The Times They Are a Changing (Again)
This week, we pulled a story down from The New Stack website — at the request of the subject of the article. This is not a decision we took lightly. As the self-appointed publication-of-record for the cloud native community, we stand by our journalism once it is posted for truth, posterity and the greater good, thwarting take-down requests by vendors and sponsors alike who may not agree with our coverage.
In this case, however, the request came from a person whom we profiled years ago, and the post was not only about this person’s considerable work in cloud native computing, but also a personal story of a difficult journey that was ultimately about overcoming obstacles.
In many ways, the story is already of another, more optimistic, era. Back then (and today) our editorial staff, like many IT trade publications, was made up of mostly older cis white dudes. We wanted to learn and welcome other voices to our world even if we were (and are) still clumsy at doing so.
So when we were first approached earlier this week and asked to take down the post, we were ethically torn and a bit defensive. Can’t this story serve our readers and the broader community as an important example for others, we asked, somewhat crestfallen? The piece, we thought maybe with too much hubris, still shows how The New Stack welcomes diversity and inclusion (and if you don’t agree with these ideals, you’re reading the wrong newsletter). Also, we believe this is someone whose story and contributions to our industry is still very valuable today.
But we learned that having the post still out there was making this individual feel unsafe and not valued by this community. Unsafe is the keyword here, and it is one that should never be regarded lightly in this culturally combative climate. Many underrepresented communities have been under attack by hateful trolls, who, in many cases, want to do actual — physical — harm to people. When someone says they feel unsafe, believe them.
There was another issue at play as well. When the story was first reported, the person participated willingly and openly. But now, this TNS post keeps coming up in Google searches and overshadowing the individual’s considerable technical talent. As was pointed out, software is indifferent to gender, race, class, sexual orientation or any of our other social identities, so why bring it up at all in a publication focused on technology?
Our job is to provide clarity, explanation and analysis of at-scale development, deployment and management. We aim to serve as a calm place where the focus is on the bright minds who play such an important role for the technologists we serve. Our focus is on giving a voice to everyone — especially those who must have a voice but are too often not heard. We go to people for their expertise and the context they provide. It's the perspective that matters.