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Sexism, Racism, Toxic Positivity, and TailwindCSS

cher profile image Cher Updated on ・5 min read

You might think that these things don't belong in the same article, but here we are, this week in front-end development, having the same conversation that seems to be never-ending.

There's a complexity here that I find is being painfully pushed aside to focus on one thing: TailwindCSS versus... not TailwindCSS.

In defense of TailwindCSS

I want to start by saying that I am using TailwindCSS professionally on a project. It is doing exactly what we want - it's making our development and maintenance of the project faster. To say it "does nothing" is factually incorrect. We are using Ember to build this particular application and the way in which we modularize this application works very well with TailwindCSS.

I want to specifically point out that the "it's WET not DRY" argument is flimsy and wrong. It definitely encourages "AHA" programming, and I find that we are creating components in a smarter way, recognizing when UI blocks have more in common than they don't and splitting them off into their own component.

I also want to point out that while the idea of "separating content from presentation" was once very pragmatic, and may still be for some cases, it's no longer a blanket rule. We're not slicing our front-end development cake the same way we used to, and it's perfectly acceptable that this varies from team to team and project to project.

I do think it's important that we frame our critique and support for technology in a way that makes it clear we understand that while it did or did not work for us, or our team, or our project; we know it's for our case and our reasons are reflective of that specificity.

TailwindCSS is working for this project on my team. That's not to say it will work for you, or your project. And that's perfectly okay.

Sometimes it's simply about what your team's best majority agreed-upon course of action is, as a team, and none of us is necessarily right or wrong. (Even though, I, definitely am, for sure, always right.)
For more on this: Lumpers and splitters

In defense of criticism of TailwindCSS

When I saw Adam Wathan's tweet at Sara Soueidan's tweet of "TailwindCSS: Adds complexity, does nothing" I (wrongly) assumed that this article must be incredibly toxic to warrant such a response.

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Link to tweet

The commentary going around about being considerate of the people behind software development (something I absolutely champion frequently) was mainly people standing up for Adam and TailwindCSS with supreme vigor. I thought back to A fucking rant about fucking const vs fucking let and even though I knew it wasn't meant to be taken that seriously, I'm critical of toxic satire, and so I came to const's defense, and I thought that this must be an incredibly toxic article because of the response to Sara's tweet of the article.

Then I read it. While the framing was lacking the nuance I expressed above, and the title is mildly negative in a click-baity way, it wasn't toxic. Not even remotely toxic. The article is a perfectly fine piece of critical thought. It's a great resource (despite lacking nuance) for folks who want to know if TailwindCSS might be the right tool for their project.

The criticisms aren't incorrect or invalid, and they need to be stated. If TailwindCSS wouldn't be good for a person, team, or project, we should care enough about those folks' time and effort to elevate those criticisms so they move quickly to the best tool for the job for THEM.

Isn't that the entire point of creating these tools at all? The name is tailwind... it's not a tailwind if it's going in the opposite direction the plane is traveling. Do we want our tools to create friction and slow people down? No? Good.

Toxic Positivity

As the day went on, I saw Sara's tweet of the article disappear. When I investigated why, what I saw was a Lebanese woman being bullied for sharing an opinion with a white dude in tech and simply linking to it.

Social media has created a culture where we track and measure positive engagement. Actually, positive isn't even the right word. Adoration, favorable opinion, and endorsement are much better words for the kind of engagement we've come to not only expect, but anything outside of that is unacceptable and flat out rejected. I personally feel the need to "like" every single reply to me because I am so worried about giving folks who interact with me the idea that I hated what they said.

It's become so polarized: either you emphatically adore and approve of the things people make, or you toxically hate it. Not because that's what's actually happening, but because anything neutral or critical is now going to ruin someone's day.

While this was the majority of the bullying that Sara received, the response to the article, of course, is far more tame and respectful. So tame, in fact, that the author used it to share that he is working on his OWN tool (because, well, of course he is).

Adam himself stated that he was unbothered by the article itself, but rather held Sara accountable for daring to not only agree with the criticism, but to share that with her audience.

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Link to tweet

So while yes, this is toxic positivity, it's not about the critique of TailwindCSS. This is entirely about Sara sharing that critique at all.

Sexism and Racism

While Adam may not be consciously aware of what he's done, his response to Sara is absolutely rooted in his own biases to give the benefit of the doubt only to folks like himself. The criticism is easy for him to internalize and move on from because it comes from someone that he views is like he is. Sara has had to earn his respect and admiration, as a non-American woman of color, instead of getting it from default in-group bias, and anything other than the admiration he gives her is felt as betrayal.

People in majority groups in communities (and, frankly, in societies in general) act incredibly entitled to reciprocity of affections from those who are marginalized in those groups.

Adam's response is a prime case study in this. He expressed how it literally ruined his day that she did not return the same admiration and respect he felt he gave her. And what's worse is that he passive aggressively thanked her for using her platform to accomplish just that.

But here's the thing: while there may be admiration, there's certainly not respect.

A man incited bullying onto a Lebanese woman for sharing a critique of a framework he wrote not for the critique itself, but because she didn't give him the admiration he felt he deserved. That's not respect. That's systemic entitlement.

Edit:

This isn't a commentary on Adam's intentions. This isn't a commentary on Adam's personal beliefs. This is a commentary on the systems we live in which empower a white man in our industry to publicly shame and guilt a Middle-Eastern woman and to expect certain behavior of that woman that white man does not expect of himself, nor of other white men.

Discussion (237)

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graciegregory profile image
Gracie Gregory (she/her)

Hello everyone,

A reminder that our Code of Conduct strictly mandates a harassment-free, civil environment here on DEV. 

We require our community members to behave in a way that contributes to creating a positive experience. Positive behavior on DEV includes using inclusive language and being respectful of differing viewpoints and experiences. 

Examples of unacceptable behavior include:

  • Making insulting/derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks
  • Dismissing or attacking inclusion-oriented requests

Additionally, ‘Reverse’ -isms, including ‘reverse racism,’ ‘reverse sexism,’ and ‘cisphobia’ will not be tolerated. 

Violations of our Code of Conduct will result in comment/article moderation, a warning, temporary suspension, comment suspension, or permanent banning, at the discretion of our moderators. We take our Code of Conduct very seriously and examine all observed and reported violations individually. 

Please review our Code of Conduct and keep your discourse helpful, respectful, and inclusive.

Thank you,
Gracie Gregory
Content Manager & moderator @ DEV

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

@graciegregory Ok having read the rules I completely agree that my comment was far too sarcastic and not constructive, thank you for stepping in to cool everything down!

The big question though is does this article itself not contravene the code of conduct?

  • Trolling, insulting/derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks.

Is this not a personal attack on Adam Wathan and if not insulting to him as it makes accusations about his character?

I do mean that genuinely, I enjoy writing here and interacting with the people on the site but the wording is not clear and as I am someone with a big mouth and strong opinions I want to know where the line is so I do not cross it!

Thanks in advance for any clarity you can give!

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graciegregory profile image
Gracie Gregory (she/her)

Hi @inhuofficial ! Thanks so much for asking for some clarification. More than happy to help. Really glad you're enjoying this community 🙂

I think the edit that's now at the end of the post sums it up pretty well. Essentially, our moderators interpret this post not as a personal attack on Adam Wathan but as a critique on a system at play in the dynamic described. The intention here doesn't seem to be to insult Adam but instead, the general framework of privilege white men benefit from inherently — and the patterns that result from this.

I hope this clarifies things a bit further. If you have any other questions about our Code of Conduct, feel free to direct them to our team email: yo@dev.to

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

@graciegregory thank you for taking the time to respond.

It doesn't unfortunately, it is probably an America vs UK culture thing (or just me needing an attitude adjustment!) that means I can't quite grasp where the line is, but thank you for pointing me to the email address to have a less public discussion about it.

I hope you get to enjoy the rest of your weekend and have no more "fires to put out"! and once again thank you for taking the time to respond.

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thebarefootdev profile image
thebarefootdev • Edited

I agree sarcasm is not specifically trolling. We are all at the behest of the moderators or those who can only interpret what they feel the intention is. Quite frankly, this worries me as it means that any perceived negativity is immediately considered against the rules.

I’m opinionated and often use sarcasm as humor , does this mean my time here is limited ?

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

I am afraid so it seems, just stick to writing and commenting on code.

I was hoping sleeping on it would change my mind so I could write to the dev.to team, but actually it has had the opposite effect and I will instead just pick and choose what to write about here after seeing some balanced comments removed (mine was justified, sarcasm does not play well with heated topics).

A very sobering experience that has made me question whether to post about accessibility and disabled rights as if you think racism and sexism are contentious issues try working in this industry! Then trying being someone advocating for disabled rights and not having a disability.....trust me I would be banned within the week.

Stick to the code, I will stick to the meme posts and hopefully we both get to stick around for a while. That is if my itchy trigger finger doesn't release the rebuttal piece I have written, in which case, nice meeting you 🤣

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Sarcasm, like most things, does not have the same effect on every conversation, nor on every medium. Sarcasm tends to work very well in communication between people who have a rapport with each other, or on platforms, only in the audience they were intended for.

Since we don't know each other, and the audience here is mixed, and it's in text, it's easy to misinterpret sarcasm for contempt and aggression.

The best advice I can give you: know your audience. There are times that sarcasm isn't going to be read that way, and it's up to you to learn when it's not communicating what you intended.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

As I said, justified that my comment was removed and that sarcasm does not work on a heated discussion. You put it eloquently.

But some of the comments that were removed were innocuous and seemed to disappear simply because they did not agree. That is a zero sum game and does nothing to further discussion on important topics.

The language you used to describe his actions, despite the disclaimer, are so evident of your own bias and prejudice. It just astounds me that we think that is acceptable behaviour just because you are (I assume) a woman and that is where the outrage came from.

Personally I believe that you should be able to express those opinions, but once we start deleting comments that don’t agree then we have to do the same with articles.

Classifying and judging someone based on race and gender seems to be the very thing you rally against and I can applaud that, but if you want to stop racism and sexism you have to see that you have to stop racial Prejudice and Prejudice based on gender of any kind if you want to succeed in stamping out injustice.

You write eloquently, I feel like our goals are more aligned than misaligned but maybe look at more fruitful ways of exposing unconscious bias and inequality than making assumptions about someone you do not know. Lift others up without tearing people down. Without knowing Adam and Sara personally we cannot comment on the motivations of either of them.

I am a man, I am white, I am cis gendered and I am straight. That does not and should not tell you anything about my character, views on the world or my conduct. To imply that it does is prejudiced in and of itself.

Educate people on unconscious bias, I will stand right beside you. Fight for equality, I will lead the charge or follow you to the front lines. Project a generalisation onto any group of people and I will be stood right in front of you, between you and them.

Inclusion starts with understanding and discussion, it starts with treating people as individuals and based on their actions, we will never achieve that if you truly believe that every action performed by white men is linked to privilege...some people are just weak, some people are just a$$holes (maybe you think I am one, but that should be down to my conduct alone that you decide that.)

Privilege exists but it is such a small part of the equation and parading it out as the motivation behind every action only proves to do one thing, it encourages people to not talk to people who are not in their “groups”, it instead makes me want to avoid talking to you, for fear of reprisal. At that point you have lost any chance of persuading me of a different way of thinking.

Finally I want to make the point of why identity politics is doomed to fail...what if Adam was a trans man and had chosen not to share that with the world? Also if he was black but cis-male would you accuse him of “inciting bullying” or would it be acceptable now because you believe he is disadvantaged?

