What? No discussion regarding the ongoing PR disaster that is Matt's porn presentation

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Obie Fernandez

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:02:59 PM4/28/09
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As a prominent member of the Rails community and businessperson, I'm
very angry about the fact that this PR disaster has degenerated to the
point of members of this group publicly quitting and denouncing its
leadership.

http://afreshcup.com/2009/04/28/a-painful-decision is making me

So as to not complain without offering solutions, here is my list of
what I think should happen (for discussion):

1) Matt should resign from the Rails activist group
2) If Matt does not understand why what he did and subsequent
non-apology was wrong, then we should be kind enough to explain it to
him
3) With all due respect to DHH and notwithstanding his desire for
Rails to remain "edgy" I think he should apologize for implicitly
endorsing Matt's behavior

Please do flame me, whatever... this needs to be discussed and acted
on before it continues to spiral out of control.

Obie Fernandez
CEO & Founder | Hashrocket
904.435.1673 office
404.934.9201 mobile

Hashrocket, Inc.
320 N 1st Street
Suite 712
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

http://hashrocket.com
http://obiefernandez.com

Hashrocket and nGen Works present...
BizConf is the premier conference for principals of custom web
development firms!
August 20-21, 2009 at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Resort Amelia Island
in North Florida
http://bizconf.org

Robert Dempsey

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:09:47 PM4/28/09
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Not to get off topic, but for those of us that are coming to this late, is Matt's presentation online?

Sincerely,  

Robert Dempsey, CEO
Atlantic Dominion Solutions

http://adsdevshop.com
http://twitter.com/rdempsey
Phone: 321-274-4684

Ben Reubenstein

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:17:18 PM4/28/09
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Hello Group -

I am very surprised at how out of control this has gotten. It is
challenging to present some topics, and although some may not agree
with the way in which Matt went, it is his right. I am 100% sure that
Matt was not making any commentary on women in engineering and was
trying to make a topic interesting.

I know that Dana Jones was pretty offended and this spread to Mike
resigining. I think:

1. Mike has made the wrong move. Leaving the community is not the
answer, dialogue is.
2. DHH has made has spoken:

http://loudthinking.com/posts/39-im-an-r-rated-individual
http://loudthinking.com/posts/40-alpha-male-programmers-arent-keeping-women-out

You want to see an inappropriate conference topic, just search C4
drunkenbatman on google.

~ Ben

Reference for those that have not seen the presentation in question:

http://www.slideshare.net/mattetti/couchdb-perform-like-a-pr0n-star
--
Ben Reubenstein
303-947-0446
Xcellent Creations, Inc.
http://www.x-cr.com

Matt Aimonetti

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:18:59 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism
I really regret that this situation has brought bad publicity to
Rails, and the loss of one of the Activism team. I am just as
frustrated as you are.
I've been working on organizing my thoughts in to a blog entry with
the help of few friends and it should be public later on today (on my
blog).

- Matt

On Apr 28, 12:02 pm, Obie Fernandez <obiefernan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> As a prominent member of the Rails community and businessperson, I'm
> very angry about the fact that this PR disaster has degenerated to the
> point of members of this group publicly quitting and denouncing its
> leadership.
>
> http://afreshcup.com/2009/04/28/a-painful-decisionis making me
>
> So as to not complain without offering solutions, here is my list of
> what I think should happen (for discussion):
>
> 1) Matt should resign from the Rails activist group
> 2) If Matt does not understand why what he did and subsequent
> non-apology was wrong, then we should be kind enough to explain it to
> him
> 3) With all due respect to DHH and notwithstanding his desire for
> Rails to remain "edgy" I think he should apologize for implicitly
> endorsing Matt's behavior
>
> Please do flame me, whatever... this needs to be discussed and acted
> on before it continues to spiral out of control.
>
> Obie Fernandez
> CEO & Founder | Hashrocket
> 904.435.1673 office
> 404.934.9201 mobile
>
> Hashrocket, Inc.
> 320 N 1st Street
> Suite 712
> Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
>
> http://hashrocket.comhttp://obiefernandez.com

Ali Rizvi

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:18:50 PM4/28/09
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I did not know about this catastrophe until I saw Obie's email.

Here is what I found:
http://www.ultrasaurus.com/sarahblog/2009/04/gender-and-sex-at-gogaruco/
http://dyepot-teapot.com/2009/04/25/dear-fellow-rubyists/
http://computer-internet.marc8.com/be-professional-or-be-edgy-how-context-can-keep-everyone-happy

I feel it all started with the F U presentation at Vancouver on Rails but this has gone to far.

I agree with Obie that we need to do something about this and publicly unendorse it.

I don't think an individual's action should be reflected upon the community but remaining silent and defending/endorsing it DHH style is not a good idea.

I am saddened by this turn of event and I think we should do all we can do untarnish our reputation.

Ali

Mike Gunderloy

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:20:50 PM4/28/09
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Whoa there, partner. What you "know" has no resemblance to the truth
of the matter. FWIW, she didn't know about my decision to resign
before it happened, nor did she pressure me at all in either direction.

Mike

Miles K. Forrest

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:23:08 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism
Hear hear.

Miles


On Apr 28, 12:02 pm, Obie Fernandez <obiefernan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> As a prominent member of the Rails community and businessperson, I'm
> very angry about the fact that this PR disaster has degenerated to the
> point of members of this group publicly quitting and denouncing its
> leadership.
>
> http://afreshcup.com/2009/04/28/a-painful-decisionis making me
>
> So as to not complain without offering solutions, here is my list of
> what I think should happen (for discussion):
>
> 1) Matt should resign from the Rails activist group
> 2) If Matt does not understand why what he did and subsequent
> non-apology was wrong, then we should be kind enough to explain it to
> him
> 3) With all due respect to DHH and notwithstanding his desire for
> Rails to remain "edgy" I think he should apologize for implicitly
> endorsing Matt's behavior
>
> Please do flame me, whatever... this needs to be discussed and acted
> on before it continues to spiral out of control.
>
> Obie Fernandez
> CEO & Founder | Hashrocket
> 904.435.1673 office
> 404.934.9201 mobile
>
> Hashrocket, Inc.
> 320 N 1st Street
> Suite 712
> Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
>
> http://hashrocket.comhttp://obiefernandez.com

Joe Fiorini

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:27:35 PM4/28/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
I would have to agree with Obie. The face of our community is
changing, whether we like it or not and we can either change with it
and watch it grow and flourish, or stay as we are and begin the
stagnation. Which will it be?

