Drupal Association

This is a joint statement from project lead Dries Buytaert and Megan Sanicki, Drupal Association Executive Director.

Over the last week, the Drupal community has been in a debate over the various decisions made by us in relation to long-time Drupal developer Larry Garfield. As with any such decisions, and especially due to the circumstances of this one, there has been controversy, misinformation and rumors, as well as healthy conversation and debate. Many people feel hurt, worried, and confused. The fact that this matter became very public and divisive greatly saddens all of us involved, especially as we can see the pain it has caused many.

First off, we want to apologize for not responding sooner. We had to take a pause to process the community’s reaction.  We also wanted to take the time to talk to community members to make sure all of the concerns were heard and understood. This was further complicated by the fact that we don't have a playbook for how to respond in unusual situations like this. We also want to acknowledge that our communication has not been as clear as it should be on this matter, and we are sorry for the added confusion.

We want to thank all of the community members who stepped in to help. Many spent days helping other community members by listening, hosting discussions to foster healthy, respectful conversations, and more. You have helped many people and your caring acts reminded us once again why we love to serve the community and why it is so special.

Over the last week, we talked to many people and read hundreds of posts in various channels. These are some of the things that we heard:

  • People are afraid that they will be asked to leave the community because of their beliefs or sexual lifestyles.

  • There are concerns about Drupal leadership playing "thought police" on what are and are not acceptable viewpoints to hold.

  • People want to hear more about the timeline, information gathered, and how decisions were made.

  • People don't understand why there weren’t any ramifications for those who participated in gathering information about Larry's private life.

  • People believe Dries has too much authority.

  • People believe that a decision this complex should not be made by a single individual.

And we heard much more.

We know this has been difficult for all involved. There is no quick solution to the current situation; it will take time to heal, but we want to make a start today by providing better insight into our decision-making process, answering questions with the FAQ found below, and by placing a call for improvements in our governance, conflict-resolution processes, and communication.  

Addressing community questions and concerns

One of the main concerns that has been voiced is that a long-standing member of the Drupal community was removed, based solely on his beliefs being outside the "norm". We feel this is not representative of the situation.

We want to strongly emphasize that Drupal is an open-minded and inclusive community, and we welcome people of all backgrounds. Our community’s diversity is something to cherish and celebrate as well as protect.  We apologize for any anxiety we caused you and reiterate that our decision was not based on anyone’s sexual practices.

Dries and Megan based their decisions on information from a variety of sources, including the Community Working Group and Larry himself. This information included:

(a) reports, both formal and informal
(b) some of Larry's online interactions, both on and off Drupal.org
(c) information provided by Larry during subsequent discussions to get clarity
(d) information from one or more members-only sites.
It should be strongly noted that we do not condone the manner in which this last source of information was gathered by members of our community.  

Insights from this collection of information caused us to take action, particularly given Larry's prominent leadership role in the community, which leads to a much greater impact of his words and actions.

We heard that many would like to better understand the timeline, information gathered, and how decisions were made. While the news of last week was a complete surprise to most, it is important to note that this has been a careful, and deliberate process that has been going on since October 2016. Following the Drupal community's governance, the Community Working Group attempted to provide conflict resolution. When it became clear that some of the issues raised went beyond the scope of their charter, they determined that it was appropriate for the matter to be escalated to Dries, as project lead. This was consistent with their existing policy and process.

Dries discussed the information from the Community Working Group with Megan and some board members. Dries, as project lead, made the decision about Larry’s role in the project during this discussion.  

Some have asked why Larry was removed from the community and not just from his leadership roles. The answer is that Larry had indicated on several occasions that he was drawing down his involvement in the Drupal project, and that context helped inform Dries’ decision.

Dries, with the support of the Community Working Group, had the first of what was intended to be a number of conversations to resolve any remaining concerns.

Megan was informed about Dries’ decision, and also reviewed the information provided by the Community Working Group. Based on that information, Megan made the operational decision to remove Larry’s DrupalCon session and concluded his track chair role.

Larry appealed Megan’s decision to the board, which only has oversight of the Drupal Association. They reviewed the Community Working Group information and Larry’s personal statements, met in a special Executive Session attended by all board members, and upheld Megan’s decision. Dries recused himself from this vote, so the board could make its decision independently.

After the appeal process, Larry chose to publish his own account of what happened, effectively ending the process in the middle of what we expected to be a series of constructive discussions. This resulted in several loose ends.

After Larry’s second blog post, on Tuesday, March 28th, he reached out privately to Dries to discuss how to resolve matters and find the best way forward.

We remain committed to working on closure for this situation with care and respect for everyone involved.  Dries and the Community Working Group hope to have a private discussion with Larry in the coming weeks.

Many have also 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. The Community Working Group is currently handling this situation through their standard process.

What needs to change

We are fortunate that we do have governance in place. We have never encountered a situation like this before, where a decision this complex had to be escalated and made. This extraordinary situation highlighted areas that we need to improve. From our own observations and what we heard from the community, we identified some specific areas of improvement (but by no means all):

  • Diversity, equality, and inclusivity issues are complex and require new perspectives and approaches, especially as we assess and improve our Code of Conduct.

  • It is not healthy or wise to escalate difficult decisions about code of conduct or community membership solely to the project lead.

  • We need to clearly define our values so that everyone knows and agrees to the context in which the community works together.

  • We need to figure out how to balance transparency with the need to maintain a safe space and provide confidentiality for individuals in order to resolve conflicts in a way that causes minimal disruption to our community.

There is a lot to address. We will launch several initiatives to find solutions to the problems above.  We want to collaborate with the community, the Drupal Association, and outside experts on these efforts. It is important that we take these steps. We value our special community and we want to make sure that it has the right structure and sound governance to remain healthy and vibrant.

