Diversity by example

(Disclaimer: Dries did not ask/order/suggest/request me to post this neither to make any changes whatsoever.)

I was reading Drupal Confessions with great interest, because my primary job for quite a while now is to help enable the best efforts in the Drupal community to work together to reach new heights. I am really privileged to be able to do this and make a living out of it, it is the job I always dreamed of. I also hope that I am being useful to the Drupal community in doing so. I kept nodding in agreement with the open letter's statements on diversity so I could not get rid of my cognitive dissonance on their connection with reality for several days now. The open letter says "We ask you to fight for us, Dries, to protect us from intolerance, harassment, smearing, bullying, and discrimination, no matter why or where it originates from."

As someone who is getting a paycheck at least indirectly from Dries in the past 10 years, and working as directly with him as possible in Acquia's Office of the CTO for the second half of that period, I have the opportunity to look at his practices in terms of diversity. Which would be the most observable group to learn more from if not his personal department where he directly appoints people?

In the past 5 years I've been closely working with Dries as a remote employee in the Office of the CTO at Acquia, which consisted of 15 people at most at any given time. In this time I worked with at least the following types of people directly in this group (in random order): blind, stutterer, person with ADHD, person with serious sleep problems, person with even more serious sleep problems, divorced, gay, bi, lesbian, asexual, polyamorous, gospel singer, BDSM, religiously raised, atheist, clinically infertile, cosplayer, very tall, short, people from Eastern Europe, Western Europe, US and India, native-borns, immigrants, people in offices, people always working remotely, capitalist, socialist, pacifist, people from a military family, adopting parent, transgender, people with tics, people who don't drink alcohol, etc. The teams I worked on usually had relatively high percentage of women in technical roles. My current team is 50% female, and 1/3rd of the department overall is female. This could not happen by accident.

While none of this represent the whole rainbow of humanity, and it could definitely be further improved, our limited group of 15 people already covered outstanding diversity in my view. Also this is a group that cares, we discuss and live through our struggles and support each other on every step where we can. I would challenge many of those signing the open letter to practice this kind of diversity in their teams. I for one really enjoy the varying values that people brought in and am sad that some of those great people have left to pursue other technical challenges.

In this five years, I never experienced that when hiring people either of these things were considered as a negative or that any person was treated or felt treated badly for any personal life matter. Neither that any of the amazing people who unfortunately left and are covered in the list left because of any of those.

Given that I just cannot get over my cognitive dissonance. Who are being convinced of what?


Tony 's picture

If this is all true and I don't dispute all that, then how you can explain him penalizing a thought crime. Don't tell me that it's not what he did. With all the information we have on hand, it is exactly what he did. It was even more obvious on the "deleted" paragraphs of his initial post about this issue.

Now there is an explanation which makes sense. Klaus blackmailed him and Dries made this mistake in the name of protecting his name, Drupal Project as well as Acquia. Again, with the information on hand, this makes sense and I believe this is what happened, why it happened.

Sorry to sound harsh but I don't understand why you have posted this. What did you wanna achieve with this post? I really would have expected something deeper from you. There is a problem. I am offended with these recent actions. I am upset, troubled and not happy. Like many others are. Now you wanna post something related to this issue but you just write something so shallow, something on the very surface. Why? I have huge respect for you, though we never personally met. I really expected something better from you.

What are you saying again? Dries is being blamed for not being diversified leader and you say he is. And you witnessed first hand for many years that it's not the case. Alright, I believe you. Then why we are here today with this issue? Then why what happened did happen? And how we gonna get out of this problem community is having now.

Dries making posts and he is avoiding to touch the meat of the issue. Webchick posts something, giving general information about the inner workings of CWG but not touching the main issue. And now you post something like this.

I got it; Dries is a diversified leader on the contrary of what he is strongly blamed for recently. Oh okay, problem is solved then. Let's go home now, huh ?!?!

Seriously, what is the purpose of this post? What you really wanted achieve with this?

Gábor Hojtsy's picture

As for why things unfolded like they did, I only have as much information as everybody else has, so unfortunately not going to be able to share any deep insights there. Sorry for the disappointment.