- Joe
--
joe fiorini - software craftsman & technologist
bio - http://joefiorini.com
thoughts - http://faithfulgeek.org

Xavier Noria

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:32:37 PM4/28/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
Oh common folks, this is getting disproportionate in my view.

It's just a handful of slides, they are not even explicit or anything.
I personally find the presentation just original, no offense, and no
offense for woman (meaning, of the woman I personally know I don't
think any of them would be offended).

So I really think there has to be some cross-cultural thing going on.

Ben Reubenstein

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:32:47 PM4/28/09
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Mike -

I apologize for any assumptions on my part, I just have Twitter and
blog posts to put together a story.

No hard feelings, I just think it is sad that you would choose to
leave. You are a rockstar and so is Dana. I have never seen someone
so helpful on IRC.

~ Ben

Chad Woolley

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:43:39 PM4/28/09
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On Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 12:18 PM, Matt Aimonetti
<mattAi...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I really regret that this situation has brought bad publicity to
> Rails, and the loss of one of the Activism team.  I am just as
> frustrated as you are.

I really regret your apparent lack of regret.

> I've been working on organizing my thoughts in to a blog entry with
> the help of few friends and it should be public later on today (on my
> blog).

I hope it contains a sincere apology, and is light on ideology. Pick
your battles.

-- Chad

Dana Jones

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:45:00 PM4/28/09
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Ben,

Thank you (though I don't really feel like much of a rockstar - heh).
I can see where it might appear that I was driving Mike's decisions if
you had only Twitter to go by. The truth of the matter is, he knew
about the GoGaRuCo presentation and fallout long before I did (a side-
effect of his tendency to wake up at ungodly hours). He was offended
all on his own. And I didn't know anything about him leaving Activists
until the die had already been cast - I woke up to the news.

I objected to the images in the slide show not because they are sexist
(though I believe they are), but because they are sexUAL. Some
parallel comparisons just aren't going to sit well with every audience
member out there. And while, granted, you can't please all the people,
all the time, it seems incredibly naive to think there wouldn't be
some fallout from a "developer as porn star" analogous presentation.

Imagine a presentation about recruiting developers for your firm with
the analogous presentation: "Big Game Hunting", replete with pictures
of dead animals smilingly displayed by the hunters who killed them.
Hunting is a perfectly legal sport and one which I personally have no
objections to (just as I have no objections to porn), but do graphic
images that will likely disturb at least *some* audience members
really have a place?

What about a presentation about writing code on deadline: "Delivering
Like a Birth Mom." Or how about graphic images of up-close
breastfeeding in a talk titled "Nursing Your Projects Along."

I have four kids. I breastfed. I've hunted. I even like porn! But two
great tastes don't always taste great together, and that is the point
that so many seem to have failed to make, or to get.

Dana

Gregg Pollack

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:49:48 PM4/28/09
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Obie and Friends,

  Regarding Mike, I too am also frustrated to see him go, and I'm still trying to come up with ideas to convince him to stay.  Let me know if you have any.

  Regarding Matt, he's not the first Rails team member to create offensive slides, fuck no (pardon my french).  However, I do know that he regrets that he did offend so many people, so I'm looking forward to hearing what more he has to say on his blog.

  In my opinion the real issue here is "What can we do as the Rails community to create an environment that is just as welcoming and friendly to everyone regardless of sex, race, or otherwise."  (aside from not creating slide presentations which have the possibility of offending people)

    What more do you think we can do?

Gregg Pollack

Obie Fernandez

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:55:23 PM4/28/09
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Most people I've spoken to (including women) think the slides
themselves were funny and/or innocuous.

Here's my summary of what's wrong

1) the presentation made women and conservative folks uncomfortable - BAD
2) the lack of sensitivity or remorse in followup responses by Matt
and DHH, rightfully perceived as leaders of the "Rails community" -
UGLY
3) the implication of the Rails Activism group (and by extension, its
members) as endorsers of porn and insensitivity, amplified by Mike
Gunderloy's resignation - REALLY UGLY

Now many people are unfairly indicting the entire Ruby community as a
breeding ground for misogyny and various others sins and the official
inaction (or aggravation by DHH) is not helping to put an end to it. I
don't think that it's going to blow over anytime soon and is really
not what we want leading up to our biggest event of the year.

Regardless of how trivial we think the initial offense was, I think at
this point it is a PR disaster that needs concerted action to correct.
NOW

Obie

Dana Jones

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Apr 28, 2009, 3:55:58 PM4/28/09
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Gregg,

Speaking only for myself, I've been toying with the idea of mentoring
a local girl (maybe junior high or high school age) into development.
I know that I came to the game (dev) much later than most, largely
because computers seemed scary and foreign and impossibly complicated.
Do girls nowadays still feel that way? Maybe not as many, but the
girls I come into contact with (through other pursuits like martial
arts) still seem to have some kind of techno-fear.

That's only one piece of the puzzle, though, and as you point out the
community needs to be more accepting across the board. I don't have
any answers for that one but am keen to hear others'.

Dana

Pedro Visintin

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Apr 28, 2009, 4:00:26 PM4/28/09
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I believe that this community as many others has to be place to make mistakes, and learn from them and continue growing and doing things better every day, put the interest on the community and left the ego aside (hard to do for several people).

I will don't judge, because I have my point of view, but if it was a mistake, just dialogue and learn from it.