I was raised by my mother as a single parent, all of the data shows that I am disadvantaged by that far more than if I were black or female but raised by two parents. Does that mean I get some privilege points removed?

I hope my point is made without crossing any lines. Who knows maybe we will have a meaningful discussion on this between us one day but right now I am scared to say anything further for fear of reprisal and fear I may already have said too much.

Anyway I took the bait and responded when I shouldn’t, I said I would steer away from this but I just cannot help it, and that should be allowed and OK as otherwise neither of us will come to understand each other.

End rant! 😜

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cher profile image
Cher Author • Edited

Unfortunately you simply misunderstand what I'm communicating here, and I'm sure that is likely due both to different experiences and levels of education and introspection on systemic bias.

The answer to the question of whether or not he was Black would have made me call out that his actions incited a large-scale harassment campaign against Sara from a cult-like following? Yes. I just wouldn't have mentioned systemic racism. It's easy to go into hypotheticals of that nature, but the bottom line is that I have never, if ever, seen this type of brazen, unapologetic behavior from prominent Black men in tech towards lighter-skinned women, regardless of their nationality.

I have, however, seen this type of behavior from white men enough times to be fed up enough to write this post.

You have mis-framed this as some sort of analysis of Adam's character. It's not. I have personal opinions about the character he's shown beyond a systemic framing as I've done here, but I don't think it's appropriate to write a public post about it at all, especially given that I frankly don't know him outside of his public persona in tech.

You're saying that you will absolutely sit down and be educated about unconscious bias, but this is the type of toxic behavior that these biases give a pathway to.

My previous response was not bait, and this is not bait. I am responding to you in good faith, and with good faith. I sincerely want this to stop happening to Sara, myself, and other marginalized folks in this space. If you want to see something quite telling - look at the folks who are framing this as character assassination and think it's unfair, and who is grateful I said this.

I've been in tech professionally for 16 years, and as a hobbyist for 21 years. I'm a competitive gamer, and have been since I was in high school. I'm an electrician. I'm a wood worker. I used to be somewhat of a hobby mechanic (1979 Datsun, specifically). I've worked in Biotechnology and mechatronics. I cannot express to you enough the commonness of Adam's behavior here specifically toward women in every single one of these male-dominated industries and communities.

I want you to consider that my framing here is entirely about the unwelcomeness that unconscious bias creates for marginalized folks in those majority-homogenous spaces, and using Adam's behavior as a prime example of both the expectations that are placed on the marginalized, and how manipulative and coercive the majority group can be, even when that isn't their conscious intention.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

I really had to have a think on how to respond here as I do want to try and look past the article and just look at our interactions. This is the best I could do though as the language used in your responses doesn't read in a positive way, but I am only human so there is a chance I am still misreading it:

Firstly, I am really trying to believe that you don't have massive biases yourself.

But yet again, some of the sentences here are very presumptuous, I am not sure why you cannot see it.

"Unfortunately you simply misunderstand what I'm communicating here, and I'm sure that is likely due both to different experiences and levels of education and introspection on systemic bias."

Let's start with you believing I misunderstand you, not because of the language you use, but because of differing (by which I can only infer you mean "my lack of" due to your phrasing) education and how much time I spend on introspection?

A little bit of a background on me:

I work in accessibility and inclusion and have for over 5 years now, I advocate for accessibility, I spend my days working on educating people on bias, society and perception.

I have spent 18 months (and still have at least 6 months before launch) building a product all to do with inclusion, my company is called "Inclusivity Hub".

I spend several hours a day examining and being surprised by my biases and correcting them, assuming people can't do X because of a disability and then learning that I am an idiot, yes even now, after years in the industry.

The space I work in overlaps an awful lot with gender issues and race issues, as well as sexuality issues and gender identity issues, mainly because people with disabilities are more likely to be homosexual, they are more likely to be transgender, they are far more likely to face discrimination and bias than someone who is black or female but not disabled ever will (and obviously if you are black, female and disabled...you have an uphill struggle to say the least!).

Oh, and before the pandemic I was on a steering group examining how to get more women into tech.

So I am pretty confident I have a rounded education on the subject and spend a decent amount of time on introspection.

The only thing you have an advantage on is personal experience, and personal experience, whilst valuable, is just that.

Personal experience is where biases come from.

So at this point, I have to ask what your education on the subject is and whether you believe that we are similarly educated on the subject and whether I have spent enough time on introspection to justify us being able to have a conversation as equals and without the condescending tone?

Leading on from that - the personal experience of others is invaluable for me. That way I can understand where the problem is.

But just because I do not have the experience you share doesn't mean I can't listen to that experience, and that of hundreds of others and empathise and act on it. I mean that is the key point, I may not experience it, so I listen to many people's experience to see patterns. Yet again, who is more likely to have bias, one person's view or someone who has listened to many views?

So given all of that, I think the only misunderstanding we have here is in the language you choose and the way we approach inclusion.

I believe in "personal responsibility and identity", you believe in "group identity" (that is my understanding based on our brief conversation so far). You use words like "incite" and then say it is not a personal attack, I still cannot reconcile that due to the meaning of the word. "incite" is a deliberate act. Perhaps some of this is down to semantics, but I would argue that is as much your fault for your choice of words as mine for taking the word at its meaning.

I mean, yet again, look at your choice of words here:

"You're saying that you will absolutely sit down and be educated about unconscious bias, but this is the type of toxic behavior that these biases give a pathway to."

"sit down and be educated" - who says that? I mean seriously, who has the audacity to say that, and how am I meant to take that without believing there is an undertone of "shut up and listen"?

As for biases and looking at our own biases - I will admit that given your article and our interaction I have a bias towards you that I am having to try and be mindful of, I believe you have a disdain for white men and "we are all the same".

I am trying very hard to work against that bias but so far you have given me no evidence to the contrary. I am hoping I am wrong.

You want to educate me (I really am trying to put that down to arrogance not bias, but it does smell of bias I must say), judge me because I am white, judge me because I am male, you believe in group identity....all the things I cannot reconcile with as they are abhorrent behaviours and detrimental to achieving understanding and better relations.

As for the toxic behaviour part - what toxic behaviour have I exhibited. My sarcasm was indeed unprofessional, perhaps even a little bit of an attack, but I am sure you will agree not toxic? I have already said I believed it was not the right way to approach this so I am not sure what other behaviour I could have exhibited that made you use the word "toxic". In fact I have no idea what "this type of behaviour" means in this context? perhaps you could elaborate for me?

My question is would you be happy to sit down and be educated on the dangers of group identity? (if that is how we are now talking to each other)

If so then I am more than happy to sit down and have a discussion so we can educate each other on our differing points of view.

"If you want to see something quite telling - look at the folks who are framing this as character assassination and think it's unfair, and who is grateful I said this."

Some of that will indeed be down to prejudice and bias. Yet again a point we could have a discussion on, but that isn't the entirety of it, there is a lot more to the story. Look deeper.

Why are white people and men outraged by this? Because you are projecting your own narrative onto an entire group. You are attacking them.

Who agrees with you? People in your group?

You are also writing on a site dedicated to an industry that is dominated by a narrative of "white man bad".

All stemming from a narrative pushed by education and Universities and the main stream media, it is an industry filled with highly educated individuals who are exposed to this narrative far more often. We are in an echo chamber of group identity politics, a narrative nobody is willing to challenge for fear of being ousted or attacked.

I am pretty sure if you wrote this same post in a more balanced industry there would be a much different reaction.

A final point with regards to trying to work out where the support or criticism comes from...with no downvote button we only have the comments, and as most of them were deleted how can we possibly see who said what and what race and gender they are? Or indeed what ratio of people disagreed with you?

As for male dominated industries and minorities enduring the jabs, remarks and other behaviour that is not welcoming - oh I really think we could be on the same ground on a lot of points here, but we are still too far apart on the fundamentals at the moment to make that work productively.

Mainly because I want to dig into more than just the surface crap you hear on social and main stream media, I want to look at genetics, culture etc. I want to look at how minor differences in temperament between men and women (across a standard distribution looking at the mean and the extremes as the extremes are where lessons can be learned) can add up to big problems and inequality. I want to look at how much of women's choice to abandon STEM subjects is driven by society, how much by genetic predisposition (women who are good at maths, on average are better than men who are equally good at maths, at other subject such as English, giving them more options), media influence, parent's opinions or the existing status quo in an industry.

I want to understand "how much of inequality is driven by X, how much by Y....right well X is where we should focus our efforts as we can't change Y easily". I want to ask the hard questions, without a narrative getting forced over it.

This is very dangerous ground to cover for friends, impossibly dangerous ground when we start from a position of opposition rather than understanding.

I will consider your framing, yet again I think that we could have common ground here, but I still cannot see how you believe that this Twitter conversation was the hill to stand your ground on, or that you cannot see how the language you used is not conducive to an inclusive and productive discussion.

Are you at least willing to concede that the fault, perhaps, is not all mine and start talking to me assuming that I may actually be able to hold my own in a conversation on these matters (or if this is just a phrasing issue, consider your phrasing in a way that I cannot misconstrue?)?

I will, in exchange, respond in good faith also and stop assuming you are trying to incite outrage (see what I did there 😋🤣🤣).

Hell, on paper we should be friends, we work in a similar space, we want inclusion and equality....surely we should be able to get to a point where we can tackle some of these issues together?

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cher profile image
Cher Author • Edited

Firstly, I am really trying to believe that you don't have massive biases yourself.

We all have them. You shouldn't try to believe that. I try to consider those biases before I make decisions, as should everyone.

Let's start with you believing I misunderstand you, not because of the language you use, but because of differing (by which I can only infer you mean "my lack of" due to your phrasing) education and how much time I spend on introspection?

I said different to mean different. It doesn't mean you have done so less. I'm not assuming what you have done, but clearly, we have done so differently, and in different framings, because we are different.

before the pandemic I was on a steering group examining how to get more women into tech.

This is an example of that! Examining getting women into tech versus examining why women are leaving tech. And, as a woman, I have a perspective and framing of understanding why I have felt oppressed and unwelcome in tech (far before becoming vocal on any issue, which started with accessibility), and that's a framing you will never have. That doesn't mean I think I'm better than you, simply that our introspections will always be different, even on things we have in common, like both being white.

As far as misunderstanding me, I'm pointing to this:

we cannot comment on the motivations

You misunderstand that I am speaking to his motivation, while I'm simply saying that the comment was manipulative and passive aggressive. His motivation to do that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the framework of society, and even specifically the development community, that gives him the space to be manipulative and passive aggressive publicly and unapologetically.

I'm sorry if that wasn't clear in my last response, but I am honestly weary from the volume of harassment I've received because of this post. (not this discourse, but just in general).

You use words like "incite" and then say it is not a personal attack, I still cannot reconcile that due to the meaning of the word. "incite" is a deliberate act.

I chose the word incite because it does not speak to motivations. To incite is to spur to action, incite does not speak to initiation nor intention. It only means that Adam caused the harassment pile-on, not that it was his intention was to do so.

"sit down and be educated" - who says that? I mean seriously, who has the audacity to say that, and how am I meant to take that without believing there is an undertone of "shut up and listen"?

There is no undertone there. I misremembered your words (upon looking back you wrote stand, not sit), and that is because I am someone who "sits down and listens" because I believe that accepting I have something to learn from someone else in a situation where someone else is choosing to be vulnerable where I have privilege takes humility. I am also a very visual, relational person, so sometimes my wording comes directly to what I'm seeing. I grew up sitting down and listening to a teacher who is standing, so my writing about learning from one another is reflective of that. A doubled-edged sword, as I believe it's one of the things that makes me perceived as "a great writer", but also, to be misunderstood.

