Drupal Association

A new statement on this topic was posted on July 14, 2017 and can be found here.

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

Media Crumb’s picture

I'm not selling anything and the links are not active in anyway.  There aren't even ads on any of my sites.  You were saying?

Chicago Dev and Designer. Owner of 2old2play.com and GameStooge video game communities.

rj’s picture

A guy just went public about his BDSM kink, something that got Larry kicked from the project and may just get him kicked from the project. You chastise it as an advertisement for his business. Yet you are advertising your own business on your own Drupal profile. #irony

--rj

Media Crumb’s picture

It's almost as if you can't read.  There is no link to any "business" in my signature.  There are NO ads, I selling nothing, and turn no profit.  The sites listed are just hobby communities (one of which doesn't even exist anymore).  Sorry to burst your bubble.  So you were saying what now?

Chicago Dev and Designer. Owner of 2old2play.com and GameStooge video game communities.

rj’s picture

I see you tend to talk down to people. I tend not to play well with people who do that and won't respond in kind. Have a nice day. 

--rj

Media Crumb’s picture

I talk down to people that try to call me out without even checking to see whether they have their facts straight. You accused me of something, I explained how your accusation was laughable, and now you want out of the conversation. A conversation that you started with me, mind you.

Chicago Dev and Designer. Owner of 2old2play.com and GameStooge video game communities.

rj’s picture

I talk down to people that...

Insults shouldn't be included on this thread, feel free to hit me up on Twitter to continue the discussion @rjtownsend

--rj

Media Crumb’s picture

But then why did you insult me by implying I was advertising a business? Now that's ironic!

As for Twitter, I think the world needs less non-sense on social media; or maybe just less social media.  Sorry, no twitter war today.  

Chicago Dev and Designer. Owner of 2old2play.com and GameStooge video game communities.

rj’s picture

Feel free to discuss the insult with me on Twitter, no war, genuinely curious. Thanks. 

--rj

Media Crumb’s picture

I'm good.  I really don't care for Twitter as a place to actually discuss anything.  Have a great day!

Chicago Dev and Designer. Owner of 2old2play.com and GameStooge video game communities.

TynanFox’s picture

Post is clearly not meant to be an advertisement. I do plenty of that in the proper places where people are looking to purchase.

If you actually read anything I wrote, you would see that I was trying to make a point. I listed my website to show that I am not just some random person full of hot air posting to this issue. I listed my site to make the point that I am a part of both the BDSM community as well as the Drupal community, that I can offer a unique insight to the situation, and how terrible I feel about the issue. 

I'm sure I'm not the only one out there feeling this. I spoke up in-case some Drupal community member like myself out there was too afraid to speak up for themselves.

Thanks so much for writing me off. I hope I can afford you a greater respect in the future.

Media Crumb’s picture

Fairly certain the post could be believed without your direct link and description of it being an e-commerce site that sells things, but fair enough.  My apologies.

Chicago Dev and Designer. Owner of 2old2play.com and GameStooge video game communities.

KibbleQueen’s picture

Soooo, Dries Buytaert and Megan Sanicki, see what's going on now? The community appears to be imploding. Comments are becoming less supportive, less patient, certainly less tolerant ... of everyone, not just the people originally involved.

Any further communications forthcoming in our lifetimes here?  Silence is not always golden.

You created this situation. Are you going to just let it keep going? It is obviously not improving with time. It is obviously not just fading away either.

Egads.

John_B’s picture

Soooo, Dries Buytaert and Megan Sanicki, see what's going on now?

There is a more recent post on Dries's blog. Whilst not directly addressing the issue with Larry, last time I looked, perhaps owing to an excess of caution induced by risk-averse lawyers (I speculate), Dries does acknowledge there that the matter was badly handled, and that changes to Drupal governance are needed.

JamesOakley’s picture

The other observation I made about that post, including in a comment there that was never approved for publication, is that it had the appearance of an apology. The title of the post was "An apology...".

In fact, the only apology within the post is: "I want to deeply apologize for causing grief and uncertainty."

I'm willing for someone to show me that I've missed, but this is something you often see people in leadership do when they make a decision that has negative fallout: They apologise for the hurt caused, but not for anything they did (be that the whole thing they just did, or some part of it).

I can't see in that post where Dries is saying: "I apologise that I did X" such that, in a similar situation in the future, he would do something different, or even such that he'd now look for a way to undo component X of what he did.

You can't apologise for someone being upset - you are not responsible for someone else's offence. You can apologise for something you did, which led someone to become upset.

