Misinformation about the Hyprland community

2023/09/17

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This blogpost is mostly a reply to Drew DeVault's post titled "Hyprland is a toxic community" (link).

In this post, I'd like to try to be as clear as possible, avoiding paraphrasing and throwing in personal opinions as much as possible, which I'd like Drew to also attempt next time he makes a post with such radical viewpoints.

Firstly, I will respond to every part of the blogpost (except obviously for stuff like "Hyprland is an open source Wayland compositor...") and then I'll add a few cents from myself regarding the entire situation.

Drew's accusations

The opening accuses Hyprland's community of being:

spoilt by an incredibly toxic and hateful community

To which Drew adds:

I cannot recommend Hyprland to anyone who is not prepared to steer well clear of its community spaces. Imagine a high school boys' locker room come to life on Discord and GitHub and you’ll get an idea of what it’s like.

I became aware of the issues with Hyprland’s community after details of numerous hateful incidents on their Discord came to my attention by way of the grapevine. Most of them stem from the community’s tolerance of hate: community members are allowed to express hateful views with impunity, up to and including astonishing views such as endorsements of eugenics and calls for hate-motivated violence. Such comments are treated as another act in the one big inside joke that is the Hyprland community – the community prefers not to take itself “too seriously”. Hate is moderated only if it is “disruptive” (e.g. presents as spam), but hate presented with a veneer of decorum (or sarcasm) is tolerated, and when challenged, it’s laughed off as a joke.

Very serious allegations, let's see the arguments.

The (who/cares) incident

In one particular incident, the moderators of the Discord server engaged in a harassment campaign against a transgender user, including using their moderator privileges to edit the pronouns in their username from “they/she” to “who/cares”. These roles should be held by trusted community leaders, and it’s from their behavior that the community’s culture and norms stem – they set an example for the community and define what behaviors are acceptable or expected. The problem comes from the top down.

There is a huge problem with this argument. Well, a few. Starting from the beginning:

This entire story's existence is only due to one, single person's mastodon post. Let's be real, everyone who brings this up links this single mastodon post.

The post is filled with the victim bending the reality and manipulation.

The actual event looked more like this:

The nickname of the victim was hid on purpose, even if it's all but public anywhere else.

Key takeaways:

Furthermore, I do believe the situation was handled very unprofessionally, and instead of the nickname change I should've just banned them, and for that reason I have apologized a few times and I apologize now as well.

Even though this situation is very old, had been explained, action has been taken, and such an incident has not happened again, Drew still clings onto this argument as his, pretty much only in the entire blogpost, concrete example.

On a bit of a tangent, a situation with ridiculing a single user has happened a few months later, however, for the opposite, for transphobia. More on that further down the article, as it's unrelated to Drew's post.

The CoC Discussion

Someone recently pitched a code of conduct – something that this project sorely needs – in a GitHub issue. This thread does not have much overt hate, but it does clearly show how callous and just plain mean the community is, including its leadership (Vaxerski is the original author of Hyprland). Everything is a joke and anyone who wants to be “serious” about anything is mercilessly bullied and made fun of. Quoting this discussion:

I think [a Code of Conduct] is pretty discriminatory towards people that prefer a close, hostile, homogeneous, exclusive, and unhealthy community.

First of all, why would I pledge to uphold any values? Seems like just inconveniencing myself. […] If I’d want to moderate, I’d spend 90% of the time reading kids arguing about bullshit instead of coding.

If you don’t know how to behave without a wall of text explaining how to behave online then you shouldn’t be online.

Link to the Github issue can be found here, #3209.

Let's break this down.

something that this project sorely needs

opinion - has no place in a serious blogpost like this, especially not marked as such.

Drew then quotes one message amongst 22 made by someone just making a joke. Most likely because the original reporter showed a ton of vigor in favor of a CoC that many people have politely just disagreed with:

I think [a Code of Conduct] is pretty discriminatory towards people that prefer a close, hostile, homogeneous, exclusive, and unhealthy community.

Let's see the head of the issue maybe, some first comments:

pointless comment adding only noise

civilized discussion

Cherry-picking one comment and presenting it as if it's the entire tone is disingenuous.

Drew, next, quotes my message:

First of all, why would I pledge to uphold any values? Seems like just inconveniencing myself. […] If I’d want to moderate, I’d spend 90% of the time reading kids arguing about bullshit instead of coding.

If you don’t know how to behave without a wall of text explaining how to behave online then you shouldn’t be online.

I do stand by this statement. If I write that I pledge to do anything, I pledge to do something and can be later held accountable for anything I didn't uphold. What if I miss something? What if my attitude changes? And so on.

If we'd have a CoC, the only thing I could safely put in would be "don't be an asshole", which should be a default online.

At any rate, this conversation, as Drew put it himself, "does not have much overt hate". I'd even add from myself that it doesn't have any hate. It's a civilized discussion. As such, I do not believe it's an argument towards Hyprland's community being toxic, and just beating around the bush and trying to find "by the way" arguments, unrelated to your point, to try and convince your readers to your opinions.

Drew's Email

Drew reached out to me via mail around February 2023 to address the (who/cares) incident.

I would have preferred to address these matters in private, so I reached out to Vaxry in February. He responded with a lack of critical awareness over how toxicity presents in his community. However, following my email, he put out a poll for the Discord community to see if the community members experienced harassment in the community – apparently 40% of respondents reported such experiences.

Vaxry et al implemented new moderation policies as a result. But these changes did not seem to work: the problems are still present, and the community is still a toxic place that facilitates bullying and hate, including from the community leaders.

I'd like to see examples of the last statement. Hearsay is not enough. If by "leaders" you mean moderators, I really would like to see some screenshots.

