A friend I invited to the site asked if Lobsters would be interested in adopting the Hacker School social rules (included below). I’ve looked over them and think they would be a great fit for our community. These sorts of things never seem needed until it’s too late. Once culture is set it’s very hard to change, and there’s usually a shaping and pruning phase once you get started. Having some guidelines to point to really help in that process.
What does everyone think?Social rules
Another way we try to remove obstacles to learning is by having a small set of social rules. These rules are intended to be lightweight, and to make more explicit certain social norms that are normally implicit. Most of our social rules really boil down to “don’t be a jerk” or “don’t be annoying.” Of course, almost nobody sets out to be a jerk or annoying, so telling people not to be jerks isn’t a very productive strategy. That’s why our social rules are designed to curtail specific behavior we’ve found to be destructive to a supportive, productive, and fun learning environment.No feigning surprise
The first rule means you shouldn’t act surprised when people say they don’t know something. This applies to both technical things (“What?! I can’t believe you don’t know what the stack is!”) and non-technical things (“You don’t know who RMS is?!”). Feigning surprise has absolutely no social or educational benefit: When people feign surprise, it’s usually to make them feel better about themselves and others feel worse. And even when that’s not the intention, it’s almost always the effect. As you’ve probably already guessed, this rule is tightly coupled to our belief in the importance of people feeling comfortable saying “I don’t know” and “I don’t understand.”No well-actually’s
A well-actually happens when someone says something that’s almost - but not entirely - correct, and you say, “well, actually…” and then give a minor correction. This is especially annoying when the correction has no bearing on the actual conversation. This doesn’t mean Lobsters isn’t about truth-seeking or that we don’t care about being precise. Almost all well-actually’s in our experience are about grandstanding, not truth-seeking. (Thanks to Miguel de Icaza for originally coining the term “well-actually.”)No subtle sexism
Our last social rule bans subtle sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. This one is different from the rest, because it’s often not a specific, observable phenomenon (“well-actually’s” are easy to spot because they almost always start with the words, “well, actually…”).
Lobsters is not a place to publicly debate whether comment X is sexist, racist, etc. If you see something that’s unintentionally sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. at Lobsters you’re welcome to point it out to the person who made the comment, either publicly or privately, or you can ask one of the faculty to say something to that person. Once the initial mention has been made, we ask that all further discussion move off of public channels. If you are a third party, and you don’t see what could be biased about the comment that was made, feel free to talk to faculty. Please don’t say, “Comment X wasn’t homophobic!” Similarly, please don’t pile on to someone who made a mistake.
We want Lobsters to be a space with as little bigotry as possible in it. Therefore, if you see sexism, racism, etc. outside of Lobsters, please don’t bring it in. So, for example, please don’t start a discussion on the mailing list of the latest offensive comment from Random Tech Person Y.
Why don’t we want public discussions of sexism, racism, etc. at Lobsters? For many people, especially those who may have spent time in unpleasant environments, these conversations can be very distracting. At Lobsters, we want to remove as many distractions as possible so everyone can focus on programming. There are many places in the world to discuss and debate these issues, but there are precious few where people can avoid them. We want Lobsters to be one of those places.