Misinformation: A response to Chris Wilson's Whitehouse.gov article on Slate

Published in: 

Yesterday, I came across one of the most fabricated and agenda-laden articles I've ever seen in the world of software and open source, "Why running the White House Web site on Drupal is a political disaster waiting to happen". (no-followed)

Despite wishing "Drupal and the White House nothing but happiness" at the outset, Chris Wilson quickly moves to scare the beejezus out of you about Drupal and make sure everyone understands that the thousands of people coming together to provide really awesome free software are actually all user-hating Nazis and that Drupal is a REALLY. BAD. THING.

Unfortunately, the thing about misinformation is that it often does cause a stir. As one can see from this comment left on another article about Whitehouse.gov, a well known and curious Joomla developer is linking to the propaganda piece and referring to it as a "very different view". So misinformation success, it's now a 'point of view' whether Drupal folk are all user-hating nazis or not.

The software world is not generally the hack-political world where all one needs is an implication and a "reliable source" to start a false "debate" on whether something is true or not. But the slate article, and reactions to it, does demonstrate the point that the Drupal community needs to be prepared to address misinformation. This is a (large) annoyance, of course (more time fighting propaganda ='s less time coding or helping newcomers), but as a great person once said, "With great power comes great responsibility".

UPDATE: Informationweek.com weighs in with some sense on this issue:

"The news that WhiteHouse.gov relaunched this week running open source Drupal software raised eyebrows and hackles among knee-jerk anti-Obama types and a small cadre of ignorant bloggers."
28 October, 2009


It all seems silly at first; technology is politically neutral, and most of what the author claims about the Drupal community being anti-change is as far from the truth as you can get.

So has anybody "followed the money" on this? Why the heck would Slate, who is usually progressive and more open minded, be taking such a position? It is a deliberate case of misinformation, and is surely designed to benefit some interests - but who? Or is this just more of the standard hate-filled disinformation campaigns that has struck in recent years (from both sides of the fray)? Are they implying that there is something "Socialistic" (or worse) about Drupal that could lead to our downfall as a world power?

Talk about grasping at straws; these are fairly technical arguments the author is making, and would not make a great deal of sense to most people. One thing is for sure; it isn't about Drupal.

I think that having their site run on drupal would be an amazing thing. It is considered one of the best CMS available. It would be good for getting people involved. I don't see where there is a problem. I think that they are over thinking this and making it a much bigger deal then it really is. White House on Drupal sounds good to me.