My 2 cents.

P
--
Pedro   Visintin . S o f  t w a r e   A r c h i t e c t
http://www.pedrovisintin.com

Ruby On Rails Argentina. http://blogs.onrails.com.ar

Personal page:
http://www.p-e-t-e-r-p-u-n-k.com.ar

"Todo descontento por aquello que no tenemos parece provenir solamente de nuestra falta de gratitud por aquello que tenemos"

Leah Silber

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Apr 28, 2009, 4:14:55 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism
Heya,

Personal thoughts on what happened aside, the suggestion to "remove"
Matt is a massively overreaching overreaction, and would be a thousand
times more disappointing than what happened. He apologized, many time,
to many people -- subjectively judging the sincerity of that apology
is NOT okay, nor is burning him at the stake.

If the community has issues with demographic imbalances, it's not
Matt's fault, and none of these lines of reasoning are doing anything
to help it. In fact, I've never felt alienated by the community until
all these offended-on-my-behalf men (and the few women) started
telling me how offended I was supposed to be... Whatever the gender
issues are, they've got nothing to do with the quality of the men or
people in the Ruby community. Said it before, will say it again. The
research has been around for a while, it's not exclusive to Ruby.
Check it out if you're interested, but it's an unrelated conversation.

Lastly, I find the generalization that this offended women to be
offensive. It offended *people* -- not women selectively or by any
majority. See? It's a slippery slope and we'd best err on the side of
being open-minded, rather than calling for book (or slide, as it were)
burnings.


-- Leah
> Ruby On Rails Argentina.http://blogs.onrails.com.ar

Obie Fernandez

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Apr 28, 2009, 4:18:45 PM4/28/09
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By the way, when I started this thread it didn't occur to me that the
archives of this mailing list were open to the world. It was not my
intention to discuss this in public. >:-|

Obie

DHH

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Apr 28, 2009, 4:31:55 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism
> 1) Matt should resign from the Rails activist group

Matt wasn't even speaking in a capacity of a Rails activist. He was
speaking on CouchDB. Even if he WAS speaking for Rails, I wouldn't
support this. Given that he wasn't, I find it ridiculous.

> 2) If Matt does not understand why what he did and subsequent
> non-apology was wrong, then we should be kind enough to explain it to
> him

Or maybe, just maybe, he didn't think that the tone of the
presentation was "wrong". You take that as a foregone conclusion that
because there's disagreement as to whether this was appropriate -- I
totally support a DISCUSSION about whether it's appropriate or not, I
don't support the witch hunt that has ensued -- that it's "as a matter
of fact" wrong. I don't buy into that either.

> 3) With all due respect to DHH and notwithstanding his desire for
> Rails to remain "edgy" I think he should apologize for implicitly
> endorsing Matt's behavior

I'm not implicitly saying that I didn't think it was a big deal, I'm
EXPLICITLY saying it. I'm presenting my personal opinion that I think
the images used in that presentation were incredibly tame (calling it
porn is really an insult to porn) and that the pop culture frame of
"perform as a porn star" felt well within the realm of no big deal.
Again, this is my personal opinion. I'm completely open to having a
discussion about whether that's appropriate or not. What has ensued
has not been a discussion, though, it's been a witch hunt and a pile-
on.

In the comments I've read, I've seen Matt, myself, and anyone else who
dared opine that they didn't think it was out of line to be accused of
supporting human trafficking (wtf?!), implied that someone should
"kick our ass" and that violence would be a good way of teaching us a
lesson, to the regular stable of personal insults like douchebags,
assholes, and more.

This is not proportional. If you were offended by a porn theme or the
tame pictures used in the presentation, it's absolutely your right to
voice your discontent, but this is so far beyond that. What's going on
right now is returning fire from a slingshot with an atom bomb.

> Please do flame me, whatever... this needs to be discussed and acted
> on before it continues to spiral out of control.

It's already out of control. Indignation and outrage are powerful
drugs and they're working their magic right now. There will not be any
civil discussions possible before the high subsides and people get
some distance. When that day comes, I'll be happy to partake any a
reasonable discussion about rating conference talks or their place.

Obie Fernandez

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Apr 28, 2009, 5:05:51 PM4/28/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
On Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 4:31 PM, DHH <david.he...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> 1) Matt should resign from the Rails activist group
>
> Matt wasn't even speaking in a capacity of a Rails activist. He was
> speaking on CouchDB. Even if he WAS speaking for Rails, I wouldn't
> support this. Given that he wasn't, I find it ridiculous.

Members of this group including myself don't find it ridiculous, so
maybe we should find some way of submitting it to a vote or something.
Maybe it's enough for him to issue a real apology, or for the group to
apologize on his behalf. I don't know, nor do I pretend to have all
the answers -- which is why I submitted the topic for group
discussion. Somebody needed to do it, so if you or anyone else think
that I'm out to crucify Matt then just STOP FOR A SECOND and realize
that I like Matt on a personal basis and I'm just trying to find a way
to start putting out this fire.

>> 2) If Matt does not understand why what he did and subsequent
>> non-apology was wrong, then we should be kind enough to explain it to
>> him
>
> Or maybe, just maybe, he didn't think that the tone of the
> presentation was "wrong". You take that as a foregone conclusion that
> because there's disagreement as to whether this was appropriate -- I
> totally support a DISCUSSION about whether it's appropriate or not, I
> don't support the witch hunt that has ensued -- that it's "as a matter
> of fact" wrong. I don't buy into that either.

I think this group SHOULD have a discussion about whether it was
appropriate, but you should acknowledge that your opinions carry
disproportionate weight in this group and the overall community, and
that as a result you're going to tend to dominate the discussion
regardless of whether it's your intention or not.

