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A Difficult Situation (sendgrid.com)
587 points by jbaudanza on March 21, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 432 comments

They need to update that statement with the fact that the joke was not about her, nor directed at her. Their statement leaves that very important part out, making the reader think otherwise - that she was the victim.

At the same time (or around that time) this was happening, here is a conversation she was having -


Another gem from years ago -


I'd imagine she was looking for any excuse she could find to be offended, and play the victim card.

And then bringing her employer into this mess -

> @SendGrid supports me.


...should have been the firable offence IMO.

This whole situation makes me deeply uncomfortable.

First, because it demonstrates the extent to which a company can be brought to its knees by a group of hostile people organized online.

Second because hundreds and hundreds of men here and elsewhere seem quite happy to align themselves with an overtly sexist, violently threatening campaign against an individual whose views they disagree with.

I am not in a position to comment on the firing, or what qualifies someone to excel as an "evangelist." The statement is right that she probably couldn't do her job well anymore.

But this is a sad thing, not a victory, and the further abuse and ignorance happening and being up voted here is really unsettling. Why are so many really so angry? I promise it has nothing to do with this woman.

Taking a photograph of someone in a public place and reporting what they said within earshot, without any expectation of privacy, does not warrant vitriol.

Joking about big dicks and sex disruptively in the context of a public event held for a profession which continues to struggle with sexism and misogyny means something very different than joking to a friend, and those people who have chosen to listen to what you have to say, about pretending to have a big dick.

And guess what, her sentiment about racism, whether I agree with it or not, is shared by many scholars of American race relations who are decidedly more informed on the subject.

Instead of shaming a stranger who has a different frame of reference than you (assuming you haven't had much experience as a black woman) why don't we all take a deep breath and think about how we can protect against the kind of fear so palpable in Sendgrid's statement, the kind that cowed them so extremely?

> Why are so many really so angry? I promise it has nothing to do with this woman.

One guy (while looking at the presentation), turned his head to his buddy, and said - look at the size of that dongle, would you fork it?

Do you know what that is? It's Funny (and crude). And if you don't find it to be so, that's just too bad. You're not owed anything. You (nor anyone else) have been violated.

We are simply getting fed up that there are people so PC, so fragile, so venomous, so victimhood seeking, that they would attempt to drop a bomb on us over nothing.

> And guess what, her sentiment about racism, whether I agree with it or not, is shared by many scholars of American race relations who are decidedly more informed on the subject.

Redefining established words to fit your narrative (as someone said on here) is a crime against understanding and is not acceptable.

> Redefining established words to fit your narrative (as someone said on here) is a crime against understanding and is not acceptable.

This is hardly a redefinition as much as a clarification of intent and context. Saying that it's a "crime against understanding" is a bit of an exaggeration.

I mean, saying that racism is "prejudice" is what Dictionary.com says, and saying racism is "prejudice with power" is what a sociologist says, then can't you figure it out with context? Dictionary.com says gravity is, "the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth." but a physicist would probably have a different definition they think is more accurate.

I definitely wouldn't say that Adria was right in this whole incident, but picking apart the rest of her Twitter history like it's some sort of way to establish how much you should dislike her is the wrong approach to making things better.

Nonsense. She wrote in all caps that a class of people "CANNOT" be racist in all caps like a loony bird. She wasn't making some deep intellectual point. Come on. It was stupidity. It's not the same as a layperson describing gravity in terms of some basic understanding of Newtonian physics and a physicist describing it in terms of general relativity. It was just dumb.

> It's not the same as a layperson describing gravity in terms of some basic understanding of Newtonian physics and a physicist describing it in terms of general relativity. It was just dumb.

You're mixing up what I said: a sociologist describing a social phenomenon is analogous to a physicist describing a physical phenomenon.

In the tweet, Adria colloquially used the word "racism" in a way that's different from colloquial usage (she used the sociologist's definition and not the Dictionary.com definition), but that doesn't make her stupid or a "loony bird."

Do a couple tweets, screwups, or overreactions deserve this kind of outrage?

> You're mixing up what I said: a sociologist describing a social phenomenon is analogous to a physicist describing a physical phenomenon.

Sorry, no. All academic disciplines are not analogous and equivalent. The sociological re-casting of "racism" that we are referring to here is an opinion, and not even a majority one at that (among sociologists).

First, because it demonstrates the extent to which a company can be brought to its knees by a group of hostile people organized online

I agree. This is frightening. Any concept of a DDOS being a "digital sit-in" are dumb. PlayHaven may also have been trying to avoid the mob, too.

Second because hundreds and hundreds of men here and elsewhere seem quite happy to align themselves with an overtly sexist, violently threatening campaign against an individual whose views they disagree with.

What do you mean by "align themselves"? Those are extremely vague words.

Do you mean "approve of"? Or do you mean "takes the same side as"?

Anyone who approves of the DDOS is a moron. Anyone who approves of death threats is a sociopath. The people who issued threats should be subject to criminal prosecution.

However, people can find themselves legitimately on the same side of an issue as a bunch of assholes. No one should be forced out of a position by the fact that disgusting people also have that opinion.[1]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_fallacy

DDOS is about the same level as fire bombing a business.

People like Richard Stallman who disagree (Richard Stallman is stuck in the past) really haven't got a clue that's going on.

No, I can't make that leap. Firebombing? I don't condone DDOS, but that's just crazy. The moment people can die (without citing some kind of really strange examples) from DDOS, I will reconsider but come on.

Arson is a serious felony because people are often killed by it, inhabitants and/or firefighters.

A DDoS is akin to blocking the entry of customers to a retail establishment.

>Second because hundreds and hundreds of men here and elsewhere seem quite happy to align themselves with an overtly sexist, violently threatening campaign against an individual whose views they disagree with.

Erm, I don't know that I see that. I presume you mean the anonymous-handle twitter/facebook vitriol? Yeah, that's just what internet forum kids do. Every time a trainwreck happens. And disagreeing with Adria doesn't automatically place one in the same camp as them, or "align" one with them.

I, for one, think Adria absolutely deserved to be fired. I think I'm qualified to say that, because logic. I think we are all qualified to judge that one. I also think that the death/rape/violence threats she received were utterly reprehensible. One can be in both camps.

> And disagreeing with Adria doesn't automatically place one in the same camp as them, or "align" one with them.

A certain "if you're not with us you're against us" rhetoric has been bandied about here recently, effectively implying that any who voice opposition, or fail to actively defend, Adria are somehow complicit to the vitriolic hate speech seen on Twitter / FB or wherever. This is not really a logical leap to make, and only serves to further divide the community.

It should be perfectly acceptable to voice rational viewpoints without fear of being associated with extremist groups. Logical discussion is a hallmark of this forum, and I would hate to see it disappear to fear and paranoia.

But why did she tweet the photo? Why stir up a bunch of shit in public? Apparently she has done it before: http://amandablumwords.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/3/

Wow! I am speechless. I was so willing let her get away with the way overblown Internet meltdown, but this proves without any doubt that Adria has a pattern of such public misbehavior. Hope all her potential future employers read this one link, if nothing else.

What a vindictive sociopath!

Wow. Indeed, that's a pretty clear pattern. Looks like she spends her time looking for ridiculous things to get deeply offended by.

Hogwash. Where's the evidence that the people pictured said anything. Which one said what? At best this is potentially libelous. If you had video of them saying it or a photo of them making gestures, this is one thing. As well, the statements were not, per se, as far as I have heard, misogynistic.

If the facts of the case were different and we had the same response, I would probably side with you. However, it seems like this person is throwing a little temper tantrum and it is, apparently, a pattern of behavior of her's that doesn't help anyone. It's also very poor judgement for someone representing a company at a conference.

It seems a little silly to me for someone that is allegedly an evangelist for a tech company not to know how the Internet works.

As for the racism bit, since you brought it up, no it was a moronic statement without real basis.

I don't think Sendgrid cowed at all. I think this person has a history, apparently, of baiting situations and causing herself to be a spectacle, very inappropriate for a representative.

> Taking a photograph of someone in a public place and reporting what they said within earshot, without any expectation of privacy, does not warrant vitriol.

FWIW, the prospect of being overheard for a passing comment and subsequently slandered all over Twitter is rather terrifying. I suspect many contributors here can easily see themselves in the shoes of the dev who was canned, and therefore perceive Adria's actions as unreasonable.


>Taking a photograph of someone in a public place and reporting what they said within earshot, without any expectation of privacy, does not warrant vitriol.

It's not actually a public place. It's a private venue. The venue can set the policy as it sees fit the same way concerts can ban recording devices, etc.

Here's a thought: You don't need to post every single thought you have on twitter. So many of these controversies can be avoided by following that rule

Exactly, just two guys making forking jokes (get it?). Even Github sells merch with the words "Fork you".

Zealous oversensitive jaded person like her, taking her time to get the phone out, take a picture, possible geo-tagged of two guys who might not want to be on her Twitter.

She has no right to do that. Especially when there was no communication between them. You don't like their jokes, tell them or move away.

Looking at her tweets, she likes to increase her branding, I can see replies where the @username is a part of the sentence so it's a more public tweet, than when @ is at the start of the sentence. Calling people for bullies.

People like that are hard to be around, constantly tip toe.

There's a difference between being sexist, and just having crude humour about genitalia and intercourse.

What happened was bad taste to be sure, but it isn't sexism. If they made a comment asking why all the women in the audience aren't bringing them beer that would be sexist. Using sexual language is not by itself sufficient for sexism. It is bad taste and an argument could be made it should be rooted out in a professional environment, but it shouldn't be confused with actual sexism.

Sexism: Belief one of the sexes can inherently not do a task due to their sex (write code, vote, make brownies).

Bad taste: Abercrombie ads, Fork You shirts, South Park, Maxim.

That's a tempting argument, but I agree with pukka_my. Sexual jokes or innuendo make some people, especially women, uncomfortable. Among friends, in private, you might know that everyone present is fine with that kind of banter. In a public place, you can't know that. So giving yourself permission to make such cracks anyway is at best insensitive and, if repeated, betrays an attitude that says "because I'm a man and you're a woman, I don't have to care how you feel about this". That's sexist.

It's entirely dependent on context and who's doing the delivery. If someone makes an unwanted comment towards you, gay or straight, you can laugh it off and make a joke back that it isn't going to happen. If they continue even after you've made it clear you aren't receptive, that's harassment. And finally, if there's a systematic coverup of the unwanted advance that would be sexism.

