This week’s episode of Men in Tech Behaving Badly is the case of Heather Arthur, whose work was mocked and ridiculed on Twitter, prompting her to post a calm analysis and raise the very pertinent question of the effect such ridicule might have on entrants to the Open Source movement and their confidence in publishing code.
While many of those involved in the Twitter thread have been quick to unconditionally apologise, one person, David Cramer, found a different lesson in the episode. In a post titled “Being Wrong on the Internet”, he writes:
To people like Heather, criticism (good and bad) comes every day. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are, and it doesn’t matter if you can handle it or not. It’s going to be there. Open source doesn’t change that. In fact, no ecosystem in society changes that. It’s there, and it’s not something everyone can deal with. [Emphasis added]
It seems to me that there is in fact one ecosystem in society, namely the real flesh and blood society itself, where bad criticism is considered inadmissible and the inability of a person to “deal with” merely holds a mirror on the ecosystem’s inability to prevent it.
Two days ago, in an unrelated bit of news, Alan Cox announced he is leaving GNU/Linux development:
I’m leaving the Linux world and Intel for a bit for family reasons. I’m aware that “family reasons” is usually management speak for “I think the boss is an asshole” but I’d like to assure everyone that while I frequently think Linus is an asshole (and therefore very good as kernel dictator)…
The doublespeak of some making a macho virtue out of asshole’ishness, while simultaneously, others pay lip service to the importance of encouragement and civility is incoherent.
It might be worthwhile to either establish the claim that “asshole dictator[s]” are a necessary and good thing or to accept that uncivil and antisocial behaviour is unacceptable independent of realities or authority.