We want to begin healing to start right away and that starts with us talking more with the community. We will host online meetings and a meeting at DrupalCon Baltimore on these topics where we can have a healthy dialogue. This will provide community members the opportunity to talk directly with the Community Working Group, Megan, and Dries to propose solutions to some of the governance challenges that brought us here.

Finally, we want to acknowledge this has been a very difficult and unprecedented situation. We realize not everyone will agree with our decisions, but we hope all can understand the care we took in deliberating and the intention behind our actions. We appreciate the community’s patience on this matter, and we look forward to taking these steps in collaboration with you.

----

FAQ

When did the conflict resolution process start?

  • October of 2016.

Who is responsible for what decision?

  • Dries, as project lead, made the decision about Larry’s role in the project after the Community Working Group escalated to him when they felt they could not resolve the issues surrounding this matter.

  • Executive Director of the Drupal Association Megan Sanicki made the decision to to remove Larry’s speaking and track chairmanship at DrupalCon.

  • Larry appealed the DrupalCon decision, which then went to the Drupal Association board who reviewed material provided by the Community Working Group along with Larry’s statements. They upheld Megan’s decision.  Dries recused himself from this vote.

What was the process followed for each decision?

  • The Community Working Group, which is part of Drupal’s governance structure, provided conflict resolution. When it became clear that some of the issues raised went beyond the scope of their charter, they determined that it was appropriate for the matter to be escalated to Dries. This is consistent with their existing policy and process.

  • Dries discussed the information from the Community Working Group with Megan, and some board members. Dries also met with Larry. Larry had indicated on several occasions that he was drawing down his involvement in the Drupal project. That context informed Dries' decision. It is also important to note that Dries intended to have more discussions with Larry to determine what the decision looked like, but those conversations ended when Larry chose to post publicly.

  • Megan was informed about Dries’ decision and also reviewed the information provided by the Community Working Group. Based on Dries’ decision and information learned from the Community Working Group materials, Megan made the operational decision to remove Larry’s DrupalCon session and concluded his track chair role.

  • Larry appealed Megan’s decision to the board, who only have oversight of Drupal Association. They reviewed the Community Working Group information and Larry’s personal statements and upheld Megan’s decision.  Note: Dries recused himself.

What information was used to inform the decisions?

  • (a) reports, both formal and informal, (b) some of Larry's online interactions, both on and off Drupal.org, (c) information provided by Larry during subsequent discussions to get clarity, and (d) information from one or more members-only sites. It should be strongly noted that we do not condone the manner in which this last source of information was gathered by members of our community.   

Did Dries overrule the Community Working Group?

  • No, he did not. The process is designed so that the Community Working Group can escalate issues to Dries if they cannot be resolved. This process was followed.

Is the Drupal project “against” people who practice BDSM or other non-mainstream sexual practices?

  • Absolutely not. We are an open-minded and inclusive community.

Will there be repercussions for the conduct of the community member who exposed information from members-only sites? [Edit: we have removed this community member's name while the CWG issue is being addressed]

  • The Community Working Group is handling this situation through their standard process.

Comments

Daniel Schaefer’s picture

What is with all the "information" you are talking about? You didn't tell what it is! Did he hurt someone? Did he kill someone? Is he subject of any kind of investigation that we should know about? Did he discriminate women in or outside the Drupal community? Is it the fact that Larry is involved in the BSDM community?

If i get the information right, apparently the CWG didn't see a problem with his BSDM involvement in the first place, and yet some members of our community started digging in deeper into his private life. How is it possible for community members (namely Klaus, according to Larry's post) to repeatedly accuse someone and putting pressure on the Board trying to have him kicked out and actually get away with it (!)?

If what Larry writes is true (and he does provide a lot more background information than you did), I've lost all trust in the head of this organization. This blog posts makes it even worse, because it's not telling truth. Larry has been ordered to leave Drupal because obviously some leaders didn't like his personal life. You were afraid how it would look if it hit the public, so you "asked" him to leave. Instead of supporting him and get accusers to stop, you give in to them. That is very scary. I will have to reconsider my Assoc Membership.

If Larry's wrap-up of things is true, and I believe him, the decisions made by Dries and Megan would be unbelievable wrong. With the media reports we're already seeing, serious damage has been done to the reputation of the project and to the peace of the community. I can't believe you keep justifying those decisions. Not good!

djalxs’s picture

I feel that klaus should at least be 'suspended' from the Drupal community, pending the outcome of the investigation. I also feel that until Dries and Larry had had these private talks, that Larry to should have been 'suspended' rather than excluded until talks were complete.

All the social networks have had problems with bullying, victimisation and abuse. I never once thought it would spread to the Drupal community though.

memtkmcc’s picture

We The People will fire you, folks, including you Dries, if *this* and not some future issues is not handled properly.

We The People have the power, and the final word, not you.

You should reverse all your decisions related to this situation, NOW, and start over with the process, fixing the process first, and stop doing anything else.

You have already failed enough. It already looks horribly bad, and it no longer even matters what Larry did or wrote, or whatever. It is no longer about Larry.

If you think you can just wait a bit longer and buy some time, you are wrong. You don't have any time left. Things are going in the wrong direction, and fast.

The only way to stop further damage is to reverse your decisions, even if they will be considered as correct in light of facts, after another process.

It is too late to ask us to trust you to just continue without reversing this mess, far too late.

djalxs’s picture

There has been no crime so there should be no punishment - FACT!

Not only do they have no time left, they had no time left weeks ago, but the decided to sit back, probably enjoying the sun sipping pina colada's, while the community deals with the BS and fallout from this.

