A textbook case study on organizational dysfunction (Rust)

published on 2023/05/31

JeanHeyd “ThePhD” Meneide (AKA “Björkus Dorkus”) — was put in a position where he needed to consider withdrawing a talk related to our work on a possible future for compile-time reflection in the Rust Programming Language.

We agree with his assessment of the situation and support his withdrawal from RustConf 2023. We support JT’s resignation from the Rust Project and stand in solidarity with them. We carefully watched the events unfold over the (long) weekend, and into Tuesday, 30 May 2023.

Due to the actions of the Rust Project, we formally requested to withdraw from the Rust Foundation’s Grant program on the morning of Monday, 29 May 2023. The Rust Foundation has been nothing but courteous, forthcoming, and earnest in their communications, allowances, and offered help both before and during this time. However, our work is technical in nature and thus subject to the Rust Project.


This whole debacle is rooted on racism and disrespect on the accomplishment of JeanHeyd Meneide. The Rust project really needs to rework the way they govern themselves.

They can do better by following the advice of the inventor of the language:

I guess my main suggestion is a don't-listen-to-me suggestion: "hire and listen to professionals with training in the subject", where "the subject" covers everything "a bunch of compiler nerds" are typically bad at. Project management to political science to finance to communications to mediation to personnel. The Project is now a decently large (and very diffuse) organization, and humans have studied how to run those for a long time, have categories of professionals who are expert in each topic. Listen to them. Don't try to work each out from first principles, and don't pretend that because you're a bunch of compiler nerds on the internet you get to dodge all the mechanisms of a normal organization.

I don't know to what extent the new governance system bears enough of the fingerprints of such professionals, and I don't know if it will or won't do much to address The Pattern, but I might be surprised. I'm not skilled in these areas! Casually and ignorantly speaking: I like the parts that sound like formal delineation of powers, and term limits and role rotation to avoid burnout, and transparency of decisions. I like things that sound like stakeholder representation and time-investment limitation.