For those who don't know who I'm talking about: http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_the_lucky_stiff
If this is the reason _why decided to pick up and leave, I understand it. We have his code, it will live on. Perhaps he will return in another guise.
If that's why he quit though it's going to have the opposite effect. I doubt more than a handful of people cared to look into _why's identity before today. I've read the guide, watched his talks, and read probably 80% of his blog articles, and I never knew his identity was some kind of secret. But with the disappearance it's now on everyone's mind.
There's a name for this effect but I can't think of it. It often comes up when somebody sues somebody else to remove some bit of information. The suit becomes a news story, and suddenly where 10 people might have known the information, the info is on the daily news as they cover the suit.
Yeah I totally agree with you!!
oh, and it doesn't have to be his real name, too.
That someone outed him is inevitable. But that doesn't excuse the act.
Trying to be anonymous is one thing. Trying to remain anonymous while writing books and blogs and making public appearances, all under one common identity, is downright quixotic and just a bit presumptuous. Simply saying his preference was to be anonymous doesn't really create much of an obligation upon the rest of the world. You can't actively be a public figure and avoid being public.
When there's a picture of you in your Wikipedia article from a public event you chose to speak at, you've made yourself just a "Hey, I know that guy!" away from being outed. At that point, I don't think you can claim it's a major affront when someone puts public information together to identify you.
I think the "who is why the lucky stiff" blog is odd and a bit dickish, but I'm not appalled.
I'm also skeptical of that purported outing as the cause of all this; this is one story I think that a bunch of people chatting and commenting are precisely the least well-suited way to work out the truth.
Say what you will, but I'm pretty sure he was genuine in his effort not to be identified or celebrated.
He has always seemed a bit delicate, and that's why the rest of us always treated him gently. And he repaid us ten-fold with his quirky gifts.
This is like the rape of a beloved children's character. Not just learning that the Easter Bunny isn't real, but learning it when a drunken cop knocks out the kindly old man in the bunny costume, rips its furry head off, and pisses in it.
It's Just Not Done.
Just because the door is open, doesn't mean you have to walk through it. Adults consider the wider impact of their actions, rather than doing something just because "it's a challenge."
As to the rest, it might be best not to assume we know what's going on in this situation.
The whole thing saddens me. I wonder how _why could ever repeat such a public endeavor, even under a new guise.
But you don't know, and neither do I. It looks like someone played this game, and we lost.
for example, if you know him, and you hire him, you still should ignore the on-line _why persona, because for privacy purposes, it is separate, anonymous entity, and you should not connect it to real person. that's what privacy should be.
Also the whole "if you hire him you're obliged to ignore any other identities you know about" is just completely out of this world.
Again: If he valued his privacy so much then why did he appear in public? You can't have your cake and eat it, too.
Honestly, I think it's better to throw out the notion of digital privacy entirely and start pushing the notion of universal visibility, and accountability. Once everyone is naked, we'll stop obsessing over the naughty bits.
I'm not saying that online privacy is worthless of course, just noting that it is quite unique.
Respect for people's wishes is important too. It's quite clear that _why didn't want people to know who he is. Fair enough, if you wanted to work that out. I don't think you should, but I could understand it. Telling the world? That's trying to wave your E-penis at the cost of one of the ruby world's best contributors.
disclaimer: I don't know how long the blog has been trying to figure out who _why is.
But I don't know enough about e-mail headers to provide an alternate explanation if there is one.
EDIT: This is that other guy's site, FWIW: http://jonathangillette.net/
And he's on twitter: http://twitter.com/jgillette
EDIT 2: The infamous Zed Shaw posted a link to another page which I'm more inclined to believe is the real _why. I'm not going to post the link here, but you can find it in Zed's twitter stream if you really want to.
He seems to have been working on the same file, in the same day, as Jonathan Gillette. Probably poking around this repository a little more could lead to an almost-definitive answer.
Also, here: http://javuh.cvs.sourceforge.net/viewvc/javuh/javuh/Services... the @author is listed as:
11 * @author Why Carlisle (email@example.com)
He talks about a 14-year-old sister here: http://www.advogato.org/person/whytheluckystiff/diary/14.htm...
This being written in 2001, that would make her ~21 now.
Searching for Jonathan Gillette, http://www.intelius.com/search-summary-out.php?ReportType=1&...
a few relatives are listed, presumably one of which would be his sister, however, none are in the right age range.
Right, back to work now, I promise.
From "Collected by Why the Lucky Stiff", http://members.tripod.com/soccer_riot/famous.htm
dolphins.ram has "Jonathan Gillette" as the author. Yet another reason to hate Real Player.