And again, I wasn't suggesting you "sit down and listen", I was trying to express that I was talking about the behavior that makes marginalized folks feel unwelcome and leave spaces where they are marginalized, not making broad generalizations, as you contrasted when you "listen and stand beside".

As for the toxic behaviour part

I was talking about Adam's tweet, not your discourse with me.

Why are white people and men outraged by this?

It's not "white people and men". It's white men. A single white woman said she disagreed, and upon reflection that the behavior from Adam was unwarranted, she agreed in part. She disagreed that Adam's comments were racist and sexist, and I agree, they weren't, as that's not what I'm saying.

Who agrees with you? People in your group?

Lots of white men were not outraged and thanked me for shedding some light into the ways they've seen themselves behave or allow other white men to behave... which is really the goal.

Because you are projecting your own narrative onto an entire group. You are attacking them.

I am not attacking white men. White men feel attacked because of what I've written. There's a difference, and I believe you know that!

You are also writing on a site dedicated to an industry that is dominated by a narrative of "white man bad".

I would argue that "white man bad" narrative is a vocal minority, and the perception that it is the dominate narrative is warped by the natural human inclination to focus on and then notice the worst feedback.

A final point with regards to trying to work out where the support or criticism comes from...with no downvote button we only have the comments, and as most of them were deleted how can we possibly see who said what and what race and gender they are? Or indeed what ratio of people disagreed with you?

Obviously we certainly can't speak to the ratio of who agrees and who disagrees, I should have said who feels safe to comment in disagreement, and more specifically who feels safe to write toxic, hateful, personal insults at me. I can tell you that I am an honest person, and every single one of the comments that was deleted for being the former, and every single person I had to hide reply and block on Twitter was a man, and only two of them weren't white.

And let's accept for a moment that maybe the ratio is off because those are the only folks who feel emboldened enough to reply with a personal attacks on me or disagree in a way that can be viewed by our peers as toxic, doesn't that speak directly to what I'm talking about in my post?

I am pretty sure if you wrote this same post in a more balanced industry there would be a much different reaction.

I'd actually go so far as to say if we were in a more balanced industry, no one would feel they could safely write a toxic, manipulative comment that hundreds of thousands of people would see and react to, so I wouldn't have written this post at all.

I still cannot see how you believe that this Twitter conversation was the hill to stand your ground on, or that you cannot see how the language you used is not conducive to an inclusive and productive discussion.

I have witnessed this and experienced it myself. I, as a woman, have been accused of being aggressive for trying to push a product change forward, and when a man who had the same vigor and passion repeated it later he was applauded for his care and persistence for the customer. And I could continue to recount, sincerely, dozens of these instances... and that's ONLY in the workplace. If I expand to my experience on Twitter in a similar position as Sara... we're talking hundreds.

Mentioning the words racism and sexism, calling that Adam caused something... it's reality, though I understand how some folks, like yourself, believe that language is not going to create a productive discussion. But I didn't say anything about Adam's beliefs, or all of white men's beliefs, I'm talking about a pattern of behavior and using Adam's comment as an example.

Sara deleted her post because of the harassment that Adam's comment brought to her. Has Adam deleted his comment? No. Has he apologized? No. Do I expect him to do either of those things? No. My hope is that there is large-scale change, and that everyone else held to the same standards, in spite of how the system gives some folks space to be toxic and others to be intentional and constructive.

Are you at least willing to concede that the fault, perhaps, is not all mine and start talking to me assuming that I may actually be able to hold my own in a conversation on these matters

I hope that you can be willing to concede that not only do I assume you can hold a conversation on these matters, that I'm willing to have one with you because I am doing so! As you can see above, I admit fault where it is mine.

I will, in exchange, respond in good faith also and stop assuming you are trying to incite outrage

I assume you know this isn't constructive, but I want to point out that you had to put in the action word of trying because incite is to cause and to try is to make intentional effort to accomplish. In actuality, I have incited outrage, despite that not being my intention to do so.

Hell, on paper we should be friends, we work in a similar space, we want inclusion and equality

I want more than just equality. I want equity. I don't view you poorly, though. You mention wanting to talk about the science behind some of these inequities, and something you can skim (or read, but it's long so I've no expectation of that 😂 ) that covers my thoughts on James Damore's Manifesto, I'd be happy to take this conversation offline and expand it. I feel like at this point I should also disclaim that like Damore, I am autistic.

surely we should be able to get to a point where we can tackle some of these issues together?

Is that not what we are doing here? I disengage when it feels like a discussion is about winning, and so my still participating is absolutely about learning.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

Now this was both beautifully written and articulate and perhaps this is all stemming from both a "powder keg" article and just a few poorly chosen phrases.

And, given this response, I can put the latter down mainly to having many responses to respond to and lack of time.

Obviously there are points where we are still talking at cross purposes, but I doubt we would ever iron those out over a written comments system, what is important is I believe I have a understanding of your character enough now (and hopefully you of mine).

The only thing I have to add that is important is (once again) my sarcasm was not appropriate while we were still "at odds" with each other:

I will, in exchange, respond in good faith also and stop assuming you are trying to incite outrage

You missed the laughing emojis and tongue out part in your response to this.

But I cannot accuse you of poor choice of words without acknowledging my own poor choice of words. It was meant as a joke (as a lot of the conversation was about the use of the word incite) and I apologise as it still isn't appropriate (yet), I hope at some point my sarcastic sense of humour becomes something you enjoy, rather than adding another hurdle in a good conversation!

I would love to take the conversation offline, particularly on the point you made:

before the pandemic I was on a steering group examining how to get more women into tech.

This is an example of that! Examining getting women into tech versus examining why women are leaving tech.

I agree that this would be a massively productive conversation. Sadly there is no funding for keeping women in tech around where I am, I put that down to how funding works, it is easier to promote an uptick in interest "we increased applications from women by 25%) vs people leaving ("numbers have stayed the same").

Plus where I am we have much much lower proportion of women in tech so getting them in in the first place is the battle being fought around here.

Obviously we still have some big differences in opinion, especially with "equality vs equity" - that in of itself would be a fascinating conversation as I am firmly on "equality, not equity" side of that fence and so would love to see your viewpoints there.

All I will say is, thank you for taking the time to respond to some rather long comments and I do truly mean it when I say I would like to have a further discussion with you.

Choose whatever means of communication you feel comfortable with and let's set a date to "solve all the problems in the world"...I am sure we can do that in about an hour? (sorry...sarcastic humour there once again, I am beginning to think I have a problem!)

Oh and as for

my thoughts on James Damore's Manifesto, I'd be happy to take this conversation offline and expand it.

I will just end this comment by saying, I will read and digest as much as I am able, there will be no skim reading on my part! I hope that will further let me understand you and find some other points we agree (and disagree on) to discuss!

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northst05257155 profile image
NorthStar

This exchange in and of itself was far more enlightening than the article that spawned it. Although there are good points and eloquent writing from both participants, this discussion made it very clear to me who should have been the one to write an objective article on these topics. Without reiterating points/ details already mentioned. The two comments I have are:
1) I perceived too many assumptions being pulled from the context of the story, which in turn eroded the validity of the points being made by the author.
2)The author in one of the exchanges makes the comment that equity is the prize not equality. This concept sounds great in theory, but is not optimal in the real world. Equality is what we all should be striving for overall, not equity. Equity in simple math terms means 2+2 can add up to whatever it wants to whenever it wants to. Which extended to the basis of this article wouldn't give folks much basis to lodge any criticisms of Tailwind in the first place. (Since we'd want all frameworks and their creators to not only be assumed to be just as good as the other, but indulged as such.) We know this just doesn't happen and it shouldn't. Some frameworks and developers are just preferred flat out over others. (and for good reason) Give the frameworks and developers equality by giving them equal opportunity to prove themselves, but do not hoist equity of these things upon projects or the people that build/use or work with them.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Im glad you enjoyed the discussion between myself and Cher, I did also!

Who knows, maybe at some point the discussion on equity vs equality can be had, but I doubt either Cher or myself would dare broach that subject on here for a while! Hehe.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

this discussion made it very clear to me who should have been the one to write an objective article on these topics

I think you're being a bit uncharitable here. No one can be objective. We're all human and fall prey to the same human error, some of the things we're discussing here, and a much more complex neurological basis that we needn't get into here.

I wrote what I did to an audience of folks that choose to read my content on a daily basis. We are responsible for what we are communicating, but whether or not that communication will be understood can only be given so much consideration. I added the edit at the end because it was being misunderstood by a very small percentage of readers after it extended outside the circle of people whom I relate with most.

I indulge in these conversations to help others who misunderstood what I was saying because I have the responsibility to do my best to ensure what I'm writing is being understood by everyone, not only the folks who speak my language.

So while you think I should have done a better job of speaking to the folks who misunderstood me in my article, I respectfully disagree, and further insist that is not humanly possible. I don't know what I don't know, and without being challenged here by folks who misunderstood me or disagreed in general, I'd never have gotten to a point where I was on the same page as those folks.

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northst05257155 profile image
NorthStar

You certainly have done a great job of engaging and clarifying your position and that has made me appreciative that this wasn't a hit and run piece. While it may not be humanly (or robotically even! 😊) possible to be completely objective, I do think that with enough work, it is possible to see and hear enough of most situations to obtain a decent level objectivity. It takes work and a good amount of wisdom. Perhaps developing guidelines for ourselves to check for those things could serve as a guide before we speak, act or jump to conclusions? Your reply to my comment uses the word "understand" and it's derivatives a good number of times. I wonder if you considered that word with the same weight while dissecting Adam's tweet?
As I thought more on the topics of equity, equality, and working together to understand each other, it occurred to me that perhaps a follow up article, jointly written by you and InHuOfficial might be of great benefit to this community of ours.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

our reply to my comment uses the word "understand" and it's derivatives a good number of times. I wonder if you considered that word with the same weight while dissecting Adam's tweet?

I wasn't dissecting Adam's tweet. It was one sentence. What are you suggesting I understand when it comes to that sentence?

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moustachedsign profile image
Moustache Design

I think the main thing to understand is that this is just an example of many other similar cases of entitlement that happen daily in tech (and outside of) which prompted this article to be written, taking the case study of Tailwind and Adam as a starting point.

The main point here is that he, personally, is at fault. He should do better than angrily tweeting these things, and the fact he doesn't realize he has done something wrong is stated here, not to blame him, but to raise awareness.

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danharrin profile image
Dan Harrin • Edited

Hey Gracie! Thanks for checking up on this thread.

Since you're here, could you please review some of the posts that have been marked as "low quality/non-constructive"? It seems like some of them simply disagree with the author's statements, and do not break any rules themselves.

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graciegregory profile image
Gracie Gregory (she/her)

Hi Dan. Thanks for your message.

Our team is reviewing and monitoring the comments thoroughly and we will make any adjustments as appropriate.

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thebarefootdev profile image
thebarefootdev

It’s slightly confusing , since it appears some genuine criticisms are being labeled as toxic or against the rules , and only praises are being labeled as top comments, is this where we’re going now?

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dasdaniel profile image
Daniel P

The only thing that explains this level of irony is the author's stated belief that she views _"... all biases and systemic oppression are[is] always at play in any interaction.".
Unfortunately, within the confines of such constraints, I'm limited to little more than praise or silence.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

The only thing that explains this level of irony is the author's stated belief

You do realize that I don't have the authority to mark a post as low quality? The posts that weren't abusive had that label removed and I responded to them.

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dasdaniel profile image
Daniel P

I'm sorry, that wasn't clear, and to some degree projecting towards the comment author, which wasn't intentional.
I think the article itself is ironic, perhaps even hypocritical, and now seeing a degree of irony in this exchange itself.

