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Update on Julie Horvath's Departure (github.com)
701 points by bentlegen on Mar 17, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 452 comments



When I arrived at this thread, comment two was 'using the information available in the short techcrunch article, I'm now going to PROVE, point by point, how Horvath's claims are false.'

Comment three was 'aha they issued a vague apology, this is basically a FULL ADMISSION that everything Horvath said was true!'

People: when did our brains melt and spill out of our ears? There is not enough public information present to reliably prove or disprove anything at this point; Github issued a nonspecific semi-apology (to wit: "It’s certain that there were things we could have done differently" well, yeah this is usually the case) with some promising indications that they are taking the issue seriously & looking into it.

Now we wait. Stop saying github is admitting to every point of Horvath's assertions! Stop saying Horvath is a liar! You don't know these things! Take deep breaths, listen for a bit, and wait for more information to come out.


I don't know if Horvath is right or not, but this is nice case study how PR works.

I would say this statement is a very clever move from GitHub side. I guess they have skilled PR people working on the issue.

At first look, the cited article seems to admit to everything. As a result, it will be sort of last news on the topic - if they admitted Horvath is right and they even put on leave a founder and the programmer and founder's wife will not be allowed to enter office, then what's more can be said or written? Github did everything it could to resolve the issue.

The point is that they did not admitted anything. The only paragraph that contains actual content is paragraph no 2., the rest is just speaking how Github grows and how they liked Horvath, how sad it is that Horvath is sad, etc.

So we have:

"We know we have to take action and have begun a full investigation. While that’s ongoing, and effective immediately, the relevant founder has been put on leave, as has the referenced GitHub engineer. The founder’s wife discussed in the media reports has never had hiring or firing power at GitHub and will no longer be permitted in the office."

So they have started "full investigation", just that. After two months when everybody will forget about the issue, the founder with his wife and the programmer might be back at Github (who knows what the investigation is going to prove - Horvath will not take part in it - she's no longer an employee). Whatever happens nobody will pay attention. No media will investigate the issue further because "Github admitted Horvath is right", so the topis is closed and no longer "hot".

I guess GitHub cannot publicly admit that Horvath is right or not, their lawyers would be mad, it is much better for them to keep all statements fuzzy and sounding good.


It's possible that things will be brushed under the carpet as you say.

But I'm not convinced that this is a "clever PR move" as you suggest. What else can GitHub do at this point? Fire the people involved without even investigating?


Its an established precedent that anyone accused of any sexual impropriety - from harassment to assault and worse, is prima facie guilty, deserves no presumption of innocence, and should be punished immediately.


I think that it's the way the PR statement is written that is 'clever'. By putting the founder on leave and banning his wife from the office they haven taken pro-active action (which was not mandatory). As has been noted, it might seem that they have admitted some wrong-doing when in fact they have not. But it's enough food for the media to drop the issue...


But you at least have to allow for the possibility that they are doing the right thing here. Perhaps they respect Julie enough to take her claims seriously and correct the obvious wrongs (gf in the offices) while doing what every other organization does in putting the person under investigation on leave.

Yes, perhaps they are bullshitting. But this is also what the PR release would say if they were trying to do the right things by all parties but don't have the information they need or the time they need to figure out exactly what the repercussions should be.


They could have done it wrong; denied everything, counter-accused her and kept the flames burning.


"People: when did our brains melt and spill out of our ears?"

When the topic is as controversial as sexism in tech and the workplace. Or whatever the flashpoint happens to be at the moment. Like sequoia, I've noticed that controversial topics brings out the most incredible responses from both sides, and often with very little definitive evidence. To me, this is a sign of how deeply felt this topic is, and how much it is just under the surface of our thoughts, ready to explode when an appropriate trigger occurs.

I laughed when I read the quote above and thought it was a good comment.


It is sad that some people dispute the existence of sexism in tech, but that does not make it controversial in the sense that it is contentious, because it isn't. The facts are simple: 1) technology is a big source of power in our society, and 2) women are underrepresented in tech. Whenever a well defined group of people is absent from (or underrepresented in) a source of power, discrimination is taking place, period. Sexism, like racism, is a loaded word, and people often believe that malice is required for it to exist, but that is not the case. Whether sexism begins in kindergarten or in mens-club startups is, at this point, secondary. It is there and we must address it.

In the case of GitHub specifically, the issue is even clearer. This is a company that for years had a blog with little else than their drinking escapades. Perhaps that's changed, but the burden of proof is on them.

The only thing that is up for dispute is whether this particular case is an example of sexism in tech or not. We can't be 100% sure, but at this time it's safer to assume that the weaker party is right, if only because the stronger party can handle a quick-to-judge public much more easily than the weaker party. I'm not saying it's boycott time, but it's best to at least open the discussion with that assumption in mind. Again, the burden of proof is on GitHub.


> Again, the burden of proof is on GitHub

I can see how "to align with the weaker party" can be a sensible goal for a society. However, in this case it directly conflicts with the presumption of innocence principle, which is an even higher goal for a just society.

So no, the burden of proof lies in whoever is making the accusations, whatever the (un)balanced of power between parties is.

What we should do is (1) not judge any party until there are enough facts on the table (of which we don't have many right now); (2) strive for an impartial account of the events; (3) judge only on and after evidence has been collected. If you want to support a cause, pushing for people to follow this recipe would work much better than pushing for "the weaker party is right until the stronger party proves themselves".


I am not in favor of judging them now, only assuming they're in the wrong for the purpose of discussion; if some people happen to jump to conclusions, I'm sure GitHub can take it more than Horvath can.

Because sexism in tech is a fact, this occasion is an opportunity to discuss it. Debating whether Horvath is right or wrong is not only futile, but is also potentially harmful to her, and that harm is far greater than GitHub's. Presumption of innocence is only a principle in legal disputes, and this, currently, isn't one, nor are we the jury. There will be no great injustice done if the assumption turns out to be false, but there is a lot of harm being inflicted on Horvath right now by people equating her position with that of a rich company and suspending any form of judgment. This does not only harm her personally, but the entire industry by implying that sexism in tech is disputable and pending "further data", which it isn't.

Given that sexism in tech is real and serious, that GitHub has a bit of a spotty background on that issue, and that GitHub does not deny any of the allegations, this is a perfectly good time to assume something bad has happened and discuss measures to correct the situation in the industry. If it turns out GitHub has fallen victim to the very real injustice of sexism in tech, I won't shed a tear for them, but will be excited to see them face the challenge and lead the way forward.


Why do we have to make an assumption either way? Damage to Github's reputation may not be a "great injustice," but it's not exactly consequence-free. It seems to me that withholding judgment is a far better course of action.


>the presumption of innocence principle, which is an even higher goal for a just society.

The presumption of innocence doesn't mean that anyone must either think or pretend to think that someone is innocent, any more than freedom of speech means that facebook can't take your youtube link down.


>Whenever a well defined group of people is absent from (or underrepresented in) a source of power, discrimination is taking place, period.

This is a good illustration of the point in the grandparent comment. This is simply not true, and I can't even think of any fallacy/ belief/ blindspot that could be adopted by a somewhat rational listener to make it sound convincing. (just to address the recalcitrant credulous among you: consider whether there is discrimination against Down Syndrome sufferers amongst tenured faculty on math departments)

In topics where people have deep vested personal interest or emotional investment, the quality of arguments that they would view as convincing goes down (often way down). The tragedy here is that the discourse about complicated topics which are important is overrun by people who have either (or, most often both) vested interests in a particular outcome, or little knowledge about the topic.

Saying "period period" at the end, I think, indicates that on some level, the parent commenter knows that s/he is presenting a weak argument. The poster's emotion overpowers this, however.

QED


People with Down Syndrome suffer from a debilitating disability that directly affects their ability to perform the essential functions required from math professors. Unless you suggest that being a woman or a black man is a similar disability, I think the comparison is inappropriate.

The reason I put "period" is because many people aren't aware of the current body of research in gender studies and sociology, and modern definitions of sexism (a simple introduction can be found here[1], esp. unintentional sexism: "The tendency to use intent, rather than result, to measure whether something was offensive and inappropriate, and therefore sexist, is tied into male privilege and the way that it enables sexist practices to be seen as normal."). If women are largely absent from a group wielding any social power, then by definition sexism exists (or sex-based discrimination, if you prefer), unless you can prove that being a woman is a relevant debilitating disability, which I don't even think anyone conjectures. Because the data suggests[2] that diversity in Silicon Valley is severely lacking, this is a serious problem in Silicon Valley.

(Any rationalization such as "but what if women don't want to be in tech" is irrelevant. The assumption is that all groups want to take part in powerful institutions, and if they don't, it must be because somewhere along the line society encouraged them not to want that, thus effectively removing them from power.)

[1]: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/sexism-de...

[2]: http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/17/technology/diversity-silicon...


>I think the comparison is inappropriate

Another case in point, it was a counterexample, not a comparison.

In your case, I now believe you are primarily just a sloppy/ bad thinker (who is also heavily invested in a certain position), but my original point about emotion clouding judgement still stands.


What is it with the ad-hominem attacks today? I am probably a sloppy thinker and possibly a very bad one, but luckily I've received some very good education, and in this particular case I didn't even need to think at all. I simply informed readers that by modern definitions of sexism, absence of women from places of influence equals sexism (at least somewhere in society if not at a particular workplace). I am certainly not invested in this... oh, wait, actually, you're right, I am – I'm a feminist (or, at least, I'd like to be) and I want to live and work in a more egalitarian society. If you take any issue with this thinking, I'm kindly pointing you to the last 50 years of research in history, sociology and anthropology and the relevant researchers. Take it up with them (but don't tell them they're emotional as they'll take offense because, you know, they're emotional).

And, again, I'm sorry for my sloppy thinking, but I believe that "consider whether there is discrimination against Down Syndrome sufferers amongst tenured faculty on math departments" is not a counterexample because pertinent disability most certainly doesn't fall under any definition of sexism/racism and other unfair discrimination (same goes for quadriplegics in the NBA). Pitting disability against sexism as a counterexample appeared to me to be a brow-raising comparison. This fallacy is called reductio ad absurdum or a straw man.

If you'd like, I can come up with a better counterpoint (or so it would seem to my feeble mind, which I actually had to exercise for this): white players in the NBA. However, that, too, would not fall under the modern definition for racism, as racism (like sexism) is "prejudice + power", and I don't think anyone suggests white men lack power or influence in American sports.

And if I was sloppy by not qualifying the term "a well defined group of people" to exclude disability, forgive me, I thought it was patently clear from the context, namely a discussion on women. And please don't try to counter with discrimination against those who don't know programming or village idiots, because the definition excludes that kind of "discrimination", too, and I hope that's clear enough without me quoting vast amounts of research verbatim.


>women are underrepresented in tech. Whenever a well defined group of people is absent from (or underrepresented in) a source of power, discrimination is taking place, period.

