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    This was incredibly sad to read, and relatable on so many points. It’s unfortunate that this sort of thing has gone un/under-addressed to the point where someone who is clearly very passionate about the language is driven away from making contributions.

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      I consider myself somewhat of an outsider to the Racket community, but I was invited to be a speaker at RacketCon 2019. I fondly remember nearly everyone being friendly and accepting, with the exception of Felleisen. There were several discussions about how to make the community more inclusive, but he was dismissive these efforts and kept saying everything’s fine as it is.

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        Just weighing in that I was also at that conference and can confirm.

        Also, shortly after, on the Racket mailing list there was a thread about a very different topic (syntax stuff which had been discussed at RacketCon) and I only barely mentioned the word “diversity” in passing but that was enough to seemingly make Matthias upset. I still don’t understand that response… I found it very disturbing, and still do.

        Racket is a really amazing community in general with an incredible ecosystem around it. I have also had some pleasant conversations one on one with Matthias; I also respect his contributions to CS (particularly in terms of the work on delimited continuations). However, I know it hasn’t been easy for everyone around him, especially some of his students. I wish that weren’t true… for his students’ sake, for the Racket community’s sake (which again, has otherwise been very wonderful in my experience), and even for Matthias’s sake.

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          From that thread:

          (And for the record, you have no clue what my political views are or how I deal with the diversity of individuals in this community.)

          As an outsider to all of this, I suspect that this single response gives me a pretty clear idea.

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            Also as an outsider - you should read some of the stuff on his personal site. I’ve read a bit, and it looks like he’s a run of the mill US Conservative, bristling at a lack of political and philosophical diversity in big tech.

            I think his politics are orthogonal to his behaviour towards Butterick, for which he has apologised.

            Worth noting too that the apology seems genuine, and isn’t crouched in “I’m sorry if you took it that way” weasel words.

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              Worth noting, sure, it’s good he apologized. I also note this only happened as a result of a pretty widely circulated blog post. A lot of other people reported the same thing about his behaviour, but they don’t get an apology.

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                Okay, so let’s see if anything changes.

                Anecdata for sure, but I’ve seen people in tech leadership make very big, worthwhile changes in their approach to people after receiving feedback like this.

                Surely a great outcome here would be a public apology to the public complaint, and a genuine change of behaviour?

                It’s way too soon to write that off as a very real possibility.

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                  While I’m not holding my breath, I very much wish that would happen.

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                While there are assholes of all political persuasions there does seem, anecdotally, to be a set of people whose toxic personalities mesh with certain parts of US conservative culture. There’s a focus on the individual rather than the group that has value in many contexts but can be harmful in open source projects.

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                  Well, sure, but again that’s completely irrelevant to the conversation at hand.

                  I might as well observe that, anecdotally, I’ve seen more of the “virtue-signalling purity-testing schism creator” asshole type in US liberal circles.

                  Also true, also not true of the vast majority of liberals, and also irrelevant to the topic.

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                    I know we’re way off on a tangent here, and so in terms of the broader conversation about the racket community and dealing with leaders i mostly agree with you that in this specific instances of bullying described in the blog post, Felleisen’s politics aren’t terribly relevant. But in terms of the anecdote @paroneayea raised, Felleisen’s politics are in scope since he explicitly chose to transform “diversity” into “politics” and then reject politics as off topic… which is a pretty impressive 180 from free-speech trolling his students by posting James Damore’s memo on his office door.

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              It’s nice to see Bradley Kuhn pop up on my screen every so often. Every time he does, I think more highly of him.

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            Matthias Felleisen is in many ways a missing stair of the Racket community. I have memories of giving a seminar talk in my department when he was visiting and he grilled me fairly harshly. It was decidedly weird since most of his questions were off-topic and some of the related work he referenced had nothing to do with the topic. Later when he was giving generic research advice I found him more pleasant. If you don’t know Matthias, he has an attitude to him very much like a stern high-school principal. Like the article says, none of this a giant secret. Students were warned about Matthias before they were suppose to meet with him. You can watch online talks by him and see for yourself.

            Now let me get back to my Scheme workshop submission :)

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              If you need to warn students about a professor’s behaviour, it sounds to me as if he isn’t fit for the job.

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                I disagree. It is very easy to make the above statement. There is an impulse within all of us to put down a smart asshole.

                Speaking as a former student of his, I have seen both sides of the man. He can be mean, surely. I would prefer if he were not, and I don’t condone the behavior. But the fact is, his temper flares.

                His temper is a hazard I (personally) am willing to weather in exchange for learning from someone with his level of passion, dedication to teaching, dedication to research, experience both in academia and industry, breadth and depth of knowledge, first-hand history, et cetera.

                I think a warning is in fact proper. Let the students decide for themselves on an individual basis, what they are willing to put up with in exchange for what. There must be a place in society where an abrasive yet competent personality can flourish, without causing undue harm to others.

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                  That’s fine right up until someone can’t avoid his class because of scheduling or degree requirements.

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                You can watch online talks by him and see for yourself.

                It’d be great to see some examples.

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                  I didn’t do much digging since I have no interest in hunting down some 2 minute clip of Matthias being rude to a student. But these two were the first two links for his name on YouTube and I think give a fair impression of what he can be like in person. I don’t think it’s hard to imagine this guy telling people off.