>> 3) With all due respect to DHH and notwithstanding his desire for
>> Rails to remain "edgy" I think he should apologize for implicitly
>> endorsing Matt's behavior
>
> I'm not implicitly saying that I didn't think it was a big deal, I'm
> EXPLICITLY saying it. I'm presenting my personal opinion that I think
> the images used in that presentation were incredibly tame (calling it
> porn is really an insult to porn) and that the pop culture frame of
> "perform as a porn star" felt well within the realm of no big deal.
> Again, this is my personal opinion. I'm completely open to having a
> discussion about whether that's appropriate or not. What has ensued
> has not been a discussion, though, it's been a witch hunt and a pile-
> on.

Yes, everyone understands your EXPLICIT point. Remember I'm neither
conservative nor particularly professional in how I portray myself
online or in real life. I say FUCK and SHIT a lot, regardless of how
anyone feels about it. I work barefoot and in shorts and a tshirt,
regardless of whether clients are around the office. I endorse heavy
drinking by myself and my friends, hell, if you've seen "The
Hashrocket Way" then you know that I CELEBRATE drinking, not just
endorse it, and I'm sure that is potentially offensive to some people.
I am one of those people that gets called a "rock star" in a
derogative fashion by our critics. In other words, I understand and
SHARE your concern for keeping Rails "edgy" and exciting. This is not
the way to go about it.

I think you're missing the point about what's going on. The PR
situation that concerns me is not about PORN. It's about the lack of
understanding and/or remorse for people's feelings that was displayed
by Matt and subsequently by you. Yes you, who I consider a friend, I'm
calling you out personally. Myself and others think this has
unnecessarily tarnished the image of the activist group and is
damaging the overall reputation of the Ruby community for no good
reason.

> In the comments I've read, I've seen Matt, myself, and anyone else who
> dared opine that they didn't think it was out of line to be accused of
> supporting human trafficking (wtf?!), implied that someone should
> "kick our ass" and that violence would be a good way of teaching us a
> lesson, to the regular stable of personal insults like douchebags,
> assholes, and more.

Sucks to be on the receiving end of that.

> This is not proportional. If you were offended by a porn theme or the
> tame pictures used in the presentation, it's absolutely your right to
> voice your discontent, but this is so far beyond that. What's going on
> right now is returning fire from a slingshot with an atom bomb.

I could be wrong about everything, but not this: Matt could have
defused the whole thing (and probably still can) by just saying he's
sincerely sorry for hurting people's feelings and leave it at that.
You know, like a real apology.

>> Please do flame me, whatever... this needs to be discussed and acted
>> on before it continues to spiral out of control.
>
> It's already out of control. Indignation and outrage are powerful
> drugs and they're working their magic right now. There will not be any
> civil discussions possible before the high subsides and people get
> some distance. When that day comes, I'll be happy to partake any a
> reasonable discussion about rating conference talks or their place.

Do you detect a lot of indignation in this group? Anger, yes.
Pragmatism, yes. Anything else I can't speak to...

Obie

pet3r

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Apr 28, 2009, 5:46:12 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism


> Matt wasn't even speaking in a capacity of a Rails activist. He was
> speaking on CouchDB. Even if he WAS speaking for Rails, I wouldn't
> support this. Given that he wasn't, I find it ridiculous.

IMHO a leader is a leader, no matter whether he is speaking in a
capacity of X or Y at a Ruby/Rails event.
Like it or not, you, Matt, Obie, and other guys are leaders of the
community. Of course any leader can ignore this fact, but people (the
community) will still follow (until one pushes it too far, but I'd say
this didn't happen here yet).

> > 3) With all due respect to DHH and notwithstanding his desire for
> > Rails to remain "edgy" I think he should apologize for implicitly
> > endorsing Matt's behavior
>
> I'm not implicitly saying that I didn't think it was a big deal, I'm
> EXPLICITLY saying it. I'm presenting my personal opinion that I think
> the images used in that presentation were incredibly tame (calling it
> porn is really an insult to porn) and that the pop culture frame of
> "perform as a porn star" felt well within the realm of no big deal.
> Again, this is my personal opinion. I'm completely open to having a
> discussion about whether that's appropriate or not. What has ensued
> has not been a discussion, though, it's been a witch hunt and a pile-
> on.

Because you are a leader (what's more, the one at the top), most of
the community will be strongly affected by your opinion. You can't say
"this is my opinion; other guys in the community, think about it and
come up with your own personal version". It just doesn't work like
that. What you are saying matters and it is often perceived as the
voice of he Rails community by outsiders (and sometimes even community
members) and usually works like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

> This is not proportional. If you were offended by a porn theme or the
> tame pictures used in the presentation, it's absolutely your right to
> voice your discontent, but this is so far beyond that. What's going on
> right now is returning fire from a slingshot with an atom bomb.

I think right now a core problem is that everyone has his own
definition of the problem. Most of the people are still stuck with the
porn pictures, but in fact the problem is in a different dimension:

1) Shit happened (according to a part of the community)...

loop do
2) ...this was pointed out
3) no satisfactory (or downright problematic) answer/solution was
provided
4) the depth of shit is growing thanks to the shit slinging that
ensued...
break if ????!?!!?!
end

Our biggest problem right now is not Matt's talk per se, not even
porn, sexism etc. though these are serious issues too. The problem is
that we can't treat the problem in a satisfactory way, or at least
suggest a plan how might that happen.

> It's already out of control. Indignation and outrage are powerful
> drugs and they're working their magic right now. There will not be any
> civil discussions possible before the high subsides and people get
> some distance. When that day comes, I'll be happy to partake any a
> reasonable discussion about rating conference talks or their place.

No need to wait for anything. As Obie suggested in point 3), an
apology would do. Let's not even call it an apology. Let's call it
'clarification of things that would make everyone feel OK'.

Peter

DHH

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Apr 28, 2009, 6:02:04 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism
> Our biggest problem right now is not Matt's talk per se, not even
> porn, sexism etc. though these are serious issues too. The problem is
> that we can't treat the problem in a satisfactory way, or at least
> suggest a plan how might that happen.