We need to avoid harmful and grossly untrue generalizations and look at the concrete situation itself. As far as I've experienced for years, Dries is very open minded and not just an acceptor or diversity but a promoter. Also he has been delegating most of what he originally was responsible for to other people. There would not be the three core committers who signed the open letter if Dries was not appointing them in the first place to maintain Drupal 7 (and if they would not be doing an amazing and often thankless job at that for the matter). There would be no Community Working Group, there would be no Drupal Association, there would be no office of the CTO at Acquia, etc. In fact Dries posted *before the open letter was published*:

It is clear that the current governance structure of Drupal, which relies on me being the ultimate decision maker and spokesperson for difficult governance and community membership decisions, has reached its limits. It doesn't work for many in our community -- and frankly, it does not work for me either. I want to help drive the technical strategy and vision of Drupal, not be the arbiter of governance or interpersonal issues.

So what else do we expect to happen overnight? If the community is unhappy with how things worked out in this situation, would they be happy with a new rulebook and new arbiter people put into place overnight? No. Or removing all rules altogether and everything goes? Neither. Do we need time and talk to each other about these questions a lot to figure it out? Yes. Do making timebombed demands to try to escalate that further help in coming to community-wide conclusions? I don't see how.

Tony 's picture

You are right. We need to avoid harmful and grossly untrue generalizations. You know it feels very weird and disingenuous when it comes from a side who acted exactly like that and caused harm.

You don't need to change the rulebook to fix the current problem on hand. Change the rulebook to prevent future problems. And work on the current issue now.

There is no such thing as being impatience to deliver justice. Justice delayed is justice denied.

I am not sure how much we are on the same page here.

Anonymous's picture

So you believe 100% everything Larry said without question, and suspect anyone else saying something different. Got it.

somedrupalguy's picture

I've seen the term "thought crime" thrown at this subject repeatedly. I feel like that is just downright disingenuous. Dries didn't give details but it seemed pretty clear at least in his mind Larry had the sort of beliefs that would affect actions, cause biases. And biases can be subtle and hard to measure things. That is more then a harmless thought.

Now, if we can move past the hyperbole and discuss how things went wrong, whether we accept that he had those beliefs, if Dries misconstrued things we're going to accept as benign, whether its ok to base decisions on "poised fruit" material, etc, I think we'll have a more productive discussion treating Dries entirely in bad faith because clumsy he may be but he is someone that genuinely cares about Drupal and the community.

easternwawoman's picture

Larry, you wrote, had the sort of beliefs that create biases. You write that statement as if it is a unique feature of his person. Instead it is a feature of every human. Every person frames what he or she sees based on beliefs that when expressed are opinions and attitudes. As a Catholic, I am positive I have beliefs that do not align with some liberal progressives. What does that have to do with my desire to house and feed myself through employment in techy fields? My take is that we should be terminated from our work when we do not perform as needed or we disrupt others in their work performance. Penalizing me for my non-work activities or beliefs will ultimately weaken a free society of people.

Sam's picture

Hi. I'm a writer at Status 451. Our contributing staff consists of men and women. We range from straight to gay to lesbian to bi to trans. One is catholic. Some are autistic. Our political views cover blue, red, gray and everything in between, and we span 4 continents. When we decided to defend a conference that was being targeted for sabotage by vindictive activists, we were called white supremacists, racists, sexists, nazis, and more, in the name of diversity and inclusion. SPLC was asked to investigate us (but failed to find anything damning). An activist journalist cozied up, trying to extract damning statements for a hit piece (they failed). Despite loud Twitter tantrums, we crowdfunded $43k from people who agreed that blacklisting people for unrelated ideological reasons is non-sense, and saved the event.

So, people are rightly convinced that witch hunts are occurring, that some people are guilty until proven innocent. That racial and sexual characteristics are the deciding factor in who's the victim and who's the perpetrator by default. That your individual beliefs and history are irrelevant and you are expected to match with your category.

People are being convinced that unless you have a diversity consultant tutting over your every move and tallying up your visible demographics, that diversity does not happen, and that it's all the fault of chauvinistic white men. This is non-sense. Nor will the tech industry's own gender demographics, or the greater racial demographics and socio-economic problems of the US, change by applying real pressure to people who can only make symbolic changes. Decades of inconvenient sociological findings and failed social engineering cannot be swept under the rug by shouting equality and "social construct" loud enough.

Wild accusations have created a puritan climate where anything unclean must be expelled. This "diversity" is just a proxy for having the correct moral views, and trying to satisfy it by believing what is said is a fool's errand. All these social activists consistently achieve is moral power over others. What you are hearing with Drupal Confessions is all the people who've kept quiet until now. Their diverse demographics too are being dismissed, their justified fear of persecution ignored, their contributions to their community invalidated.

Perhaps your cognitive dissonance could be resolved by paying less attention to what people say, and more to what they do.

