Python community leader speaks out on the dark aspects of geek culture

This post by Nick Coghlan is definitely worth a read:

It’s an issue that’s getting more and more attention as the behaviour of certain big names in the FOSS world creates a situation where people don’t want to contribute out of fear of ridicule. With Linus Torvalds being pretty much at the top of that list. Let alone those things which go way beyond ridicule, as Nick correctly identified with the hideous GamerGate thing last year.

It’s something the entire IT industry needs to pay more attention to and it is also something which, at least aspects of, have not left our own Party unaffected. A good example being the decision to move Victorian meetings (I believe the decision was made by a former member, at least it was a former member who explained the reasoning to me) to a pub based purely on the nautical theme of said pub. The problem was that pub is in one of the most notorious parts of the CBD; it’s got a couple of strip clubs across the road and literally shares a wall with a brothel. Yet these same people wondered why no female members were attending the meetings. It’s that kind of unthinking blindness which can be just as damaging to a community as an ad hominem attack.

Now I’ll grant that some of our members, of either gender, wouldn’t care about the proximity to those businesses, but that’s no reason to assume that of all members. Also, though the pub has clearly been renovated, anyone of my age or older would remember the number of stabbings in that venue and close environs during the '90s. Oh, and that shooting a few years back, the one where the member of the Hells Angels (and ex-Fink) shot three people on a Monday morning (his ex-gf and two people who tried to stop him, one of whom died); literally a stone’s throw from said venue. So nautical themes aside, if you could pick an absolute worst location when trying to foster a welcoming environment, that’d definitely be a contender.

Which brings things back to Nick’s summation: in order to attain the best of our community, whether that be the IT industry, the FOSS development communities or even our own Pirate Party; we need to critically examine our own thinking in all things. At least I know with the Party we’re willing to learn, change and move on from such errors of judgement (yes, the Melbourne meetings are no longer held at that venue). We do, however, need to be ever mindful of such things and actively work to counter negative aspects of our communities. Because it’s always been that way is not an acceptable reason to continue. If we believed that we’d be voting Labor, Liberal or Green.


On that note (critically examining our own thinking in all things), Leslie Hawthorn’s “Checking Your Privilege: A How-To for Hard Things” is worth watching.