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“About one-third of Basecamp employees accepted buyouts today” (twitter.com/caseynewton)
1363 points by minimaxir 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 1958 comments





All: this thread is paginated, so to see all the comments you need to click More at the bottom of the page, or like this:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26998127&p=2

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26998127&p=3

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26998127&p=4

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26998127&p=5

(Posts like this will go away once we turn off pagination.)

Edit: as long as this is at the top, I'll include the related links that users have helpfully been mentioning:

What Really Happened at Basecamp - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26963708 - April 2021 (15 comments)

Changes at Basecamp - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26944192 - April 2021 (762 comments)

Behind the Controversy at Basecamp - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26963975 - April 2021 (32 comments)


Interestingly the employees who left have the best career prospects. Entire iOS team, head of marketing and head of product team.

The 6 months free money is hard for anyone entering a strong job market to pass up.

A lot of comments seem to think 1/3 left because of the no politics policy. 1 / 3 left because it would increase their wealth or give them the summer covid took away last year.

How many people would leave your job now for 6 months salary? How many could get a job tomorrow if they did?

A few probably left because they want to change social policy. Many are probably staying but still want to change social policy. The head of marketing, products and the iOS team are not leaving because of social policy.


Yes, people are reacting to the policy. But it's definitely that the policy is a reaction to something as well.

Probably, the founders believed that the toxicity of the internal culture had reached a point where it was extremely detrimental to the workplace. And, knowing DHH, it was probably not only a financial decision but a lifestyle one. He may have realized that the advocates that actively discussed and promoted political issues within the org was making his life and others in the company miserable.

Would you allow a Jehovah's Witness to be a significant part of your life if they proselytize you every day? I definitely wouldn't. Some of these activists probably think that's their right to do so; so let them walk.

I'd be really surprised if this surprised the executive team. This seems to be a super intentional and very professionally executed cultural shift / purge. Professional, because you give them freaking 6 months of severance and you don't call them out or force them out. If that isn't recognized as goodwill, you're blinded by your political disagreements to seeing how nice of a treatment that is.

The people leaving probably grew with the company, and contributed a lot to the company, so giving them 6 months of severance is recognizing that. But it's also telling them, hey we are making a cultural shift in our identity, and if that identity is no longer you, sorry, we'll treat you really well as you find a place that supports your identity.

This reeks of professionalism and GOOD management to me.


Yeah, honestly this seems like addition by subtraction. The last thing I would want at work is to navigate around ultra-sensitive trigger-warning micro-aggression seeking activists. Not that all the people leaving were that, but it sure sounds like a lot were. At work I just want professionalism and respectful behavior, along with people that have moderately thick skin and don't seek to find offense everywhere.

I read a summary of the situation and it seemed to me like both sides handled it poorly. It sounded like there was indeed a lot of activism, which is something you don't really want in a workplace, but the C-levels didn't handle it terribly graciously either, what with looking at past logs to find an employee's messages. It's more than a little impolite, I think.

I have to admit there's a certain elegance in filtering out political people by banning public discussions of politics, though. I especially cringed at this bit:

> Jane Yang, a data analyst at the company, told me that restricting internal conversations would negatively affect diversity and inclusion efforts. For example, she said, the company’s profit-sharing plan gave more profits to people who have longer tenure — a group that is majority white and male. Making that discussion off limits internally could ensure that inequality in profit sharing becomes a structural feature of the company.

It's not like they had a rule that white males get more money, it's a seniority rule! It seems unreasonable to me to extrapolate that to systemic racism in the company.


"It's not like they had a rule that white males get more money, it's a seniority rule! It seems unreasonable to me to extrapolate that to systemic racism in the company."

That's exactly where systemic discrimination originates.

Hardly anyone wakes up in the morning and decides that it's a good day to oppress G people. They wake up in the morning having some amount of privilege, discover that it might be threatened, and their actions that day try to avoid reduction of privilege, even if it means treating G people unfairly. It's not anti-G people at first, it's just pro-self.

Over years this becomes a de facto systemic discrimination, generally without a rule that explicitly says "we don't want G coworkers". Instead there are rules that mean that everybody works on G holidays, the microwaves can't be used for "smelly" food (and guess what, all G food is "smelly" by default), and of course, rule is by seniority in the company which just happens not to have any senior G people in it. Somehow fewer G people get hired, and those that do are in low-status positions.

You can pick your own value for G; it could be gender or nationality or ethnicity or religion or skin color or whatever. It works the same way.


In what way do you think that a rule like "the people who have been here the longest should get a bigger share of the company" is unfair to a group of people that is segmented by anything other than "time with the company"?

If you want to ignore that there's an inherent bias towards companies being started more often by people of certain social or racial profiles, sure. But you'd be willingly be ignoring it, and that's why systemic problems are so insidious to fix, they require a more active analysis than "I'm not actively trying to discriminate someone".

> If you want to ignore that there's an inherent bias towards companies being started more often by people of certain social or racial profiles, sure.

Right, so it's not that the rule is biased, it's just that there's general bias because of other things and this rule isn't compensating for it, which are two very different things.

Equality of result is, by definition, a way to bias things towards a different group, and as a proponent of equality of opportunity, I think that's not a good way to build a just society. That's why I'm against trying to "fix" rules that aren't biased in the first place (ie rules which people who support equality of result consider "not biased enough the other way").


"Making that discussion off limits internally could ensure that inequality in profit sharing becomes a structural feature of the company."

The main concern seems to stem from making the discussion off limits. No "fixes" have been proposed. The first step to solving a problem at all is to admit that there is a problem. Being apolitical is privilege. For the unprivileged, simply defending ones rights and dignity is a political issue.


The woman owned and founded startup I work for is completely unable to hire the diverse candidates we have interviewed because they are completely unaffordable at a startup.

Why is this?

Because executives at various massive tech companies are getting massive bonuses connected to how many diverse people they hire. They give lavish salaries and large chunks of equity to people who they otherwise would not. Somebody who is getting offers like this is naturally going to have all of their incentives misaligned for joining a startup.

My company's back end code is Java and Python and we interviewed an engineer who I was willing to teach both of these languages to. She happened to be a black woman and only new PHP using the laravel stack. Zero experience doing front end coding and not really a standout when it came to databases and barely new cloud.

She asked for a large equity stake, but also wanted a salary of $195,000. We are not at all in the Bay area and this salary is completely ridiculous for somebody who also wants a lot of equity and has very few skills that connect to our code base.

She was hired at Amazon for some rather boring role on an internal team that helps the data centers meet energy efficiency requirements by building applications that are essentially dashboards for internal decision makers.

We actually talk on regular basis now because I give her some advice for learning Python.

She was simply negotiating based on her market value and her own fiscal priorities and made a sound well-reasoned decision.

If my company hits it big one day which of course is typically not high probability, people like you will show up and say that we are systemically racist. Ironically the twisted incentives at these massive companies are creating this issue. As long as women are significantly less interested in jobs involving things just like men are significantly less interested in jobs involving people we're going to have to admit that trying to bring things to 50/50 proportions is going to create weird incentives that will further create side effects.


> She asked for a large equity stake, but also wanted a salary of $195,000.

That level of pay is reserved for absolute top talent with at least 15+ years of experience everywhere I’ve worked. Only a major corporation could afford to waste that kind of money on a junior level dev.


How do they not open themselves up for a lawsuit for that kind of pay discrepancy?

So long as your discrimination is targeted at a politically approved "historical oppressor" group, you're fine.

Aren't a majority of startups founded by immigrants?

Only when it suits the narrative. Also, white or light skinned immigrant don't count, of course, because in the oppression olimpic doesn't matter what your past history is, only what group you belong to in the present.

I think you are being downvoted because of HN’s inherent bias on topics regarding diversity and inclusion (although the flamebaity tone might also be at fault here). But I think this point needs reiterating as it is important to the discussion at hand.

I my self am an immigrant that don’t consider me self a member of any minority and I can attest to this. I don’t experience discrimination in my day-to-day activities, nor on the job market. The only discrimination I experience is what I inherit from USA’s immigration policies. I.e. I have more restricted international travel and my visa is tied to my employer (which I would imagine would be far worse of an experience if I would belong to a minority).

And this makes sense given the sibling threads. Being from a majority group in a country where I have good access to quality education, health care and other services, as well as good job opportunities. This indeed gives me a privilege that I take with me as I migrate. Non-immigrants that have been rejected these opportunities don’t have it this good.

In my experience immigration status alone is not enough to put into a group that has increased risk of being discriminated against.


Makes me mad because wife is an immigrant, but of the wrong kind - light skinned, came here legally - and while she grew in disadvantageous situations much like everyone else reaching the shores illegally, she got exactly zero support from the state, while everyone else was receiving welfare, free healthcare and privileged access to education and the job market.

When we eventually settled she had a long backlog of health issues, which we had to pay out of pocket to the tune of dozens thousands, because the mythical European free healthcare is only for the extremely poor or the tax evaders.

So fuck people towing the line of "we help immigrants because they are resources" - there are few feel good resources that are ultimately discriminatory and capriciously allocated to the most noisy groups, leaving people in need screwed because activists don't fill their diversity quota cards below a certain melatonin concentration


> In my experience immigration status alone is not enough to put into a group that has increased risk of being discriminated against.

This logic is kind of bizarre. You don't want to generalize, but only when it comes to putting people from one group into a different group for which you make generalizations.


In what ways could a rule giving advantage to people who are taller possibly have anything to do with men vs women? Would it just be a coincidence that the tall person bonuses happen to go mostly to men? After all, they go to a few tall women too, so does that prove there is no reason for women to get upset about this policy?

If the job is about reaching high shelves, yep, that's an excellent bonus scheme.

The answer is remarkably simple given the nuances of the topic:

The rule that “the people who have been here the longest should get a bigger share of the company” is unfair in a society which has a history of segregation that favored one group over another, and still is dealing with the aftermath of said segregation.

To justify: The favored group has more chance of being an early hire and therefore having better current benefits. On a large scale this leads to systematic discrimination which is not cool.


So explicitly pay more for certain people on a race/gender basis?

Aside from that being illegal out of the gate due to discrimination laws, who comes up with the formula? Is it revised? What kind of additional bonus are we talking?


In fairness, your second paragraph falls victim to the fallacy of "the problem you mention does not exist because solutions to it are too hard".

Yes, the things you mention are hard to design/decide upon, but strictly speaking that's not an argument against the parent (ie it's not that bonuses based on race/gender are wrong because they're hard to do).


> So explicitly pay more for certain people on a race/gender basis? ...

Literally no one said this.

Please try to stay in the actual conversation–it makes for a much healthier discussion.


It's a logical extension of the rule that you have to adjust for bias in every facet of employment compensation. You just don't like where the conversation is going because it sounds like a policy most would reject, so you don't want to talk about it. The person they were responding to later agreed that any policy that doesn't fix bias is biased in itself, so what's wrong with applying this any part compensation? There's clearly a pay gap here so isn't paying certain groups more not fixing this bias?

No, just don’t engage in policies which have these biases. Pay people the fair wages they deserve, give equal vacation times, be accommodating to people with families and to people with disabilities. And arguably favor higher pay over bonuses and stock options.

Higher pay is also often a function of seniority (even more so in industries that don't favor job hopping).

Join any union in the US, and seniority is pretty much the only metric used to evaluate fair compensation and benefits.

I don't understand what you are asking for.


Basecamp does all of those things...

You really need to read up on how they operate before commenting about them like this.

"It doesn't have to be crazy at work" is a good read that explains where they're coming from.

Understanding that, this move is completely rational.


Sorry, I thought it was clear from the context that we are talking about how seniority rule—and whether it is discriminatory—in general. The original quote is:

> > Jane Yang, a data analyst at the company, told me that restricting internal conversations would negatively affect diversity and inclusion efforts. For example, she said, the company’s profit-sharing plan gave more profits to people who have longer tenure — a group that is majority white and male. Making that discussion off limits internally could ensure that inequality in profit sharing becomes a structural feature of the company.

> It's not like they had a rule that white males get more money, it's a seniority rule! It seems unreasonable to me to extrapolate that to systemic racism in the company.

And the reply was:

> Hardly anyone wakes up in the morning and decides that it's a good day to oppress G people. They wake up in the morning having some amount of privilege, discover that it might be threatened, and their actions that day try to avoid reduction of privilege, even if it means treating G people unfairly. It's not anti-G people at first, it's just pro-self.

The argument here is that if we evaluate by a metric that benefits the in-group more then the out-group you end up with doing discrimination.

In the comment you are replying I’m giving examples of fair pay and fair accommodations in general. It is a respond to GP which misunderstands previous post that we should be paying minorities higher to adjust for the bias that is causing seniority benefits being unfair. But as I have said, that is simply not what I’m (nor anybody here is) arguing.


> The argument here is that if we evaluate by a metric that benefits the in-group more then the out-group you end up with doing discrimination.

Yes. That's the point. The in group in this case has invested more time. They get more reward. What you're suggesting is rewarding those who have done less more than those who have done more.

Talk about a fucked up sense of equality.


You are either misunderstanding or operating under false assumptions.

a) Misunderstanding: I’m not suggesting that people get rewarded that have done less. That conclusion does not follow from: don’t engage in reward system that disproportionately benefits your ingroup. I see how you would arrive at that conclusion, but it is false. Not engaging in policies that disproportionately reward your in-group does not necessitate rewarding an out-group by a different metric. These are not two sides of the same coin.

b) False assumptions: Staying longer at a company does not equate having done more. It is entirely possible (and even quite common) that a new hire will contribute a lot more then established workers. A new hire brings with them a new perspective. They might not contribute directly, but they might be asking the right questions which gives more senior workers a better perspective etc.


So the objection is that rules that don't attempt to fix biases are inherently "biased by default", even though the rule doesn't actually contain bias itself?

That is more like a corollary to the rule. If society is biased, and you don’t adjust for said bias, then you will get biased results.

Right, but that uses some sleight of hand to make the claim that you can/should adjust for bias everywhere instead of at the source, which isn't something everyone finds fair.

I mean sure. If you have the power to fix the aftermath of centuries of discrimination, that would be amazing. However that is for sure easier said then done. In Cuba it took a civil war, a revolution and a total economic upheaval. I doubt there is popular support for anything like that in most countries.

If you are in favor of a revolution, all the power to you... But if not, then I’m sorry to say that our best option is the slow, painful and gradual correcting for our systemic biases for the next generations.


I don't think it takes a revolution to make a social safety net, ensure good education for every child, and institute free healthcare for everyone, but that probably sounds too close to "socialism" for some people's comfort.

Why do you think all those things would satisfy those that suffer from systemic discrimination? Presumably there would still be a bias towards promotion, opportunities and compensation. Great if you get healthcare from the govt but I don’t think people are suddenly going to stop these types of complaints.

Because childhood nutrition, healthcare, schooling/community and other living conditions are huge causal factors towards a talent pool of people who are prepared to pass a software engineering interview? The original complaint here is all about 'seniority' being inherently unfair due to those societal conditions.

Trying to 'unbias' (meaning a calibrated, countervailing bias actually) at the other end of the funnel, where incidentally 80%+ are already super liberal, doesn't really get the same mileage.


Ok, if we do assume those things do fill the funnel, what do you do foe the next 20-30 years while you wait for those changes to pull through? Tell the folks to “sit tight, we fixed it”?

Well, we're not going to hire software engineers that don't exist in the name of equity. And, yes, the answer to 'how do I do better in this seniority system' is literally always 'wait', no matter who you are.

If people are primarily upset about general societal things rather than clear cut workplace discrimination, I would submit they should focus their activism at those societal things.


I disagree with the idea that everything is racist/sexist/ist which is what this seems to support. Why wouldn't the people who have invested more time into an organization reap more of the benefits? Why stick around otherwise?

A situation can suck without being unfair.

The convenience of this scheme is that if you complain about being treated unfairly, you can be either told "sure, it's because of systemic discrimination, we'll fix it right away", or "you're just complaining because you're afraid of losing your privilege" - and this does not depend even a little bit on your own actions and your own achievements or qualities. It only depends on who the powers external to you pre-designated to be "privileged" and "oppressed" - and they did it not knowing who you are, what's your story and probably before you have been born even. Your experiences and concerns can be central or immediately dismissed just because somebody sorted you into one group or another. And it's your own fault, for being in the wrong group.

And the most funny thing about it is that people propagating this system actually thing they fight for equality and against the abuse of power. While this is exactly how inequality and abuse of power is done.


Is there systemic racism in the NBA?

