Apologies and followups re: WordCamp Houston 2010

[Update 2013-12-27: I am retracting the majority of this post, as explained in the most recent post.]

So I’ve had about three weeks or so to think about my previous post regarding WordCamp Houston 2010. At the time I wrote it, I considered the possibility that the post might well be one of the posts that helps define who I am as a blogger. And it did, though definitely not in the way I envisioned.

The overall post, as I wrote it, allowed my readers to draw the conclusion that the event deserved to be rated, on a 10-point scale, a “0” or “1”. That was not what I intended, as I think a “4” would have been more appropriate (this is just considering the event itself). It is also easy to assume that my opinion represents that of a typcial attendee, and I should disclaim now that it does not and my opinion is definitely in the minority; in fact, I may be the only WordCamp Houston 2010 attendee (out of however many there were) with an opinion this low. My voice is definitely not that of the majority and should not be interpreted as such. I’m sorry for not including such a disclaimer on the original post, which I now realize I should have done.

I also overdid my wishful thinking in the writing of the previous post. Ideally, of course, social media account administrators would not recklessly block those engaging an event or organization account, because of personal problems with that user which have nothing to do with that event or organization. Of course, we do not live in an ideal world, so it follows that it is a bit unrealistic of me to expect even those who do social media on a professional level to always set personal differences aside.

Finally, for someone who takes as much pride in blogging as I do, even if my goal was to set out to write a slam piece, I did a rather poor job of it and included way too many things that should have been left out. If anything, it’s a great example of what not to do, to wit: the verbosity, highlighted by my including an anchor link to the most critical part of the post, and inclusion of too many details which, I realize now, subtract more than they add to the post as a whole. As valid as some of the criticisms may have been, most were not timely, nor did they necessarily belong in that particular post.

So, yes, in a lot of ways, Marc Nathan (who commented on the original post) was right, and quite justified in some of his comments. Without his willingness to comment and engage me on this topic, I probably would not be apologizing for the parts of my post that were clearly out of line. I did add a note to it mentioning (and now linking to) this follow-up; however I’m not deleting the original post (if for nothing else, it should be preserved so other bloggers can study it as an example of what not to do, and my note at the top makes that clear).

If I had to write that post all over again, I probably would write just a short and direct criticism of two, maybe three, major issues, as I see them: the security incident on the website, the administration of the scholarship fund (both delay in its award, and lack of transparency to the community), and maybe the capacity issue. Those parts of the post, I do feel I can stand behind.

But as far as the rest of the post goes, I should not have said what I did in the way I said it. It was not my intent to unnecessarily blacken the image of Houston’s WordPress and/or tech communities, and I regret doing so. If my apology’s not good enough and I’m now persona non grata at the meetups and/or the next WordCamp Houston, I’ll find a way to live with it and learn a lesson from it.

I still wish that the organizers had followed through with the process to nominate a scholarship recipient and get the money into the hands of a deserving college student in a timely fashion. And I believe the very least they could have done, if for some reason that was no longer possible, was kept the community in the loop about what was going on and shown some respect for the value of the money and, indirectly, both the people from whom that money came and the volunteers who helped put on the event which brought in that money (yes, of which I am one, but only one of many).

I honestly do not think this is too much to ask, and I know the organizers want to be remembered as the kind of people who keep their word, not go back on it. Even though we are now in 2012 and the event happened in 2010, I don’t consider it to be too late to do the right thing.

And with that, I’m done with this.