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You may disagree, but it's not ridiculous. It's perfectly reasonable. In fact, by calling it ridiculous, you're sending a very strong signal that people who ask questions about whether we should keep doing this the way they've always been done will be shamed.

Is that your intention?


What? By pushing back against a customer who wishes to be addressed as Mrs, you are invalidating their own sense of identity under the guise of doing them a favor. It's paternalistic and infantilizing.

EDIT: Oh wait, "customer" here may mean "client", as wilg pointed out, ie. the person asking for the form to be built, not the person filling it out. That is likely the source of this misunderstanding. I still don't see the harm in providing both Ms. and Mrs./Miss -- some surely prefer Mrs. and there is no shame in deciding you prefer "Ms."


I took this entirely as a conversation between developer and "stakeholder," be that client, employer, whomever, but not the end-user.

I've built many such forms, and all of them have included traditional forms of address. I may build another with traditional forms of address, but I certainly have no problem discussing the subject without laughing the idea off.


I think it is rediculous. Here's why.

What he is asking is pushing back on a culture issue, as if we, the annointed programmers in the world, are going to create social justice by changing the options in forms and denying people the ability to add what information they want. It's fine to say "Ms should be an option" but it is rediculous to deny women the option to use "Mrs" and "Miss" if they want.

> In fact, by calling it ridiculous, you're sending a very strong signal that people who ask questions about whether we should keep doing this the way they've always been done will be shamed.

That's one possibility. Another one is to recognize that as a programmer, it is not our role to shape society in this way. The best thing we can do is empower people to choose what they want to do, not take away options. Culture arises from the grass roots.

> Is that your intention?

There is one thing that is worth shaming here, and that is those who would deny women agency in deciding these things for themselves. That's not the role of the developer and sometimes there is a room for a little humility.


Paul Graham wrote an essay called "Things You Can't Say." He should update it so I'll know what things I can't say on Hacker News, like "Let's discuss this idea like reasonable people without, heaping shame on people who have ideas we disagree with."


I understand your point.

I just think there are points where some ideas need to be called out for what they are.

The idea that we mostly male programmers will help make women equal by denying them options on how to fill out forms that they might otherwise want to choose strikes me as deeply at odds with itself.


Questioning the norm is not ridiculous. Imposing your norms on society is. I agree completely with chrissnell, if your end user considers it an important part of their name, status and identity, who the hell are you to decide differently?


raganwald wasn't saying you should impose your norms on society, and chrissnell never suggested what you agree with. He said it was ridiculous to even push back at all. So all you know is the client asked for something, not that it's important.

If anything, chrissnell said it was ridiculous to question the client.

raganwald said it's not ridiculous to question the client.

And, before you try to weasel your way out, this isn't some interpretation, it's literally what was said.

Granted, with a handle like yours, I could see how having someone else make the decisions for you might appeal to you.


So does this mean you don't write any software that doesn't save lives? That you don't come onto Hacker News and make comments?

For whatever reason you find yourself doing a task. Gardening, washing dishes, building a web form, saving a life. Whatever it is you choose to do, why not do it as well as you know how? Why denigrate something as not being worth doing well because there are more important problems in the world?


While you are trying to make it sound somewhat ironical that is the very reason I am on HN (and, partly the reason I left that comment): to find something that helps me to "write software that does save lives" or to find any problem that would be important enough to try and solve it.

So what I'm stating is not that I simply "do not think of that problem as of being important enough to discuss". Actually, I don't see any problem at all. And I find that both sad and funny — maybe even horrifying — that many other people see it as a problem and even important one. Because, really, there aren't many "non-live-saving" tasks, everything that makes world a better place to live is pretty much worth doing.

That arguing on topic if you should or shouldn't leave a choice between `Ms.` or `Mrs.` doesn't make world better. Actually, I wonder if it isn't accomplishing the opposite. If you are a woman and you are presented the form that asks you how you'd like to be called in the emails or whatever, seeing both `Ms.` and `Mrs.` on that form doesn't hurt you unless you have some pretty serious psychological problems. More than that it might be even annoying to be unable to choose the honorific you personally prefer. That's why you might want to leave text input for your customer to enter whatever he wants anyway.