I'm at a startup (tiny) now, and thanks to DIE bonuses and hiring emphasis n at FAANGs, diverse candidates have never been more unaffordable.

Thoroughly middle of the road, PHP programmers who can't do front end at all, demanding large equity stake AND a salary higher than anyone else at company. They are just valuing themselves at market for a black engineer.

It's a shame, because in the chance my company (we are already doubling enterprise customers every 3 months) does well, some journalist will comment on how early employees are skewed towards white/male.

(I should note that founder/ceo is a woman who was so amazing when I interviewed that I took a pay cut for more equity, cuz she's a beast who I'm convinced will lead our company to success)


Guess the experiences here are pretty diverse. I’ve not had a problem hiring or competing with FAANG for excellent+qualified female / non-white talent.

What’s the current gender makeup % of your engineering team, if I can ask? As well, what’s the non white makeup of the engineering leadership and overall leadership team? I found it got easier the less that ratio skewed towards 100%M engineering team and 100% white leadership team :)


Current engineering team is 2 women, 2 men. 2 over 50, 2 under 40. All white.

Leadership team is mostly female, only 1 male, who is CTO. 1 is Latina, others white.

In the past, I joined a company where entire leadership team was Indian and male. I never would have thought to not work there because they didn't share my race. That would have been bigoted.


I elaborated on this more in my other response but:

“ I never would have thought to not work there because they didn't share my race. That would have been bigoted.”

There’s a wealth of factors that go into a choice to work somewhere, and someone not choosing to work at your company because they don’t see themselves represented isn’t necessarily bigotry, but then also wanting an assurance of a safe space and not always knowing whether it will be. I wish I could tell you otherwise but I’ve had these conversations with a wealth of marginalized groups over my career and the teams I’ve built, so it’s not unusual. It’s not a “oh I don’t want to work with these people because I’m [x] and they’re [y]” matter the majority of the time. It’s more often “man, I’m going to be the only [x] on a team of 30 [y]s” which is often culturally uncomfortable for a lot of people.

And yes sometimes on occasion it is “man, I don’t want to be working with a company of 10 [y]s where I’m the only [x]” or “if the executive team is all or majority [y]s, do I know for sure there’s career advancement opportunities here?”

We do have a rampant amount of sexism, racism, etc in our field (just like many others) and so that is something unfortunately people sometimes suspect. I’m not at all saying that this is the situation at your company - far from it - just saying the choices for people are most often verrrrrry far from bigotry.

Not sure of your background but it’s also not too hard for a CIS white male to not sweat working on any other team composition (say, all Indian) vs the reverse, because hey - even if you’re paying a pioneer tax, you’re probably not paying it for long. There’s a lot of advantages that group has that are often taken for granted. :)


Just a note that I’m astounded that a remark saying “hey, I’ve hired a diverse team, here are some structural things I’ve found that helped - tell me more about your team makeup” is something that garnered any downvotes at all. Are there seriously people here who believe this is a bad idea? I’d love to hear more about why you do!

I didn't have a problem with the statement.

I disagree with catering to candidates own biases though.

If a candidate assumes my startup is bigoted because it's all white, despite talking to us, I don't want them here. Stereotypes are stupid, useless, and immoral, no matter who they are directed at. Imagine if I had a problem with all but 1 of my leadership team being female? That would be me making decisions about them based on their immutable characteristics. Fuck that.


Actually that’s not at all why I brought it up. There’s a concept called “the pioneer tax” where being the first X of anything means you’re the pioneer. For example, the first female in a team of 3 engineers pays a much lower pioneer tax than the first female engineer in a team of 20 engineers. Replace female with black or Latina. It’s the same thing there. Career choices are a huge choice; why wouldn’t you choose to work where you’d feel most comfortable with the culture?

Ideally the earlier you can intentionally focus on diversity the better. This also goes for leadership too - both for hiring other leaders and it’s an easy demonstration that the company’s commitment to diversity isn’t just for token representation purposes.

Anyway...yeah, nothing about catering to candidates biases or people judging you as bigots. I sense the anger here at that but hopefully you can see that’s not where I’m approaching it from.


I really appreciate your extremely informative response.

I think you hit a very good point with the pioneer attacks and it's a higher cost as the team gets larger.

Funny enough I experienced the pioneer tax myself one time but for a different reason than ethnicity or sexuality: Socioeconomic status. People can't tell by looking at me but within about two sentences they can very accurately HEAR via my speech patterns that I grew up in a lower socioeconomic class than 99% of US born programmers in the industry. I have a very rural dialect but I do work hard to have excellent grammar when I speak. Over the years I've worked hard to suppress the accent while at work and I'm sad to say that it's been very effective in reducing people's biases toward me. Of course that's just anecdotal it's not like somebody was scientifically measuring anything. And I'm fully aware it's a huge luxury to be able to hide what makes you different from people, as opposed to race/gender/etc.


Appreciate you too!

I feel like a lot of companies (including Google) are still reeling from Google's "Bring your entire self to work" philosophy. It does feel like good management where companies like Coinbase have reified their mission/goals, and given those who feel like solving X needs to be included, a nice payout to leave. The world has a lot of complex problems and not every entity needs to work on fixing all of them--that may in fact be counterproductive.

Given how Basecamp is known to pay, they're going to attract a significant amount of top talent that is already aligned with the new culture.

Oh, have you seen tweets from Basecamp leaders calling people out? you could actually say that the execs are activists as well based on their posts on social media.

Not really sure where I sit on the whole thing, still, but I've seen this parroted as a "gotcha!" and I don't think it really is. The founders' activism is _public_. The ban is only on activism _at work_. The fact that so many people don't _get this_ is sort of proving their point.

That's not the case. They're explicitly saying employees are welcome to discuss the founder's activist preferences at work. They've also heavily used their workplace for activism. For example, they invited a political candidate to base a campaign out of their offices.

Yes, on social media. Outside of their basecamp account.

If you're looking for people with moderately thick skin who don't seek to find offense everywhere, a good place to start is to avoid the folks who wrote this blog post:

> every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant. You shouldn't have to wonder if staying out of it means you're complicit, or wading into it means you're a target. These are difficult enough waters to navigate in life, but significantly more so at work. It's become too much. It's a major distraction.

https://world.hey.com/jason/changes-at-basecamp-7f32afc5

There's absolutely no reason to believe that there were any "ultra-sensitive trigger-warning micro-aggression seeking activists" at Basecamp among the employees. All we have is a blog post from someone who is overly sensitive to reasonable professional conversations and didn't want to deal with "unpleasant" conversations at work. It's a story told from that person's perspective and we shouldn't take it as absolute truth.


How often are conversations in the political/SJW space “reasonable” and “professional”?

Never, in my experience, because the said activists tend to accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being a bigot.


Exactly. And it's especially evident when you look at their Twitter accounts

Hm. In my experience, I've always found them reasonable and professional and I've never been called a bigot.

>There's absolutely no reason to believe that there were any "ultra-sensitive trigger-warning micro-aggression seeking activists" at Basecamp among the employees.

This is objectively false. There is 100% undeniable proof of these types of employees being there, including one of the heads of data analytics:

From https://janeyang.org/resisting/

> Racist capitalism is poison that has weakened every facet of society and been used to “justify” horrific crimes against humanity while destroying our planet. We need massive power and wealth distribution enshrined in national and international policies.

From https://janeyang.org/2021/04/13/im-getting-some-feedback/

> Guess who tends to beta spray? Men. White men, in particular.

From https://janeyang.org/2021/03/18/live-forward/

> If you are white or a man, especially a cis-gendered heterosexual able-bodied white man, do the fucking work. Learn about the characteristics of white supremacy, push through your discomfort, and reflect on how you show up in the spaces you have power. Be ready to apologize when you screw up (we all do!) and then do better. And whatever you do: do not demand that your friends or colleagues or employees or neighbors or acquaintances who belong to historically marginalized groups explain to you all the ways you perpetuate harm and how society got here. Pay an anti-oppression professional for training and coaching; don’t expect us to get you up to speed for free.


The Jehovah's Witness comment was so on point.

I grew up with a single father, who was prone to religious fanaticism. Plenty of fundamentalist, culty churches.

When I was a teen, my father met a radical vegan animal rights activist, started dating, and suddenly swapped out religious fanaticism for radical left-wing activism.

The smells in my house changed, and the people looked different, but fundamentally they were the same: Awful, zero original thinking, dogmatic, controlling, self-righteous, and, yeah I'm going to say it, failures in life if measured financially or in career status.

The cars in my driveway shifted from rusty, beat up, old Ford's/Chevys to rusty, beat up Subarus/Civics.

I hate tribal thinking, and the aggressive conformists who flock to it.


I find it out that you choose to highlight their late model cars as symbols of their failures in life.

Age or price of car aren't what I mean. Poorly maintained, allowed to fall into disrepair, bald tires often. Losers don't take care of things.

Conversely, I love seeing well maintained older vehicles.


That's a stretch. First of all calling someone a loser cause he seeks other values in life? Also I am a huge loser, cause my car has been in garage for a year(covid homeoffice) and it got very dusty. Is rusty car really a denominator for losers, as I have met plenty of smart people who don't particularly care about 'things'.

you still need to consider that lots of people would judge you by how you upkeep things in any present moment. Sure, you can be a genius scientist in the stat of "flow", but recognition would come only later if that's the case

Remarkable how when 1/3 of the company resigns in one go - many of whom have great and longstanding professional reputations with no history of political activism and including head of marketing, design, customer support, iOS etc. - following fundamental changes they read about in a blog post, it's because _they_ were all intolerable, proselytizing activists who all had to go for the good of the company.

Absolutely nothing to do with the two leaders who spend a good chunk of time on social media telling the rest of the world how to run their business in the most in your face way possible.


It's interesting, all the discussion in the immediate aftermath was along your lines of thinking, and then later, everybody else came in to talk and took the side of the company without understanding what had actually occurred. They latch onto the word "politics" and decide it was the 1/3 who were toxic.

Indeed. The narrative seems to be "politics in the workplace is bad so they were right to stamp it out". Seems to me that they had a workplace issue and dealt with it in a way that has really, really annoyed many of their staff. Other companies have similar issues and manage to deal with them without losing 1/3 of their staff.

Why can't people just keep their shit to themselves?

In the work environment, I don't care if you want to save the whales or arm every teacher with an AR-15.

Do you do your job well enough that you don't personally impact me? You do? Good. Shut up about non-work shit and keep working.

Every single person I've ever seen who was a "passionate" "political" person is a fucking trainwreck in some area of the their life. How about your fix yourself first? Then once you've got yourself ironed out, you can try ironing out the rest of society...


It’s a false narrative that this was about politics and non-work things in the workplace. It was a workplace issue that blew up and employees were annoyed with how the founders handled it.

No, it's pretty fucking stupid all the way around... I broke my own rule and went to that garbage news site The Verge and read Casey Newton's article.

A list of names that sound or look funny.

Wow.

The amount of disdain I have for idiotic busybodies who would fuss and fret over such a thing cannot be overstated, or even quantified.

How about just ignoring the list? How about saying to someone, when they tell you about the list, "That's dumb. Grow up, <name>."

How about just going on about your day.

The fact that any human being would think a list of funny names should be a fireable offense is a testament to this new idiotic religion of Wokeness. A bunch of shitty people traded Christianity for another religion where they can be insufferable assholes, under the guise of righteousness.

Where. Have. I. Seen. That. Before?


Don't understand why your tone is so aggressive.

Do you think that kind of aggressive tone would be suitable in a work place?


Because entirely too many people are entirely too sensitive and need to toughen up, that's why.

> Do you think that kind of aggressive tone would be suitable in a work place?

Apparently it is, since everyone from Steve Jobs to Bill Gates to Jeff Bezos have used a tone like that - and a lot... lot worse.


>Do you think that kind of aggressive tone would be suitable in a work place?

No it wouldn't be, but this isn't work, it's an internet comment section. You're literally providing his point that "there's a time and a place" for shit like this, and work isn't one of them.


My comment was a reflection on the topic. Its interesting how one person is offended someone else taking offense to social issues but somehow sees their own outrage as justified.

> A third of Basecamp’s workers resign after a ban on talking politics. (NY Times)

Great PR recovery after, from what I can see is one of the worst management foul-ups I can remember. But then PR is one thing that JF and DHH are good at.


If telling people to "get over it" about a list of names and then they don't want to "get over it" and then telling them to go pound sand is the worst management fuck-up you've ever seen, then you need to never - and I mean never - quit your current job, because its pretty clear your management team is unbelievably competent.

In fact, send me a link to your company's Careers page, because I want to work for a company that's got their shit together so thoroughly.


Losing a third of your staff in one day over something that started off as a list of customer names counts as astoundingly bad management by any measure.

Don't start saying it was all due to the people who left - there were a number highly respected, long standing and apparently extremely hard working employees in that list. And they are probably prevented from giving their views due to severance terms whilst DHH in particular will no doubt be blogging about it again within days.


I disagree, this reeks of cheap solutions and ill thought HR managements.

To me banning politics from company chat feels vague and confusing at best. Another post from a few days ago got this from a worker[1]:

> “How do you talk about raising kids without talking about society?” the employee said. “As soon as I bring up public schools, then it’s already political.”

At worst it feels like you are being silenced. In technology topics of diversity and inclusion tend towards the political (it doesn’t have to be; but it most often is as witnessed on HN). Does this mean if you feel like the company is not being inclusive that you cannot speak up?

Tonnes of companies deal with issues like these in a better way IMO. Options include a code of conduct which prohibits escalating emotions in a political debate (i.e. by talking about genocide) while allowing (and even encouraging) talks about DE&I. Reprimand people that are found to use hostile language in public forums. Provide channels (echo chambers) where people can opt into and have a more heated debates (without breaking the CoC). Etc.

1: https://www.platformer.news/p/-what-really-happened-at-basec...


I don't understand the school thing. "My daughter is working on a project at school. I have to go to a parent teacher conference. etc."

I'm struggling to imagine what kind of political thing you would say about school. I can't share my thoughts on the school board, pedagogy, common core, racist school names, etc? Doesn't seem like an onerous restriction and I can't recall ever having a work conversation that would've violated it.


Have you not talked with colleagues about kids being out of school for the pandemic, what you need to do about childcare, how to make up the lost time, etc? No idea of anyone's opinions on whether schools should reopen, how kids are going back, and whether it makes sense?

These can all be interpreted as political issues, and I think very reasonable to talk about. The policy is so arbitrary that it ends up being that you can't talk about things that the founders don't want you to talk about.

I get the sentiment, but the execution is chilling.


I don't see any of those things as political (except in the meaningless sense of the word where everything is political) and I don't think that's what they were talking about banning. If we actually worked at Basecamp we'd just fire off an email to whomever to confirm, but as is I think the best we can go with is a fair reading. To me, Basecamp wasn't banning speech of the form "I can't wait for the kids to be back in person at school. The schools have been closed too long."

That's the problem with a policy like that. It just becomes another cudgel for people in power to arbitrarily decide what people can talk about. Not dissimilar to how everybody speeds so anyone can be pulled over.

In the absence of clear policy, it comes back to trust, which needs to be earned and can be lost. I don't work at Basecamp, so I don't know whether they "deserved" to lose trust and my opinion doesn't really matter. But the evidence appears to show that trust was dead, whoever killed it.


Yes, it is their company, they can run it as they please. How is that controversial? They have power, and they wield that power as they wish. If people don't like it, they can wield their own power to leave and find a new job as well, especially with 6 months of severance.

Well, they did. I don't know why others find it controversial, but I do because I see a lot of destroyed value here, mostly over what I consider a failure of empathy and understanding.

We all saw what happened, and we're talking about it because most of us think things could have gone a little better.


You’d be surprised at what some people consider political. In some parts of the US acknowledging the severity of the pandemic and admitting to getting vaccinated for covid would be considered political.

Is it true or is it hearsay? I have not had much contract with remote parts off the country during this period and am not sure.

Whether schools open is a decision made by public authorities. How is it not political?

Discussing whether schools should / should not open is political. Discussing "Schools have closed, what do I do with my kids?" is not.

I understand "The schools have been closed too long" as "The schools should open again".

Banning political discussion is the better option. With the extremely polarized us vs them mentality folks in the US have, it is too easy for someone to be singled out for a different opinion. Twitter is a good example of this kind of groupthink and the putrid Mad Max landfill that remains when people retreat to their camps. I would never work in a toxic environment where I am being subjected to a constand barrage of politcal posturing unrelated to my actual job. I work to get paid to go home and enjoy my time. Talk about politics somewhere else.