Trying to accuse two guys of making an inappropriate joke of sexism is serious embellishment. She was merely trying to get hits on Twitter because sexism witch hunts are en vogue and it backfired. Witch hunts do nothing to cure the world of witches.

Actually, it is sexist to believe that it's ok to make comments of a sexual nature if they are likely to lead to members of the audience feeling uncomfortable or offended. Sexism is not just skill-related, it's the attitude that the opinions, feelings or actions of one gender are somehow inherently inferior or less important than those of another and expressing that attitude through your own actions or words. Intentionality has nothing to do with it; sexism is often implicit or so internalized that people (especially but not exclusively men) fail to realize when they are in fact acting in a sexist manner. A little self-reflection might help here . . .

Making innuendo about forking or dongles isn't sexism because they aren't belittling any specific gender. A man could be offended by that innuendo as much as a woman. If he had said, "women only exist to get forked by big dongles," that would be sexism because he would be belittling women. Don't confuse sexual for sexism.

Making innuendo jokes to a friend is not sexual harassment either. If he had said, "hey want to see my big dongle?" to the girl, that would be harassment because he would be making unwanted sexual comments towards her.

However, he just made a joke to a friend in private, and she overheard. I'm allowed to say anything I want to my friend, even if it may be inappropriate for the setting. She was free to think of him as a jerk, or even tweet "there's a jerk behind me." (Although I don't think there's anything wrong with making an innuendo joke to a buddy, but clearly she does.) Unfortunately, publicly shaming the guy for a private comment not meant for her was totally uncalled for and puts her on the wrong side of this mess.

Intentionality has nothing to do with it? The problem is if we played your game everything we do or say could be sexist. You could argue the act of programming is some sort "performance" of male dominion over women or some such sociological jibber jabber. If you combine that with the well known law that there's always someone in the world that think just about any crazy thing could name, you're always in danger of offending someone.

I stopped in a local donut shop a couple weeks ago and there was a patron with his child that was horribly offended that the shop had a TV in the store and it was turned on (to some benign news channel) without even the volume on. I could tell it was one of those crazy people that don't even want their children to even know TV exists, he kept going on and on about "I can't believe they would have a TV." Long story short, the fact that you're alive will offend someone.

In this case, I don't believe Adria was offended. She is inauthentic to me.

I agree, you can't put South Park there, makes me think all the satirical points just went above your head. Have you actually seen an episode and get the point of the episode it makes (usually at the end by either Stanley or Kyle)

But then again I'd even go so far and put Abercrombie under racism. You seen their Singaporean ads?

The difference between south park's jokes and the dongle jokes is that south park is generally funny.

The amazing thing about this situation is that if the guy's jokes were funnier, they'd probably have gone over better. You could spin it as he was fired because his dick jokes weren't funny enough.

I think you'll find that a major part of South Park's popularity is not its satire, but its juvenile humor.

Abercrombie ads and Maxim are like South Park and Github merch? There are degrees of bad taste, you know...

I'd even offer "contact conference organizers in a non-public way if you don't feel comfortable confronting the other person directly".

Some people have a hard time addressing these issues directly – particularly when in the minority (by gender, in this case). It happens, and I'm not going to judge it. The issue here isn't that she was offended, but, rather, that she went from 0 to 100% full-on public on a well-trafficked twitter feed. She certainly skipped a few steps in the ladder of escalation, sure, but I think she had options other than just those you present. Just say'n.

I'm just disappointed that this is the top thread, since it's basically little more than a cheap ad-hominem attack and doesn't contribute anything to resolving or working towards a better understanding of the underlying issues that have caused this all to escalate so badly.

Do you know Adria personally?

Saying that "We got an unstable, hypocritical, oversensitive jaded person out of our way. I think this was a win." without knowing her personally would be ... well ... not exactly OK.

In her blog post about this, she was likening herself to Joan of Arc over this event. And that was just the beginning. Too bad that website is down.

I'd like to see anyone take this level of vitriol and be completely level-headed. I would start stockpiling food, because apparently Jesus Christ has come back and the End Times are here.

Her Joan of Arc screed was in her initial blog post - there was no vitriol until then. Chicken and egg.

Her initial blog post isn't what caused this. She was featured on Hacker News before she wrote it.

This is an interesting take on the subject: https://amandablumwords.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/3/

"She has no right to do that."

Perhaps better way to phrase that is that she has every right to do that but then has to understand the consequences and ramifications of her actions at least job wise. In this case sendgrid apparently has updated their code of conduct. But not every situation can be spelled out (because it hasn't happened yet).

> People like that are hard to be around, constantly tip toe.

It really isn't.

Most of us that actually work in a professional environment aren't making crude jokes about sexual topics. And we sure as hell are on our best behaviour at offsite events. Clearly this is a foreign concept to you.

> It really isn't.

If saying something like "I'd fork him on GitHub" is going to provoke you to publicly shame me, then you're difficult to be around.

With certain people, it's not just about crude jokes. I think Lyndsy Simon summed it up pretty well in his comment on Avdi Grimm's G+ post [1]. It's not possible to link to a comment, so I'll reproduce it here:

I was at a sprint on Monday, speaking to a female developer. She was discussing a project she'd worked on, and a coworker's method for solving a tricky problem. I said something along the lines of "So, which path did he take?". Her reply "She decided to..."

Oh, crap.

I honestly didn't mean to offend anyone, and I could tell she took issue with my presumption. Her tone was enough to call me out, and that was all that was said. About an hour later, I spoke with her away from everyone else and apologized. She said she didn't even notice, but I'm fairly sure she was sparing my feelings.

Now, think about that - my own inadvertent actions were approximately on par with the "jokes" that this is all about. That could be me be lambasted around the world.

I get that others feel excluded on a regular basis from things where I assume inclusion. I'm sorry, I do everything I can to make sure that's not the case when I'm involved - but the fact that someone who's "on their side" is concerned that their feet will be held to this fire is evidence that there is a lack of empathy from all sides of the debate, and that's a bad thing.

[1]: https://plus.google.com/104757475552569715504/posts/N81SaYUT...

Well, except nothing happened to him. He wasn't reported, he wasn't fired, his photo wasn't taken. So obviously it's not the same as those jokes.

That's irrelevant. Here's the concluding mark from the quote:

> but the fact that someone who's "on their side" is concerned that their feet will be held to this fire is evidence that there is a lack of empathy from all sides of the debate, and that's a bad thing.

He didn't say it was the same. He was commenting on his feelings and his perception of the social atmosphere.

Yeah, but he tried to use it as an example of something that could lead someone to shame him. But... it didn't happen. I don't know many people who would shame someone for assuming an unknown programmer is a man. It sucks, because it does kind of exclude women, but the default gender in our lexicon is aliased to "male." It was pretty tough for me to stop using it and start using "they" instead. It wasn't as tough for me to stop saying dick jokes in public.

And I'd like someone to link me to where these two guys, who are still anonymous by the way, are being "lambasted around the world." Because there's only one person being lambasted, and I'll give you one guess who it is.

I don't think me disproving their example, which is essential to their point, is irrelevant. I think it's very relevant.

> Yeah, but he tried to use it as an example of something that could lead someone to shame him.


> But... it didn't happen.


> I don't know many people who would shame someone for assuming an unknown programmer is a man.

I don't know many people who would shame someone for saying "I'd fork him on GitHub" or making irreverent "dongle" jokes either. But clearly, they exist. And clearly, public shaming can do significant damage.

I understand this to be the central point of the GGGP.

> And I'd like someone to link me to where these two guys, who are still anonymous by the way, are being "lambasted around the world." Because there's only one person being lambasted, and I'll give you one guess who it is.

The first public remark in this whole incident was a lambasting of two individuals including a picture.

> I don't think me disproving their example

You didn't disprove anything. Whether or not the person quoted in the GGGP was publicly shamed was irrelevant. I stated this before and I'll say it one last time: the central point was the commenter's feelings and the commenter's perception of the social atmosphere. Those things are not dependent upon whether the commenter was publicly shamed, and yet, they can greatly affect the way we interact with each other.

Ugh, I really hate it when people split posts up like that. It gets unwieldy and strips the post of its overall context. I'm guilty of it, but I've been trying to cut back. It makes my posts smaller since I have to reply to the meat of it, you know? Not just its individual components.

Anyway, I'm saying that someone who would feel threatened by accidentally assuming a male gender might not necessarily be on their side, and their assumption might just be misguided. That invalidates the rest of his post, since it all relied on him feeling threatened when the threat doesn't exist.

I recognize the annoyance of splitting up a post. I find it incredibly difficult to avoid if I am to achieve the level of precision and concision that I want in my replies. This is partly due to my unimaginative writing and partly due to my desire to be as unambiguous as possible. Splitting out the post caters to both, but at the cost of continuity and a more pleasant reading experience.

What exactly does it take to have knowledge of the existence of a threat? In the case that has provoked all of this, there weren't any warning signs of impending doom. It therefore seams reasonable to me that nobody can know if a threat exists or not until after-the-fact. If it's unknowable, then what's the point in bringing it up anyway?

More importantly, this isn't an academic point. Feelings can't be invalidated. It doesn't make sense to speak of feelings or perceptions as invalid or valid---they simply exist in our minds. Perhaps they will go away or subside with more careful reflection and discussion, but that doesn't mean it is somehow invalid to acknowledge them. Particularly in this context, where presumably, this feeling was fostered by the recent kerfuffle.

The only thing we can say about the validity of the commenter's feelings or perceptions is that either they are truly what the commenter believes he felt, or the commenter is lying. The first is the only useful assumption given what we know; so we go with it.

So what if the commenter escaped without any public shaming? That has no impact on the commenter's feelings or perception at the time and therefore is missing the point of the commenter's reflection.

They were using their feelings to back up their point. If their feelings are misguided, the point they were trying to make is invalid. There is no proof that they would ever be publicly humiliated for misusing a pronoun, so to live in fear of that is misguided, and to use it as a reason why you should change your actions is ridiculous.

I still don't see any impending doom. Her original photograph tweet was retweeted... 20 times, I think? The only reason that guy was fired was because it was featured on HN through no action of Adria's.

I'm just going to say it. If you're going to compare these two things, you're crazy. Some assumption that is partly an accident of language, partly an accident of imagining others to be similar to your self without any other information, and the recognition of statistics, could in, any way, be shame worthy is just nuts.

