Distressing times for the Rails community

Things like this sadden me: Mike Gunderloy resigns as a Rails activist, no longer wishing to be a public spokesperson for Rails. This is a great loss for the community.

Things like this disappoint me: the attitudes of a few people cause a tainting on the entire community. Even if David Naughton has misunderstood the issue, it is clear that the whole debate has had a negative effect on the Rails community.

Unexpected pornography at a professional conference surprises me, shocks me a little. I wonder whether Matt Aimonetti, at any point during the preparation of that presentation, thought “This is likely to offend some people”, and if so, whether Matt decided not to care.

The refusal of some Rails representatives to even acknowledge that there is a problem angers me. Yes it was edgy. Yes it was creative. It can be those things and still be offensive. “Creative” is not a synonym for “acceptable”. Offending people is a big deal. The unpology “I’m sorry that you happened to be offended” is a world away from apologising for having been the cause of offence.

It is not a person’s fault for being offended. Without wishing to be a Bible-basher, there is a lot to be said for this little nugget of advice:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

You can’t please everybody all the time, but there are basic precautions that you can take, and when you have made a mistake, you can take responsibility for it and apologise for it.

I think that is the end of my rant, and i hope i will have nothing more to say about it.

* * *

I would like to say publicly, again, that i appreciate my job so very much. I am extremely lucky to work in a family-friendly, vibrant, fun, laid-back yet totally professional environment, doing a job that i enjoy with my whole heart. I don’t expect expect to be discriminated against, nor do i expect any special treatment. I receive precisely the appropriate amount of respect and admiration that i deserve based on my skill as a programmer. I am extremely grateful for it.

Here’s a picture of me loving my job today, along with some of my colleagues, sat on the picnic bench in the sunshine: yfrog.com/4o8a2j :)

* * *

Sort of related to the rant, i have been wondering tonight where my opinions come from. Different people have different opinions, and i can read and intellectually understand varying stances, so what is it that sways me so strongly in one particular direction? I have an opinion on almost any given topic, but i don’t always know what it is that makes me feel that way.

I find the various out-of-control tram hurtling down a track thought experiments quite interesting in terms of moral dilemmas to which people often have a strong opinion, yet cannot quite explain why. Ethics and morals are curious subjects.

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10 comments on “Distressing times for the Rails community

  1. We cannot please everybody indeed but the most important thing to keep in mind is to please the Heavenly powerful. If the conscience is clear as the clear sky, then by all means don't worry about other people's offending remarks. Remember, different people have differing views.

  2. I think the problem with the Rails “community” is that it quickly became in an ol' boys network (not necessarily just men, just using the expression to mean you have to be in the circle or club to get anywhere in that sphere). A community now driven by dogma and strong personalities no longer by pragmatism or substance.This has been a problem for a couple of years already. Matt Aimonetti's pr0n photos in his presentation just goes to demonstrate the wider issue. He was only thinking about his buddies and what would make them laugh rather than thinking of a wider more inclusive audience. I contend the reason is because the Rails community has been hard-wired as a “club” for quite some time now.As a woman I personally did NOT take offense to the photos I saw in the presentation slides that I saw online (although I wasn't sure if it had been sanitized or not?), so the pr0n at a presentation to me is simply endemic of the “club” mentality of Rails as a whole. From where I am standing this is a much bigger issue for the Rails world than just a demonstration of sexism at one presentation by one presenter.I would like to point out that I consider the Rails community quite separate from the Ruby community and do not think this of the Ruby community.Perhaps the Rails world can think about the “club” mentality of what was demonstrated here NOT just the “pornography”, because I feel like that is just one manifestation of the larger problem.”Club” mentality might be warranted if Rails rallied around merit, rather than who can swear the most in one sentence or shout the loudest. Looking at 90% of the most popular Rails plugins you should see how appalling the quality of code is. Where is the merit in this club?

  3. I wanted to make one thing clear. The “club” mentality when not based on merit has detrimental effects for all those that can't be bothered to brown nose their way into the exclusive club membership. Not at all specific to gender or sex!

  4. Wow, Susan, i am honoured to have you comment on my blog, and i agree whole-heartedly with what you have to say.I hadn't really been able to put my finger on what exactly is wrong here, but your explanation of the “club” mentality explains it so well. If we're not careful, we are headed towards a fragmented us-versus-them, in-or-out community. I do not want that. Let's not lose focus of why we are a community in the first place – it's all about the code!

  5. Yes, correct. I didn't really think that this was much of a gender issue at all. However, it has been refreshing to hear so many female programmers speaking up as a result of this.

  6. A community now driven by dogma and strong personalities no longer by pragmatism.Matt Aimonetti's pr0n photos in his presentation just goes to demonstrate the wider issue. He was only thinking about his buddies and what would make them laugh rather than thinking of a wider more inclusive audience.

  7. You can't please everybody all the time, but there are basic precautions that you can take, and when you have made a mistake, you can take responsibility for it and apologise for it.

  8. Your post is such a inspiring that my eyes are really opened today.From your blog i can learn so many things which may help me to get success in handling my business.Thanks for sharing,Love your blog and keep sharing in future too.

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