Now, as I say, I'm willing to be shown that I've missed something in his post. He's either not apologising for anything specific that he did. Or he's apologising for some specific part of what he did (in which case I'm unclear from his post which exact part that is). Or he's apologising for the whole thing - in which case it's time to apply the patch in reverse mode.


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hgurol’s picture

Let me put what you said in different words. Dries, did not apologize for what he did. He did not apologize from Larry. Basically, he said he did the right thing and  he was sorry that the right thing caused grief and uncertainty.

Yours is not the only comment that wasn't approved for publication. Actually, he stopped accepting any comments for that post because he wants to move on. He offered an apology of some sorts, and then he posted something about policy changes to prevent this happening again. He already moved on, and left this incident behind as is.

Nice, ain't it?

John_B’s picture

Let me put what you said in different words. Dries, did not apologize for what he did.

Dries's apology does leave room to doubt his good faith in admitting that he did wrong. It is open to being read as yet more evasiveness. Nevertheless, given his past excellence as a leader I tend to give him the benefit of that doubt, and assume that he does wish to make amends for having behaved unethically on several levels. The outcome of discussions at the next DrupalCon will show whether he is, as I think, capable of that level of self-reflection which none of us find easy, and of clear and decisive action to remedy errors and restore confidence.

JamesOakley’s picture

That's a very balanced and helpful way to put it, John. As you say, maybe he did mean to apologise but didn't express himself quite clearly.

Given the strength of feeling, my own view is that he would have been wise to make an apology unambiguously clear - and I know he's capable of clear communication.

However I think you're right - let's see what comes at DrupalCon (which neither you nor I will be at)


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rlnorthcutt’s picture

I think alot of people are not considering the full scope here. In addition to knowing that lawyers are involved, Larry has specifically said "libel" in at least one of his posts. Anything Dries says publicly can/will be used against him in a court of law. Its a no win situation. 

On top of that, we have the fact that Dries has a similar problem with his personal/professional life being entangled like Larry does. Assuming he did come out and apologize to Larry (as some people want), would that apology be coming from Dries the person? Dries the CTO? Dries the BDFL? I can guarantee that a lawyer would interpret that in whatever way was most beneficial to their case.

Maybe there is some unknown evidence, or maybe Dries made a mistake. Maybe there is a simple source for blame, or (more likely) this is a murky issue where everyone is at fault to some degree or another. In any case, it is up to us (the community) to determine how we will react.

We can have our opinions about the situation, and even disagree completely with Dries, without sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches. Understanding the frustration and discomfort of everyone (myself included), it's tempting to point a finger and take a righteous stance. However, we honor the ideals of the community and the integrity of all those involved by expressing patience and support for everyone. Personally, I have seen great integrity from Megan, Larry, and Dries.

By all means, share your thoughts, ask your questions, and express your feelings... but temper that with a goal of trying to understand. We have a massive problem with people rushing to judgement in the world today. It's not this issue that's hurting the community - its us.

regards,
Ron Northcutt
Sr. Solutions Architect, Acquia

rootwork’s picture

Well said, Ron. As they say in Quaker traditions, "Friend speaks my mind."

willhowlett’s picture

marked as Closed (won't fix)

cllamas’s picture

WIN.

SKAUGHT’s picture

wow,

alliax’s picture

Dries messed up big time on this !!!

And he doesn't want to correct his mistake !

No support from me !

alayham’s picture

I believe what happened to Larry is not his fault, he is a victim and he is handling the issue in a very honorable way. He has my full respect.

The personal damage to Larry is already done and it can not be taken back. An apology might help but can not undo the damage. 

If Drupal leadership would like to resolve this issue in a civilized way, They could review the case of Prof. Norman Finkelstein, a leading holocaust scholar, who was denied tenure because some people did not like the results of his academic research.

Finally, I am not really anxious about the planned review of Drupal code of conduct. Drupal will never have a ministry of truth, and people will never be required to disclose and pre-approve their believes before they can contribute to Drupal. I expect the review to focus of the conduct of Drupal leadership.

philosurfer’s picture

Don't we have patches to commit? 

-
We are the cult of personality.
-

clivesj’s picture

Having patches to commit is not a good reason not to be "still talking about this". It has nothing to do with this. All communities/businesses has multiple issues going on at the same time. One does not exclude the other.

It seems like Dries wants to "sit this out" until people stop "talking about this.."

I wouldn't mind to stop talking about this. But that would be based on solid information and facts.

patrickharris’s picture

I couldn't agree more, clivesj.

Anonymous’s picture

It seems like Dries wants to "sit this out" until people stop "talking about this.."

