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    In November of last year, RC announced that they’d be experimenting with “mini” one-week batches. Being away from work for just one week felt very reasonable - it’s about as disruptive as going to a conference, but much more educational! It seemed like my time had come!

    Well, this suddenly makes attending the Recurse Center much more appealing.

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      You should attend! It was a great experience.

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        I would apply if I could find a project I thought I could focus on! As a mere self-taught web developer, I feel like I’m not ready yet. I have a long way to go in terms of basic knowledge (mostly low level languages, some algorithms) before being able to focus on something meaty for a week. But I would like to do something compiler related.

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          As a mere self-taught web developer, I feel like I’m not ready yet.

          If you knew you were ready then there wouldn’t be anything to learn. :)

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            NAND2Tetris is a pretty popular choice for people wanting to learn more low-level computing. And I don’t think “mere” is a good word to describe someone learning enough of a complex topic with several different paradigms at work like full-stack web dev up to a level that they can be gainfully employed at it.

            Edit: Also, I think people see the applying similarly to tech job interviewing. The shape is there, but Recurse doesn’t strongly filter on technical ability. If someone can write programs and want to learn more, that’s enough.

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              NAND2Tetris is a pretty popular choice for people wanting to learn more low-level computing.

              That is a neat book. It would definitely be a fun project for RC given it covers several areas simultaneously… CPU, compilers, low-level software… without overwhelming reader.

              Only thing skimming it made me wonder was what would be next thing to read on that topic to build digital design skills. Something that was an incremental step giving useful skills instead of a huge leap. Did you or anyone else here get a solid recommendation about what to read next?

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              I would apply if I could find a project I thought I could focus on!

              That’s me. The write-up’s people have done about the RC experience make it seem pretty incredible. I’d love to go there to just chill, focus on some projects, and listen to all those other people are doing. I’m just not sure what one or two things I’d focus on with a whole week of free time and good environment. I’d kind of want to make that time really count with the right projects. Staying focused is also a personal weakness of mine, though, as many have probably noticed.

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                Then find the time for it. Take an hour out of your free time to organize your free time, i.e. find what you can cut out of your schedule to start working on “the right project.”

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                  That’s good advice. I guess it’s a discipline thing I gotta work out. I’m too easily distracted esp by good learning opportunities. :)

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          authors of popular databases who discuss their sexist ideas openly, neo-reactionaries leading functional programming conferences.

          How dare people discuss controversial and offensive ideas openly? They should be forced underground so those ideas can fester without any external contradiction or moderation.

          And of course people with weird, icky politics should be censored from purely technical events. Who knows what kind of whacky fascist programming paradigms they might force on us otherwise?

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            This is an incredibly bad faith excerpt to take out of context. The author was discussing doubts they had about attending the Recurse Center, and:

            A bigger part was the mission itself: “to get dramatically better at programming”. Did I even want to get better at programming?

            A lot of bad things in the world have been created by programmers: software for operating drones that bomb civilians, data-mining that violates privacy, companies that “disrupt” by dropping vast amounts of capital in to a market without any intention of building a sustainable business. A lot of bad people love programming: open source thought leaders who harbor deeply racist views, authors of popular databases who discuss their sexist ideas openly, neo-reactionaries leading functional programming conferences. The norms of programmer culture still revolve around using needless complexity as a cloak of wizardry.

            As @vyodaiken says, you’re demonstrating the toxic behavior the author is wary of.

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              This is such a misguided fear (even though the author says it wasn’t realized in reality anyway) - lot’s of bad people love mathematics, science and music too, it’s no reason to question the value of those pursuits.

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                That’s the nature of fear. I don’t know how to interpret your comment except as a criticism for the author talking about something she honestly felt, then talking more about it later when the fear wasn’t realized. How is this a problem?

                Tons of people worry about the impact of their work and whether they are on a path that is ultimately doing more good than harm for the world. Is the author not allowed to worry about that too? Is she not allowed to talk about it?

                I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t understand what else your comment could be saying.

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                  It is more about me being puzzled by the train of thought. I understand wondering if programming is worthwhile, but I don’t understand how the actions of others have any relevance at all.

                  edit: I guess you could make the case harm is an inevitable outcome of programming.

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                  A misguided fear? The Recourse Center has designed social rules to prevent behavior we know is endemic in technical (and business) forums. The author appreciated the results of those rules. But she’s “misguided” ! In what way? Is it your contention that there is not an endemic toxic culture in tech forums? Are all those women just making it up? Is Yarvin’s hobby of smirking racism something we are obligated to ignore? How do you get to decide the validity of what other people experience?

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                    Misguided that the actions of others has bearing on your own personal value that can be derived.

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                      It has a bearing on whether I want to put up with it

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                  I wasn’t responding to that part of the article; I was responding to the part of the article I had an opinion on. What is your rule for when people are allowed to respond to things? Do they have to fully agree or disagree with the entire article first?

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                  And of course people with weird, icky politics should be censored from purely technical events. Who knows what kind of whacky fascist programming paradigms they might force on us otherwise?

                  How dare women suggest tech and especially programming is a potentially hostile environment one might not want to enter! Preposterous. It is just “locker room talk” for programmers! Either learn to deal with it or stay out of our tree house, you icky girl!

                  Why? Why would you focus on that sentence in a post full of great sentences about positive aspects of the Recurse Center?

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                    Reminds me of a quote from Lean Out

                    Women in tech are the canary in the coal mine. Normally when the canary in the coal mine starts dying you know the environment is toxic and you should get the hell out. Instead, the tech industry is looking at the canary, wondering why it can’t breathe, saying “Lean in, canary. Lean in!” When one canary dies they get a new one because getting more canaries is how you fix the lack of canaries, right? Except the problem is that there isn’t enough oxygen in the coal mine, not that there are too few canaries.

                    (from Sunny Allen’s essay What We Don’t Say)

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                      Lot’s of people have a knee jerk reaction because a lot of this stuff sounds like “remove undesirables from society/jobs/conferences”, and puts the power of who is undesirable into the hands of some questionable people.

