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Created June 1, 2023 16:38
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Mara's statement on the retraction of ThePhd's RustConf keynote

I was one of the people who didn't vote for ThePhd's keynote; originally because I simply preferred another promising candidate. Later, after hearing technical concerns from an expert that I mostly agreed with, also because of the topic, although I must admit I am no expert on the topic.

The candidate I voted for originally got a few approving comments at first, but ended up being mostly ignored later, mostly because of our lack of process and proper voting.

When it was brought up in the leadership chat that 'there are concerns', I focused on the talk itself rather than focusing on the process failure. That was a mistake, for which I apologize. I am not an expert on this topic, and should not have rushed myself into talking about things outside my expertise, even under pressure.

In another situation this could have been a minor mistake with no consequences, just one of several opinions in a discussion, but in this situation it became part of the very brief discussion that got summarized to the RustConf organisers as "Rust leadership changed their minds", which, at least for me, was not true. (While I think it'd be an interesting talk, I didn't vote for it as an opening keynote.) There was absolutely no consensus in the chat to change anything about the talk, and I did not know that this was what was communicated with the RustConf organisers. Regardless, it was our shared responsibility to know; it was our failure to not check and confirm.

Some days later, the schedule is published without the 'keynote' labels. I naively assumed that either the damage had already been done, or that this was a peaceful outcome with the consent of the speakers. That was not the case. I should have spoken up and confirmed, but did not, which I feel terribly guilty about.

A week later, the speakers were actually informed of the change, and ThePhd understandably decides to retract their talk entirely. Our failures should have never led to them being put into this terrible situation where they had to do that.

I'd like to believe that a proper governance structure with formal votes rather than ad-hoc decisions would have prevented this entirely (especially downgrading a talk should never happen without proper process), and am still convinced it gets us a long way, but there is a lot more to it to prevent things from breaking down in similar ways.

I've been trying to process for the past few days the ways in which my actions were part of what happened (also with some help of others who were kind enough to listen to me and give feedback (thank you <3)) and will be spending a lot more time reflecting and talking with relevant parties, both on how to improve myself and the Rust project.


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AAlvarez90 commented Jun 2, 2023

I don't think that focusing on "the talk" itself is that BADDD. I recently went to a RailsConf and it sucked! I would fire every single one of those responsible for choosing the talks. The majority of the talks were irrelevant and poorly prepared. For a ticket that cost over $1000 they should have done better. The keynotes were great! And they were about Rails, how it works internally, and how to make your life easier with LSP. All other talks about potential "experimental" features were simply regular/optional conferences and that is fine.
I am not a Rust expert but generally Keynotes are meant to be about the language/tool/framework in question and offer unique insights about them.
I am against what happened, they shouldn't have downgraded the talk after accepting it as keynote, but you guys deal with your own mud.

As for you, you are doing a terrific job. Don't beat yourself up soo much.
People will laugh when you make a mistake but they are quick to forget how many things you did right
I hope this story helps out:

One day Albert Einstein wrote on the blackboard:

9 x 1 = 9
9 x 2 = 18
9 x 3 = 27
9 x 4 = 36
9 x 5 = 45
9 x 6 = 54
9 x 7 = 63
9 x 8 = 72
9 x 9 = 81
9x10 = 91

In class they mocked him and made fun of him because he had made a mistake, as the correct answer for 9 x10 is 90.

Albert Einstein waited for everyone to shut up and said: 
"Despite me answering the first 9 questions correctly, no one congratulated me. Instead, when I got one wrong, everyone started
This means that despite being very successful, society will only notice the smallest mistake and make fun of it. 
Don't let simple criticism destroy your dreams ".

Only those who do nothing don't make mistakes.

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thiur commented Jun 2, 2023

How did we end up with this fake Einstein quote

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@thiur By the Internet and this post being public? Why are you using a troll account to question others? Come on, come out. Show who you really are.

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thiur commented Jun 2, 2023

I'm not using a troll account. And this discussion is not about me

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m-ou-se commented Jun 2, 2023

(I appreciate all your comments, but I'm unable to moderate this thread and I can't lock gist comments, so please continue on Reddit or another place instead of here. <3)

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@m-ou-se No need for moderation. I am done with the guy. Carry on!

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@robot-head Wow!!!! A fact checker. Whether it was him or not, the moral of the story applies here.

And now that we are at it, this also applies to you mate. So keep correcting people online..


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That's not an accurate summary of the study btw, 0/2 for you:

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