As the title says. Yesterday I learned about the Drupal confessions website, I think you (and any other random reader) should read that too. I seriously don't think Dries can afford it anymore to just "sit this one out".

Jaypan’s picture

Wow. That site is pretty powerful.


Checkout my Japan podcasts.
John_B’s picture

It is powerful. I could subscribe that letter, which acknowledges Dries's good qualities, as well as stating Drupal's danger of shipwreck, and regretting his tepid action so far. Many of us hope that he privately appreciates the need for ever more radical surgery, which will only grow until decisive action is taken or the patient dies.

alliax’s picture

Don't believe the fake news! Larry has been punished because he was working on the long overdue "easy-update" feature of Drupal core...

This is another reason to go with WordPress and let Drupal for the big companies with people paid to spend time and technical skills to update Drupal core every month.

John_B’s picture

Larry has been punished because he was working on the long overdue "easy-update" feature of Drupal core...

Untrue. Don't sink to the level of those who condemn a person without sufficient evidence.

In case you want to contribute to providing automated updates, you can do so here.

alliax’s picture

I know, it was just a joke. Nobody is working on this I'm sure... (I know you provided the link, but I've been using Drupal since 2004, so I've lost hope, maybe it'll come, maybe not.. In D7 there has been easy update of modules and I was confident core update would have come in D8 finally, but no)

And if I could contribute that's something I would have done years ago. It is so common sense.

Wordpress wouldn't have been so popular without this automatic updates or easy-to-update feature.

John_B’s picture

I know, it was just a joke.

The questions surrounding Larry's exclusion are so sensitive that it is easy to miss a joke. They are a bigger threat to Drupal than the lack of core updates from the UI! Anyway, FWIW I gave the wrong link. Some people are thinking about the issue of a core update UI, and it is here.

https://www.drupal.org/node/606592

Sunshiney’s picture

Just a quick message to let you know that I immediately got your joke when I read it.  (and smiled, for the first time during this thread watch).  I agree with you words, also.  And I, too, lost hope too -- and know the explanation for the lack of this feature. 

daffie’s picture

As a Drupal core developer with 75 core commit mentions, I would like to state that I support: https://www.drupalconfessions.org/.

rlnorthcutt’s picture

It's been clarified that as of now, Larry has not been banished from the community, but only has been removed from speaking at the con. Whether or not he will be removed as Web Services lead remains to be seen.

The CWG has an open letter that answers alot of questions. If you haven't read it, I suggest you do so:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Qlc0FvM4UWyn4DpW8JKRcVqnHAIdrj2INOZZ...

regards,
Ron Northcutt
Sr. Solutions Architect, Acquia

hgurol’s picture

CWG says Larry is not banned but both Dries and Megan uses the word "removed from the community" about him during their posts previously.

If you find some parts of this CWG statement confusing and/or conflicting, here is a good explanation of what is what.
https://www.drupalconfessions.org/cwg-response-1

Jaypan’s picture

Interesting read. The main point that stuck out to me:

We strongly reject any suggestion or assertion that Larry was asked to leave solely on the basis of his personal beliefs or what he does in his private life. If any of us had any reason to believe that was the case, we would have resigned immediately from the CWG. 

As with most posters, the way this has been presented definitely came off as if Mr. Garfield was asked to leave based solely on his private life - and such an expulsion would definitely concern me. However, I've remained neutral, having been in the position of the CWG in the past, where I was in the position of having to remove someone from a position based on information that was not publicly available, and therefore from the outside looked like those of us who made the decision acted unreasonably. The above quote reads as if there is something along those lines.

So essentially, with this document, both parties have laid out their positions - Mr. Garfield has been very open (which I applaud) about his personal life, and why he feels that he was asked to leave. And the CWG has stated that there was something directly within the community that led to this situation, but that they cannot elaborate further on that.

Which leaves those of us on the outside in a difficult position - place semi-blind trust in the CWG, or believe Larry's position which by definition is going to be biased.

I don't see there is an easy solution. Third party mediation or an audit has been mentioned, and I think that is a pretty good idea. We've got a fracturing in the community, which may go away with time, but it will leave a scar if not treated effectively. The big fear is that someone just forks Drupal, and our community splits. And if anyone could fork Drupal and make it work, it would be Mr. Garfield.


Checkout my Japan podcasts.
SKAUGHT’s picture

We've got a fracturing in the community, which may go away with time, but it will leave a scar if not treated effectively. The big fear is that someone just forks Drupal, and our community splits

Backdrop (our last fracture) happened for one end of reasons.  Certainly now, anything could happen.  it's up to ALL OF US to work it out.

EDIT >>
WE CAN'T BIKESHED THIS ONE!!  or it will splinter.