I don't agree that it's too hard to not talk about politics at work. I have been doing it as a rule at most of my jobs for years now without thinking of it (and so do most workers). The idea that mentioning public school is "political" is a wrong idea.

Seriously? You—and most of your co-workers—have never mention that you wished you had more vacation time with your peers? Or that the work week should be shorter? Or that your bosses have it too good relative to you?

I have never worked in a place where we don’t discus these things periodically.

I don’t have kids but I have witnessed my peers in previous jobs say stuff like: “I wished school hours would be more accommodating to those of us that work shifts.” Which is a political statement about the strict nature of how we run schools.


nailed it. Seems to me they played it perfectly. Problems are out, company hits the reset button, and it's really hard for anyone to say these people were treated badly with a voluntarily accepted giant payout. Let's not forget that to regular people, these folks just left with one to two years salary with no obligations. That's winning the damn lottery to people who don't work in our overpaid industry.

The interesting question, which I don't see addressed in the comments, is how to avoid the Basecamp situation in the first place.

Just to pick one thread of many to pull on, any management team that actively encourages intra-mural political discussion should think through possible consequences. It's difficult to take such rights away, as Google's experience has shown multiple times. [1]

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/technology/google-culture...


A lot of gossipers, haters, and narcissists hide behind the activist label to carry out their personal agenda. If you are building policy that allows activism, you need checks and balances against this free riding behaviour.

If you don’t check the behaviour it can take over like cancer. The gossipers and narcissists hide behind activism and the activists support them as one of their own because they align with the activists goal. People who do not want to deal with these people eventually leave for places without such policy and you are stuck with all the bad actors.


So, what? Hire new people to replace the ones that left and then eventually have to do a purge again in 5 years? This appears more to me like a short-sighted easy-way-out kind of move.

Why not spend the time to build channels for constructive political discussion? The workplace does not exist in a vacuum. You cannot isolate work from politics these days.


The policy they put in place is just not hiring those who would want to actively participate in political discussion at work. I think there are plenty of people in the world who see that as a net positive. Not everyone wants political discussion and to further mankind’s ideological philosophies; far more direct ways to impact society include just being nice to those around you.

> Probably, the founders believed that the toxicity of the internal culture had reached a point

There are precisely one set of actors behaving toxically in this whole fiasco, and it's the founders.

> I'd be really surprised if this surprised the executive team. This seems to be a super intentional and very professionally executed cultural shift / purge.

Hahaha, what? In which universe are you inhabiting? No piece of evidence supports this theory. All the evidence clearly points at this being a hasty and unplanned reaction to a hasty and unplanned emotional outburst at an employee by a founder.


It reaks of fu money to me. Not everyone can afford this kind of move.

Sure, but that's what you get for running a successfully bootstrapped company. You get to do whatever you want with it. DHH and Jason could have been, no doubt about it, much wealthier had they gone the typical funding route, but would not have had this kind of control. It's their lifestyle business, they get to pick their lifestyle. They who control 51% call the shots. Personally, I'd way rather work somewhere like that where a founder you know has that power than some investors you've never met. (Been there... woke up one morning and found out the company was for sale and we were to pick redundancies and slash until it sold, it sucked. )

I’m not criticising the move. My point was that more business would like to practice “good management” but can’t afford to do so.

You're not wrong there! :-)

One of their iOS devs who left has been incredibly vocal about how he no longer felt like this was somewhere he could work because of this policy and its effects, so I think you're plainly wrong (or insisting that there's no way we could take a person at their word). https://twitter.com/georgeclaghorn

It's a lot more likely that the 1/3rd that left both left because they were unhappy with the policy, and because they thought they could get jobs elsewhere. I would bet there are some people who stayed behind who didn't believe they could find a job this good soon but who also disagreed with the policy. Which, I get it.

6 months free money is not as much as you'd think; a new job hunt takes 3, even for talented, in-demand people.


A number of their employees were very vocal from the moment the post went live. They expressed how disappointed they are. You can literally hear the despair in two employees voice in a 90s podcast episode where they announce its hiatus.

Basecamp was a company built on reputation, and people joined on that and then the leaders just flushed that all away. Its not surprising that opinionated and outspoken people - the kind of people Basecamp courted - left.


Despair over not talking about politics on work channels? Are they absolutely consumed with politics that they can’t focus on actual work tasks? I have worked with someone who insists on inserting a political topic or headline into every meeting and it’s distracting and exhausting

'not talking about politics' is a straw man for the actual issue. They have a list of funny names, got called out on it, and didn't like that. "politics" implies "we dont like Amy Klobuchar" or whatever, but it wasn't that.

It was about "what do we tolerate", "who do we welcome", "who are we as a company"? They didn't like their employees defining this for them, because it forced them to think things they didn't want to think about.


> They have a list of funny names, got called out on it, and didn't like that.

On the contrary, as far as I can tell (i.e., based on information released by founders and employees), they didn't object at all to being called out on it. Everybody at Basecamp, the founders included, thought the list was wrong and inappropriate.

What they did object to was the discussion being escalated to genocide and that there appear to have been employees who refused to climb down from that.

It does become impossible to have a constructive discussion, particularly about sensitive or controversial matters, when some people involved want to escalate to the most extreme position imaginable. It tends to mute other viewpoints.

This used to be well understood on the internet, and is the reason Godwin's Law is explicitly stated (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#:~:text=Godwin'....).


that isn’t really a problem with politics though is it?

it feels like a problem with the discussions participants listening and speaking skills.

if someone immediately jumps to a negative extreme then its likely they feel quite emotionally distressed about the topic. if you notice someone is emotionally charged about a topic (either yourself or a participant) then we should seek to discover the shadow conversation that is being had. what is the true source of the emotional distress.

instead we see it as weakness and press harder.

removing politics won’t solve that.


I don't disagree with you, but I can also see how that could become a huge problem in a workplace.

It can be pretty frustrating when people debate in this fashion about work-related matters. E.g., nowadays I find it particularly tiresome when people frame technical discussions (such as one database platform or front-end technology versus another) in moral terms. It's incredibly unhelpful.

It has the potential to be even more disruptive for non-work matters (though the original "Best names ever" discussion was very much work-related).

Still, whilst I'm not especially critical of the position DHH and JF have taken - though initially I found myself back and forth on it - I do of course wonder if a more nuanced resolution that alienated fewer people (I don't mean on twitter and other social media, which is mostly just noise: I mean at Basecamp) could have been found than something that feels like blanket ban, even though it's not really.

Perhaps they tried - I don't know.


i would love to read an example of a technical discussion framed in moral terms. if you’ve got any off the top of your head, i’d appreciate you commenting them.

i suspect, a lot like becoming conscious of the impact the food we choose to eat has on things external to our local context (climate, animal welfare etc), technology decisions choices could be seen through such a lens.

as Frederic Bastiat wrote, there is “that which is seen and that which is not seen”.


You've honestly never heard a discussion between software developers where people label use of a particularly language, technology or technique X, "wrong", or said something like, "if you're doing Y, you're doing it wrong"? You've never seen the shade people throw at PHP?

Where do you work? Can I join?

More seriously, if you (have nothing better to do than) look through my comment history you'll find a discussion from a few weeks or months back where I chided somebody for saying (I paraphrase), "if you're patching directly in production you're doing it wrong." Granted doing so is far from ideal, and not something I've ever done with any kind of regularity, but occasionally it's the quickest way to resolve an issue whilst you follow proper process with a more involved investigation and fix.

I've found this varies a lot by company I've worked for: it doesn't happen where I work now much at all, but other companies I've worked at many technology choices are either "right" or "wrong". I just don't have the energy or patience for it these days.


ah, i took moral discussion to be code for political discussion, not actually moral (good vs bad) haha.

in that case, yes. people get dogmatic about the strangest things. depending on my level of give-a-fuck i sometimes dive in deeper, “why do you think this is bad?” etc.

sometimes theres a decent learning opp either for me, discovering a new way that something can cause problems or for them, learning to apply some nuance to their beliefs.


Absolutely. I definitely prefer for the discussion to start off dispassionately as opposed to having to drag it there, but I completely agree with you.

A lot of discussions about the environmental impact of proof-of-work Bitcoin mining would fit the bill.

And that would perhaps be fair, although cryptocurrency discussions range far wider than technical concerns.

And that's quite a long way from what I'm talking about, which are technical discussions that are more day to day concerns for many software developers in the industries and types of application I've worked with (e.g., desktop software tools and web applications/services in sectors such as telecoms, life science, payment processing, retail systems, data analytics).


If that is the case, banning politics feels like the nuclear option. And regardless of the the intent I think the consequences will yield the result parent notes.

Other companies are able to handle peer conversations without making such a broad and vague category as politics taboo. Like you can enforce a code of conduct and treat speech of genocide as being in violation and issue a citation for a minor offense and terminate repeated or hard offenders. You can also enforce stricter speech standards on open channels and announcements while allowing workers to have free conversation in their own opt-in echo chambers.

Nuking all political dialogs just feels like a bad HR policy.


> You can also enforce stricter speech standards on open channels and announcements while allowing workers to have free conversation in their own opt-in echo chambers.

I think this is what the policy amounts to though, right? They're banning political discussion on their shared work Basecamp, but not anywhere else, and are even encouraging it in other private and opt-in channels, as well as employees' personal blogs, social media, etc.


And also banning any DEI initiatives, banning any and all committees, and a host of other changes that essentially boil down to "shut up and do what we tell you".

> banning any DEI initiatives

That's not actually what they've said though, is it? They're moving responsibility for DEI back into HR (they call it People Ops)[0]. I have pretty mixed feelings on HR as a company function[1] and choice of profession, but that's far from a ban on DEI initiatives.

(I don't dispute your comment that committees have been dissolved.)

[0] The original "Changes at Basecamp" blog post literally says, "The responsibility for DEI work returns to Andrea, our head of People Ops,": https://world.hey.com/jason/changes-at-basecamp-7f32afc5


Fair enough, banning any employee organization of DEI work (outside of the one HR person).

> On the contrary, as far as I can tell (i.e., based on information released by founders and employees), they didn't object at all to being called out on it.

> What they did object to was the discussion being escalated to genocide and that there appear to have been employees who refused to climb down from that.

The topic brought up was the Pyramid of Hate, and I'm going to presume linking the list of names to one of the base levels of bias. DHH is the one who escalates that point to say, well this must be a fireable offense since it is on this pyramid with genocide on the top, which is really completely ignoring the point of the pyramid and not at all what employees probably said. An employee actually tries to explain this, that "dehumanizing behavior begins with very small actions". DHH ignores the point and completely unprofessionally and unethically (imagine the CEO of your company doing this) publicly shares some old chat log of the employee participating in making fun of the names, as if this employee wouldn't be aware of that and probably regretful of it.

So yes, an employee tried to explain what might be wrong with DHH's thinking and yes he did not like it at all and responded inappropriately and he was the one who wanted to "escalate to the most extreme position imaginable."

Here is the full-text from the article that described what happened:

"But Hansson went further, taking exception to the use of the pyramid of hate in a workplace discussion. He told me today that attempting to link the list of customer names to potential genocide represented a case of “catastrophizing” — one that made it impossible for any good-faith discussions to follow. Presumably, any employees who are found contributing to genocidal attitudes should be fired on the spot — and yet nobody involved seemed to think that contributing to or viewing the list was a fireable offense. If that’s the case, Hansson said, then the pyramid of hate had no place in the discussion. To him, it escalated employees’ emotions past the point of being productive.

Hansson wanted to acknowledge the situation as a failure and move on. But when employees who had been involved in the list wanted to continue talking about it, he grew exasperated. “You are the person you are complaining about,” he thought.

Employees took a different view. In a response to Hansson’s post, one employee noted that the way we treat names — especially foreign names — is deeply connected to social and racial hierarchies. Just a few weeks earlier, eight people had been killed in a shooting spree in Atlanta. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent, and their names had sometimes been mangled in press reports. (The Asian American Journalists Association responded by issuing a pronunciation guide.) The point was that dehumanizing behavior begins with very small actions, and it did not seem like too much to ask Basecamp’s founders to acknowledge that.

Hansson’s response to this employee took aback many of the workers I spoke with. He dug through old chat logs to find a time when the employee in question participated in a discussion about a customer with a funny-sounding name. Hansson posted the message — visible to the entire company — and dismissed the substance of the employee’s complaint."


I haven't seen the employees "escalation to genocide", but as I understand it, it was an employee sharing the ADL pyramid of hate -- that such attitudes such as stereotypes were foundational to further hate.

Yes, the ADL pyramid is a modern Godwin’s law. You only bring it out to state that “making fun of someone is the foundation of genocide”.

Nobody is doing that. What people are saying, in this thread even, is that making fun of names is innocent fun.

The pyramid is intended to show that its foundational to hate.

Thats then being immediately taken out of context to equate stereotypes with genocide as a straw man argument. In this thread.

Nobody here or at Basecamp made such an argument. Its entirely made up to shut down discussion.


> The pyramid is intended to show that its foundational to hate.

Thought is also the foundation below that. In fact, thought is much more requisite to hate rather than making fun of something.

Shall we update the pyramid and show that thought is the foundation to all hate so we can show it whenever someone thinks?


> as far as I can tell

The thing is, that is not very far at all. You were not involved in the situation at all.


Well, obviously I can only comment based on information that's been released publicly by DHH, JF, and their employees (both current and former). What would you prefer we all evaluated the situation based on?

Some employees have been critical on social media of the policy changes. None of them has suggested that DHH or JF thought it was OK that the names list existed. Again, all available evidence suggests that nobody who is still at Basecamp or who was there formerly, including the founders, thinks the names list is OK.

What exactly are you questioning here?

Because you evidently don't know any more than I do yet, based on that same body of information, you seem willing to insinuate a much shakier conclusion though you lack the courage to state it explicitly (because I think you know that it's not backed up by any evidence). You're not adding anything to the discussion other than noise.


I am questioning why you feel the need to weigh in on something you are not in a position to have an informed opinion on.

In theory no more or less informed than anyone else in the discussion. This is a discussion forum: we all have as much or as little right to comment here as anyone else taking part in this conversation.

> They have a list of funny names, got called out on it, and didn't like that

Not at all true - they dealt with it extensively internally, agreed it shouldn't have happened, etc. But folks kept analogizing the list of funny name to genocide.


Is this a quote that comes from somewhere? I see multiple people talking about this 'analogizing a list of funny names to genocide'.

I think its been properly debunked multiple times in the comments here to say its untrue. Just wondering where it comes from that people keep commenting it so strongly.


People making such a fuss over a list of funny names? Yes, that's office fun you wouldn't want your customers to know about, which I guess makes it a bit unprofessional. But still it's absolutely innocent fun. Whoever makes it into an existential political issue has lost it, seriously.

> But still it's absolutely innocent fun.

Not if you're one of the injured parties.


Funny-names list survivors, let's not offend them with the improper nomenclature.

Yeah, I’m sure I’ve been on a few over time and yet still an inner drive towards pattern matching and spurious associations leads me to moments of light-heartedness tempered by not wanting to cause offense.

Truly these are first world problems

This is truly becoming an issue in the first world, soon the biggus dickus sketch from The Life of Brian will be censored not to offend Richards across the country

Making fun of ethnic names isn't 'innocent fun' when your company purports to be diverse, equal, and inclusive.

If you don't believe me, well, DHH himself agrees with this: it's a problem when you acknowledge the pyramid of hate, as he does.

What's at issue is that he acknowledges all of this, then refuses to recognize any wrongdoing, dresses down employees in public, and claims that "political talk" -- about the company, about whether these practices are correct, about whether this is an inclusive and equal place -- is banned.


I'm not sure where you read all this. In his post [1] DHH says:

1) that the list was a mistake and that they've learned and moved on.

2) that "I was dismayed to see the argument advanced in text and graphics on [Employee 1’s] post that this list should be considered part of a regime that eventually could lead to genocide. That's just not an appropriate or proportionate comparison to draw"

3) that "the vast majority" of the names in the list were in fact of Anglo-Saxon or white background.

So he acknowledges, apologises and de-escalates. And points out that there is nothing racial about the list. What should he have done more, or differently?

[1] https://world.hey.com/dhh/let-it-all-out-78485e8e


My take on what the disagreement is about is that while there is agreement that the "Best Names Ever" list was inappropriate, there is disagreement about _why_ it was inappropriate. The founders seem to think it was inappropriate because making fun of your customers behind their back is not nice, but that it was not racist. The other contingent seems to think that in addition to being disrespectful of their customers, it was also racist. That contingent feels that in order to work towards a less racist future it is important to acknowledge past acts of racism.