Following my email conversation with Vaxry, he appeared on a podcast to discuss toxicity in the Hyprland community. This quote from the interview clearly illustrates the attitude of the leadership:

[A trans person] joined the Discord server and made a big deal out of their pronouns [..] because they put their pronouns in their nickname and made a big deal out of them because people were referring to them as “he” [misgendering them], which, on the Internet, let’s be real, is the default. And so, one of the moderators changed the pronouns in their nickname to “who/cares”. […] Let’s be real, this isn’t like, calling someone the N-word or something.

Discussed in the (who/cares) incident section above.

Link to the podcast clip: here (youtube).

Worth noting, what Drew casually forgot to mention, is that I did admit it was very unprofessional of me in the same podcast. Drew put a "[..]" in that part. Whether this is a mistake or on purpose, I will leave up to you to decide.

If my response was not satisfactory enough, please keep in mind the entire podcast was done without prep, and in general, was more about the project itself, so I had no preparation whatsoever to give my statement regarding the incident.

Later he describes a more moderated community (the /r/unixporn discord server) as having an environment in which everyone is going to “lick your butthole just to be nice”.

He compared himself to Terry Davis, the late operating system developer whose struggles with mental illness were broadcast for the world to see, citing a video in which he answers a phone call and refers to the person on the phone by the N-word “ten times” – Vaxry compares this to his approach to answering “stupid questions”.

I like the wording. I never compared myself to Terry Davis. That would be disrespectful. I did compare my replies to Terry's clip of him replying to a phone call. However, the "N-word 10 times" was just in place to narrow down which clip I was talking to. I do not use the N-word, ever, and I was referring to his annoyed attitude, not his choice of words.

Drew's closing thoughts

It really disappoints me to see such an exciting project brought low by a horribly mismanaged community of hate and bullying. Part of what makes open source software great is that it’s great for everyone. It’s unfortunate that someone can discover this cool project, install it and play with it and get excited about it, then join the community to find themselves at the wrong end of this behavior. No one deserves that.

This is, in itself, contradictory. You start by saying Hyprland is brought low by a community, but then you say that FOSS is for everyone.

It's also disingenuous to call the Hyprland community a toxic hellhole. There are places for general banter, your average tavern (#general) and there are places for Hyprland-related support (e.g. #hyprland-help or #hyprland-issues).

If you want support, you go to #hyprland-issues. The entire post reads as if by asking for help, or making a PR, you will be ridiculed and laughed at. You will not.

#general is what it says it is, topics are not mandated, people are free to speak their mind as long as it's not against the rules. (which, nota bene, do not allow bigotry and people do get banned for that)

Drew then goes on about what he wishes for the community to become and leaves a CTA to spread his post. You can see it in the original post, there's nothing to comment here about from me.

Post-Post, so my thoughts

This entire post reads off, at least to me, as a poorly-reviewed ramble because of one bad incident. There is a lot of paraphrasing, very little concrete examples, and a lot of opinions without any source whatsoever.

Yes, the Hyprland community is less strict than some other communities. But so what? We still demand respect from all our users.

The only people who seem to be voicing complaints are:

It's been a long while since I've seen actual hatred in the chats. There are jokes and stupid messages, but if you don't like them, nobody forces you to participate in #general. None go outside of that channel.

Drew's influence

Drew DeVault has a non-trivial influence, and with his added plea to share his post (which I find kind of slimy) there has already been a reaction to it:

Even more people now, after reading out-of-context statements and a lot of opinions without an actual basis get antagonized. Thanks.

Unlike Drew, though, I will not shamelessly ask you to share this post. If you want to, do it. If you don't, don't.

It's unfortunately a very effective method, though. An authority reminding you to do something really works. (As an example, youtubers asking people explicitly to "subscribe" perform considerably better in that metric than those who do not. That's why almost all of them do.)

The second incident

A bit higher in the post I said there was another incident on the server. The only difference is that it was towards a transphobic person this time, and that person did not go and spread the news online.

If it's really that important, a person joined, started being transphobic, and after a few messages it was clear to moderators that it was not a misunderstanding, and he was banned. He was ridiculed by the community en masse.

This actually is another argument against what Drew said, though, as it shows that the community does not like transphobic people.

Closing thoughts

I'd like to end this post by saying that although Hyprland's community is less moderated than some others, it still does uphold basic values of respect. With Hyprland's growth, the community became more than just a "hyprland help server" and as such #general is just people talking to each other about whatever. If you don't want to, and need help, head over to the help section. #general does indeed sometimes have jokes that some people might treat as "controversial".

I'd also like to address Drew personally, as you said that:

This project needs a “come to Jesus” moment

I'd also like to give you a piece of advice: before making such heavy allegations, please consider researching the topic more, instead of relying on hearsay and tenuously linking incidents of heated discussions to allegations like these. Especially with your recognizability and following, people will easily believe whatever you say, even if you might be wrong.

As a final closer: I want to very much thank all the people who do follow by the rules on the discord server, the moderators, and contributors for their continued support of the project and its unique community. This includes, but is not limited to: fufexan, raf, Mathisbuilder, BeardWarrior, end_4, outfoxxed, neoney, jacekpoz, memchr, Dickby, and many more.

Drew's response to this post

Drew has posted a small snippet linking to my post. The only thing I have an issue with is this screenshot:

Please note, dear reader, that the person there (Q) got muted for a long while and warned that next time they will get banned for such a statement.

The reasons for not banning them in the first place will remain as personal reasons between me and Q. Apologies for not elaborating.


Questions, comments, mistakes? Ping me a mail at vaxry [at] vaxry.net and I'll get back to ya.