3,000 us army deaths in Iraq, and of those, 2,938 were men, 62 were women.


yes, men are less careful ?


no I think this is about how silly it is to try to equalize something artificially. If you try to equalize tech why not equalize military involvement. It's all ridiculous.


People who are working for equality are trying to equalize military involvement.


> Whenever a well defined group of people is absent from (or underrepresented in) a source of power, discrimination is taking place, period.

You are correct, but only if the term 'discrimation' includes 'discrimination based on skill levels.' If not, then you are assuming that power-relevant skill is distributed evenly, which is baldly false in many real-wrld situations.


Just one quick note on "women are underrepresented in tech". You are absolutely right. What is the solution? You think that Julie's case is going to help that change? Or we should focus on the root of the problem, aka. education. How come in schools (elementary or secondary) nobody tells to young girls that they can become an engineer? Why is the society parents, teachers, media included trying to push those girls to more traditional professions? This is the right topic to bang on if you want to solve gender inequality in tech and not the frustrated and hatred feminist crap what people usually associate the problem with.


Because women, as a group, are much less powerful than men – in tech in particular and in our society in general – blaming "hatred" on the weak party seems a little unfair, even if most men aren't intentionally sexist.

And you are absolutely right. Sex discrimination is systemic, probably starting in kindergarten and even at home. However, it's hard to fix education if young girls don't have lots of positive role-models to look up to, and you can't make those role models unless education is fixed. So fighting sexism has to be systemic as well, and at all levels at once.


In an ideal world, this should really be a no-brainer. Gender-background abuse should be an abhorred practice, the way we normally abhor, say, killing people.

It is telling that the topic of sexism in tech and the workplace is controversial at all.


I think a more appropriate analogy is "abortion". Some see it as killing people, others see it as having control over their own lives. Same here - some see it as sexual discrimination, others see it as problems many people have to face at their workplace.


> It is telling that the topic of sexism in tech and the workplace is controversial at all.

Yes - it tells use that it's a deeply emotional and often deeply subjective topic where situations can be interpreted very differently depending on your point of view and you do not necessarily have as clear a villain and victim as people like to have.


> Like sequoia, I've noticed that controversial topics brings out the most incredible responses from both sides, and often with very little definitive evidence. To me, this is a sign of how deeply felt this topic is, and how much it is just under the surface of our thoughts, ready to explode when an appropriate trigger occurs.

I'm not sure if you were framing this as a net negative or positive, but I actually do appreciate when these controversial debates occur. I like to see all the contrasting world-views brought out into the open and into conflict with each other. I agree that civility is a problem, though.

Anyway, I mention this because I worry sometimes that HN's "flamewar detector" (or is it purely flagging?) seems to kill these kinds of threads, ones with a high comment-to-upvote ratio (though some notable recent threads have seemed to escape this). I often wonder if this mechanism is worth the trouble. I suppose if heated debate leads to polarization of opinion, that's an issue, but I don't know if that's necessarily the case.


It seems that the flamewar detector (although I think it actually used to be flagging mostly) has been adjusted somewhat, or at least given a manual override for worthy discussions.

I can reassure you that this thread would have quickly been flagged off just a few months ago.

I'm guessing it's due to the fair amount of criticism PG received (from myself included) over how the flamewar-filter censored sensitive, yet important, discussions just like the ones this story sparked.


I would say that it's more likely that the team consistently monitors multiple factors and makes adjustments based on overall input.

Or, the complaints including yours probably did have -some- influence, but I think you're overestimating how much because to you, your comments were a heartfelt effort to make a point, whereas to pg they were 'add one to number of complaints of type X'. It's still important, given said number will have been factored into the decision making process, but probably not that important.


I'm curious as to what compelled you to state that my estimate of the impact complaints had on the situation, even though entirely unquantified, was probably still too high?

Regardless; I can confirm that many people complained about it and roughly a week or two after the whole 'PG is a sexist' kerfluffle sexism related threads stopped being flagged off the frontpage... It seemed like relevant information for the OP.


> I suppose if heated debate leads to polarization of opinion, that's an issue, but...

It definitely leads to my polarization, along with other (seemingly unfair) events in my life. Plus, it is hard to express any other opinion than in favour of the women, which leads to unvoiced discomfort and is clearly not the situation you want in an industry.

I wish women would speak up more often for men's cause. That's also what equality means.


This statement has more meaning that you are willing to concede.

If they are starting now to investigate, it means that when troubles were occuring, or even when Julia H. gave her demission, they didn't care enough to investigate thoroughly (perhaps they have other priorities, that's just a fact).

This in itself is not good looking, and I feel that from there whatever really happened, they won't have the full version anymore (one of the party is already out) and they will have a huge incentive to go into damage control mode instead of genuinely trying to make the situation better for both parties. Especially, the more they do, the worse their image would be on the PR front ( I hope they do whatever is fair anyway, but the balance is tipped).


Chris took over the role as GitHub's CEO from Tom at the end of January. Given the timeline in the TechCrunch article, these events unfolded under the previous CEO's tenure so it would be appropriate to reinvestigate the claims independently of any previous findings.


Hogwash. Companies always say they will open an investigation. In the least, it buys a little time for the story to die down and the next big stories to hit the media cycle.


The tech industry tends to be a bit more long memory minded than most. I still haven't purchased a Sony product since the CDs with malware incident a long time ago. Though I still work with MS technology, and use their products in the workplace, I've been slowly able to replace their products in my life and this is from decisions they made well over a decade ago.

I admit, I do care about things more than most. My workgroup, and much of the company I work for migrated to github enterprise (and a lot in github public) about a year ago. These kinds of things sour opinion. There are differences between a single bad actor/incident and a systemic problem in a toxic workplace. We don't really know what this is, but it was clearly more than at least one person was willing to put up with.

It's bound to be difficult working in an environment where 4:5 of your peers are the other gender. I worked in a couple of workplaces when I was younger where I was the only male. It was rather eye opening and sometimes uncomfortable to say the least.


Well, there is a lot of praise on cleverness of the statement, but I think people are pretty used to PR talk now. If the best they have now is a promise of an investigation, that's not the same as a "we are fully investigating the issue" (which I think is the most standard way to handle this kind of situation. Even if really nothing is done, stating that the investigation is ongoing is an easier stance.

Also, people might forget about the issue in 6 months, but the bad taste in the mouth we have now will stay attached to the brand. The best move IMO would be to come 'clean' as soon as possible, and let the hype die down from there, provided they are OK with doing the right thing, whatever it might be.


Yes. Comments on the original TechCrunch article were equally vindicating even though that article offered no actual evidence. It's unfortunate TechCrunch and Valley Wag posted the story without first corroborating at least some piece of it.

GitHub's response neither confirms nor denies any part of the story. It does say the founder's wife will no longer be allowed in the office, but that is not an admission of wrongdoing nor of her ever having been in the office.

Edit: The only thing this response proves is that GitHub is taking these allegations seriously, which hopefully means there will be more information after they have time to investigate. Try not to jump to the many other conclusions already posted in HN comments.


"offered no actual evidence"

First hand testimony might be imperfect, but It is evidence.

Whether or not its conclusive remains to be seen.

That's the larger point.

Certainly, the above linked article lends at least some credibility to some claims.

The fact that the wife of a founder needed to <even be mentioned> in this type of PR damage controll manouvre...is a huge red flag by itself.


The wife was mentioned because she was called out in the earlier article as a problem. We don't know if she was actually a problem or not. We, and specifically you, don't know enough to make the claims you're making.

Please, stop speculating. Have patience, wait for actual information.


> GitHub's response neither confirms nor denies any part of the story.

Well, they do say:

    We know we have to take action and have begun a full 
    investigation. While that’s ongoing, and effective   
    immediately, the relevant founder has been put on leave, 
    as has the referenced GitHub engineer. The founder’s wife 
    discussed in the media reports has never had hiring or 
    firing power at GitHub and will no longer be permitted in 
    the office.
So it's not like they're completely silent. They said both the referenced founder and employee have been put on leave and the wife, who apparently was allowed in the office before this, is no longer. They didn't flat-out admit to anything, but it's not like they're totally silent.


"We know we have to take action and have begun a full investigation." == "We need to do something about this"

"While that’s ongoing, and effective immediately, the relevant founder has been put on leave, as has the referenced GitHub engineer." == "We don't know what to do yet but we're trying to prevent variables from changing"

"The founder’s wife discussed in the media reports has never had hiring or firing power at GitHub and will no longer be permitted in the office." == "If she said anything along those lines, she had no authority to do so, and misrepresented herself and her role at GitHub"

Yes, it's legalese, but it's not actually saying or admitting anything that anybody didn't already know. It's filling the silence that would otherwise breed directionless slander and conspiracy.

It's manipulative, but arguably well intentioned, and can possibly lead to a more constructive outcome than the free-form slather that would have occurred in a communication vacuum.


Yup. This, to me, is a partial admission of guilt. Why else would they take such harsh, immediate action to throw him under the bus?


It's not throwing him under the bus. It's distancing him from the investigation. That's both to protect him, in case things favor his story, and to protect the company, if it turns out he was in the wrong.

In both cases, they wouldn't want him having any potential influence on the investigation. To do that, his power within the company needs to be suspended until a conclusion is reached. The parties investigating (likely HR and the other founders) must be able to do their job without fear of retaliation from the accused founder, that would taint the decision.


Because that is what the lynch mob is screaming for and anything else would be labelled as aiding and abetting sexism and discrimination against women by some people?


If I was the person accused, and I was not guilty, I would request to relinquish all responsibility pending investigation to ensure there was no reasonable way anyone could claim I'd interfered with the investigation when it cleared me.

Of course it can also mean the opposite - my point is merely that suspending someone pending investigation says nothing at all about guilt.


Founder put on leave, his wife no longer allowed in the office, that's not nothing. It's not a full admission, but it is an apology. While they don't admit anything specific, to me it sounds like an admission that they dropped the ball. Their company didn't work the way it should have and they intend to fix it. They offer a reason why this was the case (their rapid growth) but don't present it as a justification.

I'm seeing plenty of mea culpa in this, and that's good. They could have responded far worse, and only slightly better.


  > It's unfortunate TechCrunch and Valley Wag posted the story without first corroborating at least some piece of it.
I think we have to be careful with statements like this. Yes, they could have tried to find a Github employee who would corroborate part of it, perhaps the assertion that the wife was in the office periodically. But the problem with that is that it is perfectly reasonable to think they would have failed to find anyone willing to talk about it. Then what? Should they not publish? If they hadn't, would Github be investigating now? Would anyone be on leave? Probably not.

Asking for corroboration is fine, but we should be mindful that some things that are true can't be corroborated and demanding corroboration just gives the accused party the de facto ability to suppress the information or the debate.

Her story passes a basic smell test, it very well could be true, and there is no specific reason to doubt her. While this doesn't mean it is true, it isn't necessarily irresponsible to publish it either.


> Would anyone be on leave? Probably not.

Again, that is speculation. "What ifs" are not useful here.