Two other details I find interesting:

  - In the post you linked to, DHH specifically talks about the Asian names on the list.

  - The only attributed statements I've seen from any non-founder employees are from Jane Yang.
My guess here is that Jane is Asian, that she is likely one of the most involved employees in this situation, and that she feels that the inclusion of Asian names on the list constitutes anti-Asian racism. DHH clearly disagrees about the last point. If I'm right, this is a case where a white man is telling an Asian woman that comments she believes reflect anti-Asian bias are not racist. In my observation, white men telling minorities what is and is not racist is one of the surest ways to enrage those who feel passionately about racial justice issues.

> In my observation, white men telling minorities what is and is not racist is one of the surest ways to enrage those who feel passionately about racial justice issues.

Might well be, and yet this doesn't mean the "white men" are always wrong. If the vast majority of the names in the list belong to Western whites, and only a few to Asians, does it make sense to claim the list is racist? I don't think so. And why should someone admit (and thus confirm) a non-existent but very serious moral failing, just to appease an angry employee? With all that it entails: once something has been confirmed to be a moral failing, the same judgement automatically applies to all similar instances. We're seeing where this is going.


Thanks for sharing that - I hadn't read that particular post and it's very thoughtful and well articulated, and facts there are indeed surprising, such as the vast majority of the list being Anglo-Saxon.

To your question, I think it is the consequences of closing such a discussion that he leaves unaddressed. Does the company still value your opinion? Do you matter?

I honestly think, as DHH hints, that being able to 'rehumanize' might avoid even having to ask these questions.


> I think it is the consequences of closing such a discussion that he leaves unaddressed. Does the company still value your opinion? Do you matter?

It seems he clearly proved that those opinions matter, if he recognized the mistake, recognized the validity of some of the points made, and apologised.

What I've observed in this and other well known instances of "social justice" protests (I hope it's the best neutral term to describe them) is that there seems to be no endgame accepted by the protesters. No apologies are ever accepted without an explicit or implicit transfer of power to them. An example of an explicit transfer of power is setting up some commission or bureaucratic structure where the protesters or people they trust will be enrolled; and resignations represent an implicit transfer of power (the recognized power to make someone lose their job, which is not a small one).

Compare this with normal workplace dynamics. You can complain inside your workplace for many work-related reasons (workload, bad management, pay, etc.). Your complaints can be openly discussed, legitimately rejected, or acted upon. But in any case a change in the hierarchy or in the company structure is not something you expect. It can happen (very rarely) or not, and you might be satisfied with the responses or the changes or not, and if you don't like the answers after a while you might decide to move somewhere else. You don't consider unacceptable that the company doesn't see or address your point of view. At some point the discussion ends and that's it. This is not what happens on social justice complaints, and I think it's toxic (in the workplace, but in general everywhere).


I can't really comment about other "social justice" protests because frankly I don't really care about them, but yes this absolutely is about power.

What DHH neglects to address is that he's claiming the power to silence. "we had to close down this channel" or "discussions are being moved".

I like your idea of comparing this to a normal workplace dynamic. What if you get the rare change you wanted to see, but in exchange there is a new policy: no more discussions like this? Yes, your ideas about devops or whatever were fine, we're making a change, and now please never discuss our product development process again.

At the very least, does the change you 'won' feel genuine?


This all seems very absurd to me. I can't imagine working at a company where I'd even be notified if CS had kept a list of funny names, much less expect owners to weigh in, repeatedly, about the attendant moral issues.

It's unprofessional, shouldn't have been done, we're stopping it, if people recreate it that will have appropriate consequences. Done. What's the point of even mentioning this trivial thing again?


Power. The point is power. Step 1: note an issue. Step 2: show how the issue is on a direct path to genocide. Step 3: as the issue is now connected to genocides, it should never happen again. Obviously the best way to ensure that is to have someone special (or, say, a committee) in a position of power.

I'm not even saying it's a cynical play, it's extremely easy to forget to reflect on it and just think you're doing the right thing all along. The outcome is still the same though.


> Making fun of ethnic names

They're not necessarily ethnic, some people just have funny names:

https://theawesomedaily.com/50-funny-names-that-are-so-unfor...

https://www.newidea.com.au/funny-names

In your opinion just how genocidal are these articles on the pyramid of hate?


> They're not necessarily ethnic

The first list you posted has a bunch of "funny" East Asian names. That stuff was racist in "Sixteen Candles," there's no excuse for it in a modern workplace.


Your links have nothing to do with what basecamp did?

They're lists of funny names, same as what Basecamp did.

What basecamp did "represents a serious, collective, and repeated failure at Basecamp [...] counter to creating an inclusive workplace. Nobody should think that maintaining such a list is okay or sanctioned behavior here."[1]

[1] https://world.hey.com/dhh/let-it-all-out-78485e8e


Yes, and that's referred to a list of funny names. It's still not clear to me in what the "ground fact" (the list of funny names) is different from the links posted above.

I'll be frank- and I know that I'm risking the mistake of reading just what I want to read-, I think that those "counter to creating an inclusive workplace" and the general tone ("serious collective failure" etc.) are just nods to the social justice culture, and are meant to appease and concede some ground to the opponent. I don't think (also because it is clearly stated elsewhere in the same post) that there was anything intrinsically racist in that list, or anything that made it substantially different from those examples above. Apart from the obvious difference that these are customers, and it's not nice to secretly make fun of them.


Despair over the controversy of an internal “funny names” list turned into an external PR move.

That's not what happened, nor is it why people were upset by the founders' actions.

How was Basecamp's reputation built on social justice issues and fanning flames on internal message boards? I thought their rep was based on good product development

> 6 months free money is not as much as you'd think; a new job hunt takes 3, even for talented, in-demand people.

That still looks like 3 months free money. That is a considerable offer no matter a person's politics.

Occam's razor is most of the people who left did so because they didn't like management, because that is the normal reason people leave jobs. However, it is very noticeable that if someone was looking for a reason to leave for any unrelated reason, this was the perfect opportunity.


Occam's Razor is not an appropriate tool to make the point you are trying to make.

Not sure why you are getting down voted. Occam's Razor is heavily abused and misused in the majority of cases, treating it like some axiomatic mathematical principle and misapplying it to human behavior.

Yeah, this is exactly right:

1) Employees left for ideological reasons.

2) Employees left out of self interest.

There are reasons I believe it’s predominantly 1, but neither explanation is more convoluted. Misuse of an excellent thinking tool.


Those aren’t actually alternative explanation; values define self interest, they aren’t orthogonal to it.

Tweet: "I’m planning on taking some time for myself before looking for new opportunities"

Seems like someone enjoying a break, and glad to have timed it to get a huge severance package.

Remember, it's not 6months pay to sit in prison, it's 6monrhs pay to do anything they want, including a hobby project, child rearing, a busoner idea, education... plus a few hours a week of job searching.


Or it's somebody who is so upset and shocked to the core about what has just happened that they need time to grieve for the best job of their lives becoming intolerable very quickly.

That’s not my experience watching friends go through the full cycle. The tech employment market for talented programmers appears to be the hottest I’ve ever seen and I worked through the late 90s tech boom where literal used car salespeople were being hired into tech only to be back selling cars by summer of 2000.

Talented people will also have higher standards (want large compensation package, or interesting work, or something else), and figuring out whether a job opening is up to that standard takes time. The result is that even for developers in high demand it takes a lot of time to find a new job.

> 6 months free money is not as much as you'd think; a new job hunt takes 3, even for talented, in-demand people.

If you're a developer, that's enough runway to launch a side-business. After all, job-searching is hardly time-consuming (it takes so little time that people do it while already employed in a full-time position).

Yeah, some folk will sit at home binge-watching netflix for 6 months. I can all but guarantee you that I will have a product at the end of six months if I was unemployed for six months.

At the end of the time I'll have a new job and a product (whether the product actually makes money or not is irrelevant. Getting a product to sell is the first step).


> Getting a product to sell is the first step

Super tangent on the thread but if you want a product that people are interested in you might think about using a process like Nathan Barry's Authority or 30x500. Not that those are the best or only ways to make a product, of course, but they're at least a direction to take to figure out what people want, need, and buy.


Thanks, I'll look it up.

> a new job hunt takes 3

Where is this? At Senior level in London it can take days once you're good and ready.


You would magically find a suitable job in days?

I personally have a lot higher requirements for a new position than "a job that pays more than my current one". E.g. working on something that is worth doing, together with great people.

This takes a lot longer than "days" to find.


That was my experience as well in London and very similar here in Helsinki, Finland.

Where is this? At Senior level in London it can take days once you're good and ready.

Basecamp is fully remote isn't it? So it could be anywhere.


I’m not seeing that at all. I have seeing 90% of people let go at my previous job (sample size of 50) pick up jobs within a month. A few obviously had a harder time but the market right now doesn’t seem to be hard at all.

The person you linked to said they are taking time off before looking for new opportunities, so they don't seem concerned about not having enough time to find something new.

Minor point, he's a Ruby/Rails programmer, or was last time I saw him.

Former member of the Rails core team, in fact, from which he has also resigned. https://twitter.com/georgeclaghorn/status/138813101023207424...

> a new job hunt takes 3, even for talented, in-demand people.

That sounds really long. It never took me more than 2 months from an initial contact to an offer (whether accepted or not) and sometimes less. I've seen people hired in less than a month - in fact, I've seen many times people hired before they left the previous job. Of course, it's just my personal anecdata but 3 months sounds really long. Any hard data to back it up?


Well if they didn’t do it for they money maybe they could have publicly donate it all to charity. Otherwise it just looks like they did it for the cash.

I'm reading through his tweets and don't see much interesting on the subject. I may have missed it tho. Can you point me to a thread where hes vocal on it?

How much do you think the people who have been working there for 5 or 10+ years are making per month?

And they can literally land in the company they want to work at in a week.


> there's no way we could take a person at their word

What people say on Twitter is hardly courtroom testimony. It is evidence, sure, but I wouldn't give it a whole lot of weight. Probably even less weight for being "incredibly vocal".


Poster meant a full 1/3 left because yadda yadda. Not that the entire 1/3 left yadda yadda.

Then, I guess they are all lying on their social media accounts? I mean you can also leave and say nothing. I agree that it wasn't this one decision...but if you can make a generous severance offer and not only does your company implode but all your senior leadership leaves, then probably your internal culture isn't what you thought it was and/or something else stinks and/or they all felt that strongly about this one decision.

But even then...if you are a senior person that has been somewhere for the better part of a decade, you have surely both made and seen bad decisions made before. If you think that there is trust and mutual understanding and collaborative work is possible, you work through those.

(Not everyone in tech solely cares about money. And the ones that do siphon their way to certain gravitational points and/or do the jump ship every 2-3 years to negotiate a new salary and not a raise...)


> The 6 months free money is hard for anyone entering a strong job market to pass up.

Surely some of the employees left for ideological reasons, but 6 months of salary just for changing jobs is a difficult incentive to ignore.

Anyone who was considering changing jobs would have a hard time saying no to 6 months of free pay. The publicity of this situation also makes them attractive targets for other companies looking to hire out of the situation.


Why are you assuming many were considering changing jobs at a company that has long tenure and believed to have a great culture?

If you read "Shape Up", you will realise there is a _lot_ of slack at Basecamp (I know, I've implemented it myself in one company), and a lot of space to think things through. Tons of autonomy.

6 months pay is not a good bargain for a great job.

It's a superb bargain for a job that has suddenly become very uncomfortable.


At least half the people I know would immediately give up their job for no other reason than 6 months of salary.

At the level of compensation from Basecamp (at least what they say) it would be very easy to do that in 1 year: just put aside 50% of salary each month and you will have full 6 months of salary or (as you already lived on 50%) you will have one year of half salary to take time off.

Of course putting 50% aside is huge but I think 20% is achievable and will still create in one year a couple of months to live without a job.

I find myself sometimes hearing people saying things like this “if my company will give me X salaries I will leave” but few will actually do it. I always push back saying how about in the next 6 months you put aside some money and take 1 month unpaid vacation. I listen the arguments why they will not do it and realise people say will leave job if compensated but mostly they dont walk the talk as there are other risks/loans/friends/promises that keeps them there.


Except, here, you don't even have to save. You get to keep both the money you made over the past year and six more months of salary. Literally having your cake and eating it.

I've noticed a lot of rather wishful thinking here and on Twitter along the lines of that the people who left are all woke layabouts or whatever and that this is some genius management move. No explanation of how to reconcile these ideas with the fact that so many of these people who left were in leadership positions.

I dunno. I could find a job in a few days or weeks.

But, finding a job I want to do for many years probably takes a significant portion of that 6 month period.

Now, if I was already half-way out the door? Or also felt strongly about the no-politics stuff? You bet I'm taking the money and not looking back.


I believe you. But I also assume you're not dead weight your employer would be better off without. However, dead weight is what a lot of commentators online claim to think the departed employees were--and that Basecamp cleverly rid itself of them today--without any real evidence for these bold ideas.

You're combining like three different narratives together.

It usually takes me years to find a job I want. That is why I'm always looking.

If any significant percentage of a tiny company like this was halfway out the door, that's also a sign of management failure.

Isn’t this true in tech in general as turnover is so high? At any given point, half of software engineers are at least contemplating leaving.

Lots of people believe in the Just World Fallacy[1]. Everyone who disagrees with me is incompetent, and everyone who agrees with me is highly skilled.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis


>Everyone who disagrees with me is incompetent, and everyone who agrees with me is highly skilled.

You do know that’s not the just world fallacy at all, right? You might be thinking of the fundamental attribution error...


Do you think people in charge of hiring, particularly outside of the SV bubble, are going to be eager to pick someone up who left their last job because they couldn't agree to stop bitching about politics on the company dime? I don't see how demonstrating the inability to follow basic company rules in the interest of productivity improves their career prospects. Even inside the SV bubble, things aren't that warped, are they?

> Do you think people in charge of hiring, particularly outside of the SV bubble, are going to be eager to pick someone up who left their last job because they couldn't agree to stop bitching about politics on the company dime?

I think that's a big mischaracterization of what happened.

For one, it seems a lot of the issue was about the 'funny names list' and heated debate around that. It wasn't people going to war over liberals vs conservatives. It seems DHH took particular umbrage at someone brining the Anti Defamation League's Pyramid of Hate into the conversation.

Secondly, Basecamp had allowed the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion committee with at least a dozen employees joining. DHH and Fried decided to unilaterally dissolve it. If you're going to give employees your blessing for a D&I group then just axe it with no discussion or warning, some people will be put off.

Then there's the fact that employees found out about this group of changes via blog post. That betrays a lack of empathy/care for employees when implementing a set of big changes.

Lastly, saying 'no politics or societal issues' because you, as the owners of the company felt uncomfortable, is a recipe for ruining the culture of a company like Basecamp. For some employees, they can't get away from politics and societal issues because it affects them every day and their very existence has been politicized. More savvy leaders could've established a better climate of respect and politeness around any 'political' discussion rather than a heavy handed and clumsy edict.

This wasn't about a bunch of people endlessly bickering about politics at work, it's about company owners who took a manageable issue and turned it into a public crisis. Companies several orders of magnitude larger manage to accommodate employees having political conversations without making messes like this.


> For some employees, they can't get away from politics and societal issues because it affects them every day and their very existence has been politicized.

What a lame excuse for politicizing everything.


It might sound like a "lazy excuse" for someone who hasn't been in their shoes. As lazy as commenting one's gut reaction even. It might be worthwhile to actually give this one some thought, maybe read up on it, talk to people. The non-lazy response basically.

Nobody’s “existence” has been politicized in the 30 years I’ve been in America.[1] I remember during 2015-2016 my friends were freaking out asking if I was worried if Trump would be sending people from Muslim countries (like me) to internment camps. I thought they were being completely absurd. I guess it wasn’t just me: a third of Muslims voted for Trump in 2020. People don’t do that when their “very existence has been politicized.”

Government policies may be unfair, unconstitutional, or discriminatory to different groups of people. But that’s not politicizing people’s “very existence.” That sort of rhetoric is just a way to dial up the temperature of political debates by equating any negative impacts with existential harm. People have a right to freely debate things like who the government will let into the country, what benefits it will provide to whom, etc.

[1] Except unborn children, whose very existence has literally been politicized.


What about deportation of undocumented immigrants? Isn't their existence in this country politicized?

People are being killed by gun violence, police violence, gang violence. Isn't it fair for people affected by these things to feel their lives have become political footballs?