Sunshiney’s picture

Given what I have read as a result of this upset regarding Drupal's values and what progressive liberals across America have taught me is their meaning of tolerance and diversity, I continue to wait to learn if Drupal is accepting of those people who value conservative and/or religious beliefs. I have halted Drupal development work for two Catholic parishes and one pro-life nonprofit as a result of this situation, as it seems, without further clarification, that Drupal leadership opposes such groups as not being Drupal-like in values. It is indeed unfortunate that in the world we are now creating that there are doors for liberals and doors for conservatives, but it is what it is. Please clarify.

geerlingguy’s picture

@Sunshiney - please don't leave! There's room in the Drupal community for you and your beliefs :)

I identify similarly, and while that does mean there is tension between myself and some others in the community, we work through it and still achieve great things.

Heck, I've been the subject of some abuse both on Drupal.org (example) and on Twitter, Reddit, etc. in the context of being an OSS developer! But I know that there are plenty more people who may have completely opposite beliefs yet are (like me) willing and able to hold those beliefs in one hand, and hold Drupal in the other, and find common understanding with people far on the opposite side of political and religious beliefs. That's IMO one of the great things about Drupal (the togetherness).

If that goes away, and people like you and I are expelled from Drupal development simply on the basis of traditional faith or certain conservative values, then yeah, I'm with you! But so far, besides naysayers on Reddit (especially) and elsewhere, I don't see evidence of that being the case.

__________________
Personal site: www.jeffgeerling.com

hgurol’s picture

I am confused with what you are saying.

Somebody doing that already have been kicked out for doing so. And for what? For not doing that good enough? For not doing it hidden enough? I don't know. Obviously nobody knows other than Dries and DA. 

What you are worried about has already been done. In the light of recent events; one hand this, one hand that and all together sounds very funny at the very least.

nvahalik’s picture

I'll echo what Jeff is saying, too. Let's see how this plays out and get some better idea of what's really next. 

djalxs’s picture

I too have halted anything I am doing with Drupal, including open-source contributions and also projects. I am also debating starting a few of the projects again on Wordpress or just coding from scratch using Symfony as that's what Drupal 8 is based on.

The only input I'm having to Drupal right now is to sort issues on my projects that are affecting other developers, as they are the ones that matter.

rj’s picture

Dries is the CTO of Acquia, President of the DA, and Drupal project lead. Who holds him accountable? 

--rj

daffie’s picture

The answer to your question is: the silicon valley venture capital people who invested more then $170 million in Acquia.

Let me share my thoughts about what might have played a role in banishing Larry from the Drupal community.
The problem with silicon valley venture capital investors is that they want a good return on their investment and Acquia is working hard on that. The problem for Acquia is that their IPO is long overdo. With the IPO being the great payout mechanism for the venture capital people, they are properly not very happy with the delay.
What you do with an IPO is that you take a company to the stock market and you want to make that company to look as pretty as you can. And lets be honest, Larry Garfield with his BDSM and GOR sex fetishes, does not look very not suitable in such a picture. As long as it was a secret there was no problem. But somebody began to dig in Larry's personal life and started to spread rumours. And at that point it was becoming a problem for Acquia. First they put their shiny new Community Working Group (CWG) to work and the CWG issued a public statement that Larry did not violate the Drupal Code of Conduct. Now that the easy way of getting rid of Larry did not work there was only one option left, Dries had to ask Larry to leave the Drupal community.
As for Megan Sanicki: she has been hired by Dries and she can at any moment be fired by Dries. With all do respect for her, in my eyes she is just a pawn of Dries. What was she supposed to do after her boss kicked Larry out of the Drupal community. She did the only thing she could do without putting her own job on the line.

The questions that I have are:
- Did any of the investors of Acquia know about Larry's sexual preferences?
- If any of the investors of Acquia did know about Larry's sexual preferences, did they suggest and/or demand any action from Acquia or Dries?
- Did Dries take in account the possible feelings that the investors of Acquia might have about Larry's sexual preferences in his decision to banish Larry?
- Does Dries think that he can lead Drupal project without letting his involvement in Acquia influence his decisions as Drupal project leader?

JamesOakley’s picture

An interesting theory - and I like the questions with which you ended.

There's one problem with this theory, however.

you want to make that company to look as pretty as you can

Sure. But the currently raging wildfire does not exactly make things look pretty either. Arguably, none of those involved foresaw how fast news of this would spread, or how passionately many community members would feel about it. But we are where we are. If the plan was as you say, it's backfired terribly, so I'd then expect more decisive action to attempt to put out the fire, including engaging (read: replying, in public, in nearer real-time than we're seeing) with the questions people are asking.

All we've had so far is two pre-prepared statements that beg, rather than reply, those questions. I'm not saying that was the wrong response from Dries / Megan / et al. - I'm all with those who argue for giving people the benefit of the doubt. But whatever the intent, the effect of the response appears to have been oil rather than water on the fires.


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djalxs’s picture

In theory, Acquia and the Drupal project are separate entities, so what happens in the Drupal community, shouldn't affect Acquia or their IPO.

Drupal is an open-source project that doesn't directly receive any funding from Silicon Valley Venture Capital, therefore they should have no influence over what happens in the community.

What I feel has gone on here then due to this being pointed out, would be called a bribe if it went to court.

Example:

SVVC: "Dries, you must remove Larry from the Drupal community, or we will withdraw any further funding from Acquia"
Dries: "Well you have left me with no other option"

This is called a bribe, whichever way you look at it, because if you word it differently it reads "Dries, if you remove Larry Garfield from the Drupal community, we will give Acquia more funding". Worded like that, t no reads more like a bribe, doesn't it?

If this is that case, both SVVC and Dries (and probably Megan) could all be prosecuted for bribery and accepting bribes.

