Restoring Publication of UXmatters

December 20, 2021

Although the unfortunate Twitter incident that caused us to suspend publication of UXmatters in mid-October was an ill-conceived reply from the editor of UXmatters to a post on @uxmatters, the silver lining is that it has led the UXmatters Advisory Board to take a step back and think about the role of UXmatters in the UX community.

In the two months that have passed since we temporarily halted publication of UXmatters, we have had many discussions and plenty of time to reflect on what happened and how best to respond and move forward. In this message from the UXmatters Advisory Board, we’ll share our thoughts with our readers.

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Our Commitment to a Diverse Future for UXmatters

By Baruch Sachs

When I first started writing for UXmatters almost ten years ago, I did so with about ten years of experience behind me in the field of User Experience. I had designed things and gotten more technical than I ever thought I would to help convince developers that my designs were possible. I worked then—and continue to do so—in a management-consulting capacity with a focus on design.

Admittedly, at that time, I had not thought much about the bias that might go into what I wrote. If anything, I tried writing from what I believed to be a human perspective, transcending individual constructs and just looking at ourselves as human. Naive sure, but also hopeful.

As someone who leads a team of people, I have always striven to build a team that looks like the world in which we live. A team that reflects both shared and divergent values. If, from time to time, what I write has some influence on people or gives them some insights they were looking for, I am happy.

I don’t generally look to Twitter to inform my life. Although I do use it, I also know how easily it can become twisted, and navigating it can be exhausting. So the words of the editor of UXmatters escaped my notice for a few days. When I did read the post, I had two very visceral reactions:

  1. I didn’t agree with or endorse the words that were written and found them to be way out of left field. They bothered me and still do.
  2. Their sentiment has no place anywhere—and certainly not in the world of design.

So I had to decide what to do. I could not unsee that Twitter post or pretend that it did not exist. As a long-time columnist for UXmatters and someone who had lent my time to advising UXmatters in the past, I did not want to give up on the magazine. I wanted to understand basically what had happened and think about what needed to happen next.

While I don’t like or support what the editor conveyed, I do believe in the value of UXmatters. I could either immediately resign and walk away, or I could stay and try to fix the problem and make UXmatters better. I have chosen to stay. There really is no obvious incentive—financial or otherwise—for me to stay on the Advisory Board and continue to write for this publication. However, I do believe that we owe it to the readership of UXmatters to continue to provide this service and share our knowledge—and, going forward, doing so with a more diverse viewpoint—diversity among our authors and of our ideas and opinions.

What I can promise you is a more active Advisory Board—one that more deeply considers where ideas are coming from, ensuring that they represent a wide range of constituencies—ultimately, to regain some of the purity that should exist in design. We’ll give issues of diversity the thought they deserve and endeavor to focus our goals on how to represent them fairly, equally, and justly. That is the commitment that I am personally making to this publication and to our readers—and one that I know is shared by my colleagues on the Advisory Board.

Thank you for your continued loyalty to UXmatters, it means so much to us. We will work passionately never to let you down again.

Endeavoring to Be Compassionate and Empathetic

Another of our Advisory Board members shared the following thoughts:

“When our editor first made me aware of the Twitter post and I read it for myself, I didn’t actually get it. I didn’t see how it was a response to the original post. I was surprised and shocked by the anti-immigrant sentiment it directed at brown immigrant populations. It was completely inappropriate.

“However, I was equally dismayed by the response to the post. A flurry of public outcry, then mass resignations by UXmatters columnists who were regular contributors to the magazine and some Advisory Board members. People were distancing themselves from the incident, the perpetrator, and UXmatters as quickly as possible.

“I worry that cancel culture makes it impossible for us to learn from our mistakes, grow, and become better people. While it is important to stand up to racist comments, we also need to create an environment that supports change. When missteps happen, I believe it is important to be compassionate and empathetic to one another. While it is tempting to distance oneself, a more constructive approach would be to take the time to listen more deeply so we can truly understand the perspectives of others. This is true of the people on both sides of this recent conflict.”

Bringing Greater Diversity to UXmatters

By Mudassir Azeemi

Long before the explosion of User Experience and UX bootcamps, UXmatters trained and nurtured many newbies to the field. I was already an avid reader of UXmatters when I transitioned from being a software architect to a UX professional between 2008 and 2012.

What happened on the UXmatters Twitter feed was not good. But should we just blow up the whole magazine because of it? This gold mine of UX wisdom? I don’t think so.

So I’ve joined the UXmatters Advisory Board to help create a more diverse team. We can learn from our past, improve ourselves, and move forward. Growth is a human trait, and it’s what all UX professionals know: empathize, identify, and iterate. Let’s apply the same principle here.

In my opinion, we need to continue publishing UXmatters and make sure we bring in new blood and greater diversity. Please join us. We have some great people who are eager to contribute to UXmatters. We should become a beacon for change and diversity within the growing field of User Experience.

In Conclusion

We believe that UXmatters still has a role to play in the UX community going forward—that UXmatters can become an example for how to create an inclusive community. Out of this unfortunate situation, we can become better.

The Advisory Board has confidence in UXmatters and its leadership—that, going forward, social-media communications will be managed mindfully. We intend to renew our commitment to diversity.

Therefore, we are pleased to announce that we are restarting publication of UXmatters with this edition.  Please enjoy the content that our authors have waited so patiently to present to you and worked so hard to create. 

UXmatters Advisory BoardThe volunteers on our UXmatters Advisory Board provide advice and support to the leadership of UXmatters.

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