                  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTl7Jn_kmio
                  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq5m9Ve9ZYs
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                I know Matthias F. I know Matthew B. I know RMS. And other people. I respect their accomplishments. I also know that people can be very difficult. As one friend puts it, some people have a user interface that is broken. I also know that the greater one’s distance from a person, the more likely the depiction of a person can be distorted, showing for example one dimension but not others. As with everything in society these days, I yearn for a way for people to work things out. I don’t want anyone to be ostracized. I don’t want anyone to not feel welcome. This is a very difficult problem, but we must work on it. It is good to talk about these issues, but I want the discussion to be fair. I’m all for inclusiveness, but not at the cost of exclusion.

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                  This is a classic response to someone calling out people that misbehave. “Bob is not that bad, once you get to know him”. But that’s beside the point!

                  If Bob is pushing other people down through his behavior, it is right to criticize his behavior, and maybe also remove responsibility from Bob, no matter how nice he “really” is.

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                    This is a classic response to someone calling out people that misbehave

                    Not to mention that “I’m all for inclusiveness, but not at the cost of exclusion” is an impossible situation to begin with: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

                    That shit just does not work, as proven time and time again. People looking the other way and making excuses for abusive behavior is how we got to this situation of people being driven out in the first place.

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                      1000% agreed. This is part and parcel of the technology community having gone mainstream a while ago. The fallacies we used to indulge in to excuse bad behavior are showing themselves to be more and more ugly as we bring them into the light.

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                        Diversity tends to shine light where it needs it the most.

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                      I am ranting a bit, and I hope it does not come across as directed at you. I do not mean it that way. I’m a couple of levels down in this thread and it seems like somehow we’ve gone off the rails regarding what the topic is.

                      I don’t care if Bob is a good person or not. I care if we’re all being invited to judge him publicly and decide whether he’s good or not. I don’t participate in these activities and I don’t tolerate others that do. Of course, other people are free to do whatever they’d like. My point is that the one unyielding rule I’ve found regardless of context is that productive teams cannot carry on this way with the public story-telling back-and-forth. It’s corrosive. That observation is completely orthogonal to what kinds of behavior I’d tolerate in a team, which, frankly, is nobody’s business but mine and the teams I join. (They also tend to change from situation-to-situation. People aren’t statues, and standards aren’t the Ten Commandments. Situation matters.)

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                        You speak as though Butterick’s comments are taking place in a vacuum, or worse, are arising unprompted. But please remember that the only reason he feels it necessary to write this piece is that his life has been disrupted, he has suffered poor behavior, and now he has had to withdraw from a community that he had dedicated significant resources to.

                        I know you haven’t raised the specter of ‘cancel culture’, but phrasing like ‘we are all being invited to judge him publicly’ speak to a similar enough view of the proceedings; and the fallacy operating with both this critique as well as larger complaints about ‘cancel culture’ is this: you and I come to this post from a null position. This is understandable; we, and the vast majority of readers, are not members of this particular community and have no experience with its members. And from our position of no experience, it seems we are being invited to judge someone we don’t know. That feels icky and unnecessary.

                        But Butterick is not asking us to judge someone. I don’t think he cares particularly that we, who have no stake in this, walk away with a solid negative judgment of the personal qualities of another person. What he cares is to provide an account of his experience, because: in light of a widespread taboo against airing dirty laundry, if you didn’t know about his experience, his conduct is confusing and probably not very flattering. Here’s someone who dedicated themselves to a language and a community: wrote code, wrote books about it. And ‘suddenly’ (to an observer), he drops off the map. This represents a loss of social capital, probably a loss of real livelihood, and raises questions about him and his fitness to this kind of work.

                        In light of that experience (again, one that is centered around Matthew Butterick and his desire to manage his own reputation and professional prospects, as opposed to a desire to manage your view of a third party), you can hopefully understand why he feels the need to give an account of what he has actually been experiencing, even though that includes the unpleasant work of publicizing the shittiness of another person.

                        I will wager with you that, oh, 95 out of 100 of those folks who have publicized the toxicity of leaders, bosses and executives over the last little while have been motivated similarly. In other words, I wager that they too definitely would have preferred to conduct themselves exactly as you prefer: to keep their personal experience private, to settle things through private channels, and to negotiate via their existing personal relationships. Unfortunately, toxic people (abusers, whatever you want to call them) are usually toxic because they have a position, personality, and skill set that neutralizes exactly that approach.

                        In conclusion: I invite you to reread that article from the perspective of its author. From the perspective of the uninitiated reader, it would seem to be about some other figure who we don’t know from Adam. But I don’t think it is.

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                          I don’t care if Bob is a good person or not.

                          If he’s in your team, you should. The whole problem here exists because people are going out of their way to ‘not participate’ in judging a bad person as bad. If you don’t root out assholes, you’re complicit to their behaviour.

                          Come on, there’s a few witness statements in this thread, in this small corner of the internet, that corroborate the story. People are being warned against his antics. No one that goes “I’m surprised and have only had positive experiences with him”. Even the positive ones are hedging. That’s damning evidence.

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                            I want to add here that we’re talking about good/bad along some specific axis. People have many traits and can be good in many ways, while bad in others. The context here is that someone is e.g. bad for the community.

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                            If this had been a team in an organization or business, I would agree with you. Airing private laundry publicly is not constructive.

                            But this is an open source project, where transparency and being public are important factors.

                            If someone is pushing other people down through their behavior, repeatedly, it’s balanced that they also receive criticism and possibly removal of responsibility, publicly, IMO.