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zilti profile image
Daniel Ziltener

Now? This has been going on for years.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

We can't necessarily control what gets mass-reported. People feel how they feel. Not all of the comments the community labeled as "low quality" were removed. You can focus on what the readership liked and didn't like in these comments, but I took the time to respond to the ones I felt were genuine, some of which were under the labels of "low quality" as reported by the community.

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thebarefootdev profile image
thebarefootdev

I don’t know how i fell into this discussion but I’m totally confused as to the reasons. So there was a tweet and a not so happy reply it happens all the time on Twitter. I don’t know why it’s discussed here or where the race / sexism thing began. Was there some explicit comment about someone’s race or sex? Is this even the platform for this debate

I have to say this isn’t particularly encouraging for me to stay on with dev if this is where it’s going !

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doctorderek profile image
Dr. Derek Austin 🥳

I'd say this is less of a "dev" problem than a Twitter problem; it's just compounded in dev because open source maintainers (like Adam Wathan, creator of Tailwind CSS) don't make money directly from their tools.

So Adam (entitled or not) has to have cognitive dissonance everyday about "working for free" when he could be working for money.

While Cher has a good point that Adam's "fragile white male ego" (to paraphrase) meant he was "angrily tweeting" in a way that ended up negatively impacting a woman of color, she also discounts that without the motivation of people loving his project than he probably wouldn't do it.

Is that entitlement? Absolutely, because as a white-male-with-experience he can pull down 10-20% more (or 100% more) in salary than someone less privileged.

But it's also not particularly fair to Adam to suggest that his feelings are invalid, since he's made the best CSS framework in history.

The whole "mob response" & oppression of minorities is simply the natural consequence of tribalism on Twitter, see the January 6 riot on the US Capitol.

The moral is if Adam had stayed off Twitter and blankly ignored anyone suggesting he read the new "criticisms of Tailwind" article that Cher's a big fan of, then he never would have (accidentally, in my opinion) oppressed anyone.

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ghamadi profile image
Ghaleb • Edited

Where exactly did you spot sexism and racism in those tweets? I can easily see the same tweets targeted at a white male with a decent number of followers.

His reaction is poor because, as Sara herself pointed out, it's not fair to tolerate opinionated articles when they rave about a tool and police them when they don't. Also it's poor because it's low quality in general. That was not the best way to go about defending a product or complaining about unfair criticism.

However, the poorness of his response has nothing to do with sexism or racism or bullying. Even Sara's complaints in that feed didn't touch on those topics!

In the tweets you shared, Sara was not targeted on any personal level. They did not mention her nationality, gender, or faith; and she was not insulted or belittled. In fact, he actually said he admired her and you took the man's admiration and turned it around to be a sense of entitlement!!!

This is no different than what minority groups have to deal with sometimes. All of a sudden now, a white male has to worry that saying he admires someone means that he expects them to return his kindness. What?!

A man incited bullying onto a Lebanese woman for sharing a critique of a framework he wrote not for the critique itself, but because she didn't give him the admiration he felt he deserved. That's not respect. That's systemic entitlement.

Him being a "man" and her being a "Lebanese woman" have absolutely nothing to do with the whole incident. His misstep was not properly taking criticism for his product.

Also, you have no evidence that he was bothered because she didn't give him the admiration he felt he deserved. He never said anything remotely close. He basically said it hurts him that people he admired are spreading negativity about the work of his life. That's NORMAL!!!! ANYONE would be hurt if people they admired spread negativity about the work of their life!!

The problem here is that he labeled criticism (fair or not) as negativity. Criticism is not negativity and sharing criticism on a popular platform should not ruin someone's day. But you missed this point entirely and went straight into making accusations.

Someone who understands the severity of sexism and racism should also understand the severity of accusing people of them!

PS: I am a Lebanese Muslim and a huge fan of Sara Soueidan. So I want to feel offended for her, but I'd rather be fair.

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syntaxseed profile image
SyntaxSeed (Sherri W)

He didn't like her criticism (or rather, agreeing with criticism) because she had a large following... but he did the exact same thing by directing (unintentionally) his following at her.

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cher profile image
Cher Author • Edited

Racism and sexism are systemic and woven into our interactions.

One aspect of this is that he was hurt by Sara sharing the criticism, and that she is someone he admires. I'd get into how people in general need to learn how to take criticism, but that's not really what we are talking about here.

The other aspect is his public manipulative reply to her, and why he felt it was acceptable and was confident to do so, despite that the criticism was not hers to begin with, and that they are not friends.

You cannot separate the power dynamics involved in giving him the perception that he could and should post what he did at her, and the lack of consideration of the cult-like dog-pile on her that would follow. Women are uniquely faced with this kind of toxic response when challenging men. Is it intentionally sexist? Not usually.

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thedutchcoder_57 profile image
Reinier Kaper

If you turn it around, you could also question why Sara felt the need to share the article, since it was incredibly poorly written also incorrect in some occasions and she's also not Adam's friend.

In my opinion, his reply was primarily emotional, hurt by someone he seems to admire (I won't get into if that's a good or bad thing), not well thought out and knee-jerk-ish.

However, I'd like to point out that his view of Sara is probably what skewed the effect it had on him. If some random person was to share that article it wouldn't have had an impact on him (probably).

Without disagreeing with your post, I think it would be interesting to figure out why we tend to put people on pedestals in the first place (it seems unhealthy) and why the dev community seems to suffer from this in particular.

To anecdotally illustrate my point: my first ever interaction in the front-end world was with someone who can be regarded as one of the leaders back in the day (still is). They encouraged people to reach out and ask questions about anything FE, so I did (as a new developer) and got insta-blocked by them (I don't know why, btw).

Long story short: our community seems, for whatever reason, quite hostile at times. That, combined with the whole "admire this select group of people" culture seems to just not work out.

Sorry, my response was a little off-topic in the end, but I think we're touching on a much, much deeper problem in our community.

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cher profile image
Cher Author • Edited

If you turn it around, you could also question why Sara felt the need to share the article, since it was incredibly poorly written also incorrect in some occasions and she's also not Adam's friend.

Sara actually disclaimed that she simply agreed with some of the points in the post, not the tone or all of it. She shared it because she felt those points were an important consideration in whether or not to use TailwindCSS. She is a CSS and accessibility expert and front-end developer, so it is related to her expertise and something you would expect her to speak on.

In my opinion, his reply was primarily emotional, hurt by someone he seems to admire (I won't get into if that's a good or bad thing), not well thought out and knee-jerk-ish.

I'm not disagreeing with that. The point I'm making is that he felt it was acceptable to post it, and has been unapologetic to the damage it caused, let alone that it was inappropriate in the first place. The framing here is the system that gives him the space to do so.

I think it would be interesting to figure out why we tend to put people on pedestals in the first place (it seems unhealthy) and why the dev community seems to suffer from this in particular.

I agree that hero worship culture is toxic, and social media seems to have created an especially gross variation of it, including here in tech. I have had the same types of interactions that you describe here. I am blocked by some folks I would consider like-minded peers, and still have no idea why.

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syntaxseed profile image
SyntaxSeed (Sherri W)

I agree that it seems like it was a hurt-feelings reaction.

However the point is, as a woman in Tech, I'd triple check myself for having that kind of public, hurt feelings reaction. And good odds it would backfire on me. I have to be very logical & calm in my professional life. This goes even more for Black women.

There is a discussion to be had about who has the space to critique or react or be emotional or controversial in our industry.

That Adam is safe to do so... is an interesting discussion to have.

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doctorderek profile image
Dr. Derek Austin 🥳

I'd suggest Adam isn't the least bit safe to do so, given that this Dev.to article has more likes than literally every Dev.to article I've ever read for work in the last 2 years combined...

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nicolus profile image
Nicolas Bailly

This isn't a commentary on Adam's intentions. This isn't a commentary on Adam's personal beliefs.

Then you might want to edit this sentence which really sounds like a commentary on what you assume are his personal beliefs :

his response to Sara is absolutely rooted in his own biases to give the benefit of the doubt only to folks like himself.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Unconscious bias is not personal belief.

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aniforprez profile image
Anirudh Sylendranath • Edited

I... don't understand? How does unconscious bias NOT be a personal belief? Our biases are a product of our individual experiences. Adam's experiences are not the same as yours or mine. Unconscious bias is not a universal construct and is a product of culture, nurture and environment. As a non-American, I don't have the same biases as an American or a Canadian, conscious or unconscious

I'm not really talking about Adam Wathan. I'm talking about this specific comment. I feel Nicolas' criticism is right

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Personal beliefs are not unconscious.

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aniforprez profile image
Anirudh Sylendranath • Edited

This has only confused me more. This only seems like you're giving yourself a way out to be able to criticize Adam by using semantics. I don't want to be crass cause I assume you're coming from a place of constructive criticism but you seem to have assumed Adam's biases AND beliefs to make a fairly vicious comment. I also only say it's vicious because:

his response to Sara is absolutely rooted in his own biases to give the benefit of the doubt only to folks like himself

You use the word "absolutely" as if you know him and his biases. Maybe you do? If so you can correct me.

I'll correct my comment about "How does unconscious bias NOT be a personal belief". Unconscious bias may not be a belief but is is absolutely personal. I don't feel it is right that we assume someone's biases and then assume they're acting in bad faith. From what I have seen, Adam would react the same way regardless of who posted the article (and indeed has in the past which probably means he should stay off Twitter as whole cause it is a toxic cesspool)

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adrianrivers profile image
VanillaGorilla

Don't you think it's somewhat strange that you, a person who does not know Adam at all personally, is asserting that his true intentions are racist and sexist.

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Comment deleted
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danharrin profile image
Dan Harrin • Edited

Though I do think to claim that he's incited racist bullying is a little sensational. I'd also say that the reason he was upset was that something he's worked hard on was being criticised on a big platform, which is very different to suggesting that he thinks he deserves admiration and that anything but open veneration is unacceptable in his eyes.

I completely agree, to say that Adam "incited bullying" towards Sara is not justified - especially since the author decided to bring Sara's race and gender into this comment, implying that Adam is reacting in this way directly because she is a Lebanese woman. This is an incredibly damaging claim to make towards anyone, especially as this intention is not clear at all.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Racism and sexism are complex social issues that bleed into all of our behaviors inherently.

He did incite bullying, though I disclaimed that with the fact that I don't believe he did this intentionally. It is simply a commentary on the impact of what he's done, and what systems are in place that embolden him, and other white men, to do it in the first place.

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cher profile image
Cher Author • Edited

I contrasted two of the points that the author made in the article, not all of them. Many of his points have been brought up by others, and they are valid, we simply disagree with them. As I said in my post, the title was mildly negative hyperbole, obviously click-bait. "It literally provides no value, and tons of problems" can be true in certain contexts, which is why I also criticized that nuance and proper framing of the author's particular needs and preferences were missing.

He was upset that Sara shared the criticism (as I stated) and his feeling empowered to write a public, manipulative tweet to her is something that women uniquely face, and women of color also face from white women.

You do not see white men doing this to each other.

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augustin82 profile image
Augustin

You do not see white men doing this to each other.

I agree with your analysis in the broader sense, but this claim is simple false, and brings nothing to the argument.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

I obviously disagree, but I'm open to seeing some examples.

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augustin82 profile image
Augustin

Isn't 80% of Hacker News exactly those "white men" disagreeing violently on what is this week's best language/framework/practice?

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Are they using heart emojis and telling each other "thank you for posting on HN about this framework only to ruin my day"? Poor comparison.

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stancl profile image
Samuel Štancl

Taylor (creator of Laravel) wrote a good explanation of why it bothered Adam.