I agree with that. Here's one proposal: Start rating your conference
or track according to the material. The movie standards of PG, M, and
R would do just fine. Then people can self-select on the type of
content that they're willing to hear.

I, for example, can just make sure that I only attend or speak at M
and R rated conferences and tracks. If you're offended by profanity,
for example, you'd be forewarned that sitting in on an M or R track
would be a bad idea.

That's how a movie theater manages to cater to all kinds of people
from all kinds of backgrounds. I think that fits well for this.

Miles K. Forrest

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Apr 28, 2009, 6:14:13 PM4/28/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
> Our biggest problem right now is not Matt's talk per se, not even
> porn, sexism etc. though these are serious issues too. The problem is
> that we can't treat the problem in a satisfactory way, or at least
> suggest a plan how might that happen.

I agree with that. Here's one proposal: Start rating your conference
or track according to the material. The movie standards of PG, M, and
R would do just fine. Then people can self-select on the type of
content that they're willing to hear.

I, for example, can just make sure that I only attend or speak at M
and R rated conferences and tracks. If you're offended by profanity,
for example, you'd be forewarned that sitting in on an M or R track
would be a bad idea.

Wait.  You forgot X, the rating for next-year's RailsConf.

:D

  Miles

Brian Burridge

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Apr 28, 2009, 6:19:00 PM4/28/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
This is actually not a bad idea. My wife and I attend a yearly homeschool conference because we do in fact homeschool our children. A good percentage of homeschoolers are religious, but not all of them. At first most were and so most classes at the conf involved religous discussions, however, as time went on, and more and more famililes entered homeschooling, the target audience became less niche, and more mainstream. People began complaining that they were being blind sided by religion when it was unexpected. So, a few years ago, they began to note on the schedule which classes contained religious content and you could choose to avoid it if it offended you.

The thing is, wether Matt offended anyone or not, he has the right to say what he wants when he's speaking. And you as an attendee have the right to love it or hate it. You can complain if you want, you can choose to never attend his talks again, or you can applaud him. His freedom to present, your freedom to receive. You can even get up and walk out. But its not your right to try and censor what somebody has to say. If enough attendees complain to a conference, you might persuade the conf to no longer invite that speaker, and if not, then your are in the minority and you have to live with it.

There are an awful lot of people in this day and age who seem to be offended by just about everything...and almost seek a chance to be offended. That's your right, just as much as its Matt's right to use hot chicks to make a point. Personally, I'm glad I live in a country where this kind of freedom exists, and though I could do without some of frequent usage of "colorful" words in RoR talks now days I'm not about to ask for people to step down or be silenced, because I know I can leave, and even stop attending if need be.

If you think the information should be presented without content that offends you, then do so, and be such a fantastic presenter that more people attend your talks than those you find offensive. This has nothing at all to do with the RoR community. You can find a way to be offended in anything you do, from anyone you are around, in anything you watch, or in anything you read, but thankfully, you have the freedom to choose who to be around, what to do with your time, what to watch and what to read. You can also choose which web framework to use, and the framework you choose is independent of the presentation content provided at any conference or the language and styles used by any presenters.

Brian Burridge
www.twitter.com/@bburridge

Rowan Malling

unread,
Apr 28, 2009, 7:01:26 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism
The Rails core team, activists, and community as a whole, don't have a
contract with anyone. It's open source. Everyone can do/say/publish
what they like. And that's great, that's gotten us this awesome
framework, and this awesome community.

As someone who is a big champion of Rails - and I think this is
certainly echo'd in people that have to actively "sell in" Rails,
*perception is reality* until you've demonstrated a working
application. At that point results speak for themselves.

However until you've gotten to the results part - What happens when a
business stakeholder, at the sell-in stage, goes and Googles and finds
these kinds of things ? They have no material bearing on whether Rails
is productive or not, we all know this, it's irrelevant of course. But
every little stumbling block that you get faced with is one you don't
need some days.

If you go to an R rated conference track and have an "edgy"
presentation, all well and good, but as soon as it get's published
hits Google, it's not R rated any longer, it's mainstream and fodder
for the nay sayers. The movie analogy falls down there.

So to the custodians, and by that I really mean people who are
publicly visible (or intending on being publicly visible by doing
something equally edgy), please take this as food for thought.

I for one, want to see more Rails use in businesses grow. The more
problems people tackle, solve, and share the more we all benefit.

Cheers
Rowan

Jim Puls

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Apr 28, 2009, 7:07:06 PM4/28/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com

This didn't make it to the slides posted on the web, but at the
conference, Josh did make a point of warning the audience about the
content before Matt gave his presentation. Maybe that has something to
do with why there wasn't a whole lot of (obvious) negative response in
the room at the time.

We've already addressed the problem of "who was offended by the
presentation?", but perhaps a more interesting question is this: why
was the presentation so offensive? Was it the content? The audience?
The lack of a disclaimer? The whole thing being taken out of context
when the slides hit the web by themselves?

-> jp

Ryan Bates

unread,
Apr 28, 2009, 7:09:25 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism
I realize I'm late to the party on this, and I am sorry for not
speaking up sooner considering I'm in the Activism group.

Matt is a very respectable developer, and I am certain he did not
intend to offend anyone with his presentation. However, it was
controversial enough to be the tipping point into this fiasco. No
doubt Matt will be more cautious next time to avoid offending.

More of us seem to have an issue with DHH's response. We all know DHH
is very opinionated, and in that is his strength. I guarentee you will
not agree with all of his opinions - I know I don't. But that does not
matter. Nowhere did I see DHH speaking for the Rails community, he
only spoke for himself.

DHH opinion != Rails community opinion, especially on non-technical
issues. Until we grasp that concept Rails will not grow.

We all make up the Rails community, and from the outside all this
bickering looks pretty immature and hurts our image. Please, I'm
asking you to take a more mature stance. Avoid the knee jerk
reactions, and if you get offended, let it cool for an hour before
posting your response. We are all programmers, and programmers are
problem solvers. Let's try to solve this problem in a constructive
manner.

