User: Password:
|
|
Subscribe / Log in / New account

Quotes of the week

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 8, 2013 23:51 UTC (Tue) by geofft (subscriber, #59789)
In reply to: Quotes of the week by mirabilos
Parent article: Quotes of the week

Hey. I will be frank and say that my first instinct to this was to interpret this as trollish, since it is so foreign to my experience, but I respect you and your work a lot technically and so I will take what you say seriously.

I can only speak from my experience in Boston and in the Bay Area, but "the intolerance thing" is definitely a problem here. Maybe it isn't in Europe -- I haven't been there, so I don't know. (I'd love to live there some time!)

But the problem we have is that there are, in fact, people who honestly believe that other types of developers -- whether women, or driver developers, or web programmers, or whatever it is -- are lesser people who are not worthy of that sort of respect. And so when people make these sorts of jokes, on the assumption that everyone around them knows it's a joke, it only convinces the people who actually behave that way that other people share their beliefs.

And if you have people -- driver developers, women, etc. -- who have been told, in seriousness, "oh, you're a driver developer, that means you're not good enough for real programming," or "women aren't as smart as men, scientifically", or whatever it is, any jokes along those lines also serve to convince _them_ that this is normal and this is what the community truly believes.

I agree that in an ideal world, the Debian diversity statement isn't needed, and we ought to be able to make these sorts of jokes. But we live (at least I live) in a non-ideal world, and there is value in saying, clearly and with no chance of confusion based on context, that we do value diversity and that we don't actually think that driver authors are lesser people.

Here's an article that makes the point that I'm trying to make, more elegantly, in a context that has nothing to do with programming: http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-puppy-and-maybe-...


(Log in to post comments)

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 9, 2013 0:10 UTC (Wed) by mirabilos (subscriber, #84359) [Link]

“But the problem we have is that there are, in fact, people who honestly believe that other types […] are lesser people who are not worthy of that sort of respect. And so when people make these sorts of jokes, on the assumption that everyone around them knows it's a joke”

Right, that’s a problem. The case more common here is that you say something, like the aforementioned driver programmers are “all” morons (I looked it up by now, and it sounds like the almost-not-an-insult „Depp“ would be it), ⓐ you don’t believe they’re not worth $something (respect, or whatever), and ⓑ (orthogonally from ⓐ above), you still respect that person for doing what they’re doing in their area and saying something like “they’re all morons” isn’t meant insulting.

Add to that, *looks in bookmarks* http://www.mit.edu/~jcb/tact.html

Us “computer freaks” often grew up picked on by classmates, and as such, we have “input filters” on communication that add politeness or, as giraffedata said in the other comment, makes us “nice guys” and take things tongue-in-cheek, whereas “the establishment” has grown up picking on people like us and, on the other hand, being polite and even politically correct in their high society, and thus have “output filters” on what they think, before they say.

I’ve seen enough BSD-versus-Linux and lots and lots and lots of BSD-versus-BSD (or FreeBSD, which isn’t really a BSD *g*) trench warfare, but it’s been a long time since I recall someone _really_ thinking someone (a member of the other party, or, say, a woman) wasn’t worth any respect. (We do state that we think “Aunt Tilly” shouldn’t be root on their own computer; they should instead pay a student to administer it and support them, and be mere users. But that’s just another façette of: people are *not* equal, and thus should *not* be treated equally, just with equal spirit/respect. They may be absolutely great at, for example, painting. And I’m not bad at cooking, playing the flute and, although I didn’t practice for a decade, crotchet (never knitting though, so don’t expect any Stricktux or knitted dæmon from me ☺). It would be boring if people were all the same. We *did* teach a female coworker who used to be helpless in the kitchen a bit of cooking ;-) (she’s very good at tech stuff though) But the end is, that people complement each other and thus can help each other.)

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 9, 2013 0:26 UTC (Wed) by geofft (subscriber, #59789) [Link]

Huh, the tact filter point is a good one. I'd read that essay before, but never connected it. I don't think it would be a particularly inaccurate summary of the diversity conversation to say that the community should be open to people who weren't picked on as kids as well as people who are (and that one easy way to do that is to change the assumption of the default filter -- you don't insult anyone by having too much "tact", but you do insult them by having too little).

I do personally know dozens of people (mostly women, as it turns out, but several men) who are all quite competent programmers, but have gotten the impression somehow that the community they want to participate in does, in fact, look down on them, or that they're not "hardcore" or knowledgeable or accomplished enough to participate in that community. I agree with you that in almost all cases, this isn't true. But it only takes one person saying "yes, I actually look down on you" to make someone think this is representative of the community. Going back to the tact filters, it's very easy to convince someone that "they don't really mean it" is untrue. And then the tact filter crumbles, and everyone else is interpreted as if they do really mean it.

There is arguably something of a correlation with the tact filters, come to think of it. People who have the tact filter installed in the picked-on-nerd direction will just go ahead and do or say something, assuming that other people will ignore them at their own discretion. People who have the tact filter installed "correctly" will feel presumptuous participating somewhere where they think they shouldn't, absent a clear statement that they should.

