For the first time in over a decade, Centarro will not have a booth at DrupalCon North America. In this post I explain why and share how to find Drupal Commerce content at the event or to plan personal connections in Pittsburgh instead.
While I was eager to exhibit and had already paid, I rescinded my sponsorship after the event added a mask mandate in February. At this point, enforced masking provides dubious benefit to anyone while degrading the conference experience for everyone. It suppresses the value of exhibiting through reduced exhibit hall engagement, impacting all of our sponsors who pay tens of thousands of dollars and help make the event a success. It disrupts the main purpose of gathering together - socializing with and collaborating with our peers. I could not in good conscience ask my staff to exhibit in masks or to consent to the guidelines in advance but ignore them in person, as was the practical result of similar rules in last year's DrupalCons.
To be clear, my position should not glibly be dismissed as anti-mask. It is instead a reasonable, “trust the science and public health experts” position. I regularly masked and tested at my own expense for events throughout the pandemic. However, we knew in February the Department of HHS was planning for the federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 to expire on May 11, one month before DrupalCon Pittsburgh. We knew the vast majority of governments, transportation authorities, public events, private venues, and more had dropped mask mandates (including all relevant parties in Pittsburgh). We know our own CDC advises that those at high risk wear appropriate PPE or refrain from visiting crowded public spaces, regardless of the masking habits of those crowds.
Rather than give those who are concerned or who are at high risk a false assurance that our policies will make the event safer for them, I requested DrupalCon adopt a policy like DrupalSouth’s, reminding attendees to take personal responsibility for their health, conforming to but not exceeding public health policies. My appeal was not successful, so I requested and received a refund, having made my case as clearly and objectively as I could. If you have similar concerns or frustrations, I encourage you to share your feedback with the Drupal Association through their survey. I hope we aren’t faced with the same decision at DrupalCon Lille and beyond.
In the meantime, I’m still excited to attend DrupalCon Pittsburgh personally and to share what I and my team have been doing. To learn more about Drupal Commerce at the event itself, consider joining my talk “Selling file downloads and certificates through Drupal Commerce” on Tuesday at 3 PM in Room 310-311. This talk is based on Centarro’s work in a couple recent engagements that advanced the feature set of Drupal Commerce in exciting ways. You should also check out Mohammed Razem’s talk “How Drupal powers the global UN Refugee Agency fundraising platform” on Tuesday at 11:30 AM in Room 315-316. The UNHCR’s work is critical, and I’m excited to see what Vardot has built for them with Drupal Commerce!
I’d love to see you at either talk, and I would be happy to hang out afterwards in the “courtyard” track where the solar system's oldest disinfectant can smile back at us. 🌞
I’m also really looking forward to the various “barcade” parties planned for the week, and I will happily accept challenges to games of Joust or Robotron 2084 from anyone who is prepared to lose. 😘
Feel free to use my contact form here or on Centarro.io to request a meeting about Drupal Commerce or to discuss how we might be of service to you. I’ll accommodate as many folks as I can throughout the week. See you soon! ✌🏻
I learned about the feedback…
I learned about the feedback survey from a recent Drupal Association blog post that also contains a section on DrupalCon Lille later this year. All signs point toward that event being administered differently. 🤞🏼
Ryan, well done for stating your views and talking about the feedback form.
I personally responded to the feedback form before Drupalcon Pittsburgh and this is what I wrote:
"Influenza (flu) and the common cold are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu is caused by influenza viruses only, whereas the common cold can be caused by a number of different viruses, including rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, and seasonal coronaviruses.
Covid 19 is here to stay, it will be with us for ever. It is a virus just like influenza and the common cold and it lives with humans on the planet as part of nature! We should accept that we are all part of nature and stop 'freaking out'.
We need to return to normal life (pre Covid) and just be nice to everyone. If some people feel insecure and need to wear a face mask for perceived protection then that's OK but the actual effectiveness of generic face masks is negligible. Human communication is paramount and the face is a vital way of communicating non verbally; enforced mask wearing should not be imposed on all attendees."
P.S. I forgot to say that you may remember me from Szeged all those years ago :) .
Cheers Ryan and thanks for everything you've done for the community.
Thanks for sharing! And…
Thanks for sharing! And hello again - I appreciate your kind words. 😄
Selling file downloads and certificates through Drupal Commerce
I am not able to attend DrupalCon Pittsburgh but I hope your talk, "Selling file downloads and certificates through Drupal Commerce", later appears online (YouTube?), as this is something I plan to do myself shortly. Have a good conference!
Thanks for commenting, and…
Thanks for commenting, and sorry you can’t make it. Cool to hear you’re looking at the same scenario! All sessions will be recorded and published on the DA YouTube eventually I believe. There’s usually a bit of lag, but I’d also be happy to share the slides if you need ‘em sooner and ping me.
Punished for daring to care
So you punished the Drupal Association to the tunes of five figures for daring to care. Are you paid by the Brownstone Institute or are you just this cruel and stupid? Maybe you are fine with your wife endangering your three beautiful children by being an antivaxxer and this has poisoned your mind enough to want to endanger the life of the hundreds and thousands going to a conference. I guess the blood on your hands won't be visible so you are fine.
No, I rescinded my…
No, I rescinded my sponsorship because it was being devalued by rules that cannot possibly accomplish their intended purpose (making people safer) without the various governmental and venue authorities supporting them. Perhaps you weren't present in Portland or Prague, but neither event had significant compliance, and we will have even less ability to control the environment in Pittsburgh. (Worst case, we actually put high risk individuals at risk who attend based on the false assumption that masking will be enforced for all attendees and venue staff.) However, thanks to the various prophylactic (e.g. vaccines) and therapeutic measures at our disposal, I'm willing to trust our authorities' judgment that masking for such events is no longer required.
I'm happy to discuss my rationale further, even with an anonymous commenter, but I ask for at least a small measure of good faith engagement. 🤷🏼♂️
I think it's also…
I think it's also interesting to frame me choosing not to buy a product or service from a company that I'm under no obligation to buy as "punishing" them. Are they not rather obligated to ensure the goods or services they're selling are worth the price they're asking if they want people to buy them?
From a financial standpoint, sponsoring DrupalCon is the most expensive thing I do for the DA that generates the least return for me and has the highest cost to deliver for them. In other words, they'd get more operating capital and I'd save significant money if I just donated half what my booth would've cost. I shared my desire to continue supporting the DA in our private communications, and we're looking for other areas to do so.