As "news" outlets, I expect both sites to corroborate stories before posting them. If they don't, they are effectively tabloids. Posting allegations like this is the definition of tabloid journalism.

There are too many people involved in this story for me to believe that zero of them were reachable for comment. TechCrunch only vaguely mentions "awaiting comment from GitHub", which could mean anything.

I do think it is irresponsible to publish such a story without any corroboration because it implicates several people directly and an entire company's work environment with nothing more than one person's word.

The whole story could be true, but the fact is no one knows; TechCrunch and Valley Wag certainly don't.


But again, you are proposing that all power be given to the larger, more powerful entity. And I totally disagree about the usefulness of "what ifs". Without "what ifs" we would all be stuck wandering around waiting for food to fall from a tree in front of us.

We only have the luxury of observing one "version" of events (unless you can hop between multiverses). Therefore, the only way we have to evaluate past events is by asking "what if" questions.

What if TechCrunch hadn't picked up the story? Basically no one would have heard about it and Github quite possibly wouldn't have felt the need to respond or investigate (maybe they still would have, another "what if", but they wouldn't have been under as much pressure).

Something went down. I'm not saying we should just lynch the accused parties and move on. But I am saying that often the only way for a small actor to get attention is for a news outlet to pick up his or her story. And if they refuse to publish without some kind of official confirmation, then very few such stories will be printed, because the larger, more powerful entity will quash them with silence.


The entire story in all its objective context will never be known, and those privy to the story, Horvath and those involved at Github carry more context than we will know. For Horvath, you have to give her credit to go public the way she did. That requires a lot of courage that could have negative ramifications on her career, which could indicate that she was strongly upset about the incidents she described. I don't know her or her motivations, but if she would be playing a pretty risky game if she were to lie. What I will say is that I'm tired of the continual denial or downplay of sexism in this industry. I've seen it first hand, some of drink ups I've attended were a disgrace, and the frat house culture that some tech organizations have cultivated not only make women uncomfortable, but men too including myself. This man-child culture is embarrassing and needs to stop and it's a very real problem.


> People: when did our brains melt and spill out of our ears?

Classic case of confirmation bias.


Classic case? confirmation bias? I would have called it an opinion, and an emotionally charged appeal to reason, but not any form of confirmation bias.

Would you accuse scientists of confirmation bias if they chose to look for more evidence rather than just publish the results of the first experiment?


Uh, that's not confirmation bias.


It's good to see this statement out of Github. The general tone and specifically the mention of the founder's wife in this post gives a huge amount of credence to Julie's claims. I hope Github follows through on this with as much sincerity and determination as this post implies.


Agreed. Keep this handy for when you have an event such as this. If no attorneys were involved in drafting this, I would be surprised.

It admits no guilt, declares that individuals are the possible cause and that action is being taken to prevent their continued damage, notifies the community that a new HR head started very recently, and attempts to be as graceful as possible in acknowledging the points made by the victim.

If you get a chance, watch 'Wing Chun', an informative documentary on the same topic, and note the effectiveness of 'cotton belly'.


I agree that the statement is good. I only wish they'd addressed the concerns that were raised regarding them having access to/messing with private repos.


I didn't quite read the statement as saying the founder's wife had access to private repos. I just read it as saying that the founder's wife claimed to have access to private company communication, specifically chat logs only intended for github employees. But a statement clearing the concerns up would be nice.


I personally just read the quote as meaning the wife knew her husband's passwords (and where to find company chat logs). Theoretically, this might give her access to private repositories, but only to the extent the founder in question does. A problem, to be sure, but its not like they were giving away credentials to people.


You're right - the TechCrunch article didn't mention access to private repos - only private employee chatrooms. But the question was raised here on HN, asking if she did have access to private employee chatrooms what else might she or others have access to? If the security is lax in one area, one might assume it's lax in others as well. But it's just speculation - but it has merit non the less

[edit: spelling]


There's no way to know unless someone comes out and says it explicitly, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that the aforementioned "spies" emailed specific chat logs to her. In a toxic environment, that kind of stuff gets passed around willy-nilly. That's the first conclusion I jumped to after reading the TechCrunch article, anyway.


They use campfire so giving anyone access to the chat logs would be as simple as adding them. They could then look at any logged history (almost all of it, unless the room was locked) and search through it however they liked.


I'm under the impression that GitHub has moved away from campfire and uses their own custom chat system

[1]: https://twitter.com/holman/status/444642237456998400


That's probably a custom client for Campfire (right underneath the screenshot[1] they say it's Campfire).

[1]: http://zachholman.com/posts/github-communication/ (first screenshot)


I was confused when I read the tweet after the article, but this seems like the most likely explanation


At the same time: http://zachholman.com/posts/github-communication/

> We still use (and love) Campfire.


I'm curious if the company itself took this up or if board pressure played a part. It is sad that the events transpired as they did with out management stepping up earlier.


This is the best possible response GitHub could have done given the circumstances.


Exactly. This is what I needed to hear, as a 3rd-party fan of Github's product, who is concerned by Julie's allegations. I don't know who is in the wrong, and I want to know the truth, and I hope Github can solve these problems. This statement doesn't downplay; this statement doesn't evade, and that's what this situation warrants: a serious and sincere investigation.


That was also my first reaction. I don't know enough about crisis-management-style PR to second-guess their response. I often have the suspicion that founders are not taking the best course of action, but this response seems to avoid the obvious pitfalls.


This was also my first reaction as well - the real question is how they followup this response, but this is the only correct move at this juncture.


I think the follow up will be more critical, especially the public explanation. That will have the potential to either strengthen GH's credibility or destroy it.


Why should they give a public explanation for something that should've stayed internal in the first place? This should've stayed between the OP, GitHub and GH's HR team.


One thing he could have done better is to praise her contributions as a developer specifically or not call anything out specifically. One of her main complaints is having her pull requests reverted and Chris Wanstrath's post does nothing to support her in this matter.


The actions that Github has taken lends credibility to what Horvath has said. Of course, we'll not know the whole truth until sometime in the future, if ever.

Even if this episode were only hypothetical, this episode reminds me that many people have poor decision-making abilities, even if they are super intelligent. A co-founder of a company like Github would and should have a very good brain and very good decision-making prowess. And yet, here we see instances of him possibly:

1. Not being able to identify boundaries between his personal life and his work life, and allowing factors from his personal life to influence his work life, possibly very negatively (magnified by his position at the company).

2. Not being able to communicate with people and ascertain the truth of the matter. Someone had to lie to cause him to accuse Horvath of lying: either his wife lied or Horvath lied, and he didn't appear to do a good job of getting the truth and resolving the situation.

3. Having perhaps made a poor marriage decision. I would not be surprised if everyone downvotes me for this speculation, and am sorry if this ruffles features. But if this episode is true, there are very few ways that this co-founder's marriage comes out looking good. Either he's absolutely insensitive to the needs of his company or he's completely whipped by a woman who cares more about herself than him. If it's a poor marriage decision, he wouldn't be the first person in history, people from all walks of life seem to make poor marriage decisions all the time.

In the end, I am reminded again that people are messy, and no matter how intelligent they appear to be, they can still have the potential to act stupidly.


Wow, you make it sound so easy.

> Not being able to communicate with people and ascertain the truth of the matter. Someone had to lie to cause him to accuse Horvath of lying: either his wife lied or Horvath lied, and he didn't appear to do a good job of getting the truth and resolving the situation.

Sure, and a good managers should have no problem figuring out things that can take police and the courts years and years.

> If it's a poor marriage decision, he wouldn't be the first person in history, people from all walks of life seem to make poor marriage decisions all the time.

How is that relevant, and what exactly does that even mean? You don't really know who the person is and will be when you're getting married, you're just making a bet that they really are who you think they are, and that they wouldn't change in the future. If this episode is true, they can either do what married people should do (stick together, learn, communicate, support each other, and resolve the issues), or they can say "fuck it, we're stupid and made a poor marriage decision", and separate.


> Wow, you make it sound so easy.

I think you misread me. I believe I made it pretty clear that I think that people from all walks of life do not find it easy to make good decisions. I don't believe it is so easy. I talk as one who has made many poor decisions myself.

> How is that relevant, and what exactly does that even mean?

I really don't want to get into this, mainly because we don't have enough information. But the gist is what I've stated, that he may have entered into a marriage with a selfish and megalomaniac woman who cares more about herself than him. Again, we don't have enough information to confirm, but the questions are asked because there are allegations of such behaviour.

And for the record, I have seen plenty of good, high-quality marriages where doing what married people should do does not become public incidents (i.e. they are able to work out their issues in the way you describe, but in private so that they don't become public spectacles).


It seems more likely that it was a bad hire rather than a bad marriage (more thought probably went into the marriage decision than the hire decision). Clearly wife and employee didn't get along well, and wife made some unfortunate judgement calls in how to deal with the situation. It still seems possible she just wanted to protect her husband from a toxic employee, and just chose the wrong way of doing so.

Imagine getting a restraining order from an employee of your husbands company. I suppose they should have made a cut way sooner...


Having perhaps made a poor marriage decision

This was my thought as well. I don't know who the founder is, or what is going on here, but I feel like people are going to be quick to villainize that founder over the actions of his wife, as if they function as one unit.

In reality, if a founder's spouse has that kind of power over the founder's employees, that founder is very likely to be in a divorce within 5 years. In healthy marriages, people don't interfere with their spouses' careers. Support is different from meddling. If JAH's allegations are true, I feel pity rather than anger toward that founder, because it means his marriage is on the rocks and he might not even know it yet.


It's good to see a straight-up apology, not a mealy-mouthed "I'm sorry if our engineer's sexual harrassment offended you" type response.

Of course, it would have been better if Julie had felt like she could have taken this up while she still worked there and got something done at the time.


"It’s certain that there were things we could have done differently." heh... this doesn't read like a "straight-up apology" to me. It doesn't acknowledge even a whit of wrongdoing. Note also that Wanstrath says he "would like to personally apologize to Julie," [emphasis added], not that Github is apologizing or that he's apologizing on Github's behalf.

I'm not saying "they should apologize and I know it" because I don't know it, I know practically nothing of the situation, but this is no "straight up apology."


Re-read it. He was careful not to actually apologize for anything in particular. It's worth noting that they have not admitted to any 'sexism' or whatever other accusations are floating around.


Awesome response from GitHub. Professional response, apologises and thanks the complainant rather than being defensive ... I think their new HR hire in January is already paying dividends ;)


They didn't actually apologize for anything in specific. This is very carefully crafted and is being very defensive by not admitting to anything. The only real meat is clarifying that the wife had no hiring/firing power.


Explain to me why you would admit to anything if you haven't got to the bottom of it yourself? As they explained, they're investigating the issue currently.

So...doesn't their response then make sense?


It sounds like a pretty good apoligy for something they (claim) to know nothing about.

It's hard to apologise for something specific before you know what that actually is.