Thanks,

Ryan

dp_ludwig

unread,
Apr 28, 2009, 9:03:46 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism

I disagree.

DHH's opinions do matter. As a kind of spokesman, he needs to be more
cognizant
of that, because whatever he says will be heard from a large chunk of
the Rails
community.

I will grant he has a right to voice opinions on political or non
technical matters as much
as the next person. BUT - doing so risks putting off or offending a
portion of the Rails
community.

Offending parts or segments of the open source community defeats the
point - Rails
will meet its full potential only if the full force of the entire
community's expertise - and
ingenuity - is behind Rails evolution and development.

People change employment because they may find the corporate culture
or people not
to their liking. Let's hope the same kind of thing doesn't happen
here within the Rails
community. As much fun as Rails is, there will always be other tools,
perhaps even
better than Rails. Far fetched? Not at all - that's the beauty of
software development.

Unfortunately, I think DHH will be DHH. I'd be surprised if he
changed from the things
I've seen...

bmctigue

unread,
Apr 28, 2009, 9:13:11 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism
Since everyone else is, I thought I would throw in my thoughts on this
topic.

Every single day we see in the news someone getting offended by
something and demanding apologies, etc. Let's make one thing
absolutely clear: Matt cannot offend anyone, you CHOOSE to be
offended. YOU control what you think and feel, no one else can. Why
should Matt apologize because you've chosen to be offended by some
very tame sexual images. (I have to agree with DHH on that. If this
were a movie, I think it could only rate a PG). One criteria I have
for deciding to do something or not is whether what you do hurts
yourself or someone else. Sex (or suggestions of sex) between
consenting adults is not harmful, sorry. Is Matt sorry for giving the
presentation? I wouldn't be. I have no control over how anyone
responds and look at the exposure his talk has received!

My $.02.

Bruce

Matt Aimonetti

unread,
Apr 28, 2009, 9:26:35 PM4/28/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com

patrickmkenney

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Apr 28, 2009, 9:32:56 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism
I say, big deal. The presentation was original.

Rails is a great framework that speaks for itself. If you're offended
by an opinionated Rails developer enough to be driven to another
framework.....have fun in Cake or ASP.NET and good riddance.

Thank DHH and Matt for their invaluable contributions to the community/
framework that make our lives easier and get back to writing great
apps.

-PK


On Apr 28, 9:26 pm, Matt Aimonetti <mattaimone...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Here is my official statement:http://merbist.com/2009/04/28/on-engendering-strong-reactions/
>
> - Matt
>

AkitaOnRails

unread,
Apr 28, 2009, 9:45:05 PM4/28/09
to Rails Activism
Ok, I am late to this discussion as well, but I think I could try my 2
cents as an activist.

First of all, all we are doing here is just adding more fuel to this
fire. There is nothing that we can say right now to make it stop. Even
if Matt apologizes, the pundits will keep on going saying stuff like
"aha, now he apologizes, but we are sure he doesn't really mean it".
But rest assured that it will go away very fast. No one will be
talking about this in a couple of days.

From what I understand, it all started with a couple of blog posts and
tweets about Matt's presentation from very few offended people (people
get offended too easily nowadays). Because of the inflamatory nature
of those posts, it soon wreaked havoc all over the blogosphere,
scalating very fast. Add DHH's posts and our own public manifestations
to that, and you have a sudden surge of random reactions. That's how
riots begin.

Those who are actively trying to burn the "ruby community" or whatnot
are the pundits that are used to troll anyway, they will hold up to
any little thing as a reason to start ranting again. It is the same as
hooligans: there is no reasoning with them.

That said, I don't think Matt apologizing will do any good in the
general matter of things. We are witnessing a riot, not a democratic
discussion in a closed room with a moderator. Neither I think any of
us should be publicly apologetic or anything like that. The only thing
that will make this go away is for all of us activists to simply
ignore the noise. If someone is actually willing to discuss it and
asks any of us our opinion, then maybe we can address them in private.

Unfortunately there is no sending the SWAT team with gas to make this
riot stop, so the only thing to kill a fire without water is to stop
putting more fuel to it. It will go away very soon and no one will
remember about it. I think DHH could've make this shorter by not
blogging :-) But, heck, what the hell, I don't disagree with the
content either. I would hate anyone telling me what to write or say,
so I won't do it as well.

About the specifics, Matt's slides are not offensive. That is "a"
opinion, not "the" opinion. My personal opinion. Contrary opinions are
also valid. What more, this is also a matter of culture and locale. In
Brazil, people would barely notice, even with women in the room. And I
am not saying that we are pro-sexysm, not at all (foreigners do have
this idea about latin americans, though). Seriously, there are much
more explicit stuff broadcasted in the public TV network here, in the
afternoon, than those few slides. And guess what: most of the trolls
ranting online have not even seen those slides, they are just
repeating what others are saying. As I said, this is not a moralistic
discussion, this is just a matter of who yells louder.

I think most of us know Matt and we know for a fact that he is not a
sociopath or anything like that, so we gain nothing with him out. On
the contrary, we lose a lot. If we apply censorship once, people will
demand it again later for much less, and all of a sudden we are
trapped. And we don't need to, as far as no one is breaking the laws,
we are free to do whatever we please. Are there boundaries? Sure, but
they are not written on stone and no one can assume what the other
should or should not know, specially in a globalized environment. We
get no rules manual when we sign in. We learn from our mistakes, we
discuss it friendly, and if it were really a mistake, next time it
won't happen.

And leaders are not supposed to be perfect. Leaders are also not
supposed to do whatever the public demands. I can make a roster of
known leaders with very nasty backgrounds - we all know them -, and
they are still considered good leaders. History will judge (though we
all know that history is written by those who were victorious).

