I think best think that consistently shows up in this is the team’s reputation in solving hard challenges with what appears to management to be senseless solutions. Sometimes they’d obviously see the value. Normally, it’s uphill for Pieter and his people on both technical side and politics of selling the solution. Yet, their rep at delivering is so good that people often let them take a stab at it and gradually see things their way. There were exceptions but that’s the rule.
Quite opposite to how many IT shops and careers work. That plus brining in technical approaches that are ahead of the curve are why Pieter and iMatix are awesome. :)
I have to say, the people I’ve worked with over the years have mostly been exceptionally creative and willing to think outside the box.
Lucky, lucky you. All I gotta say about that. Or maybe I should bump it up above other things I look at when considering working at a company. Drop leaflets at various companies with tough, programming challenges to see if anyone solves them at the web site. Haha.
EDIT to add: Make sure each is an actual problem in a significant OSS project. So, as I’m filtering chaff, the wheat is making real contributions instead of just playing games with puzzles. :)
Bit of context: Pieter Hintjens is dying rather actively.
I’d just like to observe that I really appreciate this final accounting of his life’s work; so many of us refuse to talk about our achievements and failures, about the people that helped us and the people and businesses that screwed us. We do it for one reason or another, but as Pieter is demonstrating here in the end we all die anyways and the only thing we accomplish in our silence is hurting our allies and helping our enemies.
I’d like to think that at some time in the next thirty years I’ll have done some software work worth recounting as bravely as he has.
His account on people telling him what to eat reminds me of something:
The children’s hospital in my city used to have a mcdonalds, and people complained saying it didn’t make sense to have junk food at a hospital, and i believe it was removed. My dad is a doctor that works there sometimes, and he said making sick kids eat anything (esppecially healthy things) is a struggle, and actually, if they eat some chicken nuggets it is a big win for their health.
Dying actively, yeah, that’s about right.
I don’t know what came over me, it was after I’d been diagnosed and I got pneumonia from the biopsy and I wrote a final blog article and it all exploded, and I realized people were desperately interested in understanding death and finding perspective around it.
Everyone’s life is interesting. I’m a firm believer in that. It’s just how you tell the story, and I’m a writer and should be able to do that for my own stories…
Anyhow it’s been fun so far. :-)
Speaking as someone who’s been close to dying for mental-health reasons, I found your perspective touching and relatable. I absolutely am happy you’ve been writing. I’m not sure what else to say. :)
The organizers shall be aware of the risk of “date rape” drugs.
Is our situation really that bad?
If they receive information about a participant who claims to have suffered from blackouts, or who behaves in uncharacteristic ways causing hurt to themselves or others, they shall assist the participant with a medical blood test for drugs, within 24 hours.
If someone is suffering from blackouts, [s]he must receive medical attention immediately, whatever the cause, and if there’s a suspicion of involuntary drug taking, police should be contacted. It’s one of the many items on the list that should end with “and then call the police and tell them that a crime has likely been committed”, but doesn’t.
I was specifically asked to add that clause by someone who’d been drugged a while back at an event in, let’s say, Bogota. The police were involved, and they treated the person as a criminal. Back home they got a drug test. They were not the only person who had blackouts.
It’s not our situation that is bad, the world just has its nasty aspects. There are countries where such drugs are easy to get hold of, so predators are more likely to try them (and we know at least 1% in any given group is likely a predator). The point of “we will investigate blackouts” is to warn predators away from such tactics, and protect against such cases if they do happen.
I don’t even know what value filing complaints with police would do in such cases. Uniforms don’t scare such people.
I was specifically asked to add that clause by someone who’d been drugged a while back at an event
Thanks for the explanation. This is… Unpleasant to hear.
It’s not our situation that is bad, the world just has its nasty aspects.
The world is not uniform, and its various aspects are more common in some places than others. So I’d still say our situation is bad, at least according to my impression of the rest of the society I live in.
But threat of punishment may scare them, or, failing that, the punishment may remove them from the society. (Granted, it’s not as simple when your events are hopping jurisdictions.) What happened to the suspect in “Bogota”?
I’m interested in other lobsters' take on this.
While I see his point about Model B being the cause of many problems, Model A also explains many interactions (less so in the specific case he gave).
For example, for several years I used “that’s gay” as a phrase synonymous with “that’s stupid” – a habit I picked up in online gaming. I didn’t change this until freshman year of college, when someone (teammate on a group project) asked me to stop because they felt it was a slur against them. It took a bit, but I changed that habit and haven’t used that phrase for several years. This situation falls pretty squarely under Model A (except the strawman 3rd point).
It seems to me that a good CoC would address both problems. I’m not super familiar with what CoCs typically look like these days, but I get the feeling from what I’ve heard second-hand that they often do address both problems.
I feel like I’m missing something.
Would a CoC have helped there? I think unintended low-level offensiveness like that is very real, but a CoC doesn’t help address it; I don’t think there being a code under which you could be excluded would have resulted in a more positive outcome in your example, and it could have resulted in a worse one.
It depends on the level the person uttering that stands: as a speaker, it would probably be followed by a stern word by the organisers and a request for an apology. As an attendee in an idle chat: probably only when someone feels they want to report it. As an organiser: you have something in hand to file a complaint.