Not PR, HR (i.e Human Resources). In other words, someone who should have been working to clean up this mess months ago.


Absent a time machine, how could a hire in January have been working to clean up this mess "months ago"?

Blame the CEO and the rest of the management team for not hiring a good HR person sooner if you want, but I don't see how you fault the person who just walked into this mess. Unless you're blaming them for not seeing the mess or walking into it with their eyes open. To me, that seems counterproductive. Having people with the appropriate skills take on the difficult work of improving these cultures is part of how things get better.


Sorry, for some reason I was thinking that they were hired in January of 2013.

I wasn't suggesting that HR bring forth radical change, either, merely recognize the problems and work towards finding a solution (even though that would have been extremely difficult in itself, considering how little the executives seemed to help).


Indeed, but it takes time to clean up a culture (if it's at all possible). This response suggests that their HR hire is doing his or her job well, at least now.


This response suggests that ...

Disagree. The situtation is highly ambiguous. HR is a game of "the best victories are wars not fought". And so in some regards, its too late.

On the other-hand, if HR was on the right...they were "over-ruled" by more than one of CEO/founders/sr execs. This surely means this person has diminished capacity to act. If not due to competence, than due to "lack of formiddableness".

Because it shouldn't take a public PR nightmare to convince (ie, show some leadership) that following HR101 is a good idea.

It is only the rare edge case that this person was in perfect pitch (and ignored) yesterday and will be held in higher regard tomorrow.

So, this is why things are not clear cut here for anyone.


This whole incident is sad. It's incredibly sad for Julie, for everyone at GitHub, for the founders, and for the alleged "crazy" founder wife who was banned from a company she probably sacrificed a lot for


Sacrifice does not buy one a free pass to treat people like shit. Condescension is not an award. (otherwise I agree with your sentiment and post)


I'm surprised nobody sees sexism in the way that the wife has been stigmatized.


> I'm surprised nobody sees sexism in the way that the wife has been stigmatized.

Y'know, I hope I'm wrong, but there's a good chance you're surprised because you don't know what sexism is. An awful lot of men seem to have this notion that "sexism" means "something happened to a woman that she didn't like." It doesn't. Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person's sex or gender, if you'll forgive me quoting Wikipedia. Calling out a woman for doing something shitty is not sexist. Saying "well, what can you expect from a woman" would be.


I think that the wife's actions would have been even less acceptable if she were male. The stigma is caused by the repeated unprofessional actions she did, and made worse by the fact that she was not even an employee.


The stigma is caused by the repeated unprofessional actions she did,

Allegedly did.


Why should gender affect the acceptability of one's behavior?


Because sexism.


Agreed. Perhaps it was meant the the actions would be seen as less acceptable.


No one cares what her gender is. She doesn't work for GitHub, yet she believed that she had hiring and firing power at GitHub and had the ability to read private chat logs. That is wrong, and she doesn't belong near the company anymore. It would be the same if she were male.


I don't see the sexism here. If you changed her sex to male, people would be just as negative on him/her. A spouse who is not an employee, swinging their proverbial dick around (no pun intended), meddling with the company's employees, and harassing them?

I think people would hate the spouse just the same if it were a man, so I disagree with you on this.


I think the stigma is based on alleged bad behaviour. As this behaviour has nothing to do with gender I don't think it's accurate to say this is sexism. I could be wrong.


At least express your opinion with this statement instead of just leaving a questionable open ended statement.

Do I see any sexism against the wife of the co-founder from GitHub's statement? No

If you'd like to continue the discussion then go ahead and provide something of worth.

This comment is ironic I know, but these kind of posts derail the debate.


I think it would be somewhat different if she were an actual employee.


So it's not sexism as long as it is against a non-employee? What kind of sense does that make?


One way or another, an employee has to be part of the workplace - it's their job. An non-employee doesn't have to be there, so access to the workplace is a privilege (and one that not all employers permit). When a non-employee misuses that privilege (e.g. by getting the the way of employees doing their work), it can and should be revoked.

Moreover, making mistakes in the context of misusing a privilege can and should carry greater stigma than making those same mistakes in some other contexts.


The situation would be equally bad if it were a male founder's gay lover or husband.

Nothing to do with sexism, everything to do with a person making decisions for the company who is (1) personally close to an executive and (2) without a formal role at the company.


So... you don't see sexism in the way she behaved?


Usually there are two sides of the story, but the fact that a non-employee (wife of co-founder) exercised so much power and meddled in internal office politics in the way that she did, it was hard to see how GitHub could even claim a reasonable stance. They screwed this up big time. This is a good response.


Not usually...ALWAYS. There is another side here. Github has just realized they have nothing to gain by defending.


Off topic, but there is not always "two sides". There is a tendency to try to frame and reduce everything to binary questions... but the world is just not binary.


To put it another way, there may be two sides (or N sides), but some sides' perspective are often more worthy than others. Not to Godwin the thread, but, yeah. Both sides' perspectives are not always equally valid. (I dutifully acknowledge that the offenses are not the same magnitude, and all the caveats that go with referencing The Big G.)


Like the nature of earth:

* General scientific opinion (it's generally roundish).

* Religious doctrine (it's flat, centre of universe, on the back of a turtle).

* And then this person: http://www.timecube.com/

Point is, only one of these sides is reasonable.


There are always two sides. But people who use "two sides" tend to overlook that one of them may very well be "Yeah, we failed hard on this one".


Julie made two sets of allegations against Github. The first has to do with her personal dealings with the founder and his wife and the HR department. The second with general harassment of women at Github. Github so colossally screwed up the former, they may have to concede, by default, the latter.


She's like the Spinal Tap member's girlfriend...


The founder’s wife discussed in the media reports has never had hiring or firing power at GitHub and will no longer be permitted in the office.

The fact that she was married to someone who did have hiring or firing power and WAS permitted in the office means she DID have (defacto) hiring or firing power.

I wonder what the ramifications are, legal-wise? Obviously the founder could be sued, especially if he was allowing someone who wasn't an employee to harass. I suspect A16Z will waste no time putting distance between themselves and the (allegedly) guilty founder. In the end, this wife's jealousy could end up costing her family 10s or 100s of millions of dollars.


By your logic, hiring managers should not be allowed to be married, lest they give a non-employee "defacto" hiring power.

Before we string up the cofounder's wife, let's actually let her and/or the cofounder defend themselves, OK? It's entirely possible Horvath is completely embellishing things and the cofounder's wife didn't do anything terribly out of line.


That's quite the straw man.

The key here is that the founder's wife has a regular presence in the office. Plus, a founder is in a vastly higher position of authority than an employee (be it a manager, or else).

So it's not too far to imagine that she could exert some influence towards her husband's decision at work, e.g. hiring and firing of someone.


Yes, she could exert influence. Just like every other SO of every other hiring manager in the world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I hire people, and I talk to my wife all the time about work matters. And if, knowing everything she knows about my team, she told me that I should be looking at cutting someone loose, I would take that advice very seriously. Every good executive has trusted advisors, and for people in serious relationships the partner is very commonly one of those advisors.

The only problem here is the wife's alleged direct meddling with work matters, not that she had a strong influence on her husband's work decisions. For founders, life is totally enmeshed with work and it would actually be weird if his wife DIDN'T have strong opinions on the company he built while she supported him at home.


Errr, I don't follow. I'm a co-founder and in an office of 5 people. My wife stops by to visit me at least once a week. The only defacto power she has is to steal my gummy worms off my desk.


The largest issue, for myself, really was the lapse in HR policy specifically around the founder and the wife. It is a huge lapse in common sense on behalf of said founder and should not have come to pass.

A smaller family run business, maybe I could see such policies happening (not necessarily right), but a venture backed company with a board and a trio of cofounders? Bad, bad form.


Let's just make sure not to call the wife bossy.


Might want to tighten that logic up a bit.

Plenty of founder's spouses are allowed in and have been allowed in our offices. None of them had any hiring or firing power.


Except, if the allegation is true, the wife goes around to employees claiming she can fire people if she wants to.


"the relevant founder has been put on leave... The founder’s wife... will no longer be permitted in the office."

Almost exactly what I expected. As the startup grows larger (200+ employees now for Github?) it's not uncommon to have some cultural setback. +1 for Github trying to fix it asap, but still Chris Wanstrath did not mention how are they exactly going to fix the culture. Putting founder on leave is by no means panacea. The behavior on that one founder is very likely not the cause for the wrong culture, but just the side effect. So more specific plans INSIDE the company, please? (well, actually I think fixing the culture can't be done by any plan, but it must be done by example of founders/high-level executives.)


It's been like a day (over a weekend), probably not enough time to put together such a plan...


The plan is the outcome of the investigation. The point is to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it in the future.


What do you think needed to be fixed? You are assuming that everything Julie states is right...


I am not assuming everything Julie states is right. For statement "the culture of Github needs some fix" to be true, it only needs only some of Julie's statements to be true. And looks like from Chris's statement, that is true (otherwise why did they "punish" founder & his wife).


They didn't punish anyone yet.


They did not punish anybody. Not letting a non-employee into their offices does not qualify as punishment. Put on leave for a president also not. It is more to the media and wait to let the dust settle. The culture of Github needs some fix can be interpreted many ways it does not say anything concrete. This is all politics. :)


I wasn't aware of the whole story. Here is the link to better understand the context: http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/15/julie-ann-horvath-describes...


And the discussion, which is still on the front page https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7408055


I wish we could stop this.

Women in software is an important topic. This specific issue on the other hand is just a he-said-she-said soap opera.

Nobody but the folks directly involved here know what really happened. Everything else is useless.


The problem is that it's always he-said-she-said, especially in the worst cases.


That is very true.

I would maintain, though, that besides the involved parties nobody can possibly know what really happened, and hence everything is just idle speculation.


Ms. Horvath's act of taking this directly to the press was obviously intended to inflict the maximum possible harm on Github and is, in itself, unprofessional and harms her credibility. The right way for her to have handled this would have been to document everything, and then resign and sue them without fanfare. Nobody wins when dirty laundry is aired.


Most women (and men--Julie's story rang true to me--and also reminded me of persecution some guys I've worked with have endured) protest and, when nothing changes, quit to preserve their health and sanity. They don't sue. They don't get fanfare for it. They quietly resign and move to other pastures. And nothing changes for their coworkers (and other women and men in the industry) who are also harassed.

Resigning and talking about it is actually pretty courageous. She doesn't win, she gets a stigma. Her company doesn't win, it gets a stigma. But the spectators with their mouths agog realize that this kind of mismanagement/harassment is not only happening under noses, but also being noticed externally (it's endemic; while women and minorities likely deal with it a lot more, it's not just gender-based, it often happens to the lawful-good no matter what gender or race in small tech companies) and, for a brief time, these companies pull themselves together and become better places to work, if only because it's expensive and time-consuming and morale-killing to fuck this stuff up.