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                              Perhaps I’m wrong when it comes to FOSS. I don’t know. I’ve been wrong many times before :)

                              I know that open source is much more like running a charity or a minimum-wage restaurant: each person’s spirit and morale have to be very high for them to stay dedicated over any length of time.

                              I’m happy to see various open source teams publicly announce their team norms. Folks can then either select in or out depending on how those standards make them feel.

                              But trying to take interpersonal human communication, an emergent behavior involving perhaps millions of years of evolution, and digitizing it? That doesn’t sound workable to me.

                              As a personal example, I’ve been online since the net came up. I try as hard as I can to be a nice person online and understand other people’s viewpoints. But I don’t doubt for a moment that either through chance encounters or cherry-picking I could be made out to be a horrible monster. People change, and little slices here and there of printed text can tell us but very little.

                              This doesn’t work for me, even in an open source environment. Even with clear and written boundaries, too much here is random, subjective, and prone to personality conflicts. For some people, their personalities just don’t mesh with one another. I’m trying, but I just can’t see this as a useful thing for people who actually care about writing good code that helps others. I’m trying, and I’m open to being wrong, but so far I’m not getting anywhere near changing my mind on this. Apologies.

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                                But I don’t doubt for a moment that either through chance encounters or cherry-picking I could be made out to be a horrible monster.

                                Read thru this whole thread. Of the five people (so far) recounting first-hand experience with this person, 100% of them say that their experience is consistent with the story in the post. I have a hard time to believe that’s due to cherry-picking.

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                                  Read thru this whole thread. Of the five people (so far) recounting first-hand experience with this person, 100% of them say that their experience is consistent with the story in the post.

                                  Also read through the HN thread which contains first-hand reports (neilv, rebelshrug, …) saying otherwise.

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                                    Toxic people aren’t toxic to everybody all the time.

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                                      My childhood bully wasn’t a bully to everyone, either. He had great friends who supported him, and his behavior. There is literally an example of this, right now, in US Politics; but the example is as old as humanity.

                                      This doesn’t make the bullying behavior right, and it doesn’t make the person speaking up about the bullying wrong. The bully, however, is almost always in the wrong.

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                                        With childhood bullies (which by the way no one in education cares to fully address), there is generally no ambiguity as to the harmfulness of the aggressor’s intent. Thus, that analogy breaks down here, where it is not clear as to where exactly lies this anecdotal accusation in the spectrum from it being a subjective taking-offense to being an intended harm (giving-offense). Some people, for instance, would interpret the below stern behavior (and it is possible to be stern without being offensive), as reviewed by someone from ratemyprofessors.com, to be “bullying”,

                                        I hated [Matthias’s] guts while in his class, but in retrospect he’s almost certainly the best teacher I’ve ever had. As somebody said above, this guy is absolutely brilliant. He will kick your butt, but it’s all for your own good in the end. He seems to really care about teaching, and it shows.

                                        (Have you ever seen a victim describe their childhood bully this way?)

                                        Besides, bullying behaviour is not uncommon among people who are not normally characterized as ‘bullies’ - inasmuch as they are covert. Example here. I used to work for a company (based on San Francisco, incidentally) where this sort of behaviour was not uncommon.

                                        The Racket core team, and people who closely work with Matthias, would be in a better position than us passerby’s (who know nothing but a few anecdotes) to fairly assess the facts of the matter.

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                                          The Racket core team, and people who closely work with Matthias, would be in a better position than us passerby’s (who know nothing but a few anecdotes) to fairly assess the facts of the matter.

                                          What facts are you disputing, exactly? In nearly every case of human-to-human problem it boils down to a proverbial “he-said, she-said” type argument. The “facts” here are, for sure, a one sided account of how Matthias’ actions made people feel. I’m certainly not in a position to assess this. But, I can acknowledge that there are many people who feel this way after interactions with Matthias and decide for myself whether or not I want to risk seeing this behavior first hand, or avoid it. (FWIW, I stopped contributing to Racket. Not because of Matthias directly, but there is definitely something in the air in that community, that I’ve never been able to articulate)

                                          Butterick did not write a hit piece. People are, and will interpret it as that. His piece answered the question “Why did I leave the Racket Community?” and I think he fairly presented his side of things. I also trust him based on previous knowledge of him from years past. Matthias, if he feels so inclined, or other members of the Racket community should certainly present their side of the “argument” here, but that should never discount Butterick’s feelings, or reasoning for this. Butterick feels he was wronged, presented reasons for why he feels that way, and took actions he deemed necessary, resulting in him no longer contributing to the community (a great loss, honestly). Any interpretation beyond that, or other anecdotes are your responsibility to consider if you feel like it, or ignore if you don’t.

                                          As a community, I hope that the discussion being had here is a wake up call. People are actively being discouraged from collaborating on the Racket project as a result of behavior stemming from it (I don’t think it’s only Matthias’ fault, fwiw). My guess is that nothing will change, and Racket will never ever meet its full potential outside of academia. This has never seemed to be a goal anyway, though, there has been mention of it, and it is certainly the case that members of the community would like this to change.

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                                            Matthias, if he feels so inclined, or other members of the Racket community should certainly present their side of the “argument” here, but that should never discount Butterick’s feelings, or reasoning for this. Butterick feels he was wronged, presented reasons for why he feels that way, and took actions he deemed necessary, resulting in him no longer contributing to the community (a great loss, honestly). Any interpretation beyond that, or other anecdotes are your responsibility to consider if you feel like it, or ignore if you don’t.

