A vote of no confidence in the Drupal Association leadership

Published on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 07:42

I have had many differences with the Drupal Association in the past, starting with the many clashes we had with their erstwhile leadership when we were organising DrupalCon Copenhagen 2010, so I’ll admit I wasn’t their biggest fan before the latest events.

Yesterday evening, I learned that the DA leadership, led by Dries Buytaert himself, has taken upon themselves to declare one of Drupal’s most well-known (and well-loved) community members, Larry Garfield, “persona non grata”, because they disapprove of things he does in his private life. You can read his own explanation, but suffice to say that he likes to engage in BDSM-related practises with consenting adults.

He's kept this a secret, since many do not approve or understand such things. I will not claim to understand such myself, but I am of the firm opinion, that as long as people don't involve unwilling or unwitting participants in them, their private lives are none of my (or anyone else’s) business.

To say that condemning someone for their sexual orientation is against the stated values of the Drupal community would be the understatement of the year. For years, the community has been striving to become more inclusive, implementing a strict Code of Conduct, that states:

Everyone can make a valuable contribution to Drupal. We may not always agree, but disagreement is no excuse for poor behaviour and poor manners.

and

We will not tolerate bullying or harassment of any member of the Drupal community.

If spreading rumors about someone’s private affairs isn’t bullying and harassment, I don’t know what is. But in this instance, the DA has chosen to punish the victim, rather than the bully.

The bully

If Larry’s words are to be believed (we have no reason not to, especially since his accusers are not denying them), this campaign against him has involved a good amount of cyber-stalking, breach of privacy and trust, harassment, and spreading of malicious rumors. But the person committing said deeds has not been sanctioned.

I shall not name said person here, but I shall say that I despise his actions here, and (as the ancient curse goes), I wish that his hindquarters may itch, and his arms be too short to scratch it.

The thought police response

Dries replies, in a post ironically titled “Living our values”:

A few weeks ago, I privately asked Larry Garfield, a prominent Drupal contributor, to leave the Drupal project. I did this because it came to my attention that he holds views that are in opposition with the values of the Drupal project.

and furthermore

The Gorean philosophy promoted by Larry is based on the principle that women are evolutionarily predisposed to serve men and that the natural order is for men to dominate and lead.

Not only is the latter a gross misrepresentation of what Larry’s views are, it is also completely false that Larry has been promoting said philosophy, in the context of the Drupal community. And what he does, privately, elsewhere is not for the Drupal community to adjudicate. On the contrary, he’s taken care to keep said philosophy completely separate from his work in the Drupal community.

So he’s being punished, not for something he’s done, but for the words he’s shared privately, with people who share his world view.

Dries, and the Drupal Association has thus decided to act as the thought police. They will determine which opinions you are not allowed to have, and regardless of your actions, if they come to know of your naughty thoughts, by any and all means, you too will be banned.

The message is clear. If you have any kind of unsavoury thought, better hope Dries and his watchful arbiters do not learn of it, because if they do, you’ll be branded as outcast for your heretical thoughts.

Maybe its time to step down, Dries?

You have presided over a great many things as Drupal Association chairman, Dries. Financial mismanagement of several Drupal events that cost the DA dearly. The subsequent cover-up of said mismanagement. Many smaller controversies.

A great many things have gone wrong, and it's been my impression that the DA could do with some more oversight. Maybe it’s time we found a chairman who’s less busy with running a big corporation, and is maybe not so concerned with regulating people's thoughts, and a little more concerned with providing proper oversight for the important organisation that it is: a truly open and welcoming community, that's open to anyone, no matter what they do and think in private.

(Comments are moderated here, but mainly to prevent spam. I will publish any comment, critical or not, as long as it lives up to the spirit of the Code of Conduct).

Comments

Submitted by Michael - Schnitzel (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 10:29 Permalink

thanks a lot Mikkel, exactly my point of view in all of it.

Submitted by Rene (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 11:23 Permalink

+1

You found better words than I did Time for a fresh breath of air within the DA, more community less corporate.

Submitted by Christophe (cgalli) (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 11:42 Permalink

Well put, thanks Mikkel

Submitted by DuaelFr (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 12:47 Permalink

For me, Dries' blogpost is about justifying why he wouldn't change his mind.
If there were old issues about Crell as he seems to say to justify, give some anonymous details like years and places where it happens. He bypassed what should stay a CWG decision. They are the people that protects us. They said that there were no CoC break twice. Why should we act like their opinion mean nothing? Is the opposite true? Should we keep going to events if we are bullies because, obviously, their decisions are revocables?

I'm not at all in the BDSM community as well but, as a role player, I did, wrote and said horrible things in some more or less private areas. Should I be bothered if someone found these things even if I'm daily involved in anti-racists, ecologists and feminists groups? Let's be serious a minute.