Well yes... That's the point... I also think it's crazy that forking and dongle jokes are shame worthy. And yet, here we are.

Oh really? Well the question is, I am currently not sure how the person in question would react to a "Fork you" shirt. So...... that's the problem, that was my point. Where is the line? Because apparently that triggered.

But somehow, "example" is a foreign concept to you, since you sorta got stuck on the "crude joke" portion.

Way to go to miss the whole point.

The "line" for professional conduct is really simple.

If you are thinking about doing something ask yourself this question, "Would I do this if the CEO of our company was standing next to me".

My CEO? Absolutely. If I worked at another company, probably not. You have to judge the company you're in, and if someone takes offence, apologise, and be more mindful next time.

I don't think so. Many CEOs are irrational dunces and would react negatively if you admitted any flaws in the product or in yourself or anything of that nature. However, I don't think that as such makes it unprofessional. I think it's just common sense (which I'm aware is not so common).

Best behavior at offsite events... There's nothing inherently wrong with this and perhaps hard to argue with; however, it just seems like something a cog in a wheel would say ... nothing mean spirited intended, just rubs me the wrong way. :)

I'm with you there, was sorta dronish.

Can people please stop bringing up that tweet? It has absolutely nothing to do with what happened at PyCon. Whatever she says on her own personal twitter feed is wholly unrelated to what happens at a professional event. Especially since the only people who see her tweet are people that have explicitly chosen to do so (either by following her or by following someone's link to it). What is acceptable in an opt-in scenario is wildly different than what is acceptable when unwilling bystanders are listening.

>Whatever she says on her own personal twitter feed is wholly unrelated to what happens at a professional event.

Except: A) She posted the picture in question on that twitter feed and B) She identifies herself as affiliated with her (former) employer at the top of that feed/in her profile. To me, those make her "personal" feed not so personal and wholly germane to this conversation.

Lots of people do that. I identify the university I work at in my twitter profile. Obviously I do not tweet on behalf of my university; it's just a way of describing what I do in my day job. Sometimes I tweet negative things about people. It's just words; you know, people talking to other people. Sometimes they even do it in public, like we're doing right here.

It's not obvious who you represent when you have list an employer in your title or bio. The point of listing it is that you're adding that affiliation and connection. Worse are not "just words". If that were true, libel wouldn't exist. Libel can cause significant damage and the connection between your twitter account and your employer makes them a target. So you might want to ask the University's legal department before you assume that they're ok with being connected to you on twitter.

Yes, I recognize there are some narrow exceptions such as libel, and I'm perfectly fine being held accountable for libel. If I post something which actually libels someone, i.e. something which a court will hold me accountable for having posted, then that's fair, and I'll take full responsibility.

What seems to be in question here, however, is whether people may post truthful comments on twitter, which under U.S. law are by definition not libelous.

It's more than just libel though. While truthful, your employer might not like being associated with the opinions that you're sharing. That's why employers have social media policies - to protect themselves by educating their employees so that they understand that the employee can be held accountable for the opinions shared via social media if that employee is identifying themselves online as being associated with that company. It is extremely common, and I would suspect your University does have an opinion on the matter - especially if it's a State funded school. Then especially, you're a State employee and are representing that larger group too.

are you seriously arguing that if you mention your place of employment on your personal website or blog, they then have the right to police everything you post there?!

Nope. What I'm saying is that once you do that, you run a much higher risk of alienating your employer by saying or doing controversial things. They certainly can't control what you do or say, but they may well opt not to employ you because of the choices you make. There's a distinction there, and it matters.

(Also, in this case, I do believe that she used her twitter feed for 'official'/work-related duties, so that does genuinely blur the line between personal and professional)

That tweet is definitely relevant.

The whole point is we're trying to protect people from offensive behavior. The definition of what's offensive is vague at best. Common approach - if someone was offended, it's offensive - assumes that we trust victims accounts that they were in fact offended.

While context is important, it is much harder to believe that someone would be seriously offended by a joke when they make the same kind of a joke themselves. That's why the tweet is relevant.

The only problem with this reasoning is it seems dangerously close to the "they were asking for it" argument. If you are raising concern for something, the entire history of your life does not automatically come into question; this is just an unfortunate side effect of the record-everything technological society we now live in. Corollary to the upcoming ubiquity of Google Goggles, what if the recordings of one's personal home life was scrutinized because they were harassed at work?

And quite often, we find that something that wasn't offensive yesterday can very well be offensive today.

That's a valid concern in general, but I don't think it applies here for the following reasons:

First, being part of a minority group and claiming offense gives you a lot of power to inflict damage on others. You are leveraging both, the legal system and very strong social stigmas. There is a reason why you are granted this power, but with power comes responsibility. If I walk on a sidewalk and bump into someone, I say I'm sorry and we go about our business. If I'm driving a 18-wheel truck and bump into someone, it's an entirely different story. We don't have a magic gauge to measure your emotional state, so we have to take your word for it. I think scrutinizing your past to ensure that what you say is at least consistent with what you do is a reasonable measure to prevent people from abusing the aforesaid power.

Second, if something wasn't offensive to you yesterday, but suddenly is today - even if I'm most sincerely trying to avoid offending you, how do I keep up with the "list of things that offend you" du jour? Do you have a protocol in mind?

That's a slippery slope fallacy, and no, it's not dangerously close to that. If you make a certain kind of joke, I would have a very hard time believing you were offended by that same kind of joke when those two events happened within hours of each others.

As far as I've seen, people's atitudes towards crude jokes do not change in the space of a few hours. Maybe they might change that quickly if something significant were to happen in that space of time, but I doubt it in this case.

There's nothing wrong with the logic of "they were asking for it" in some contexts. Rape, violence, etc. of course not, but I think when it comes to being insulted, saying that someone was asking for it is fair. I've been attacked verbally before, and often I was asking for it or deserving of it.

That said, I don't think this is a case of her asking for it. It's just pointing out hypocrisy, which is a perfectly OK thing to do. It's less extreme but analogous to pointing out someone who complains about domestic violence being themselves an abuser.

It's the same twitter account she used to "shame" the two guys who made the joke. It's relevant.

Well this is the most ridiculous logic I've seen for a while.

Just because I send two emails from my Gmail account doesn't mean they are related and/or relevant.

I'm sorry, are we really discussing whether a person having recently made jokes about penises in public is relevant to whether it's okay for that same person to publicly shame two guys she accused of making jokes about penises in public?

Are you really saying that her personal twitter stream, and being in the middle of the audience at a professional event, are the same thing?

Yes. In fact, her personal twitter stream is worse, IMHO. Her personal twitter stream has a larger audience than the audience of your "professional event".

It's nice that all of the sudden "pycon" is a "professional event" as if people are all walking around in suits and ties and monocoles.

Plenty of people go to conferences with friends as social events. Pycon is definitely like that for a lot of folks. That's why it's billed as an "annual gathering for the community".

Talking privately in hushed tones at a conference you treat as a social event is, IMHO, much better than blaring it out publicly to 11,210 followers.

Everybody that's following her twitter stream chose to follow her twitter stream. That makes a huge difference. And it's also trivially easy to unfollow her stream if what she says offends you.

Also, the context is very different. You may think of PyCon as a social gathering, but it is in fact work-related for a lot of people (including, presumably, Adria in her role as a developer evangelist). What's acceptable in an informal, personal setting (e.g. jokes made to people who explicitly chose to view her personal twitter stream) may not be acceptable in any kind of professional setting.


I believe you're in the wrong room sir, that would be the Steampunk convention down the hall.

arbitrary and irrelevant. even if she made the joke in the privacy of her own home, and not on Twitter, it would still be a laughable contradiction.

penis jokes on twitter = OK

penis jokes behind me in public = BAD

Your Twitter account is not exactly public in the same way that a crowded conference room is. One is a "pull" medium (i.e. I have to seek out your tweets), while the other is a "push" medium (i.e. I can't unsubscribe from your loud-talking). If you drive someone away from your Twitter feed with inappropriate jokes, that's OK, really — they just aren't a good fit for your feed and you'll both be happier. But if you drive someone away from a conference with your inappropriate jokes, that's not OK.

Fair usually, however, the conference provided a mechanism by which she could "unsubscribe". Basically she joined a conversation, and didn't like it, and could have just left or asked them to stop. Or if she was uncomfortable with that, because it can be uncomfortable to do that, she could have asked the conference staff to help. Which she did. And they responded and ended the situation.

The real problem is that she took what could have been a simple case of "inappropriate but dealt with" to a completely different and public level.

they weren't on the stage

And that matters how? They were in the middle of the audience, where the people around them couldn't help but to hear them, and they were violating the code of conduct at the event.

Yeah, it was against the code of conduct. And they were members of a large audience. Not sure how either of those facts make it a big deal. PyCon's response was appropriate.

Yes, because the contexts are wildly different, and so are the genders of the jokers. In terms of power relations, this is exactly the same as how people of colour can use the N-word and white people can't.

Neither men nor women have a monopoly on anatomically-related jokes (of either gender). Not in the same way that it's unacceptable for a white person to use the 'n' word.

I'm not even commenting on whether either gender _should_ have such a monopoly (they shouldn't in my view). But just in actual fact it is not so in our society today.

That's even worse logic. So if a political candidate posts on their personal public twitter, hateful messages against the US, no one should even worry about that because they are on a personal twitter?

Do you know what a developer evangelist is or even what is expected of someone taking a representative role at a company? I don't know what this has to do with sending two letters from gmail. Sounds like argument from irrationality or grotesquely inappropriate analogy.

Comparing private email to public Twitter is asinine (even if the Twitter account was not used for professional purposes).

As a tech evangelist Aria is the public face of her employer; she is of sufficiently high profile for her person to be indistinguishable from her role as employee. Most everyone agrees that she also picked a fight to raise her visibility - the sexism incident was addressed appropiately by Pycon, at least no one has said anything to the contrary. Her employer made the correct decision in firing her.

Yeah, to be honest, I hadn't been following all the details until today but it was just a childish little temper tantrum. That seems dismissive but if this was genuine, which I don't think it was, she could have handled it in a much more adult way than just taking pictures of people, and making potentially libelous statements.

My take on the issue is that she tried wearing two hats, the hat of feminist activist and the hat of company spokesman, and found that the two are quite incompatible.

