Analysis / News / Top Stories

Node.js Forked Again Over Complaints of Unresponsive Leadership

23 Aug 2017 4:44pm, by

The codebase for popular Node.js JavaScript runtime has been forked again  — the second time in less than three years — with a growing number of contributors charging that the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) leadership is ignoring repeated violations of the project’s code of conduct.

The new project, called Ayo, has already been set up on GitHub, and will be managed under an open governance model.

The complaints centered around ongoing behavior of NodeSource Director of Engineering, and Node.js TSC member Rod Vagg. The TSC received multiple complaints from Node.js members about a Tweet from Vagg promoting a Men’s Rights Activist-slanted article, one that cast doubt on the validity of project Code-of-Conducts. In that Tweet, Vagg commented “If you’ve never considered the potential downsides of codes of conduct, here’s a good place to start.”

Complaints against Rod Vagg from the Node.js contributors, as summarized by the Node.js Technical Steering Committee.

In a follow-up Tweet, npm Inc. Operations Engineer Ashley Williams commented that “Rod and his constant, unproductive criticism of social policies in node is why I’ve drastically lessened my participation in the project.” She also noted that “I know for sure that his actions have also affected the participation of many other contributors and would be contributors.”

Overall, Williams charged that Vagg’s presence on the board indicated that the organization is not serious about fostering inclusivity within the community, a frustration she has expressed for well over a year.

On August 21, The TSC voted on whether or not to remove Vagg from its ranks. Of the 10 TSC members who voted, 60 percent voted against removing Rod from the TSC and 60 percent voted against asking Rod to voluntarily resign.

That the TSC voted to keep Vagg on the committee inflamed others in the project. One committee member, Myles Borins, resigned in protest. The decision to keep Vagg “undermines our Conduct Guidelines, drives away potential contributors, and in my opinion undermines the Committee’s ability to govern,” he wrote in a blog post.

In a post further explaining the need for the forked Ayo project, developer Rudolf Olah explained that “Driving away contributors can be fatal in the open source world where most developers are essentially using their free time and volunteering to contribute. It is already difficult enough to attract contributors to smaller projects and larger projects, such as Node.js, need to be careful to make all contributors feel welcome.”

NodeSource CEO Joe McCann did not reply for a request for comment. The Node.js Foundation did not immediately offer a response in time for this story. The Node.js Foundation is managed by The Linux Foundation, a sponsor of The New Stack.

This is not the first time the Node.js project has been forked. In 2015, many of Node’s key developers forked the codebase to create io.js, citing dissatisfaction with the leadership around Node, which at the time was managed by Joyent. The efforts were rejoined a year later after an independent management body, the Node.js Foundation, was founded.


A digest of the week’s most important stories & analyses.

View / Add Comments