                      It wasn’t the point of the post though, so i agree with you.

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                        Got another Lean Out quote for you cause they’re just so damn relevant. This one from Sexism in Tech by Katy Levinson.

                        In the least three years, I was asked not to use the words “sexism” or “racism” when speaking on a diversity panel because it might make the audience uncomfortable.

                        Which throws into especially stark relief wyager’s comment that sparked all of this discussion, since “both sides”[1] are equally worried about censorship. But one group actually gets to say racist, sexist, discriminatory stuff and remain in charge. The other can hardly speak on panels and post on their blogs without the whole world jumping down their throats.

                        So yeah, the knee jerk reaction you mention rings a little shallow to me.

                        [1] I know, “both sides” is highly misleading, but it captures the duality on display here.

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                          The other can hardly speak on panels and post on their blogs without the whole world jumping down their throats.

                          You mean like how people tried to ban Moldbug (presumably who the OP was talking about) from LambdaConf?

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                            With something akin to backchanneling over weird views on a blog totally unrelated to his behavior in conferences, too. Another I cited previously was Opalgate where a guy that didn’t agree with trans people on Twitter got hit by a storm of folks in his project wanting him ejected. They didn’t contribute anything to it like he regularly did but did demand it adopt all their political positions after ejecting its main contributor. The venom was intense with much talk of things like burning bridges and them trying to set him up to look like he supported child molestors or something.

                            And these are supposedly the oppressed people who have to worry about “the whole world jumping down on their throats.” The people who eject any folks who disagree with their beliefs from their own projects, conferences, and this thread. You and their other targets don’t look very powerful and oppressive from my vantage point. They were wielding more power in each of these circumstances.

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                              You want people who Yarvin declares are inferior to politely accept his views? Why should they?

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                                We separate things based on context. In conferences, he had caused no trouble at that point. The reports at the time said he just went to give talks and be helpful. On his blog or personal life, he says or does things I don’t agree with. More than many others but still same thing: many people disagreeing with many things. I’d rather have him at the conference because I don’t ban people I disagree with. If he misbehaves at conferences, then we deal with him.

                                My opponents have a different view. They think everyone should believe/do certain things and not believe/do other things. They should be compatible with those in every forum. If they aren’t in even one place, they are to be shamed in or ejected from every place. He was just one example of that behavior. He was an easy target since his crazy views wouldn’t bring lots of sympathy. In the Opal example, the project had been welcoming and nice to everyone with the violation being a maintainer’s actions on Twitter. Nothing stopped people from participating in the project and no evils were done in it. The maintainer did violate a rule of their politics in one public forum, though. So, an entire group of them hit that project, ordered the ejection of that member, ordered total compliance with their beliefs, trolled the hell out of them, and of course offered nothing to the project in code or other support.

                                I’d rather stop that kind of stuff. It’s just domination rather than anything moral or productive. We can either let a small group of people enforce their arbitrary views on everyone with no discussion or dissent allowed like they desire. Alternatively, we accept everyone under rules the various groups have a consensus on where good things we agree on are encouraged and bad things are prohibited. That maximizes the overall good and productive things we do. That’s my stance. It’s also what we usually do at Lobsters. It’s also what most successful companies and democratic governments do. What my opponents who eject people at conferences ask for is more akin to a dictatorship or theocracy since discussion/dissent is considered evil to be punished.

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                                  I have somewhat similar thoughts as you, but here’s a thought experiment for you that might help put some things in perspective. Let’s say you are running a conference. You are invested in it and hope for it to succeed, and you have some or all power in determining who is invited to speak. After the CFP ends, you like Foobar’s talk and invite them. Sometime later, you post the list of speakers. To your surprise, a lot of people are upset about Foobar’s invitation because Foobar maintains a very controversial blog that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

                                  You decide to stick to your guns. You definitely appreciate that Foobar expresses controversial views and understand that it makes a lot of other people uncomfortable, but you determine that since Foobar’s controversial views are not related to the conference topic, and therefore, they should still be allowed to speak. So you communicate this to all the would-be conference goers and other invited speakers.

                                  I think this is all pretty reasonable actually, although I do understand why some might object to this type of decision making on ethical grounds. But here’s the kicker. At this point, you hear back from N of the invited speakers and M of the people that would otherwise buy tickets. All of them feel strongly enough that they refuse to attend your conference.

                                  So here’s the question: how big does N and/or M need to be for you to retract your invite to Foobar? Are you so ethical as to allow the conference to fail? Or are you so pragmatic as to let it succeed? Perhaps a little of both?

                                  I think the point of this thought experiment is to demonstrate that morals/ethics aren’t necessarily the only thing at stake here. In particular, you could even be in violent agreement with Foobar but still rescind their invitation for practical reasons alone because you want the conference to succeed. I personally don’t have a strong answer to my thought experiment either, so this isn’t a “gotcha” by any means and probably more of a rhetorical proposition than anything else.

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                                    (Sorry for delay. I was getting overwhelmed between work, email, and foums exploding. Trying to reply to everyone.)

                                    Alright, before the thought experiment, I’ll note that the situation with that conference was a bit different per initial reports I read. The conference wasn’t experiencing a huge loss hinging on accepting or taking such people. Many people liked the presenters’ talks. Instead, a handful of political activists worked behind the scenes convince the people running it to eject a person they didn’t like regardless of what the conference thought. They probably said a lot of the same kinds of things, too, since an organizer would be receptive to them. This kind of behavior is a major reason I’m holding the line resisting the political or meta stuff such people want to work with.

                                    Alright, now to your exploration which is more than reasonable: it’s something I’ve worried about myself.

                                    “At this point, you hear back from N of the invited speakers and M of the people that would otherwise buy tickets. All of them feel strongly enough that they refuse to attend your conference.

                                    It really comes down to the philosophy of the organizers I guess. There’s a few routes they might take:

                                    1. Ideological. Do what’s perceived as right regardless. In this case, they should include their politics in their marketing to give clear signal of what’s expected. They should block or eject anyone not compatible even if the talk fails. The example you gave is one where the talk could fail. On other end, certain conferences in highly-liberal areas might fail if not doing enough to address their concerns like inclusive language.