> What about deportation of undocumented immigrants? Isn't their existence in this country politicized?

Their presence in a country they’ve entered illegally is the subject of political debate, but that’s not equivalent to a threat to their “very existence.” Calling it that is an attempt to emotionalize a basic function of sovereign nations: policing their borders. It’s something every country does—including the countries from where these undocumented immigrants came.

> People are being killed by gun violence, police violence, gang violence. Isn't it fair for people affected by these things to feel their lives have become political footballs?

If you’ve been killed by gun violence or police violence or gang violence, then you’re dead. If you haven’t, then you’re debating government policy, not the fact of your “very existence.” Even mundane government policy has life or death implications. People running red lights kills six to ten times as many people each year as mass shootings. But framing a debate over stoplight timing in terms of peoples’ “existence” would be a way to shut down rational policy debate.

As an Asian person, I’m much more likely to be killed or attacked by a repeat offender than by the police. But that doesn’t mean I can shut down a discussion of eliminating bail by saying it’s a “threat to my very existence.”


Based on the way you are using terms, you are correct, nobody's existence can be politicized. If they are alive (although possibly sick, in jail, or deported), they exist so there is nothing to discuss. If they are dead, they are dead, so there is obviously nothing to discuss.

Putting those semantics aside, the point was, some people's lives are affected by politics (I'd argue all are) and you can't expect them not to talk about their lives, including the effect of policy and politics on them. Well, you can, but apparently 2/3 of your workforce will decide that's not cool and leave.


There have been times when people’s very existence has been a political issue. That’s not happening in 21st century America.

Of course people’s “lives are affected by politics”—often very significantly. That’s a very different statement than saying people’s “very existence is politicized.” That’s just a rhetorical device to exaggerate the personal impact of political issues.


I would agree with that. People exaggerate at times, and you're correct that it can lead to unclear conversation. One of the worst parts is that bad actors can seize on a couple of words and detail an entire line of reasoning based on it.

> If you’ve been killed by gun violence or police violence or gang violence, then you’re dead

Unless it’s your family/friends who have been? “How was your weekend Mary?” “My husband/kid was shot in the back by police”

I find it sad how your arguing how people’s existence can’t be political or if they are it “doesn’t matter” because they unborn or dead while neglecting people who would still be affected daily like family or a mother who wants to get an abortion but can’t/has to deal with the assholes out front protesting


People on parole and bail kill more unarmed people than cops do.

Is any talk of bail or parole reform an existential threat that denies people's right to exist?


Source?

And no? I don’t think I gave any indication it would?


https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/polic...

About 80 / year police shootings of unarmed individuals.

There were about 19,000 homicides last year.

1 in 55 people people are on parole or probation. So even if we make the ludicrous assumption that people on parole or probation have exact same rate of violent crime as non probation or paroled you still end up with 345 homicides by people on parole or probation.

I assume a rate 2-3x the base rate for population would be a completely reasonable assumption, giving us ~10x more homicides by people on probation/parole.

The point is if police shootings rise to being an existential threat, than criminal justice reform is at least a much of an existential threat.


the very first sentence there is "985 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year"

and the rest of your comment is conjecture and assumptions with no facts to back them up


I said unarmed. Which statistic do you think is meaningfully wrong?

"Existence in this country" is completely different from "existence," even if the two ideas happen to share a word.

I disagree. If you are deported to a country which you may not speak the language, have no known relation, and be completely unable to support yourself, your life is effectively over. You can rebuild a new life from scratch, but depending on how you define existence, I think it's reasonable to say your old life no longer exists. Conversely, you could say you still exist after you die, because the master that made up your body hasn't exited the closed system of the universe.

To make it for home a little more, I'll ask, where would you go if you got deported?


Not really if you're limited to talking about a particular country.

Like I guess you could argue it's the difference between ethnic cleansing internally and invading a neighbor to engage in ethnic cleansing, but that's sort of not a hugely important distinction.


I think they're arguing the distinction between "I'm not allowed to live in the u.s. so I have to live somewhere else" and "I'm not allowed to live because I shot in front of a firing squad".

Which would seem like a very important distinction if it was my existence.


Where would you go if you were deported? If I were deported, my life as I knew it would effectively be over. Family, friends, job, all gone.

It's not the same as being dead, but it's analogous to being imprisoned or incapacitated.


Does that distinction really matter if you're already here in the US? Where else do you go?

I'm trying to argue in good faith but you're literally asking does the distinction being having to move and being murdered matter.

To move where?

This thread was in part, but not solely, about undocumented immigrants, and sure maybe they have a place they can legally be sent to. But the same argument has been used for racial separation ("No, we don't want to subjugate black people, we just want to have a white ethnostate where the black people will be forced to move". The part not said aloud of of course, being what happens if someone wishes to stay where they have lived their whole life).

So yes, I think the distinction between "will be kicked out by force" or "will simply be shot in the street" can be a lot more tenuous than you're suggesting.

But even still, if we're discussing any group that isn't undocumented immigrants (or even potentially citizens whom the president wanted to strip that right from) the question of "where do they go" becomes even more important, because there usually isn't a place they can go.


Do you seriously not understand the distinction between racial segregation and enforcing immigration laws or do you just not believe in nation states?

I'm unclear on what exactly you mean by nation states. That term usually implies a cohesive culture shared by the population, and as such is more normally applied to smaller ethnically homogenous nations (think Spain or Japan or South Korea) and not a large ethnically and racially diverse nation liked the US. In fact the US (with it's vastly different culture and racial makeup between say Hawaii and Nebraska and Georgia) is usually the prime example of a country that isn't a nation state.

I think what you're actually asking is if I feel that it is just to enforce immigration laws on people already in the country, and generally speaking no, I don't think deportation is a just punishment for trying to be a productive member of society but overstaying a visa or similar.


You’re mixing up nation states and ethnostates. The US is a nation state and like every other nation it gets to decide who is allowed to take up residence there. The fact it’s not an ethnostate just means it doesn’t make those decisions in order to preserve an existing ethnic homogeneity. That doesn’t deprive it of the right to decide on what terms foreigners get to live there.

Deportation isn’t a “punishment.” It’s restoration of the status quo ante in response to someone entering illegally. If you build a house on someone else’s land, they can force you to tear it down. That’s not a punishment, it’s just undoing the effect of the illegal act.


> You’re mixing up nation states and ethnostates.

I'm not, using common definitions. They just happen to usually be the same because culture and ethnicity are often very tightly coupled.

The factors you're talking about (border sovereignty and determination of citizenship/residency) are all related to being a "state" and have relatively little to do with being a nation, which is just a shared culture. A nation state is the term for a state, the political entirely, whose population shares a broadly homogenous culture. If you choose to define the US as a nation-state, then it blunts the "nation" portion to the point of redundancy, as the culture of sharing a government is enough to define a nation. Do a bit of research here and at a minimum you'll find that the US being a nation state is widely disputed. But we can agree to disagree because again, everything you're talking about is political determination related to statehood. Nation is irrelevant.

> Deportation isn’t a “punishment.” It’s restoration of the status quo ante in response to someone entering illegally

This is weak semantics. A goal of retribution is not a requirement for some act to be a punishment. It is simply "the imposition of an undesirable or unpleasant outcome upon a group or individual, meted out by an authority as a response and deterrent to a particular action or behavior that is deemed undesirable or unacceptable". Defacto it is a punishment. But this again doesn't matter even if you choose to find it not a punishment, it is still unjust. It may also be a return to the status quo, but so too is, for example, returning someone to prison for a parole violation, and I think you'd be hard pressed to define that as anything but a punishment.

> If you build a house on someone else’s land, they can force you to tear it down.

I'm dubious of this. You likely could not compel me to tear it down. You could sue to cover the costs, but if I had no money there are limits on what you could do.

I'm contending that deportation is similar. It, at a minimum, is not a just way to "restore the status quo".


> Where else do you go?

The country of which you’re a citizen and where you’re legally allowed to reside?


And if which you may not speak the language, have no known relation, and be completely unable to support yourself. Where would you go if you got deported?

Where should a trans US citizen with no other legal residency go?

Their ability to live safely is coupled fully to their ability to live safely in the us. Immigration was one, but not the only, example GP mentioned.


Has there been any serious discussion around kicking trans people out of America? I haven't seen any.

Clearly they mean around the "live safely" part.

Transgender people are about as safe as anyone else in the u.s.

Trans people are a group that isn't as safe as others: https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-trans-and...

44 transgender people killed last year.

19,000 people killed last year

0.6% of the population is trans according to wikipedia.

So we should expect 114 trans murder victims if they had the same rate of being a victim of homicide at the standard population

Looks like they're safer.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_demographics_of_the_Uni....

Also I said about as safe. Your risk of being involved in a homicide is ~1%. You'd need to be at a much higher risk of being killed before this impacts your overall safety.


Trans peoples existence certainly has been politicized. In many cases they are de facto not allowed to exist.

> Except unborn children, whose very existence

To use your same disingenuous measure of argument, no their existence isn't politicized, whether or not they are "persons" (or alive) is. Fetuses quite obviously exist, everyone agrees on that.

The HN guidelines suggest you steelman the arguments of people who you respond to. I don't think you're doing that if your entire argument boils down to a weak rhetorical disagreement about how precisely to define "very existence". Since certain forms of discriminatory policy are politicizing people's very existence.

I also don't think people ever widely suggested Muslim people's existence had been politicized, so that's simply a strawperson.


Im pro choice and think the banning of gender reassignment in children is bad.

But you're arguing that deciding whether or not a fetus or unborn child is a person is not an existential issue, but when someone can choose to get gender reassignment is.

One is very literally an argument about personhood and the right to terminate and the other is about children's and parents right to choose appropriate medical care.


I'm not. I'm arguing that they're the same situation. I think there are other factors that make the issue of gender reassignment completely unlike abortion, but yes they're both existential. GP was claiming only abortion was and I pointed out that that was logically inconsistent.

The differences are that regulating abortion harms a third party, the woman, while allowing gender reassignment doesn't.


> Trans peoples existence certainly has been politicized

To expand on this - If a trans person has a coworker who consistent and deliberately mis-genders them, there's no way for the person to have a discussion about it that's not political.


Even simpler: if the existence of trans, let alone non-binary, people is a contentious issue in politics, there's no way for a non-binary (or GNC binary trans) person to state their pronouns without it being a political act.

The same is true for people in same-sex relationships. You can't just mention your spouse like a straight person would without it being political.


> It might sound like a "lazy excuse" for someone who hasn't been in their shoes.

I'm in those shoes. I still won't interview anyone who left their previous company over an inability to keep their religious/political beliefs away from work.

It's a double whammy if the person in question left because they couldn't proselytise to their co-workers.


What if they left because it’s clear the company has a leadership/hr problem? Or the 6 months pay? Ect

How will you be able to tell why they left without interviewing them?


Well, if I'm unable to tell why they left then they clearly aren't preaching their personal beliefs to the world, are they?

hah good point

Not really, responsible adults manage to get a grip over their emotions while at work.

I think that's a big mischaracterization of what happened.

But is it the characterization that other company HR teams / managers will believe?


FWIW I hire (as mentioned elsewhere in this thread) and I believe it.

Ditto, weather or not I disagree with the policy the more I hear about this the more clear it becomes it was a failure in leadership

> ... someone up who left their last job because they couldn't agree to stop bitching about politics on the company dime? I don't see how demonstrating the inability to follow basic company rules in the interest of productivity improves their career prospects.

Exactly. These didn't use to have to be rules -- it was simply part of Professionalism and social courtesy. That wasn't that long ago, it seems.


It's not 0%, but I spend a negligible amount of company time talking about political issues. I also don't have a particular desire to.

Nonetheless, if something of a political nature did come up, either as a distraction that was affecting my colleagues (e.g. they're part of a minoritized group, or empathetic to one, and something is going on), or something the company was doing was at odds with my own political values; I would hope the company would accommodate the need for _some_ level of discussion.

An outright ban ala Coinbase, and now Basecamp, would send an extremely troubling message - and would prompt me to begin the motions of seeking employment elsewhere. A generous severance package would make it a much easier decision.


I'd say it'sa new union topic. Employers need to start worrying about what political opinions they are lobbying for, and what their employees want them to be lobbying for.

Corporate lobbying is going to stop just being for the owners


I bet unions are a political topic, along with how much your co-workers are being paid.

I wonder if there have been court cases for this; is slack considered a non-work area for, say, the purposes of discussing unionization? Would a DM between two people mediated through the company slack be a non-work area?

Though generally, it seems this kind of ban (of union discussion or pay) would be unlawful in the US,

> For example, your employer cannot prohibit you from talking about the union during working time if it permits you to talk about other non-work-related matters during working time.

https://www.nlrb.gov/about-nlrb/rights-we-protect/the-law/em...


This is a weird take. The tech industry is all politics all the time. Even if all you're doing is discussing policy changes as it relates to the business. Even if literally everyone at the company agrees and is on the same political side you'll still occasionally discuss things like municipal broadband or the Affordable Care Act. By banning politics it creates a hush hush atmosphere where the mere mention of something inocuious can get you fired so you end up never talking about anything.

> The tech industry is all politics all the time

.. This is a comical generalization of an entire industry which spans beyond US..

I have worked in plenty on companies (big and small) where politics was simply left outside of business and everyone was fine with simply discussing the actual system design, infrastructure and data models.

Employees were simply not permitted to attempt to convert others to Christianity or initiate flame wars regarding abortion laws.

There is a time and a place for politics and a business setting is just not it.

I think this is a great move by Basecamp and I hope more companies follow. At a minimum, their stance is now crystal clear and there will be high cohesion between employees and management.


System design is often inherently political as well.

How do capture gender in the database?

That's a political debate. Do you care that you can't correctly store 'foreign' names? Political.

Do you offer Catalan too when you translate to Spanish? Political.

Do you include disputed territories on your countries lists or allow people to enter 'other'? Political.

Privacy protection? Political.

Systems are shaped by political debate and in turn shapes it. Your decisions will have a political dimension whether or not you like it.

And that is before considering all of the internal cultural and behavioural issues that are inherently political.

As for Basecamp, I think they've set themselves up for further conflict and turmoil. If I was there and hadn't quit yet, I'd consider it now because such a huge departure will destabilize oth.the company and internal culture for a long time.


My team could professionally and empathetically discuss each of the issues you outlined, but that doesn't mean I raise discussions about whether voting for certain candidates is a case for the-end-justifies-the-means. I don't understand how a good-faith reading of an "activism on your own platforms" policy leads to "we can't discuss the data modeling for people's names anymore." This strikes me as a case of false equivalence.

> I don't understand how a good-faith reading of an "activism on your own platforms" policy leads to "we can't discuss the data modeling for people's names anymore." This strikes me as a case of false equivalence.

I suggest you read up on the politics of the use of names in the context of slavery in America as a starting point for understanding why names has a long history of being inherently political.


It sounds like you think all tech companies just make stuff for consumer websites.

There are quite a few that don’t interact with global customers and literally never have to even discuss those things.


I've worked across a wide range of companies in tech for 25 years, so no, I don't. But I've also yet to work for or with a single company where tech decisions were not inherently political.

E.g. I had a contract to do a communications system to relay debug mapping data from an autonomous submersible. For a military research institute. It was inherently political because I had to consider if I was ok with working a project that might end up being used in armed conflict in the future my code certainly wouldn't).

Or when I worked on code to maintain the quality documentation for a systems integrated that delivered backend systems for the police. I had no problems with that, but I might have if it'd been somewhere where the police had a worse reputation than in Norway where I did that job.

I've worked on billing systems where we had to decide on anti-fraud measures. Sounds non-political, until you realise it often involves broad blocks that stereotypes behaviours based on factors that very easily ends up effectively profiling users.

I could list many more. I've yet to work on a single software system where the higher level architecture did not involve consideration of political issues whether explicitly, or implicitly. I'm sure there are some, but I think there are far fewer than you imagine.


Do you consider a farmer’s decision to sell food to the public political since he could be feeding terrorists?

Pencils can be used to write manifestos that result in countless deaths. Is the pencil manufacturer responsible for that?

I worked for a company that had train control systems as a product. How do you suppose that was political? Do you think we should have spent more time considering that maybe we shouldn’t have been making trains safer because we could accidentally save the next Hitler?


Parent offered since terrific examples. The least you could do is give an example of a company unaffected by politics. Frankly I'm skeptical of your line of reasoning but happy to entertain it.

