My personal encounter with Jane Wells

WordCamp Raleigh has come and gone, and everyone has a lesson or two they can take with them in the days ahead. Mine, however, is deeply personal. It’s one that I didn’t expect would happen at the event, but it was forthcoming.

I’ve been known in some small circles of the WordPress community as a very vocal critic of some decisions made by those whom we consider the leadership. I’ve written some zingers of analyses that have brought about ssome heated debate.

If it were only a matter of heated debate, I’d never have been led to writing this post. My recent response to some new guidelines on WordCamp organizing led to some very, very nasty discussions by others. Jane herself left a response in the comments and that was enough for me to close them. However, others took the post as inspiration to write even more unbelievably terrible commentary.

When I heard that Jane decided to show up at WordCamp Raleigh, I didn’t know what to think. I was hoping, however, for an encounter that led to a resolution for the better.

My conversation with Jane felt awkward, mostly because I was very ashamed that the conversation had to be had in the first place. A friend (who will remain nameless) had clued me in to the effects of my writing, no matter how “fair” or “intellectually honest” it could be. I was reminded that the developers aren’t really all that inaccessible.

I had to be reminded that there is a process to conflict resolution, and that motives really cannot be gleaned just on the basis of one’s actions. I’m very embarassed that I forgot about the three schools of moral evalution, especially since I wrote about them a while ago.

I’m moving on from the matters of GPL debates, and the conflicts between the “WordPress leadership” and other developers. I still commit to serve the truth, but the truth in this matter is that even my most fair and intellectually honest analyses will always be used as ammo by smaller minds.

No idea exists in a vacuum, and at this point, it’s better for me to channel my energy and ideas to other matters. I’ve asked Jane how I can help, and I’ve signed on to helping out with the UI/Design team. I requested no special treatment, and I fully intend to earn my keep.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be some shill with non-stop rah-rah “Automattic/WordPress/Matt/Jane/name-your-developer can do no wrong” cheerleading. Everyone makes mistakes, and I’ll hear and see things that I disagree with, but I know there are better means to address them, and taking it public should actually be the last, not the first, means of resolving an issue.

Finally, I must commend Jane for engaging her critics head on. She showed that she’s sporting a bigger pair than most of those who hide behind their computer screens. She spent a great deal of last Saturday engaging the prickliest of her critics, and have won over most of them, myself included.

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