                                    2. Impact and/or financial success. This philosophy says do what it takes to succeed financially or just in terms of conference activity. Nothing else matters. You gave one example where a conference might have to eject folks controversial among highly-liberal people to get attendees. I’ll also note this same rule would justify reinforcing ills of society like racism or sexism at conferences under “don’t rock the boat” concept. Lecturing or politicizing typical bunch of Silicon Valley or enterprise developers, esp the privileged males, will only irritate them with lost sales. This priority is a double-edged sword.

                                    3. In the middle. The great thing about real life is most stuff is a spectrum with tradeoffs. That’s the hard thing but also good here. An example is an organizer might set ground rules that reduce bad behavior instead of force politics front and center. Another example is ignoring diversity or bad behavior on the sales team at conferences or in meetings for enterprise segment to drive up sales since buyers often want to know their partners are “like them” or some crap. Whereas, the backend, developers or community side, can be really diverse without the haters even knowing they’re supporting an organization that heavily invests in developming minority talent. This is one of my hypothetical schemes rather than something I’ve observed outside Fortune 500 trick of having immigrants doing lots of work in background.

                                    So, I see some possibilities here where the conference organizers’ priorities seem to be the biggest factor in whether they should accept or block someone. They might block some but not others depending on level of extremism. They might rule exclusively on behavior instead of beliefs. The crowd they’re serving might like behaviors like sexism or hate it with serving the crowd being morally context-sensitive.

                                    I write off top of my head for honesty. I wrote that before I got to your last paragraph. I was about to say I don’t really have an answer for you past the conditional framing above. Too dependent on circumstances or whose in control. Seems you didn’t have one either, though. It is a very important consideration, though, since conferences are usually created to accomplish specific things instead of brag they were compatible with ideology of a person or group. Most of them anyway.

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                                    My opponents have a different view. They think everyone should believe/do certain things and not believe/do other things. They should be compatible with those in every forum.

                                    It is possible that there is a belief, or set of beliefs, which are sufficiently sociopathic that they disqualify people who hold them from a platform in any context? Is there some value for X that if someone publicly and explicitly said “X” you would refuse to support them in any way?

                                    I hope it’s uncontroversial that the answer to both of those questions should be “yes”. In making that affirmation we’ve established that the set of things exists. Now the discussion shifts to which things belong in the set. Reasonable people can make reasonable arguments for this or that belief. I think it’s completely understandable that Moldbug’s feudalist racism would cross the threshold for a lot of reasonable people.

                                    Put more succinctly: a society isn’t obligated to give a platform to the intolerant in deference to the abstract right of free expression. Rather the opposite: a society is made better through a vigorous assault on intolerance, in whatever form it blossoms.

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                                      You might separate things by context but I don’t. People are not compartments. You might think other people should separate by context and not consider that e.g X is a holocaust denier when X speaks on functional programming. Great but don’t dare demand I do the same. That would be super presumptuous. BTW you appear to believe some organized group is after you. I’m unaware of any such group.

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                                        e.g X is a holocaust denier when X speaks on functional programming. Great but don’t dare demand I do the same.

                                        I always challenge people who say that to list all of their political beliefs on the major topics that provoke controversy somewhere to link in their profile. We’ll just link it before any comment they make so the person replying can see the entire political spectrum of who they’re talking to plus what they’re saying in that moment as one thing. Then, like you said, they can want to interact with that person in their entirety or ignore all value they may have contributed over one thing they didn’t like. I think we should heed Richelieu’s warning instead.

                                        “BTW you appear to believe some organized group is after you. I’m unaware of any such group.”

                                        I just cited a few. The Yarvin thing was a small group of political activists trying to get rid of someone they didn’t like in a shady way. The Opal scandal was Ehmke’s posse pummeling that project on Github with no problems within it. Ehmke’s been in quite a few of these with an openly-stated mission to force her brand of politics (“social justice”) in every forum using her Code of Conduct as leverage. Two people involved in those actions are active in this forum with both voting for a similar CoC here. Ehmke later griped about the hate she and her white-hating buddies receive online and at Github saying it was because she’s trans rather than shoving her politics down the throats of everyone she meets. I particularly loved how they bragged about hiring “token, white people” on their team. Nobody could even joke about that if they said black. Anyway, I called Ehmke out on that submission for trying to pretend her politics had nothing to do with it. Then, some organized group was after me with the community at least being more impressive in how that was handled than most forums those kind of people hit.

                                        (Edit to emphasive these are loosely-organized, small groups that know how to say the right things hitting people not usually expecting it or knowing how to react. They create PR nightmares with passive-aggressive sophistry, basically.)

                                        So, yeah, there’s definitely organized groups doing the exact thing I’m worried about with some here that have done it on previous forums. They always prop up the rules they use as leverage by saying they’re just trying to stop discrimination or hate speech but (a) they get to define what is or isn’t and (b) their own actions are quite discriminatory against other groups with inconsistent enforcement. Even minority members that disagree with them get hit as happened on HN same week where I got slowbanned for quoting women disagreeing with women. Give them an inch in a new place, they’ll take a mile. I’m not giving them an inch.

                                        Note: There’s plenty of similar stuff happening at college campuses across the states, too. A lot of folks doing this sort of thing come out of them. Hard to combat since dissenting speech is considered hate speech or otherwise put down.

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                                          That’s not a challenge, it is an example of sealioning. I don’t have any obligation to provide you with an algorithm or to be consistent or to satisfy your sense of what’s right. My right to not read Pound’s poetry because he was a fascist or to read Celine’s early work because it is so eloquent even though he became a fascist, or to refuse to attend a conference where Yarvin speaks or to prefer the rules of Recourse center doesn’t depend on your stamp of approval. Sophie didn’t make any demands of you. On the contrary, you are demanding that she not express opinions that make you uncomfortable. Get over yourself. Go explain why Yarvin’s work is so damn great that you don’t care that he’s a smirking racist or cheer for the pseudo-science of the Google Manifesto all you want. You have the right to speak. You do not have the right to demand others approve or refrain from criticizing or even shunning you.

