Language, Twitter, Misunderstanding & Drupal Community
At Drupalcon in Austin I took on the mechanical bull. I ended up losing miserably. Not surprisingly, it was recorded and sent out to the world. Because of my epic fail on the bull, one of my friends in Sweden (I’m Danish) afterwards called me out on Twitter with the #drupalcon hashtag and called me a “pussy".
Other Drupal community members intervened and asked my friend to stop using that kind of language. I saw the thread a couple of hours later next morning, and asked if we could keep the "political correctness" down a little bit, as I saw it as a private teasing over Twitter between 2 people.
I honestly felt the tweet was about me, and my first thought was, “Wow, I don’t have any problems with somebody I know making fun of me - I can stand up for myself”. What i was trying to defend was one of my friends right to make fun of me - I did not understand the issue was around using the word “pussy”, and not about me personally.
That was a mistake not to remember the huge cultural differences we have in our community - and how we use words that can be hurtful to some but don’t even cross my mind when I talk.
I am glad that I got the opportunity at DrupalCon to quickly talk with the people that raised this issue to me, and they took the time to explain to me why the words that were used were an issue. Its not always easy to understand the many differences that we have in a world wide community. In the incident I mentioned our Code of Conduct, where one of our principles is to not assume ill intent from each other, and how we make sure that we get to understand each other - From my perspective the COC worked in terms of how we should react when we feel offended and how we solve issues afterwards.
Things we all should remember when issues occur (as they probably will in the future): We talk about it, We respect each other and we try the best we can to learn from each other.
I sincerely apologize that I didn't get the whole picture before I made my tweets. Instead of seeing it from the outside, I looked at it only from my background. I didn’t see the issue in the moment, but after getting a couple of good pointers and thinking a bit, made my lightbulbs go on, and I’m honestly pissed off at myself for not having a quicker turn around.
I’m known for using foul language. Sometimes it gets me in trouble, other times it creates a ton of laughs.
What I haven’t been fully aware of is how my way of communicating can be perceived by people that do not know me. Even people I know sometime are a little bit: “wow, dude, you need to tone that down a little bit”.
I’ve always stood for a very direct & no bullshit tone. This can come across a Iittle harsh for some, though for others it feels like a salvation to be able to talk direct. We are all different & thanks for that. That doesn’t mean what I do is always ok though.
While I will never be able to please everybody, I can promise that I will do my best to make everybody feel included in the Drupal Community. I can’t promise that i won’t make more mistakes - but if i know what I did wrong, I sure will try.
In the future if you feel that I said or did something inappropriate, no matter if its intended or not, then please come to me, talk about it, send me an anonymous mail (here on my old Drupal6 site) or contact a 3rd party and we’ll figure it out. If you don’t feel ok with coming directly to me, and want to know other ways of handling the situation, please look at our conflict resolution policy.
Room for us all
It’s NOT an excuse that English is my 2nd language or that I have a dark-humoured background, or that Danes have in many ways have no filter whatsoever, or that I’m a die-hard metal head. Nor is it an excuse that I live in a country on a continent that is in many ways very different from the US and other areas of the world.
The Drupal community is so diverse that we all have to understand and respect where we come from. There’s no free passes, not even when people call you the King of Denmark and you’re trusted by our community to help the Drupal Association on the right path.
I have as a DA board member a greater responsibility than the rest of our community to help set a tone that can include us all. No matter if you’re like me a foul mouthed metalhead or if you’re an intellectual who loves classical music. There must and shall be room for us all.
We learn from each other, on many levels, if its in code, community leadership or on a human level and thats what makes Drupal so fucking epic!
Stepping down from the Drupal Association
As a consequence of this incident and other occasions when I have offended people by talking openly about my sex life and/or generally using colorful and trashy language, I am withdrawing from the Drupal Association Board.
Some feel that it sets a double standard when a board member acts and talks like I do. While I don’t agree with this, the fact is that I’m not going to change who I am. If I am a distraction for the Drupal Association, it’s better for me and the community if I step down and make room for others that can take over in keeping the DA in contact with its developer community.
It’s been a honor to serve the Drupal community on the board for almost 2 years. I am extremely proud of being voted in by the community twice, and helping to shape the DA into an international organization and am proud that it now has an office in London.
Does this mean that I’m quitting Drupal? No, you’ve gotta be fucking kidding!
Does this mean that I’m quitting the Drupal Association? Nope, sorry that’s happening either. It takes a bit more to get rid of me. ;)
I will now go back to “only” using my time on making Drupal events happen, speaking at conferences, camps and events - When I’m not working on get Drupal 8 out with an awesome new frontend, which I have been working on for now almost 8 years.
If I don’t see you sooner, I hope to see you at Frontend United in Copenhagen, Design 4 Drupal in Boston, Twin Cities DrupalCamp in August, or at DrupalCon Amsterdam in September, hopefully on Monday at the Community Summit.
Brothers & sisters of Drupal I salute you!
Aside: if you are wondering why I don’t have 219 spelling errors here it’s because I got a couple of friends to read this through.