> Ms. Horvath's act of taking this directly to the press was obviously intended to inflict the maximum possible harm on Github

If you had read the original article [1] you'd have known that she decided to take action after a "Secret post" was publicly published about her departure. (We could comment all day about the bravery of the anonymous GitHub employees who used Secret as a public mean of ridiculing her)

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/15/julie-ann-horvath-describes...


It's not unprofessional and doesn't harm her credibility. That would only be true if what she said was fabricated (and there is no reason to believe that's the case).

It is also easier for her to go public than to try to sue a billion dollar company, and have to be involved in a lawsuit for years. Nobody wants that hassle.

Bullies are able to operate because people keep quiet. Going public is often the best way to defeat a bully. The founder, his wife, and the employee who ripped out her code never thought the general public would know about the things they did. If they did, they would never have done them.


> The right way for her to have handled this would have been to document everything, and then resign and sue them without fanfare.

Which would have put Github instantly on the defensive, and would have lead to limited and speculative publicity only. As it is, Github is not being sued, and seems to be making a proper effort to address its problems. This sounds better, really.


> Nobody wins when dirty laundry is aired.

Not necessarily. It can put pressure on the company to take it seriously and fix it, and make more people aware of these kind of problems. And that seems to be what's happening here. Keeping it under wraps allows the situation to continue as it was.


Why sue and not just leave? This risk of lawsuits created this whole mess of rules and paperwork that kills all the joy.


I try to avoid these topics, but it's almost sad to see how easily you've all rushed to her side. It seems the magic word of the 2010s is "sexism": utter that word, and people will defend you no matter how little evidence there is, no matter how full of shit you are -- assuming, of course, you are a female.

Is what she described accurate? Maybe so, maybe not. No one fucking knows, and that is the point. Stop being assholes about it until someone, if anyone, has been proven to have done wrong. It's not uncommon for someone to feel sourgrapes about a situation and use "sexism" as a way to manipulate it in their favor. Most of you act like that isn't even a fucking possibility.


The sad thing is that however the real story may have nothing to do with sexism, but as it's presented as "sexism story" and "protecting other women", the people who will probably suffer the most after that story are that very women. It would be pretty natural for many HRs to remember that story as "possible hazard" and ceteris paribus reject the female candidate.


That non-employee spouses are allowed on company property to the extent that the CEO has to acknowledge it (and put an end to it) smacks of an unprofessional environment. Ugh.


This is an extremely odd sentiment. Now, if said spouse is causing issues that interfere with work then by all means ban this person. But as a blanket rule that seems absurd.


I think "causing issues" was implied by "to the extent that the CEO has to acknowledge it".


I don't think the fact that the CEO has acknowledged it implies anything. If the wife in question's only contact with the company was to visit to and say hi to her husband once a week, I think the CEO's statement would have been exactly the same.


They are lucky it's not the CEO-founder. Easier to put a non-CEO on leave than a CEO I imagine.


They have swapped hats two months ago (acknowledging an earlier change):

https://github.com/blog/1761-new-year-new-ceo-for-github

I'm not terribly clear on US company governance and GitHub is atypical, so mojombo's new role is a bit fuzzy to me.


Company governance is whatever the stockholders say it is. You could give the title "Chief Executive Officer" to the janitor's dead hamster and have everybody report to a teenager with the title Cokehead Principio whose only job is to keep the board of directors appraised exclusively through interpretive dance.

Which is to say, you're fuzzy on it because it's fuzzy. There are no strict rules as to the structure of senior corporate officers.


Allegedly, Tom Preston-Werner. FTFY.


Sounds like you're so desperate to out the guy that you have to make a weird, nonsensical post.

If you really want to out him that badly just man up an post his name rather than trying to weasel around with "Easier to put a president on leave than a CEO".


Here, I edited my post so I don't hurt your peculiar sensitivities.

I wasn't outing anyone, the founder who shall not be named is the only married one as plenty of people pointed out from the start.

Also, for context to the original comment, the founder we are discussing here used to be CEO but switched roles a while back.


PJ Hyett has been married for many years: https://twitter.com/pjhyett/status/89064336454201346


I stand corrected.


Please - I would like to ask all the commenters to respect the privacy and feelings of all the people affected, their loved ones, and friends. The only productive or good thing you can do is express sympathy for the victims and hope they reach an amicable resolution.

Most of you probably have no idea how some thoughtless comments on a forum can cause grief, pain and fear to intensify. Making hurtful comments, making assumptions, and taking sides does nothing to help anyone involved. It can only hurt someone, and is completely unnecessary (other than for sating a debased wish to feed on the suffering of others). Whatever happens does not concern you and will not be affected by you in any positive way.

So, pretty please, for the sake of all the people who are directly and indirectly affected by this story, STOP. SPECULATING.


Pretty ridiculous, I'm sure she'll land on her feet but these startup cultures are a disaster. Hula hoops? No clear management of any kind? I'm all for freedom of expression and all that but try and act like an adult for once in your life and put the hula hoops down.


What is wrong with hula hoops?

I have (adult) friends who dance for fun, play with hula hoops, play with poi balls and lots of other things. There is nothing wrong with these things.

No clear management of any kind is a big problem, but the rest of what you say is, as you put it, pretty ridiculous.


Nobody has suggested there's anything wrong with playing with hula hoops, even when it's adults doing it. It just doesn't seem like something that should be done at work, or at work-related events.


This place sounds like highschool. People bored so music and hula hoops, coworkers dating, a principals office instead of managers, passive aggressive bullshit. I go to work, code, learn, improve and gtfo. No office parties, no cliques of bros, no boss trying to be my friend, no team events or forced 'fun'. Just professional work and money which is the only reason I'm there.


I really don't know what exactly it is, but there's something about the Ruby community that seems to draw in immaturity, and them amplify it.

This pervasive immaturity does tend to result in things going sour, and for some reason it always tends to happen in a very dramatic and public manner.


It's really sad for this to have happened, but respect to Chris Wanstrath for his classy and sincere apology.


Honestly If all of this is true, then obviously what happened is wrong, but I don't really see the sexism in this whole thing. Is it the houla-hoops thingy ? Because I gotta tell you if 2 dudes start doing houla-hoops where I work everybody will stop and watch ... Just because it's ... I dunno weird ? funny ? unusual ? Am I missing something ?


I also didn't see the connection at first, but as I understand it the sexism claim comes from the implication that her experiences are at least partially due to her gender. as in, the situations were handled the way they were because she's a woman. as I read her side, the hoola hooping was more so to show an example of the allegedly sexist culture at GitHub.


I don't see how this is any of our business. Is HN a gossip rag? Because otherwise this is just two indirect blobs of hearsay directed at each other.


Because it involves an important issue within our industry, and how a major company is dealing with it.


This is a textbook response to a harassment issue. It is extremely professional. You put the accused on paid leave. You do not fire them. If the accuser is correct, this prevents further damage. If the accuser is incorrect, this prevents permanent damage to the accused.

You contact a full internal investigation, and you do not issue any statements biased either way until you have full information from that investigation. At the end of the investigation, you either bring back the accused employees if they appear innocent, or lay them off if they appear guilty.

This is absolutely the right thing to do. I understand the Internet would like companies to go in with pitchforks before investigating. That is wrong. In the majority of discrimination cases, the accuser is wrong (for example, the accused is an equal-opportunity-asshole, but the accuser feels targeted). When the accuser is right, you want to know the level and details before acting in any irreversible way (and a public statement, aside from potentially being libel, is irreversible).

The Internet's attention span is the Internet's problem -- not github's.


I think there is whole chunk of story missing.. Some context/information is missing from her allegations. The wife's behavior doesn't make sense.

Too many red flags in Julie's version. But I will wait for the complete story.


I do not consider the article in TechCrunch to have presented a balanced description of the matter. I will withhold any judgment until Github have carried out an investigation. I will not presume the founder in question, his wife or the other employee to be guilty of the allegations against them until we have more information. I hope Github will be fair and impartial in their investigation.


Just the fact that the wife of an employee was consistently allowed in the building, is already a serious matter. GitHub is not a scrappy startup anymore; it's a 1 billion dollar company. You do not allow strangers to walk around the office, and much less let them invite employees to dinners to discuss internal matters.

Having said that, seems that GitHub recognizes that they screwed up. The tone of their response seemed fair and balanced, and they acted fast by removing the folks involved. Too bad it got to this point, but it's a good sign.


> GitHub is not a scrappy startup anymore; it's a 1 billion dollar company

Yeah, let's kill all the fun.

> You do not allow strangers to walk around the office

Except that she wasn't a stranger, she was the wife of a founder. Most old employees probably know her.


> Just the fact that the wife of an employee was consistently allowed in the building, is already a serious matter

Not necessarily. I've worked at plenty of offices where spouses occasionally showed up, including mine. The problem is that she acts like she hold a position of authority.


Maybe she was an informal part of github's culture ever since it was a 100$ company.


If what she said is half true, the engineer in question should absolutely be fired. I would fire him.


It's a good thing you aren't a manager. Which half is it that's good enough for termination? Reverting a commit, or what?


A coworker showing up uninvited to her house and making an awkward and uninvited advance, or systematically reverting commits as vengeance.

I made a vague statement, but I think "reverting a commit" is definitely minimizing what she claims happened


Seriously? You would fire employee for making an awkward and advance? I can see firing person for reverting commits as vengeance. I can see firing person for harassing someone or if he was threatening.

I can not see it reasonable to fire employee for asking another one on date once, even if it was awkward and unexpected.

Maybe I'm weird, but I do not see it employers business to police relationships of their adult employees, as long as they do not cross the line described above.


She clearly felt he was threatened, whatever that is worth.


The only real issue GitHub can address here is harassment during work.

I don't recall reading about an uninvited advance, so if this is something new you know about could you dump a citation here. I do recall a home visit which was 'awkward' and the offending party 'hesitated' to leave. That stuff happens, in and outside of work. Remember the parties here are emotionally invested and biased. We should not consider such details trivial, but they are considerably emotionally invested in this. The way it was phrased in the original article was he hesitated to leave. That's obviously up to the reader to interpret. Let's not dramatize that into an 'univited advance'.


what about showing up at someone's house and propositioning them is not an 'uninvited advance'?


Him mentioning the cofounder's wife immediately gives credibility to Julie's claims! I hope she get's paid! The workplace should be professional, not a schoolyard.


I don't recall anyone having a spouse when I was playing in schoolyards.


It only gives credibility to the claim that the wife had been into the office, nothing more than that.


This is leadership. Executive leadership at other tech companies should take note.


To respond only after the issue was brought public? No, that is no leadership. It's the best possible response he could give under the present circumstances, but on the flipside, he had no choice but to make this statement. I wouldn't be surprised if it was crafted for him by a PR person or firm.


I'm guessing that at the time (whilst the issue was still internal) they didn't think what was happening was a big enough deal. As a result they're now having to perform damage control.


This is a great apology, and goes a long way to restore my shattered faith in github.

No denying or spinning what happened, no victim blaming; just "we fucked up, we're going to do everything we can to fix it, and Julie is great". That's all I expect. Own up, fix the problem, and protect the victim.


Of course we may never know for sure exactly what was said (unless everything was secretly recorded somehow... NSA - data, please), but my initial reaction is that this story sounds a bit... exaggerated. Were things said that shouldn't have been said? Probably so. But here's the way I read it from TC:

Let's look at what Horvath claims:

> character started being discussed in inappropriate places like on pull requests and issues

It's unclear what exactly this means, and in most cases, bringing up someone's character in PRs is certainly inappropriate. Does it happen? Yes, it happens all the time, regardless of gender. A PR comment like "it's a bit naive to assume these conditions will be met in this instruction - please fix" is technically bringing up someone's character inappropriately. She never claimed (at least as quoted by TC) that sexist or intimidating things were brought up in PRs/issues - just that "character started being discussed".

> She calls her colleagues’ response to her own work and the work of other female GitHub employees a “serious problem.”

Again, pretty unclear. The response to her work MAY have had nothing to do with her gender or any kind of personal/social conflict, but rather based solely on performance. If such was the case, then I'd say colleagues tend to "respond" to other people's work all day long. I honestly can't say the "response" in this case was completely benign, but again, the article and direct quotes certainly don't seem to point at anything specific.

> she struggled to feel welcome.

This is a common feeling in pretty much any workplace or environment, regardless of who you are.

> she did her best to distance herself from the founder’s wife, as well as the founder, for fear of being caught up in an unhealthy situation.

This is mentioned before anything else regarding the founder or the founder's wife. It sounds like (at least the way it's presented in the article) some kind of animosity was felt even before any real interaction between the parties. That could be based on anything (including possibly Horvath's own prejudgement). The truth is we don't know because we aren't given any more details.

> almost immediately the conversation that I thought was supposed to be causal turned into something very inappropriate. She began telling me about how she informs her husband’s decision-making at GitHub, how I better not leave GitHub and write something bad about them, and how she had been told by her husband that she should intervene with my relationship to be sure I was ‘made very happy’ so that I wouldn’t quit and say something nasty about her husband’s company because ‘he had worked so hard.’... the wife went on to claim that she was responsible for hires at GitHub, and asked Horvath to explain to her what she was working on.

Just for sake of argument, here's a possible conversation that could be twisted into fitting the above description:

"Glad you could join us for drinks! My husband works hard to create an amazing workplace at GitHub, and even though I'm not a part of the company myself, I enjoy meeting the employees and want to help people feel welcome the best way I can. My husband told me you're fairly new... what is it you do? That's great. I just want to make sure you're very happy at GitHub. In some way, I feel responsible for helping make sure the company treats everyone well. If there's anything that could be better, I might be able to put in a word with him. The last thing they'd want is for you to have a bad experience and leave the company."

That's just an example of something I wouldn't be surprised to hear from a founder's spouse in a startup environment.

> The wife also claimed to employ “spies” inside of GitHub, and claimed to be able to, again according to Horvath, read GitHub employees’ private chat-room logs, which only employees are supposed to have access to

I agree this is definitely crossing a line, but of course the wife only "claimed" to have this access. That doesn't mean she does, and I could easily see it being said in a low voice (trying to win over someone's "exclusive" or "secret" friendly confidence) along the lines of:

"I'm not officially with GitHub, but I have ears. I try to keep close tabs on what employees are saying about the company in the chat rooms and company chit-chat."

The next few events are pretty vague. It includes rumors, a random profession of love (and rejection) outside the workplace (if she had a problem with trespassing, she should have called the cops; the male engineer's reaction at work - if true - should have been corrected by HR, but it sounds like it was never brought up to HR by Horvath as it should have been), Horvath "feeling threatened", and "the founder accus[ing] her of threatening his wife", followed by the wife "sitting close to Horvath". Lots of generalities.

Finally it bubbles to the point of Horvath claiming "The next thing I knew the wife was in my face at my work station verbally attacking me"

From my own experience, perfectly civil conversations can often be turned into "verbal attacks" later if it helps a person's case. I'm not saying that's what happened here, but the details are just so vague. What was the conversation about?

As for the hula hooping... you're telling me that two women hula hooping to music in the workplace is perfectly appropriate, but when the other people nearby (who are going to be mostly males if the majority of employees are male - go figure) suddenly notice, that's the inappropriate part? Really?

I certainly won't say that Horvath is making this stuff up, and it does sound like some inappropriate actions did occur and she should be upset. But I will say that based on the "evidence" presented in the TC article, GitHub is not guilty of all the claims "beyond a shadow of a doubt."


"Just for sake of argument, here's a possible conversation that could be twisted into fitting the above description:"

Your example cannot be twisted into a reasonable description of "very inappropriate".

Overall your comment reads like you don't want this story to be true and are trying to minimise every part of it. Which you are free to do, but you could have just said "I don't want this story to be true".


I realize now that my comment may have sounded like someone trying to prove all of Horvath's claims to be false. That was sincerely not intended. I apologize for that.

Frankly, my purpose in providing a plausible defense for GitHub is that the TechCrunch story itself only presents a single side of the story, though I understand that sometimes that's necessary for someone to come forward and draw the necessary attention to an injustice like this.

It is, however, easy to read the TechCrunch article and immediately point 100% of the blame on GitHub when we don't know the facts. I think it's helpful to step back and look at the accusations for what they are: accusations.

As others have pointed out, GitHub's response says very little in terms of confirming or denying the accusations, but it does say that they are professional enough to take this seriously.

Horvath may be doing GitHub (or various people at GitHub) a favor by going light on some details - the facts may be far worse than they appear on the surface. She (or the TechCrunch writers) may also be skimping on details in order to paint GitHub with broad strokes. There are numerous plausible motives in either case, but I won't speculate as to the motives here as I've learned it doesn't help to spread false accusations.

It isn't fair to accuse Horvath of being anything less than 100% truthful, and by the same token, it isn't fair to assume everything she said is 100% truthful without GitHub coming forward with their side of the story.

Again, I apologize for my comment earlier leading to speculation where we (as the public) really have no say in the matter since we have so few facts. It's an unfortunate situation for everyone involved and I hope it can be resolved in a positive way for both parties. For me, at least some of the followup comments here have been helpful in better understanding some of the ideas involved in this story - e.g., sexism, appropriate handling of conflicts in the workplace, roles of founders and spouses, etc (in general terms, not necessarily in connection with this story).


Actually of all of these the last one is the only one I think your counter is flat out wrong (all the others seem plausible enough). Why? Because gawking at other co-workers (regardless of genders) in a casual environment is not ok. In a casual work environment people often do light exercise, and they need to feel comfortable to do that without being turned into sex objects.

I would hope the men in question have enough self control to ignore women moving their bodies around. You are basically using the same logic as countries that require burqas in public. This has already been covered by feminist movements in this country. It is seriously a sign of how backwards the tech industry is in regards to social equality that this sort of basic stuff is missing from general knowledge.


> In a casual work environment people often do light exercise

Could you elaborate on this? In the work environments I've been in, people go to the gym or outside to work out. I've never been in a work environment where it's acceptable to do your exercising in the office space. What are you talking about -- yoga, bicep curls, jogging, jumping jacks? I've worked at extremely liberal companies but that kind of stuff doesn't happen..

> and they need to feel comfortable to do that without being turned into sex objects

I don't think it's a person's right to hula hoop in an office and then be upset when they attract the attention of the rest of the office, regardless of sex on both sides. It's an unusual thing to do, so it will draw eyes.


> I've never been in a work environment where it's acceptable to do your exercising in the office space. What are you talking about -- yoga, bicep curls, jogging, jumping jacks?

My workplace has people doing yoga and dance classes in meeting rooms over lunch.

And if you started hanging around the meeting rooms to ogle the people doing it you'd be having some conversations about your workplace behaviour.


> And if you started hanging around the meeting rooms to ogle the people doing it

There's no way to prove or disprove the fact that they were 'ogling' rather than merely watching though - Horvath's judgement was likely biased by how upset she was with everybody else's (fuck, mine would be if I'd been as epically shat on by an employer as she felt she had been) and we don't have any other data.


> I've never been in a work environment where it's acceptable to do your exercising in the office space.

I've done some minor (sedentiary) exercises in the office. For something that requires a bit more space, I wouldn't do it next to someone's desk of course. I don't know what Githib's office layout is like, but the way I read the hula hooping, it sounded like it was outside, in a courtyard or roof terrace maybe, or in a recreation area.

> It's an unusual thing to do, so it will draw eyes.

There's still a big difference between attention and gawking.

I've seen plenty of other recreational activities in offices, like playing darts, pool, computer games, etc. I don't see hula hooping as particularly out of the ordinary. And gawking at your co-workers is just rude.


Definitely.

I think Julie should have spoken to both groups, telling the guys it's not cool to gawk at women, and tell the women if they want to hula hoop, do it some place more private.


> and tell the women if they want to hula hoop, do it some place more private.

Indeed. And just in case men still gawked at them, she could have brought some free niqab to work for them to wear.

http://www.jesusandmo.net/strips/2013-09-18.png


Eh, I think you missed my point.

The point of talking to the women isn't to help the men exercise better restraint (which extrapolated to an extreme would require a niqab).

It's that if the women are doing something in the office, out in the open that people stopping to watch would make other people feel uncomfortable, then perhaps it shouldn't be done out in plain view of everyone.

Like, if you are trying to have a private conversation with your Dr on the phone about your recent herpes outbreak, don't talk in the lunchroom and get pissed that I listened in.

We can come up with counter examples, and/or take things to the extreme, however my point is that exercising some restraint and a little professionalism would make situations like this non existent.


No, I got your point quite clearly. If hula hooping women make you uncomfortable, that's unfortunate, but also totally your problem. Ditto breastfeeding and suchlike.


Clearly you did not.

> If hula hooping women make you uncomfortable

It wasn't women hula hooping made someone feel uncomfortable.

It was men "gawking" at the women hula hooping, that made Julie Horvath feel uncomfortable.

I hope you understand the difference.

> If hula hooping women make you uncomfortable, that's unfortunate, but also totally your problem. Ditto breastfeeding and suchlike.

Tangentially related--another key point you're missing, this is an office.

No one should have to feel uncomfortable at the workplace, because the office is for people to work and be productive, not hula hoop.

Things like hula hooping (I'm guessing), yoga, tai chi, Zumba, etc, are there to improve worker productivity. If these programs run counter to that and actually hinder productivity by making some employees feel uncomfortable, then those programs may not be the right fit for the workplace.


> No one should have to feel uncomfortable at the workplace

I think you're wrong about that.

What about religious fundamentalists uncomfortable with gay people?

What about conservatives uncomfortable with breastfeeding?

What about chauvinists uncomfortable with women in leadership positions?

There is no right to 'not feel uncomfortable'. There is no right to 'not to feel offended'.

What you have to do is choose who you are going to offend.


if we reverse the genders, do you think no woman would complain (or just gawk) if she saw this happening in the office

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrA5zL9u5NE&feature=player_de...


Gawk? Quite possibly. Complain? One* ex-colleague of mine was gay, and he'd have been rendered temporarily incapacitated by that, I suspect.

But the point is that hula-hooping, or shirtless weight-lifting, shouldn't be prohibited just because some people gawk and others are made uncomfortable.

If you want to sexualise hula-hooping or weight-lifting, fine, just don't use that point of view as the basis of a complaint.

* many were; it's just he was the guy I was thinking of for this example


> But the point is that hula-hooping, or shirtless weight-lifting, shouldn't be prohibited just because some people gawk and others are made uncomfortable.

You believe it's okay for people to be at the office without their shirts on?

Where do you draw the line-- what behaviors should be prohibited at the office, simply because they might make others uncomfortable?


yep, lets throw a shirt on to make it acceptable so nobody would gawk in a office

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzkCA5EyRDQ&feature=player_de...


Surely that is the job of HR?


I think the point here is that they failed at their job so many times that Horvath gave up on it.


Yah, and/or Management/Leadership.


> Could you elaborate on this?

I've seen yoga, weights, and those things you compress, basically stuff to get the blood flowing again. Hoola hooping is probably a bit more admittedly, but not that extreme. Especially since it sounds like it was happening outside.

> I don't think it's a person's right to hula hoop in an office and then be upset when they attract the attention of the rest of the office, regardless of sex on both sides. It's an unusual thing to do, so it will draw eyes.

You are missing the point. Horvath wasn't the one hoola hooping. She was a bystander, and the gawking was making her feel uncomfortable because it implies a work environment where it is ok to sexually objectify your co-workers (or that seems to be how she took it). But this is an(other) HR failure.


> it implies a work environment where it is ok to sexually objectify your co-workers (or that seems to be how she took it)

What? This is a case where two people did something unusual in a work environment and garnered the attention of their coworkers. That's expected. It's unexpected that you think it necessarily implies sexual objectification.

Go stand in the middle of your office tomorrow and hoola hoop. Whatever sex you are, and whatever sex your coworkers are, I promise you'll get looks for long enough to be considered gawking :) If you choose to complain to HR that you were sexually objectified, well, that's up to you.

I'm not saying it Wasn't sexual objectification, just that to gawk at something unusual in the office doesn't necessarily imply sexual objectification.


> This is a case where two people did something unusual in a work environment and garnered the attention of their coworkers. That's expected.

Did this ever say it was in their office? All it said was they were hula-hooping to some music and the response from the bench-full of male employees was embarrassing. If it were outdoors, it wouldn't be unusual.

Either way, in what world do you see something out of the ordinary — but not strange — happening at work and line up to gawk at it?

> It's unexpected that you think it necessarily implies sexual objectification.

It's certainly possible for a bench-full of 20-something programmers to sexually objectify someone. Julie was made to feel uncomfortable, and since she's the best eye witness to the event we've got, there's no reason to doubt her testimony.

Not everything needs to be picked apart. Sometimes, if a bunch of guys are gawking at women, that's what they're doing. You don't need to stick up for them.


> Julie was made to feel uncomfortable, and since she's the best eye witness to the event we've got, there's no reason to doubt her testimony.

Yes, but that testifies only to her personal feelings at that moment, which are not the definitive measure stick for anything.


> Either way, in what world do you see something out of the ordinary — but not strange — happening at work and line up to gawk at it?

Congratulations, you've decided to not look at out of the ordinary things for fear of implications of sexual objectification.

But me -- if weird stuff happens in or outside of my office, I'm gonna watch.

> It's certainly possible for a bench-full of 20-something programmers to sexually objectify someone

My last comment said "I'm not saying it Wasn't sexual objectification,"

> Julie was made to feel uncomfortable, and since she's the best eye witness to the event we've got, there's no reason to doubt her testimony

The number of witnesses has no bearing on the truth, validity or bias of the statement given by one witness.

> You don't need to stick up for them

I'm not. I'm saying it's too early for those of you championing Julie to get your pitchforks out.


What if they weren't gawking, but instead watching?

If you are hula hooping out in the open, I don't think it's fair to expect people to look away, no more than it is to expect people to look away if you were playing the hula hoop minigame in Wii Fit.

Gawking and making people feel uncomfortable = bad. Watching coworkers make fools of themselves = priceless.

> You are basically advocating the position of countries that require burqas in public.

Slippery Slope My Friend, Slippery Slope.


Your first point is valid. It depends on what actually happened.

But the OP's comment: "As for the hula hooping... you're telling me that two women hula hooping to music in the workplace is perfectly appropriate, but when the other people nearby (who are going to be mostly males if the majority of employees are male - go figure) suddenly notice, that's the inappropriate part? Really?".

Is the part that bothered me, they are implying that the inappropriate part is the women hoola hooping. The logic there that I have a problem with is that it's the women's fault for being attractive, and that the man isn't at as much fault for being attracted to it because the women are doing something attractive.

Which is the same logic used to enforce burqa laws. I'm not saying the OP's thinking will lead to burqas or anything, merely that it's the same axiomatic view of the world. Basically, I never invoked a slippery slope, I was drawing a parallel in axioms.

As an example on an actual slippery slope, to argue against gay marriage and say then people will marry dogs! It's implying that because we are going to change marriages definition it will just change to anything. When in actuality we have a specific argument based off of axioms of equality that lead us to the conclusion that marriage should be between two consenting adults. An argument similar to the one I made would be: "The same logic that lets different races marry also means we should let similar genders marry".


> The logic there that I have a problem with is that it's the women's fault for being attractive, and that the man isn't at as much fault for being attracted to it because the women are doing something attractive.

How about it's nobody's fault because there is nothing fucking wrong about people doing something in public and others watching them???


That's fine, but that's not the logic the OP used to counter Horvath's feelings of a problem. The OP instead seemed to imply that the women were more at fault for causing the men to gawk (not just watch). However emotionally charged the event may have been for Horvath due to the situation other Github employees (and their significant others) placed her in to make it feel to her that it was gawking, the logic the OP was using was flawed.


The way the TechCrunch article read, this wasn't a very big incident at all. Certainly, none of the women involved are said to have been upset or complained about being watched by their coworkers as they performed.

However, because Horvath was already in a very upset emotional state about man-woman issues at GitHub and her own situation at the company, she was in a position to read a lot of meaning into this situation that most people wouldn't.


> The logic there that I have a problem with is that it's the women's fault for being attractive, and that the man isn't at as much fault for being attracted to it because the women are doing something attractive.

I totally agree with this.

It's akin to people saying things like "...asked to be assaulted because she was at the club/dressed provacatively/is a flirt."

What isn't clear is if the hulahoopers felt uncomfortable, or was it just Horvath. Again speculating wildly, I wonder if she is more sensitive to gender issues (perhaps even classified as overly sensitive)?


Is the part that bothered me, they are implying that the inappropriate part is the women hoola hooping. The logic there that I have a problem with is that it's the women's fault for being attractive, and that the man isn't at as much fault for being attracted to it because the women are doing something attractive.

What are you even talking about? People find each other attractive. Most commonly between sexes. It happens in workplaces. Get over it.


I wasn't trying to say that "gawking" is acceptable (sorry if that's the way it came across). My point is that one person's description of people "gawking" may very well have been simply the other people acknowledging their presence. It's pretty hard to prove one way or the other.


That's fair, and Horvath's description is vague:

"What I did have a problem with is the line of men sitting on one bench facing the hoopers and gawking at them"

But it's important to remember these could go the other way as well. Horvath may still feel some loyalty to github and be sugar coating these events. Or you could be right and she is blowing them out of proportion.


> You are basically using the same logic as countries that require burqas in public.

Noone is saying that women shouldn't be hula-hooping, we're just saying that it's not wrong for others (men included) to watch them if they do.

You, on the other hand, are saying that men should avert their gazes to avoid making women uncomfortable, which is much closer to the burqa logic, albeit with genders reversed.


I'm not saying it's wrong for them to watch. I'm saying it's wrong for them to gawk, to such an extent that other employees don't feel safe in the work environment.

Admittedly we only have Horvath's version, and to be fair she was dealing with two (three?) other people who were apparently completely out of line.

I'm saying both genders should be to do some hoola hooping with no one feeling like anyone is being sexually objectified. There are comments in this little subthread about how people think this whole little episode is ridiculous regardless of genders. Those are the people who work in environments where they feel safe to do these things, the fact that Horvath apparently didn't is a problem, whether caused by github in general, or specific people with in it, the jury is still out.

But my point was that this event can not be marginalized due to the logic that it's not the men's fault because the women were being seductive. It can be subject to scrutiny because of the personal feelings involved.


Hula hooping in a non-private space is equivalent to screaming "LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!" If people are hula hooping, regardless of whether they are male or female, people are going to look. If the women were working on a laptop, or having a quiet conversation, and THEN men were gawping, that would be unacceptable. Want to hula hoop without being looked at? Do it in a private space.

> You are basically using the same logic as countries that require burqas in public.

Of course, because saying that "if you do attention-attracting activities in public, people are going to look, deal with it" is the same as saying "women must cover themselves head to toe in public."


It's not that people were looking, it was that they were gawking. It's not that they glanced at it, or watched for a few seconds. It's that they spent a prolonged time watching it.


You get to feel mildly uncomfortable about people staring at a moving body, if you are the hoola-hooper. The most extreme acceptable course of corrective action is to stop hoola-hooping.

A bystander gets no such luxury, and if the concern is an intrusive thought which makes them feel threatened... then maybe they're not suitably mature to participate in social endeavors.

It seems like a pretty reasonable (albeit one-sided) complaint except for this one point - but the fact that she was threatened by that, casts some small measure of doubt on the plausible sanity of rest of the thing.


Or perhaps it's the rest of the thing that colored her view of this perhaps harmless event. It could go both ways. Prolonged sexual harassment by two (three?) people at a company where HR does nothing effective and your perceptions of the rest of the company are bound to become warped.


And I'm saying it's perfectly OK to "spend a prolonged time watching it".

If women are doing something that involves a lot of pelvic gyrations, then yes, it is absolutely understandable AND acceptable that men will stare. It's not the men turning them into "sex objects" or whatever, the women already did that. And it's healthy, and normal, and most red-blooded men and women not only find it acceptable, they enjoy it. If you have the mindset that if women are dancing a man may only glance at it for a few seconds, I pity you and whatever caused you to turn out that way.

And this was at a party. If someone is so repressed that watching men stare at dancing women at a party makes them uncomfortable, they should stay home. Or move to a burqa-wearing country.


Do you have a source for the "at a party" part? The majority of my comments have been predicated that this was in a work environment. The Horvath techcrunch article states "at the office".