Now, people leaving Rails because of what DHH say? The Rails community
dismantling because of a statement? Hardly. Some people will agree,
some will disagree, no matter what. Some people would like to see DHH
quiet, some people would claim for DHH to rant some more. He won't be
able to please everyone even if he decides to disappear. The pundits
will say "DHH's been too quiet lately, I bet he is leaving the
community, Rails is doomed as we've foreseen". Pundits will be pundits
no matter what.

If people stick with Rails just because of some people's opinion, I
would recommend them to reflect about it. Most of the real Railers
stick with Rails because of the community in general, not one single
individual. When Linus Torvalds said that "subversion is the most
pointless project ever", I doubt that the subversion fans left Linux.
They stick with Linux because of the technology and the community as a
whole, not because they particularly like Linus. I advocate open
source, but I am not very fond of Stallman. That's how communities are
anyway.

Well, sorry for the long text, I still don't know how to control my
writing :-)

Michael Johann

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 3:50:12 AM4/29/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
Well, this is the first post that totally expresses, what I think.
Let's get back to work.

Aron Pilhofer

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 9:44:11 AM4/29/09
to Rails Activism
Leah,

Couldn't agree more, and my great disappointment to date isn't the
action, but rather the reaction -- David's (sorry) in particular.

This isn't about free speech. It's about whether slides at a
professional conference that depict strippers, orgies, naked people
(of whatever gender) are appropriate. Believe me, I'm not a prude by
any stretch, but how anyone can defend that is beyond me. You don't
have to personally find issue with the content of that presentation to
conclude that it simply doesn't belong at a professional conference.

Leah mentioned research on the subject. For those interested, here's
an article that appeared recently in my rag recently. Sobering.
http://bitly.com/f4PQ

Ian Swope

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 9:52:25 AM4/29/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
You know what I find offensive to women?  The attitude that pornography is somehow especially offensive to women and we need to tip toe around that lightly.  I think DHH summed it up nicely when he said that calling this porn was offensive to porn.

Grow up everyone.

Amos King

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 10:40:48 AM4/29/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
It isn't offensive to women. It is offensive to some people. Some
people also believe that there is a time and place for viewing
pornography, and a conference talk is not one of those places.
Especially at a conference that is open to developers under 18. Where
ids checked at the door. I for one would not like my son or daughters
to be subject to that presentation. I also would not keep my children
from going to a developer conference that I assume is going to be
about code and not contain such material.

Amos
--
Amos King
http://dirtyInformation.com
http://github.com/Adkron
--
Looking for something to do? Visit http://ImThere.com

Xavier Noria

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Apr 29, 2009, 10:55:28 AM4/29/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
On Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 3:52 PM, Ian Swope <ian....@gmail.com> wrote:

> You know what I find offensive to women?  The attitude that pornography is
> somehow especially offensive to women and we need to tip toe around that
> lightly.  I think DHH summed it up nicely when he said that calling this
> porn was offensive to porn.

I think there are many edges in this discussion.

* Whether the slides themselves were appropriate or offensive

* Whether Matt's presentation and/or reaction to this stuff is
appropriate *being an activist*

* Whether this is just a snow ball that has gotten too far and out of proportion

* Whether this kind of stuff has anything to do about woman being
computer scientists, and other kinds of generalisations like this
about the community as a whole

* Whether the reaction of Rails core member is this or that, whether
they should behave this or that way, whether the core are seen as
representatives of the community even in non-technical stuff

* ... surely there are people with emphasis on some other aspect of this issue

In my opinion that results in a big mess, and a mess fragmented in
tweets, blogs, private emails, etc. You can't have an ordered and
rational discussion this way. It's a delicate topic, and there are
many viewpoints involved.

The Rails community is big, I'd love to see that this calms down and
everyone goes back to the *work* we are doing together to build Rails.
I'd love to have Mike back as well, I felt sad when I read his post,
his work is so awesome, but of course I respect his decission.

Miles K. Forrest

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 11:05:10 AM4/29/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
So does this page need to be updated, or is Mike planning to come back?

http://rubyonrails.org/activists

  Miles

Mike Gunderloy

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 11:11:26 AM4/29/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
It needs to be updated. I've already requested that be done.

Mike

Amos King

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 11:39:40 AM4/29/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
The rails community should be focusing on rails. The conference
itself is the issue. The personal opinions of members of the
community should not have any effect on the work we are getting done.
If you don't like a conference then don't go. If you are running a
conference and their are parts that maybe considered inappropriate for
some age groups then require a certain age and check ids.

Can we move on now?

Agustin Viñao

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 12:57:42 PM4/29/09
to Rails Activism
In my opinion, this argument is losing focus on what matters most,
which is why we are here, and it responds with the single idea that we
are a group of people we are to learn and improve on the use of a tool
to work.

Presentations like these, just trying to bring a little humor out of
the daily structure, sometimes with success, sometimes with errors,
but never with bad intentions.

Most of you are losing sight of the technical part of what they want
to show the subject and focuses on the images used.

Thinking of discrimination by the use of certain images, I find it
irresponsible when you should talk more serious things such as
treatment programmers found in other distant countries, which can
generate very professional things but are affected by the distances of
thousands of miles, local economies, idioms problems, etc.

I believe that people's participation must be measured by their
contributions, their accomplishments, their dedication and not a
presentation that is interpreted out of context.

With these discussions, which only generate a future presentations
with images of lines of code only, not to touch wrong feelings.

Many of the negative reactions that are being discussed, considering
that arise at the time of being hired for a job, never going to watch
the sex of the employee, but will assess whether or not to do the job.
If a company is looking for someone who can do the job, not the sex of
the applicant, why should we discuss whether or not a presentation
discriminate? knowing that seeks not to discriminate.

Focus on the work in Rails do things better, not to fall into empty
discussions, and knowing that people can make mistakes, but mistakes
are not Intentionally.


Sorry for my English is not my natural language.