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                            Why would you focus on that sentence

                            Because I didn’t have anything to say about the other ones. Do you think I’m obligated to address every sentence in an article if I want to address any of them?

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                            The fact that we almost know who she was talking about proves that they can currently discuss these ideas openly mostly fine.

                            So these people express their opinions, and others are like “well now I don’t want to talk to them”. If you(*) want to barrage people with your unpopular opinions, people will stop wanting to hang out with you .

                            I understand the fear of being shut out of social events like conferences. But they’re social events, so if you make yourself unliked… No amount of rulemaking will solve that, I think.

                            The bad faith logical inverse if your argument is “everyone should be friends with everyone. No matter how much disagreement with social issues are present, someone should always be allowed to be present. This includes allowing to bully other members of the community without repurcussions ever.”

                            It’s the bad faith interpretation, but one that some people will make.

                            (*) Impersonal you

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                              “So these people express their opinions, and others are like “well now I don’t want to talk to them”. “

                              These people express opinions but want anyone disagreeing to shut up. That’s been present in replies on most threads here where people did. Allowing only one side to speak while defining any disagreement as an attack or hate is political domination.

                              “This includes allowing to bully other members of the community without repurcussions ever.””

                              There’s the word games your side is famous for. vyodaiken did it earlier redefining a rhetorical disagreement as an attack on one side but not the rhetoric of the other side that painted everyone without qualification with negative labels. In your case, the people whose politics I oppose here regularly define any disagreement as hate speech, offensive, bullying, behaviors not to be tolerated, and so on. Not all of them do but many do. You all redefine the words from the neutral, tolerable thing they are (eg disagreement or political bickering) to a new word we all have a consensus against (eg bullying, hate speech). Then, you’re arguments for action focus on the new word with its meaning whereas what was actually going on is a lesser offense which wouldn’t be justified.

                              So, what people supporting Sophie actually want is anyone on their side able to express their opinions without disagreement and without repurcussions ever. Whereas, anyone disagreeing with it is automatically labeled as something far worse, dismissed immediately, and for some ejected if allowed by rules. That’s always worth fighting against even if wyager’s parody was as poor a wording strategy as Sophie’s own overly-broad, only-negative portrayal of programmers.

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                                She never advocated censorship. She never said “most programmers” or “all programmers”. So your response is obviously not directed at her words but at something else.

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                                  as Sophie’s own overly-broad, only-negative portrayal of programmers.

                                  Again, this is an opinion unsupported by the data. The examples were specific, and real. The concerns are non-trivial, and real. You’re making something about you that isn’t about you.

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                                    That’s always worth fighting against even if wyager’s parody was as poor a wording strategy as Sophie’s own overly-broad, only-negative portrayal of programmers.

                                    wyager is arguing that people with bad values should be allowed space in public or in others’ private spaces, which is a bad value. Majority supremacists, patriarchal maximalists, authoritarians, etc. should not be allowed safe spaces, and should never be accommodated.

                                    From your characterizations of the author’s post and how they portrayed programmers, it’s clear you’ve either not read it and are arguing from ignorance, or you have read it and are arguing in bad faith, since the passage is clearly contextualized as part of explaining an internal struggle about how best to grow as a human being.

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                                      From your characterizations of the author’s post and how they portrayed programmers, it’s clear you’ve either not read it and are arguing from ignorance, or you have read it and are arguing in bad faith

                                      I’ve read it. Part of learning a field and growing as a human being is a fair assessment of what’s going on in it good and bad. Author’s concerns in that section solely focus on the bad… the worst of it actually… with the people side being like talking points out of one part of a political debate. Outside of those, I usually see a wide range of claims about programmers, jobs, effects on world, etc. Author is setting up false, strictly-negative premises in either ignorance or bad faith, maybe even unintentionally due to bias, then struggling to work from within the moral straight-jacket she put on. Totally unnecessary if starting from a more accurate worldview that includes the positive and neutral people and programs.

                                      Note that I liked all the stuff about RC in the article. I enjoyed the article right up to that point. I just mentally deleted that part so I could just think about the rest which was most important parts. As in, more corroboration and anecdotal evidence in favor of RC visits. Then, the debate started.

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                                        Note that I liked all the stuff about RC in the article. I enjoyed the article right up to that point. I just mentally deleted that part so I could just think about the rest which was most important parts.

                                        I feel like you’re attempting to speak in good faith, so I’m going to do the same.

                                        This point I’ve highlighted here, that you “just mentally deleted that part”, is an example of privilege in action*. You have never had your life or well-being threatened by people or organizations like the ones the author calls out, and you have never had to be concerned with whether or not they were active or influential in the spaces you inhabited. Other people are not so lucky, and have learned from difficult experience that they need to be aware of their surroundings and who might be in them, or else they may be injured or otherwise harmed.

                                        Some people, especially those who come from outside the main software development industries, have heard only that IT/tech has a huge problem with sexism and toxic masculine culture. Some people are members of the marginalized groups whose well-being is directly threatened by the personal values of community leaders of some of the popular software communities, as named by the author of the post. The Recurse Center attracts a lot of people from diverse and non-technical backgrounds, and many of those people share the concerns that the author had, and would appreciate having them explicitly dispelled with regards to RC, as the author did.

                                        So the least that those with privilege, like you and I have, can do, is not make it harder for those less fortunate to engage with the playground we have (programming) that also gives us power and status. It’s bad form to raise barriers against those with a harder lot in life than we have. These kinds of messages, from “the other side” as it were to those people who might be afraid of what they’ll find when they get there, are super important. And it’s not about you, or me, or anyone here, unless they’re part of the problem. It’s for other people like the author or who might be thinking about getting into a tech career by applying to RC, but who have heard the industry has some problems.