I don’t think they exist because even something as simple as “changing master to main” gets pushback because “political”

It’s a name, it’s generally not hard to change, and if it makes someone happier why not main is shorter to type! But people still push back against it for.. reasons


But people still push back against it for.. reasons

It's pretty simple, actually

Person A: We need to do thing X

Person B: Why?

Person A: Because I am morally superior to you, and I say so

You really don't understand why person B would push back against tacitly accepting that they were the moral deficient? It's the same reason people dislike vegans who say "for moral reasons", they're asserting that everyone around them is immoral, and people find it obnoxious.


Im sorry but I really don’t follow. How is asking making any moral judgements? Your either reading into what people say and not handling your own discomfort very well or making assumptions on what person a would say? When this first came up I too asked why:

“Because it reminds people of slavery which is still fresh in the minds of many and makes some uncomfortable”

“Oh, Ok” changes it and moves on with her life

Another way of looking at it is “why not?”


Because it reminds people of slavery which is still fresh in the minds of many and makes some uncomfortable

Well, "main" is like "mainmast" of the sailing ships that brought the slaves over.

See, once you start this game, it never ends. The master in "master branch" was never anything to do with slavery - and everyone knows it. No one in the world equated committing to master with endorsing slavery, but that is what you are accusing them of. Same as master bedroom and master's degree and mastering a skill and countless other examples. And why is "master" problematic but not "owner"? After all the common term was not "slavemaster" but "slaveowner" remember. Shall we do branch owners or code owners or file owners next?

Another way of looking at it is “why not?”

Why not leave it as it is then? Why step onto a never ending treadmill of arbitrary changes for change's sake?

Anyway I'm not trying to convince you here (I get the feeling that that would be pointless) I am merely explaining to you the behaviour you have observed but don't understand the motivation for.


Slippery slope much? I don’t see anyone bothered by or complaining about main, except those who don’t want to change it, and no ones ever said anything about owners. A large number of people don’t like master and if I can make someone’s life a little better with such a small change I will. Times change, language changes.

If you won’t do so that’s fine, but be honest why you won’t, your arguments keep changing first it was their “moral superiority” And now “where will it end/its change for changes sake” which both sound like excuses to me


If you won’t do so that’s fine, but be honest why you won’t, your arguments keep changing first it was their “moral superiority” And now “where will it end/its change for changes sake

What are you implying that my "honest" reason is, of course you are insinuating that I am a closet racist. And it is just change for the sake of being able to demand a change, if you are being honest, you get a vicarious thrill out of the power you get and the sense of superiority it gives you and you won't stop, and we both know it.


lol no that didn't cross my mind. more that its seems the idea of renaming master -> main makes you uncomfortable for some reason and your not dealing with it well. You keep bring up morales and now "superiority" - none of which crossed my mind because i don't think like that and wrt master/main all i care about is changing it for those who want it nothing else but it's real clear these are important to you and this discussion centers around those themes for you.

You keep jumping to extreme conclusions and assumptions which is kinda hilariously sad as that's what you accuse "the other side" of doing


i don't think like that and wrt master/main all i care about is changing it for those who want it nothing else

What you are missing - because I never mentioned it, and I should never have to mention it - is that I actually am a BAME or a POC or whatever. Not only does the word "master" not make me feel uncomfortable, noone ever bothered asked me if it did before starting to agitate for this change. Now you may be one too, I don't know, and feel free to change it to anything you want in your own repos if a word upsets you so much (and you should rid yourself of all other problematic words too, like "owner"). But don't kid yourself that you're doing it for the benefit of the wider BAME community. And don't kid yourself about your reasons for telling everyone about it.


You don't speak for all POC just like i don't speak for all queers and never would be so presumptuous to assume my opinions are shared across the community. So just because you didn't care or want it changed doesn't mean others didn't ask for it.

> don't kid yourself about your reasons for telling everyone about it

You really seem to have a hard time grasping that there was nothing more to it other then being raised as a concern by POC so i just did it and moved on with my life. The only reason i mentioned it was to use it as an example of how hard it can be to escape politics entirely in the workplace and this entire conversation has really hit that point home.


This entire thread is kinda the point. I feel like I've wasted days of my life reading about master versus main. Even went and converted my biggest open source projects to "release" myself cause I typically work on develop then push to master and tag as a release. So to me master is "most recent release". In my head it was always like "master recording". It's not even "main" cause work is being done on develop and the release branch gets it last. I honestly don't care either way, didn't bring it up at work, and no one else did either but the virtue signaling with this is just toxic. Your implication that someone not wanting to change their branch name makes them inherently racist is super toxic. It's just gate keeping being woke. You don't have woke enough points if you don't do this, that, and the other thing.

Also does a single POC represent their entire race? Isn't that itself racist to think that way? In any population you'll find people who can claim to support literally anything.


You've really derailed this discussion in a disappointing way.

can you elaborate and explain why you feel that way?

Topic of conversation: Can you have an effective workplace where you can any discussion related to politics?

Where you've taken us: You shouldn't call your main branch master


> “Oh, Ok” changes it and moves on with her life

Except this isn’t how the fantasy plays out in real systems. This breaks builds, readmes, packaging, etc and takes a non-trivial amount of time to fix.


> There are quite a few that don’t interact with global customers and literally never have to even discuss those things.

What are some of the few?


For all of those issues you can dryly resolve them by selecting whichever choice maximizes profit. By eliminating moralizers from its ranks, Basecamp can now make decisions that only consider profit.

That would also be a political choice. And in many cases there isn't going to be a choice that maximises profit without taking into account the PR effect of choices, which again devolves into politics.

The idea that any organisation can be apolitical is fundamentally flawed. At most you can enforce the (political) choice of pretending you're not political by shutting down discussion of it and leaving it exclusively in the hands of the executives and board. This appears to be the avenue Basecamp has taken. They are free to pretend that's an apolitical choice, and we're free to point out that it's bullshit.


> That would also be a political choice

Obviously, but that isn't my argument. My argument is that when you create a culture that approaches political decisions from a profit perspective, it is easier to make a profit.

> And in many cases there isn't going to be a choice that maximises profit without taking into account the PR effect of choices, which again devolves into politics.

This is wrong. You are conflating understanding a political position with believing in a political position. Understanding a political position doesn't require you to believe in it.


I get the sense that people that want to make everything political would not enjoy the adversaries they would bring without company protection.

Common sense seems to be a rare quality these days. Obviously if it's necessary to do the job then you talk about politics.

I honestly don't understand the sentiment here when people are saying "do your job" and other things to that effect that strip all context from this. The biggest issue right now is COVID and when discussing it the topic can and will inevitable lead to something political. Is it helpful to have to think about the arbitrary line your employers have drawn and try to toe it? When do you know if you pissed off someone higher up? You cannot stop workplace discussions because programmers are people too and will want to find camaraderie and sympathy. Putting these rules and posting them publicly seems like a poor way of simply avoiding the issue rather than resolving it

> The biggest issue right now is COVID and when discussing it the topic can and will inevitable lead to something political.

Will it? I feel like I've had dozens of conversations about the coof (most recently, about getting the shots and related stuff - I had some bad side effects to mine that caused me to miss a half day of work) without politics being a part of it. Do people not even try anymore?


What a perfect example.

Just the very idea of bringing up vaccines is "political" to those that think vaccines are a means of the state to control the population. You don't think it's political, but it is to someone. And that person, under the guise of a "no politics aloud" policy could seek to silence you from any references to the benefits of the vaccines, it's side effects, etc.


> By banning politics it creates a hush hush atmosphere where the mere mention of something inocuious can get you fired so you end up never talking about anything.

My understanding is that these people did not leave because they were not allowed to discuss something innocuous, they left because they were not allowed to preach their belief system at work.

> you'll still occasionally discuss things like municipal broadband or the Affordable Care Act.

And if the woke crowd were able to "discuss" something without calling everyone who refused to join their belief system names, then this wouldn't be a problem.


There's a big difference between having a friendly argument about the ACA over beers and telling a coworker they're enabling genocide by keeping a funny names list on the company slack.

> where the mere mention of something inocuious can get you fired so you end up never talking about anything.

That’s more true of a highly politicized workplace if you have the “wrong” opinions.


I think "couldn't agree to stop bitching about politics on the company dime" is really minimizing the leadership vaccuum that caused this in the first place.

As someone who hires I'd have zero issue with a talented person who also felt passionately about not working with people who enable racism or toxic environments. That's part of how you build good companies.


As a self considered centrist, I would have an issue if they couldn't discuss these issues in a dispassionate way at work. That might be wrong, but IMO (within reason) we are there to work and create value. We will make mistakes along the way, and some of those will be perceived as a step towards racism and toxicity. If we can't accept that it's a spectrum and not a binary, that reasonable people can have different opinions, and that once a decision is made we should move on together, I think I actually would have trouble working with such a person (and have in the past).

This sounds like I agree with what the founders did here. I don't at all. But I understand why they did it, and I don't disagree with their intentions.


Would you also have zero issue with a talented person who felt passionately about gun rights, free-speech or banning abortion?

I’ve worked with people who were passionate about each of those issues (maybe not all at once). None of them encouraged or participated in the dehumanizing of other people and all found that kind of behavior towards others to be abhorrent. I can tell you that if they were confronted with a list making fun of people's names in this manner said list would not have survived with any one of them being at the company, let alone all of them. =)

I would note as a follow up to this re: leadership and culture; 30 people left Basecamp today. DHH is hanging out on social media like it’s no big deal, back to talking about Apple. You know what’s consistent between the start of this incident and today’s behavior? The derisive and dismissal treatment of people that have been a part of his company for many years.


Did they accuse others of enabling murder because they were pro choice or did they keep their politics to themselves?

To me they sound like a fun person to be around?

People with strong opinions have strong opinions about a lot of things, and are good to bounce ideas off of

Mind you, I'm friends with people who are fans of gun rights, free speech, and ensuring abortion access


From the reporting I've seen, the issue here is not that these are the kinds of people with strong opinions that are fun to bounce ideas off of, these are the kind of people with strong opinions who if you disagree with will escalate the situation to intolerable levels such as refusing to accept a perfectly sincere apology and then equating it with genocide. This isn't the fun debate crowd, it's "the conflict is abuse" crowd.

I love a good debate with someone who disagrees with me in good faith, but that other sort of person is just exhausting and counterproductive to debate anything with.


It is not my intention here to cast judgement on people belonging to either side of the political spectrum. Just wanted to make sure that no double standards are applied in OP's hiring practises.

Appreciated, and glad I was able to clarify things for you!

And what exactly is wrong with any of those? Don’t like this country, then get the fuck out.

I agree that their behaviour hurts their career prospects. But I'm not sure if they agree. Many might think that the public at large is on their side and what they did looks good from the outside. This might be objectively false, but this belief would nevertheless encourage them to take the 6 months free money and leave.

I wouldn't imagine it does.

They can probably still make a fizzbuzz, which puts them far above most candidates


At my college, some of the computer science coed fraternity leadership tried to convince us that even if someone couldn't do fizzbuzz they were still a programmer.

I've never worked anywhere else since starting at my first company, but is FizzBuzz seriously that difficult?

Fizzbuzz is not that difficult. There are two twists in the original task description. But if we talk about fizbuzz—like tasks: The point is not to be difficult. There are people applying to programing jobs who seemingly can’t solve even very simple programing tasks in a language of their choice. I could not believe it if i would not have seen with my own eyes. Fizzbuzz-like tasks are there to filter these folks out.

( You might ask what are the two twists in the original fizbuzz task:

- you have to know about the existence of modulo operator and how it can be used to test for dividibility. If you don’t know that one trick then fizbuzz is a lot harder for you.

- If you are the kind of person who translates the human sentences of the task description to code word by word then you can get into a kind of garden-path situation where you have to backtrack once to succeed. What do I mean by that? You read “For every number dividable by 3 print fizz”, you write “if i%3==0: print ‘fizz’”. Then you read the next sentence “For every number dividable by 5 print buzz” and you type “elif i%5==0: print ‘buzz’”. Then you read “for every number dividible with both 3 and 5 print fizbuzz” and you might translate that to “elif i%3==0 and i%5==0: print ‘fizbuzz’” but that of course would never execute, you have to move the translation of this last sentence to be the first condition checked for it to have a chance. Not anything I would call really challenging, but it requires a certain way of thinking to recognise that this is a problem and to solve it.

)


Thank you. Something just snapped into focus for me. Fizzbuzz always seemed easy to me, because I'm a math nerd, but I just realized that the concept of a "remainder" isn't something people often use in their adult life. Also, the fact that programming languages have any sort of remainder operator might not come up in a typical web dev coding bootcamp or a self-taught programmer's education. Or even a college graduate could easily gloss over the boring math operators, eager to make cool stuff in the worlds of OOP and web dev.

It's sad that Fizzbuzz is used at all. At present, using Fizzbuzz selects for people who either (1) Are math nerds or (2) Are already in the "in group" and possibly read HN. That probably makes a small contribution to the lack of diversity in tech.


Yes, and a "crankshaft" isn't something universally understood by non-mech-eng's, a "flank" isn't something universally understood by non-mil-scis, and "leverage" isn't universally understood by non-financiers. That doesn't mean there isn't value in expecting new hires to understand those concepts.

Implementing fizzbuzz successfully requires someone to have the most basic understanding of cause and effect, the ability to reason from that understanding, and the ability to reason abstractly. Nearly all forms of programming require that. So yes, fizzbuzz selects people in the "in group"- the in group of people who are actually potential programmers.


That's another good point, fizzbuzz really tests two things, and people tend to only think of one of them. The first one everyone thinks of is "does the person know how to write a simple if/else expression". But the other thing people need to know is how to do math, and use programming syntax, they haven't thought of in potentially a very long time.

It would be like testing if someone knows about a "crankshaft" in a job where they'll be exclusively working on Teslas.


I think it very much depends on the specific programming job, but I can't think of many roles I've come across where, if I were in charge of programming hires, I'd be happy with somebody who wasn't even aware of the concept of modulo. And I consider myself FAR from a math nerd.

> It would be like testing if someone knows about a "crankshaft" in a job where they'll be exclusively working on Teslas

Yeah completely agree. Not all things people call "programming" are the same. Only jobs that require someone to think in this way should have tests filtering for it


> Also, the fact that programming languages have any sort of remainder operator might not come up in a typical web dev coding bootcamp or a self-taught programmer's education.

That may be true, but as a web dev, I use the modulo quite frequently. Just yesterday I used it to implement some code where the client wanted to insert ads after every sixth paragraph in a page body, but not if there would be two paragraphs or less left on the page after the last ad. I can't imagine what kind of goofy hackneyed solution I would have ended up with if I didn't know about `%`.

Before CSS had :even and :odd pseudoselectors, we also commonly used it to zebra stripe tables.

Web dev isn't typically as math-y as, say, game dev, but I'd encourage anyone getting into it to at least learn the modulo beyond basic algebra stuff.


I've had to use it too - mostly when faffing about and not using some jQuery builtin. But to say that someone who doesn't know this easily-stackoverflowed ("how do I do something every nth array item") lacks basic programming ability ("why can't programmers program" is I think the original fizzbuzz blog post title) is I think going too far.

I regularly have people fail before introducing fizzbuzz, and then regularly pass on people that can’t do an equivalent problem that isn’t exactly fizzbuzz. Surprise, tons of applicants out there can’t actually code, it’s true!

As someone outside of the tech industry, this surprises me. I’m a writer, but when I wanted to learn to code, I did loads of coding exercises, including FizzBuzz. A couple of years later I could knock up a FizzBuzz algorithm in JavaScript or Python and probably other languages too—and I’m really not very good at programming, certainly not at a professional standard. Why is it such a Shibboleth in the tech industry?

The whole point of FizzBuzz is it is a trivial exercise. It could be any trivial problem. For some reason many applicants to software development jobs are simply not able to program even trivial stuff.

1. It got shared on a very popular website, the daily WTF. It's also short and silly, so it's easy to remember.

2. It's an exceedingly easy exercise meant out to weed out those who plan to learn to code on the job and hop to a new one when they are busted.


The company banned talking politics on the work server, not talking politics on personal accounts, even on the company dime.

The initial blog post did not make that distinction. Not only is that a significant mistake in clarity, it was a significant mistake to announce a change like that via blog post.

With that change they also got rid of the D&I committee established with employee participation. If you're gonna tell your employees 'you have a seat at the table' on something sensitive like D&I, then eliminate that group with no warning, people are gonna feel some kind of way about it. Even Palpatine didn't dissolve the Imperial Senate right away.


I'd presume that heavy usage of personal accounts on company time would have already been frowned upon purely for productivity reasons.