                                            Exactly my point. Butterick feels he was wronged; this much we know as facts of the matter (and there is no need to put the word in scare-quotes; I’m using it in its dictionary definition sense). What we don’t know, as facts, is whether Matthias is a ‘bully’ (your word) or, whether how Butterick feels is a result of “Matthias’ fault” (also, your words). The feelings of Butterick, you or me alone do not automatically establish Matthias to be ‘bully’ (as opposed to merely being stern, for instance). You are entitled to your opinion, of course … but whether that is in line with the facts of the matter or not (so as to use as a basis to make any genuinely positive changes in the Racket community) is a different thing entirely.

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                                              Matthias is a ‘bully’ (your word) or, whether how Butterick feels is a result of “Matthias’ fault” (also, your words).

                                              The actions of Matthias, and the inactions of the Racket Core Team (“Everyone just shrugged and moved on. I was encour­aged to do the same.”) are literally the reasons cited for Butterick’s moving on.

                                              The feelings of Butterick, you or me alone do not automatically establish Matthias to be ‘bully’ (as opposed to merely being stern, for instance).

                                              Right. But, the collective feelings of others, can certainly establish a pattern that we can look at. An Elementary school administrator might look past one isolated incident, of kid A pushing around kid B as almost hearsay. But, if kid B, kid C, kid D, kid E, kid F, and then a number of anonymous comment cards talk about being pushed around by kid A, it’s a bit harder to ignore, don’t you think? Even if that kid is top in his class, and in retrospect, “great at helping their fellow students succeed” – is the behavior somehow more excusable?

                                              Anyway, as kid Z in this fictional Elementary school, if I hear of all of these accounts, I’m going to be cautious about interacting with kid A.

                                              Incidentally, this is why a prosecution in a court system attempts to establish “patterns” of abuse in crimes against other humans. It’s a lot easier for a jury to believe an accuser’s side of the events when there’s a pattern of the same / similar behavior.

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                                                The feelings of Butterick, you or me alone do not automatically establish Matthias to be ‘bully’ (as opposed to merely being stern, for instance). You are entitled to your opinion, of course … but whether that is in line with the facts of the matter or not

                                                Felleisen has published an apology where he basically admitted to the bullying (as much as bullies ever do, anyway), so the facts aren’t in dispute.

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                                              (Have you ever seen a victim describe their childhood bully this way?)

                                              I didn’t address this before, but have you heard of Stockholm Syndrome?

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                                                I didn’t address this before, but have you heard of Stockholm Syndrome?

                                                At that link

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                                                  There’s no consensus on what “Stockholm Syndrome” is, but I bet you knew exactly what I was referring to when I wrote it…

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                                                  Your own link immediately notes that the research on Stockholm syndrome existing is severely lacking— and that the situation for which it is named does not match up with the purported effects.

                                                  I know of several educators that made me react similarly to the reviewer: I honestly believe compassion is a better way to teach 100% of the time, but the ‘tough on students’ facade is effective for them too, so what do I know.

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                                                    No. Stockholm Syndrome does not directly apply to the situation, in so much as students are not being held captive by their teachers (under most circumstances!). The reason for bringing this up is that it is a related phenomenon (victim is apologetic / empathetic after trauma), however dubious it actually is.

                                                    Relatedly: do you dismiss the cycle of domestic abuse, too?

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                                                      I don’t think it’s even a related phenomenon. I think the simplest solution is most likely. The student didn’t like his teaching style at the time, but when he looked back he saw that it was effective for him. There’s no trauma or brainwashing involved. This has happened to me many times before in many different contexts, some interpersonal, some personal.

                                                      I’m not dismissing the existence of trauma bonding and PTSD, which I think is what you might have meant by Stockholm Syndrome. These are both serious, real things. I just thought that Stockholm Syndrome was a poor choice of armchair diagnosis, considering its dubious origins.

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                                                        Keep in mind that the original discussion was about bullying, and that the answer to @srid’s direct question of “have you seen a victim describe their childhood bully this way?” Is what I was replying to, directly.

                                                        The answer, is yes. Yes I have. Childhood bullies are great examples of situations in which there is often an eventual “the bully toughened me up,” in retrospect, and “I respect them, have empathy, etc, etc, etc.”

                                                        This entire pattern of having empathy for abusers, and reminded me of “Stockholm Syndrome,” in which a similar pattern is purported.

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                                                          Oh I see, sorry. I thought you were saying the student was displaying signs of Stockholm syndrome. I haven’t really heard that line about bullies in real life ever, although I have seen it a lot in media (there was a whole anti-bullying craze, which might be where some of the ‘have empathy for bullies!’ rhetoric comes from). It’s a hazy line between ‘tough but wants the best out of you’ and ‘just an inconsiderate asshole’ that I think a lot of people cross without knowing. It’s probably better to not do the whole ‘tough but fair’ thing in the first place.

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                                                    This was exactly what leapt into my head when I read that paragraph.

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                                        This is a very prominent figure in a public community. I just don’t want when people meet one of the authors of the Little Schemer to find a gigantic asshole. It makes the community look bad, and Matthias is more than capable of acting better. The other author, Dan Friedman, I should stress is one of the kindest, sweetest, thoughtful researchers I have ever met.