                                        *) note that you have this privilege, even if you are not privileged in other ways (eg, you were born into a poor family, etc.). life is complicated.

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                                          Since you’re being in good faith, do read this next like I’m just bluntly saying something instead of losing my shit or being loud. ;)

                                          “You have never had your life or well-being threatened by people or organizations like the ones the author calls out, and you have never had to be concerned with whether or not they were active or influential in the spaces you inhabited. “

                                          You’re assuming I don’t understand the concept because I’m presumably white male. My first school experience was being attacked or mocked because I was a “nerd.” All but a few people excluded us which happened varying degrees whole time in school. That included “minorities.” They all do to nerds what they claim others do to them, including violence by alpha males but not police. They might interrogate or arrest them if something happened involving computers if said nerd is known programmer or hacker.

                                          Next, I was white in a black-run, mostly-black school where they added to mockery or exclusion the fact that we were shouted down if disagreeing with any issue (especially racial) plus randomly attacked. I doubt most of these people talking about their minority concerns have been held down on a bus while black people take turns beating them with the smirking driver not reporting it. Attempts like that were too common for me until I learned kickboxing and paranoid vigilance, esp wide turns around corners. Still had to dodge fights due to rule white people can’t be allowed to win against black people either at all or too much. Varied. My friends and brothers who went to other black schools endured the same where just bending over a water fountain could be too much vulnerability. I avoided bathroom stalls, too, after seeing what that led to.

                                          I also got to be a man in places run by women who favored women. Essentially, whoever stayed in their good graces talking about what they talked about, being an insider, laughing at anti-male jokes, and so on had more privileges in those places. That would benefit grades, get more work hours, increase odds of promotion, even get some guys laid with those opposing sexism shamed. Unlike women on average, it’s been a while since I dealt with that but happening again in my current company. Highly-political, card-playing woman took over a specific department I was almost transfered to. After exit-interviewing her ex-employees, I blocked transfer fast before expected changes happened: she hired mostly black folks like her (esp exploitable youth), promoted only the older black women exactly like her kissing up instead of mix of races/genders who outperformed them, and politics over performance further destroyed that departments’ numbers with them saying nonsense about why. Current team is good with mix of straight/gay/lesbian, white/black, and liberal/moderate/redneck. Usually fun, interesting group with occasional in-fighting due to differences all apologize for after.

                                          That covers structural racism and sexism which the type of politics I fight denies even exists for whites or men despite supporting data. We get no help. What about “neo-reacitonary?” Well, I am an outspoken liberal and Union man who defends decent Muslims and calls out police corruption on the side in the rural South deep in Trump, meth, and capitalist country. Interesting enough, one insult they fling at me here is probable Hillary supporter while people I argue with on liberal forums assume I’m a right-winger. Biases… Being outspoken in rural spots led me to have to negotiate with people intent on beating or killing me right there if I got too many words wrong. Rare people but non-passive outsiders will run into them. Most online “activists” on social media talk about threats which I find are folks talking shit online or with prank calls that don’t on these issues result in hospitalizations or anything almost ever. Just irritating trolling by jerks shielded by anonymity. Pales in comparison to what even a trip for groceries can cost a white person in impoverished areas in or around Memphis, TN. The First 48 was banned from there over too much stuff to cover. Some police are gang members, too, so gotta act in a way to reduce risk of their attention.

                                          Since you admitted it, you might have privilege of growing up as or hanging with white people that didn’t face racism, sexism, or drug heads’ threats on regular basis. Lot of us in poor areas, minority-controlled areas, areas of opposing politics, isolated areas… these are some where many say they have similar experiences to me. We find it strange people “speaking for oppressed” as they might say ignore existence of probably millions of us due to skin color or gender. Especially rural whites given their high rates of both drug addiction and suicide, too. My friends and family have had to fight those.

                                          Alright, what about someone like Sophie or I who are concerned with environments where we might be facing racists or sexists that hate our group? Well, I agree with you entirely that it can be reassuring to see someone bringing that up saying it doesn’t happen at a specific location. Going from an all-black school to a mixed school where they didn’t hate us was… it was heaven. We had fun together! Likewise, groups with fair/excellent women or being around civil Southerners who only get X-ist if explicitly talking politics. I’d definitely want to know every place or group where I could avoid groups I mentioned first in favor of others if that was best I could hope for.

                                          That said, remember how it started was exclusively portraying the field based on worst of the worst. I don’t do that. Since we’re at that point, I’ll tell you the violent people I met were single digit percentage of each area, the negative bias was huge, there were coping mechanisms to get me past some of it, there were neutral/decent people, and some were so fair or good they inspired me to be more skilled or tough. If I talk about a field, I try not to throw them under the bus entirely or I take the counterpoint I had coming for screwing up due to emotion winning or whatever. You’ll see that in programming with C or PHP languages where I’m a strong opponent but don’t pretend they’re 100% bad even if many developers do damage. Likewise, following my politics, I’m still getting along with and exchanging tips with specific Lobsters who were strongly opposing me in prior political debates.

                                          So, what she was doing isn’t the only way to respond. It was a weaker, overly-broad, politically-charged claim that got low-value reactions followed by a whole battle that distracted from her main points. She set her post up to fail to quite a degree. I’d have told her to be more fair and accurate since bringing politics in is putting a spotlight and a metaphorical scope on you. The negative responses left over would have to be haters or themselves prioritizing some politics. Easy to dismiss when they have little to no ground to stand on. Those of us in minority positions unfairly have to be careful about our claims since they’ll get more scrutiny and attack.

                                          Since she probably made up her mind, I just mentally deleted it like I trained myself to do when saying something to that person won’t change their views IRL. Focus on good, shrug off perceived bad if not an intentional attack, and go on from there. It’s how we integrate and survive down here in our powder keg of diversity. Works fine, too, with most of us getting along well enough. :)

                                          “These kinds of messages, from “the other side” as it were to those people who might be afraid of what they’ll find when they get there, are super important.”