I would feel bad about posting this, but since everyone's apparently going to go around assuming it with almost-proof already, I guess it can't do much harm.
say are you related to francis gillett who wrote that play about the kids who never slept and lived in wyoming.
look at the .txt file : both Jonathan Gillette and Kylie Gillette are present ...
Parents divorcing and family members committing suicide._why has written a lot about both topics and the band description matches up with his tastes and quirkiness quite well I think. So Kylie is in fact JGs wife.
Note the familiar figure on the cover.
I've just created a blog and posted an entry regarding the "_why is Jonathan Gillette" path ...: http://whereintheworldiswhy.wordpress.com/
According to me _why is Jonathan Gillette.
Why apparently went to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City: http://web.archive.org/web/20010518151731rn_1/deathstar.eng....
Ken Roford has an account on facebook, but no details revealed to the outside world.
Also, I think that, since he was hosting a lot of other sites on hobix, not just his personal stuff something could actually be wrong. So I am sharing this information. Please be responsible.
I dug up a Kylie Gillette who is the owner of snapd.net, Snapdragon Jewelry. A quick whois on that domain:
Registrant: Layered Technologies TheLuckyStiff Why 1647 Witt Rd. Ste. # 20 Frisco, TX 75034 US +1.9723987998 firstname.lastname@example.org
So there is also this: http://www.assessor.slco.org/test/cfml/Query/valuationInfo.c...
What are the chances that a Jonathan Gillette hosting a website for Kylie Gillette who posted to a ruby mailing list as _why and Jonathan Gillette in 02 and 03 are different people? If something is wrong or something has happened to him IRL people would rest a little easier knowing what is going on.
Also, twitter search results:
racheltostring: RT: @_why: programming is rather thankless. u see your works become replaced by superior ones in a year. unable to run at all in a few more.
about 21 hours ago from TwitterFox
Maybe he read http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=771057 in Re: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=771013 ?
Thanks for putting up the link.
"Clearly, the benchmarks you see on Ruby Inside are skewed to favor Nokogiri... Why not treat Hpricot fairly and use it properly in the benchmarks? It reeks of something."
Further, the benchmarks we republished were not by us, but just a screenshot of benchmarks shared by the creator of Nokogiri.
Was this an interview or something? Was _why alerted to this as a chance to refute the claim by providing his own benchmarks? Could the data even be validated and not easily doctored?
If everyone had to bother validating all the third party bits and pieces that get referenced on blogs, no-one would blog. Blogging is a "hey, check this out, I ain't saying it's true, but you might find it interesting" type of affair - it's not the New York Times (which is why regular journalism is foundering; it's expensive to fact check everything and, heck, it's a Ruby blog, not a trusted source of journalism).
Nokogiri: A Faster, Better HTML and XML Parser for Ruby (than Hpricot)
Upvoted for the explanation, thanks.
Anyone who hasn't checked it out yet, do yourself a favour. And for the rest of us, who would like to remember this anonymous creator of cartoon foxes.
Let's hope it's just a quarter life crisis and that he's back soon. Or that he finds something else that makes him happier than programming.
It currently has a pdf of the guide.
So very sad.
Why strikes me as the kind of person who would delete his online presence on a whim, just because it would be fun.
The fact that you would care more about his shepherding of repositories which have been available to everyone else all along speaks volumes to me about the kind of attitudes that probably helped to drive him offline in the first place.
If he wanted to quit, that's his right, of course. But at least give people a day's notice before he nukes everything, right?
"The fact that you would care more about his shepherding of repositories"
Care more about them than what? What else is there? I don't know what's going on. The repos were his work, they're all I know of him.
You seem to detect this entitled, callous attitude in my words but I assure you it's a false positive. I have, or had, nothing but positive feelings for the guy. Never met him, spoken to him, or anything else really. But I have relied on his code, and in my book, when you release open source code there's a kind of implied promise that you don't suddenly delete the master repo in a fit of internet pique.
if that's "the kind of attitudes that probably helped to drive him offline in the first place" then .. maybe he should be offline because I think it's pretty reasonable.
He doesn't owe it to you, he doesn't owe it to me. That makes two of us. Let's imagine we're not unusual in that regard. Who does he owe a warning, then?
when you release open source code there's a kind of implied promise that you don't suddenly delete the master repo in a fit of internet pique.
You're making a lot of assumptions, not least among them _why's motivations (should they even exist) for dropping off your radar. Again, he doesn't owe you an explanation or a warning.
You were a user, not a co-owner of the projects, not an extensive financial donor (most likely), not an employer. The relationship is entirely one way. _why gives you things, you say "thank you", and move on. This is also the Internet we're talking about, if someone decides the content (repository or writing) should be made available again, it will happen.
For example, this site. I think all would agree that we have no "right" to its continued existence. None of us pay or contribute financially to this site in any way whatsoever. And yet if PG suddenly changed his mind and deleted it tomorrow, with no explanation or warning - I would consider that to be very poor form, and I'd wager most others here would, too.
Same deal. It's about basic respect for your audience, whether they were paying or not.
I would like to also point out that the people who "won't be happy with you if you exercise that right" don't actually care about you any way... so what's the loss?
why is awesome. he's one of the big reason I'm a ruby programmer. He's contributed so much to the community, and he doesn't owe anybody anything.
If he deleted all his repos, sites, etc with no notice, then that was a dick move. It doesn't mean he's an asshole, it means he did one asshole thing. That doesn't mark him as an asshole, but it wouldn't change the fact that it was an asshole thing to do.
If you're running for the elevator and I don't bother to hold it, that's an asshole thing to do. Maybe I saved your ass last week when you forgot to check in the fizbit and the client was pissed, whatever. That doesn't change the asshole-ness of my one action. And that's ok, we all do it. why's still awesome, even if possibly for an hour he was an asshole.
It's more along the lines of one person in the office bringing in bagels every week for a few years, then one Monday morning they aren't there.
The asshole isn't the one who stopped bringing in the bagels, it's the folks standing around the coffee machine empty handed, griping about not getting their weekly cinnamon crunch.
"I wish Mike would've told us he wasn't going to bring in bagels today. What a dick move." Nope, doesn't work.
But that's just the way I see what is happening here. I can understand the divide if you have a different perspective of what's going down.
I agree that failing to hold the elevator is inconsiderate, but I disagree that simply putting information on the web constitutes entry to a similar social contract.
I understand that you're referring to the web-based version which has a different feel to it, but the content does still exist. Nothing lasts forever--enjoy it while you can.
When you quit a job or end a contract you ordinarily give notice. It's the same principle, and a matter of courtesy.
That said, I've no idea what's really going on here, so I'm loathe to pass judgement.
This of course assumes that he did do this intentionally and that he was not the victim of some kind of foul play.
Most of us are online celebrities?
They were git repos, right? I am new to git, but my understanding is you pretty much have to type
git clone --i-dont-want-a-full-copy-of-the-repository-please-screw-me-over-if-the-master-vanishes
to be in a position where you are "dependent" on the code (i.e. have looked at it, ever) and do not have a full copy of the entire project extending to the mists of prehistory.
[Edit: apparently the actual command is
git clone --depth (some number)
I like my version better.]
That said --depth doesn't have too much use when it comes to native git repos though. Unless you have a ton of binary files in the repo and don't want the full history of all of them...
Edit: Also, --depth does have a use with git repos, namely if the git repo is accessible only over http, as downloading packs over http is kind of slow.
These days, git-svn is much smarter about recognizing a SVN branch, so it doesn't have to re-checkout the whole world.
The git-svn clone was not made from the canonical hudson repository, but rather from a svnsync clone hosted on localhost accessed through the svn:// protocol. Nevertheless, the conversion took about three weeks on a 2.6 GHz Core2.
There seems to be a memory leak in git-svn. The size of the git-svn process grew slowly and after about two weeks it was at 1.2 GB resident size, at which point the OS refused to let it fork. Thing is, this was a blessing in disguise. I was able to resume the interrupted clone with a simple "git svn fetch", and it ran much faster with the now radically smaller heap. This, worked so well, in fact, that I got into the habit of interrupting and restarting the process every evening and every morning. A few days later it was done.
The problem seems to be the structure of the Hudson repository. All modules are in a single huge maven-style multi-module build under /trunk, but the branches and tags are not complete copies of trunk, but rather of individual sub-trees of trunk. This does not mesh well with how git sees the world. For git tags and branches are always for the whole repository. This mean,s that git has to work extra hard to figure out what's going in in a repository like Hudson.
Because of the oddball structure of the Hudson repository, its history is not as browsable in git as I might have hoped. Still, it's proved to be an interesting experiment.
Size: the complete history works out to 203MiB (.git/objects) in git, though 754 MiB including all the cruft in .git/svn. In Subversion 1.6 FSFS format the repository is 795 MiB.
The problem is GH was hosting all the Hpricot wiki HOWTO docs, which frankly, were invaluable resources to anybody using the library.
It's perfectly fair to leave the community. Destroying the ability for others to use your past work, however, is pretty lame. I'm hoping this was a hack for the benefit of my respect for him.
update: I assume I'm being downvoted because people do consider it a likely explanation? It would be utterly unprecedented AFAIK.
I've often what happens to people's free email addresses after they die. (I suppose nothing in most cases.)
Well yeah. Let's hope it wasn't that.
I don't disagree that it's inconvenient, but it's not like he nuked a SVN master repository or something.
Then I thought - what if, e.g., Zed Shaw had done this? I have a feeling we'd all be calling for his head and claiming it was the biggest douchebag move he could make. So does _why get a free pass? Because he's so likable and has a special pedestal in the Ruby world?
I honestly don't know the answer to that, but it made me reconsider my gut knee-jerk reaction.
on the other hand, if this is a case of someone managing to crack/guess/etc his passwords and just wants to do some malicious damage, that would be too bad.
I don't know the guy, and am not involved in the Ruby community. Nonetheless, that someone would call to make sure he's OK speaks volumes to me of his presence on the Internet.
You're an important part of this community, _why. I hope you're not saying goodbye.
Registrar..: gkg.net (http://register.gkg.net/)
Domain Name: WHYTHELUCKYSTIFF.NET
Created on..............: 03-JAN-2002
Expires on..............: 03-JAN-2014
Record last updated on..: 24-DEC-2008
Registrar..: gkg.net (http://register.gkg.net/)
Domain Name: HACKETYHACK.NET
Created on..............: 25-FEB-2007
Expires on..............: 25-FEB-2010
Record last updated on..: 24-DEC-2008
Registrar..: gkg.net (http://register.gkg.net/)
Domain Name: POIGNANTGUIDE.NET
Created on..............: 20-NOV-2003
Expires on..............: 20-NOV-2010
Record last updated on..: 24-DEC-2008
$ curl -i hacketyhack.net
curl: (52) Empty reply from server
curl: (7) couldn't connect to host
@_why: an ascending homage to fish bones. culminating in a delicate canopy of mouse furs.
_why: nailing a small ornate gold shelf at arm’s height above the bed for my cat to sit on. i give you: norton’s perch.
_why: i should probably have little teeny shelves all leading up to it. with their own miniature portraits or doll banisters or something.
strathmeyer: @_why Do cat structures last longer than programming structures?
_why: @strathmeyer hard to say, i guess if this feline staircase falls into disrepair, i’ll swap in a circular queue.
_why: an ascending homage to fish bones. culminating in a delicate canopy of mouse furs.
I will truly miss why's wonderful whimsy. :-(
This is a sad day.
FriendPaste is neat, but it's not as daring as letting people run a bunch of different languages on your server like CodePad does. I imagine one reason it's not open source is that they're relying partly on security through obscurity. I would be if I were running such a site.
BTW, I did check it out more in depth, and its python interpreter runs "import datetime" and "print datetime.datetime.now()" fine, but gives an error than an md5 library is missing when you try to run "import urllib2". So it supports some standard modules but not all.
Oh, nevermind, it's a #nosql site. I withdraw my argument.
Seriously though, I hope he's /okay/....
It's a sad day for all of us, but I hope and trust that he has good reasons for this decision. His contributions to the world of Ruby and programming-as-art will not be soon forgotten.
His legend will only grow...
If that isn't Kylie ...
I'll just assume _why is vacationing in Europe.
This guy is one of lord high masters of the geek art crafts and sciences.
Where ever you are Why, I hope you're all right..
get real he's only one person, if your community can't survive and thrive w/out him, it should die
Deliciously sweet chocolates (or libraries/books/hacketyhack/etc.) will hopefully magically still appear.
Maybe _why is simply going to oompa loompa land to get little helpers.
Okay, wow, hello, I'm very behind on this list, I hope you will
pardon me. I've been away for the summer, taking a break from
Well, enough of that, time's up: I hope to concentrate strictly on
getting Shoes 3 done. While it's disappointing to see what a poor
job I've done with Shoes, I am going to try to do what I can to
aright the situation by at least getting us some more speed and
stability. (As with all of my projects, it's just a toy experiment
which is full of an unpredictable amount of both the sweet and
My hope is to release the final version by September 7th. Please,
if you want something fixed for Shoes 3, it will need to be filed
on github, in the issues section. Yes, I think that will work just
Perhaps this is a publicity stunt to popularize the new and improved Hackety Hack?!
But _why's contributions are largely irreplaceable. Yeah, software evolves and individual projects might be supplanted by others, but his contributions go way beyond simply writing functioning code.
Sadly this is not true for anyone.
ironically he wrote "you" on twitter, and you wrote "u" on hn.