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                                          This is a very prominent figure in a public community. I just don’t want when people meet one of the authors of the Little Schemer to find a gigantic asshole.

                                          I’m not really a Scheme person; I played around with it for a bit several years ago and found it fun in insightful, but ultimate also found it hard to build actual actual programs in, so not really practical for me.

                                          The Little Schemer, however, is easily my favourite programming book. It’s just fun, almost cheerful, and also quite good at actually teaching Scheme. A lot of books that try to be “fun” usually aren’t very good at actually teaching stuff, and books that are good at teaching stuff are usually a bit of a dry affair. Combing both effectively (and in such an unique way) is rare.

                                          Programming books are not the best way to gauge the author’s personality, but it’s just so contrary to the impression I got from the book that I had to triple-check that this was really the same Matthias Felleisen and wasn’t somehow a confusing two people with similar names.

                                          People are complex I guess 🤷

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                                            I think the style of presentation of the Little books is Friedman’s, as he’s written several other books in the series with other people like The Little Prover, The Reasoned Schemer and The Little Typer.

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                                            The other author, Dan Friedman, I should stress is one of the kindest, sweetest, thoughtful researchers I have ever met.

                                            I never met him personally, but he must be quite the guy. They held a conference in honor of him on his sixtieth birthday. Fun fact: the conference was colloquially known as DanFest.

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                                      Hmm…doesn’t surprise. I only had a very brief encounter with a part of the Racktet core team, but it was…memorable.

                                      I attended a Racketfest out of curiosity when it was held in my city, with one of the core team in attendance. His presentation was OK, but his behavior during another presentation truly outlandish. He kept interrupting the presenter and telling him how he was wrong and everything he was saying BS. Admittedly the thesis was a bit questionable, but it was still interesting. And if you really, really want to make such a comment, do it in the Q&A. Once. Definitely not interrupting the presentation. And most definitely not multiple times.

                                      OK, so maybe a one-off. Nope.

                                      Same person was a visitor at my institute a little later. People presented their stuff. One person kept trying to tell him that if he only let him continue with his presentation, it would explain the things he wasn’t getting. Nope. Kept stopping, saying the terms used were wrong (they weren’t) and refused to let the presenter continue.

                                      At some point, he bluntly said: you are just PhD students, and I will be on the program committees of the conferences where you need to get your papers published, so you better adapt to how I see the world. Pure power play.

                                      Never seen anything like it.

                                      And I personally find what I’ve seen/heard of Linus, for example, absolutely OK. And RMS to me seems a bit weird, but that’s it.

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                                        Reading this hit me, but frankly didn’t surprise me. I went to Northeastern while Matthias was teaching there, and had heard tales from week one of his temper toward students. Hell, I heard them from other professors.

                                        It’s a real shame, I love Racket but the negativity and elitism surrounding it at NEU prevented me from ever feeling like getting more involved.

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                                          I want to apologize to Matthew Butterick for poor writing on my part.

                                          After I made my earlier comment, I was in hospital getting tested prior to cancer surgery (nothing life threatening), when it was pointed out to me that I had inadvertently lumped Felleisen, Butterick and Stallman in the same category. That was not my intent at all. I only wanted to say that I had respect for the accomplishments each has made in their lifetimes. They are different people.

                                          I have known RMS for 36 years. Believe it or not, I have mostly good memories, especially from the early years, less so in recent times. I have seen him verbally abuse people, but I have also seen him patch things up with people. That used to happen. I wish he could still do that. There is some mutual hate going on.

                                          I have known Matthias Felleisen from 20 years of attending conferences, talks and short schools. Most of the memories are positive and involve a great deal of learning. I have seen him help many people. I have also seen him be verbally rough with people, but not at the personal level. I believe Matthew Butterick that Matthew Felleisen took it to a personal level; I did not witness it.

                                          I have known Matthew Butterick from his support of the Racket project in the last decade, his talks at conferences, short schools, and a few meals. I buy his fonts, I read his books, all of his work is excellent. I have had nothing but positive interactions with Matthew Butterick.

                                          What I would like to see is Matthias acknowledge and apologize to Matthew, then work on the issues Matthew has raised. Both are great contributors to the community.

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                                            Matthias Felleisen just posted this https://felleisen.org/matthias/Thoughts/Apology.html

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                                            Over the years, I’ve been nothing but impressed with Butterick’s community support, advocacy, contributions, and all out integrity. The Racket community will be worse off without him. There’s an interesting irony in that such a vocal advocate of Racket is likely to bring it down. But, this is exactly what needs to happen; not speaking out about it helps no one.

                                            Thanks, Butterick, for all of your contributions to the community, including your most important—this last one! I don’t wish to see this community brought down for good; I hope it will rebuild better. (note: I consider myself a former racket community member, though for other reasons)

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                                              Matthias Felleisen just posted this https://felleisen.org/matthias/Thoughts/Apology.html

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                                                Reminds me of Scala’s Martin Odersky.

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                                                  Is he like that? That’s disappointing. I’ve watched a few YouTube videos of him and he seemed amicable enough. Of course, I’ve never really been in the “Scala community” so I have no perception of him outside of the two or three videos I’ve seen.

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                                                    There is a reason why some important contributors have left this community over the years, and I’m not even talking about the reports of sexual assault that came up recently.