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 13:03 Permalink

And do a Joomla-style fork and leave the Drupal name behind. You have most of the devs at one place at Seville, never a better time to do it.

Submitted by Honza Pobořil (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 13:07 Permalink

You accused Dries of mismanagement in DA. Could you add some links about it?

There’s not a lot of public information about it that I can link to, since it's never been publicised. The Drupal Assoication board have been keeping a lid on it, but it's happened on a few occasions that they tried to put on DrupalCons outside Europe/U.S. that ended up being financial disasters, and other missteps, that has resulted in layoffs and cost cutting exercises inside the DA.

It’s all a bit vague, but try taking a look at the financial statements of the DA, and see for yourself.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 17:36

In reply to by Honza Pobořil (not verified)

Permalink

Check the 990 tax form from 2015:
https://www.drupal.org/files/2015%20990%20Public%20Disclosure%20Copy.pdf

which reveals a $1M loss on Drupalcon Barcelona, and a $200K loss on Drupalcon Bogota, while top management each collected 6-figure salaries and membership dues and donations were collected to the tune of $2.2M.

And for all that investment, Drupal Association hasn't bothered publishing an annual report since 2014.

The single most important decision for a conference is the choice of venue. All the financials and what's possible in the budget flow from that decision. As the size of the conference grows it becomes exponentially harder to find a venue which keeps the ticket price at a level that Drupalcon attendees expect. In the USA the business model that conferences centres have is not the same as in Europe. In the US a conference centre is often built by a consortium of hotels, and then renting the conference centre is pretty cheap provided you guarantee a certain number of hotel room bookings. But in the EU conference centres usually have no links to hotels, and so conference organisers have to pay the full price, regardless of attendance.

Even with great intentions and good planning it's hard to balance the books when tickets cost 400 Euros per person if the only venues suitable cost 500 per person.

So it's not surprising at all that at the size that the conferences have reached that they need subsidising. The alternative is to raise the ticket price substantially, or limit the size of the conferences. It's not a sign of incompetence.

Source: I was lead on Drupalcon London in 2011. I was responsible for finding the venue, and we chose the venue specifically for budgetary reasons.

You are of course entitled to have that opinion, but the DA cannot sustain itself, if it takes a huge loss like that every year. And since we managed to turn a small profit on DrupalCon Copenhagen in 2010, while paying for a big conference venue for 1200 people, I can't see why that's now no longer possible. Maybe the DA simply has too much overhead.

Drupalcon London is an interesting example as it was the spear tip Drupalcon that starkly highlighted the divisiveness toward the community in putting on the event. London was the Drupalcon that really brought home the fact that the potential problems of corporate weaseliness weren't limited to the recently created commercial entity, but would soon spread to affect the entire ecosystem.

More to the point, it was the incredibly poor communication, decisions by fiat, and riding roughshod over the community that presaged what was to come. Years later and we continue to see this pattern of back room secrecy and mealy-mouthed, after-the-fact pronouncements that have been going on for years.

This latest imbroglio brings into stark relief a deep division between the outstanding Drupal community, and the self-serving hypocrisy its corporate aspirations have infected the project with.

Submitted by Tommy Lynge Jo… (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 13:08 Permalink

All of the above was exactly my thoughts!

If not everyone is welcome, then I'd like to know who aren't. What are you not supposed to do outside of Drupal context? Can I do BDSM? Can be participate in local politics, even if it was a Nazi party? Can I eat chocolate?

We have a CoC and I don't see any violations against that. I see a man, judged by something that he might do.

If that's how it works, we should all probably be behind bars.

Submitted by Janos Feher (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 14:03 Permalink

+1

Submitted by Christian Meilinger (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 14:20 Permalink

+1
Of course.

Submitted by Jason Smith (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 15:59 Permalink

I thought the concern here was that a person who espouses that a central philosophy of his life has as one of its tenets the subjugation of women.

_And_ that that person is on a selection committee for conference(s) and otherwise wields influence.

_And_ that for at least the PHP track of the last Drupalcon did not choose any female presenters (don't know how to check further).

I'm not suggesting that there is damning evidence here, but it's enough to raise eyebrows right? Enough to take notice? The reaction seems swift/knee jerk but let's not minimize it either.

Submitted by mikl on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 16:05

In reply to by Jason Smith (not verified)

Permalink

Did you read his blog post? Where he points out all he's done to further the representation of women in Drupal? Where he specifically points out that D/s is something he only applies to his intimate relationships, with partners who consent to that role? Did you read the comments, or all the tweets where women from the Drupal and PHP communities confirm his assertions, and express their support?

In the light of all that, I don’t see how there’s any reason to believe that he’s been misogynistic in his behaviour in the Drupal community. None.