It's not that it was critique, it's not that it was coming from a minority or whatever, it's that it was sharing an article full of dumb misinformation.

It took Adam years to make people understand the value of Tailwind. There's a lot of very repetitive critiques that are easily disprovable, but really get to you when you have to fight the same points over and over again after pouring years of your life into a project.

That's what the critique was about. Not that it criticized Tailwind, but that it broadcasted a very harmful (as far as Adam's work of improving Tailwind adoption goes) article to thousands of people.

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Geoff Selby

Why is this comment marked as “low quality/non-constructive”? Samuel simply provided an explanation for Adam’s reaction from one of Adam’s closest friends.

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Vince Fulco

Go Adam go...regardless of what others try to label you with...

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devimposter

That's funny because Taylor is the king of getting emotional and confrontational about opinions of his work. Just look this up over the years...

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Adam's reaction and expectations are intrinsically intertwined with the systems we are living in.

Some of what you've said here certainly has merit, though calling it a "dumb article" is no more valuable than the article expressing that TailwindCSS "does nothing" or Adam claiming that Best CSS practices are useless.

Had Adam expressed that he felt the article was harmful and full of misinformation and her sharing it was unduly harmful to his brand, and allowed her the autonomy to decide if she stood by what she wrote (which was more than just a link, but rather disclaiming she agreed with some of its points), we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

I personally don't find value in what Taylor wrote because it glosses past Adam's action, and speaks instead to his intention, completely ignoring the impact. This is gaslighting and frankly dismissive of the damage he did to Sara in writing the comment he did.

If you are telling me that you believe he has the right to publicly shame Sara, instead of being pragmatic about his public response with his own enormous platform, then you have got a lot of internalizing to do on racism and sexism, because that is exactly what this is.

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iskin profile image
Andrey Sitnik • Edited

The important part of understanding the context of this discussion is that the CSS community was very unwelcome to any new CSS tools. As a creator of PostCSS, I understand Adam’s reaction.

For me, it is not only about “constructive criticism” vs. “author’s feelings” but also about the hostile environment created by the CSS community for CSS tools authors, which blocks a good discussion and tools evolution.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Given that Sara didn't write the criticism, and Adam said that the criticism didn't bother him - your reply here is odd.

No one should be understanding of passive-aggression and manipulative guilting in front of a large, cult-like audience. It's toxic.

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iskin profile image
Andrey Sitnik

Yeap, the CSS community unwelcoming was not in that specific conversation of Adam and Sara. Sara (in contrast to many CSS guru) talk about CSS toolings in public.

As usual, it is a case, when we have many US white developers creating unwelcome environment, which then leads to these conflicts.

One toxic behaviour creates another.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

It seems you are calling Sara's behavior here toxic. She wrote a lengthy tweet that disclaimed the article made some good points, but that she didn't agree with all of it, nor the tone.

Are you suggesting that you believe her sharing the article, along with her framing, is somehow a justifiable catalyst for Adam's passive-aggressive, manipulative public shaming of her?

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iskin profile image
Andrey Sitnik

I didn’t. I am calling CSS community in general toxic to CSS authors. Many popular people in CSS community are hostile to CSS tooling and use their public channels to prevent CSS toolings from having discussion platforms. It leads to more conflicts and lack of good discussion about CSS tooling limits.

I mantioned that Sara is better than rest of community.

Sorry, English is not my native language. I am guest on your territory.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Apologies, I just wanted to clarify. There's no need to apologize for the language barrier. I'm happy to take the extra time to ensure we are understanding each other.

I agree that many people in the development community, not just CSS, are toxic to each other, not just the authors of tools. It's also to folks like Sara who simply make educational content. And in many cases, the authors and communities around those tools are also aggressively toxic to outsiders.

Even Adam's own marketing is quite flagrant to the CSS community who create and educate "best practice" paradigms like BEM.

It is a terrible framing to begin with to critique and work to make better tools, I absolutely agree.

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iskin profile image
Andrey Sitnik

I see a big difference in community and tools communications in CSS and rest of the fields.

  • JS’s TC39 invited Babel author to speak abut polyfills lmits on their meeting, but CSSWG is trying to avoid CSS polyfil community.
  • I know a few cases, when popular people (no Sara) keeps their article outdated to hide new CSS tooling features from the community. Which is insane for JS community.
  • I can’t remember whem podcasts invisted CSS tooling authors.
  • Big important releases and initiatives were motly ignored by CSS opinion leaders (for instance, when Autoprefixer/Browserslist started to fight for brower diversity against US’s trends to ignore Chinese browers on gobal websites).

I beleave that it is a part of conflict between JS and CS community. But CSS tooling is not part of JS world to be treated with this hostile. We try to give a more power to CSS community to help them in this conflict.

And of course, it doesn’t excuse toxic behaviour. But this conflict is a good reason to highlight this unique conflict beween the community and CSS tooling.

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sroehrl profile image
neoan

The problem I see is that the assumptions you make aren't based on any insight. There is simply no reason to believe that his reaction has anything to do with her or his identity. I find this article more toxic for an inclusive environment than the reciprocity that Adam expected. As such, I don't only disagree with your assessment, but would like to suggest to apply some caution when making accusations like that.

I think it is very human to defend one's projects and being hurt if people important to you are criticizing them. We might find that entitled, if you want so. But by no means does that point to any biases by itself. I urge all of us to stick together to survive this cancel culture behavior. Our industry has one of the best prerequisites to look into a future of equality and inclusion. Assuming one's intend is dangerous and counterproductive to this goal and should be put on the same level of scrutiny as racism and sexism itself.

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cher profile image
Cher Author • Edited

I have made no accusations, nor spoken to anyone's intent (other than to say that I believe that it was NOT his intent).

Adam didn't defend the project, he wrote a manipulative, passive-aggressive comment that hundreds of thousands of his supporters could see. If you can't argue from a factual starting point, we've nothing to discuss.

I'm also not canceling Adam or TailwindCSS. I use it, and continue to use it. This is about a system that gives folks like you the confidence to literally dismiss reality to defend something someone did wrong by minimizing it in a historical rewrite.

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sroehrl profile image
neoan • Edited

Thank you for replying. Again, I'll give you that his reaction can be considered as hurt and childish. Everything else you write in your reply seems to be exactly what you -given, in my opinion - accuse Adam of. What are you assuming about me when you say

folks like you

? And what historical rewrite are you referring to? Can't you see that you are reacting in the same petty way to criticism?
But just to be clear: I don't defend the way Adam reacted, I just don't see the connection to identity, nor to "the system".

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cher profile image
Cher Author

what historical rewrite are you referring to?

I think it is very human to defend one's projects

He did not defend the project. It's misleading to frame your discussion with me off of a point that is unrelated to what occurred.

What are you assuming about me when you say

folks like you

Folks like you... white American men? You realize I don't need to assume that? You stream on Twitch and readily share that information about yourself. Do you think it's a coincidence that I could have assumed that and have been correct, based on your statement?

Can't you see that you are reacting in the same petty way to criticism?

I'm not, so no, I wouldn't be able to see that. I've had discourse with several people on this matter who are hyper-critical of what I'm saying.

I don't defend the way Adam reacted

Then what is the purpose of discussing that it is natural to defend your projects when criticized, in relation to what I've written?

I just don't see the connection to identity, nor to "the system".

I understand that. I hope you can understand that I do, and that's why I've written what I have.

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sroehrl profile image
neoan

It seems to me that we have different interpretations of what "it is human" means.
What I meant by that is that being defensive (and likely to go overboard with it) is a human trait. This does not mean that it is justifiable or ethically sound, it just means it's natural in the sense that we know this psychological phenomenon well. And yes, that makes it "natural" in the actual sense of the word. This is true for various forms of aggression and is not automatically linked to a societal structure but rather to our "monkey brains" not having adapted yet to a modern, complex and dense society. However, of course it can be depending on conscious or subconscious intent. My problem was that you didn't point to any argument supporting this connection. Instead, you declare it as inherently connected due to a patriachical society.

I am not denying that structural issues exist in society. As a matter of fact I want to address those just like you do. However, your article seems to be picking up on something that I cannot identify as being the cause of such issues. To be frank, it reminds me of the saying "When all you have is a hammer, all problems need to be nails".

Folks like you... white American men? You realize I don't need to assume that? You stream on Twitch and readily share that information about yourself. Do you think it's a coincidence that I could have assumed that and have been correct, based on your statement?

About this paragraph: I am not sure whether I should be honored that you looked me up, or disappointed that you didn't bother to start a video for at least one minute (which probably would have given away that I am not American). However, that isn't the point.
Way more important is: No, I do not see how my opinion could only have been voiced by a white male like myself. What you are implying here is sexist and condescending and the fact that you are the one who is entitled to say things like

This is about a system that gives folks like you the confidence to literally dismiss reality to defend something someone did wrong by minimizing it in a historical rewrite.

is the clearest indication there can be that you aren't a convincing force against toxicity.

I just don't see the connection to identity, nor to "the system".

I understand that. I hope you can understand that I do, and that's why I've written what I have.

Yes, of course I realize that you wrote that as that is the way you see it. I didn't assume you wrote this as a hit piece. In the same way, me having a different assessment is the reason why I engaged in the first place.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

What I meant by that is that being defensive (and likely to go overboard with it) is a human trait.

I agree with that, and there can be dozens of reasons why someone may be more reactive than someone else (I'm bipolar, autistic, and I have ADHD, so I'm familiar with being this way). I'm not saying he is being defensive because he's racist or sexist, in fact I'm not calling him those things at all.

...depending on conscious or subconscious intent. My problem was that you didn't point to any argument supporting this connection. Instead, you declare it as inherently connected due to a patriachical society.

I didn't point to any connection to intent (or support therein) because I don't care about his intent. I care about the impact and the structures that exist that enable this behavior to begin with.

When all you have is a hammer, all problems need to be nails

While I understand how this is being gathered, it's more like, "Everyone needs to learn when to use a hammer, and when to use a nail gun, but not everyone is held accountable in the same way when they use the wrong tool and create damage as a result of not using the correct tool." And I say this hesitantly, as I feel like it's a bit dehumanizing to compare what happens to people in society to carpentry.

I am not sure whether I should be honored that you looked me up, or disappointed that you didn't bother to start a video for at least one minute (which probably would have given away that I am not American)

Neither. I have watched you Twitch in the past, and I looked you up because I didn't want to assume anything about you given your branding here. I assumed you were American because you and your company are based in New York. I wouldn't assume you weren't a citizen based on your accent.

No, I do not see how my opinion could only have been voiced by a white male like myself.

I didn't say that. If I thought that, I wouldn't have looked you up. I'm pointing to a pattern here of this type of response, not saying that it is an impossibility that anyone else could or would break that pattern.

What you are implying here is sexist and condescending and the fact that you are the one who is entitled to say things like

There is no such thing as reverse sexism. While I may feel entitled in some aspects, this certainly isn't one of them.

is the clearest indication there can be that you aren't a convincing force against toxicity.

Ok.

In the same way, me having a different assessment is the reason why I engaged in the first place.

And I recognized that (which is why I responded), but I felt the basis of the way you engaged to be, as I said, dismissive and apologist on behalf of Adam because of how you've worded it. I'm willing to concede that this wasn't your intention, and thus, makes what I sound kind of asshole-ish.

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sroehrl profile image
neoan

I assumed you were American because you and your company are based in New York. I wouldn't assume you weren't a citizen based on your accent.

I think that is fair, but let's me wonder why the label "American white male" was necessary.

I didn't point to any connection to intent (or support therein) because I don't care about his intent.