Anonymous’s picture

I find it hard to believe they care much currently about Larry's sexual preferences given the goings-on discussed at this previous post which is pretty easy to work out what's what given a quick LinkedIn search:

https://nateofnine.com/2016/12/04/a-tale-of-two-communities/

This never received a response but that's the usual action, ignore and hope it will go away (what you focus on grows, so don't focus anything on it), or try and control it. Control is what the 'system' wants, hence the emphasis on values and trying to shuffle the system around until it works for them. I voiced my opinions to the Community Working Group last year when I was reported for 'hassling' a person who had decided to register a domain name with the Drupal trademark and use it as lead generation for a conference they'd decided to rock up at under the guise of the Drupal community and giving the impression they were the only agencies in the UK. I felt this was a misrepresentation of our community here and I was complaining over Twitter and bemoaned at for not using the 'proper channels' for which I had used many times previously for reporting domain violations but nothing ever was done about them, plus this conference was only on for a couple of days so pretty pointless, however the process against me of course was played out in full, couldn't have any conversation about the trademark side because that's not under their 'remit' and I was found to have violated the CoC although there was no 'punishment' - I guess apart from the fact I've "got previous" so to speak. I also heard the original incident that led to the creation of all these guidelines was never resolved, yet time and again I see these being used as premise to kick people out who don't follow the line. I said at the time to them that this structure would harm the community, because whilst the tenet of it is to 'protect the people', the actuality is it protects the business interests. The whole TTIP thing had secret courts built-in which meant corporations could sue countries which did things that economically harmed their business processes - it's happening everywhere. We also see this in the wider Free Software world with laws being made which align with business models, for more information on this see Eben Moglen's recent LibrePlanet2017 keynote - 30 mins of your time well spent:

https://media.libreplanet.org/u/libreplanet/m/the-free-software-movement...

I also see it where 'evidence' is being amassed in order to kick people out of the community because they are 'argumentative' and 'impossible to work with' - if that is so and yet their technical prowess is second-to-none and now their entire life seems to have been ripped from them so much they are lost as to what to do then we have built a system that is not Free and Open but one which is restrictive and closed. I've said for many years I believe distributions are the way forward, like you see in Linux, because you won't be able to please all the people all the time, and as the Drupal community grows this is a naive approach at best, you will only limit the appeal of the project and not realise it's full capabilities as an amazing framework. But we don't currently have the framework to support that. There are groups like drutopia.org which are beginning to address this issue, it's a co-operatively run project which Nedjo covers a little info and background on over at his blog here:

http://chocolatelilyweb.ca/blog/coming-drupal-fork

To a lesser extent in terms of how far progressed, I'm trying to do similar at https://drupaldynamics.com which is more of setting up a business model around the way we work in communities like this, commons-based peer production (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commons-based_peer_production). So instead of using old, top-down methods of control which include 'charitable foundations' and 'non-profits' which are essentially business associations, we build models which actually mirror and support the way we actually work. This is not supported by those who want control, because that gives control to the producers, and the whole tenet of capitalism is being able to make out of the value differential between the producer and the market value of the products. So there is no one answer for any of this which doesn't just push us further down the current path which we've lived in since the creation of the corporation, the only answer is we all take responsibility ourselves to understand our value in the process and to collaborate together on building new infrastructures for the new way we live and work instead of giving away our power to small sets of people who gain unfair advantage over the products of our labour.

So, we either simply understand that we have this centralised top-down control system where me typing something like this response is likely to get me 'asked to leave', or we start to support other ways of collaborating at scale which we do on the code side but not so well on the business side at any sizeable scale. Top-down partner programmes are not that either just in case you thought that. 

The silly thing is we *can* do this much better, we *do* have an amazing community and contrary to what many outside the community think we do have an amazing product, we just haven't grown the modular business model to support the modular software we build. That's going to take time, effort, and understanding that if you make money out of it then a portion of that also needs to go back in to keeping the system going.

If we don't then we will only see further burn-out, more forced productisation, and Drupal won't be realised for the life-changing platform it can and is, it'll just be another CMS in the pile, trying to compete where it should be standing out as something different than the rest, as it is.

I'll finish my rant with another link to where Lisa Welchman describes exactly this point in our history at her DrupalCon keynote back in 2013:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVuSreRl07E&feature=youtu.be&t=43m9s

rj’s picture

Great comment Steve. It should be noted that Linus deliberately did not get involved in a for-profit company because "Me (Linus) trying to make a business around Linux would have been a total disaster. It would have made it impossible to get the kind of community around Linux that we have, and that was so instrumental in making Linux what it is today." I think we are witnessing this happening. It should also be mentioned this was brought up almost 10 years ago when Dries received his first round of funding. 

--rj

Anonymous’s picture

I think we are in the situation we are with the choices having been made so it's gonna be hard to go back but instead think ahead. I benefit a lot from the businesses that have grown up around Drupal, and I believe Dries did what he thought was right at the time. If he hadn't then perhaps Drupal wouldn't be as strong as it is now still in many ways so I'm not going to spend brain cycles thinking about that. Also I think Linux is very different than Drupal as we are firmly in userland and mostly people make money out of it, along with a healthy community of people making sites for their local church or school etc., but mostly it's business. So I'm not gonna complain about every day waking up and more enterprise-level software coming my way for free, because I too use that to make a living, and it grows the product.

