Unless you have been living under a rock in the Rails world you have certainly not missed the latest, a presentation at the Golden Gate Ruby Conference a couple weeks ago by Matt Aimonetti titled CouchDB + Ruby: Perform Like a Pr0n Star raised many eye browse.
Although I did not attend this conference it was widely known that Matt?s presentation featured women in thongs to drive some of Matt?s points home. Since Rails is mainly a male audience, the content didn?t offend the males but for the number of women, it was tasteless. I won?t try to find my own quotes from women as _why has done a great job already, but for example:
Amy Newell: I understand that the ruby community prides itself on its un- or anti-professionalism. But some professional norms exist for very good reasons: because they make it easier for people of different backgrounds and life experiences to come together and work productively and respectfully. One doesn?t have to be an uptight square to suggest that aggressive displays of sexual content at programming conferences perhaps decrease, rather than increase the ability of those attending to learn and focus on the technology itself. Titillation is certainly good marketing, but frankly, if you can?t find a way to make your presentation interesting that doesn?t include thonged asses, your presentation isn?t interesting. Not everyone responds to tits and ass, but everyone can respond to honest, creative, intelligent command of the material and eagerness to share it.
Denise: Only six women at the conference? it explains everything, off course the majority liked it! [?] the issue is not about censorship and freedom of speech, the issue is about mutual respect, there are no rules or laws for this, only human judgment.
I have to admit when I heard of Matt?s presentation I just had to shake my head and wonder why he thought it was acceptable to use those images in what was supposed to be a respected presentation. The real issue here was not really Matt?s lack of judgment but the reaction by DHH.
He finds this totally acceptable and lauded it. DHH is the spokesperson for Rails, the poster-child if you will, and I would certainly expect better values from him. Sure, Rails is supposed to be edgy, but there has to be limits.
I have spent many years doing Microsoft development and still do it today and you would NEVER find such total lack of judgment used by community leaders in the Microsoft camp. You would never find Scott Hanselman or others using thonged women in their presentations. It would never be acceptable and would never be expected.
Reddit has some good feedback on the debacle, comment Rails is still a ghetto. Matt is part of the Rails Activists team and should have had better common sense than he used. This lapse in judgment lead to the resignation of Mike Gunderloy, long-time .NET and now Rails developer, from the Rails Activist team.
But unfortunately for me, in parallel to the public discussion there have been private ones. I can?t reveal details without breaking confidences, but suffice it to say that a significant number of Rails core contributors – with leadership (if that?s the right word) from DHH – apparently feel that being unwelcoming and ?edgy? is not just acceptable, but laudable. The difference between their opinions and mine is so severe that I cannot in good conscience remain a public spokesman for Rails.
So, effective immediately, I?m resigning my position with the Rails Activists.
This is truly a sad result of this fiasco. Mike has been a pillar of the Rails community, bringing in years of experience outside of Rails. I think this sums up the current true state of the Rails community. There are too many thoughtless, hapless cowboys leading a great community of developers that it is a shame. There are many folks who are very thoughtful, not the cowboy type and are in this to build a strong, mature community. These folks are overshadowed by the few with poor values and are too immature to lead.
A very strong business leader and Rails community figure, Obie Fernandez, posted a very good post to the Rails Activist group showing his distaste for the debacle. His suggestions should only be the beginning:
So as to not complain without offering solutions, here is my list of
what I think should happen (for discussion):
1) Matt should resign from the Rails activist group
2) If Matt does not understand why what he did and subsequent
non-apology was wrong, then we should be kind enough to explain it to
3) With all due respect to DHH and notwithstanding his desire for
Rails to remain "edgy" I think he should apologize for implicitly
endorsing Matt’s behavior
These are very good suggestions, will they be followed? I guess we will see if any maturity exists at the top of the Rails pyramid.