Aria will be fine, she has quite an audience, as her blog shows, and she will be continue to be invited. I am just not sure that I like her methods.

I unfortunately don't have time to expand on this right now, but I definitely disagree with you on this.

In the current day & age, for better or worse, you have to be very acutely aware of your "surroundings" -- that includes what you post on any social media website, and especially if you explicitly name your employer.

IMO, and again, for better or worse, this does currently apply to both personal and business accounts as long as they're visible...

Agreed. And was she not at the event in an official capacity?

If someone's job is to be a public figure or spokesperson for a given company then everything they do publicly online is relevant (I'm a huge advocate of using pseudonyms and anonymous communication online over personally identifiable communication.)

It's relevant because it proves that she wasn't really offended, and that she just felt like throwing a tantrum. Her tantrum got someone fired, so people can and should call her out on her hypocrisy.

Wow that's out of touch with reality in a major way. It's not like her twitter feed was private. She's a public "evangelist." I suppose you think the inane tweets from republicans like Michelle Bachman or Sarah Palin are irrelevant to them or their party's message as well. Her twitter account was used as part of her job. As well, you're idea that the only people that see her tweet are those that have explicitly chosen to do so .... REALLLY?? Most of us are not her subscribers and we have seen it ... huh? I'm flummoxed.

> Whatever she says on her own personal twitter feed is wholly unrelated to what happens at a professional event.

And why doesn't that logic hold for the two people who were joking amongst themselves? The parallel is : just as her twitter feed is public, and other people can "hear" her speak, these guys were making private jokes at a public event, and that is none of her business.

Character flaw.

Also known as the good old ad-hominem attack.

No, it's a lack of consistency. This is required of every person making a claim, not her specifically, so this has nothing to do with ad hominem.

If this is about lack of consistency, then where's the lack of consistency? Did Adria go to a conference (or other professional space) and start telling lewd jokes? I don't think so.

Your argument is basically akin to saying that, because I told some dirty jokes to my friends in private, I'm never allowed to complain when someone tells a dirty joke in public.

>Your argument is basically akin to saying that, because I told some dirty jokes to my friends in private, I'm never allowed to complain when someone tells a dirty joke in public.

Ah, Twitter is now considered private but two devs speaking in their chairs are pretty much delivering a speech.

Besides, you're putting words in my mouth. I never said you're not allowed to do these things, but you shouldn't be allowed to complain about it, just like senators who watch porn lose credibility when passing laws against all forms of porn.

No, Twitter isn't private, but neither is it forcing anyone to read it. Those two guys forced the people around them to listen to a lewd joke, whether or not they intended to.

There's also a matter of context. A personal twitter stream is a very different context than a professional event. If I'm friends with my coworkers, I may hang out with them after work, and a dirty joke then is perfectly acceptable. But with the exact same people, at the workplace, a dirty joke is inappropriate. Exact same people. The difference is context.

Well, yes and no. If you're the kind of person who sometimes, in some contexts makes lewd jokes and is not offended by them, then simply being in another context when hearing them shouldn't offend you. It might make you cringe at the incongruence but it won't offend.

Furthermore, you wouldn't then see yourself as a "hero" for publicly shaming the people who made said lewd joke. Simply turning around and telling them that what they're doing isn't appropriate.

Also, it's not like those two developers were using a microphone or loudspeaker or some such device, they were just chatting away behind her and talking to each other. Sometimes we forget that people may overhear us when we talk to each other in a public setting. In that context is inappropriate speech(not sexist, not outright wrong, just inappropriate for that context) grounds for public shaming and firing when you simply could've forgotten(or not thought about) being overheard?

I just think that she went overboard with the reaction and even seeing herself as heroic for doing something like that. The fact that she makes jokes like that in a different context simply shows that it couldn't have been that offensive to her(maybe just cringe-worthy) to warrant such a reaction.

> "Doug Walton, Canadian academic and author, has argued that ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious, and that in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue,[10] as when it directly involves hypocrisy, or actions contradicting the subject's words. The philosopher Charles Taylor has argued that ad hominem reasoning is essential to understanding certain moral issues, and contrasts this sort of reasoning with the apodictic reasoning of philosophical naturalism.[11] Olavo de Carvalho, a Brazilian philosopher, has argued that ad hominem reasoning not only has rhetorical, but also logical value. As an example, he cites Karl Marx's idea that only the proletariat has an objective view of history. If that were to be taken rigorously, an ad hominem argument would effectively render Marx's general theory as incoherent: as Marx was not a proletarian, his own view of history couldn't be objective."

(wikipedia article on ad hominem)

In this case, i'd think it's pretty fucking valid.

Doug Walton, Canadian academic and author, has argued that ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious

Argumentum ad verecundiam fallacy (argument from authority), supporting argumentum ad hominem fallacy.

Nicely done.

In those cases, the utterer's circumstances are part of the argument, and it's not 'ad hominem' to point that out - an ad hominem is personally attacking the target rather than attacking the argument. "But Marx was not a prole" is not attacking Marx personally.

No, you can say "so and so argues such and such" all you want, that doesn't make it valid. I claim it is not valid and also claim you have not provided any justification for it. It simply does not follow. As for rhetorical value ... Being a sophist is not the same as being logically consistent.

> http://imgur.com/5tbXR2c

This is an excellent example of why you should never use Twitter to have a nuanced discussion.

It depends on your definition of racism, and most scholarly definitions are "power and prejudice." In other words, a white person who is in the majority has more power than a black person (think Silicon Valley[1]), so the actual impact of the prejudice has a greater magnitude that turns it into "racism."

The commonly-used definition of racism, though, is basically the same as prejudice.

[1] NOTE: If it is a black person in a position of power (CEO) exercising prejudice against white people, then it would also be classified as racism.

> It depends on your definition of racism

racism - dictionary

1.The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

2.Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief.

This is the original definition of the word - 1 year ago, 10 years ago, 100 years ago, 500 years ago.

The redefinition of racism is merely a fabrication meant to suit someone elses particular agenda, or to get you to submit to their particular argument or point-of-view.

> The redefinition of racism is merely a fabrication meant to suit someone elses particular agenda, or to get you to submit to their particular argument or point-of-view.

A dictionary only outlines common usage (it does not provide context), and I indicated the common usage in my comment as well. If you ever want to make a nuanced argument, you must clearly define (and sometimes re-define) the words you are using! Otherwise, someone with a dictionary or a thesaurus can quickly distort your intentions by distorting the original meaning outside of its original context.

Take a look at my other response below -- it may clear things up a little, but my point still stands: Adria was not using "racism" the same way you are defining "racism," and just because she did a poor job of explaining her position on Twitter does not automatically invalidate her opinions (it just means her opinions were not adequately explained).


Or do you accept this definition as superior to one in a Physics textbook? http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gravity?s=t

Mucking up the language is a crime against understanding.

Redefining established words is not acceptable.

Anyway, this discussion is a red herring.

Adria just wants an excuse to be racist, and you're defending her.

If twitter isn't suited for "nuanced arguments", well then you shouldn't be using twitter in the first place! Write a blog post and only share the link (and title). It's that simple. It doesn't matter how good something sounds in your head if you can't voice it correctly.

I was drinking with an Asian co-worker at work today and something somewhat relevant came up. A 3rd coworker asked my Asian coworker "Are you ok? Your face is red and puffy". And then he stated that Asians (saying all Asians is probably a generalization, but for this example let's assume it is true) lack an enzyme to process alcohol and that Asians are essentially allergic to alcohol. Under this definition, would it be racist to say that all other races except for Asians are inferior at processing alcohol? Even if the following is true: alcohol was less prevalent in Asian cultures and that is probably why they never evolved to possess the same enzyme, which was stated by the other coworker.

> this definition, would it be racist to say that all other races except for Asians are inferior at processing alcohol?

I don't follow. How did the co-worker discriminate against the Asian guy?

Now if he did, and said something like - your race is fucking weak, you don’t belong here with us - than yes, that would be racism.

But simply thinking that Asians don't handle alcohol as well as Europeans do, is not racism.

"they never evolved to possess the same enzyme"

... what? Asians are the same species as every other race. The idea that Asians somehow did not evolve this particular thing has nothing to do with the genetic change over time that causes speciation/evolution. I think you grossly misunderstand evolution and that your remarks are ignorant (and I think many people would claim racist).

Nice use of the R-bomb there. And adroit use of weasel words ("some would claim") to give plausible deniability.

Unfortunately your objections make no sense. It's well established that some human subgroups have different physical adaptations (eg. lactase production) that have been naturally selected in the presence of local food sources or production methods. How is that unrelated to evolution?

There are evolutionary differences between the races, and the fear of sounding racist makes people say thinks that are untrue scientifically.

Example: When exposed to the sun, white people have a higher risk to get a skin cancer than black people (especially if they live in Australia). On the other hand, black people having a skin that filter more UV and make them more vulnerable to a Vitamin D deficiency (especially if they live in NYC).

This is simply because they evolved to adapt to different climates. Just claiming "no, there is no difference because we're all the same species" is plain wrong.


I think you're the one proving ignorant here.

What is your point exactly? The article you link to states that the flush reaction is genetic, "appears to have been positively selected in the past" and has been hypothesized to "have conferred protection agains certain parasitic infections."

> It depends on your definition of racism, and most scholarly definitions are "power and prejudice." In other words, a white person who is in the majority has more power than a black person (think Silicon Valley[1]), so the actual impact of the prejudice has a greater magnitude that turns it into "racism."

I don't know what scholarly sources you've seen that use that definition, but most scholarly sources I've seen define don't factor power into the definition of racism, but do certainly acknowledge that power dynamics have a pretty big impact on the effects of racism.

OTOH, the "only people in positions of power can be racists" thing is something I've seen pretty much exclusively in non-scholarly sources.

Perhaps I should have been more clear: the definition is fuzzy, but Adria's original tweet is not inherently wrong -- it just lacks context and adequate explanation.

I'm definitely not an expert in this, but I'm speaking from reading books on sociology and dominant group psychology. It would take more time for me to look up the original sources, but Wikipedia does agree with me (and they also agree that the definition varies!).


"David Wellman has defined racism as “culturally sanctioned beliefs, which, regardless of intentions involved, defend the advantages whites have because of the subordinated position of racial minorities”."