Where I believe the issue lies is in the disparity of control and influence of that business, it is as if they don't see there is this whole, larger ecosystem around which is also essential to the project. And it's not just one company, it's quite a few. I just think the excitement level has to be toned down a little and a bit more understood as to quite how much has to be put back into the commons in order for it to grow. Whilst it may work for Operating Systems like Apple/BSD to provide just a trickle amount, it is obvious that if some companies want to make the supermillions then the investment in infrastructure in tools and community has to rise accordingly in order to keep up. Even though millions has been pumped back in, I think perhaps the accountants and investors perhaps got a little too excited when calculating quite how much extraction could be done. Or maybe I'm wrong, I'm just speaking from experience through the previous dotcom bubble where I sat through many a VC meeting and where my share options were worth > $1m one minute and sweet FA the next ;)

I do honestly believe Dries had the best intentions when making his decisions re Larry, I just don't believe we should actually be in this position at all, in terms of having the power to make such decisions which impact access to your livelihood. Perhaps - just perhaps, if we had better internal comms between the community we wouldn't have such apparent fear of each other. That's not going to be resolved by using a plethora of mostly proprietary platforms to communicate and make up for the lack of support channels due to the support being swapped for cash. It's not been in anyone's interest to invest in providing these support channels, because making it easy to use is not perhaps high enough up the agenda. Well, it is in some respects, but mostly it seems for the 'users' of the 'product' that have already been sold it, i.e. dealing with the after-effect of these issues not the source.

hgurol’s picture

If any of the investors of Acquia did know about Larry's sexual preferences, did they suggest and/or demand any action from Acquia or Dries?

I believe it was Klaus who blackmailed Dries to go public with this information and hurt Acquia & Drupal reputation, rather than investors asking for it. It's funny that now that reputation is hurt even more.

djalxs’s picture

1) I'm sure people would like to see these 'reports' with the names redacted, you know, just to prove that said reports exist. It's a fairly reasonable request.

2) I am yet to see anyone say a bad word about Larry (except forMegan & Dries).

3) This doesn't solve the fact that, individuals and companies inside and outside of the Drupal community still are no more informed than before this post, ultimately leaving those to take the information they have at face value.

I can't understand why you can not publish said reports and evidence with private details redacted, so people can understand that this was the correct decision.

This is a matter that is affecting many more individuals than it should, especially when members of the community are losing contracts and employment due to the ill transparency of this whole charade and it's only going to get worse.

Now isn't the time for feeding us the same information we have already had in a different format, it's about feeding us and the industry news outlets with all of the facts and evidence to clear this whole mess up.

There is no reason we can not see the evidence if names and other private details have been removed - no reason whatsoever. It doesn't matter how many times you re-word the same information, it still stinks of BS, especially to industry reporters who are trained to smell BS from half the world away. They deal with stuff like this, day in, day out - they know this is wrong and if I'm honest, I'm more inclined to agree with the people that deal with this every day than 2 individuals that happened to stumble (or create) this ugly mess.

Hurry up and do what's right before it's to late, PLEASE!

Anonymous’s picture

This whole thing looks very much like the “D&I women in tech” pressure groups plot to set Linus Torvalds up for a sexual assault accusation.

Operation: Mindrcrime

Anonymous’s picture

hexabinaer’s picture

When I first heard about the current #drupaldrama I was attending a code sprint with 70 participants, as one of two with an acknowledged Drupal relation. Guess what questions I've been asked before I even had a chance to form an opinion. My spontaneous reaction was "gossip about celebrity's private live, wtf". But when I heard about blog posts by Dries and the DA ... "ban from the community" I felt alarmed.

What has happened?
In the presumed attempt of avoiding harm for the reputation of the Drupal project, referencing the Code of Conduct, a prominent contributor has been banished from the project. According to that contributor, this has already had bad impact on his life. All people involved have been known for well-considered decisions and I understand that both sides call out for inclusion and tolerance. So it's probably not a question of right or wrong, guilt or innocence.

Maybe it's time for a paradigm shift.

Open source software projects like ours are historically outstanding: People are working on the same project across any kind of borders, no matter what nationality, religion, gender etc. the contributors have. This also includes reputation. After all, it's only a software community. Not a country, not a religion. You will not be checked for appropriateness, won't have to apply for admission, you simply register yourself. You receive no passport, do not go through any initiation ceremony, you simply get a user profile. Your reputation within the community is (normally) only measured by your contributions and commitment to the project. This is such a marvellous achievement.

And yes, this achievement has to be protected. Any kind of community needs a system of rules, sanctions and gratifications that the participants can agree on. May it be in advance or in the retrospective (honestly: how many of us read terms of use?) Rules give us stability and security, something we can rely on. If we follow the rules, they protect us against those who violate the rules. This also implies that we can rely on knowing when we do or do not violate them - and what sanctions we'd be facing. "A permanent or temporary ban from [...] Drupal spaces" is one of these. However, the CoC itself claims to be "an expression of our ideals, not a rulebook".

After all, it's just a software project. We should focus our judgement on that. Whatever reasons I might fancy that could not be stated publicly - I doubt they relate directly to the software or its ecosystem. Concerning activities beyond, please leave it to the courts to judge. They are trained to separate rumor from evidence, to weigh the offense against the impact of its punishment.

I wished the official "leadership" reaction to leaking rumors somewhere between last October and February would have been "One of Drupal's basic principles is tolerance for the individual. We respect anybody's privacy and we don't think this has anything to do with the Drupal project." Period. That would have been appropriate (and sovereign) in my eyes.

Concluding from the information given, what Megan and Dries obviously tried to avoid has already happened, despite all efforts: Drupal's reputation as a tolerant, inclusive project has spots.
I am fully aware of lacking information, as are many who have posted above. But how many individuals are pondering right now about how much private life they revealed behind (assumedly) closed doors? Let's allege that simply everyone might have something to hide from the public. I am concerned about the outcome in the long run. Maybe it's time to admit that open source communities (like any other) have their limitations. Maybe it's time to prove that we not only propagate tolerance but perform it.

If we want to avoid future #drupaldrama with even more harm to the brand reputation, please let's deal with the project-oriented topics. This task alone is big enough.

tgeller’s picture

Megan:

You used a lot of words to say nothing.

We still don't believe you.