I know. The reason why I keep reiterating this is due to the believe that without this connection your claims have no grounds. As you notice online, the subject is heavily discussed. You seem to be under the impression that there either isn't enough vocal criticism or that there would be more if he would fall under a different gender/race markup. And I think that making such claims require evidence.

If you didn't imply that my opinion must necessarily originate from a "white male American", what did you mean by

Do you think it's a coincidence that I could have assumed that and have been correct, based on your statement?

There must be something that makes "my type of response" fall under a certain pattern, as you phrase it. Assuming you are too intelligent to base that on disagreeing with you, what did you want to point to?

There is no such thing as reverse sexism.

Maybe not (at least that term makes no sense how it is usually used), but there is sexism. And implying that an opinion has less worth based on what gender it originates from, is pretty much a textbook definition. And I personally cannot remember when I had to point to someone's genetic markup or heritage to make a legitimate point. As a matter of fact, this is the reasoning behind me getting heated here in the first place: rather than condemning Adam's behavior by itself, you tried to fit it into a box based on your own sensitivities. And again, that does not mean that I can be sure that this connection doesn't exist and certainly not that it rarely or never exists. I would have just expected arguments based on this view rather than relying on the - in my opinion damaging - approach of "it is always connected just due to the 'perpetrator' being a white man and all of us living in 'the system'"

[...] but I felt the basis of the way you engaged to be, as I said, dismissive and apologist on behalf of Adam because of how you've worded it

Fair enough, given that I didn't waste any time to declare Adam's behavior itself as questionable in favor of getting to my criticism right away. And I might not have phrased it as unambiguous as intended. But I guess we somehow managed to get our viewpoints across through it all ;-)

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cher profile image
Cher Author • Edited

I think that is fair, but let's me wonder why the label "American white male" was necessary.

As I've said before, I'm a very visual, relational thinker. I imagine a person when reading, and I don't like to be incorrectly applying some mental model of who someone is. I like to challenge my own biases.

There must be something that makes "my type of response" fall under a certain pattern, as you phrase it. Assuming you are too intelligent to base that on disagreeing with you, what did you want to point to?

The problem I see is that the assumptions you make aren't based on any insight.

You wrongly proclaim that I have no insight here. The conclusion this leads me to is that you and I do not have the same framing, so you must not have experienced what Sara has experienced. That led me to believe that you are a man. Men of color, in my experience, also tend to have some overlap in framing, while your contention is a very clear line. Men with language barriers from having native languages other than English or coming from different cultures also tend to have experience with American men asserting dominance using public forum, passive aggression, and manipulative shaming.

You are right, it's not based on simply disagreeing with me. It's based on how you do so. However, I'd never simply assume any part of someone else's identity. I have no control over the picture that pops into my head, other than to 1) go get the proper picture of that person, and 2) continue to challenge my biases by doing in doing the former.

And I personally cannot remember when I had to point to someone's genetic markup or heritage to make a legitimate point.

And why do you think that is? Could it be correlated with the other statement, that I have absolutely no insight to write what I did?

Sexism and sexist bigotry and willful prejudice are really not the same thing. They are often used interchangeably, despite that one is a complex system of unconscious behaviors and expectations, and thus, imbalance, and the other is targeted, purposeful hatred. With sexism, it's easy to say, oh, you mentioned sex, so you're being sexist! But that's just not the case. Folks who are misogynistic are sexist and contribute to systemic sexism, but men who don't challenge sexism and capitalize on their privilege or power (knowingly or not) are not necessarily sexist, nor misogynistic, but do contribute to upholding a patriarchal system.

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sroehrl profile image
neoan

You wrongly proclaim that I have no insight here. The conclusion this leads me to is that you and I do not have the same framing, so you must not have experienced what Sara has experienced.

Well, I partially agree with the framing differences as I wasn't talking about Sara or her experience at all, but whether or not the cause of what happened to her can be either directly traced back to sexism, racism or at least indirectly as an outcome of societal reaction based on the power structures in place. This is nothing to do with the fact that the backlash she received is unjustified and that I empathize with her, regardless of whether or not I can relate without being a Lebanese woman.

Let me phrase it as an example:

Let's assume two people are encountered fighting and can be observed as having different racial backgrounds. With a lack of any other information, we cannot jump to the conclusion that race is a factor in this dispute unless we have reason to believe so. Saying that racism exists and structurally measurable and therefore the exact circumstances or motivations for this particular struggle don't matter simply doesn't work. And responding to someone making that point by saying you have no idea how it feels to be of race/gender/background/origin x simply isn't intellectually processable.

I think it's great that you actively question your biases and prejudices whenever you notice an "image popping up" and think it's an exercise we should remind ourselves of as often as possible. My approach to focus on what is said rather than who said it. Which brings me to this paragraph:

And I personally cannot remember when I had to point to someone's genetic markup or heritage to make a legitimate point.

And why do you think that is? Could it be correlated with the other statement, that I have absolutely no insight to write what I did?

It is meanwhile clear to me that you assume that engaging with the content of what is written is strongly connected to the author for you. It made sense in the pre-digital world to evaluate how something is meant by investigating the speaker including pre-knowledge of the person, tone, facial expression etc.
That's why we still do it today. However, this is not how I (and I assume many others) engage on the web. I take your word as it is and as such disregard any background there might be behind the screen somewhere (actively and deliberately, as it is my method of avoiding bias). So saying that you have no insight wasn't in any way related to who you are or what experiences you have (or I have, for that matter) but to the fact that you lacked presenting any facts about the story that would suggest that your assessment is anything else but a hunch of a completely unrelated person. In this context is doesn't matter whether you are a woman, Lebanese or have or have not experienced discrimination in any shape or form. You voiced an opinion and I challenge that opinion, not you as a representative of whatever.

Your last paragraph aims at a larger, very complex topic we will probably not resolve here. My opinion is that claiming sexism as a "female only argument" or formulating sentences like

[...] , but men who don't challenge sexism [...]

instead of [...] , but PEOPLE who don't challenge sexism [...]

just want me to remind you of what you said before about challenging your biases. Over all, I think our ideological differences on this topic are that I aim for how I want the world to be, not on what I am against or who I blame for it. We have to overcome inequality, not change how inequality is structured. And I believe that one day in the future we can be there. And in this future the derogatory nature of expressions like "American white male" will be recognized just like any other form of sexism or racism (which doesn't mean that I don't acknowledge different levels of severity, of course). And I hope you will be around to understand it.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Let's assume two people are encountered fighting and can be observed as having different racial backgrounds. With a lack of any other information, we cannot jump to the conclusion that race is a factor in this dispute unless we have reason to believe so. Saying that racism exists and structurally measurable and therefore the exact circumstances or motivations for this particular struggle don't matter simply doesn't work. And responding to someone making that point by saying you have no idea how it feels to be of race/gender/background/origin x simply isn't intellectually processable.

If we peel back to what simply occurred, we'd never be discussing what we are discussing now.

We're not in disagreement when we strip it to "the dispute". We don't know his motivations, outside of that he clearly want to let her know he was upset. He did so in a manner that was passive aggressive, public, and manipulative. He has not apologized.

These are obvious facts.

My argument here, and forgive me, but I'm doing my best to articulate the difference, is that Adam's experiences have led him to feel safe to speak to someone like that online and subsequently not to even delete it or apologize for it upon reflection. Those experiences are intrinsically tied to how other people have treated him and a general lack of accountability.

For example, as a woman, if I spoke to a man publicly the way that he did, I would have immediately received a similar toxic pile-on that Sara did. I would have had to delete my post. But the bottom line is that I cannot react to people without considering the impact on myself, and as a result, I will not react to people without considering the impact on them.

As for the expectations element, his response is clearly due to a mismatch in expectations. That's just psychology. Again, his experience in a majority-power white, patriarchal, AND American nationalism, society have led to having different expectations. I attribute this to be because of systemic sexism because that aligns with my experience and what I've seen in this space specifically, including with Adam's interactions with others. I don't like the idea of looking for evidence about Adam specifically to enhance that argument, because Adam himself is not what I'm criticizing, rather his behavior as an example and the broader context that this happens to women in tech, and especially women of color who aren't American far more than anyone else.

saying that you have no insight wasn't in any way related to who you are or what experiences you have (or I have, for that matter) but to the fact that you lacked presenting any facts about the story that would suggest that your assessment is anything else but a hunch of a completely unrelated person

I can understand that this is what you meant to communicate, but your assessment as to why is actually faulty, it comes back to what I've described previously. I'm not talking about Adam as a person, again, though I can understand it's difficult to separate his behavior and the system that enables that behavior from him, considering that we are talking about what he has in common with specific issues within that system.

just want me to remind you of what you said before about challenging your biases

I used misogyny and sexism to try to illustrate the differences between bigotry and systemic inequities that leave groups of people marginalized by the majority homogenous groups. Misogyny is specifically the hatred of women, and chose to use that because the term exists, it allows us to articulate the contrast of sexism from bigotry against women.

And in this future the derogatory nature of expressions like "American white male" will be recognized just like any other form of sexism or racism

I think that there's this implication that the folks with the most power are experiencing inequality or inequity because we use that term, and that the term is offensive or derogatory. I don't know how to explain why it's not, and I think my education on this particular vector of contention is a stack of books and 30+ years of experience in this country would be impossible to lay out in the comment section of DEV.

I hope you can try to believe that when I say that, I'm not intending it in a derogatory way, nor do I hate men, other white folks, or other Americans. I just want us to recognize when we have privilege, and when we're using that privilege as a weapon, even if it's not on purpose. Sometimes self-preservation is the weapon, and it's really hard to decide what you want to do with that.

I wish you all the best, but I have to step away from this. Thank you for the civil discourse.

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sroehrl profile image
neoan

TLDR; I realize that you had many time consuming discussions going on, and I thank you for your time. I fought with myself of whether or not I'll answer as I know it's going to be tempting to keep the chain going, so read at your own risk. Otherwise: all the best.


He did so in a manner that was passive aggressive, public, and manipulative

Yes, as stated, these are obvious facts.

[]... is that Adam's experiences have led him to feel safe to speak to someone like that online and subsequently not to even delete it or apologize for it upon reflection.

See, and here we disagree. I don't know Adam, what happened to him, what kind of person he is, nothing. The only relevant question is hidden in your next sentence:

For example, as a woman, if I spoke to a man publicly the way that he did, I would have immediately received a similar toxic pile-on that Sara did.

This is the core question, isn't it? Is that (still) true, or is that a self-fulfilling prophecy? If it's true sometimes, how structural is it? Those are difficult questions as measurement is hard. As I see it, that is the issue with how we go about truth-finding. Often our confirmation bias lets us say stuff like

I attribute this to be because of systemic sexism because that aligns with my experience and what I've seen in this space specifically

I don't question your experience. I just wonder if it's automatically applicable just because it fits a pattern you created for yourself. And I find that at odd from my perspective. Here is what I don't understand:

  • You keep saying that you don't want to criticize Adam as a person.
  • You point to certain behaviors that I will translate into a laymen "like a spoiled child"

And hence, and this is what I don't get, you remove personal accountability from the person in order to blame a greater system while you expect society to blame (or produce a back-lash for) him. So how is this system ever going to be overcome if personal responsibility is not an option? Or do I have to read between the lines, and what you are actually saying is: "I want to call him out but can't because I am a woman"?

