FDO's conduct enforcement actions regarding Vaxry April 9, 2024 on Drew DeVault's blog

freedesktop(.org), aka FDO, recently banned Hyprland maintainer Vaxry from the FDO community, and in response Vaxry has taken his case to the court of public opinion, publishing their email exchanges and writing about it on his blog.

It saddens me to bear witness to these events today. I wrote in September of last year about problems with toxicity in the Hyprland community. I initially reached out to Vaxry to discuss these problems in private in February of last year. I failed to get through to him, leading to that blog post in September. I spent some time in the following weeks talking with Vaxry on his behavior and his community’s social norms, again in private, but again, I was unable to get through to him. Unfortunately, we find ourselves again leaving the private sphere and discussing Vaxry’s behavior and the problem posed by the Hyprland community once again.

The fact of the matter is that Hyprland remains a toxic community, enabled and encouraged by its toxic leadership, namely Vaxry. FDO’s decision to ban Vaxry is ultimately a consequence of Vaxry’s behavior, and because he has elected to appeal his case in public, I am compelled to address his behavior in public. I hereby rise firmly in defense of FDO’s decision.

I invite you to start by reading the two email threads, one, and two, which Vaxry has published for your consideration, as well as Vaxry’s follow-ups on his blog, one, and two.

Here’s my read on the situation.

The FDO officer that reached out to Vaxry did it after Vaxry’s problematic behavior was brought to her attention by members of the FDO community, and was acting on her mandate within the FDO conduct enforcement board by investigating complaints submitted to her by this community. It is not a stretch to suggest a close relationship between these communities exists: FDO is the steward of both the Wayland protocol and implementation and the wlroots library, essential dependencies of Hyprland and sources for collaboration between Hyprland and FDO. Vaxry and other members of the Hyprland community had already participated extensively in these projects (mainly in discussions on IRC and GitLab issues) at the time of the email exchange, in spaces where the code of conduct applies.

The FDO officer duly investigated the complaints she had received and found, in collaboration with the other members of the FDO conduct enforcement team, that they were credible, and worrying. There are numerous examples of behavior from Vaxry that contravenes the FDO code of conduct in several different respects, and any number of them would be grounds for an immediate ban. Since these behaviors are concerning, but did not take place in the FDO community, the conduct board decided to issue a warning in private, stating that if this sort of behavior was seen in the FDO community that it would result in enforcement action from the conduct team.

All of the actions from the FDO conduct team are reasonable and show considerable restraint. Vaxry could have taken it in stride with no consequences to himself. Instead, he immediately escalated the situation. He construes the FDO officer’s polite and well-reasoned warning as threats and intimidation. He minimizes examples of his own hate speech by shrugging them off as a joke. He belittles the FDO officer and builds a straw man wherein her email is an official statement on behalf of RedHat, and cites a conspiracy theory about DEI programs at RedHat as justification for calling the FDO officer a hypocrite. He is insulted on my behalf that my name was cited in the FDO officer’s email in lowercase, “drew”, and feels the need to address this.

The FDO officer responds to Vaxry’s unhinged rant with a sarcastic quip clarifying that it was indeed within the FDO conduct team’s remit to ban Vaxry from their GitLab instance – I confess that in my view this was somewhat unprofessional, though I can easily sympathize with the FDO officer given the context. Following this, Vaxry states that Hyprland will cease all communication with FDO’s conduct team and ignore (emphasis his) any future emails from them. Finally, he threatens legal action (on what basis is unclear) and signs the email.

Regardless of how you feel about the conduct team issuing a private warning to Vaxry on the basis of activities outside of FDO community spaces, the email thread that ensues most certainly is within the scope of the FDO code of conduct, and Vaxry’s behavior therein is sufficient justification for a ban from the FDO community as far as I’m concerned. The conduct team cites Vaxry’s stated intention to ignore any future conduct interventions as the ultimate reason for the ban, which I find entirely reasonable on FDO’s part. I have banned people for far less than this, and I stand by it.

Vaxry’s follow-up blog posts only serve to underscore this point. First of all, he immediately opens with a dog-whistle calling for the reader to harass the FDO officer in question: “I don’t condone harassing this person, but here is their full name, employer and contact details”:

I do not condone any hateful messages sent towards any of the parties mentioned.

Recently I have received an email filled with threats to my inbox, from a member of the X.org board, Freedesktop.org, and a Red Hat employee. Their name is [redacted].

Moreover, Vaxry claims to have apologised for his past conduct, which is not true. In lieu of an apology, Vaxry has spent the “1.5 years” since the last incident posting angry rants on his blog calling out minority representation and “social justice warriors” in light of his perceived persecution. Meanwhile the Hyprland community remains a toxic place, welcoming hate, bullying, and harassment, but now prohibiting all “political” speech, which in practice means any discussion of LGBTQ topics, though this is largely unenforced. In the end, the Hyprland community’s fundamental problem is that they’re all “just having fun”, and it seems that they can’t have “fun” unless it’s at someone else’s expense.

The FDO team is right that Hyprland’s community reflects poorly on the Linux desktop community as a whole. Vaxry has created a foothold for hate, transphobia, homophobia, bullying, and harassment in the Linux desktop community. We are right to take action to correct this problem.

Every option other than banning Vaxry has been exhausted over the past year and a half. I personally spent several weeks following my last blog post on the matter discussing Vaxry’s behavior in confidence and helping him understand how to improve, and at my suggestion he joined a private community of positive male role models to discuss these issues in a private and empathetic space. After a few weeks of these private discussions, the last thing he said to me was “I do believe there could be arguments to sway my opinion towards genocide”.1

There’s nothing left to do but to build a fence around Hyprland and protect the rest of the community from them. I know that there’s a lot of good people who use and contribute to Hyprland, and I’m sorry for those of you who are affected by this problem. But, in the end, actions have consequences. The rest of the community has no choice but to sanction Vaxry.

And, to Vaxry – I know you’re reading this – there are going to continue to be consequences for your actions, but it’s still not too late to change. I know it’s humiliating to be called out like this, and I really would rather not have had to do so. FDO is probably not the last time you’re going to be banned if you don’t change course, and it would reflect better on you if you took it on the chin and didn’t post inflammatory rants on your blog – trust me, you don’t look like the good guy here. You are trapped in an echo chamber of hate, anger, and bigotry. I hope that you find a way out, and that someday you can build a community which is as great as your software is.

And, to the FDO officer in question: I’m so sorry that you’re at the ass end of all of this hate and abuse. You don’t deserve any of it. You did a good job, and I’m proud of you and the rest of the FDO conduct team. If you need any support, someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask, on IRC, Matrix, email, whatever. Don’t read the comments.

And on that note, I condemn in the harshest terms the response from communities like /r/linux on the subject. The vile harassment and hate directed at the FDO officer in question is obscene and completely unjustifiable. I don’t care what window manager or desktop environment you use – this kind of behavior is completely uncalled for. I expect better.


P.S. The Hyprland community has already descended on me before even publishing this post, after I called Vaxry out on Mastodon a few hours ago. My notifications are not full of reasonable objections to my complaints, but instead the response is slurs and death threats. This only serves to prove my characterization of the Hyprland community as deeply toxic.


  1. Yes, this is taken out of context. But, if you raise this objection, I struggle to imagine in what context you think this statement can be read sympathetically. ↩︎

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