                                          This I disagree on if they’re aiming to affect policy or law anywhere. I’ve already seen it happen in many places with ultra-liberal universities being good examples. In those, allowing it to go too far without participation shifted power to those groups. Those groups built on their politics and power until they regularly belittle whites or males in various ways. They also try to silence disagreement on political issues saying it’s not about them. Well, if we stand to lose anything (even rep or jobs) by decree, then it is about us and we should at least weigh in. I don’t gripe about the reasonable stuff where each person has a view they can state, chance at the job, etc. I’m usually backing it.

                                      2. 2

                                        I’m sure all the people hit with the bad value hammer will disappear into the ether once you get your (apparently unauthoritarian) way.

                                        1. 1

                                          Your false equivalence, that being intolerant of intolerance and hatred, is also cowardly stated using passive aggressive style, as well as sarcasm. That is, you are acting like a coward, lest I be accused of not speaking my point forcefully enough.

                                          1. 0

                                            I find passive aggressive sarcasm allows for remarkable concision, but whatever. I don’t respect you and your group as the arbiters of good and bad values and all people like you have done is make me care substantially less about being labeled a patriarchal maximalist or whatever you’d like. Many people I know feel similarly. We’re not going to leave the field if you succeed in banning us from the recurse center

                                            1. 0

                                              Hey, have fun hanging out with Nazis, then.

                                              1. 0

                                                Enjoy weilding whatever power that label still has while it has any at all.

                                                1. 1

                                                  I don’t want to wield power. I want to not be around assholes. Are you really saying you’d rather hang out with white supremacists and gamergater pigs, than take a stand and say, “Those values are not welcome?” How is this even a question?

                                  2. 12

                                    Great illustration of what she wanted to avoid.

                                    1. 8

                                      I don’t get why people don’t want to talk about this? I don’t necessarily agree with wyager, but this type of discourse is pretty healthy IMO. It’s precisely why I prefer this site to HN, because that comment would surely have been censored by the moderators.

                                      1. 5

                                        It’s also completely off topic in the context, which is about using programming for good, and it’s really obnoxiously phrased to boot. Which does matter.

                                        1. 6

                                          In your opinion it is obnoxious, I didn’t find it so bad, but maybe that is just me.

                                          1. 16

                                            Obnoxious is a bit subjective, but his comment is destructive (as opposed to constructive), and that’s an objective observation.

                                            How dare people discuss controversial and offensive ideas openly?

                                            This is sarcastic and demeaning.

                                            They should be forced underground so those ideas can fester without any external contradiction or moderation.

                                            Sarcastic and a strawman.

                                            And of course people with weird, icky politics should be censored from purely technical events.

                                            Sarcastic and a strawman.

                                            Who knows what kind of whacky fascist programming paradigms they might force on us otherwise?

                                            Sarcastic and a strawman.

                                            Here is a what a more honest, direct version of the post would be:

                                            I think people should be allowed to express controversial and offensive ideas openly. Otherwise, they’re pushed underground where they fester, instead of being brought out into the light where they are exposed to moderation and contradiction.

                                            But that wasn’t the comment we got, and for good reason. The more direct version wouldn’t be posted because it is immediately obvious that it isn’t related to this topic. The response to it might be

                                            The author is just talking about what makes her uncomfortable in most programming community spaces, and why the Recurse center was so valuable for her. She isn’t making an argument or saying you need to feel the same way.

                                            Thus it is clear that the comment, even in a less caustic form, isn’t particularly relevant. I mean, look at the originally quoted snippet in wyager’s post: it’s just a list of facts.

                                            1. 0

                                              “controversial and offensive” is a fluid social contract that changes with audience and context. The big problem is nobody can ever agree on what is controversial and offensive. At the same time people’s nuanced opinions are routinely caricatured as the most extreme version (in both directions, and I’m guilty of it too) then paraded on social media to people with no context.

                                              1. 3

                                                I try my best to avoid the words controversial and offensive. Constructive and destructive are less weighed down with baggage and relativity (though there is always room for people to mess with words). Constructive moves the conversation forward. Destructive moves it backwards.

                                                At the same time people’s nuanced opinions are routinely caricatured as the most extreme version […] then paraded on social media.

                                                Yeah, I’m a bit detached from it since I don’t use Twitter or Facebook, this being a primary reason. It’s a good example of destructive conversation. Nobody ever learns from it, nothing really improves.

                                              2. -5

                                                I’m very sorry I didn’t use the exact rhetorical style you were hoping for. In the future I will avoid using sarcasm and any other rhetorical technique that you don’t like is “destructive”.

                                                1. 5

                                                  God forbid you say what you mean.

                                                  Come off it, you know it isn’t about what I happen to prefer. If you don’t know better, then you should.

                                            2. 3

                                              Hm, I suppose it did completely derail this thread

                                          2. 10

                                            I doubt it. She’s making political points in the post instead of just talking about good things at Recurse Center. She’s putting it front and center in people’s minds as they read. Anyone reading it deserves to respond to that. That automatically means a thread might get political. It’s definitely her intention.

                                            Predictably, someone responded to it with thread turning to the tangent. Ive had enough politics for the week, though. So, just pointing out the obvious that statements like hers with accusations against a bunch of programmers or political statements will definitely get a reaction. She couldve got the points across without that but wanted it political.

                                            1. 10

                                              She’s not allowed to talk about politics? She makes a fairly common point: she finds the environment around programming often unpleasant or hostile and she wanted to avoid that. So she did. Many people, including myself, are put off by people who sound like that Google Memo person or worse and try to avoid it. If that makes other people uncomfortable, that’s too bad.

                                              1. 8

                                                wyager is allowed to counter her politics if she is going to bring it up. It’s not “what she was trying to avoid.” It’s what she or anyone else should expect saying what she did. All Im saying.

                                                Your initial comment read like one should be able to make negative, political characterizations of programmers with no reply expected.