More to the point:

Yes because women moving their hips means they automatically want to be considered for their sexual characteristics. /sarcasm

Admittedly, if this was at a party and they were hula hooping then sure no problem at all. But just because a person moves their body around in an office doesn't mean they are looking for sexual partners! It's not that "a man may only glance at it for a few seconds". It's that in some environments (like office ones) they should have the self control to not care what other people are doing with their bodies.


> Do you have a source

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7408466

> Yes because women moving their hips means they automatically want to be considered for their sexual characteristics. /sarcasm

Actually, yes, they do. If you don't know this then either you're very inexperienced with women or you're the kind of guy they willingly keep in the dark about what they want.


You're obviously an expert anthropologist and psychologist, so perhaps you can explain why is it that women find the need to flaunt their "sexual characteristic" at a workplace party (or any party for that matter)? Is this behavior common among women of all cultures? Has it been common throughout the ages? Is it a result of women's peculiar biology or perhaps of another mysterious dynamics? Is this practice commonly regarded as pleasant among human females? And what is it exactly that they want if they hope to achieve it with this colorful behavior (I once heard that human females may want a stable male partner to help rear their young; is this "hula-hooping at a party" the best evolutionary strategy to obtain that goal)? Also, males of lesser species often display their buttocks prominently to attract females. Is this accepted behavior among humans, too? Is it common practice at GitHub?


I see the wilfully-clueless are out in force on this one. I really thought your questions weren't serious, as to normal people these things are self-evident by age 15. However, seeing as how you identify yourself with "pron", I realised you're serious and you actually don't have a clue about these things. All right, I've had too much caffeine today and I'm feeling generous, so here goes:

> why is it that women find the need to flaunt their "sexual characteristic" at a workplace party (or any party for that matter)?

Women, men, children - everyone likes attention. The best kind of attention for a sexually mature person is sexual attention from a person that they desire. To display yourself at your best and be appreciated by someone you like is one of the best feelings there is. Not that you would know anything about that, the best feeling you've had was while watching "pron".

> Is this behavior common among women of all cultures?

Yes (duh). In fact, it is also pervasive among animals and even insects. I know, I know, who'd have thought?

> Has it been common throughout the ages?

Yes (duh).

> Is it a result of women's peculiar biology or perhaps of another mysterious dynamics?

Only someone who calls themselves "pron" would think this is in any way peculiar. To not desire attention from the opposite sex (let's leave homosexuals out of this for now) would be extremely peculiar.

> Is this practice commonly regarded as pleasant among human females?

See answer #1. Being appreciated feels good. People like to feel good. You do the math, genius.

> And what is it exactly that they want if they hope to achieve it with this colorful behavior

Anything ranging from the momentary pleasure of being appreciated, to finding somebody to love and spend the rest of their life with.

> I once heard that human females may want a stable male partner to help rear their young;

You haven't heard the half of it, son. What human females ideally want is a man who will provide the best genes for their offspring and be the best provider. Such a combination being rather rare, often females try to secure a gene-donor and provider separately. Typically, maladjusted men like you, who are, to put it kindly, not attractive to women, end up in the role of provider, and the desirable men get to have their offspring raised by the clueless providers.

> is this "hula-hooping at a party" the best evolutionary strategy to obtain that goal?

Replace "hula-hooping at a party" with "showcasing their assets" and even you should be able to figure it out. Push up bras, high heels, corsets, hoop skirts, dancing, anything that tends to attract the attention of the opposite sex, helps to attract the best mate possible.

Any further questions? Although I don't even know why I'm trying at this point. Something about horses and water comes to mind.

EDIT to answer the question you added later:

> Also, males of lesser species often display their buttocks prominently to attract females. Is this accepted behavior among humans, too?

As a matter of fact, women love muscular legs and buttocks on a man. The far more common "massive upper body, scrawny legs" physique isn't nearly as attractive to women. Strong legs are an excellent indicator of overall strength and good genes; in many primitive tribes, people explicitly desire "strong legs" in a mate. Even in older English literature you'll often find statements like "the lines of his/her legs showed good breeding" and so on.

Displaying the bare buttocks would normally get a man put in jail, so not in public, no. However, many men do the second-best thing by wearing form-fitting clothing. And women love it. Not too tight, though, that tends to attract the wrong kind of attention.

> Is it common practice at GitHub?

I seriously doubt whether anyone at GitHub does the kind of training necessary to build strong legs and glutes, so I doubt it. However, you can see this behaviour on display in other environments, like the gym, the beach, etc.


OMG. Were you found in the woods and raised by a fraternity at a state college? Your knowledge of sexuality in humans (particularly in women), gender roles and gender pressures is so lacking that I fear some gross negligence on the part of your parents. You, buddy, deserve a good spanking by your mother, and then you'd be well served by reading a book or two on human sexuality and sociology. Keeping some better female company might do you a world of good, too, judging by the fact that the women you know love men in form-fitting clothes.

Your answers to the questions are actually quite wrong. Women flaunting sexual characteristics in a professional environment is neither common today, nor has it been common in the West throughout the ages. You clearly confuse sexual desire with when and how people pursue it, you are completely blind to social pressure, and unaware of the nuances of sex (most importantly you're confusing sex with sexuality). I fear that if you don't get that long due spanking soon you have some serious lawsuits awaiting you in the future, and possibly some jail time, especially if you keep taking sexual cues from insects.

Perhaps it may seem baffling to your juvenile mind, but I adopted my screen name over twenty years ago, well before the internet, and back when it was just my acronym and had no other uses whatsoever.


"nor has it been common in the West throughout the ages"

Explain to me what "ages" have had a "professional environment". The "professional environment" you speak of has only arisen in the last century or so, if that.


Yes, despite the mind-bogglingly clueless questions you asked in your previous post, I'm the one whose knowledge is lacking. Yes, women like form fitting clothes, you know, as in tailored clothes? Perhaps the women you work with are all sexless drones who wear hoodies and sweatpants and expect the same from men, but at my workplace the women are fit, attractive, and dress well. And they always appreciate a compliment.

Why do you think male attention deserves jail time? Did you try to pay a woman a compliment once and did it so clumsily that she called security? Memories like that can be hard to get over, I imagine.

> Women flaunting sexual characteristics in a professional environment is neither common today

Of course not, like hula-hooping at an office party, or wearing a nice suit or dress, or high heels. But again, perhaps you've only ever worked with aforementioned sweatpant- and sneaker-wearers.

> nor has it been common in the West throughout the ages

Right... no man in the West ever seduced (or got seduced by) his secretary or female co-worker. You must live a remarkably sheltered life.

> You clearly confuse sexual desire with when and how people pursue it

You clearly have no clue that people pursue sex whenever they can, as much as they can get away with despite your "social pressures." I wonder why... could it be that you are remarkably unattractive?

> you are completely blind to social pressure

I'm not the "completely blind" one here....

> I fear that if you don't get that long due spanking soon you have some serious lawsuits awaiting you in the future, and possibly some jail time

Don't worry "pron," unlike you, I'm always aware of when my attention and advances are desired or not. Your mother clearly knew you were hopeless and just told you to not even try, ever.

> especially if you keep taking sexual cues from insects.

Really? You're going to just make stuff up now? Saying that insects display sexual behaviour === taking sexual cues from insects?

> Perhaps it may seem baffling to your juvenile mind, but I adopted my screen name over twenty years ago, well before the internet, and back when it was just my acronym and had no other uses whatsoever.

Well, good for you! It's strangely prophetic and very apt, if that's true.

If you're old enough to have chosen your username 20 years ago there's no hope for you and I've really been wasting my time. I did in fact think you were a clueless younger guy. Bye now.


If Freud had known you, he wouldn't have written Civilization and its Discontents. Even Hemingway could have learned a lesson or two.


So women in a yoga class ( at work ) are actively promoting their sexual characteristics at that time?

Your comment reads very, very predatory.


This is how I also felt when I read the claims: things are far from certain. The claims were so vague, it's impossible to know what's going on. And her vagueness itself could mean anything. It could mean she's lying/exaggerating, or it could mean she's being conscientious of the people involved and trying not to ruin their lives or trash github.

It's surprising to me that a lot of comments here are jumping to conclusions that can't be drawn from the lack of facts.


Thank you for making the point that what happened doesn't necessarily imply gender discrimination. After reading what's come out recently, it looks like there were serious interpersonal problems of some kind, but for the part about the one founder and his wife, Horvath's gender doesn't seem to come into it.

The parts that did seem clearly gender-related to me were the coworker who replaced her code after she turned him down, and the thing about hula hooping. Those do indicate a serious failure to make a good workplace culture. But so far, that problem looks separate from her conflict with the founder and his wife.


> This is mentioned before anything else regarding the founder or the founder's wife. It sounds like (at least the way it's presented in the article) that some kind of animosity was felt even before any real interaction between the parties.

Speculating wildly here: perhaps they were/are swingers?


Or she felt that the wife was the type to be jealous of her working closely with the founder. But yea, a lot of possible situations.

But in either case she shouldn't have to feel that way about people in the company. The reason she likely feels different is because of her gender, and the way the founder and his wife treated her because of her gender.

But there are potential explanations of situations in which anyone would be uncomfortable and not just Horvath.


In github's defense, that rug really tied the room together.


Don't know what to make of this.

The founder getting his wife involved made a serious mistake. Agreed with most everyone else here, the CEO made the right call.

I'm now trying to understand though, what precipitated this whole mess. Julie talks about github as a "boys-club" culture and that her character was under attack in pull requests and issues, but doesn't give any more details.

Julie talks about passive aggressive behavior from a coworker, but this was while her ordeal with one of the founders was going on.

So what triggered this collapse?


Here is an article that I found on TechCrunch. Posting the link here just for sharing. No, I am still trying to make out what is happening, so I hold no opinion for now.

http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/15/julie-ann-horvath-describes...


I am just reading about all this now.

First of all, the main theme that resonates with me is that no company is immune to these things no matter how much "special" or "different" they are.

At this point, I don't completely accept everything Horvath is saying nor do I believe what she is saying is all lies. The truth as is always the case is never black and white. What I do accept is that there is definitely serious issues that need to be taken a look at that have been brought up.

Github did not need to respond and I believe they responded quite well. There response cannot be point by point rebuttal or a statement of denial.

It's a measured response stating that they are taking action to look into the issues. Putting a founder on leave is a major decision and sends the message to Github's employees and the rest of the community that they are taking this seriously. My takeaway from the response was recognition that Horvath's assertions are with weight and they will not shy away from investigation.

There is no doubt that Horvath's assertions have made Github deal with this. Having a founder be involved would likely have swept all of this under the rug.

I commend Horath's for speaking out. I am certain it wasn't an easy decision and very painful.

I also commend Github for having the CEO write this response instead of hiding behind a shield of legalese.

I do believe something will come out from this for the positive. There are too many great people within Github that do not need to be there that will now have an opportunity to take a reality check and assess for themselves Horvath's claims and drive for change.

The founder may be the most in the hot seat. Github may use this as the "last straw" of many straws that may have been already bulging at the camel's back to exit the founder.


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