If you needed to report a neo-nazi to hr, would that involve the work server?

I'd say probably a personal visit to the HR office, assuming he was bringing neo-nazi politics into the office. If he was doing it strictly on his own time, not a work issue.

You don't think someone holding views to the effect that jews, gays and black people/slavs should be exterminated is a work issue? If I belonged to any of these groups and found out by chance that the person was a neo-Nazi, even if they never brought it up at work, I would certainly demand that they not work in my vicinity anymore. Then management would get to choose between me and a literal neo-Nazi.

The problem is, at least in my experience, that phrases like "neo-nazi" more commonly refer to Trump supporters, Republicans, edgy Twitter wags, etc and less to Mein Kampf reading would-be perpetrators of genocide.

The problem is when it’s not so clear-cut.

If I worked with a colleague from Iraq can they report me to HR for having been in the military and bombing their country?

I’m sure we can think of lots of cases where it is or isn’t easy to say yes to “report to HR”. It’s a tough topic and the answer to it changes over time and based on geographic social norms.


> Do you think people in charge of hiring, particularly outside of the SV bubble, are going to be eager to pick someone up who left their last job because they couldn't agree to stop bitching about politics on the company dime?

Depends on how you frame this. Describing it as "sudden change of company culture", "lacking leadership communication" or "wanted to change fields and took the opportunity" can both be valid and inoffensive to either side.

On the other hand, there's a chance your hiring manager will feel similarly strong about politics, especially in SV, so even your framing might work.


"they offered a lot of money and it looked like a good idea" seems like a good enough justification to me. It seems unlikely to me that 1/3 of basecamp employees wouldn't shut up about their support for Donald Trump and how QAnon would save the dau

> The 6 months free money is hard for anyone entering a strong job market to pass up.

Money is a funny business. I'm convinced that anyone who's a skilled software engineer makes more money than they ever imagined after 5-6 years of working at a regular tech company. All the RSU upside, bonuses yada yada.

Folks who worked at Basecamp are top-notch programmers with close to a decade or more of experience. I'm certain that their motivation to work is driven in large part by craftsmanship, taste etc. Not to mention that social aspect of work -- building rapport with peers you consider intelligent/admirable; consistent record of work; crunch-time camaraderie, all of those things make up for their worth in 6 months of free money. 6 months isn't that long. Like someone else on this thread said, getting a new job, interviewing, building up trust in new team takes time.

I'm convinced that social policy at Basecamp, more than 6 months of money, influenced many people to leave. Particularly people with a lot of capital; cultural, intellectual or even financial. Personally, I'm glad. I want to live in a world where people take responsibility everywhere and not shy away from topics meant to drive morality/politics forward.


>>I want to live in a world where people take responsibility everywhere and not shy away from topics meant to drive morality/politics forward.

This is a problem given that politics is not universally agreed upon and if we can not work together with different politics then we can not have a pluralist society, which increasingly seems impossible as both "sides" of this debate want to sort people with differing politics as "immoral"


Precisely. If a pro-life person brought their “whole self” to work and started promoting pro-life views and calling it “a matter of morality”, these same folks would put an end to that really quick.

It has zero to do morality or “being responsible” or “making the world a better place”. It’s about pushing one particular political viewpoint with the end goal of grabbing power to benefit their group.


The Bolsheviks were just as surely motivated by idealism for a more just society.

Many of the comments in this thread appear to be missing the context of what has happening at Basecamp.

From the Verge; > While Basecamp does not publish diversity statistics, it is still, like most tech companies, majority white and male, employees said. But the idea of worker-led efforts on diversity issues got a frosty reception from the founders last year, employees told me. They were allowed to work on the project, but did not feel as if the founders were particularly invested in the outcome.

> Nonetheless, the DE&I ( Diversity and inclusion) council attracted significant support. More than a third of the company — 20 out of roughly 58 employees — volunteered to help. They began examining Basecamp’s hiring processes, which vendors the company works with, how Basecamp employees socialize, and what speakers they might invite to one of the all-remote company’s twice-yearly in-person gatherings.

https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/27/22406673/basecamp-politic...


It would be really creepy to have a workplace committee examining how I socialize.

HN guidelines are to steelman what you are responding to.

So, assume "examine how employees socialise" means "consider events where people go beyond who their usual contacts are, to enable more mentoring". Rather than, "spying on me and building a graph of contacts".


I suppose you are right and there is a range of implementations a committee comprised of a third of the workforce could use to "examine how employees socialize." Maybe its unfair to react simply to the text and not do the work of broader interpretation.

In terms of the guidelines, I am not a guideline lawyer as perhaps you are. When I think of the strongest plausible interpretation I often turn to Occam and accept the plain language meaning. For example, if a goal of the committee were to encourage mentoring, then the article could have said that.

In terms of strongest plausible interpretation of what I wrote, I did not write "spying on me and building a graph of contacts." I'm a person who is appreciative of privacy and would be annoyed by a group of colleagues who decided to "examine" me in any way. As I think about it now I can feel a wave of revulsion and annoyance toward a posse of busybodies who must not have enough actual work to do that they have time to "examine" me. Maybe you like being examined; me I still think people who volunteer to do that are creepy.

Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.

[...]

Please don't complain that a submission is inappropriate. If a story is spam or off-topic, flag it...

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Impressive I would have quite maybe a month into this debacle.

Did they manage to setup a tribunal and a committee of public safety?


I'm not sure I'd want to hire someone who left their previous company because they felt they had the right to brow beat other staff with their political opinions.

What if they left because the company was imploding and 1/3 of their colleagues were leaving?

I bet that most who quit for non-monetary reasons probably quit less because of the policy, but more because they lost faith in leadership. This whole episode was extremely ugly, and unnecessarily public. If I worked at Basecamp I’d probably just not trust DHH and Jason to not make my life worse for no clear reason.

Some of them are also world-class Ruby developers. They seem to be mostly north americans (i could be wrong).

I should have written: all of them are world-class developers, otherwise they would not be having a job there.

Ruby isn't exactly a "hot" language from a hiring point of view anymore.

Well these people will probably quickly land a job at GitHub, Shopify or Stripe. Also, there are iOS and data scientists. Again I am assuming they are really good in their field.

[flagged]


Please don't take HN threads into flamewar, especially not programming language flamewar, which is so shallow and never goes anywhere interesting.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> Interestingly the employees who left have the best career prospects.

The people who can most afford to not put up with <whatever> are always those with the best career prospects. If you aren’t certain that you can get a job somewhere else that matches even the newly-worse conditions of your present job within the cushion provided by the offered buyout, then a buyout isn’t attractive.


Except there's nothing to 'put up with' other than policy which is going to be effectively the same almost anywhere, or possibly worse.

If you try to form an 'issue group' at an arbitrary company, to take on the executive team, and make demands with excessive intellectualizations that 'making fun of names' lead to 'genocide' - you're not going to get offered severance, you're going to get fired immediately.

The kind of leverage that people here on HN seem to think they have is a little bit bizarre.

People deserve to be treated with dignity, of course, people should not be making fun of people's names, it was stopped, and for the most part, that should have been it. Antagonizing almost any further is going to be seen as lacking in legitimacy and probably not acting good faith.

I think 90% of companies would be 'much less open' than Basecamp even with their new policies, 9.5% would be about the same. The rest, a grab-bag of different views, mostly at smaller companies. The bigger the company, the more the actions will be based purely around legality, caution, and the companies will to maintain some semblance of positive image.


The policy is only one part of it. No more 360 peer reviews. Allowing a diversity group then eliminating it. Announcing it all with a blogpost. And more.

It’s putting up with terrible leadership that seems to want to keep their heads buried in the ground and not have to deal with anything.


Most companies don't have 360 reviews or diversity groups, that's normal policy. It seems odd because they reversed their decision, but that is also reasonable.

It's not terrible leadership, I think it's just poorly communicated.


I love my job, but if I'd be offered my half-year salary right now to leave, I'd at least seriously think about it. It's a fat chunk of money. I'm not saying I'd take it, but I'd at least spend a couple of days thinking about it.

heres the list of folks who have publicly announced their departure: https://workflowy.com/s/basecamp-resignation/qrBBdTQydmTKLu0... probably has more context to each in their threads

I read the first tweet in each of those resignations. Out of 19 resignations, most give no reason for quitting. Five or so tweets cite "recent changes and new policies" as the reason. That reason is so vague that it may refer to the new policy of paying 6 months severance to employees who want to quit.

edit: Excellent point below that the severance agreements probably included a non-disparagement clause, which would restrict what those who took the deal would feel safe disclosing publicly.


I know most of the people who left. It's the policy and the method of delivery, not the severance. The severence will make it easier to go for sure, but this is about the policy.

People seem to be making this way more complex than it is.


It's pretty common in a situation like this to also carry a no disparagement clause along with the severance. That's also why you see a lot of "today is my last day at Basecamp" with no other "because I disagreed with the policies", etc.

It's my understanding that there is no NDA.

Non-disparagement is different from NDA (non-disclosure).

thats a very charitable interpretation. consider the additional signal that they all posted this publicly at the same time. anyway no point trying to mindread. this thing has taken up more mindshare than is really worth.

While everybody is latching onto "Hurrr... Durrr... Wokeness." apparently there were also some cutbacks to benefits and allowances and stuff. Most devs read the tea leaves from that kind of thing as as a bellweather for time to GTFO.

My guess is that some of this has been building and the 6 months of severance simply put it into high gear.


> apparently there were also some cutbacks to benefits and allowances and stuff.

They cut a fitness benefit, wellness allowance, farmer's market share, and continuing education allowances. However, they paid each employee the value of the benefit for the year and they created a 10% profit sharing plan. https://world.hey.com/jason/changes-at-basecamp-7f32afc5

It's unclear how much money the 10% profit sharing is worth, except that now it's 50% better for the 2/3 of remaining employees. (edit: Yes, this is an oversimplification.)


Source for this: I used to work there.

> it's 50% better for the 2/3 of remaining employees.

Only in a very simplistic view.

Basecamp runs very lean, ~58 people before this incident, which for the number of customers (large) is a small amount.

Basecamp is going to need to replace ~100% of those people. That means hiring costs, costs for hiring the wrong people, and lack of productivity.

This will most likely cost them more money than they "save".


costs for hiring the wrong people

I've read a bit more about the background to this now, and they hired someone in December who immediately went on an internal advocacy campaign for their personal politics. So, all of this, is the cost of hiring a "wrong" person.


Sometimes you hire the wrong person, Basecamp has done it before.

Having to replace (currently) 30%+ of your org increases that risk, in addition to the initial costs of hiring all those people and getting them up to speed.


> That means hiring costs, costs for hiring the wrong people, and lack of productivity.

Given that they seem to view politic discussions and committees as non-productive and that most of the people that left did so because these were important to them, they'll probably account for parts of their work and their leaving as "lack of productivity" and "hiring the wrong people" already.

EDIT: From a company perspective - not judging either way.


You're mis-construing the situation. The people are leaving because of the heavy handed and incredibly insensitive policy making, not because they spent all their time in committees and that's being taken away from them.

All the people that left that I knew were incredibly talented and productive people, they are going to be a nightmare to replace.


And the people that were going to leave because they were being harassed by these talented people? How much would it have cost to replace them?

There's no indication that anything like that alternative would have happened.

I'm not judging the people that left - sorry if that was received wrongly. I'm trying to say that from the perspective of the company, they probably see this deal less bad than you do.

Knowing what I know about the people who have left (so far) they are very much going to miss the people who have left. I don't know all of them as I left 5 years ago, but the ones I do know are all incredibly competent at what they do, including the ehtire iOS team.

> except that now it's 50% better for the 2/3 of remaining employees

Spicy.


is that mathematically how profit sharing works? game of thrones style? seems like it would create some very perverse incentives.

I don't know about the math but I would hope a small-ish group of intelligent people likely familiar with game theory wouldn't get wrapped up in selfish, counterproductive tactics.

> They cut a fitness benefit, wellness allowance, farmer's market share, and continuing education allowances. However, they paid each employee the value of the benefit for the year and they created a 10% profit sharing plan.

So, the message that is very easy to take from this (since the employees know they work for a profit maximizing firm) is that Basecamp's own expectation of its future profitability was that the 10% profit sharing was likely to be less expensive than the benefits it replaced.

So, yeah, its quite possible that explains some part of the departures as much as the workplace speech code. But its all part and parcel of the same thing: "We're taking away your amenities, more tightly restricting your behavior, and exposing your to more risk" is quite a package.

> It’s unclear how much money the 10% profit sharing is worth, except that now it’s 50% better for the 2/3 of remaining employees.

Assuming the 1/3 that left, including many highly placed, had no role in producing profits. Which would be kind of weird.

And assuming the fact of the mass exodus has no impact on the perception of Basecamp and its product independent of the actual impact the employees had on profits, which would also be weird.


> So, the message that is very easy to take from this (since the employees know they work for a profit maximizing firm) is that Basecamp's own expectation of its future profitability was that the 10% profit sharing was likely to be less expensive than the benefits it replaced.

Or that they thought providing a monetary benefit, which each employee is free to spend as they wish, is a more attractive packet and/or better due to the reduced management overhead. Also, depending on how much the benefits cost them and how many employees used them, this might still be a better option for both sides.


> Or that they thought providing a monetary benefit, which each employee is free to spend as they wish, is a more attractive packet and/or better due to the reduced management overhead.

Sure, that's also an easy to reach interpretation. Unlike the other, not one that explains people being more likely to accept a buyout because of the change, so not relevant to the discussion, though.


Basecamp isn't going to be running out of money any time soon, they have a massive number of customers, and a tiny staff. It's a profitable company.

The benefits are a minor annoyance. They were likely dwarfed by the switch from Chicago to SF wages for the whole company, + the profit share.

This is about the policy and the way it was announced.


I agree with this. The piece about benefits was weird and alarming to me.

If your employee gave you the individual cash value of your gym membership, it would be based on their corporate discount and the fact it was pre-tax. You would have to dip into your own pocket to renew that membership as an individual, as it would come after tax and be more expensive (joining fees, contract lock-in...). And what a shitty cop-out to call it paternalistic, as if the whole post didn't reek of paternalism.

A 10% profit share between 50 people is replacing a solid perk with an unpredictable annual bonus.


This is really simple, it's about the policy and the way it was announced, there's little more to read into the situation.

Minor points:

There was no corporate gym membership, it was just "Here's $100, spend it on fitness".

> A 10% profit share between 50 people is replacing a solid perk with an unpredictable annual bonus.

Basecamp was a phenomenally profitable company. The profit share was brought in after I left, but I'd have taken it over the other benefits if it had been either/or.


I don’t think a gym benefits can be pretax. Maybe if the employer owns the gym. What a company can pay for and not have it count as compensation is more limited than you’d think.

Depends entirely on the country. There are some Scandinavian countries that can give very generous fitness benefits since it's a tax writeoff.

didn't all this issue start because of a list of names?

Worth adding that the eng team has an even higher rate of departures. Cross-referencing basecamp.com/humans.txt with the list of people who left shows that nearly 2/3 of the Engineering team left, bring them from 15 to 6 (including DHH).

That can't bode well for the company.


Then again, maybe we'll see the reverse of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooks%27s_law and they'll be 5 sprints ahead.

>1 / 3 left because it would increase their wealth or give them the summer covid took away last year.

Citation needed. Did you talk to all of them? I have only seen people say the opposite.


It astounds me that you think people are entirely motivated by money and that social policy will have no bearing on those who have the best career prospects.

Companies and their cultures are not equivalent. Many of those people will have joined Basecamp because of the culture and the mission. They will have joined for reasons other than money. Many of them could have got jobs at FAANGs but didn't because they believed this culture was a better fit for them.

You have no data on why people left, you only have guesses you're trying to turn into data.

Many of the replies to your comment are equally of the hand wavey "see, social policy isn't the thing here" type, when social policy is absolutely 100% the thing here.

I've never seen such a disappointing thread on HN as this one.


Just weird to me that people think like this. The obvious issue is poor management and nothing else

I mean it doesn't have to be one reason. Like all big decisions, there's lots of factors involved, some weighed more heavily than others. Maybe for one person, money is worth 10 points, policy worth 5, and a new job prospect is worth 3.

The people who are counted in that are all ones who have publicly said that it's because of the company changes. Most of these are long-standing loyal employees who have no incentive to say this. If it was just about the money they could just as easily keep quiet and take the cash. In fact, for all we know lots of people did just that.

Quite a few who left said the policy was the reason when they posted about leaving on Twitter.

The social incentives are certainly aligned for that to be the case.

