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Considering the significant investment revealed from foreign powers into US tech companies, I feel this is relevant to a discussion about ethics in our profession. I also propose an “ethics” tag.


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    Personally I don’t think this post has relevance to this site. It’s important news, but this isn’t a general news website. Any links to tech are secondary and the tags are a stretch.

    It would be more appropriate if this was a secondary article discussing specifically the security factors of the event, about how they used neo4j to graph relationships, a specific focus on tech company tax avoidance or Russia’s effects on Twitter/Facebook, the ethical aspects of online anonymity and leaks, or something more in-depth with a focus on technology. Until content like that is created this generally news and discussion can be found on other sites.

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      That’s a fair criticism. As noted in my text about the news, I wanted to discuss the part related to tech companies. If people don’t want to discuss it, they can downvote this article and we can move on.

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      I also propose an “ethics” tag.

      Lobsters doesn’t “do” ethics. And if someone upvotes an article about “ethics”, 9 times out of 10 it’s b.s. ethics, and real ethical dilemmas are downvoted.

      Way more examples where that came from. This comment, for example, will likely be downvoted.

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        It’s a damn shame. Every profession has ethics except ours. Makes you wonder if we even have a real profession? How many here are members of the ACM for example? I encourage everyone to join.

        Computers are humanity’s greatest invention. Tech companies have real power. Ethics are inseparable from technology.

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          I agree that ethics is a very important subject for anyone who works in technology. I don’t know whether discussions about it will be popular here, but I encourage continuing to try.

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            Recently, see this thread for an example of where that might go on Lobsters:


            I thought I was going to learn about Geany IDE. Instead, the signal-to-noise ratio of Lobsters reverses full throttle to a discussion about whether “sexy” is appropriate with almost no comments about the tech itself. Ethics is closely tied to politics which will turn into these kinds of discussions with lower quality and technical depth than is norm for Lobsters. That’s why I’m for the stuff not being here. Didn’t downvote you since I don’t do that but I’d be fine with a rule about it.

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              If I thought the community overwhelmingly wanted a rule that discussion of gender bias in the tech industry shouldn’t happen here… well, I’d probably resign. You’re entitled to that view, but it’s so incredibly disappointing how many people share it. I used to think more of people.

              I appreciate that the topic is highly controversial every time it comes up, but it’s an important topic.

              I don’t agree that it’s always a part of ethics-in-technology discussions, although it does relate.

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                re censorship and Lobsters

                Ok. I’ve been quiet too long on this stuff which a lot on other side of politics are pushing their views since there’s no restrictions on them. Gotta get this out. That comment among others is hard to read given I’m already politically censored in practice based on a recent comment from our new admin @pushcx. I owned up to a probable mistake in the larger thread where counterpoints or downvotes made sense. I’m focusing on the still-debatable part where I claim people sometimes misattribute negative events to their minority status that were caused by other things or (rarer) deceptively do this for personal gain. It’s normally called a minority card but race card is a prevalent one.

                I was told the mere idea it exists was insulting and to not say anything like that again. He was at least clear. In that case, his belief seemed to be that nobody who was a minority would ever exaggerate or lie about effect of their minority status for any reason. The implications to that belief are astounding: minorities would be perfectly perceptive and honest in all situations if these subjects were discussed. Human nature’s problems cease to exist only for them. I’ve seen plenty of articles by people in his camp claiming it doesn’t exist or would have no value. “No value” is strange to me with all the lawsuits asking financial rewards, political bullying happening at universities, or people who get fired when a claim happens. It seems claiming minority status was causal is a tool to affect majority members in justified and unjustified ways.