I think that there's this implication that the folks with the most power are experiencing inequality or inequity because we use that term, and that the term is offensive or derogatory

I actually have to laugh as if we knew each other IRL you would never put me in the corner you seem to put me in. It's just that you force me to play devil's advocate as the way YOU (not the mentioned we, whoever that is) use these terms is derogatory and a bit condescending. And if I wanted to follow your arguments, I'd say that you can't evaluate whether or not that's true as you don't have the experience of being a white male ;-)
But what I really want to say is: Labels have never helped society. It is the very same mechanism that caused society to function the way it does (you seem to call it patriarchy) and eventually we will have to realize that having no empathy with whoever we label as "part of the powerful" is not a solution. Privilege is complicated and facetted.
There is no world where putting a star on someone's chest to label them as Jews can ever be a good thing.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

I realize that you had many time consuming discussions going on, and I thank you for your time.

Thank you.

See, and here we disagree. I don't know Adam, what happened to him, what kind of person he is, nothing. The only relevant question is hidden in your next sentence:

Let me clarify further.

It is a fact that he has not experienced an inherit disadvantage, bias, oppression, or prejudice based on his race, nationality, or gender.

confirmation bias

This is not that. I couldn't possibly, again, deconstruct years of experience and education on this topic here, but I implore you to go outside of this space and explore this topic with other teachers. This is a wonderful piece, albeit old: jstor.org/stable/1495382?seq=1

you remove personal accountability from the person in order to blame a greater system while you expect society to blame (or produce a back-lash for) him

I'm not intentionally doing either of these things. I just don't think it's justifiable of me to discuss who a person is when I don't know them, and the only thing I want to happen is for this to change, and while that does involve accountability from him, I don't expect it or want it from a back-lash, but rather from folks he trusts and respect (some of whom who reached out to me privately for further understanding).

I want everyone to be introspective of our expectations of others, and especially when we are in a position of power. And what folks don't often realize is how that position of power can simply be because of your nationality, gender, or race. What kinds of things am I unduly expecting of this person, and how often do these expectations seem to be similar to this group of people, versus my in-group? How will my behavior impact me, sure, but how will my behavior impact this person, and again, is there a pattern I can connect to my inherit biases toward my in-group?

We have such fleeting time here, squandering the ability to be introspective and leave society better than we found it, is in, my mind, repugnant.

"I want to call him out but can't because I am a woman"?

Unfortunately it's not that simple. I wish it were. I spent decades not recognizing why there were certain expectations of me, why I was talked over, why I was called aggressive while colleagues doing the same things were called assertive, why someone repeating the same idea I had made the idea great when it wasn't when I said it, and my favorite, why people explained to me the most obvious shit completely unsolicited.

It dawned on me, that I was often the only woman in all of these situations.

When you spend your life being assumed that you're not as capable as your peers, and all of your peers are men, and you start talking about it with other women, and they've had the same experience, and suddenly that starts expanding and opening your eyes to how the media and marketing and the wealthy have set you up to be treated this way, it's never just, "Oh, they think I'm stupid because I'm a woman". It's rather, they are being fed the same behavior programming garbage I have been, and they don't even realize what they are doing.

t's just that you force me to play devil's advocate as the way YOU (not the mentioned we, whoever that is) use these terms is derogatory and a bit condescending.

That is certainly not my intention, though I understand why you have the sense that it is. These are difficult topics and I don't believe our language is evolved enough to speak about them without it feeling like the onus is those who benefit from privilege to take responsibility for something they've been brought into involuntarily.

Labels have never helped society.

That's just simply not true. My labels have helped me find people like me, while in most of the spaces I've existed in in my life I've been ostracized and in the minority. It's human to group like things, and when you're the "not like the others" in a very homogenous groups, finding your person or people means everything.

Labeling by people in power on the oppressed has obviously never helped society. Race itself is a child of racism as a pathway to normalize enslaving other human beings. And obviously you allude to Nazi Germany with mentioning labeling Jewish people.

The only solution for this double-edged sword of groups is that all groups have equity, and we recognize when we're treating some folks with inequity that they frequently face by folks like us.

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akusem profile image
Akusem

@sroehrl Just a message to thank you for having taken your time to respond to her that elegantly and politely. I (and many I think) couldn't have done it that way, Bravo !

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syropian profile image
Collin Henderson

This was a good read, and I appreciate your perspective on the matter, though I can't say I agree with all the points. I think there's a few unverifiable assumptions being made here though.

The criticism is easy for him to internalize and move on from because it comes from someone that he views is like he is.

Are you sure that's why? It could be the he realized the article was a cleverly disguised yet poorly written and largely unsubstantiated hate piece, by someone who's pretty irrelevant in the industry. I'm just not convinced Sara's gender and nationality is a part of it.

On the flip side he mentioned he already has a large amount of admiration and respect for Sara, and perhaps he was disappointed to see her sharing such a piece, because he felt that somehow "legitimized" the article. Nobody enjoys seeing someone they admire criticize their work, but especially if the critique is objectively wrong and easily refutable. Prominent figures in the industry have an inherent responsibility to do their due diligence before sharing articles like the one she did.

I realize this really boils down to if you thought the original article was something more than a thinly veiled hate piece, because it completely changes the context of what Sara shared, so take my own criticism with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, I would have preferred to see Adam take it to DMs at least, as he should know posting a reply like that (even if it wasn't a QT) would likely put a target on Sara's back, and I'm sure she deals with way too much of that garbage already. If anything, I think that is where Adam took his privilege for granted.

Anyway, I still enjoyed reading your perspective, it gave me lots to think about, even if I didn't agree with it all. I appreciate you!

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cher profile image
Cher Author

I wish I had the context of Sara's tweet here, but she didn't simply post the link. The link itself was at the end of a 280-character tweet. You are assuming she "did not do her due diligence" when it's simply untrue. She made fair points and disclaimers.

Learning to sift through criticism is difficult, yes, but it's an important part of working with others, which is a big part of OSS! Whether or not he would have felt slighted by ANY public figure sharing a criticism of his work is irrelevant, to post a reply like that so brazenly comes from the system we are in. And that's what is key to understand. I'm not saying he consciously thought, she's a woman and she's not even American or white! How dare she! It's deeper than that. It's the entitlement.

It's like saying, well, women are in the minority at our company, but it's not because I thought, I don't want to hire women or women aren't capable, it's a complex web that gets woven and dictates our behaviors.

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Andrei Dascalu

If he realized the article was written as a hate piece by someone irrelevant, why was he bothered by the act of sharing? Or felt the need to react at all?
Nothing changes regardless of the content itself. Hundreds of people write hate pieces, just about nobody gets much attention yet...

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jayjayjpg profile image
Jessica Jordan

Awesome analysis! Thank you for sharing and bringing attention to this.

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xyn profile image
Mydrax • Edited

Let me prephase this by saying this is my take on the situation: I think that this whole interaction has been framed into a very specific set of issues in the world right now and observers seeing through that frame are blinded to a certain degree, as to what actually is the problem.

Adam reacted the way he did because Sara by the very least partially agreed with an article (by choosing to share the link at all) that hadn't explored the configuration options available to any developer using Tailwind. Regardless, whether or not she agreed or disagreed is not the point. It is right to say that he shouldn't have worded his emotional turmoil the way he did, but then again if it is someone you held in high regard it can get difficult.

I would dare to say that it has nothing to do with Adam being white or a man or Sara being an immigrant or a woman. It's just a person expressing how she agrees with someone else, and someone that built what the other 2 are criticizing feeling emotional about it. While not the perfect way of reacting, it can make sense because literally no one fully knows or understands the work and effort that was put into making the product.

A fine example of this (while not an exact representation but bear with me) is how Hackernews is literally shitting on mightyapp.com/, how people that try to agree/disagree with whether or not Mighty is an initiative worth taking criticize not only the ideas/points made but the people themselves and how the founder at some point had blocked (on Twitter) a few of those that argued against the product.

Did it matter to the founder that among the people criticizing there were women, immigrants, white people, black people, etc.? I highly doubt it. Is it in his right to do so? Yeah, because he's probably dealing with a crap ton of stress. Should it matter anyway? The reaction regardless is obviously emotional.

People criticize other people, and it is natural. People feel hurt and that is also natural. People behave in ways that you wouldn't expect them to when feeling hurt which is also natural. This is true for anyone involved devoid of race, sex, or any other label that's slapped on us.

I would also dare to say that this issue could've been solved easily if only the involved parties talked about it for a bit instead of us, completely irrelevant people discussing the problem without the full context of how either side felt, what they've been through, and how they see each other as.

There are problems where people coming together is important, but this clearly isn't it. Then again, that's what I think.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Many of us know quite well the effort that was put into making a framework because we, too, have worked on compilers. Your comparison is not a great one, because we aren't talking about Adam blocking Sara, we're talking about the comment he made, and that he didn't at all think he should "consider how he would be perceived and his large platform", and this is entirely because of systemic sexism and racism. When you're not held accountable for this kind of behavior, while marginalized folks have to consider these things to simply safely exist in these spaces - that's enabling and upholding that same system.

We wouldn't be having this conversation had Adam taken the time to consider how irrational and manipulative what he was typing was, his enormous cult-like following and how they might treat Sara as a result, not because we wouldn't know about it and have the opportunity to talk about how racism and sexism enable and protect this type of behavior, but because it would have meant that Adam thought critically at all, instead of just reacting off of his unfounded expectations of Sara.

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Cristian Velasquez Ramos

I agree with your point that he felt the hurt by the fact someone who he admires shared a criticism of something he deemed to be toxic.

What I don’t understand is how you make the assumption that he respected and admired the original author of the article. Did he make that obvious somewhere (honest question)?

I had thought the article didn’t bother him because he actually did not respect it nor the author, so it was easy for him to disregard it. But since someone he admired shared the article, it was then that it became a more visceral response.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

I didn't say he respected and admired the author of the article.

That being said, there is a certain level of respect (not the admiration kind, but the leaving well enough alone and doing no harm kind) in simply not engaging with the author, which he was able to easily do given that the critique itself did not bother him.

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Cristian Velasquez Ramos

You wrote that “Sara has had to earn his respect and admiration, as a non-American woman of color, instead of getting it from default in-group bias”, so I understood that as being in contrast to the original author of the article.

It seems to me that personally considering what someone you admire/respect says is a common thing. If my wife tells me she doesn’t like what I’m wearing, that will prompt to reflect much more than if a stranger would to do the same.

Though I agree it was irresponsible to guilt trip on twitter.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

You're not disagreeing with me.

I said his issue was that she shared the critique at all - not the critique itself.

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Mykal Machon • Edited

Great article, I think it's awesome that you took the time to explain things concisely and bring people's attention to this in general.

From my memory, this isn't the first time we've seen actions like this from Adam. It's extremely irresponsible to draw negativity to anyone for giving fair criticism ,especially when you have a large, and often toxic following behind you; very disappointed to see lessons were not learned from past mistakes.

(edit: whether said criticism has been addressed before is irrelevant to my point- don't target your following at people for criticizing your work. )

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Mykal Machon • Edited

In my experience, a vocal minority of Tailwind CSS fans tend to "yuck people's yums", and don't accept the fact that not everyone has to like, or use Tailwind over other styling options.

There's a lot of shaming that goes on whenever someone comes out and says they don't like Tailwind, or that they prefer to use more traditional CSS/SCSS/Frameworks. If you tweet about CSS right now chances are there would be at least 1 or 2 tailwind "reply guys" in the comments defending Tailwind to a fault, telling you that you're wrong for using something besides tailwind, etc, etc. Not every tool works for everyone, and that should be okay.

Obviously, not everyone that uses Tailwind CSS is like this (I use Tailwind CSS in a number of production sites, and it works great for the projects where I'm using it! ) but this overall toxicity is a trend that's become so apparent that it's hard to ignore.