---
Tom Geller * tomgeller.com * Oberlin, Ohio
See my lynda.com videos about Drupal

johnhanley’s picture

I wonder what's on Netflix...

Anonymous’s picture

50 Shades Of Blue, Minority Status Report, DA DA Land, Enemy Of The State Machine... ;)

spamjim’s picture

The fact that you admit your decision was based on information that was obtained through actions you do not condone indicates you have violated your own standards in coming to this decision.

It appears Larry's removal was to protect Drupal's image and standards but there's no available evidence...even in this "explanation"...that he has harmed or threatened Drupal or its community. The only damage done to Drupal's reputation has come from Drupal leadership. It is stupid stuff like this that drives forks or abandonment of OSS projects. Please get it together or step aside for someone with greater competence in management.

mikeryan’s picture

What disturbs me most about #drupaldrama is not Larry’s beliefs, or Dries’ and the DA’s actions, but the community’s reactions. The overheated rhetoric, the paranoid conspiracy theories, and the filling of information gaps with speculation (and the instant elevation of that speculation to “fact”) - this is, well, simply how Twitter and comment threads work. We know this is how they work - and I’m disappointed in how many in the Drupal community still have been swept up by the mob.

Here’s a thought experiment - consider an alternate reality which takes a slightly different course:

  1. Dries and the DA take no action against Larry.

  2. Those bringing Larry’s activities before the CWG react by going public with their equivalent of Larry’s “TMI” post, framed from their point of view.

  3. With the narrative being not “Larry unjustly banned” but “Larry is a misogynist”, we see the same kind of mob response, both against Larry for his views and against Dries and the DA for taking no action. The external media picks up the narrative not as “Drupal contributor banned for BDSM” but “Drupal leadership defends misogynist”.

Is it not perfectly possible (even likely) that things would end up playing out that way? And in this scenario isn’t the fact that the side taken by the mob is not dependent on the “truth” of the matter (whether Larry should have been banned), but by which framing of the narrative takes hold first? Neither narrative is fair - both are based on a biased narrative (I’m not suggesting, by the way, that either Larry or the speculative accusers are being outright dishonest - but they are going to inevitably frame things from their point of view).

Once again - we need to take a deep breath, and focus on productive ways to improve the community. Maybe some reorganization is necessary - certainly, communication needs to be improved. This is not going to be achieved with hostility. And it’s not going to be achieved online, where the worst thoughts and feelings get amplified and bounced around the echo chambers. I’m about to leave MidCamp, where there were many respectful conversations (formal and informal) held between people trying to find their way through this crisis. We need to engage with each other face-to-face - at our local meetups, at camps, and at DrupalCon.

Anonymous’s picture

As far as we've been told, Larry did not break the Code of Conduct, has not broken any laws otherwise presumably the team involved would be withholding information which should be reported, yet has been told to leave the community - told to quietly disappear after many years. I'm not surprised by the community's reaction given the ever-changing narrative of paragraphs going missing, prolonged gaps between responses which still do not offer any more justification or evidence to support such a divisive action taken by one person who is seemingly in control of everything as we all know without access to the community side of things it's pretty damn hard to Drupal.

Perhaps it's because when it comes to community values and community members complain about companies telling their new employees they must be prepared to take their clients to strip clubs and are brushed off by these same mechanisms and still no response from said companies that we find situations like these hard to believe. Perhaps it's those seemingly double-standards which end up creating situations like these.

Perhaps it's because a headline like "Drupal leadership defends misogynist" could be answered with "We investigated but we found he had not broken the Code of Conduct" and further "We had specific reports about his behaviour at events so we removed his role and banned him from our events" if that were indeed the case, we don't know as of current. Should I start listing all the things certain companies who use and contribute to Drupal do which is questionable to say the least? Where's the line?

As for paranoid conspiracy theories - well let's look at what a conspiracy is - "a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful" - "the action of plotting or conspiring" - in the DA's own words "it is important to note that this has been a careful, and deliberate process that has been going on since October 2016". So a bunch of 'evidence' taken from private forums followed by a process behind closed doors resulting in harming the career of a person who claims he has done nothing wrong and kept his own views and private life just that. And when a blog post is removing paragraphs about said views contributing to the action taken you are surprised about these paranoid conspiracy theories? Added on to the fact said ejected person recently joined a competitor? Even if none of these did have influence, I find it quite simple to see how these can be seen.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Or do you think in some way that has changed now? Is Drupal *that* special?

hgurol’s picture

I didn't like yours. To me, it doesn't follow common logic. So, here is mine...

1- Klaus reported Larry to CWG about his beliefs and maybe activities outside Drupal side of his life.
2- CWG looked at the issue and said "he didn't breach code of conduct".
3- Klaus didn't stop. A couple of others joined him and they started to collect information behind Larry's back. Some in an illegal way, some not.
4- Klaus and the gang continued their complain to CWG with all this new information they collected.
5- CWG told Klaus and the gang that whatever they are doing is unethical at best and even more it's illegal. On top of that, digging dirt on behind of Larry's back, his personal life out of Drupal is against CoC. If you guys keep doing this, we will take disciplinary actions against you.
6- At his point CWG informs the leadership about what is going, if they did not already. It is NOT to get an approval or anything. It's just to give the leadership a heads-up. Something like "Hey, this is what is going on. We did our ruling. If this things gets bigger, it will be above our heads. You should be informed and prepared".
7- At this point some of the Klaus and his gang members realize what they were doing wrong. Some will still stop. Some will not and will take the issue to the leadership.
8- Leadership stands behind CWG and says, there is no misconduct, other than yours. Stop digging dirt behind people's back. Leave their personal life personal.
9- Again, after this, some more gang members will come to their senses and will drop this non-issue.
10- Whoever left from the gang will do a public post claiming that Larry is a misogynist and they will blame the leadership didn't do anything about it.
11 - The leadership will make a public announcement and say, when the issue was brought to them, they investigated. They did not find any interference between Larry's private life and professional life. End of story.

