Thursday, March 21, 2013

Using a nuke to kill a housefly

I've never been to any job related conferences and with stuff like this happening I might not be in such a rush to. A few days ago at PyCon, annual conference dedicated to the python computer programming language, there was a bit of an incident involving 2 guys, 1 woman, twitter, and a pink slip.

From the Dailydot:

When Adria Richards, a developer evangelist for email delivery company SendGrid overheard a man sitting behind her laughing with his friends about the word "dongle," she planned to brush it off as just another dumb dick joke.
But then the speaker onstage showed a photo of a young girl who'd taken part in a coding workshop, and "I realized I had to do something or she would never have the chance to learn and love programming because the ass clowns behind me would make it impossible for her to do so," Richards wrote on her blog.
So she tweeted a photo of the guys.
Notice that nowhere in there was any attempt at calling those guys out in person or speaking up for the young girl that she was so interested in protecting from the "ass clowns". Oh but she didn't just tweet this to her followers and beyond. No she tweeted for someone from PyCon staff to do something about them. And they did. The two men were escorted from the ballroom.

Shortly after the conference one of the men that was escorted out of the ballroom, and subsequently let go from his job, offered a statement of his own.
My friends and I had decided forking someone's repo is a new form of flattery (the highest form being implementation) and we were excited about one of the presenters projects; a friend said "I would fork that guys repo" The sexual context was applied by Adria, and not us.
My second comment is this, Adria has an audience and is a successful person of the media. Just check out her web page linked in her twitter account, her hard work and social activism speaks for itself. With that great power and reach comes responsibility. As a result of the picture she took I was let go from my job today. Which sucks because I have 3 kids and I really liked that job.
She gave me no warning, she smiled while she snapped the pic and sealed my fate. Let this serve as a message to everyone, our actions and words, big or small, can have a serious impact.
I emphasized that part because I think this speaks to a problem. Instead of taking a stand Richards chose to make a scene. According to her that was the second time that day where she heard a sexual joke being made by a male developer. That may be very well true but it sounds like after getting fed up from the first encounter she decided go all out in order to make a point. And that worries me.

Have we really gotten to the point where it is justified for a person to overhear someone else's private conversation, get offended by it, and then call for them to be kicked out, all with no actual interaction with the people that were talking?

How are we supposed to come together and make good changes for everyone when we operate on the protocol of shoot first and not even bother asking questions later?

Now with actions come consequences.

There seems to have been a split in the response to her actions. Some congratulated her on her actions while others have attacked her for it.

Frankly I think both sides are wrong.

First off I'm really not seeing what is congratulatory (much less brave) about a person tweeting a pic and getting them fired without even trying another way. Next we'll be congratulating people that kill someone because they seemed like a threat. Wait a minute.....

Secondly even though what she did was overkill its not right to attack her and insult her either (but believe me I understand the temptation). I think she was wrong for what she did but that's no reason to call her names.

From the looks of the statement given by the gentleman that lost his job it seems like there was a more appropriate way to handle that situation. Seems like he would have actually responded to someone calling him out on his jokes instead of running for con staff.

What say you? Were her actions out of line or were they right on the mark?