                                                    The least worst part of the Scala experience is burning out by attrition caused by people “not giving a fuck about them not giving a fuck”, which is a term I coined for people you didn’t care and couldn’t even be bothered to delegate to someone who did, because Martin assigned them their little fiefdom, and they would make sure to sit on that throne.

                                                    A medium bad part about Scala is the sheer scale at which pretty much everything is mismanaged. Loosing the guy who single-handedly built Scala-on-Android, while Kotlin is starting to completely demolish Scala’s adoption, by blaming him for not quitting his day-job and working unpaid & fulltime on Scala-on-Android, but not actually telling him that for like half a decade? Yeah, that’s Scala.

                                                    Getting your character smeared is probably one of the worse experiences there. E. g. leaving because contributing has become 80% of having to deal with people who simply don’t care and only 20% doing the actual work, and then Martin announcing you are just angry because you wanted a job, but didn’t get it? Yeah, not a good show.

                                                    I believe that if the contributors to Scala were employees, Scala would have been bankrupted by labor rights lawsuits a decade ago.

                                                    Regardless of that, if you value your sanity or your mental health, stay away from Scala.

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                                                      This is a super confusing post, filled with nothing approaching the level of bullying we are talking about in this thread.

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                                                        I think the post is really tame compared to some of the wild things that happened in Scala.

                                                        The leader being mean to someone? I wished Scala would have been that nice! ;-)

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                                                        Could you give an example of an important contributor that left?

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                                                            The linked video gives me the impression that Paul Phillips left due to technical differences, while the post I replied to gives the impression that people leave Scala because of people. Of course, it is well possible that it is a combination of both.

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                                                              (note that this is a technical talk and not (primarily) about why he left)

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                                                      This is pretty light on the specific details of what Matthias Felleisen said that constituted what the author asserts to have been bullying and abuse. I’m very cognizant of how public accusations of bullying and abuse, uttered with the intention of bringing social consequences to the accused, can themselves be forms of bullying and abuse. If Felleisen did in fact say things to Matthew Butt­erick that people can widely agree are unfairly hostile, I would like to know what those things are before passing judgment on Felleisen (I’ve only barely used Racket myself and don’t know of either person by name or reputation).

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                                                        I think it’s purposefully light on the details. It’s inconsequential whether or not you (or I, or anyone else) “passes judgment” on Felleisen, and I don’t think the point of the post was to have that happen from what I gather here and elsewhere in the post.

                                                        The author is explaining why they’ve more or less disappeared from the Racket community, from their own perspective, because people have asked.

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                                                          Agreed - I thought the article was well written and carefully avoided calling for any kind of public judgement.

                                                          If there is a call to action, it’s for the people in the community who work with Felleisen to take a look at his behaviour and consider whether they should pick him up on it - which is a reasonable request for anyone in a position of influence.

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                                                            If there is a call to action, it’s for the people in the community who work with Felleisen to take a look at his behaviour and consider whether they should pick him up on it - which is a reasonable request for anyone in a position of influence.

                                                            Totally agree, I was going to say something along these lines as well.

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                                                              carefully avoided calling for any kind of public judgement

                                                              Then why mention his name at all? Then, why mention his name repeatedly?

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                                                                I think there’s a difference between saying “person X behaved badly” and calling them out for a public stoning.

                                                                Giving the author the benefit of the doubt and assuming they don’t intend to libel Felleisen, should they be banned from mentioning his name in connection with anything negative?

                                                                Perhaps it’s a fine line but personally, I thought the author trod it well.

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                                                            I’m very cognizant of how public accusations of bullying and abuse, uttered with the intention of bringing social consequences to the accused, can themselves be forms of bullying and abuse.

                                                            I’ve only barely used Racket myself and don’t know of either person by name or reputation

                                                            before passing judgment on Felleisen

                                                            I would ask, then, why you feel the need to pass judgement at all? It seems to me that the uninvolved masses that decide they need to take sides or make some judgement from the sidelines are a big part of why that problem exists.

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                                                              Issues of toxicity that impact communities frequently manifest as collective action problems. Everyone in the community is impoverished at varying amounts by the toxicity. But speaking up individually about the impact also has a negative cost to the individual. Like many collective action problems you need a critical mass of individuals speaking up and potentially lowering their own status in the community as a result.

                                                              Your comment is an example of why these issues manifest as collective action problems for the community. And like many collective action problems they most often degenerate into a tragedy of the commons. This is a sad result for a community and the individuals who buck the trend are usually a communities only hope of not ending tragically.

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                                                                Am I not understanding your point, was this not meant to be a reply to me? Or are you actually advocating that right people to take collective action are those who aren’t members of the community in question and have no knowledge of the parties involved, the situation, nor the history and background beyond what they’ve read in a blog post?

                                                                I’d like to give a more charitable interpretation, but after re-reading this several times that’s all I can come away with from your response.

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                                                                  After re-reading my own comment I realize why it came off differently than I intended. I meant to say that discouraging members of the community from speaking up is detrimental. But it did not at all come off that way. My apologies.

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                                                                    Thanks for the clarification, and totally agree on that point. For the record, all I intended to point out was that there’s not often much value in people who are not involved doing the internet dogpiling on this type of thing. It’s absolutely valuable for people to speak out like Matthew did.

                                                                    I am glad that this was made public, and though his contributions will be missed, hope Matthew is more happy with less direct involvement.