Submitted by Felipe Fidelix (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 16:24

In reply to by Jason Smith (not verified)

Permalink

that a person who espouses that a central philosophy of his life has as one of its tenets the subjugation of women.

Oh, like the most widespread religions in the world?


_And_ that for at least the PHP track of the last Drupalcon did not choose any female presenters (don't know how to check further).

Larry's reply:
I've been a DrupalCon track chair since 2011. For most of that time I was the global chair for the Core Conversations track, and I'm happy to say that it generally beat-the-average in terms of getting women up on stage.

it's enough to raise eyebrows right?
You bet. It's time for a change in the Drupal Association.

That's a suspiciously small sample of conferences. Also, to make any valid conclusions from that, you'd have to know how many session proposals written by women they had to choose from.

See also the comment from Heather below.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 23:11

In reply to by Jason Smith (not verified)

Permalink

"As the other half of the PHP Track Chair, I can only speak to the Baltimore and Nola con's but Larry and I personally reached out to all the women in the Drupal/PHP community we knew as well as Women Who Code, and any other women lead groups we could think of. We just didn't get the submissions. And where there were women involved, often they don't accept (due to no reimbursements) or the session is moved to a different track, or the subject of the session was not what we were looking for. We can only work with the sessions we are given. I truly wish more women would submit."

Source: https://www.reddit.com/user/hlwhite

Submitted by Lucian Neag (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 16:02 Permalink

+1

Submitted by Mr. Cooper (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 16:36 Permalink

Within the last 6 months, two very prominent Drupal core contributors got ousted.

chx - for not having enough fans inside the drupal community.

Crell - for not living the drupal-way-of-life e.g; 24/7, having a bed sheet with druplicon and doing it missionary style - just like Dries and current/potential Acquia investors - right?

The belgian dictator acts nervous due to--do we sense a potential Acquia IPO anytime soon?

And meanwhile the drupal code fraternity camp should be perfectly clean slate with no bad boys.

Dries won't step-down, give-up - at least not until there's enough money in the bank.

Drupal is finished for a very log time now - time for another fork but this time wrapping around not just code but community as well!

Submitted by Spud KcKeen (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 19:03 Permalink

I suggest all we that support Larry, add him as mentor on our drupal.org profile. I'm going to do this right now.

I've also done this. Thanks for the idea.

Submitted by Eric (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 20:17 Permalink

Thanks, great writeup.

You say: The message is clear. If you have any kind of unsavoury thought, better hope Dries and his watchful arbiters do not learn of it, because if they do, you’ll be branded as outcast for your heretical thoughts.

Not "unsavoury" - different or unpopular or unusal maybe better words to use.

Submitted by Ben (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 20:50 Permalink

-1

Submitted by wesruv (not verified) on Thu, 2017-03-23 - 21:32 Permalink

If Larry’s words are to be believed (we have no reason not to, especially since his accusers are not denying them), this campaign against him has involved a good amount of cyber-stalking, breach of privacy and trust, harassment, and spreading of malicious rumors. But the person committing said deeds have not been sanctioned.

Of course you have reason not to, skepticism; he's defending himself. Another reason is he's been removing information previously fit to be public after he sculpts an article defending himself.
See: https://www.reddit.com/r/drupal/comments/60y9mq/larry_garfield_on_haras…
and: https://github.com/areyoufuckingserious/slides-gor
and: https://areyoufuckingserious.github.io/slides-gor

It's hardly "cyberstalking" when it's a public github repo. I'd hazard a guess that other things have gone missing from public internet.

Sounds like the CWG and Dries had more information available to them than is now available, as Dries alludes to:

What makes this difficult to discuss, is that it is not for me to share any of the confidential information that I've received, so I won't point out the omissions in Larry's blog post. However, I can tell you that those who have reviewed Larry's writing, including me, suffered from varying degrees of shock and concern.

So Larry has removed at least some material that was very public, is discussing the parts suit him publicly, and Dries is (rightfully) respecting Larry's privacy by not re-entering formerly public information into the internet.

Another reason is he's been removing information previously fit to be public

Or maybe because he only never meant to publish it in the first place. Could be an honest mistake.

It's hardly "cyberstalking" when it's a public github repo.

If it’s true that Klaus Purer took it upon himself to register an account on a closed forum, to gather material to use against Larry, that is certainly cyberstalking.

Dries is (rightfully) respecting Larry's privacy by not re-entering formerly public information into the internet

As you said, this information is still out there, so that's likely not what Dries was referring to. And in any case, a reasonable reaction to this would have been to ask Larry to remove this, as well as to not publish Gor stuff using the same nick as he does in Drupal.