"Sociologists Noël A. Cazenave and Darlene Alvarez Maddern define racism as “...a highly organized system of 'race'-based group privilege that operates at every level of society and is held together by a sophisticated ideology of color/'race' supremacy."

Both of these definitions involve power as the main mechanism for preserving prejudice, do they not?

These definitions aren't scientific but politicized. They come from activists with a PhD. They just want to "prove" that capitalism is imperialist and racist.

Quite. The purpose of twisting the definition of 'racism' is to use the emotional power of the term to support an unrelated political agenda. The irony is that the academic definition of 'racism' is only rhetorically useful as long as the common definition remains dominant, otherwise all resonance is lost: Jim Crow and slavery cause universal revulsion; industrious individuals accruing wealth, not so much.

I haven't paid too much attention to this story and completely missed it when it first occurred (though I've been a Sendgrid customer are their product is great) but your highlights are very relevant. This is the kind of employee you would refer to as a wild card. You just don't know what they are going to do and you have to do your best to keep them out of your company.

Unfortunately for Sendgrid, if she files a sexual discrimination lawsuit they will probably be forced to settle or lose. Because the employee was a wild card any action they take is a loss for them.

Such a lawsuit would be a confirmed kill on her career though. At least now she has a chance to someday salvage her work. Adding a lawsuit to the mix will probably mean she'll never be hired by anyone (who can read and is on the web) again.

Adding a lawsuit to the mix will probably mean she'll never be hired by anyone (who can read and is on the web) again.

It's actually illegal to research job applicants in some jurisdictions. For instance, Finland.


I doubt the legality of that will prevent anyone from doing a quick Googling of prospective employee while considering their employment.

I don't have to tell you I'm not hiring you because I Googled your past and did't like it. I can just tell you that you're not a good fit for our company.

It's unlikely she'll be moving to Finland, and full third-party background checks are de rigueur for many jobs in the United States.

At least she'd be certain that her future employers care about womens rights as much as she does.

She doesn't really care though. This was an ego move, first and foremost. Calling it a women's rights issue is an insult to women.

It's quite radical old-school feminism, a style I myself consider no longer deem called for that often, but it is feminism and I therefore would consider it a women's right issue.

Being offended by crude jokes(or finding crude jokes "wrong") is feminism? How so?

I think unwanted sexualization is a recurring theme in feminism and in Adria's perception this was an instance of that.

Most people wouldn't and hence it's reserved for more radical feminists, but it's definitely done under the banner of feminism and thus I'd consider it part of it.

>Unfortunately for Sendgrid, if she files a sexual discrimination lawsuit they will probably be forced to settle or lose.

She gave Sendgrid a good and legitimate reason to fire her. She stated in one of her tweets that Sendgrid supported her recent actions.

I'm not sure she has grounds for a lawsuit.

SendGrid received quite allot of customer complaints about her. Customers were quitting them, and/or making threats of going to a competitor. Then they got DDoSed over this.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, they are located in a - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment - state.

At-will employment don't allow the employer to engage in unlawful discrimination. See exceptions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment#Statutory_ex...

Not at all saying that any unlawful discrimination happened her, just that this may be the base for a lawsuit, eave if she was on a at-will contract.

Actually it does they just can't say it ;-)

Don't like someone's race -- nod-nod-wink-wink => "restructuring"

Don't like their sexual orientation -- nod-nod-wink-wink => "tough economic times"

Don't like the color of their shoes -- nod-nod-wink-wink => "pivoting"

And so on. It can just never be in writing or said explicitly. As long as there is a non-verbal or codified protocol between the owners (managers).

To prove anything is an uphill battle -- have to really establish a pattern, as in "20 people were laid off, last year, 25 were hired, all those laid off were of this race". Stuff like that.

I wonder what would happen if the party responsible for the DDoS blackmail was found.

California is at-will, but with a good-faith rider. Arbitrarily or maliciously firing someone would probably be grounds for a dispute.

I don't think that dispute would be successful in this case, where some demonstrably poor judgment with predictable consequences was used, but IANAL.

Edit: but as pointed out below, this company is in CO.

They appear to be based in Colorado.

Oops, so they are! So yeah, at-will all the way then.

I'm not a lawyer but I don't see what grounds she could possibly have for a sexual discrimination suit. She could file one. SendGrid may or may not choose to settle but it would hurt her career even further. But, I mean, she could have filed one even if this incident hadn't happen.

> http://imgur.com/5tbXR2c

Wow. I'm sorry, but anyone who thinks that minorities in any group can't be racist/sexist/____ist is more than likely a racist/sexist/____ist him/herself and doesn't realize it. All it takes is discrimination against that other group because they are a member of that group.

It's pretty standard Marxist race theory. It's sadly mainstream. You'll find it well-represented on HN.

> http://imgur.com/5tbXR2c

My first thought was that this quote must be something made up by 4chan users to smear her or something, but it appear to be for real: https://twitter.com/adriarichards/statuses/6039856858

Argh, Jesus, I'm sick of people misrepresenting this tweet!

She's not saying that black people can't make racist statements and that they get a completely free pass when it comes to being racists. She's not. Stop saying that she is.

She's defining racism with a particularly sociological bent. She's saying that racism is an act by an oppressor towards the oppressed. When an oppressed person insults an oppressor they are operating within a power structure that has them at a disadvantage.

When she says "black people can't be racist towards white people" she is saying "the oppressed cannot, themselves, oppress their oppressors". That's why they're called "the oppressed".

Regardless of what you or I may say about her character, dragging this tweet out as evidence of her hypocrisy smacks of willful ignorance.

> When she says "black people can't be racist towards white people" she is saying "the oppressed cannot, themselves, oppress their oppressors". That's why they're called "the oppressed".

Then why didn't she just say it like that?

Because that re-definition is always used to attempt to silence or de-rail whoever points out that racism is not exclusive to the white race.

The word racism is already clearly defined. There is no need to enhance it, or re-target it. Use another word, or just state the concept/idea you have.

And on your logic -

Can women be sexist towards men? By your train-of-thought, since men have had that power traditionally, then absolutly the answer is - no. Which is absurd.

Why didn't she just say it like that? She did! What do you think "racism is a position of the oppressor who has the power" meant?

No one said that racism is exclusive to any race. Of course not. That'd be stupid. But it also seems deliberately bull-headed of you to say that "racism" is clearly defined when there are entire academic fields devoted to sussing out what it is. Whole journals. Lotsa books. So, no, let's proceed as though "racism" is not well-defined.

There is a difference between racism and prejudice. When someone says "Mexicans are lazy" they are exhibiting both. When a white person is surprised that a Mexican would work so hard - that's racism. When a Mexican woman bleaches her hair and wears light-colored contacts - that's another form of racism, called "internalizing the oppressor". If you've never heard of that, yet the definition of racism encompasses it, then maybe the definition of racism isn't so clear cut?

When a woman thinks other women should stay home and raise children - that's sexism, of course it it is. Just like if the woman said that the man shouldn't stay home to raise his kids because that's her job. Yes, that's sexism. Of course it is. It's sexism because she's applying the logic of the oppressor, the traditional male.

So, really, I'm not sure where you're coming from here. Have you ever read anything about racism? Ever had long talks with people who hold opposing viewpoints on race? When you say "use another word" -- which word would that be besides the one we already have whose definition you don't know?

> What do you think "racism is a position of the oppressor who has the power" meant?

She said that right after saying - Black people CANNOT be racist against White people - not before, on Twitter, for everyone to see. Come on...

That was a clear re-definition attempt of the word.

I know where and when that "re-definition" is always used / what its context is. It's designed to de-rail anyone who is pointing out that whites don't hold exclusivity on racism. Every. Single. Time.

Been there. Seen it.

She never said - I have an argument, and let's just use this definition of this word (and throw out the common usage) when we are talking about it. She clearly wants that word to mean one thing and one thing only.

> But it also seems deliberately bull-headed of you to say that "racism" is clearly defined when there are entire academic fields devoted to sussing out what it is. Whole journals. Lotsa books. So, no, let's proceed as though "racism" is not well-defined.

The word is clearly defined. It's the same definition it was 1000 years ago. It's in the dictionary. Just about every one of them.

Please stop pretending that activists with agendas (and PHDs) can re-define words for the rest of us to better suit their personal ideas and projects.

Your redefinition of the word is not a common one and many more disagree with it than agree with it.

But, then they can't push their agenda with loaded language! Did you consider that?

Argh, Baal, Lord of Darkness, I am sick of people justifying her shit.

> "the oppressed cannot, themselves, oppress their oppressors"

Let me re-define the concepts that tell you are story. But you can't argue that I am telling you bullshit because I redefined basic concepts.

But ok, let's adopt her definition. There are situations based on places, times, locations where black people outnumber the white people (could be a certain organization, a club, workplace, street, city). In that case she is dead wrong as the oppressed oppressor labels get reversed. But you know what this is mental gymnastics bullshit.

Most people have a basic definition of racism. Redefining the terms to support her stupid comment -- smacks of dis-ingenuity.

> dragging this tweet out as evidence of her hypocrisy smacks of willful ignorance.

So is doing complicated mental acrobatics to support her.

She didn't redefine them. As someone[0] linked upthread (which you should have seen if you're down here) racism has a sociological definition as well as a colloquial definition. A dictionary does not define words; it records their common usage. It is, by its very nature, out of date.

Regarding your example of white people in areas with a higher black population, it doesn't quite work out. Almost any other environment, you have the advantage being white. A black person doesn't have the same luxury. They can't scoot away and suddenly go back to being privileged.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5420178

"Black people CANNOT be racist against White people." Sounds a lot like a free pass to me. If she is using the sociological definition to racism she is taking a narrow-minded approach to a very broad issue to suit her ideals. Claiming this statement as a truth based on one of the many different definitions of racism is naive.

You're trying very hard to fight for her. Fight the good fight. But it's delusional. She's clearly making a moronic statement. It is stupid on many levels, including rigorous and sociological levels. Many racists, even if they are white, which apparently under your's and her paradigm are the only ones that can be racist, are not in any position of power. If you take some old white, filthy, dirt poor racist, and compare to someone of another "race" in a vastly superior social position and so forth; it seems hard to make the case that the dirty white racist is in a position of power or in any real sense "oppresses" the other person in any other way but in terms of racial hatred.

These issues are not as simple as you think they are. Race and gender are at least as complicated as, say, physics or programming. Unless you've done substantial and reasonably formal study of these topics, it turns out that you're going to misunderstand a lot of things. (At the very least, just as physicists use very specific, formal definitions of concepts like "work" and "energy", people who study race and gender use very specific definitions of their terms, too.)

I'm not an expert and I can't possibly explain even the basics of this topic in a comment here; heck, it was only a couple of years ago that I used to make comments a lot like what you said above. But in a nutshell, members of a broadly less privileged group (like "blacks" or "women", in our society) are all subjected to a whole range of harmful actions and attitudes that the corresponding more privileged group is mostly unaffected by. So when a rich black guy makes prejudiced comments about the poor white guy, it's one guy being a jerk. When the poor white guy makes prejudiced comments about the rich black guy, he's not just being a jerk, he's reinforcing centuries of racially oppressive behavior and helping to normalize those lingering stereotypes in the minds of everyone who hears him, which in turn encourages further prejudice (often unconsciously) by all of those people (including the rich black guy, by the way: that sort of thing is great at magnifying self-doubt). My understanding is that there's an abundance of formal research showing that this perspective on prejudice and racism is an accurate depiction of reality.

So maybe you object to the experts on this stuff re-using the colloquial word "racism" to refer specifically to this narrower concept of "prejudice plus (group) power" rather than just being a synonym for prejudice. I can't blame you for that frustration, since it does make informal conversations difficult; my physics students often have similar issues when I tell them that "momentum" has a somewhat different formal meaning than it has in everyday language. But I'll say this: to my eye, the more formal, narrow definition of "racism" is one heck of a lot more relevant to everyday conversations that use the word than the formal definition of "momentum" is!

I spent a considerable amount of time studying the existential feminism of Simone de Beauvoir; not sure that matters here. I think it's simpler than you claim! I wasn't aware Adria Richard's ridiculous tweet had such intellectual depth.

My example was not that the rich guy was the racist; it was that the dirty white guy was the racist but that he had no oppressive power, in a meaningful sense other than the actual bigotry, over the rich guy, as you put it.

Adria Richards was not making as far reaching statements as you claim. This was not an epistle on sociological performances. This was a statement that "X" group "CANNOT" be racist. I understand the position you want to make, and claiming "the experts on this stuff" doesn't really impress me. I am not denying any such concepts as institutional racism or anything of the kind. You can have all the racial performances you want, that's fine. But the idea that X group cannot be racist is just stupid. The idea that only one group can ever be in a position of power is flawed and "position of power" does not only have to refer to status in society as a whole but can be applied to particular communities and so on and so forth.

I'm black and I have no idea what you, or her, are talking about. I don't see how you can say the tweet is misrepresented when you have the weirdest explaination of it.

Such extreme ignorance to post such a thing. I'm surprised she kept her job as long as she did.

Wow, yeah, I thought the same thing. That's incredibly unhelpful in dealing with racial issues. I hope that doesn't apply to her view of sexism.

You know what would have been a great freaking story?

1) Guys make inappropriate jokes

2) Adria feels offended. Doesn't matter if she "should" or "shouldn't". It happened. OK so far, different people have different opinions on acceptable behavior. This particular one is explicitly unacceptable in the rules of the conference.

3) Adria texts PyCon staff, and they act exactly as they did in this sitution.

4) Adria writes a blog post relaying the event. Basically even starting the same. Her comments even about maybe being frazzled from a rough travel schedule stay in. So do the parts where she decides she's not ok with it and decides it should stop. That is an OK position - I might not feel the same overhearing that conversation, but if she doesn't want to, she should not have to - it is off-topic for the conference (and honestly a freaking repost... forking and dongle jokes were old in the 90s when I first heard them). However instead of going to the hyperbolic bits, where she is saving women from developers[1], she instead writes about how the rules in place helped diffuse an uncomfortable situation, and how there are now two more people who have a better understanding of what is acceptable public behavior in a professional setting.

5) There would still be much internet hate. But now everyone involved could maintain jobs, the much needed [2] cause of sane gender policies would be advanced a lot.

6) The worst fears of people who are strongly apposed to gender politics would not have been confirmed in the crazy shitstorm, and rather than being a divisive event that caused near everyone (it seems) to polarize, it could have been a great example of meeting in the middle.

Unfortunately thats not the story. Instead we have this crazy mess.

I think SendGrid wrote the right piece. Under no circumstances is the correct action on their part to comment on a situation they were not present for. Taking sides in that is a terrible move - they need to support their employees rights to respond sanely without taking sides. They should in fact defer to the organizers/governance of the conference when it comes to everything that happened there. The do however have a right and responsibility to make sure their name is not associated with inappropriate behavior. The only inappropriate behavior they are associated with is an overreaction by Adria Richards. That is what they address. End of story.

[1] There is a time and place for articles on the scale of "seriously fuck this creeper". Unfortunately, those times and places are not uncommon - people act creepy at these conferences a lot. This was not one of them. It was at worst a medium offensive statement.

[2] There are a lot of people who oppose the idea of harassment policies. There are a lot of people who cry foul every time a woman mentions anything bad, uncomfortable, or inappropriate that happens around them. This attitude needs to go away, and the opposition to decent policies needs to stop. Examples of the policies working without crazy hyperbole and over-the-top responses on all sides is the way to get to sanity.

tl;dr - Everyone needs to take a fucking chill pill, and be reasonable.

> 5) There would still be much internet hate.

i honestly don't think there would have been much hate. Allot of the anger was as how drastically she reacted by posting their photos online.

If she had kept her comments without the photos and without putting any identifying information, this would have never have been news. She chose to be passive, aggressive and throw a tantrum. She could have just confronted the two and educated them about all her crazy thoughts about racism and everything else, she chose to make it a spectacle.

The hate stems from the loss of the job at Playhaven. Without that happening, this event becomes pretty mundane - it's not like social activists don't regularly name and shame with photos.

Maybe - However in rebuttal I point you to the HN discussion about the pycon harassment policy, wherein some seemingly uncontroversial policy brought out a lot of surprisingly harsh and angry statements.

Clicky: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4888116

Please stop fuelling the fire, we don't need to rehash the same stuff every time something connected to the event is mentioned.

Why do they "need" to do that? Those who care for the details already know them. Further, they're trying to put the issue behind them without blaming anyone.

Rather than fueling the fire further, they shut the door on further argument about who is to blame. In that respect, it's a very wise statement even if it leaves some people unsatisfied.

Great bit of research there. Thanks for posting.

SendGrid did the right thing. I don't think they need to clarify anything - just keep their distance.

It's a bit surprising that someone who behaves as screencapped here is capable of getting through an interview and N weeks on the job as a professional PR person.

There must be some awkward conversations over at SendGrid HQ about how she got hired in the first place and what might have been happening since that they haven't noticed yet.

If you say shit in a public place, you can't turn around and say it's not the business of the people forced to overhear you. You made it their business.

Thanks for clearing some of this up.

Let's remember: she never asked for him to get fired. And I don't think that was a reasonably foreseeable outcome of her comments.

The fact that he was fired leads me to two probable conclusions:

1) that his management was terrible and he'll end up someplace better; or

2) that he was about to be fired anyway.

If his management was terrible, it's not a sad story for him in the long-term. If they were going to fire him anyway, it's just blame-shifting.

His reputation wasn't even meaningfully harmed, as his name doesn't seem to appear in any of the discussions. So if he's half-decent, he'll be fine.

I find the whole thing very strange, because I sure as shit wouldn't fire a good employee just because they'd offended one person, once.

The PlayHaven employee was fired because of this event [1]. What led PlayHaven to conduct the investigation? Adria's tweet and blog post to thousands of followers. This isn't the first time she has used her considerable influence as a weapon[2].



Edit: Changed a link.

Let's also not forget her job position -- she lives and breathes Twitter. 1000s of followers. To claim ignorance on her part about the outcome is a little disingenuous.

Now the ultimate outcome is that she also got fired, here is where she miscalculated her risk. She didn't immediately react, she pondered her actions and weighed her risk according to her blog. I think she saw a golden opportunity and took, but got too greedy. Ultimately it was a classic sociopath move.

> 2) that he was about to be fired anyway.

That is why I want to hear more from PlayHeaven. Here is my question, why the heck send a shitty employee to PyCon. Usually top developers get to go, to learn and bring back new technology. If he was out of the door why spend money him. So I discard 2) and just assume 1) until further information (if any) comes out.

Not a foreseeable outcome? Really? You don't think someone being fired is a foreseeable outcome after you attempt to publicly shame them? If so, I'm not sure you would be very good at "foreseeing" things!

It's not reasonable to assume negative outcomes for people you publicly display as "ass-hat" sexists to 9000+ of their peers?

I'm honestly surprised that anyone is attacking Sendgrid, defending Ms Richards, attacking PyCon or defending Playhaven in this incident.

The fact is that what you do reflects on your employer to a degree. If you're a developer evangelist, that's quite a high degree, particularly if you drag them into your public spat.

Most people in the media (news readers and so forth) have a "morals clause" in their contract because they publicly represent the company. This situation is much the same.

I, for example, am just a software engineer. I pretty much stay away from any thread involving Google directly as I don't want anything I say to be misconstrued as representing the company's view. We have a media relations department for that. Those defending Ms Richards might say "on your personal time you can do what you want" (to me). Well, yes and no. It's certainly at my peril. Also, in Ms Richard's case, at PyCon she was on official (or at least semi-official) duties so the "personal time" argument doesn't even apply.

This whole incident reads like two guys making jokes to themselves. She overheard and decided to make an issue of it by naming and shaming them in a very public way while waving her employer's flag. Nevermind that this wasn't called for (IMHO), I don't believe for a second that the comments were directed at her or intended for her to hear.

The fact that Playhaven fired this engineer over this is disappointing. A public statement about supporting diversity and a warning from HR really should've been sufficient (again, IMHO). It makes me wonder if they wanted to fire him anyway.

Some other commenters suggest Ms Richards can sue. I tend to disagree but IANAL. I do however think the fired engineer may have a case. He can show damages (losing his job) and argue that Ms Richards (and her employer had they not fired her) had acted with reckless disregard. I'm not sure it's a strong case but I bet it's an arguable case.

Sendgrid's statement is (IMHO) excellent. It is measured, factual and has a great tone. This is not a position they wanted to be in (from reading the post). They've deliberated. They state a great bottom line that this issue and the subsequent fallout endangers their business. They don't want to be the story here and Ms Richards made them the story. That's on her.

Let this be a lesson to all reading this: what you do can affect your employment. Act with care and restraint. Once something is said or done it can be very difficult to roll it back.

I wish I could say that I'm surprised that anyone is attacking SendGrid. Even though they have done nothing to deserve such backlash - both before and after firing Adria Richards - it doesn't surprise me in the least that people are taking the opportunity to unleash hateful comments and demonstrate poor attitudes.

I agree with you all the way, other than that. SendGrid made a great case for departing with Ms. Richards and I think it's pretty clear that her role as a developer evangelist is certainly harmed and she can no longer continue in that role. It has nothing to do with gender, and it has nothing to do with her being offended by those comments, but it has everything to do with the poor way she handled calling out these guys and the fact that she cannot participate in a developer community without developers being fearful of how they conduct themselves within earshot of her (they weren't even talking to her!).

[Edit: Downvoting this eh? If you downvote, you should really participate in the discussion and tell me why I might be wrong.]

I agree that the backlash to SendGrid has been extreme, and an overreaction, but I feel that they were at least partially to blame before firing Ms. Richards. She stated the SendGrid supported her actions, and without SendGrid saying anything, they are implicitly agreeing that they support her. So I feel people have a right to be angry with SendGrid for supporting Ms. Richards, and I understand people who wrote them angry letters, or made a decision to boycott them.

On the other hand, I don't support people launching a DDoS, or any other sort of a more extreme response.

I see what you're saying. I'm not entirely sure I agree, especially since they waited for a while to come out with commentary about it. Additionally, although she said that they support her, that may have never been true. But I see what you're saying and that's legitimate.

> She stated the SendGrid supported her actions, and without SendGrid saying anything, they are implicitly agreeing that they support her.

I don't think we can blame SendGrid for wanting to take a few hours to figure out this mess and respond appropriately, and I don't think we can believe someone that was acting irrationally to begin with to make definitive commentary on where her company stands on the matter.

> Even though they have done nothing to deserve such backlash

They fired an employee without due process. Apparently a knee-jerk reaction rather than considered disciplinary process.

They capitulated to an anonymous DDOS. Even with a ridiculous demand. Giving the impression they were not technically able to bring the service back up by themselves.

Neither of these gives me confidence in trusting SendGrid with email. The first makes me think they'll be happy doing rash and possibly illegal things like sending email data in response to a subpoena. The second makes me doubt their future reliability.

> They fired an employee without due process. Apparently a knee-jerk reaction rather than considered disciplinary process.

How do you know? Are you at SendGrid? Did you speak to Adria? Have you talked with the founders, CEO, legal counsel?

Colorado, like California, is an employment-at-will state and has been since 1987. The employer may terminate an employee for a million reasons under the sun. IANAL but I think most other people who have been in the working world more than a few years understand what that means.

In a way, I was incorrect... they did do a few things to deserve such backlash. They lacked tact in their initial posts about firing Ms. Richards. They should've led with the "Difficult Situation" post. If you read the post, which they finally churned out a few hours after declaring her employment terminated, you can see that it wasn't terribly rash. They certainly thought it out. Would you have held onto an employee you couldn't trust?

As for their technical abilities, I'm not able to judge that - so you may be correct about such competencies. However, "due process" isn't necessarily for firing an employee in Colorado, and besides, we don't know what went on as this developed and how the company actually went about terminating Ms. Richards' employment. We may find that out soon.

>They fired an employee without due process.

Are you joking? She was basically PR for the company. She obviously can't continue on in that role. What should they have done exactly?

EDIT: Further she even claimed they supported what she did...

> I'm honestly surprised that anyone is [...] defending Ms Richards

Even though I think she messed up in a big way, that there wasn't sexism, that she is a hypocrite, and that she really kept asking for it, much of the aggressive abuse directed at Adria Richards since the initial event has been totally out of control, and would count as criminal hate in some countries.

For starters, look at the comments on her Facebook page:


Couldn't agree more.

I want to live in a world where I can make dick jokes as much as the next guy, but the response to this scares me a billion times more than the possibility of getting reported/fired/beat-up/shamed for making some insensitive joke.

Many of us are basically rabid babies foaming at the mouth to join some mob, and go wage a holy war against something controversial just so we could calm our own insecurities and complexes. Why are so many people (men mostly) so adamant in expressing their opinion on this one particular issue. Yeah we get it, she messed up and you're indignant.. now shut the fuck up. And then there are other ones who feel that because of the way she handles herself, Adria Richards becomes fair game for anonymous and violent rape threats, being called cunt and bitch... and the 'civilized' ones somehow shrug it off with a "Well.. she brought it on herself.. internet is a cruel place, and she rubbed it the wrong way." This kind of shit makes me more convinced than ever that humanity won't end with a meteor strike or a giant earthquake, but a mob of assholes with superman complexes and pitchforks going around making sure that people understand their vision of justice.

I agree that the reactions and backlash she got were way beyond the line and not deserved.

But that doesn't change the fact that she shouldn't have done what she did, and as a Sendgrid customer I believe they took the right decision.

Wow, after seeing her Facebook, i can't believe that so much people would react that way, doing exactly the same thing they are supposedly condemning. Very messed up. Thanks for sharing.

The joke was between 2 people seated behind her -- were both engineers at Playhaven? Was the other person fired?

Edit: Why the downvotes? Is there something I've missed? Does this comment really prevent further discussion on the issue?

Well, there's tons of commentary on the issue, and I think you are getting down-voted (I didn't DV you, FWIW), because you could've read or searched through them to figure out whether the other guy was fired.

The answers are: if you had seen the photo in question, you'd see that the two engineers are actually wearing PlayHaven T-Shirts, which strongly implies that if one of them works for PlayHaven, then the other does too (which was corroborated in another thread).

The other person wasn't fired because he was the recipient of the joke, rather than the producer.

Thanks for connecting the dots for me. I had every point of data you mentioned, but somehow didn't combine them into that information.

Yes they were both engineers at Playhaven. The other person was not fired. It would make little sense to fire someone for being told a joke.

Comrade Stalin disagrees.

> Most people in the media (news readers and so forth) have a "morals clause" in their contract because they publicly represent the company. This situation is much the same.

Indeed, community manager (call that evangelist if you want to) is a weird job. You're supposed to be social, natural - to be as you would be in private life. In cases like these, you're even supposed to use your own identity to support the brand : you are someone real, that get in touch with real people in the most friendly fashion.

But you can't be yourself too much. That's a problem here, since you don't have any other "real" identity. You have to be the brand and as such, everything you do and say is backed up by the brand.

Adria used her own personal twitter account to make her statement, that sounds legitimate. But developer has been fired because she had the weight of sendgrid brand.

That's something very pervert in the community manager / evangelist job : you sell your social self (something I guess politicians know well).

On a side note, I'm quite surprised this can happen in the US, which places free speech as the one and most important right. Not when related to business.

Ah, two great points: 1) the difficulty / contradictions in community manager / evangelist jobs, and 2) free speech in the US.

I am not sure where you are from - France, judging by the hour, grammar, punctuation? - but after living outside the US and having the luxury of observing my home country from the outside, I have found that free speech is not treated with as much value as we seem to claim. Some would say that free speech in the US is very much threatened nowadays.

Free speech in the US says the government cannot make laws to curtail your speech in most circumstances.

Free speech does not, however, protect you from dealing with the consequences of your speech.

But you'd think if we really value free speech in this country, and not just the First Amendment, we wouldn't be so quick to want to suppress the speech of others.

Freedom of speech is the freedom to announce to the world that you are an idiot.

It is NOT the freedom to force others not to listen to or act on what you say. I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many people misunderstand this.

Actions have consequences, and this includes speech. It is not the job of any American to support thouse who espouse beliefs they find repugnant, just because they have the freedom to speak up about those same beliefs.

It's not about suppressing - she spoke freely, and inadvisedly.

The consequences of this were a man losing his job and a big backlash.

This made it difficult for her to do her job effectively, lowering her value to her company to zero (and probably a large negative).

I don't see that SendGrid was acting to suppress her free speech. Instead, they were writing down an asset that had declined radically in value.

A business has a right to communicate freely as well, for example to make a strong statement by firing an employee.

Getting involved between private parties is generally not productive in the long run, as it necessarily provides the government more control over speech. Private business may abuse civil rights from time to time, but the government has far more potential (and historic precedence) for abuse.

Yes, I understand that. It was a blanket statement about freedom of speech, not necessarily a direct correlation between the situation and freedom of speech.

France indeed. And sorry for the grammar ;)

Not a bad thing; it is actually quite good. It is more that French speakers compose things certain ways :)

> Some other commenters suggest Ms Richards can sue

That will completely total what's left of her reputation and the re-employment perspectives. She appears to be a "people's person" thriving on social interaction, but nobody likes litigious persons.

> I'm honestly surprised that anyone is attacking Sendgrid, defending Ms Richards, attacking PyCon or defending Playhaven in this incident.

Indeed. SendGrid did not have many options there. Playhaven, on the other side, could have dealt with the situation in a graceful and humane manner (absolutely nothing would have been lost if they just temporarily suspended the guy), but chose not to.

Who didn't see this coming?

And when she pulled SendGrid, her employer, publicly into the fray via her twitter feed, who didn't know it was simply a matter of time?

I mean, what else could SendGrid possibly do? She basically forced them to fire her. Her value to the company is being a public face to developers. She very publicly destroyed that value. Further, she pulled SendGrid in with her tweet about them "supporting" her. Had she not done that, she might have had a fighting chance, but it almost seems like she wanted to get fired.

Not to mention that a company wants to employ people with impeccable judgement, particularly for public facing positions. She showed incredibly horrid judgment in how she initiated the situation and continued to display horrid judgement in her handling of it. Do you want someone with horrible judgement being your public face and voice?

I don't put much stock in the DDoS talk, FYI. No reputable company fires someone b/c they are being blackmailed. Though, perhaps I'm giving too much credit here, I don't know.

Either way, it should not comes as a surprise to anyone that this is the outcome.

At any point before the firing, she had the power to put a halt to a lot of this. She could have gone on Twitter and her blog and posted, "I'm so sorry this has happened. The person in question has apologized. I would like to request that Play Haven rehire him, and institute a policy to avoid incidents like this in the future."

Everything so far has been about punishment/vindictiveness. Nobody is interested in trying to address the problem, move forward, and make the world a better place. I don't see how the outcome could have been worse. Everyone handled this badly except PyCon itself, yet PyCon is who will be remembered as the problem.

She didn't force them to fire her. People are just blowing this way out of proportion. Everybody needs to chill out, especially the corporate management of both companies.

> She didn't force them to fire her.

What would you have done in the situation? You're the CEO of a company. You have someone in a glorified PR position. That same person has caused massive blowback by not once, not twice, but multiple times showing extreme poor judgement. This person then makes a public statement saying your company "supports" that person thereby ostensibly pulling the company into the fight. What would you do?

It would take all of five seconds for me to ship that person out.

Even if you are working on a three strike position; all three strikes came in the last few days.

This has nothing to do with the DDoS. This has to do with having someone in a position representing the company to your target audience and not just doing a poor job of it, but doing such a trainwreck of a job that the company's PR needs to spin up to defcon 1.

Doesn't that person seem unfit for the job?

No, just human. She seems to have been doing her job quite well, overall. She just voiced her dislike over some fork jokes and some people disagreed. That's life.

She did, but didn't know it. Here is how:

SG got a terrible wave of backlash. Customers leaving, a PR nightmare all over the tech forums. DDoS attack to bring their service down. This is not Google or Microsoft. They can only sustain that for so long before imploding.

Now they could have thought about it in 2 way. 1) Simple risk analysis even if they think she is totally and 100% right, still dictates she should be dropped like a nuclear hot potato immediately. Or they actually found her actions objectively reprehensible and decided she doesn't represent what the company stands for.

You're right. But it must be pretty terrifying to be caught in a flash-fire internet shitstorm like this - reputation concerns to weigh up on the one hand, and operational concerns on the other.

Of course she didn't. But she greatly devalued herself by showing poor judgement - at this point, unless she was highly influential in the organization or her value (in other projects) was high enough for the company to support her regardless, she had committed a career-limiting move [1]

[1] http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=CLM:+Career+L...

holy shit, common sense

This is the most reasonable statement I've seen so far in this whole fiasco. It's a shame he took so long to post it; it should have been the first SendGrid comment this morning.

I believe that it is the most reasonable statement because he took time to look over the entire situation and gauge it properly.

Unlike when he very publicly fired an employee in the heat of the moment after his company was being DDoS'ed.

I think the fact that Paul Graham, after applying Occam's razor, preferred to think it was done from a compromised account speaks volumes here.

Put yourself in his shoes for a moment though... your developer advocate brought on a DDoS. Whether it was deserved or not is an entirely separate discussion. It comes down to the person who is supposed to be helping get customers and grow your company did something that is bringing lots of harm.

With that said... a "heat of the moment" firing does nobody any good, but I haven't seen evidence of the manner of the firing (perhaps I missed some articles that talked about it).

That brings about something interesting. While I completely believe that what SendGrid did was justified, what if it had occurred as a result of some other, more nuanced statement than the accusation in question?

For example, I believe that the second amendment allows Americans ownership of AR-15s, which some people refer to as 'assault rifles'. This is a hot button issue right now, and there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the debate. If I posted something that somehow offended approximately half of our customers (assuming approximately half of the people fall on either side of the debate) would that be terminable? Where is the threshold? If I post it from a company Twitter feed?

What is the right recourse if I said something that isn't particularly offensive to my employer, but harvests bad will from potential or current customers? Is "Developer Evangelist" a 'star-like' job position where I lose my right to privacy as a result of it?

Note, all these questions are hypothetical, but I'm curious as to exactly what degree of nonsense a company might be expected to put up with.

> Is "Developer Evangelist" a 'star-like' job position where I lose my right to privacy as a result of it?

I don't know what this has to do with privacy. Adria made her comments in the public sphere, seemingly to deliberately solicit attention. If you take on a role in the public sphere, you should expect scrutiny.

I am a public representative of a software company in a similar role to the one Adria had. I regularly refrain from commenting on a range of socio-political issues to avoid alienating my developer community. It just goes with the territory. If you don't like it, don't get into Developer Relations.

That's a very fair answer, and I thank you for it.

I suppose, in regards to 'privacy', I mention it because at least early on, Adria was commenting on her 'personal' Twitter feed. Understandably that Twitter account is public, I'm sure at least in part because of her role, but at the same time, I routinely make comments on socio-political issues on Facebook or Google Plus which thankfully have better privacy filters (to my knowledge at least, I don't use Twitter for much of anything).

Do you consider your role as an 'always-on' sort of position? If you're at a dinner party that consists almost entirely of close personal friends, do you still monitor your actions on the chance that the one person there you don't know might be a potential customer?

I watch myself whenever I say anything in public. That includes Twitter, as my Twitter feed is publicly accessible and I clearly identify myself as affiliated with my employer. The same goes for my Google+ feed, to which I pretty-much exclusively post public content.

If someone were to trawl through my Twitter feed to make light of something offensive I once said, that's fair game. If I didn't want the world to see it, I wouldn't have put it out there.

When communicating in private, personal settings - and this includes IRC channels populated by friends, dinner parties, and so on - I am unrestrained. If someone were to publicly call me out on something I said personally to a friend in a private venue, I would consider that a breach my privacy.

Occam's razor doesn't point towards the hypothesis of all of the corporate accounts being hacked and none of the employees reporting it.

I don't know why anyone would believe it could be a hack hours after it was posted and nobody in the company reacted to it.

Well, speaking as a publisher, I would also want to confirm this sort of thing with the company before disseminating it widely. Companies and livelihoods are at stake in situations like this.

  {{citation needed}}
or put it another way - you're making a very reaching unsupported statement. You have no idea what they were thinking.

pg actually did point out that he thought the initial statement was fake, and that maybe someone had hacked multiple channels.


His sin there is having higher expectations of people than are justified by reality, which is hardly the worst thing to be guilty of.

    We're assuming these are fake, and that someone just got hold of their Facebook and Twitter passwords.
pg posted that earlier. Source: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5416979

Downvoters, I think the "citation needed" was in reference to SendGrid's firing Adria in response to the DDoS, not to pg's take on the subject.

And he's right; [citation needed] on the DDoS being the motivating factor in her firing, as opposed, say, to her dragging her employer into the internet shitstorm that she started.

I think you could get a reasonable response to an ongoing crisis out in less than a day. They should have discussed this last night, as soon as it broke, with CEO, HR, legal, her, etc.

Being deliberate is fine, but when you make something a priority, you can get to the bottom of it faster and still get the right response.

Until they got DDoSed to hell, this apparently wasn't a serious priority for them.

> Until they got DDoSed to hell, this apparently wasn't a serious priority for them.

That's what makes me think this was just another example of the "heckler's veto". There are no principles here, just giving the mob what it demands. No action until some idiots on the internet started attacking people, and when it happened, they just gave the idiots what they demanded in hopes of shutting them up.


Just reiterating what others have said, its reasonable because he took time to think about it. I know if I was in his position and woke up to find out my servers were being DDoS'd to hell because one of my employees had caused a stir, I may have just stayed in bed.

While I agree it's eminently reasonable, it can sometimes take a day or two to work through a thorny issue, regain a sense of calm, and write something reasonable.

In the past, I've tended to follow a '48-hour rule' when it comes to responding to emotionally-heated emails.

Yes, 48 hours can seem like an eternity in the tech world, but it prevents accidentally exacerbating the situation by acting with good intentions yet without a clear head.

This isn't even taking into account how long it takes to check with HR, legal, etc. All of which were probably necessary here.

+1 and well said. When I had legal issues with a client irrationally withholding payment, my lawyer suggested to wait four days to respond. Seems like an eternity, especially considering it's double from what you tend to follow (48 hours), it's amazing how much more reasonable your response can be juxtaposed to responding immediately.

Not to mention the importance of a thorough legal review, and actually speaking to the employee in question.

"thorough legal review, and actually speaking to the employee in question."

Absolutely. Acting too quickly without fully understanding the situation could lead to a lawsuit

I thought it was totally spineless.

Compare: http://braythwayt.com/2013/03/21/evangelism-pr.html

My respect for raganwald just shot through the roof after reading that.

As far as I'm concerned that is the most reasonable response so far, by a long shot.

Go read Amanda Blum's piece instead, as it actually has insight and thought behind it. This is just a bit of humour, making egregious errors like "the internet will never forget" (seriously, how many scandals has the internet forgotten?) and "careers are permanently ended" (again, seriously, look at any number of successful public figures and the gaffes they made earlier in life).

I read Amanda's piece and until raganwald's it was indeed the best piece I had read so far.

Amanda however vilifies Aria because she considers her too easily offended and finds her feminist agenda obnoxious.

I don't, because I believe she has the right to be a slightly obnoxious feminist and we should be defending her right to be that, even when we don't personally agree with it.

Raganwald expresses my more deep-seated feelings on the topic much more powerfully in this well crafted piece of satire.

I find it ironic that you think the humour piece is the best summary, given that a significant part of it is about the permanent damage done. So permanent the damage, yet only two days later you can't even get her name right.

The vast bulk of people who have commented in the last couple of days will have forgotten her name in several months.


Re-read it. It's dripping with sarcasm.

The post is satire.

Unnecessary satire. Gasoline on the ridiculous bonfire, if you ask me.

I think I might agree to some extent. I don't understand what section about "evangelists should be attractive" or whatever is referring to; presumably another incident? I get that it is sarcastic, but I don't understand the motivation behind that sarcasm.

Pretty sure it took so long because they've been huddled with their attorneys for 2 straight days.

That was exactly my thoughts. Too bad this wasn't posted instead of the other post announcing they fired Adria. It is clear from this post that she had to go, his reasoning behind the fact that she ne effective in her role are sounds.

I applaud SendGrid's response to this debacle. It is carefully weighed and expresses the precise reason why action absolutely needed to be taken. It is worthy of praise that they are willing to step into a very controversial issue and do what is best for their employees despite the potential fallout.

I encourage anyone who was considering not using SendGrid's services in light of recent events to reconsider, given their reasoned, rational response to a difficult situation.

I just wish they had started out with this statement instead of abruptly announcing her firing. That just seemed uncharacteristic of SendGrid and rather inappropriate.

However, you're very right in that it was a reasoned, rational response. It's tough to argue what Jim Franklin laid down in that post.

True, I do agree with you that the order of events seemed a bit tactless.

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