I like this one better than yours. It makes more sense to me.

You do the right thing, you will hardly ever have an headache. You do the wrong thing, just like in this incident, there will be consequences and you will hardly get away with it. 

Anonymous’s picture

@mikeryan,

your thought experiment(grand argument story) dependencies are missing.

The hero’s goal is not compelling for your audience!

The current conflict is also poorly defined:

  • alleged antagonist - “he holds views that are in opposition of”;
  • hero;
  • no victim(s);

Yet, the audience should be feeling guilt, because the hero's goal does not really fly with them?

nketchum’s picture

Something has to give here. The community is tearing itself apart over this, and I'm calling on the leadership to find a way to establish some reconciliation.

John_B’s picture

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Yes, Steve, this incident has revealed that change is needed as much (dare I say it) in the interests of the most commercial parts of the Drupal world as in the interests of the more grass roots elements. And yet the response has got overheated. Some (not you) have unintentionally come across as unkind, which can happen all too easily online, and which from the receiving end can feel cruel.

Venting against leaders whom one feels should have acted more fairly is natural. However, it only gets us so far. In the long term interests of the project we all care about, moving on to the more constructive aspects of community's response would now be useful.

Taking a step back and calming down does not mean accepting unfairness. However, the view that the ball is entirely in court of the leadership is not wholly fair either, since the community as a whole is far from powerless. It is up to us all to work together to get through this without tearing ourselves and Drupal apart. If we can get enough convergence between the critics and the leadership to get through this without a credible fork, I for one will be delighted, although other community models like the distro model you write about can also be looked at if that is unavoidable. Provided the leadership move a bit further to resolve community fears and sense of injustice, I am optimistic that healing can happen.

Anonymous’s picture

Well let's hope some leadership is taken soon - we all know what it's like when bits and pieces of information get spread into the wider world and although tough it has to be understood that it's going to lead to some angry people. Only one I've seen who's really stepped over the mark and I spent time to report them on Twitter selecting specific tweets and so on. 

I also hope we don't 'fork', it's totally possible to have different points of view and needs and have different sections of community all working on a common core, I don't think we're going to physically be able to grow that much more if that doesn't happen. 

wildfeed’s picture

The Drupal community is based on sharing code and knowledge. Once we lose that connection we'll be arguing about everything - religion, politics, race, age, nationality, gender, sexual orientation - you name it.

Are we prepared for that degree of divisiveness? Can the Drupal community support dozens of subgroups that cater to every individual special interest? If we don't find a way to be tolerant, that will be the outcome. The quality of what are here for - sharing code and technique - will suffer. Putting code first means ignoring EVERYTHING else. 

Our community is global - it extends across borders, genders, races, religions, political affiliations, ages and income levels. In fact, I think that when a person signs up for an account on drupal.org they should agree to check everything else they represent at the door. I don't want to encounter misogynists any more than I want to encounter feminists. I don't want to associate with anyone who believes that any race is superior to another or be exposed to religious fanaticism of any kind. It shouldn't matter if you are male or female, queer or homophobe, or how you gender-identify. Your participation - as it relates to our code and techniques - should be welcome. Everything else should be irrelevant. 

We need to police ourselves. If anyone is violating our code of conduct in connection with the community, either let them know their behavior is not acceptable or gather evidence to support those observations. 

If not, please keep it to yourself. Accept the fact that some who people share the code may not share your values.

Anonymous’s picture

Hey but that doesn't fit into the agenda! ;)

Your post reminded me of this moment from the first DrupalCon I could afford to go to 5 years into my Drupal life - Amitaibu at DrupalCon Copenhagen talking about groups and highlighting how throughout history they've always been difficult to accommodate... enjoy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek8AFYSCqPU

Shyamala’s picture

​Thank you Megan and Dries for working though this with at-most care! Specially appreciate your efforts in speaking with the Community in person and hearing them through these conversations. I like the clarity on the identified next steps and actions.

This is a tough situation for all of us in the Drupal community. The energy and passion in the discussions, only show how passionate we are all as a community. It's definitely not a situation any of us wished ourselves to be in. Can't agree more that we should bring these learning to strengthen our governance process. I look forward to participating in the upcoming Discussions at Baltimore.​

garethhallnz’s picture

Given the evidence I've seen, I am not in favour for dismissing Crell.

The information provided by Dries and the DA is somewhat lacking and continues to be. 

This post says the decision was made on:

(a) reports, both formal and informal

- From how many people? 2, 20? 

(b) some of Larry's online interactions, both on and off Drupal.org

- off drupal.org. Was is public or members only site? If public please specify?

- off drupal.org. Was there any context to drupal?

- on drupal.org: Please specify the posts ... that's public right?

(c) information provided by Larry during subsequent discussions to get clarity

- What information, or specifically is it at odds with Larry's post on his own site?

(d) information from one or more members-only sites.
 

- It has not relevancy it's Larry private life unless it involve's Drupal directly 

Code should read like well written English

rlnorthcutt’s picture

This is a commonly known axiom to software development and projects in general. I think it applies here as well. We all want a "Good" solution here. No one disputes that. We would also like a "Cheap" solution, ie. one with minimal cost to everyone involved. Again, I think we all agree on that.

However, that means that we can't necessarily have a "Fast" solution. Yet, that is what we are hearing over and over again. There are plenty of criticisms about the fact that the issue isn't resolved, which are legitimate... and I think part of the expectation is that this is a forum for airing those criticisms and questions.

Meanwhile, we have people who are expressing outrage that this isn't resolved to their satisfaction immediately. It makes me wonder how many of those folks have been around the community.