                                                1. 10

                                                  I guess for me it’s not who’s “allowed” to “counter” things or not, but is this actually a useful discussion? The comment reads to me as a wordy way of saying “I disagree with your politics”, which, ok, but what does that add? When I read the original post I could already guess some people would disagree, sure. A person doesn’t have to reply to every in-passing comment they disagree with on the internet. It wasn’t even the main point of the post!

                                                  I’ve noticed more discussions here lately being sort of tangential sniping threads. I posted an article a few weeks ago and the entire discussion was a thread about whether people like PDFs. Ok, fine, but I posted a research paper, and the fact that you don’t like PDFs isn’t really on-topic, novel, or interesting. And then there was one last week where someone didn’t like that the title of an article ended with a question mark. I think we could use less of that kind of thing.

                                                  1. 2

                                                    I’ve noticed more discussions here lately being sort of tangential sniping threads. I posted an article a few weeks ago and the entire discussion was a thread about whether people like PDFs.

                                                    I agree with this. It happens in political threads so much I voted against politics in meta. I can’t overemphasize that since, yet again, one disagreement with a political point in a submission created another situation like this. I basically just represent the dissenting side if they’re getting dogpiled or call out double standards when people pretend it’s about logic or civility rather than politics.

                                                    I totally agree, though, about the sniping thing with me preferring some kind of rule against it if not politics in general. Maybe in addition to. It should make for a quality improvement. I’m still fine with tangents, though, so long as they’re adding insight to a discussion like the meta stuff I try to do connecting sub-fields.

                                                  2. 7

                                                    But he didn’t counter her politics, he attacked her. She didn’t call for suppressing anyone’s speech. She simply said she found a certain common mode of speech in tech, a mode I find offensive too, to be unpleasant and wanted to avoid it. There is no sensible way to take issue with that.

                                                    1. 7

                                                      She said this about programming:

                                                      “A lot of bad things in the world have been created by programmers: software for operating drones that bomb civilians, data-mining that violates privacy, companies that “disrupt” by dropping vast amounts of capital in to a market without any intention of building a sustainable business. A lot of bad people love programming: open source thought leaders who harbor deeply racist views, authors of popular databases who discuss their sexist ideas openly, neo-reactionaries leading functional programming conferences. “

                                                      She painted a picture of programming as if it was mostly bad things done by bad people. She painted the picture that people going to thought leaders, doing database work, or getting involved in functional programming were only going to be dealing with the worst. You’d think the profession was one of most horrible ever invented reading that stuff. Don’t ask that she properly qualify that: take her word for it without any of your own comments or reactions. She is attacking most programmers with a programmer, @wyager, reacting to that statement.

                                                      When a man here said something similarly negative about tech industry, several of us countered him pointing out how he was vastly overstating the problem projecting the worst groups onto the average or majority in a way that was unfair to them. Like her, he exclusively considered the bad things and people in tech when judging the field instead of the vast amount of decent or productive things programmers have done many of whom were OK people. We also suggested maybe he avoid the worst if we couldn’t get rid of them since they were ultimately unnecessary to interact with being a drop in the bucket of the many people and resources out there. I don’t remember all these people being there supporting his view shocked anyone disagreed with him. This one was a woman with different set of politics. Let’s see what happened.

                                                      So, wyager responds with a political comment that looks very motivated by emotion lacking qualifiers, consideration to others, or evidence much like Sophie’s. While Sophie’s ad hominem is allowed to stand, you imply his rhetoric shouldn’t be present at all. @jules deconstructs his aiming for purely logical or information content with some strawman which was not done to Sophie’s (or most here with similar viewpoints). @mjn said it was not adding anything new which was true about Sophie’s (or most here with similar viewpoints). These replies are exclusively given to people whose politics each person disagrees with but not people doing same things whose politics each agrees with. They’re held to a lesser standard. So, rather than it being what it appears, these comments aren’t really about addressing civility, information vs rhetorical content, and so on. You all mostly ignore those attributes for comments supporting your type of views while downvoting for opposite naturally leads to dominance of your side in those threads. As in, it’s political maneuvering by folks of one type of views against another rather than quality assurance with any consistency.

                                                      Here’s a few where those writing thought wyager and others disagreeing were supposed to nod saying it makes sense with what happens next being too ironic and obvious:

                                                      “How dare women suggest tech and especially programming is a potentially hostile environment one might not want to enter!” (fwg) (my emphasis added)

                                                      “But one group actually gets to say racist, sexist, discriminatory stuff and remain in charge. The other can hardly speak on panels and post on their blogs without the whole world jumping down their throats.” (jules) (emphasis added)

                                                      “I’m not allowed to respond about politics?” (wyager)

                                                      “I missed the part where anyone asked for you to be deprived of that right.” (vyodaiken)

                                                      You must have missed yourself and the others basically telling him to shut up, the downvotes adding up by a vocal minority, and wyager’s thread collapsing into oblivion where it isn’t seen unless we expand it. Quite unlike most low-info-content, political comments here that are in favor of view’s like Sophie’s not disappearing. Doesn’t look like Sophie or other women with her views would be facing the “hostile environment” with “censorship” and people “deprived” of the right to speak. That contrived scenario is instead what people that agree with her were doing to others who express themselves in a similarly low-evidence, rhetorical way like Sophie or some of their crowd, but with different views. Some of these talk about how everyone is out to get people on their side of spectrum in the same thread where they disappear their opponents’ claims. As opposed to just disagreeing or discussing. Then, they defend the low-quality, repetitive, rhetorical statements of people like Sophie on the same threads since they agree with their views.

                                                      Gotta love politically-motivated double standards for discourse that exclusively benefit one side. Also, people talking about how folks on their side have a lot to worry about as sub-threads their opponents make sink and disappear with some clicks. That’s just too rich in reality distortion.