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                                                              I would like to know what those things are before passing judgment on Felleisen

                                                              Well perhaps you don’t have to pass judgement on him.

                                                              Reading the article (which by the way made me sad, even as a semi-outsider it is clear that Matthew did a lot for Racket. Beautiful Racket and Pollen are great), I got the impression that it was both a public explanation and a call to the Racket core team (not the public at large) to maybe take action.

                                                              After all, I think we’ve all had to rely on people we trust to make us understand when we overstep our bounds. So, the main thing to ask might be why the rest of the Racket core team apparently did nothing, or more probably didn’t do enough.

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                                                                a call … (not to the public at large) to maybe take action.

                                                                But it’s published as a blog post though, so that implies that the call to action is meant to have the weight of its readership behind it. Public judgment is baked into the medium, so it’s reasonable to ask if it’s justified.

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                                                                  Nah, you are still not asked to provide a judgement. First of all a public blog post is a public record which can be referenced if others also share experience on Felleisen. So-to-speak it is a request to Racket contributors to share their stories, and then for the core-team to discuss something that wasn’t systematically discussed.

                                                                  From the reactions I read the description of Felleisen seems to be fairly accurate. Let’s wait for a bit how the community sorts stuff out.

                                                                  There was an instance of a prominent member of the Python community in recent years wich got started by a blog post pointing out problematic behaviour, which lead to others sharing their negative experiences as well and eventually it was for the better.

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                                                                    I don’t think it’s possible to separate public debate from public judgment for open-source/open-governance projects. Anything that’s published, even if it’s for instance just intended for the circle of contributors, will usually attract a far larger circle of users or even spectators, and those do have impact on the decision in various indirect ways. So it’s less that I’m being asked to judge as that the format cannot avoid inciting judgment, and I’d expect this to be priced into the decision to make a blogpost to begin with.

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                                                                It mentions that the claims are undisputed.

                                                                I don’t know any of this people, but seriously… WTF… On an open source project… Where people contribute mostly out of good will. Very disappointing.

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                                                                I’m glad this was said. And I appreciate the nuance and difficulty separating the band from the music. The art from the artist. I took a deep dive into racket and love it, but the leadership made me uncomfortable. Now I’m putting that energy into common lisp. To be fair I compulsively learn and re-visit languages constantly.

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                                                                  Early in my “lisp adventure,” I settled on PLT Scheme, and got really turned off by the community. I never did fully retrospect on it, but I am pretty sure “academic elitism” is a fair assessment. As an industry practitioner… From there, I jumped from Scheme to Scheme, to Clojure at one point, etc. I tried to get into Common Lisp, but it never really stuck. I ended up going back to Racket for a while (PLT became Racket), even made a few contributions, spoke at a RacketCon, etc. But somehow, I found myself retreating from the community again, and I don’t know exactly why. I can point at one specific case that frustrated me, around a proposed change I made to json handling that was met with a very negative, dismissive response, but I don’t think, by itself, that was it…

                                                                  Anyway, I find myself jumping a bit between schemes again, mostly settling on Chibi, the R7RS reference implementation, with a fairly large and practical standard library, but it’s nowhere near as polished as Racket, because the project is a million times smaller. I wish I had more time to help… :(

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                                                                    Have you given CHICKEN a try? It has a lot of useful add-on libraries, good standards support and a welcoming community (at least, we do our best to make it so)

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                                                                      I have! I occasionally end up using Chicken. And, in fact, the last Scheme based play project I did used it, but without embracing any Chickenisms, because I wasn’t sure which implementation I wanted to go with for good. It was a hack week, and I had it installed already. I got a basic demo working and then did nothing more…. which was great in that I didn’t have to make an actual decision…

                                                                      Thanks for your contributions to the Chicken project!

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                                                                      Pull request management in Racket is definitely one of the things I think should be improved. Recently, I have been going through unmerged PRs and try to get them merged if they are in a good state.

                                                                      It looks like the PR that you are talking about is https://github.com/racket/racket/pull/1878?

                                                                      I’m not sure if I would characterize the responses as “very negative, dismissive”. Two people apparently think that this is a good idea (heart emoji react). Many comments politely discussed about what is the best way to implement the feature. The only comment that I think could be perceived as negative is the last one, which says the change should not be included in the standard library (because it’s too opinionated in their opinion), but rather you should make a separate library instead. But in any case the comment itself seems polite and was made in good faith to me.

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                                                                        Yeah, this is the bulk of the json thing I mentioned. I remember it being worse somehow, and wonder if there is additional discussion / events not reflected there, or if I am remembering a feeling and reacting negatively to that.

                                                                        I remember that I definitely started another library that handled json differently, and I am pretty sure I threw my hands up at some point and decided it was not worth doing. This all came up, incidentally, because I was writing some API consuming code and the default json stuff was woefully inadequate for dealing with it. I gave up on that and used a different language (I know this for sure, but am fuzzy on the details). In other words, I was unable to use racket for a practical task I was doing, because the official json handling makes impractical choices because it’s more sound, academically. Something like that. (Again, projecting a feeling here, rooted in opinion, and building off of other feelings)

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                                                                          There is a real risk with this kind of PR to get stuck, if there is no “owner” of the original code. In that case no-one feels entitled to take a decision. It sometimes helps to ping such an issue to bring back some attention to the issue.

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                                                                    Today, I’m a reason­ably well-adjusted adult (or at least my dog thinks so). But a long time ago, I was a fat and dorky and smart kid. Because I grew up in suburban New Hamp­shire, these were huge liabil­i­ties.

                                                                    For years, I was phys­i­cally and verbally bullied at school. One time, I was sent to the hospital for stitches after a kid blud­geoned me with a sharp hunk of ice. Another time, a kid stubbed out his ciga­rette in my back. Every school recess was like being sent to the prison yard, waiting to get jumped. It was relent­less and terri­fying.

                                                                    But as was true for a lot of kids like me during that era, computers were a refuge. Computers never judged me. They rewarded my curiosity.

                                                                    I grew up in rural Maine and my God this resonated strongly - I won’t say I was “triggered,” but I sure felt exactly as he did and this sent me back to those times, and I believe he’s not exaggerating. Ugh. It’s probably why I’m still terrified to contribute to FOSS and am incredibly timid in what few Pull Requests I’ve ever contributed. I imagine dealing with this Felleisen fellow was awful and can relate to how it dredged up those old feelings.

                                                                    1. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                                        I’d like to hear a response from the other side about the situation. Assuming the blog post is true, then it’s a sad situation and should be somehow addressed. It reminds me somehow of the behavior of Linus Torvalds, which I don’t support at all. But often times there’s this case of a bad perspective of a person. Feelings can skew the portrait painted by the perception, and even if the person is really sincere in trying to tell the truth, a different outcome – not entirely fair – can be produced. I have no idea about Matthias Felleisen, nor Racket in general (other than I know it exists), and that puts me in the right spot to remind people who are like me (outside of the context), that creating an opinion about something based on one version of the story is not a great thing to do.

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                                                                            Thanks.

                                                                            The author has replied to this reply: https://beautifulracket.com/appendix/why-i-no-longer-contribute-to-racket.html

                                                                            After reading the reply to the reply, I see this as a “cancel culture” event. I wish Felleisen good luck.

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                                                                              Felleisen has tenure so he’s set.

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                                                                                After reading the reply to the reply, I see this as a “cancel culture” event.

                                                                                Can I ask why? I’ve read the apology, and even the apology from Sam on the mailing list yesterday, and it all seems somewhat inadequate.

                                                                                “Saying I’m sorry is the first step; then, how can I help?” is what Daniel Tiger teaches my toddler. I am not an expert in the psychology of apology, but the “how can I make things right?” is certainly missing from all that I’ve read, even an actual acknowledgment, really, from MF.

                                                                                But I am genuinely interested in the cancel culture comment, because that implies to me “Butterick is acting in bad faith.” Care to elaborate? (If not, that’s also fine)

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                                                                            Am I the only one who finds “Felleisen is abusive” to be the less important takeaway? January 2020 was 16 months ago – given that Matthew B is posting this now, has the Racket community really spent 16 months making excuses for abusive behavior?

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                                                                              Probably much, much longer than 16 months.

                                                                              My only impression of Felleisen is from a talk at Strange Loop, where he was extremely That Confrontational Guy In The Audience during questions. I find it very easy to believe he’s a bully in general.

                                                                              Edit: It was yomimono’s talk, which was from nearly six years ago.

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                                                                                Is there a video of this situation?

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                                                                                  Very likely, but I don’t remember what talk it was. Someone else might.

                                                                                  Edit: Linked above.

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                                                                                    He was That Confrontational Guy in the Audience during Q&A at a talk of mine at Strange Loop. He was so much That Confrontational Guy that the video doesn’t include the Q&A at all.

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                                                                                      That’s right, it was your talk. 😬

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                                                                                        Thanks. I’ve skimmed the video and the presentation seems to be well done.

                                                                                        But the short answer to the question whether there is a video of the situation is: “no”.

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                                                                                          It still happened, though, and there were plenty of people in the room. Are you assuming that everybody for years who has independently had the experience of him being a bully is lying unless there’s a video?

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                                                                                            No, I’m not assuming anyone is lying. But sometimes a person can say the truth that happens to be incorrect. I simply don’t know that until I see it. You might be really well informed since you’ve been there and you saw it on your own eyes, but I didn’t. I simply wanted to check for myself how a “confrontational guy” sounds and behaves. Is that so bad I’m not taking it on faith?

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                                                                                            Thanks. I’ve skimmed the video and the presentation seems to be well done.

                                                                                            Aw, thanks!

                                                                                            Some years ago I went looking for the video of this Q&A to try to get a more objective view of what the questions/comments had been, which is why I knew offhand that it wasn’t attached to the talk video. My own memory of the experience is a blur (as it is for most talks), so I myself rely mostly on other folks’ recollections. I will say that Q&A experience was more “difficult” than most I’ve been through, including presentations at academic conferences where difficult questions are encouraged.

                                                                                            I don’t think this is particularly good “evidence” either, for what it’s worth. I think even if it had been posted, it wouldn’t be very illustrative, because IIRC none of the audience questions were on-mic, and most of Matthias’s questions and comments were long enough that I had trouble summarizing and repeating them on-mic.

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                                                                                  When I was a student at Northeastern, Felleisen was well known for being “scary”. I was never actually clear on what that entailed, and wasn’t sure if it was just that he was intense, or gave hard assignments, or was outright abusive, or had a German accent, or what. I never actually took his classes, since he was mostly teaching grad students at the time. This was in 2009 to 2011.

                                                                                  I think this piece gives me a better understanding of what other students were talking about.