A couple scenarios:

1) Employee A leaves Basecamp and says "I'm leaving for the severance package, not the policy change", and actually takes the severance

2) Employee B leaves Basecamp and says "I'm leaving because of the policy change, not the severance", but actually takes the severance package.

Employee B will both get the social virtue points of standing up for something AND collecting on the nice severance package.

Employee A may experience social blowback if they explicitly stated they weren't incensed by the policy change.

I would expect to see more Employee B's than Employee A's publicly.


I'd expect to see more of A than B.

Taking money that is offered is well respected across pretty well all political groups, especially those that are in charge of hiring

Taking money isn't controversial with anyone other than extreme Marxists.


I think it would depend on how much I liked my job.

My sense is that DHH is just a terrible boss.

Note the "changes" [1] are not just "no politics" but also "no more committees" (of any kind at all; that is, no authority or responsibility except individually along line-of-report hieararchy), no more 360 degree reviews (no way to formally give feedback to your boss), and no more bringing up past decisions you disagreed with (!). Basically, no more employee input in anything, and a new focus on "insubordination" (they're not using this word, but these policy changes are like -- do your job, don't tell us what your opinion is about anything else in the company especially if you don't like something).

They also introduced a 10% profit-sharing plan though, which could be real money?

I don't think the people leaving -- some of whom had been there for years -- are doing it for money. I think that's not usually why people leave a place, especially when leaving without another job lined up.

I don't think it's really about the "no politics at work" policy either.

I think it's probably mostly about not trusting or respecting or feeling respected by the boss.

[1] https://world.hey.com/jason/changes-at-basecamp-7f32afc5


> My sense is that DHH is just a terrible boss.

Interesting. I've read everything posted officially about this by the two founders as it unfolded and I've been super impressed by how well-considered these new policies are. As someone with several decades of experience as an employee, manager and then founder in both large and smaller orgs, I felt these changes were in the best interests of all stakeholders. With the myriad potentially conflicting sensibilities in today's workplace the only fair and sustainable approach is to focus on the work and the customers.

As an employee, these policies would make me feel more respected and safe. I guess the fact that you see it as a sign of a "terrible boss" and I see it as a sign of enlightened leadership is an indication how divided perspectives on workplace etiquette currently are.


I share a similar background to yours (employee, leader, founder, diverse org size) and would have agreed with you if it were not for the context of these changes. I too want to ensure people will safe and respected.

However:

* I don't believe any enlightened leadership posts publicly about wide-spread and company affected policy changes before informing and/or discussing with your staff. That's disrespectful to the people you serve.

* no enlightened leadership leads to a situation where 1/3 of your staff leaves on contentious terms. If that leadership was that enlightened, they either wouldn't be leaving or would never have been hired. It's indicative of leadership problems, cultural problems, and possibly a hiring problem.

* I don't believe at all that enlightened leadership discards its values the moment that they become difficult to uphold.

* If the new policies weren't in reaction to the leader being called to be accountable to the people he served and the mission he told them they were on, I'd probably be more agreeable to your point. In a vaccuum a safe place for people of all politica and creeds (short of outright hate) to work together is what you want. What I don't want is an unsafe space where no one feels they can question the leadership or hold the company to its values.

That being said, I totally respect your coming at this from a different angle and I agree that there's certainly more than one way to look at this (as the reactions in this thread indicate).


> no enlightened leadership leads to a situation where 1/3 of your staff leaves on contentious terms. If that leadership was that enlightened, they either wouldn't be leaving or would never have been hired. It's indicative of leadership problems, cultural problems, and possibly a hiring problem.

To be fair to them the world has changed a lot in the last few years.

I used to talk politics with friends and family but I've have had to stop over the last couple years because because of how divisive it's gotten. I now avoid those conversations because I don't want to lose family or friends. I'm center left and people who preciously were slightly left of me would probably consider me a nazi, and people who used to be slightly to the right of me would consider me a communist.

I could see the same changes happening at work. And conversations that used to be ok escalating into insanely heated situations.


> That's disrespectful to the people you serve.

Perhaps this is not an enlightened view, and I would not have used the word “serve,” but employees serve the leadership, not the other way around. This is a company, not the government. As a citizen, the government serves me. As an employee, I serve my employer.


"but employees serve the leadership, not the other way around. "

Leadership is all about serving the people you're shepherding. There is a responsibility and a stewardship that comes with wearing the crown, and it's not always for everyone. =)


Which is why, as an employee, the employer pays me, and not the other way around.

I agree. There are lots of people who will never raise their voice but in quiet moments will tell you that political fights are very uncomfortable. Political flame wars are usually driven by a small animated group of loud voices. Another way to frame this policy is “let’s keep the workplace professional”.

This. 1000x.

If you've never experience a spittle-inflected rant disrupting a meeting, because some individual felt it their duty and privilege to engage with everyone on their particular viewpoint ... you simply don't know how disconcerting this can be. I have. I don't care much about my co-workers political views. I'm always happy to have a beer and discuss things after work (well, virtually these days).

But making people uncomfortable because you feel entitled to push your world view at work, makes you more of a liability to the company than an asset. Which in the case of Basecamp, the owners may have addressed well for all concerned.


[flagged]


I prefer to see people as individuals as opposed to a bloc of political ideologies or defined by their race or gender.

Didn't that used to be the point?


Yes, it did used to be the point. Content of character.

What a wonderful demonstration of the kind of toxicity that forced Basecamp management to act as they did.

I am not sure I follow. Are you saying straight white men’s actions are not labeled political while other people’s actions are discounted as political and thus stifled?

No, they're talking about some people's entire existence being political.

White/male/straight is the social default. Just consider movies and games: if a character is a woman, non-white, or non-straight, let alone trans, that's considered the director/developers making a political statement. And it only gets worse if they don't at least "behave" like white/male/straight characters.

The same is true for workplaces. A woman in an otherwise all-male team is far more likely to be accepted if she masks her femininity and acts like "one of the guys". A Black person will be more accepted if they "act white". Queer folks better just not mention anything related to their sexuality even if it would be normal for straight/cis folks. And if they get any jabs targeted at their identity they better just laugh it off and not "cause a scene" and upset anyone.


If you invert your statement it is exactly the same discriminatory focus. It would effectively say White/male/straight exist as a dominant cultural force that is inherently political. They can’t exist without imposing their norms on others. This position focuses on race, gender, sexuality as much as any other form of discrimination.

Rather than focusing on the differences we could focus on common ground and the value of inclusion. It’s not necessary to focus on differences and vilified existence of white/male/strait people.


I dunno, see people are non-white, and some people are political.

Some people are LGBTQ+, and some people are political

Some people are non-binary/femme, and others are political.

Having engagement people who's idwntity is political is valuable when you consider how much of the population is non-white, non-straight, people of color.

See, we can both play this game. It doesn't nothing for us. It's literally the core reasoning behind Basecamp's "no politics at work" move.


The changes do enforce a stratification in the organization, This may have been the intent in part.

Another thought I had was that they wanted to slim the company down. In that case, you look at what you want to keep and what you want to lose. You make it easy for those who you want to leave to make that decision. If there was a faction that loved a hypothetical free breakfast, and these folks caused discontent and discomfort among others, elimination of that breakfast, and a way for them to bow out gracefully, thinking that they took the W, would be 4D chess for the stakeholders.

You may lose some people you'd prefer to keep, that's always a risk. But if you have a way to cluster the people you are reasonably happy about parting with, by noting common behaviors (the hypothetical breakfast model above), lowering their interest level for staying (removing the thing they like), while providing an incentive to leave (a pretty good severance/buy out), this is a win for most people.

I've seen various really bad takes on Twitter, that miss almost all the (fairly obvious) nuance of these moves. The bad takes seem to cluster about the "attack" on peoples "rights" to talk societal and political issues at work. And some sort of joy at seeing a company "suffer".

I don't think these are even in the right ballpark. There's lots of missing information, and we can speculate about it, in a way that resembles blindfolded dart playing.

However, the management response is pointed, and as they seem to be fairly specific, one could (likely far more accurately) speculate what caused them. And why they are being considered.

The bans on political/societal talk likely originated from conversations that made some folks quite uncomfortable, or unhappy. They were likely sustained after being advised to stop. Rather than allow such talk to disrupt the organization, the owners had to make a decision. So they did, and provided a mechanism for the most vocal folks to ease their way out.

Or at least it looks this way to me.


What looks to me is that the people who were made uncomfortable were mostly the owners. So they would like to make it clear that no employees may ever make them uncomfortable again. Stratification in the organization indeed.

By saying "these changes" plural you don't only mean the "no talking about politics" policy I guess; are you also talking about "No more committees" (of any kind; only reporting-line authority), "No more 360 reviews", and "No more lingering or dwelling on past decisions" (sounds like a rule on questioning decision-making to me)?

Primarily the "no politics" but I also see the wisdom in dropping 360 reviews. We did that several years ago and it was an amazingly positive change. As for no more dwelling on past decisions, that is the same thing as Intel's cultural value of "Disagree, but then commit." Basically, debate fiercely but then once a decision is made, commit to to it even if it didn't go your way and move on. This is a key part of being a team player. Things aren't going to always go your way and even leadership will sometimes make mistakes but it undermines everything if someone keeps harping on a prior decision. "See, I told it wouldn't work" is about the most immature and unhelpful attitude to have - no matter how correct it may be.

The Intel motto you quote is a much better formulation of this concept, if in fact the recent noise from Basecamp is a sign that they agree with Intel on this. Communication is also an important skill for leaders, and that seems to be lacking.

> As for no more dwelling on past decisions, that is the same thing as Intel's cultural value of "Disagree, but then commit." Basically, debate fiercely but then once a decision is made, commit to to it even if it didn't go your way and move on. This is a key part of being a team player.

Hmm... Does (or should) "Disagree, but then commit" contain a corollary of "...and let's look at it again in X months/years"?

I mean, if you do argue for something, say some particular technical solution, but the decision goes against you, and you do actually accept and commit to the outcome... Is this commitment eternal?

If, say, you're still convinced the programming language / framework / style you originally advocated would be a better fit for your team / department / company, are you bound to shut up forever or can you raise it again at some point in the future? And if you can re-raise it, then when -- is there some general waiting period for stuff like this, or should it perhaps be an explicit addendum to every decision?

N.B: Not asking for myself, just a hypothetical that I find interesting... OK, come to think of it, perhaps actually asking for myself after all: I haven't been turned down on any such suggestion... Yet, but am thinking about raising one. And if I get a "No" at first, how long do I go on nagging / wait before I remind everyone of it?


>As for no more dwelling on past decisions, that is the same thing as Intel's cultural value of "Disagree, but then commit."

You mean the company who is flailing in the market, losing employees and generally considered a bad place to work?

>"See, I told it wouldn't work" is about the most immature and unhelpful attitude to have - no matter how correct it may be.

Blame free post mortems are vital for an organization to grow and improve with time. If you cannot review past bad decisions and learn from then then you will be forced to repeat the same mistakes while your competitors evolve.

>but it undermines everything if someone keeps harping on a prior decision.

If accepting a mistake was made and then publicly coming up with a plan to not have it happen again undermines your ability to lead then you are a horrible leader.


Oh please. Intel may not be the legend it once was but that hardly invalidates a value first forged some 40 years ago.

Intel has enough cash to finance a possible comeback down the road. I'm shocked at how people seem to minimize their future options.

Not only does Intel have the cash, but it has a quarter century of fab capitalization left and a history of come backs, first with the shift from memory to CPUs in the 80s and then overcoming AMD in the 2000s. Ironically, Intel's biggest safety net is spinning off their fabs like AMD spun off Global Foundries, which gave them the capital to claw themselves back from the grave and create this competition for Intel today. I'm honestly surprised we haven't seen an Intel chiplet design.

We're seeing shortages of chips made on everything from 30 year old processes to cutting edges fabs and that demand is likely to be relatively sticky going forward. Intel's going to have to try even harder than it is now to fail and it's going to take decades for the dust to settle, if it ever does (hello Intel Business Machines).


May I ask why you felt things we better post 360 feedback?

I find it amusing how close this brings Basecamp to Lenins idea of 'democratic centralism'.

I'll bet that people with material experience in management will have a similar take.

Even if I kind of disagree with how it unfolded, I still sympathize with leadership if they've given people options, generous out-terms etc..


> I felt these changes were made with the best interests of all stakeholders.

Then why where a significant portion of their employees - the only stakeholders (apart from literally Bezos) - extremely vocal in their disappointment the minute it went out?


The only way you can consider these policies as well-considered is if you are not threatened by them.

If you have a group identity that does not match the founders, these policies will feel as if they are trying to silence you and your input when new policies arise that don't take your group identity into account.

The only fair and sustainable approach is to see humans as entire beings and not robots on a production line.

That doesn't mean the work and customers are forgotten, in fact it's exactly the opposite.


I left one company without such an incentive. The relationship between management and me had become toxic, and I needed to get out for my own sanity. After leaving, I did get the bonus I was previously due, which wound up being about 1.5 months salary. Didn't know about it before leaving. I was optimizing for sanity. I suspect that those who left Basecamp are performing a similar optimization, and the money helps lower the activation energy required for making that decision.

Short version is that the 6 month salary, even the 3 month salary offer is quite nice. I can understand why so many took the offer up.

Woke environments can, and often are toxic to those not interested in engaging in such discussions. I worked at one of those before, where one had to tread carefully, lest some "colleagues" be triggered into spittle-inflected rants about the president at the time ... thus wasting everyone's time and energy. That was actively frustrating and annoying.


Based on what. That is a very broad statement with lots of evidence to the contrary. They built an excellent business with employees that stayed for 10+ years and progressed from the most junior levels to profoundly accomplished senior roles. That is hard to create for any organization and the evidence is they did it well.

> “no more committees" (of any kind at all; that is, no authority or responsibility except individually along line-of-report hierarchy)

It sounds like there was a self appointed DE&I committee that had proposals for every area of the business. That doesn’t strike me as a healthy dynamic.

There’s a reason successful employee co-ops are rare and kibbutzim don’t exist anymore in anything close to their original form.


I'm not sure it was self-appointed, but either way, let's be clear, they decided there would be no more committees at all ever, right? Not just no more "self-appointed committees with unclear scope".

To the extent that "A long-standing group of managers called "Small Council" will disband — when we need advice or counsel we'll ask individuals with direct relevant experience rather than a pre-defined group at large."

To me this reads like a game-of-thrones-esque political maneuver, to make sure there are no loci of power that might challenge the bosses. The bosses will talk to you one-on-one if they think your opinion matters, you have no reason to be talking to your peers about anything, just keep your head down and do what you're told.

How you distinguish between "a group of people getting together to collaborate on something of importance to the company" (which the owners said DE&I was!), vs "an unpermitted committee"... I don't know if "no collaborating across reporting lines" is an intended or an unintended thing here, unclear.

If THAT strikes you as a healthy dynamic, I hope you get to experience it and find out sometime, and if it works for you, good on you. It didn't for 1/3rd of basecamp though -- I don't think it's about one specific policy, it's about this attitude toward employee involvement.


>no more 360 degree reviews (no way to formally give feedback to your boss)

The reason they gave for removing these was that peer reviews were overly positive to the point of pointlessness. You could still give feedback to your boss without 360 degree reviews.


Sounds like trust was already severely lacking in that case, if people felt uncomfortable raising issues in their reviews.

> My sense is that DHH is just a terrible boss

Not all the people who left worked for DHH, who is the CTO.

OTOH, if the CTO is a terrible boss, there’s a very good chance that the rest of the C-suite is suboptimal, since executives generally aren’t picked at random, so there is probably some correlation across the group. And, then, down the chain of management, for the same reasons.


DHH is a co-founder. He's a boss of everyone, whether he's in the reporting line or not.

The c-suite is DHH and Fried. Three of the people who left are department heads, who report directly to them. https://github.com/basecamp/handbook/blob/master/orgchart.md

What about Ryan Singer? He’s C suite, right? And he’s been very quiet about the whole thing.

"Head of Product Strategy", apparently. Could be c-suite? Staying quiet is probably the best option available

That's the problem, isn't it? Those who are most able, are the most likely to leave. It happens time and again, and again.

> Interestingly the employees who left have the best career prospects

Maybe 5 years ago. Now it seems that a lot of tech companies see outspoken/activist employees as a liability, even if they are accomplished.


I wouldn't be so sure, we're enacting a no hire rule on Basecamp employees over this.

Too much of a liability.


You're enacting a no hire rule for 30 people specifically?

> we're enacting

Who is “we”?


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