Stepping down as Nodevember organizer

Posted by on September 5, 2016

Edit 2016-09-06 1:32PM CT - Clarification: Remove typo of “apart” and reword “I was not apart of the decision…” to read “I did not take part in the decision…”.

Edit 2016-09-06 8:20AM CT - Clarification: I do not condone any form of hate. I love everyone. Everyone has value, should feel welcomed and loved. I pray for peace on all sides.

“34 I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Edit 2016-09-06 7:55AM CT - I am told there were DM’s received to the Nodevember twitter account on 2016-09-01 related to this. I had no knowledge of them and as a result failed to mention in my view of the timeline below.

I have stepped down as an organizer of Nodevember.

I officially stepped down after much prayer and thought on the situation on 2016-09-03.

I’d like to offer thoughts on why I made such a decision after investing so much in organizing a community event over the past few years.

For backstory, the outsider’s view collected in this post is an extremely accurate account of external and internal turmoil surrounding the controversy. It also provides details as far as allegations go against Mr. Crockford.

Lack of team effort

In short, I did not take part in the decision to uninvite Douglas Crockford to Nodevember.

By the time I’d received notice of the event unfolding on the evening of 2016-09-01, the decision was already made by the main organzier, swiftly and without discussion.

This, to me, is not the way to respond.

Allegations should be investigated, discussed and a consensus reached, by the entire organizing committee prior to any communication or adjustment to the schedule.

The decision should be communiciated with clear evidence and explaination of the decision and allegations leading up to the decision.

None of this took place.

The manner in which the allegations reached us, was in a public and confrontational manner; via Twitter.

And in a moment of confusion, a poor decision was made to remove Douglas Crockford as a speaker, by the main organizer.

I did not and still do not see a reason to uninvite him.

Diversity

As the controversy unfolded we had a list of yet-to-be-announced 48 speakers that made up the main portion of the conference.

Of those speakers, one would find it filled with a diverse group of speakers which line up with the list in the Nodevember Code of Conduct - These are “gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion”. Each of these were most likely represented. Of course, religion or disability are hard to distinguish, as some religions do not have outward representation, or disabilities such as mental illnesses are not plainly visible. It is also possible for a speaker and/or attendee to represent multiple forms of diversity.

For the event itself, every effort would be made to ensure that every person would feel comfortable during the event.

This seemed to work well for Nodevember 2015, in which Douglas Crockford and Kassandra Perch were present, along with several notable, names representing diversity in the JavaScript community. The list of speakers and presentations can be found on the Nodevember 2015 Youtube playlist. It is worth noting that no incidents were reported related to our Code of Conduct, prior, during or after the event.

Regarding the diversity in keynotes, I personally reached out to the following speakers of diversity and did not receive a reply or received a “No” to the offer to keynote the conference.

This list includes:

Tolerance

I did not feel that the tweets fired at Nodevember were sent in a peaceful manner, per the code of conduct.

A suggestion to boycott the conference was made, because of suspicion that diverisity and inclusivity were not top priority. This tweet was speculation without evidence.

The tweets go on to chastize the conference for being held at a “Christian university”. It is worth noting: I am a Christian. I would challenge that I am in the minority among most conference attendees.

The acceptance of persons from all religions are part of diversity and inclusivity, as a whole. This is a postion I support and encourage.

We, as organizers, were being publicly shamed because of our inclusion of a speaker, in which another speaker had a preference against.

This is not tolerance. This is not acceptance. This is not inclusivity.

In closing

It is my personal experience and belief that everything possible was done to build a diverse conference of speakers and attendees.

We aimed to recreate the exciting and inviting atomosphere from last year.

The events of the past few days are saddening and in response to them I have decided to part ways with conference organizing for the time being.