Please note that CoCs are statements and there is always implementation following. The response to a CoC violation is not necessarily exclusion (I’d say, that is an extreme case), the usual path is a discussion with org team, where it is pretty clear where the org team stands.
I do implement CoCs on multiple occasions (I used to run 2 conferences, and run meetups) and the vast majority of all cases falls into the “let’s have a chat” category. And you know what’s interesting? That chat goes amazingly well when you enter the discussion with “we notified you before that we do watch out for those things”. Most people are “ok, you are right, thanks”.
It’s a common fallacy to believe that CoCs are there to kick people out quickly. There are cases, but they are rare. And even then, it’s better to have a publicly stated moral ground to base this on then just doing it at whim.
Also, finally: CoCs are not there to prevent things (they can’t, for most of the time). The are there to organise handling of issues.
And you know what’s interesting? That chat goes amazingly well when you enter the discussion with “we notified you before that we do watch out for those things”. Most people are “ok, you are right, thanks”.
In a way that it doesn’t without the thing being in the code? Interesting. That’s not what I’d expect.
The are there to organise handling of issues.
Sure, but you need a cood only to mediate disagreement, no? And to my mind it doesn’t seem like there was any actual disagreement in the original example, only ignorance.
Not having one often leads to discussions that this was not communicated and literally “where does it stand?”. CoCs are outward communication first and foremost. Which is also a reason why I am comfortable with organisers writing their own CoCs for specific kinds of events instead of just signing a standard one they are not fully in agreement with. (they should talk to others).
The problem is old, by the way, and the reason why Bulleting Boards had Board rules, even if people didn’t read them and concert/festival tickets often come with the house rules printed.
My lighthearted explanation of a CoC is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD1KqbDdmuE . Think about that scene without that sign: it would have been the 500st discussion of the store owner that Stairway to Heaven is not appreciated in the store.
No, there are also cases where they should get active by themselves, so there is not necessarily disagreement involved.
CoCs are nothing like as explicit as bulletin board rules or that video though. The ones I’ve seen haven’t even attempted to define what constitutes “offensive” or “homophobic”. If @emallson saw nothing wrong in using “gay” that way, would a written rule against homophobia have changed that? I don’t see how it helps avoid “where does it stand?” - not trying to deny your experience, just I don’t see how it works.
That’s interesting. If I say something like “colorized grep output is gay” is that homophobic? I always assumed so, but I think I can make the argument that it’s not.
I think the A and B models explain a lot. Model A people find rules designed to deal with model B people ridiculously strict and harsh. Assurances that inadvertent violations will not result in immediate expulsion don’t help. The A people don’t need rules, just guidance, but they are aware of B people, and rules (of any sort) provide B people a framework to harass others. As the story goes, “I’m sorry Alice but you need to leave because Mallory says you’re abusive” is pretty bad.
This fear is likely exaggerated. I can’t honestly claim I’ve been unfairly punished for stupid things I’ve said, but nobody is rational about such things, and a CoC has more “teeth” than “mere” name calling. The degree of the injustice of false accusation weighs more heavily than its probability.
[Comment removed by author]
I need to clean this argumentation up. What is starting to be clear is that we have two distinct patterns.
One is clumsiness, mistakes, cultural misunderstandings, etc. People aren’t perfect. In this pattern, A breaks some social code, and B tells him/her about it, and A self-corrects quickly. We see this happen all the time. This pattern isn’t just common, I think it’s essential. Without some friction, people don’t learn and socialize in an event.
Two is deliberate boundary violation, which bad actors specialize in. A breaks some social code, B tells him/her about it, and A rejects B’s accusations and launches counter attacks. We also see this happen, in some circles. This pattern is traumatic to B and to bystanders, who often feel helpless to intervene. A is so confident, and so skilled at looking innocent and sincere.
I tried to separate these two patterns because I think a CoC needs to embrace the first while defusing the second.
What I’ve seen is that these two patterns are mixed into one, conventionally. This means “anyone can be a harasser” (since we all make mistakes), and “it is a motiveless act” (again, since mistakes and general stupidity are not tactical).
Does this make sense?
I’m going to put the protocol text + argumentation on github, and work with pull requests. If anyone would like to help on this, please let me know. I appreciate the discussion here.
The thing with vague CoCs is that they lead, IME, to meta discussions at the parties like “I’d like to ask X about Y but it might be misintepreted so what do you guys think?” The general consensus always is that don’t be an a-hole, whatever you do.
That should be enough for an inclusive and gender-neutral CoC anyway - it doesn’t instill paranoia.
This has come up at a couple of recent conferences I’ve attended and think it’s more pattern than coincidence.
As for privacy, I agree. Said that, when they announce unfortunate violations (if there were any) I would consider announcing boadly the type of violation. Otherwise, as seen IRL, people will wonder if a bikini picture in their slides counted and his friends reassuring him he’d probably know if it did.
Maybe I’ve been to more civilized - or careful - conferences, but my gut tells me having a simple CoC with a code for misconduct would suffice and lend to a better atmosphere. Maybe point out that apologizing and accepting apologies can lead to better understanding of intentions, just in case.