RustConf Disinvitation Causes Controversy in Programming Language Community

Controversy Arises in RustConf After Expert is Disinvited


Rust is a programming language that has been gaining popularity in recent years because of its ability to provide more secure and reliable software. Recently, controversy has arisen in the Rust community following an incident concerning an expert who was disinvited from speaking at the 2023 RustConf. The incident has raised concerns about the governance of the Rust community and its leadership.

The expert, JeanHeyd Meneide, was disinvited from the conference after members of the Rust community expressed discomfort with the contents of his talk. Meneide had written an article about reflection in Rust, a concept that is already widely disliked conceptually, and the talk was about that. Rust members allegedly felt that he was taking a purely technical viewpoint, and they were uncomfortable with this. However, some have argued that this discomfort was not about Meneide’s behavior, personal beliefs, or demographic. Rather, it was about his technical point of view. The incident has raised concerns about the Rust community’s ability to handle technical disagreements.

The controversy has only deepened following Meneide’s departure. In a blog post, Meneide accused the Rust community of “shadowy decisions that are non-transparent to normal contributors,” stating that the language’s publicly-available Procedures and Practices and Code of Conduct do not cover this behavior. Others have echoed these concerns, arguing that the Rust Project needs to address these issues before they fester.

The incident has also raised questions about the Rust community’s culture. Some have argued that the community has become off-putting, with a “thick veneer of empathy and compassion” that quickly turns into emotional blackmail and what has been called “idiot compassion.” Others have pointed to recent drama over trademark guidelines as evidence of this culture.

Ultimately, the incident highlights the need for the Rust community to address its internal governance and culture. As Rust becomes more popular, its community will need to work together effectively to ensure that the language continues to grow and improve. The incident should serve as a wake-up call for the Rust community, prompting them to consider how they can better manage disagreements and ensure that their processes are transparent and democratic. If they fail to do so, the language’s reputation and staying power may be affected, with talented people being pushed away from using Rust altogether.

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