@artkavanagh No. I always assumed somebody else would. I've frankly been a bit perplexed by how quickly people seem to have forgotten the weblog adwords bubble

@kimberlyhirsh Such an eye-opener 🙂

@fgtech 👍🏻

@pimoore Yeah. Although I’m not sure how much of that can be attributed to npm’s design and how much of it is either its sheer size or bad habits in the JS/node community.

Or all of the above?

@manton Sure. I get that impulse. I really do. 🙂

My point is that what they did publicly, even before we started to get reports on what was happening internally, is damning enough. We don’t need to find out what happened because none of it would suddenly make their actions good management. Either they badly mishandled one major crisis or they’ve been badly mismanaging the company for months, if not years.

The only way that their public actions last week weren’t incredibly poor decision-making is if the goal was to get rid of employees in a loud and public way so as to discourage specific types of applicants in the future. Keep the company lean and make sure only yes-people apply in the future.

If that was the goal, then it worked perfectly.

@manton When several employees publicly state “I found out about this from Jason Fried’s public blog post” then it’s unambiguously the CEO who’s at fault. He should have ensured that the decisions were adequately communicated to staff before making it public. You can make excuses for him but, at best, those amount to ‘he broke something by accident’. He still broke something, didn’t apologise, and, as CEO, is ultimately responsible no matter what.

He prioritised getting ahead of potential leaks over ensuring good internal communications. No matter how you slice that, that’s pretty irresponsible management right there.

@manton This was mentioned by several (now former) Basecamp employees on Twitter.

@danielpunkass Everybody focuses on the ill-advised ‘no politics’ rule but nobody really seems to notice that Basecamp went from being an open and trusting workplace to full lockdown in the space of a few days.

They went from:

  1. Obviously feeling free to discuss contentious and complicated topics.
  2. Having considerable autonomy in terms of running a number of employee-led committees, including a diversity and integration committee that had considerable support among staff
  3. Reviews were 360 peer-led performance reviews
  4. Going over and analysing management decisions—treating the bosses like a peer in a 360 review—seems to have been the norm.

Then all of that was taken away in what amounts to a wholesale declaration of no confidence, by the management, of the employees.

And the employees found out about it from a public blog post.

This isn’t a case of a workplace narrowing down its internal topic guidelines. Workplaces should have some guidelines for what is appropriate to discuss and what isn’t. And those should be written in collaboration with the employees to figure out what works best for the particular work that is being done. Useful guidelines are never as broad as ‘no politics’ because that guideline is so obviously unimplementable that it actually means ‘my politics’. They need to be specific. They need to establish boundaries that everybody is comfortable with. They need to explicitly allow for discussions that are necessary for the work and for the emotional health of the workplace. They need to clearly mark as off-limits those topics that harm the health of the workplace.

This is none of that. This was a hissy fit where a couple of founders completely overturned the culture they themselves established over many years, all because they felt deeply uncomfortable about being challenged. Even after the first couple of blog posts, they could have prevented any of the following damage by apologising and committing themselves to writing up new guidelines in collaboration with the employees.

But they didn’t do that because this wasn’t about establishing boundaries or establishing cultural norms. This was about establishing complete control.

Most managers aren’t going to put themselves in this position because they aren’t authoritarian narcissists. A crisis like this at a workplace that size is normally resolved by everybody talking together to establish reasonable boundaries. Often with the help of an organisational psychologist. It gets fixed without the public tantrums and most of the time nobody hears about it unless they were there.

(Disclaimer: my dad is an retired organisational psychologist. This is the sort of work he used to do. 🙂)

I don't want to downplay what was happening inside of the organisation or the sheer, unadulterated, hostile authoritarianism that's at play here.

But the decision was obviously a bad one even before we knew any of what was going on in the background.

The policies are openly hostile to the work force. They amount to a declaration that the work force can't be trusted to do its job.

This is especially galling considering that Basecamp is a software co. Software dev, being a theory-building practice, requires a LOT of trust

@fgtech This is true. I was just happy to see that virtualisation seems to be very doable on the M1. Some naysayers had expressed their doubts about that when it launched.

@pkra@mathstodon.xyz Ooh, that’s an interesting idea.

@pimoore I mean, I agree that I don’t know if it’s something they will actually want to do but in theory virtualisation could let them partner with Docker or VMWare to provide properly sandboxed linux dev environments.

@odd Oooh, yeah. That one looks nice as well.

@artkavanagh Yeah, that page definitely isn’t a good reading experience.

@ChrisJWilson My pleasure! 🙂

@simonwoods Doesn’t inspire confidence.

@paulcraig901 😐

@fgtech Exactly!

@simonwoods Yeah, tech has long fostered cult-like behaviour but there are parts of the OSS/Free Software communities that are well on their way towards becoming proper personality cults.

@artkavanagh Seems like a constant in life 😄

@fgtech True. True.

@fgtech Yeah, it’s hard to argue with the idea that it’s a key factor in enabling large scale internet monopolies.

@artkavanagh Yeah, I think you're right.

@ohBananaJoe thanks! 🙂

@ianbetteridge 😎