Anonymous's picture

Are you referring to LambdaConf?

Anonymous's picture

If this person is referring to LambdaConf, details here about that: https://statement-on-lambdaconf.github.io - it might sound familiar.

The conference organizer for LambdaConf, who refused to remove the white supremicist speaker, was heavily involved in drafting and promoting Drupal Confessions. Just so we are clear what company we're keeping.

Ha's picture

Ding ding ding, now we are getting somewhere. Precisely why that site is harmful is because it is influenced by people who do not care about this community or Drupal. If you follow the trail (on twitter) it is absolutely clear who those people are, which is why the community should reject engagement with them. They are complete hypocrites.

Michael Haggerty's picture

Promoting, yes. Drafting, certainly not heavily involved. The letter was authored by members of the Drupal community.

I am one of them. In terms of company one keeps, I have kept the Drupal Community's for over 13 years. Some prominent other people in open source have been helpful in offering ideas, thoughts and examples for us to follow.

One might find better examples of outside agitators in the mobs promoting the Code of Conduct and dismissal of Crell on Twitter. Not into pointing fingers, but they are there AND ARE VERY LOUD. Certainly louder than John.

Sam's picture

Yes, that LambdaConf, a family-friendly, diversity tolerant conference with anonymous speaker selection and a code of conduct. Wasn't that what diversity advocates said we needed? It's just more indication that all the rulemaking and policing is just a pretense.

Instead of the protest letter, I would suggest the organizer's own write up:

"Despite the diversity of opinions, however, a majority of minority group speakers converged on the same position tentatively held by staff!"

These must be the wrong kind of minority group speakers... they have their own opinions, the dastardly villains!

Catlos Ospina's picture

I am all for working to find a solution instead of simply discussing the problem, you did not offer one is true, but you added your point of view that can help shape a solution.

@tony so, unless people tells you what you want there is no purpose? Kind of selfish, I think. When you read these posts, remember, respect people's opinions, isn't that what you are fighting for?

Gábor Hojtsy's picture

I did not remotely intend to propose a solution. If I learned something in the 17 or so years I am involved in open source projects (from being the docs lead for PHP to several key roles in Drupal) is that bringing in people with a breadth of different views and giving them space to figure it out themselves is best. This takes time and that time is painful. I feel the pain, but I don't think its humanly possible to avoid. The last thing the community needs now is something imposed or even remotely looking like is imposed on.

Paul Johnson's picture

"bringing in people with a breadth of different views and giving them space to figure it out themselves is best" bravo! I hope that DrupalCon Baltimore proves to be that space where people can figure it out. In many respects the timing is good. We have a some of the smartest people contributing to the project. Like you say it might be painful but we will work it out.

Tony 's picture

I didn't say there is no purpose, I just questioned it since it wasn't clear for me. And surely, I didn't mean any disrespect neither.

Jim's picture

'My current team is 50% female, and 1/3rd of the department overall is female. *This could not happen by accident.*

While none of this represent the whole rainbow of humanity, and *it could definitely be further improved*'

Congratulations, do you want a medal? What argument is there to be had that says teams need to align with demographics? Bring back meritocracy and stop this SJW quota smug madness. Do not hire people based on their skin colour or equipment between their legs - people should be hired because they are the BEST PERSON for the job.

*This could not happen by accident.*
For your information, a diverse team of people certainly could happen by accident providing they all work hard and earn their places on the team.

*it could definitely be further improved*
... How so?

Gábor Hojtsy's picture

Something we always need more is people with JavaScript expertise for example.

(If we would be hiring people to check off diversity marks, then a hispanic muslim black deaf person in a wheel-chair in Australia who does not speak English would improve stats a lot. We are not looking at stats for the sake of stats for sure. I wrote up the above list because I felt very out of place on my Easter weekend).

Jose Reyero's picture

Hey Gábor, I think you've defined it pretty accurately: cognitive dissonance.

You got it from 'drupal confessions', I got it from all the other statements too.... well, who knows.. this may be a huge misunderstanding.

Just please keep in mind the the 'confessions' thing is a lot of misc opinions of people, some just don't think it's ok ejecting people, some think it may be ok but never for 'secret reasons' , some just think the DA role in all this sucks....

But basically, the common ground, I think, is 'Dries is a great leader who just made a mistake, please fix, everyone else's role in it just sucks, please keep away from making decisions over the community." . Well, this is just my opinion, as an example of someone who signed the thing but has no further interest in people throwing crap at each other....

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