                                                      1. 6

                                                        You are completely inverting what is happening. Sophie Haskins wrote her opinion. A lot of people here are apparently very angry and want her to shut up. They position their arguments as if she argued for censorship which is a lie and are attempting to shout her down. If you disagree with her opinions, you could say: “My experience is that most programmers are nice” or “It doesn’t matter to me if people who have interesting technical ideas are racists” or otherwise - you know - disagree. But you are not doing that. Instead you are offended that she expressed her opinion and are inventing this whole oppressive regime that wants to suppress your opinions. There is a difference between freedom of speech and impunity. If people want to express racist opinions, for example, they don’t have a right to have other people applaud or pass over in silence or even listen to them. This is exactly the issue of the Google Memo. Its author is free to proclaim all sorts of men’s rights and racist claptrap on his own time, but he has no right to either have his coworkers refrain from reacting to it or have his employer decide that offensive speech in the workplace is ok. The toxic atmosphere of many tech forums is a reality. You should make an effort to understand what Sophie Haskins actually wrote instead of leading a Crusade for the right to be socially acceptable while denigrating others.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          “You are completely inverting what is happening. Sophie Haskins wrote her opinion.”

                                                          Her opinion did not happen in isolation. You yourself mentioned that along with some other people. She is part of a group of people that are concerned with and speaking out about bad actors in tech. That’s all I’m certain about right now. Instead of being fair as you expect of me, she paints an exclusively-negative picture of tech’s contributions and the kind of people in it. As she wonders/worries aloud, what she describes is pretty far from reality of a diverse field with all kinds of people in it that mostly don’t do horrible stuff. Majority just support businesses that provide some value to consumers in the economy. Many are also volunteers in FOSS on code or communities. Many other writers whose work was submitted, including about every woman, had a more balanced view in their writing. The exceptions were those all-in on a specific brand of politics that frames tech in terms of race and gender. She writes more like them.

                                                          “Instead you are offended”

                                                          I’m neither offended, nor did I reply to her. I countered you, not her. I discussed other things as people brought them up. People like her trash-talking whole fields is something people do all the time in many ways. I don’t get offended so much as roll my eyes just to maintain peace of mind if nothing else. Whereas, people expecting nobody to reply to or counter a false, negative claim does concern me. That’s allowing one side to discuss but suppressing another in a place where that can define community norms. I often get involved when that happens. All I was doing initially before other claims appeared.

                                                          Now, you’re talking about racism, denigration, etc that we shouldn’t tolerate. The first to do that was Sophie in her unfair characterization of the field. If you think that’s unfair perception, then you can test if that kind of comment is acceptable to people with opposing views in this thread by going to any forum where they’re dominant submitting this version of Sophie’s claims: a white male is concerned about about going to a workplace, conference, or CompSci courses at specific colleges because “there are some bad programmers” who “hate men” behind filesystem development, “hate whites” organizating at major colleges, and support “radical views” leading community teams of major projects. Each of these people exist in the field with groups of people backing them who will shout down or eject opponents within their area of influence. So, the person you’ll ghost-write as is a non-radical, friendly, white male who is concerned about getting into programming should they run into those people they’ve read about. They just worded it like Sophie did in their context.

                                                          What do you think would happen? We can guess based on prior replies to claims like that. Detractors would show up in large numbers immediately citing evidence showing most people aren’t like what he worries about. They’d say he shouldn’t denigrate entire groups like women or non-whites based on behavior of a small amount. Some would say racism against whites or sexist against men are impossible based on their redefinitions of those words that make it maybe impossible. Others would say it’s unrealistic worrying to point he should know better or even distracts from “real” problems (i.e. their worries). Probably some evil, political intent since only a X-ist would say it. If he said that wasn’t his intention, they’d force him to be clear on a version they were cool with. They’d tell him he should phrase his writing more appropriately so others who are different feel safe in that space. That he must think in terms of how people might read that. The person would be dismissed as a racist, sexist idiot as they dogpiled him like many others have.

                                                          When this woman did it, we’re supposed to assume the best with no concerns about larger implications of what she’s saying in terms of what’s in her head or perception of what she writes. Countering it on just incorrectness like we’d do anything else is now not just dismissing bad ideas or statements: it’s “toxic behavior” that needs to be stamped out. Nah, someone said some political BS on the Internet with disagreement of various quality following. Something we do for any kind of claim here. She doesn’t deserve special treatment or defense of her poor arguments/methods any more than a male does.

                                                          To males, you usually have quick, small rebuttals of ideas you disagree with (esp on tech) where you didn’t do a full exploration of everything they might be thinking before you countered. It’s pretty clear you do a quick take on what they might mean, compare it to your own beliefs, and fire an efficient response. Most people do that most of the time I’d guess. You’re doing the opposite here. Whereas, I’m treating her equally to anyone else by protecting dissent and countering her overly-negative claims like I already did to a man who did the same thing before. Like I’ve done to a lot of people’s claims here and everywhere else. Clearly a political bias in action on other side if expecting her claims to get a level of acceptance or no critique that’s not expected of men here or for other topics. I say they all get treated the same from agreement to critiques or we don’t discuss that stuff at all.

                                                          I’ve said enough for this part of this thread as both our views are plenty clear.

                                                        2. 5

                                                          She painted a picture of programming as if it was mostly bad things done by bad people . . . You’d think the profession was one of most horrible ever invented reading that stuff.

                                                          This is not a reasonable conclusion to draw from the passage you quoted.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            She painted a picture of programming as if it was mostly bad things done by bad people. She painted the picture that people going to thought leaders, doing database work, or getting involved in functional programming were only going to be dealing with the worst. You’d think the profession was one of most horrible ever invented reading that stuff. Don’t ask that she properly qualify that: take her word for it without any of your own comments or reactions. She is attacking most programmers with a programmer,

                                                            This conclusion is bonkers.

                                                      2. 2

                                                        She’s not allowed to talk about politics?

                                                        I’m not allowed to respond about politics?

                                                        1. 3

                                                          I missed the part where anyone asked for you to be deprived of that right.

                                                      3. 1

                                                        I doubt it. She’s making political points in the post instead of just talking about good things at Recurse Center. She’s putting it front and center in people’s minds as they read.

                                                        Those “political points” are some of the more important “good things” about the Recurse Center.

                                                      4. -5

                                                        is there a latin phrase for “does your mom know you’re gay?”