Agustin Viñao
www.agustinvinao.com

Gray Herter

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 6:06:47 PM4/29/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
Can someone forward me Matt's contact information? RubyNation has a
couple of open speaker slots still. ;^)

Gray Herter
RubyNation

On Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 3:09 PM, Robert Dempsey <robert...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Not to get off topic, but for those of us that are coming to this late, is
> Matt's presentation online?
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Robert Dempsey, CEO
> Atlantic Dominion Solutions
>
> http://adsdevshop.com
> http://twitter.com/rdempsey
> Phone: 321-274-4684
>
>
> On Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 3:02 PM, Obie Fernandez <obiefe...@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>>
>> As a prominent member of the Rails community and businessperson, I'm
>> very angry about the fact that this PR disaster has degenerated to the
>> point of members of this group publicly quitting and denouncing its
>> leadership.
>>
>> http://afreshcup.com/2009/04/28/a-painful-decision is making me
>>
>> So as to not complain without offering solutions, here is my list of
>> what I think should happen (for discussion):
>>
>> 1) Matt should resign from the Rails activist group
>> 2) If Matt does not understand why what he did and subsequent
>> non-apology was wrong, then we should be kind enough to explain it to
>> him
>> 3) With all due respect to DHH and notwithstanding his desire for
>> Rails to remain "edgy" I think he should apologize for implicitly
>> endorsing Matt's behavior
>>
>> Please do flame me, whatever... this needs to be discussed and acted
>> on before it continues to spiral out of control.
>>
>> Obie Fernandez
>> CEO & Founder | Hashrocket
>> 904.435.1673 office
>> 404.934.9201 mobile
>>
>> Hashrocket, Inc.
>> 320 N 1st Street
>> Suite 712
>> Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
>>
>> http://hashrocket.com
>> http://obiefernandez.com
>>
>> Hashrocket and nGen Works present...
>> BizConf is the premier conference for principals of custom web
>> development firms!
>> August 20-21, 2009 at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Resort Amelia Island
>> in North Florida
>> http://bizconf.org
>>
>>
>
>
> >
>

Matt Aimonetti

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 6:11:52 PM4/29/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
Gray, you can contact me via email/gtalk: mattai...@gmail.com 

- Matt

Gray Herter

unread,
Apr 29, 2009, 6:42:15 PM4/29/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
I wish I could have heard the talk.

We did have a similar problem at last year's RubyNation. I think
every presenter had at least one supermodel photo (and Brad Pitt after
someone decided that the women should be included). We had a few
complaints in the evals, so our board voted to caution the speakers
not to get too carried away this year. We actually put it in our
acceptance letters to try make sure it doesn't get out of hand, like
it apparently did at Golden Gate. Our worry was that we don't want to
give what few women we had a reason to not feel welcomed, or sponsors
either. It is a balance, too keep things fun and informal (or edgy)
and yet not go over the line. If we had 50/50 men to women, I
wouldn't care, but with only 15% max women, I agree with those that
think it is more important to the community try hard not to offend
women (or any people).

Gray

Miles K. Forrest

unread,
Apr 30, 2009, 6:06:05 PM4/30/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
Someday soon this whole mess will become history.  How the Rails community will be perceived in the future will have been decided, and this thread will be filed away.

For the sake of posterity then, I think pulling in some of the thoughtful discussion around this event would be valuable.

---
http://martinfowler.com/bliki/SmutOnRails.html

http://hackety.org/2009/04/29/aSelectionOfThoughtsFromActualWomen.html

http://blog.headius.com/2009/04/stand-and-be-counted.html

http://blog.nicksieger.com/articles/2009/04/30/stand-and-be-counted
---

Not trying to stir the pot here.  For those of you who are sick of this already, why haven't you created a rule to filter this thread out yet? I think this whole thing is a very valuable discussion, that this is the first big test of the Rails Activists team, and that it needs to run its course.  How it ends will further define the character of our community.


"You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one."
  - James Froude

"All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy."
  - Scott Alexander


  Miles

Eric Gruber

unread,
May 2, 2009, 10:33:28 AM5/2/09
to Rails Activism
I'm new here, so I'll keep this brief and just repeat my comment from
Aaron Sumner's blog: <a href="http://www.aaronsumner.com/2009/05/one-
nobodys-thoughts-on-the-gogaruco-mess/">One nobody’s thoughts on the
GoGaRuCo mess</a>

A lot of this reminds me of the movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley.”

I’m unsure how much of the scene is true, but there’s a point where
Steve Jobs figures out that some people aren’t going to listen to him,
so he cleans up. He shaves, he gets rid of his hole-filled jeans, then
he gets to work.

Some might say that’s selling out. Yet, decades later, he’s still the
same guy at his core. When Jobs introduces music-related product
announcements, you can tell he’s genuinely excited about music and
Apple’s contribution to it. Why else would Apple bring in great
performers for news conferences?

Rails is in its adolescence. There nothing wrong with attitude, but
when it gets in the way of your greater message, then perhaps it’s
time to rethink some things.

I hope Rails and its community does grow up a bit, yet retain a lot of
the attitude that I find attractive. Ultimately, you only get two
choices: grow up and learn from the past, or stay stuck living at home
with your parents.

Jarin Udom

unread,
May 10, 2009, 11:12:48 PM5/10/09
to Rails Activism
Here is my honest assessment of the situation:

Lighten up, get over it, and move on.

Matt, while the presentation obviously didn't turn out the way you had
intended, I give you props for at least trying something different.
Everyone else: give the man a break. It was obviously an ill-advised
attempt at spicing up a potentially dry subject with a little bit of
over-the-top imagery. It doesn't make Matt an asshole or a misogynist.
He's made his apologies, and I think everyone should at least try to
take them at face value. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes once in
a while.

Jarin

On Apr 28, 4:01 pm, Rowan Malling <rowan.h...@gmail.com> wrote:

Miles K. Forrest

unread,
May 11, 2009, 12:23:13 AM5/11/09
to rails-a...@googlegroups.com
Jarin, the whole issue already has moved on.

  Miles
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