Did #porngate kill this group?

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Obie Fernandez

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Mar 21, 2010, 9:09:01 AM3/21/10
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Roy Singham, Chairman of ThoughtWorks, wielded Matt Aimonetti's
CouchDB debacle (termed #porngate) today at RubyConf India, to
verbally assault the "Rails community." I called him out publicly
during the Q&A for what I considered to be a false distinction between
the communities, but he was speaking primarily of the Rails
"leadership" consisting of DHH for not denouncing the action and (I
suppose) members of this group, since we didn't cast Matt out of it.

I'm pissed. Why is this incident still causing a rift!?!

Also, I guess I had a false memory of Matt resigning from this group,
because from its webpage, it seems he is still part of its leadership.
WTF??

Is this group now dead? I don't see much activity on mailing list. If
the group is dead, it should be torn down. We need action to help bury
#porngate so that it does not continue to be a black mark on the
community and fuel this (arguably false, yet pervasive) view that the
Rails community is against women.

Obie

Ted Han

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Mar 21, 2010, 9:28:12 AM3/21/10
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Hey Obie,

I genuinely am uninterested in a big political blow up, but isn't the damage already done?  The pushback both against the unacceptability of Matt's presentation, and against the total lack of proportion of the presentation's reaction came too little and too late.

Unless there's some intent to drive Matt from the Rails community, or he endeavors to make a more public effort to prove that he's not some sort of misogynistic boogieman (and yes we both know he's not), i'm not clear on what can be done?  Tear down the group if it's not active, but tearing the group down because of the gogaruco debacle seems like a purely political move not even designed to address the issue, but to merely sweep it under the rug.  Challenging the false yet pervasive view that Rails is misogynistic is best done IMO by positive efforts, rather than trying to diminish past mistakes.

btw, i was glad to see that you were presenting at SxSW on the subject of encouraging gender equality in our profession, and i'm sorry i had to miss it :(  (I was there for work, and so felt obligated to catch a session opposite yours) i'll def catch it when the post the video of it.

all the best,

-Ted


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Ken Collins

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Mar 21, 2010, 9:33:02 AM3/21/10
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> I'm pissed. Why is this incident still causing a rift!?!

Because there will always be those who exploit and or focus on negatives. Seldom are there people that can see both sides with true empathy and not cast negatives on both. My advice is to move on and try to step right and not get sucked into this to much.

Meanwhile, perhaps people on this list are either busy coding on work and or helping this movement by testing and committing patches to core and other projects – or doing what I see is successful advocacy that does not require a full on discussion. Heck, maybe it's warm outside, but imho ruby/rails conferences and groups seem to be doing just fine right about now. Here locally and abroad.


- Ken Collins


Michael Johann

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Mar 21, 2010, 9:50:54 AM3/21/10
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Thomas John Watson, CEO of IBM predicted a world market of five
computers.

Roy believes that the Rails community is against women.

Lets get back to work!

Miles K. Forrest

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Mar 21, 2010, 12:59:49 PM3/21/10
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All the activity seems to be around Rails Bridge, which was started after the whole debacle by Mike Gunderloy who resigned from the Rails Activism leadership because of #porngate.

As an outside observer it seem pretty clear to me that this group isn't really relevant.  The irc.freenode.net #railsbridge channel is healthy, helpful, and probably what the Rails Activism group was hoping to become.

It seems to me that "the people have spoken".

  Miles

Ted Han

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Mar 21, 2010, 1:12:42 PM3/21/10
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that sounds like a "kill the group" to me, which i would also second.

Matt Aimonetti

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Mar 21, 2010, 1:24:11 PM3/21/10
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The team is still here and active, maybe just less visible from the Rails community.
Obie, if you have any questions, you already have my IM, twitter and email, feel free to contact me directly.

- Matt

Gregg Pollack

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Mar 21, 2010, 6:15:54 PM3/21/10
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I'd like to say a few words about the Rails Activist team and this mailing list, for those who are interested.

Over a year ago now, I was invited along with Matt Aimonetti, Mike Gunderloy, and Ryan Bates to be a part of what would become the Rails Activism Team.  We met up on a weekly basis for a while, and successfully launched a new wiki with the leadership of Matt Aimonetti.  Since then Ryan Bates has continued to do a killer job with Railscasts, endlessly educating Rails developers.  I've released a bunch more Scaling Rails screencasts, started up the Ruby5 Newscast, flown around to many events to talk about Rails, continued running the Ruby Hero Awards, and tried my best to keep the Rails weblog from going stale.   

It did suck when Mike Gunderloy left the team because of the #porngate thing, but in the long run I can only see it as a good thing for our community.  It empowered him to create Railsbridge which has led to lots of great initiatives.  I can only wish Mike would have implemented all these programs while he was still an activist, but I can understand his reasons for leaving.

It is disappointing to hear that people are still pointing to Matt's presentation as an example of intolerance of the "Rails community."  Really what we're talking about is one person (Matt) inadvertently creating an offensive presentation, and then the perception that the Rails leadership should have "Punished" him but didn't.   I can't say I'd do the same thing if I was in their shoes, but I know Matt was deeply troubled by the whole situation, and it certainly lead to some healthy discussion of tolerance in our community and how we can bring more women into computer engineering as a profession.  At this point I don't think anything more needs to be done to "rectify" the situation, aside from pushing more initiatives like Obie is, encouraging gender equality.

Now back to this mailing list.  The original intent of this list was to encourage and help people in their activist efforts.  I'll always do what I can, whether it's advertise about someone's event/library/blog post on Ruby5...   or occasionally post to the official weblog, .. or just get someone in touch with the right person.  Getting involved is usually a great deal easier then people think, so having a public mailing list is most certainly useful.   However, if the Railsbridge mailing list is more useful for general Rail activism, perhaps we should simply push people over there.

Where does that leave the activist team?  I'm not sure.   No one currently on the activist team has the time to dedicate to new initiatives (me included).  I really wouldn't care if the group went away, I don't brag about the title.  In fact, I'd feel less pressure to do stuff if my face wasn't on that page.  Knowing me I'd probably do more if I didn't feel any pressure to do it.  LOL..   

So...   Where from here?   I'm not sure.  I'm certainly up to suggestions... 

Thanks Obie for getting the conversation going anyhow.

Gregg Pollack
Envy Labs

Obie Fernandez

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Mar 22, 2010, 6:19:30 AM3/22/10
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Gregg,

Thanks for chiming in. I've reached out to Matt via email just now and
plan to take a step back away from the issue. Just felt it important
to let you know what is being said out there. I was very embarrassed
about the way the matter was presented at RubyConf India.

Cheers,
Obie

Vahagn Hayrapetyan

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Mar 22, 2010, 6:55:29 AM3/22/10
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To divert this conversation from Primal Sin, Women, Shame, Blame, and Guilt: does anyone know of a Rails conference that could use an experienced event blogger who is also a Rails developer? If so, please drop me a line.  

(Blogging from Rails events is an excellent case of activism).

Cheers,
Vahagn
http://xpointy.com/

Gregg Pollack

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Mar 22, 2010, 3:03:31 PM3/22/10
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Hey Vahagn,

   I'm sure any conference would encourage you to come and do coverage.   I don't know if anyone is going to be willing to pay you to do conference coverage, but if you play your cards right you could probably get a press pass.   I recommend emailing the conference organizers with a sample of your previous work, maybe some analytics talking about your reach, offer your services and politely ask them for a press pass.

Gregg Pollack
Envy Labs

Vahagn Hayrapetyan

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Mar 22, 2010, 4:05:24 PM3/22/10
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Thanks Gregg, got it.

/ Vahagn
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