John_B’s picture

I recommend Ch. 8 of Hodges' great biography of Alan Turing (filmed as The Imitation Game). It is a thoughtful case study in the way an individual's sexual deviance was seen as a risk to the community (in that case, to the whole country), with devastating consequences for the man without whose work our field would not exist, although the secrecy surrounding the actions of the authorities makes it difficult to assess their possible role in his suicide.

Jaypan’s picture

Well, it seems that they just decided to wait this out until everyone forgot, rather than deal with it.


Checkout my Japan podcasts.
Jeff Veit’s picture

See Dries's last blog post. And there's discussion at Baltimore. 

Dig1’s picture

I have been trying to understand and reconcile the recent thoughts and actions of Dries and the Drupal Association.

I have also read 'A Personal Statement from the Members of the Drupal Community Working Group'

I think the community has rallied in support of Crell on the basis that there is no evidence that he has broken the Drupal Code of Conduct and we appreciate the immense contribution he has given the project over the years.

I read a good article on the subject at http://reason.com/blog/2017/04/18/drupal-developer-ousted-over-kink . The final paragraph is:

'Whether Buytaert himself believes that Garfield is a sexist pervert is irrelevant—he's clearly worried that other people will perceive Garfield as a sexist pervert, and afraid that this will create bad public-relations for Drupal. Rather than practice what he preaches about tolerance, respect, and creating "a culture of open-mindedness toward difference," Buytaert offered up Garfield for social-justice sacrifice in order to appease prudes and busybodies. Here's hoping the tech community continues to reject this sort of phony promise of diversity and attempts at inclusiveness through exclusion.'

I'd just like to say that I hope everyone has learned from the experience and we can heal, with Crell being restored to the activities has was removed from.

nedjo’s picture

In response to community concerns raised here and elsewhere and to try to fill in some missing background, I've just posted Dries, Acquia, and the Drupal Association--Some Essential History.

John_B’s picture

nedjo, Thanks for the post, which fleshes out a situation which in broad terms is self-evident.

At DrupalCon Dries apologized for poor communcation, while remaining silent on whether the procedure and substance of his decision should stand. He said he was talking to Larry, who seems to have gone quiet. Dries said that he should not continue to have to take all these decisions, which is good, and did not comment on his conflict of accountabilities to shareholders and community, which is disappointing. My judgement is that the 'benign dictator' structure is bad for Drupal and for Acquia. The Acquia shareholders clearly do not share that perspective, though some Drupal people with financial as well as technical clout do share it.

The landscape is anyway changing, as is Drupal's place in the website world and hoped-for place as a favoured backend in the enterprise world of headless 'digital experience' management (where it might flourish) and AI- and ML-driven applications (where any PHP app will struggle).

Somehow the Drpual world phases people out. For those of us who remain, Drupal is hard not to love, though we may fear that near-absolute power which Dries exercises often wisely and--being only human--sometimes improperly has ceased to be a strength.

Sheldon Rampton’s picture

You wrote, "My judgement is that the 'benign dictator' structure is bad for Drupal and for Acquia." I agree, and I think it is also worth reflecting on this point in light of statements that Dries made in his original post regarding l'affaire Garfield. In those statements (some of which have since been deleted from the post), Dries wrote that Larry "holds views that are in opposition with the values of the Drupal project" and that "someone's belief system inherently influences their actions, in both explicit and subtle ways."

Whether Larry's views are incompatible with the Drupal project is open to debate, but I don't think there is any doubt that "someone's belief system inherently influences their actions." However, this is also true with regard to a belief system which holds that it is natural, normal and possible for someone to be both "benevolent" and a "dictator for life." In the real world, "dictators for life" are rarely benevolent. Even dictators who begin their careers with benevolent aims have a tendency to turn into despots. Yet somehow we have gotten used to believing otherwise with respect to open source software, which really ought to be governed democratically rather than by dictators.

The concept of "benevolent dictators for life" began within the open source community as a bit of a joke that has gradually come to be something that we take at face value and don't often question. However, it is clearly a belief that ought to be interrogated seriously if we are at all concerned about beliefs that may be incompatible with "the values of the Drupal project." We don't have to assume that Dries is malicious or trying to do evil to see that his behavior in the Larry Garfield affair has been influenced in "explicit and subtle ways" by the belief that his status as "benevolent dictator for life" gives him the right (and even the obligation) to take unilateral actions such as demanding that an individual leave the Drupal community. It appears that the community's reaction in this matter has given him cause to reconsider this assumption, which I think is likely to be a good thing for Drupal's long-term health.

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https://govdelivery.com

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