                Down here in the South, the minorities don’t seem to deny it exists (esp older ones). They’re more concerned about what percentage of claims are true versus false, esp where latter claims are highlighted by whites or males to undermine true ones. Most I asked about it were very concerned with that. It happens a lot, too. They also get mad at the few that do it since they undermine the real claims similar to what happens with sexual assault or rape convictions. So, this is a real thing across many topics which we need more data on at a national level. Instead, I’m warned to never discuss it because those minorities’ views are inherently insulting to minorities like them and their experiences are fabricated. Mine, too, with many painful experiences at school or work entirely made up to prop up a myth. Quite a heavy-hitting and direct claim…

                It’s implied that any dissenting view on political topics that doesn’t represent what his political group thinks, which includes high-voted comments I’ve expressed here before, might also be deemed inherently offensive, hate speech, or whatever based on that belief system. What I warned you would happen in prior metas if moderation/admin changes with new politics happened as I predicted. Now, he said I could say something in private message but I’ve never seen anyone with those beliefs 180ing their position. Likely pointless. Should be a meta instead of behind closed doors anyway. I’ve just been quietly observing things since with all the unknowns surrounding what wouldn’t be allowed and with what response. People keep saying things I’d normally counter or qualify a bit but each might be deemed inherently wrong or offensive.

                So, you’re worried about a hypothetical, but plausible, situation where the gender biases you’re concerned about will be censored along with all political discussion. Whereas, mine are censored as any conversation will be a minefield for people like me with people on other side of spectrum allowed to push their views or activism at will with the illusion of consensus due to dissenter suppression. So, I’m done for now with those topics as @pushcx demanded or seemed to. It’s his site, I’m a guest here, and that’s the new rules. I got plenty of practice for it, too, in a black school and redneck areas that censored sometimes violently either white counterpoints about racism or “talking that nerd shit” respectively. Had to walk tight-rope or be silent. Although irritated, I’m not planning to leave a site with great tech submissions, comments, and people over it as my recurring submissions and tech comments show. I’m not all-or-nothing. Hell, I’d miss pushcx’s submissions, too, including some great ones recently like on symbolic execution. Barnacles is great work, too. Gotta try to stay fair and focused on greater good on principle even in this situation.

                re original topic w/ that backdrop

                Far as what you bring up, I was already avoiding it before the site hand-over due to the overall consensus of the site from the meta threads that we’re about low-noise, deep-thinking stuff esp in tech. There were dissenters ranging from those merely interested in people-oriented topics to subset personally affected by things like sexism to political activists that want it front-and-center in every sphere with moderators policing every comment along political dimensions. Based on votes there and on articles, not to mention quality/civility drop in such discussions, I reinforced encouraging that people avoid political stuff in favor of tech at least on this site. Got plenty of places with more readers, esp founders, managers, or politicians, to push solutions to political problems.

                That said, I don’t care either way since (a) a low-volume, link site not being political will have usually have low impact on society, (b) it going political might get me useful information for activism plus maybe impact (surprise me!), and (c) I’ll be censored either way only allowed to listen not speak on some topics or contribute to others in narrow ways. If you or others want, feel free to do another meta here to see if old plus new members want to do politically focused or activist threads. I’m just going to do one Nay on it with no comments unless someone else brings my comments into it. Hopefully keep myself focused on just those. If consensus is yes, someone can modify the Lobsters code to protect anything tagged politics from mob downvotes: it stays at one minimum with removal being manual after a flag. Given @pushcx’s political leanings, what survives will be biased in favor of those or maybe some of threads you want to see since there’s some overlap (eg eliminating bias against minorities). People not wanting to do politics can then filter the politics tag. I’ll read everything people say as usual just to learn if nothing else.

                If it’s a yes, I might also start submitting political stuff that fits Lobsters style and pushcx’s political rules. Might be research that proves the existence of structural biases against non-whites/males, shows advice from them on effectively mitigating or surviving problems, hiring strategies for boosting diversity with minimal impact on morale, research on stuff like blind auditions, well-run projects getting minorities into code/management/government, and so on. I’ll throw my Google Fu at posting good, political submissions with actionable value for readers versus the pile of comments on Geany thread that probably didn’t move more minority contributors into that project. One did take small action but probably not enough to change project’s culture or contributor demographics. As I indicated, I’d be focused on only topics where my views and the permitted views have overlap where the submissions are actionable aka might improve peoples’ lives in real world as opposed to gaining views on social media. Like I do as a unionized employee looking after coworkers daily in a mostly-minority workplace. I’m fine with doing a little more in a new place even with new restrictions. :)

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                Ethics is critical to our practice as software engineers, and discussing how the project was presented is part of that. If you want to learn about Geany IDE, we could link the original project site and not one that presents it as “sweet and sexy.”