(edit: adding "a vocal minority" to the first paragraph)

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Erik W

Thanks for writing this; given everything you've seen from this fiasco, I can imagine you were a little nervous to hit the publish button.

There's a lot of insight in your assessment of his response being rooted in biases, consciously or not. I hadn't even thought of that before I read your article--I interpreted the whole thing as someone being overly sensitive to criticism.

I think we have way too much of a hero-worship culture in this industry. People start thinking a good engineer is irreproachable because of their coding skills, but no one is free from criticism and no one is done growing/improving.

Thanks again for writing.

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Matija Marohnić

Very enlightening article! While I don't condone how Adam handled his feelings, I was still surprised to read that you don't think that Brian's article was toxic, as it says things like "[Tailwind] is as welcome and useful as passed gas". While there is some good stuff in there, it sounds mostly pissed off, the author obviously didn't spend enough time with Tailwind, many of his arguments are addressed on Tailwind's landing page.

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Cher Author

I find the article to be mild, in part because this is roughly the same manner that its creator markets TailwindCSS against CSS best practice paradigms like BEM, including on the landing page.

I didn’t say or imply the article was good - simply that it was merely fine and made some good points.

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Peyton McGinnis

Whether or not I agree with your article, this write-up will drastically affect DEV.to as as an entire platform moving forward. I've never seen this heated and divided of a discussion on this site before. I trust the mods to handle it well but everyone needs to tread carefully here.

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Sloan, the sloth mascot
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cher profile image
Cher Author

I wasn't calling him either of those things, nor did I suggest what you're saying here.

You don't need to read articles about anything you don't want to. I can't really help that you chose to here.

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Sloan, the sloth mascot
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cher profile image
Cher Author

Thanks, you too.

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valeriavg profile image
Valeria

I haven't had a project where I considered TailwindCSS or Angular. Was it because they are bad? Not really, I've never tried it long enough to decide. There was a time I disliked Typescript, now it's the first dependency to install. There's a way I like my code organised and there are setups that would make me never ever contribute to a repository using it.

Having said that, it's important to differentiate between the code and the coder persona. We are all different, have different opinions on tech stack and everything else. Replace one framework with another and share a "before/after" article is a good way to promote favourite tech. Write opinionated "One Vs Another" is probably not.

I don't know much about tech bulling as my tech community is purposely limited to dev.to and work, but I can imagine that the more people are in the same room, the bigger the chances that some of them are hazardous.

I hope I'll be saying something obvious: skin colour, shape of genitals or sexual preferences should not have any effect at all on coding style, tech choices or anything else.

As well as anybody can get offended by lack of recognition for their work (with or without grounds), or give in to their temper and spread it all over the internet.

This eternal fight of "us" versus "them" (whoever the groups are) have no winners, but a lot of collateral damage. Can we just agree that we are all wrong and have a lot to work on?

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Cher Author

Bullying happens here, too, but the moderators are pretty great and hopping on and dealing with it, which discourages and often stops the pile on.

As for the rest, no, a lot of people can't get loudly, abrasively offended by the reactions to their work. Marginalized folks do not fall upward, they get erased. But yes, we all have a lot to work on. And that's what we're talking about here.

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Zachary Stone

"This isn't a commentary on Adam's intentions. This isn't a commentary on Adam's personal beliefs. This is a commentary on the systems we live in which empower a white man in our industry to publicly shame and guilt a Middle-Eastern woman and to expect certain behavior of that woman that white man does not expect of himself, nor of other white men."

I'm truly curious. Based on this edit, and I'm thankful you added this note.

Who is to blame for the actions? Adam? Or our society? If this isn't a commentary on Adams intentions and personal beliefs, then how does one be held accountable for their own actions? How do we call people to "do better" is morality only tied to culture acceptance?

These are big questions, I'll admit, I'm just trying to understand your perspective. Feel free to shoot me a message with your response if you don't want to create a thread.

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Cher Author • Edited

Who is to blame for the actions? Adam? Or our society?

I think we are accountable for our actions, and all of us are responsible for the framework that creates inequitable systems that allow this kind of behavior (especially only from certain people in certain power dynamics).

I think talking about it can solve both: if I'm hurt by critique from someone, I recall those conversations and consider my expectations of the other person and whether or not I'm being uncharitable due to some inherit bias I have, and what kind of impact engaging with this person would have in my current state of mind. Often time this introspection, regardless of power dynamics, give me the space to cool off and recognize I was being irrational before I acted on it, ensuring no one is harmed because of how I felt in some fleeting moment.

For me personally, I realized I always did this when I was personally hurt by men, because I was focusing on how my reaction could impact myself, and now after learning about systemic oppression and biases, I force myself to be just as thoughtful in situations where I am not afraid of what could happen to me as a result.

I do think there's a two-fold outcome here, of course, and that is not only hoping everyone becomes more introspective, but that we start holding everyone accountable equally.

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Zachary Stone

Thank you for the very well thought out response. I appreciate you taking the time and explaining and addressing the questions I raised. As a conservative, I strive to not allow traditional thinking to not allow progressive change from coming in and bringing justice, where justice is needed. I believe the polarizing and downright political heated discussions that go on constantly make it exhausting to hear a coherent argument.

I don't agree with everything taught is systematic oppression, but I do believe oppression occurs quite often. And I admire your desire to stop it, even if we may or may not agree with how it came to be, why it's still happening, and how we are ultimately stop it for good.

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Trev

Toxic positivity is right. Everyone needs to stop jumping all over eachother at the slightest whiff of criticism. Especially when that criticism is true. Without criticism we'd all be stuck with our heads in the sand. This especially applies to my demographic. Maybe it's too much too ask that the Internet learn how to have a debate/healthy argument, but it would be nice if we all did.

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Pierre Faniel

Great take on a issue that happens way too often in tech and tech social media.
Thanks for raising awareness in a very gentle way.
I sincerely hope this will open the eyes of more people in a privileged position.
I hope they see this article as a reminder that we all have biases and that we should try to be aware of them when engaging on social media!
Thanks again 🙂

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incrementis profile image
Akin C.

Hello Cher,

Thank you for your article and the links.
Regarding TailwindCSS, I can't comment as I don't know, nor use it, and I don't care about it at the moment.
Regarding the other issues, I would rate them as very sensitive.
Even so, I think it's a good reason to talk about it.

In General (Sexism & Racism):

Racism in general seems to be something we learn in our childhood through our environment, be it from strangers, friends or families.
This means that we have to unlearn it by questioning our bad feelings (anger, shame, defiance, etc.) towards situations or people (self-reflection is critical). That said, I believe racism affects all genders and I don't tolerate it (nobody should)!
I never really learned sexism towards women because my sister and mother are the dearest people in my life. I always encourage them to stand up against people who want to put them in this category because I want them not to live in fear or under unfair restraints, no woman should have to!

To "Adam Wathan's tweet at Sara Soueidan's tweet":

Unfortunately, the entire situation does not seem to have been handled professionally and objectively.

"Adam himself stated that he was unbothered by the article itself, but rather held Sara accountable for daring to not only agree with the criticism, but to share that with her audience."
In that case, he should have turned to Sara Soueidan with pointing out the issues.

"...use their influence to spread negativity..." -Adam Wathan's tweet
is just not good enough as an argument in my opinion. It's more of an accusation.

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Cher Author • Edited

There are parts of racism and sexism that are learned (expressed as bigotry and prejudice) and the rest of it is subtly woven into our lives. It's where we benefit and others are oppressed and we miss how we are taking advantage of systemic biases and inequities.

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incrementis profile image
Akin C.

I'm not going to deny that there is systemic prejudice, but the question is how to get rid of that. What options are available?

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cher profile image
Cher Author

Call out behaviors that capitalize privilege and/or oppress or exploit marginalized folks. The onus should be on all of the people engaging in and enabling those behaviors to recognize what they are doing and work towards 1) making it unacceptable behavior by holding others accountable for it equitably and 2) thinking before they act to consider if their behavior actually is just and acceptable.

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Jacob Herrington (he/him)

I really appreciate your opinion on this (big fan of your work and your DIY feed).

Your points are valid and worth hearing. Especially around the network effects of people with large followings.

I'm not sure my view is quite toxic positivity, but I still don't think the initial article added anything valuable to the discourse around Tailwind. I think we agree on this, but I also agree that the response from Adam's followers was shitty and he has a responsibility NOT to use that audience in the same way he accused Sara of using her's.

Do you think there is any onus on DEV around this? I'd like to know how we can improve, being the platform that started a pretty hurtful whirlwind of opinions. I am not a big decision-maker on the team, but I want to be able to contribute to the discussions we have around content on our site.

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cher profile image
Cher Author

I believe that some of the argument that this is toxic positivity requires a previous framing of how TailwindCSS has been marketed using the same type of language the article uses to describe BEM and other "CSS best practice" paradigms. It's tough for me to separate the article's tone from the tone it's meant to be contrasting, but I do agree that there are many things about the article that make it... not a compelling or good piece of writing.

As for DEV, I think it's difficult. I think there's something to be said about being able to turn off comments when discussion is impossible to keep healthy, but I'm not sure.

But at the end of the day, I still feel like I can contribute, and folks who want to leave because they "don't want to be censored" shouldn't influence whether or not there's moderation. Self-moderated platforms are the healthiest platforms, and it's not because they are echo-chambers.

Thank you for the work you all do on this platform. I appreciate it a ton.

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Brian Boyko

To say it "does nothing" is factually incorrect.

(Oh jeez. They're talking about my stuff.)

When I saw Adam Wathan's tweet at Sara Soueidan's tweet of "TailwindCSS: Adds complexity, does nothing"

Whoa. I had no idea that Adam Wathan even read the post I wrote. Don't get me wrong - I stand by my criticisms of Tailwind, but it was not my intention to ruin anyone's day.

I hope that Mr Wathan knows that I'm attacking the work, not the man, and that I'm not doing so out of a desire to drag him or his team down, but to point out what I believe to be significant flaws in Tailwind when it comes to the type of large projects that Tailwind is targeting.

I suppose I could have -- should have -- made it more clear that there is room to address the issues I found in Tailwind. That while I don't find it adds value, that there's no reason that it couldn't... if the concerns were addressed. Some later iteration or related solution could provide both what Tailwind promises (easy styling) without the drawbacks I pointed out.

I still think SCSS and CSS-in-JS are imperfect solutions, though they're (IMO) the best we have right now. We need people like the Tailwind team looking for better ways.

I do think that Wathan and his team are actually primed - and have the knowledge and experience - to truly solve problems in the web styling space, and I do think that CSS is too overly complex and verbose. There should be a better way and I have confidence that if Wathan and his team look for it, they will find it. If I'm trying to convince them of anything by my criticism, it's that I think they're currently looking in the wrong direction and to try to back up and see if there's something they missed.

Then I read it. While the framing was lacking the nuance I expressed above, and the title is mildly negative in a click-baity way, it wasn't toxic.

Yeah, I'm sorry about that. A bit of a peek inside the author's bias - I used to be a content marketer from 2006-2013, before I switched to programming in 2014. So I suppose when I blog, I'm in the habit of writing to maximise engagement -- i.e., I'm blunt and trying to provoke discussion. Not argument for argument's sake, but discussion. It's still my "default" writing style.

The article is a perfectly fine piece of critical thought.

Thanks! :)

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SyntaxSeed (Sherri W) • Edited

If the article & critique didn't bother Adam.... why did her sharing it bother him? Is she not 'allowed' to join in the discussion?

I think this Dev article is right on the money.

It's like someone shot a Nerf dart at him. That didn't bother him. Then someone talked about the Nerf dart & THAT bothered him. What.

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