I've been involved with Drupal for over a decade... and I've seen core/contrib issues that have languished in the queue for years. Sometimes, we have issues that have not been addressed until a new version (or two) comes out. In some of those cases, the individuals involved have been very passionate and even upset about how long it takes, but thats often restricted to a smaller group - it remains invisible to most.

This is different, of course, but it is related. This is how the community works, and the bigger the problem the longer it usually takes to solve and the more people need to be involved. Its disingenuous to suggest that people just want this to go away, or don't really care about fixing it, or that there are some nefarious factors at play.

The best thing we can do is to be patient, and to encourage others to do the same. You don't have to forget about it and you don't have to give up getting a good resolution, but we should temper our passion with reason.

regards,
Ron Northcutt
Sr. Solutions Architect, Acquia

John_B’s picture

can't necessarily have a "Fast" solution

Agreed, and delighted to see it will be discussed at DrupalCon. That is excellent news, though a bit of a downer for those who cannot afford 2000-mile flights and hotels for Baltimore (I had to look up where it is :/). Use of DrupalCon to enable face to face conversation on the topic absolutely makes sense, even though it tilts the balance of that conversation in favour of those who have employers wealthy enough to fund DrupalCon attendance. Hopefully online discussions will be given equal weight with the those at DrupalCon.

ergonlogic’s picture

With all due respect, I don't think the issue most people are expressing outrage about revolves around how quickly this should be resolved. Quite the contrary, actions (unjustified, as far as most of the community is concerned) have already been taken. These actions (excommunicating a long-standing, highly-respected and very productive member of the community over private matters) may have direct negative impact to his career and livelihood, nevermind the personal impact. As far as most of the community (myself included) can see, a grave injustice has been committed. There's no reason to call for patience when it comes to undoing such an injustice.

The bigger picture issues, such as the apparent structural problems in community and project governance should, on the other hand, certainly be undertaken deliberately, patiently, and with an assumption of good faith by all concerned parties.

hgurol’s picture

I have seen that before, on a big sign, inside a very small print shop. It's a sales/marketing pitch.

1- Quality
2- Speed
3- Price

Pick two, you can't have them all. While it is true and would apply to many different cases, it does NOT apply to this current issue. I will just borrow this from another comment.

There's no reason to call for patience when it comes to undoing such an injustice.

Anonymous’s picture

"The best thing we can do is to be patient, and to encourage others to do the same."

The problem with patience however is that it's more than often (ab)used to make people forget about certain things after which the "powers that be" can pretty much carry on and conduct business as usual. I don't want to imply that this is going to happen here as well, but I do think it's something to keep in mind.

HongPong’s picture

I wonder if it would be possible to revise this and ask Larry to take a year or two off from the Drupal community instead of departing for good. I really, really hope that the outcome here leads to a less foggy process than the way this one went down.

Broadly speaking I think this happened because the tech world in general, including a number of open source communities, has a reputation for misogyny and probably a bunch of people in the process felt that they would get stuck with that label if they didn't take a decisive (and divisive) action.

wildfeed’s picture

Larry has been an incredible contributor. He earned my respect with his "Drupal 8: The Crash Course" session. He took a set of complicated topics, organized them, and gave the audience a clear understanding of how Drupal 8 worked. It had nothing to do with misogyny. If his success has gone to his head and he feels superior to others, particularly women, it is something he will have to work out for himself.

As more and more women enter the tech world and EARN the respect of their peers - which IS happening - the issue of gender bias will work itself out. Demonizing Larry for his personal life is not going to benefit Drupal. The only way to do that is to give everyone an equal opportunity to be great.

John_B’s picture

I wonder if it would be possible to revise this and ask Larry to take a year or two off from the Drupal community

Not many people succeed in taking a couple of years off Drupal then coming back at full strength.

A key problem, which will now be discussed in meetings, is, as Dries said (in the part of a blog he later removed), "Second, I believe someone's belief system inherently influences their actions, in both explicit and subtle ways, and I'm unwilling to take this risk going forward." This is close to the issue with Dries's multiple roles: not so much the accuracy or otherwise of Dries's belief about the subtle influence of belief systems, as the "risk going forward" that the unconscious influence of commercial considerations may skew the most honest person's judgement, even without the fact that Larry's employer happens to be a competitor with Dries's company. With such a delicate matter, an independent 'judge' as well as a formal set of rules, helps us get a little closer to fairness, although no system and no human judgement is perfect.

hexabinaer’s picture

ask Larry to take a year or two off from the Drupal community

What would you suggest he'd do during those 2 years? Sell ice cream?

djalxs’s picture

I think Drupal.org should enable liking posts and comments

ergonlogic’s picture

As free software developers, our reputation is the currency in which we trade. Our reputations within these communities determines to a large extent what jobs we'll be offered, what speaking engagements we'll be invited to, what gigs we can win contracts for, etc.

Many of us work full-time on Drupal-related projects. We are thus largely dependent on our standing in the Drupal community for our livelihoods. I think part of the reason for the vehement reactions here is that we all feel threatened by this apparently arbitrary use of unchecked authority.

Based on the information provided so far, there's no evidence of any actual misdeeds, harm to others, etc. that might justify Larry's expulsion, and all its repercussions. What's to stop any of us from being summarily excommunicated, and thus our ability to provide for ourselves and our families threatened?

daffie’s picture

I couldn't said it any better!

SKAUGHT’s picture

+1  I too am a 'drupal dev' in the sea of frameworks.

part of the problem...  is the intermix of open source dev's with these 'business fronts'  (like the DA, in this case) where their 'jobs' are to promote and front the best sides..

We all rely on the reputations.  We just need to keep in mind reputations are built in the long term, not flashes of news,tweets and other posts..  

xuanducdhcn’s picture

Very useful infomation tks

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