The presentation mentions how he practices SSC, safe sane consensual, and RACK, risk aware consensual kink. It also has stats about women and men being into dominating and being enslaved. Learn a bit more about kink and realize that someone can be a really great, respectful person and still practice edgy kinks like he does.

Or stay ignorant and hating what ya don't know much about...

Submitted by Klaus Purer (not verified) on Fri, 2017-03-24 - 01:04 Permalink

Our community is formed of many people with different nationalities and religions, We have no idea who they are, where they come from. Aspiring and Current members of the DA and the Drupal Community should share my worldview in their public and private lives or they have no place at all near our code repository and events.

The preponderance of reactions I've seen would seem to agree that it is YOU, who should be out, not Larry (assuming this really is you posting under your name and not just a troll trying to stir up more mess). You violated the CoC, not him. Context is important here. Larry’s private life did not appear to impact on his Drupal involvement in any way. Like most others I’ve seen react to this, I’m shocked by how all this has played out and, more than Dries or the DA, I blame YOU, Herr Purer!

the Drupal Community should share my worldview in their public and private lives or they have no place at all near our code repository and events.

Wow! Who else who came from Austria are you starting to sound like here? Everyone from all these other countries and religions should share YOUR worldview? WTF?!?!?!

I know you have contributed a lot to Drupal over the years and that you are trying to be a good, self-proclaimed “feminist” for the sake of a community in which women are a minority—which I would normally find commendable—but I really think you miss the point when it comes to differentiating between consensual sexual fantasy/role-playing and actual “worldview”.

You really should be ashamed of yourself. I don’t think you’ll find you have many friends left in the Drupal community after this plays out and you really should have been the one (or one of the ones) ousted for this b.s. I’ll find some compassion for you, if it becomes known, in the near future, that you were suffering from a brain tumor or syphilis…. Otherwise, I can see no reason the community should keep you around, despite your significant code contributions. IMHO, you have done far more damage to the Drupal community than good. Sad.

Submitted by chameleon (not verified) on Fri, 2017-03-24 - 02:45 Permalink

If you disagree with the way this has been handled, I suggest hitting the DA and Acquia where it hurts, by cancelling your membership, or taking your business elsewhere.

Submitted by JohnB (not verified) on Fri, 2017-03-24 - 08:18 Permalink

I don't know how private one's views can be when you google for their Drupal nickname and it is all there to see. Eg. this github repo with this Gorean presentation was recently removed, but still in Google cache: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:1JqaHH8vjqoJ:http… -- anyone looking around Crell's public github profile would have been able to tell. Somebody mirrored this because it was there publicly before: https://areyoufuckingserious.github.io/slides-gor/#/9/4

So are Gorean slaves doormats?
’Vella,’ said I, ‘is a highly intelligent, complex woman.’
‘Such make the best slaves,’ said Ibn Saran.
‘True,’ I said. Indeed, who would want to collar any other sort of woman? To take the most brilliant, the most imaginative, the most beautiful women, and put them at your feet, impassioned, helpless slaves is victory.”
—Tribesmen of Gor, page 127-128

This is what Crell chose to openly publish with his github account, the same account he used to work on DBTNG for Drupal. I wonder how would any other open source project react when they figure out they have a person in their leadership with these views published with the same identify / account.

Submitted by mikl on Fri, 2017-03-24 - 09:54

In reply to by JohnB (not verified)

Permalink

I don't know how private one's views can be when you google for their Drupal nickname and it is all there to see.

Do you have any idea how many pages you'd have to go through when Googling for “Crell” to find this? Random stuff from Github is certainly no where near the top.

This is what Crell chose to openly publish with his github account

No, this was in all likelihood a mistake. You'll notice that these slides were not published to Larry’s own account, but rather to a “chicago-gor” account. He might not have thought about how Github auto-links anything committed with your Git ID to your public Github profile, so to keep them anonymous, he would have had to tweak his Git settings before working on this particular repository.

Given that he’s been very effectively in the closet about this for as long as I’ve known him (at least a decade), I think it’s reasonable to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Submitted by You are joking… (not verified) on Fri, 2017-03-24 - 10:28

In reply to by JohnB (not verified)

Permalink

Quran (4:24) and Quran (33:50) - A man is permitted to take women as sex slaves outside of marriage.

Are we going to excommunicate all Muslim Drupal members too?

Submitted by Tom Geller (not verified) on Fri, 2017-03-24 - 10:05 Permalink

EOM

Submitted by dddave (not verified) on Fri, 2017-03-24 - 10:45 Permalink

Gor is trash fiction and its philosophy sth I never would imagine people shape their lives after. BUT this does not matter for his DRUPAL involvement. It only matters if you want to despise him on personal reason (which is fine, do as you like) but shouldn't matter with regards to his position within Drupal.

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