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 9, 2013 0:37 UTC (Wed) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

> There is arguably something of a correlation with the tact filters, come to think of it. People who have the tact filter installed in the picked-on-nerd direction will just go ahead and do or say something, assuming that other people will ignore them at their own discretion. People who have the tact filter installed "correctly" will feel presumptuous participating somewhere where they think they shouldn't, absent a clear statement that they should.

I think you are correlating to somewhat unrelated things

1. the filter direction (and the probability of feeling offended)

2. reluctance to participate.

I have seen a lot of people with their tact filters in the "correct" direction who can be extremely pushy about getting involved with something, so I don't think this is a very good correlation.

The "tact filter" explination does go a long way towards explaining the offense that some people take over comments that were not meant to be offensive. Not just related to "nerds" but also in other fields

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 10, 2013 21:00 UTC (Thu) by mirabilos (subscriber, #84359) [Link]

It’s not something people choose, after all… but it makes for some interesting explanation models of observed behaviour and difference in interpretation of such.

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 9, 2013 1:12 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

"We do state that we think “Aunt Tilly” shouldn’t be root on their own computer; they should instead pay a student to administer it and support them, and be mere users."

This is a perfect example of what I was talking about. In an environment where women are stereotyped as having little technical knowledge or ability, having the prototypical clueless user be a woman is a problem. It's not a huge thing. It's unlikely to leave anyone hugely offended or upset. It is, however, something that helps perpetuate that stereotype. Using it doesn't mean that you hate women or think that they're unlikely to be technically competent, but it helps create an atmosphere where people who actually are overtly sexist feel supported in their sexism and it contributes to women feeling that they're going to have to work harder to gain the same level of recognition.

Communities that feel comfortable behaving like this are creating problems. If they're unable to see them, it's because they haven't learned to look properly.

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 9, 2013 7:57 UTC (Wed) by micka (subscriber, #38720) [Link]

Would it change anything if it was "Uncle Joe" ? I'm sure you know you only have two choices for the sex here, and you must choose one arbitrarily here for the choice of your archetypal "clueless user" ? Throw a coin each time or throw a coin once for all, but don't read anything in the result...

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 9, 2013 9:32 UTC (Wed) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

My preferred formulation is J. Random User.

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 9, 2013 9:59 UTC (Wed) by dark (guest, #8483) [Link]

Well... isn't it odd how the coin comes up "woman" every time an archetypical clueless user is needed? It's always "aunt", "grandmother", "girlfriend", "mother". Can you show me even one example of "It's so simple, even your father could use it!"?

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 9, 2013 11:07 UTC (Wed) by micka (subscriber, #38720) [Link]

> Can you show me even one example of "It's so simple, even your father could use it!"?

If I were to search for an example of a clueless user, I'd fo for my father instead of my mother, because that's the say things are.

Actually, I don't even do that because I don't feel the need to give an identity to archetypes apart those that define the archetype. If I need to talk about the clueless user, I'll say "clueless user".

It's not often that I see girlfriend and mother, I suppose they're really a problematic cliché, but I find it rare.

I'm also sure you can find many biases that are not sexist biases. For the grandmother, well, I'd think that it's an image of demographics. What's your image of elderly people ? For me it's a woman (I have two of those alive, but no grandfathers, in my country there's a 7 years difference between male and female expectancy).

Not that I deny sexism, but I think some people see too much of it where it's not necessarily there.

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 11, 2013 9:32 UTC (Fri) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

google "even your mother could use it" => 300K results. "even your father could use it" gives 2 results, one of which is this thread.

Yes, "Aunt Tillie" by itself, is harmless. But she's part of a trend. A trend where females are used as stand-ins for "generic clueless person".

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 10, 2013 17:27 UTC (Thu) by Wol (guest, #4433) [Link]

And if you know where "Aunt Tilly" came from (esr, hint, hint), she is not meant to be "a woman". She's just your typical, usually elderly, user. So saying she shouldn't be root on her own system is just recognising most *users* shouldn't *need* to administer the system.

Cheers,
Wol

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 10, 2013 22:00 UTC (Thu) by jubal (subscriber, #67202) [Link]

So? We don't need to revere esr's /self/importance just as much.

Quotes of the week

Posted Jan 10, 2013 19:33 UTC (Thu) by mirabilos (subscriber, #84359) [Link]

I specifically used “Aunt Tilly” – and put it into quotation marks – because this is LWN, and the term *comes* from the LKML (or at least, that’s where I’ve learned it). I’m not aware of a stereotypical non-tech user name in my own language, even ;) and I’m not even prejudiced against older people wrt. tech skills, so the “Uncle” part would be equally incorrect. (But, honestly! Did your parents compile you with -pedantic or something? I hope not ☺)

I just used it here so people like certain Linux kernel programmers *ahem* know what I’m talking about.


Copyright © 2017, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds