Hacker Newsnew | comments | show | ask | jobs | submitlogin
Ben Noordhuis's Departure (nodejs.org)
199 points by clloyd 218 days ago | comments


selmnoo 218 days ago | link

For those who don't know what's going on: Joyent made a blogpost calling Ben, (one of _THE_ most prolific contributors to nodjs), an asshole (http://www.joyent.com/blog/the-power-of-a-pronoun) and said they'd fire him if he'd been working for them, because he refused to take a commit making language in some part of the code gender-neutral. Here's Ben's last response to the whole ordeal: https://github.com/joyent/libuv/pull/1015#issuecomment-29568...

A lot of people speculated that this is part of a dance Joyent is doing to assert itself as a big cloud player. I don't know how much truth there is to that, but as a general spectator I feel like wanting to remark that Bryan Cantrill only fanned the fire here in all of this. And so perhaps there should be some weight given to the fact that a worker of a company that's a competitor to Joyent just quit, arguably due to Joyent's rough play -- if Joyent had approached the matter differently, carefully, sensitively, there likely would have been a different conclusion to this. But now it's done, and pretty much every participating party in this whole thing came out looking like a loser, Joycent, Strongloop, the whole nodejs scene. Here's hoping Ben now finds a workplace that appreciates him for his talents and respects him as a person.

-----

znowi 218 days ago | link

Jesus. Take a look at this "patch":

https://github.com/joyent/libuv/pull/1015/files

Ousted the guy because he referred to "user" as a "he" in the comments? Are you fucking kidding me?

I'm all for gender equality, but the amount of drama that came out of this is just insane and disturbing for the hacker community. I can not see it as anything more than pure politics and gender issue as a convenient pretext.

Joyent has lost all credibility for me. And Ben has taken the place of the tech drama queen of the year.

-----

ebrescia 218 days ago | link

Absolutely agree. As a woman in tech, these types of discussions make me sick to my stomach. What an absolute waste of time and energy (except for those using it for political gain, I suppose, but they rarely achieve that through these types of shenanigans.)

-----

jacalata 218 days ago | link

No, it was not because the original documentation used "he". It was because of his rejection of a suggested update, followed by his revert of the update when committed by another guy.

-----

vor_ 213 days ago | link

As I understand it, Ben was following commit rules.

-----

xs_kid 218 days ago | link

That was Joyent defending their control over to project, remember that Ben & StrongLoop were a menace for Joyent:

http://venturebeat.com/2013/09/18/can-this-startup-steal-nod...

-----

chc 218 days ago | link

I think that's attributing malice where a simpler explanation is available. You would be amazed how often people misunderstand the relationships between organizations. People blame Apple for poorly designed Mac and iPhone apps. People blame Google for problems with websites. People blame independent website operators for Google ranking algorithm changes. People will call up and chew out the receptionist at a newspaper for positions taken by its competitor.

It is entirely possible that Joyent was getting a lot of blowback along the lines of "Do you guys really have a guy trying to keep gender-neutral language out of this project you control?" from people who didn't understand that Ben was not a Joyent employee, and thus Joyent felt pressured to publicly distance itself.

The way Joyent did this came across as pretty tasteless, but the idea that it was purely political seems to assume more than is really necessary to explain what we've seen. It seems more likely to me that they just wanted to make themselves look good by setting up Ben as the enemy and they did it in a rather ham-fisted way.

-----

Lazare 218 days ago | link

That explains a ton, I imagine. It might even explain everything.

...makes Ben's decision to pull out of the project even more interesting though. Where does that leave StrongLoop?

-----

xs_kid 218 days ago | link

Before of this incident each company (Joyent & StrongLoop) had two core members in the project, now StrongLoop have only one: Bert Belder

-----

janjongboom 218 days ago | link

I would not be surprised to see StrongLoop fork node.

-----

drderidder 218 days ago | link

That's right, and with their expertise in libuv they could easily target a version to large multicore (32, 64) servers. IBM has also created a PowerPC fork, incidentally.

-----

petercooper 218 days ago | link

Not exactly a fork but they do have their own distribution: http://strongloop.com/strongloop-suite/strongnode/

-----

mcv 218 days ago | link

Man, corporate political games in an open source project.

I don't feel like I can possibly have an informed opinion on this, but I certainly feel played for having voiced a less informed opinion on the original discussion.

-----

waterlion 218 days ago | link

I've read this elsewhere. Joyent appears to be threatened economically by StrongLoop. And there's a suggestion that Bryan Cantrill was annoyed up by Ben Noordhuis in the past.

I think that clears up the question of Bryan's intentions in writing that blog post.

Others have said 'judge Noordhuis by his actions not his intentions'. I don't believe this is a fair way to behave, and this demonstrates why.

-----

RyanZAG 218 days ago | link

Just a note:

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/nodejs/mqSf47HhmyY/m8QpZE9mJ...

These are the guys in control of nodejs. They appear to be both immature and highly profit driven with far more interest in themselves than the platform. If this isn't a red flag for investing time in nodejs, I don't know what is.

-----

IsaacSchlueter 218 days ago | link

You say "profit driven" like it's a bad thing.

I thought this was a forum about startups.

-----

RyanZAG 218 days ago | link

It's a good thing for the startup, sure. But it's definitely a very bad thing for a third party choosing to use nodejs as a critical part of their infrastructure. You guys might take nodejs off on a direction that is beneficial to you and not to me, and I'm not in a position to fork the project myself if that happens.

-----

IsaacSchlueter 218 days ago | link

> and I'm not in a position to fork the project myself if that happens

You don't have a github account?

-----

davidw 218 days ago | link

> Let's say that we don't/can't do that, we'd have to create a new foundation. That's not cheap. Conservative estimates put it at around 1-2 million a year for legal, marketing, hiring a few developers to work on Node.js.

BTW, I think the Apache Software Foundation gets by with much less than that.

I agree that 'profit driven' is not a bad thing, though, in any event!

-----

pquerna 218 days ago | link

Yes, it highly depends on what your foundation "does".

The ASF does not hire developers to work on projects -- it just provides the infrastructure for development to happen. Once you start hiring developers, budgets for foundations go up way too quickly, and once you do that you get into the whole fundraising trap. (Need to raise 2m? Better pay an ED $250,000 to do that, and then they are motivated to get it to $3m, etc)

-----

davidw 217 days ago | link

Ok, but why does this hypothetical Node.js foundation need to hire developers? Joyent won't shell out the money for it any more if they are not see as "owning" an MIT-licensed open source project?

Their call, I guess, I am more of an Erlang guy than a Node.js guy, so I don't have a horse in this race.

-----

gotofritz 218 days ago | link

the post you link to seems quite sensible, I don't see what's the problem with it

-----

spion 218 days ago | link

Is it really?

Does Joyent care about the future of node more than about it being its cash cow?

If so, why aren't Joyent willing to collaborate with other companies in a sensible way?

Why are they willing to throw collaborators that work for competitors into the fire as soon as shit hits the fan?

If collaborators know that Joyent will issue a press release to discredit them and protect their asses as soon as that collaborator makes a PR mistake, do you think that anyone would be actually willing to join the node project and work as a collaborator?

Is the answer to the previous question good for node.js?

These are just some of the fears that I'm having for the future of node.

I think that Joyent should apologize. Not for standing up for gender equality, but for betraying the community's trust. The trust that collaboration will consist of good will and support; that all issues will be resolved with reasonable discourse, no matter what company you happen to work for. Or at the very least, for handling things poorly by adding fuel to the fire.

-----

sneak 218 days ago | link

> I don't know how much truth there is to that, but as a general spectator I feel like wanting to remark that Bryan Cantrill only fanned the fire here in all of this. Pretty much every participating party in this whole thing came out looking like a loser, Joycent, Strongloop, the whole nodejs scene. Here's hoping Ben now finds a workplace that appreciates him for his talents and respects him as a person.

If he's butthurt over such a tiny change (one that is entirely legitimate, all things considered) in documentation, they're right for calling him an asshole.

Seriously, go look at the diff that he had such an issue with:

https://github.com/alex/libuv/commit/1ff9d18d398fb9f35b72fa0...

He could have just smooshed the big green button and scored one for the "not pointlessly defaulting to masculine terms" team, but instead he had to turn it into an "omfg no this is stupid" debate.

Inequality doesn't change by embracing the status quo simply because that's how we've always done things. As much as Joyent look like turds here, they did the right thing.

If he'd worked for me, I'd have fired him for such assholery too. We're talking about a one-line documentation change of "him" to "they", for fuck's sake.

-----

jonpaul 218 days ago | link

You're forgetting two key points:

1) Ben is not a native English speaker, so as stated by Ben, he didn't realize it was a big deal.

2) The committer didn't sign a CLA yet.

-----

abcd_f 218 days ago | link

> Ben is not a native English speaker, so as stated by Ben, he didn't realize it was a big deal.

But is it an actually big deal for native speakers? I realize that some people think it's important, but then some people also think that you can't swear in comments and can't use "retard" as a summary opinion about someone else. In live, non-corporate language would any native speaker in fact routinely use "they" instead of "he" when referring to a user?

-----

malandrew 218 days ago | link

Yup, it was 100% bikeshedding, plain and simple. It's almost like we need to amend Wadler's Law to include a 4th level, "4. Politically correctness of pronouns in comments" [0]

The entire time that nerd rage battle was occurring I wanted nothing more than to be able to magically erase both the original commit and reversion from history, since it had nothing to do with the project, wasn't productive and was a distraction of many people's valuable time from things that actually matter for Node.js.

Seriously, if you want to bikeshed over pronouns instead of contribute working code, GTFO and go blag about it somewhere else.

[0] http://www.haskell.org/haskellwiki/Wadler's_Law

-----

wpietri 218 days ago | link

I routinely use singular they [1] when referring to someone where gender isn't relevant. E.g., "I want to find a new doctor; they should be smarter than the fool I'm using now."

What got me going on this was Douglas Hofstadter's "A Person Paper on the Purity of Language" [2], which I read long ago in college. For me it's been a very gradual change; I don't like language forcing me in directions I don't want. Similarly, I've experimented with E-Prime [3] over the years.

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

[2] http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/purity.html

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime

-----

sneak 218 days ago | link

A friend once patched an ircd so that it would not accept messages not written in e-prime.

I thought it a brilliant hack.

-----

md224 218 days ago | link

If you're male (or anyone else reading this), consider this cognitive frame: instead of thinking about "they" vs. "he", ask yourself if you would prefer "they" over "she". Do you feel any sort of preference for one over the other? (Honestly don't know what your answer will be, I just think it's a good way to approach the issue.)

Also: not passing any judgement on Ben's actions here, just talking about the gender politics.

-----

aktau 218 days ago | link

I routinely read "she" in documentation to refer to the developer/user. I notice it the first time it appears in a text and then I don't anymore, it doesn't bother me in the least.

-----

jcromartie 217 days ago | link

I'm male, and I will choose he or she or they pretty much arbitrarily. Usually it's "they". I believe that at some point in the recent past, people preferred "she" for an anonymous pronoun for some kinds of writing.

-----

tracker1 209 days ago | link

Well, I found if offensive that 9:10 examples in a sexism sensitivity training video I saw were men offending, or deriding, or otherwise abusive towards women, with only one example of the reverse.

In terms of comments in a source code or even documentation, I've read plenty of times where it's "she" or "he" and honestly don't care too much... "they" imho is a bit too generic and would rather see "the user" or just "user" as the generic.

I think it's mostly bullshit. Even more so given that some words in many languages have a gender leaning... is it "le user" or "la user"? Given that, one would probably be more appropriate.

-----

DanBC 218 days ago | link

> In live, non-corporate language would any native speaker in fact routinely use "they" instead of "he" when referring to a user?

Yes, lots of people choose to use words like "the user" rather than "he". Or they use "he" and "she" throughout the documentation. Or they'll use singular "they".

> But is it an actually big deal for native speakers?

For some people it is a big deal because they are that type of person. For other people it's not a big deal but they do it anyway, just because.

-----

djur 218 days ago | link

Yes, every day. It would feel unnatural to use 'he' as a generic pronoun in that context.

-----

theorique 217 days ago | link

Each person makes his own decision about this, but some prefer to use "they". To each his own.

Everyone has his own reason for choosing a particular pronoun. Some people do it because they think it is less sexist. Some people do it because they want to be part of the in-group, and they see others doing it. Some people are personally offended by the generic "he" and want to refer to both genders so they use the singular "they" or the awkward "he/she".

-----

snrip 218 days ago | link

As a fellow Dutch native speaker, let me shed some light on this. Here is how Ben explained stuff:

" To me as a non-native speaker, the difference between 'him' and 'them' seems academic but hey (...)"

The difference here is not so much in language as in culture. The Dutch language has similar gender distinctions as English. Subtle differences are that: - Our nouns are male/neutral or female, similar to French 'le' or 'la' - We cannot make neutral possessive ('its') and are limited to 'his' or 'her'

For the rest it is pretty much like English, including 'him', 'her', 'they' and 'them'. Also Ben should have good knowledge of English as any young and educated dutchman.

The difference is more likely cultural. Americans seem much to be much more easily triggered by signs of potential gender inequality or racism. The Dutch are more tolerant/rude and the humor often flirts with political incorrectness. In short Ben (and I) would not have sensed this as a potential agitator.

-----

nknighthb 218 days ago | link

1) Non-native speakers should know better than to pass judgement on linguistic issues without consulting others.

2) Ben rejected the change over 40 minutes after the submitter stated he had submitted a CLA.

-----

sanxiyn 218 days ago | link

I have issues with 1. Native speakers of English already enjoys tremendous privilege in open source world -- see antirez of Redis, another non-native speaker's take on this: http://antirez.com/news/61 -- and it should be native speakers who should be understanding of failings of non-native speakers, not the other way around. Check your privilege!

-----

eropple 218 days ago | link

Noordhuis is considerably more privileged in the context of an open-source project than the people he's chosen to behave poorly towards.

-----

sanxiyn 218 days ago | link

True, but I was commenting on English privilege in general. (nknighthb's comment was also general.)

-----

nknighthb 218 days ago | link

You are not addressing the subject I am addressing at all.

I am the only full-time monolingual employee of the company I work for, the only one who does not speak Mandarin, the only one whose mother tongue is English, the only one who grew up in a primarily English-speaking country, and one of maybe four who would be classified as fluent in English (and that count is probably high).

You can't imagine the things that pass through my inbox every day. I've worked for this company for years. This would be impossible were I not understanding of the failings of non-native speakers.

But when I need to correct their formal English (not often, because it only occasionally matters, since our target market is mostly Chinese), not one of my co-workers dismisses it out-of-hand. They know their limits, and immediately seek to understand what is going on, rather than ignoring the issue.

This has been my (much more limited) experience with non-native speakers from other parts of Asia and Europe, as well. Encountering a non-native speaker who does not behave this way is rare, I can think of only twice that I've personally run into it, and both times it involved people who had severe interpersonal issues well beyond language.

-----

sanxiyn 218 days ago | link

I can easily imagine things that pass through such inbox :) I am in a similar situation (a few who is considered good at English in a large group). In addition, I myself am a non-native speaker.

I imagine when you correct your co-workers' English, you don't assume malice instead of ignorance. I think you especially don't assume bad intentions when it has to do with tones, nuances, and cultural backgrounds. I am just requesting to extend similar consideration to people who are not your co-workers.

I am quite surprised to learn that you imply non-native speakers have "severe interpersonal issues" if they don't "know their limits". While I agree knowing one's limit is a good thing, when one doesn't you tell them, carefully, in non-condescending manner, not in the manner of "Non-native speakers should know better than to pass judgement on linguistic issues".

-----

nknighthb 218 days ago | link

You are mixing contexts. I am not speaking to Ben. When this change was rejected, nobody had said a word against Ben, or anything to or about him at all. And at this point I have no reason to be charitable, he hasn't even apologized, and decided to run away instead.

> I am quite surprised to learn that you imply non-native speakers have "severe interpersonal issues" if they don't "know their limits".

I am relaying my own experience. The only two non-native speakers I encountered who were outright dismissive of linguistic tweaks did have severe interpersonal issues, and as I said, they went well beyond issues of language. We are talking about workplace violence-level issues.

If the reality of my experience makes you uncomfortable, so be it. That alters nothing.

-----

res0nat0r 218 days ago | link

He gave a perfectly reasonable explanation why he did what he did: https://github.com/joyent/libuv/pull/1015#issuecomment-29568...

-----

Zikes 218 days ago | link

"butthurt" is slang for rape.

I suggest you edit your comment to remove the offensive language and make it more inclusive to the Hacker News community.

-----

wpietri 218 days ago | link

Evidence? Know Your Meme documents it as related to spanking:

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/butthurt

That matches my understanding of butthurt as an overreaction to being chastised or shamed.

-----

tks2103 218 days ago | link

"butthurt" is the pain you feel in your anus after being anally raped.

If you scroll down on that knowyourmeme page that you linked, you will see a set of memes in the "Buttfrustrated" category. The Brony meme has a set of insults that reference the anal rape: "Im sur thers sumpony who can help fill ur ass with semen laced hrut".

The percentage of cases in which a person is referencing "butthurt" to indicate a spanking is vanishingly small. Play the game "League of Legends" and complain when you lose. Ask people what they mean when they claim you must be "butthurt".

Did I just type those words?

-----

wpietri 218 days ago | link

I could believe some people use it that way; I just disagree that's the primary meaning.

-----

xer0x 218 days ago | link

Yep, you just said that!

-----

sneak 218 days ago | link

No, it's not. It references rape, but is not synonymous.

Its current definition is roughly synonymous with "unreasonably upset".

-----

Zikes 218 days ago | link

I see, I've suggested a very simple change to a single word of your comment which would make it more inclusive to the community, but you have refused to change it and instead taken a stand of principle.

I now have the choice of respecting your decision, or pressing the big red button to incite an internet mob upon you and score one for radical feminism.

I'll let you know my decision shortly.

-----

tks2103 218 days ago | link

You should found a company and then not hire that guy but then write a blog post about how you would totally fire that guy.

-----

aktau 218 days ago | link

I think it's a bit ironical that you seem to be acting "butthurt", threatening with internet mobs and such (and the gloomy prospects of someone losing their job if they don't bow down to your pressure).

-----

WhaleBiologist 218 days ago | link

Unless you are a rape victim you have no right to determine what is and isn't acceptable usage of the term.

Please respect the triggers of other people and check your privilege.

-----

x0x0 218 days ago | link

butthurt isn't slang for rape, and you don't get to decide what the community understanding of the meaning is. Which is someone unreasonably upset.

source: my understanding, peer understandings, and every post on urbandictionary

-----

tks2103 218 days ago | link

+1 for defending women's rights while using the term 'butthurt'.

-----

parennoob 218 days ago | link

> He could have just smooshed the big green button and scored one for the "not pointlessly defaulting to masculine terms" team

No specific change should be considered to be above the rules, and especially not those that have some sort of political agenda behind them.

I don't contribute to Node, but if I did, I would expect to follow all their procedures for accepting diffs, and Alex Gaynor's diff should have also been processed according to the same procedure. Why should his diff be more "special" than a one-line change I make in some code?

-----

salehenrahman 218 days ago | link

You're missing one very important detail: the person issuing the pull request didn't sign a CLA.

-----

regularfry 218 days ago | link

Yes he did. After the PR, before the initial close.

-----

sneak 218 days ago | link

I don't subscribe to the idea of property rights for information, so that detail is irrelevant to me.

-----

salehenrahman 218 days ago | link

It is irrelevant to you, but not to libuv. All committers must sign a CLA, otherwise, pull requests issued by those that haven't signed the CLA will be rejected.

Edit: I might point out all pull requests that only have two lines of grammar change in documentation. Those lines which really don't mean anything to someone who speaks a language with gendered pronouns applied to inanimate objects.

-----

GalacticDomin8r 217 days ago | link

> I feel like wanting to remark that Bryan Cantrill only fanned the fire here in all of this.

You've expressed a thought, not an emotion. Please use "think" instead of "feel".

http://www.wildmind.org/applied/depression/distinguishing-th...

-----

patcon 218 days ago | link

I'd never heard of Ben before this whole ordeal, but he unfortunately projected like an asshole, with zero damage control instincts and no apparent sense of urgency for reconciliation. If you can't contribute to a positive space, you should probably find a less public project where you're free to exercise your lack of emotional intelligence.

-----

patcon 218 days ago | link

Having said that, he didn't deserve a public shaming by the sponsoring organization. Unfortunately, that seems like it was political :/

-----

girvo 218 days ago | link

A lot of people across the various forums that discuss this stuff seem to be missing this. It is politics, pure and simple. Joyent and Ben had... an interesting relationship, as far as I'm aware.

-----

yawboakye 218 days ago | link

Do you realize the gravity of losing someone like Ben on a project like Node? I know you'd never get around to improving/contributing to Node but how does what you said get us closing to anything?

-----

patcon 218 days ago | link

I know. I think my answer was simplistic. I said I'd never heard of Ben, but I was actually primed by reading this article right before stumbling upon the debacle: http://venturebeat.com/2013/09/18/can-this-startup-steal-nod...

Having only ever had positive experiences with Isaacs in non-node-core capacities, I suppose I immediately jumped on "their side". So I guess I came to the conversation on biased terms.

Could it be that he's just not someone to be a project lead? Someone can be a prolific contributor (and a good person -- not demonizing him), but still not be the right folks to lead a project, right?

-----

vor_ 213 days ago | link

Ben isn't a native English speaker and was following the repo's rules. Joyent publicly shaming him and saying they'd fire him over a gendered pronoun in the documentation is an absurdity. There is prior history between these folks as rivals that explains Joyent's animosity toward Ben.

-----

towski 218 days ago | link

I think most of the biggest core contributors are unable to project that kind of emotional intelligence.

Because, well, they are programming, not working PR

-----

mcv 218 days ago | link

Ben didn't handle it well, and certainly could have explained himself a bit better. And I disagree with him on the commit; minor language improvements that make the language more inclusive are still valuable, and rejecting them means you're rejecting part of the community.

But the amount of crap he got was totally out of proportion. The commiters should have been able to simply discuss this and decide to handle this better next time.

Maybe this fairly minor incident was blown way out of proportion because of the Joyent-Strongloop friction.

-----

rohamg 215 days ago | link

He did explain himself a day later: https://github.com/joyent/libuv/pull/1015#issuecomment-29568...

-----

jbigelow76 218 days ago | link

    >Here's hoping Ben now finds a workplace that appreciates him for his talents and respects him as a person.
Did Ben leave strongloop as well? Reading between the lines regarding stepping away form Node.js vs just the responsibilities that come with being a core contributor looks ambiguous.

-----

selmnoo 218 days ago | link

That was the impression I got from some idle IRC chat, but after checking for myself I can find no concrete evidence verifying if he's parted ways with Strongloop or not.

-----

mseepgood 218 days ago | link

> because he refused to take a commit making language in some part of the code gender-neutral

He didn't only refuse such a commit. He actively reverted it.

-----

Lazare 218 days ago | link

On procedural grounds.

It hadn't been accepted, as far as Ben knew, by someone with the authority to make that decision, it didn't follow project guidelines, and the contributor hadn't signed a CLA. The revert had nothing to do with grammar and language.

-----

chc 218 days ago | link

AFAIK this is not the case. The contributor had not signed a CLA when he first submitted the pull request, but evidently did sign it well before Isaac merged in the change (he claimed to have done so very early in the original PR thread). As far as I can tell, procedure was followed.

It seems pretty clear that Ben acted somewhat inappropriately — maybe not with his initial rejection, but when he reverted Isaac's merge and "chided" him. The important thing to remember, though, is that one bit of prickly behavior shouldn't be enough to brand someone "an asshole." Heaven knows I've gotten annoyed and said things I've regretted on more than one occasion.

-----

Lazare 218 days ago | link

Well, I admit to not being 100% clear on the CLA. I was going of comments in one of the other threads from someone who seemed to know what they're talking about, but didn't show proof.

Still though, I would make the reverse point: I think the initial rejection was a bit dodgy, but the reversion was clearly justified.

Really, the reversion had nothing to do with the CLA; rather it was made by Isaac, who did NOT have authority to make that commit, and as far as Ben knew, it was unauthorized. Reverting it was justified. (In fact it was authorized by Bert, but Ben didn't know that. Yeah, Ben could have checked with Bert first, but I doubt I'd have done that in his shoes. If I was making a commit to a project I didn't have authority to, I'd probably make a public note who had told me it was okay. Isaac didn't.)

...still, either way, I agree with your conclusion.

-----

HaloZero 218 days ago | link

I thought Isaac accepted the Pull Request and merged it in? Doesn't he have the authority?

-----

Lazare 218 days ago | link

No. Not on the libuv project.

At the time of the controversy, the core developers of libuv were Ben Noordhuis (bnoordhuis), and Bert Belder (piscisaureus), both working for StrongLoop. Nothing is meant to be committed to the libuv tree without one of them signing off on it. To quote Ben's commit message: "@isaacs may have his commit bit but that does not mean he is at liberty to land patches at will. All patches have to be signed off by either me or Bert. Isaac, consider yourself chided."

But the very first comment on Ben's revert is from Bart: "I signed off on it. Just leave it as-is, no need to revert."

In short: Isaac did accept the pull request. He did not have the authority. Someone with authority (Bert) did accept it, however it was reverted (by Ben) under the mistaken belief that no one with authority had accepted it. A simple communication breakdown; why Bert didn't commit it himself (or why Isaac didn't note that he was committing it with Bert's authorisation) I'll never know.

-----

mcantelon 218 days ago | link

He claims he reverted it because the commit was pushed through without going through the required process. My guess is the whole affair was the boiling over of tensions that existed long before the pull request.

-----

waterlion 218 days ago | link

Can you explain why you are ignoring the fact that he was following the procedure (i.e. had no choice, the committer wasn't in the Committers file) and clearly didn't realise that the commit had been accepted by someone else?

So many people seem to be wilfully ignoring the facts and I can't understand why.

Can you explain?

-----

Zikes 218 days ago | link

Semantics. It's the same as saying "no", and then saying "no" again.

Really, if there's one thing I thought feminists had taken to heart it's "no means no".

-----

rosser 218 days ago | link

if there's one thing I thought feminists had taken to heart it's "no means no".

I'm a dude, and this comment seriously offends me.

I'm sure you thought you were being funny or something, but I dare you to make that kind of quip to a woman's face, and see if you don't begin realize why by the way her expression changes.

-----

Zikes 218 days ago | link

I am quite serious.

"No" is a powerful word, and the "no means no" slogan is about enforcing the power of that word and the expectations our society place on it no matter the context.

Women and sexuality do not have an exclusive claim to protection from having someone force their ideals or their actions upon you or, as in this case, your repository.

-----

_delirium 218 days ago | link

"No means no" specifically refers to a campaign against rape. It is not some general defense of the right to refuse anything and the sanctity of the word "no". The word "no" in itself isn't some kind of sacred word, and it should not have general power in all contexts that's enforced, as you seem to be proposing.

Apart from the analogy seeming silly and over-dramatic when applied to a... pull request to a software repository... it doesn't even make sense based on how open-source projects I've worked on in the past operate. There is nothing particularly out-of-bounds about making a suggestion a second time, even if it was rejected the first time. Situations and personnel change, and discussions recur. Linus even actively encourages it himself, and many pull requests are accepted after three or four "nos" from Linus. This does not mean that Linus encourages you to initiate sexual advances with people who've asked you to stop, though, because that situation is not at all similar!

-----

eropple 218 days ago | link

This may fly as rhetoric on /r/MensRights (and yeah I mention that because I went and looked) but it doesn't hold true in...like...reality. "No means no" as popular phrasing most specifically does refer to unwanted sexual contact, originating specifically in the context of date rape--and no, to forestall the tired MRA argument, male- or female-initiated sexual contact. And it was not Noordhuis's repository at all, as can be evidenced by the whole "/Joyent/" part of the URL.

I don't know Mr. Noordhuis. I think his behavior was stupid and Joyent's moreso. I think your behavior, and your motives, are appalling.

-----

malandrew 218 days ago | link

To be fair here, the only reason that /joyent/ is in the name is because Ryan Dahl entrusted the project to Isaac Schleuter, who works at Joyent (and was working at Joyent at the time of the bequeathment).

TBH, I was always bothered by having the project move from Ryan's account to Joyent. Ideally it would have moved to Isaac's or another, new organizational account "nodejs" should have been made, where all the core Node.js projects could have lived.

I'm quite frankly appalled at Joyent, the company, having made a statement via a spokesman about an extremely valuable contributor of the project. Joyent is a guest in the open source community. It is a sponsor and it enjoys brand benefits. But it is not a member of the community. It's engineers are and if anyone from Joyent (or anywhere else) was going to call out Ben, then they should have done so speaking for themselves on their own personal blog. This is the kind of stuff that makes me want to keep companies at an arms length of any open source project. There are only two entities in an open source project, the individuals and the group. Any entity beyond those two can only serve to split the community or inject more politically charged discourse into conflicts.

AFAIK, engineers from both Joyent, Strongloop (Ben's company) and Nodejitsu have all been core contributes of Node.js, but that Joyent has gotten most of the name recognition.

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/nodejs/hfajgpvGTLY

-----

eropple 218 days ago | link

Agreed almost entirely (I think that many companies have shown themselves capable of being very responsible stewards of open-source projects, it's only in a couple of communities that I see this sort of thing happening), but what-should-be doesn't really change anything. It probably should be under its own project--but it's not, it's under Joyent's and the actions on the project reflect on them. I think Joyent overreacted terribly and did themselves more damage than the tempest in a teapot otherwise would have caused, but I get the motives behind it.

The only reason I replied is because the tenor of Zikes's posts throughout this discussion have been consistently of the "I'm not touching you I'm not touching you we both know I'm being a dick but I'm not touching you!" variety and this straight-up mistruth about something rather important ground my gears.

-----

DanBC 218 days ago | link

You should downvote or ignore trolls, especially if they're that obvious.

The fact his comment isn't grey says something about the HN community.

-----

rimantas 218 days ago | link

  > this comment seriously offends me
"So fucking what?" © Stephen Fry http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqPcjm-X5GQ

-----

centrinoblue 218 days ago | link

Ben's a good person. The community bears responsibility for this loss

-----

centrinoblue 217 days ago | link

Did Ben actually confirm he was leaving? If you read hist post on the subject he says:

"I'm probably going to step back from libuv and node.js core development."

Did I miss something?

-----

smrtinsert 216 days ago | link

Joyent looks better to me honestly.

-----

rodgerd 218 days ago | link

> Here's hoping Ben now finds a workplace that appreciates him for his talents and respects him as a person.

He'd better find one that respects him more than he appears to respect women.

What's oddest about this is the amazing volte-face Bryan Cantrill appears to have performed. It wasn't that long ago he was adressing gross deficiencies in Solaris' performance compared to Linux on SPARC hardware with snarky, personal, and rather sexist jokes: http://www.cryptnet.net/mirrors/texts/kissedagirl.html

(On edit: added more about Cantrill's own background in this area...)

-----

DannyBee 218 days ago | link

"He'd better find one that respects him more than he appears to respect women."

I've read his responses twice now, and i don't see, in either case, anything that makes me think he doesn't respect women. Can you please point it out? I'm genuinely interested. The guy said like 7 sentences none of which said anything like "i think what is being done here is wrong" (instead, he said "i generally reject trivial doc fixes for X reasons") and is being crucified.

From where I sit, you have to add a lot of implications and subtext to what he said to get anything like that.

IE Do you not take him at his word for why he rejected the changes?

Or do you believe the very act of not being interested in these types of trivial doc fixes, when some of them change gender pronouns, makes him disrespectful of women?

(I've belonged to plenty of open source projects that would reject trivial comment/doc fixes like this when done en-masse, regardless of whether they were to fix spelling or gender pronouns or whatever, so i'm willing to take him at his word)

What am I missing?

-----

sampo 218 days ago | link

> he said "i generally reject trivial doc fixes for X reasons"

But for people who do not consider the related gender issues trivial, it was not a trivial doc fix.

-----

DannyBee 218 days ago | link

That's it? That's the reason to crucify someone? That seems insanely short sighted and stupid.

Without inserting any personal views here, crucifying people who appear completely ignorant of a cause, or don't understand the level of concern you feel about something, is not an effective method of advocacy. It's exactly the opposite.

If you don't understand how to be an effective advocate, you tend to hurt rather than help your cause.

Example: This whole thing.

-----

sampo 218 days ago | link

Well, for a person who doesn't consider the fix "trivial", it's kind of easy to see some other (more sinister) motives behind the rejection of the fix. And then even more suspicious motives behind the act of labelling a clearly non-trivial fix as "trivial".

In my opinion, both sides of the debate overreacted, but I am just trying to explain you the viewpoint that apparently feels quite alien to you. Well, if you don't even want to understand that way of thinking, that's fine, too.

-----

DannyBee 218 days ago | link

"In my opinion, both sides of the debate overreacted, but I am just trying to explain you the viewpoint that apparently feels quite alien to you."

Sure, but your description seems to kinda imply that everyone assumes everyone else are passive aggressive assholes :P. Maybe that's the case here, but i would hope not in general :)

-----

sampo 218 days ago | link

Here [1] is a wonderful (rather long) essay on whether balrogs have wings in Tolkien's books, or not. The point of the essay is that if your prior belief is that balrogs have/don't have wings, it's very easy to interpret the evidence (whatever Tolkien wrote concerning balrogs) in a light that supports your original stand.

So in the same manner, if you don't consider the fix trivial, then everything else Ben did afterwards, seems quite suspicious really. Or if you do consider the fix trivial, then everything than ensued, seems seriously out of proportion.

[1] http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/b/balrogs.html under ‘...And Whether Balrogs Have Wings’

-----

ssafejava 218 days ago | link

You have to admit, that responding to a very informative message comparing and contracting Solaris's networking stack with Linux's with

  Have you ever kissed a girl?
  - Bryan
is incredibly tasteless.

But of course that was long ago.

I don't think it at all appropriate to criticize what was clearly an honest mistake with a call for his employer to fire him. I would expect that of the masses on Twitter and commenting on the PR, but not of Joyent or Cantrill.

-----

jacalata 218 days ago | link

I don't think he appears to really disrespect women. I would say that he is, as are most guys in tech, ignorant of issues around sexism and arrogant enough to believe that if he is not aware of an issue it does not exist. Having read his responses, I think he seems like a reasonable guy who could stand to understand the world better.

edit: it wasn't that long ago? 16 years ago I was in elementary school. That's like 3 tech aeons ago.

-----

malandrew 218 days ago | link

I think we're allowed to be ignorant of the politically correct gender issues surrounding grammatical usage in a codebase. To do otherwise is to bikeshed. On the internet no one knows you're a dog. 99% of the time I have no idea if the person I'm talking to on Github is a man, woman or has a different gender identity, nor do I care. It'd simply doesn't matter. [0]

All that original commit did is set off a giant clusterfuck of nerd rage and bikeshedding. No one should ever submit a commit like that. If you want to edit executable code and make those pronoun changes in productive commits, fine. But to make those changes to the pronouns of comments and nothing else is pure unadulterated bikeshedding and shouldn't be in any project.

[0] http://programming-motherfucker.com/

-----

chc 218 days ago | link

This isn't about political correctness. It's about a practical consideration of the impact of language usage supported both by anecdotes from community members and academic studies. The defining quality of the "color of the bikeshed" discussion is that it makes no practical difference — but there is a difference here. When you say "bikeshedding," what you really seem to mean is "something I don't feel the impact of."

You should consider that just because something isn't important to you doesn't mean it isn't important to someone. A commit like that doesn't measurably hurt you or me, so even if it only helps someone else moderately and in a way we don't entirely understand, it is still net-good. This isn't political correctness; it's objective practicality.

-----

jack-r-abbit 218 days ago | link

Likewise... you should consider that just because something is important to you doesn't mean it has to be important to someone else. It does go both ways.

-----

chc 218 days ago | link

Indeed, and I am not asking malandrew to act like this is important to him. My point is that we should not oppose it, not that you personally need to take action of some sort.

In other words, I'm fine if you don't want to go through and revise your docs to be more gender-neutral — it would be nice, but you should spend your time on what's near and dear to you. But to say that such a change "shouldn't be in any project" is a very different thing. It has practical benefits, even if they don't personally affect you, so opposing it is purely harmful.

-----

malandrew 217 days ago | link

I totally respect that this is an issue that is important to people. I'm not opposed to these changes in the docs. I'm opposed to these being the only changes in the pull requests. You want to crusade on this agenda? Earn it. Submit a non-trivial pull request with a bugfix or feature and bundle these changes that matter to you in with them.

This is a perfect example of a group being it's own worst enemy. Alex Gaynor is not the group. The community is the group. If this matters to Alex then he should have bundled it with something that matters to the community like a pull request with changes of utility like a bugfix or feature.

If and only if Alex had contributed something of universal value to the community in the pull request and was still called out by people for that comment change in the pull request would he actually be correct in his accusation of misogyny and gender discrimination. Instead he led an unjustified lynch mob against someone who has contributed far more than him to libuv.

I'm staunchly opposed to the use of pull requests as a soapbox and unjustly crucifying someone who did not deserve it, and judging by the upvotes, I know I'm not alone in this opposition and support of an unjustly persecuted person.

-----

tedmielczarek 216 days ago | link

This attitude is silly. Lots of volunteer contributors start out making trivial changes because they're trivial. We take lots of trivial documentation and comment fixes at Mozilla as people's first patches. They help contributors learn how the contribution process works, such as the ins and outs of posting patches, navigating the bug tracker, etc. Rejecting trivial changes because the contributor hasn't "earned it" is a great way to raise the barrier to entry on your project. (Also, bundling unrelated changes seems like a terrible practice to promote. We like to have separate issues addressed separately.)

-----

jacalata 217 days ago | link

Do you feel that way about doc changes in general?

-----

malandrew 217 days ago | link

If the doc change is trivial, yes. If it's a significant change in the meaning of the text and how it relates to the code it accompanies, then it should be a separate pull request.

A good litmus test is, "Is there value to the community in having this as a separate pull request when someone is browsing the commit history?"

In other words, if this only matters to me and is part of my own crusade (but one that the larger community is likely to actively object to), then I should keep it to myself.

The change in question here could have been part of a larger commit of changes to documentation and comments, where the overwhelming majority of changes would be considered valuable by the majority of the community.

-----

jack-r-abbit 218 days ago | link

My point is that we should not oppose it, not that you personally need to take action of some sort.

Hmm... but isn't a lot of the rage toward Ben because he didn't take action on something that some people feel is a big deal while others feel it is not such a big deal?

-----

chc 218 days ago | link

I don't think so. People are mad at Ben because he reverted Isaac's commit and they thought it was because he had an ideological axe to grind. They think that Ben wasn't indifferent on this matter.

-----

jack-r-abbit 218 days ago | link

Then they should take great comfort that Ben reversed it based on his thought that proper procedure was not followed. Awesome! We can all calm down now and... oh wait... seems we still have rage. shucks.

-----

jacalata 218 days ago | link

I do consider that. I am baffled that people are willing to go to the mattresses over something that they don't object to, but which they argue is unimportant to them. That they spend time arguing not 'this is something I think is bad' but 'how dare you spend time on this thing I find unimportant!'

-----

jack-r-abbit 218 days ago | link

I believe people are going to the mattresses over the rage being directed at him. They are arguing more "how dare you be so enraged at him simply for not finding the issue as important as you do!" This is why I said what I said.

-----

jacalata 218 days ago | link

Hm, that's true for a significant amount of the argument since the Joyent blog post, and that's a fair argument. But in my judgment another significant part, and most of the noise in the original commit thread before Ben even reverted the commit, is about the change itself, and featured a lot of 'why are you even touching this, this isn't important, go and teach high school girls to code if you care so much'.

-----

jack-r-abbit 218 days ago | link

That is true... some people are angry about that. I don't understand those people too.

-----

jacalata 218 days ago | link

Everyone is allowed to be ignorant, the problem is people who are not ignorant but simply dismiss issues as "unimportant" because they are unaffected. It is not the original committers fault that you and so many other people don't care about (or in some cases object to) gender neutral language, and bikeshedding is best stopped not by leaving the bikeshed unpainted but by you and others who fjnd it unimportant shutting up and not objecting to the damn color if you don't care about it. Be the reduction in trivial arguments you want to see in the world.

-----

malandrew 217 days ago | link

I'm not bikeshedding on the topic of gender. I couldn't care less about that topic. That's not my battle[0], which is why I keep focusing on other aspects of all this that are important to libuv and open-source. I'm defending an unjustly persecuted person of great value to the community and the antisocial open source behavior of using pull requests as a soap box. If debating those two issues are bikeshedding, then I'm happy to bikeshed about them.

[0] but people seem to think it is and that I'm opposed. I don't know what I've said to contribute to that illusion.

-----

jacalata 217 days ago | link

I think we're allowed to be ignorant of the politically correct gender issues surrounding grammatical usage in a codebase. To do otherwise is to bikeshed

I read this (from your grandparent comment) as meaning 'discussion of gender/grammatical issues is bikeshedding' - and that to me sounds like you think it shouldn't happen because you don't care about it, which is effectively opposing the idea. If that's not what you meant, I'm sorry for the misinterpretation.

-----

DanBC 218 days ago | link

> I would say that he is, as are most guys in tech, ignorant of issues around sexism

He's also speaking English as a second language.

-----

sampo 218 days ago | link

I am speaking English as a second language, and my native language does not have gendered pronouns, and the gendered pronouns bother me every day, I cannot make myself blind to them.

Then again, if his native tongue also has gendered pronouns (as it appears to do), he should be aware of the issue, not because of English, but because of his native language has the same issue. Well, perhaps his native language user community has not yet started the same discussion, though.

-----

dubcanada 210 days ago | link

Tbh I'm a native speaker and I've messed up gendered pronouns more then once in my life. So don't feel too bad ;)

-----

More



Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | News News | Bugs and Feature Requests | Y Combinator | Apply | Library | Contact

Search: