Why I publicly support Dries and Megan and you should too. (And a little bit about Codes of Conduct).

As part of the Drupal community I have to speak out when I see something happening that affects us all. There is an old saying about what triumphs when one stays silent (although I won’t be so bold as to assume I fit the description). Having opened with that, in 9+ years as a Drupal community member I have only felt the need to be vocal on one other occasion — to do with (DrupalCon) Code of Conduct. But more about that later.

So I’ve stated my opinions very publicly and — rightly or wrongly — I now have to back them up. I have been asked by some why I’m bothering to get involved; what I know about a situation from 3,000 miles away; and why I’m publicly supporting Dries and Megan. Well here’s my explanation — and if you’re a member of the Drupal community I suggest you consider where you stand on these important issues.

There are 3 issues that have arisen in recent weeks and the distinction between them is key:

1) What another community member did (the least important to me);

2) How the situation was / and is being handled (very important — since it applies to the entire community);

3) The perception of (2) both inside and outside of the Drupal community (possibly the most important of all).

  1. What another community member did

The first issue I consider to be the least important — and here’s why. The minutiae of what a community member did, or did not do, is not my concern. I have read enough gossip about it and I don’t actually care anymore. I don’t need to know the Gory (pun intended) details of every misdemeanour that happens in any community I belong to. All I need to know is that whoever deals with it does so in a fair, objective and transparent manner.

Which leads conveniently to point 2.

2. How the situation was / and is being handled

Issue (2) is fundamentally why so many people have got upset. Most, if not all of us, can remember an instance when we were on the receiving end of an injustice. And the slightest whiff of that happening again sends people into a frenzy. It has become a cliche to hear: “I disagree with what you are saying, but I shall defend your right to say it…” regarding personal freedom and liberty. But it is self evident.

The lack of a transparent process in dealing with whatever happened is what most people were up in arms about. However, this issue of process/governance has started to be addressed.

3) The perception of (how the situation was handled) both inside and outside of the Drupal community

Issue (3) — the perception of what happened — is possibly the most important of all. I don’t know every last detail about what initially happened, nor all the ins-and-outs of how it was dealt with. But I have an overall perception of it — and I can view the perception of many others both inside and outside the community — from what was released into the public domain.

And it was less than great (understatement alert).

As a small Drupal agency owner, and a co-founder and organiser of DrupalCamp London — on a far smaller scale I have had politics to deal with. And here’s where I get round to my point of why I support Dries and Megan:

I have been trying hard to empathise with Larry, Dries and Megan. And figure out the anguish and turmoil they must all be going through. It is for other more qualified people than me to judge Larry. I even fully defended his right to a fair hearing. But what we must be aware of is that he has the least responsibility in this situation. He can choose to say whatever he likes — he essentially has nobody to answer to.

Dries and Megan on the other hand — and this is where in a very small way I identify with them — are bound by a number of duties. They have people they are responsible for, need to answer to, and need to consider. Their board, their colleagues, their employees — the community. They are between a rock and a hard place.

No community is perfect. No organisation is perfect. But in the 5+ years of working with Megan she’s always gone out of her way to be incredibly supportive, and understanding. She’s arranged every year for people to support and grow our Camp and always given us advice and help. In the last 60+ months I have only ever seen her dedication, generosity and consideration to every member of the Drupal community, myself included.

So based on these years of experience, without me even needing to know the details of Issue (1), I can fully place my trust in Megan (and Dries) that they would make the right call in this situation. I implicitly trust that they would make the call that benefits the community and Drupal.

Conclusions

The Drupal community will overcome this Drama. The Drupal community is many times stronger than this. And it is due to people like Dries and Megan, the many contributors (like Mike Heggarty!), and counter intuitively some might say — even Larry — that make the community so strong.

There is meritocracy, there is democratic accountability, and the Code of Conduct will be resolved and the community shall move on stronger.

So that’s why I support Dries and Megan. In a time of crisis one cannot stand by and do nothing. One has to stand up and support people who are doing their best for you. People who have done their best for you for many years.

Someone we’re fortunate enough to work with will be at DrupalCon Baltimore and I told him before he left, to give Dries and Megan a hug of support when he sees them.

I implore you to do the same.

#HugDries. #HugMegan.

Footnote: What should and shouldn’t be in a Drupal Code of Conduct.

I’m almost out of things to say but here are two points for the Code of Conduct we need:

i) General principles we can all adhere to 80% of the time (this is all but a fait accompli already). Anything covered by the laws of the land does not need to be included. As I said previously, it is unnecessary to tell me not to pillage, commit treason or international espionage at a DrupalCon. I think someone else has that covered guys — thank you.

ii) Some form of transparent conflict resolution procedure for the other 20% of the time (this needs a bit more work and a bit more here).