need changing? I can’t help believe that this is a major distraction in the works.

Then the post which triggered this extra rant: The Drupal project leaders (dictators; the editorial opinion hasn’t changed) have now issued an apology:

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.

Which of course begs the question: so what was the real reason to expel this programmer? That question is once again left unanswered. And this so called apology still manages to irk me. Because it comes from the same person who previously said this:

In the end, I fundamentally believe that all people are created equally. This belief has shaped the values that the Drupal project has held since it’s early days. I cannot in good faith support someone who actively promotes a philosophy that is contrary to this. The Gorean philosophy promoted by Larry is based on the principle that women are evolutionarily predisposed to serve men and that the natural order is for men to dominate and lead.

A comment which hasn’t been retracted so far (check the link).

So what is it? You can’t have it both ways you know. Either you respect people who happen to practice BDSM and who are involved within Gor communities or you don’t.

So lets continue with this so called apology:

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.

What is so sensitive about expelling a member for misconduct? If someone misbehaves then you call them out for it and hold accountable for their actions. That’s how things normally work in a healthy community.

Example: would I start slandering Dries here then I wouldn’t be surprised if WordPress came calling to tell me that what I’m doing is not appreciated and that it could result in them taking actions, and rightfully so. But I’m also convinced that they could follow up on it and back up their actions with facts. For example: “ShelLuser said <this> and <that> which is plain out slander and against our code of conduct, therefor disciplinary actions have been taken.“.

What’s so sensitive about that? Action = reaction.

Yet instead they expelled a programmer, refuse to provide the reasoning why, have admitted that he has not violated the Drupal code of conduct, made personal statements that they don’t consider this programmer to be an equal because of his personal and private believes (see quotes above) and the only thing they did do is constantly saying that whatever their reasons it honestly wasn’t about his sexual preferences.

So yet again: if it wasn’t about his private life, if BDSM had nothing to do with it, then why is this so sensitive? Even so sensitive that they can’t even share it with the programmer himself. That’s what he’s been saying here.

Update 10th April 2017 ‘the soap continues’

That header may sound disrespectful but in all honestly that’s how this is starting to look to me. The Drupal leader (still a dictator in this editors opinion) has made a thought out statement about what needs to be changed. Yeah, well, about that…

Update the governance model so governance policies and community membership decisions are not determined by me or by me alone.

This is a huge statement. Why? Because of the shown hypocrisy, that’s why. Dries believes he did nothing wrong, he still stands by his decisions and he still seems to feel that he acted (quote): “to protect the shared values of the Drupal project“. So why the change?

Now, don’t get me wrong here: I think that this idea is a good one. In fact, its mind boggling for me to see that Dries basically admits that he was the sole ruler and apparently never even thought about consulting others about decisions like this one (that should tell you something by the way!).

My main gripe though is that this doesn’t change anything and only diverts the attention away from what’s at stake here. The programmer remains expelled, Dries still stands behind his decision but now that it has caused a major uproar suddenly feels the need to make the process more democratic.

Wake up call: Honest and sincere people think about these things BEFORE the shit hits the fan, not after they got called out on an utterly poor decision.

And once again: if you really stand behind your decisions, why the sudden mind change?

Next item:

Review our the Code of Conduct. Many have commented that the intentions and scope of the Code of Conduct are unclear.

The one thing this expelled programmer didn’t do was violate the code of conduct. This was even confirmed by the Drupal administration themselves. Yet here we are: it needs a revision. Why?

Update 15th April 2017 ‘a rebellion is brewing?’

Credit where credit’s due: I discovered about this thanks to this article on The Register.

There seems to be something seriously brewing in the Drupal community, a group of 111 Drupal community members have started the website drupalconfessions.org where they have sent an open letter to Dries Buytaert (the owner / project leader of Drupal) in which they demand that this situation gets resolved. I quote:

We are pro-tolerance, pro-diversity, and pro-inclusion. We believe that tolerance reserved only for people who think and act exactly like we do is no tolerance at all. We believe that diversity is more than just skin deep. And we believe that that professionals can and must work together despite the diversity of pluralistic societies.

We vehemently reject all forms of discrimination—not just discrimination over what people look like on the outside, but also discrimination over what people believe, what they value, and how they lawfully, consensually, and peacefully live their personal lives.

These people are, like so many, seriously upset over all this and also don’t really believe that something is honestly being done to address this situation. Basically:

So on this day, and because of our concerns, we stand together to affirm that the abusive behavior we have witnessed has no place in the Drupal community. We stand to demand with one voice that the Drupal community conduct itself as a professional community, which does not discriminate against people for who they are on the outside, for what they believe, for what they value, or for how they lawfully, consensually, and peacefully live their personal lives—even and especially in cases where people’s personal lives might be outside the mainstream or even offensive to some people.

And so right now several hundreds of Drupal community members, including members who represent companies which have invested and donated to the Drupal project in the past, are now seriously considering to leave the project. If they do then they’ll stop contributing code, they’ll stop contributing money and I think this could have a serious cascading effect.

It is not fully comparable, but I’ve seen outrage and backlash many times before. One of the more recent and larger incidents being on the Bukkit website which involves around a 3rd party Minecraft server. I’ll spare the details, but hundreds of people left the project, many staff members resigned and that was more or less the beginning of the end for the entire Bukkit project. That’s what tens to hundreds of upset members can do.

But back to Drupal… the given demand? That this issue gets resolved, that the programmer gets reinstated and that guarantees are given that in the future no people can get harassed, bullied and expelled solely based on their own private personal believes.

These are seriously rough times for the Drupal project.

My personal opinion on all this

My overall opinion: the Drupal “leaders” (personal opinion being dictators) don’t try to fix anything, right now they seem more focused on preventing something like this to happen again. And as seen in the most recent update above they’re now getting called out because of it.

But seriously: if you honestly stand behind your decisions, if you can honestly claim that you did the right thing, then why the secrecy? Why the heck do you suddenly think that the whole system needs changing?

The Drupal leadership opened up Pandora’s box and have no idea how to put the lid back on. That is their only goal right now: damage control. Don’t forget: there’s a whole company behind Drupal and the more this news stays out in the open the more affect it might have on that companies revenue and reputation.

I base this opinion on the various statements given. There’s a lot of words being said but in the end they all boil down to: “We had our reasons to expel this programmer, one part of that reason was relayed to us in an unethical manner, we’re not sharing what reasons we had but it honestly had nothing to do with his private life. Oh: he also didn’t violate the Drupal code of conduit.“.

When you have an outrage on your hand the best thing you can do is be honest about it. Yet making contradicting statements, changing blog posts while more reactions roll in, claiming you did nothing wrong then suddenly plan to revise all your rules and making claims which you then refuse to back up with evidence doesn’t help. Not at all.

All it does is make this whole thing look more complicated than it actually is. And I believe that’s exactly the goal: trying to bury the whole thing without actually addressing it any further. Damage control at its finest.

The kind of action I’d expect from a billion dollar IT company, not from a so called open and friendly open source community project.

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March 30, 2017 - Posted by | Editorial, TechBlabber | , , , , , , , , , ,

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