Your entire comment seems to be based on the premise that either companies have a strong insider/outsider culture or they are soulless places to work. When in reality, there are many, many companies that have strong company cultures without somehow alienating a large number of otherwise qualified prospective employees.

Speaking as a person with a fair chunk of experience managing software development, I find it difficult to believe that management's only choices are frat-boy culture or soul-sucking bland corporation.

I'll speak very frankly. When a company has a half dozen or a dozen employees, when a company is scrambling for traction, it can be a great motivator to have a strong insider culture. Steve Jobs hung a pirate flag up at the Macintosh offices for a reason.

But companies grow, and part of growing is, well, growing. You need to select from a larger pool of prospective employees. You need to bring in some new DNA instead of doubling up on the DNA you already have.

I can't speak to this specific company, but as a general principle, successful companies become less exclusive and possible--I am not speaking about Dropbox--less discriminatory as they grow.

If you want an example, look at Apple. It's hyper-successful, and famous for how hard they work at inclusiveness and tolerance.


You're reading my post as a false dichotomy, however that was not my intent.

The culture of companies can and do change over time and will in response to wanting to be more inclusive if that is how it needs to change in order to be more competitive. Every single employee that joins a company, joins it knowing what it is and leaves their imprint on the company's culture as they spend more time there and become part of the group. No company's culture is static.

What I was getting at is that you shouldn't complain about the culture you willingly joined. Don't like everything you see, gain acceptance and be the change you want to see in the company. If you do things right, the company culture will become a little bit more inclusive without becoming soulless.

Complaining is what leads to soulless places to work at where everyone is quietly in fear of offending anyone else.


Of course, correlation does not equal causation. If there is something about their "culture" that is off-putting to women, you can't "fix" it by changing the hiring practices. You fix the culture and the hiring practices follow suit organically.

I suspect that the title is wrong, and that the thesis of the article is that there is something strongly biased about Dropbox's culture and the experiences recounted about interviewing there are one symptom of many.

I'm speaking to what I read in the article, of course. I'm not a woman and I don't work at Dropbox.


I was busy writing a comment while you cranked this out, so I'll just reply underneath yours since we more or less agree.

The premise of the article is a valid one but the arguments underneath are incredibly weak.

Perhaps a question on how Dropbox might be used to solve income inequality or the unaffordability of housing in San Francisco would reveal as much about someone’s creativity—and more about their character—than questions about superheroes

Certainly a refined hiring protocol that asks targeted and direct questions that allows the candidate to express and communicate their competence may perhaps improve the metrics of gender-diverse hiring. Suggesting such a radical change like asking for an opine on economic disparity at a Cloud Services Provider however I think is going a bit too far just to step back and claim progress; Post hoc ergo propter hoc .

The author here seem to stumble across, and then walk right by a much more interesting story in the use of demonstrably masculine conference room names in which to conduct interviews. All we got out of that was one paragraph.


I see why the name "The Bromance Room" is a demonstrably masculine name, but not why "The Break-up Room" is.

The article said:

    "‘The Break-up Room,’ by a male"
... what if this woman had been interviewed in that exact same room by a female? Would that have changed things? What if a male later on were interviewed in the same room by a female? I dunno about you, but "The break-up room" is pretty gender-neutral to me and that any gender-bias that person felt is entirely in their own head, due mainly to the fact that her interviewer was may (a statistical likelihood in this industry).


I do not speak for GitHub, but anonymous sources inform me that the feature only works with prose formats that have a built-in renderer. So basically, if you can preview the file, you can get a rendered diff for it.

This seems to confirm your suggestion :-)


I don't know if this is true for CoffeeScript, but sometimes an unfamiliar syntax enables something new and very useful. You won't experience that unless you embrace something very different.

eS6 will have fat arrows, but comparing CS today to JS today, I find the -> and => constructs are more than just an abbreviation, they make it radically easier to write AND READ code that makes heavy use of functions.

YMMV, of course!


Even if he happened to be right about his contention, this isn't the point at all. The question here is, "Should a programming service be offered in a language other than English?" Whereas ESR is claiming, "Programmers should learn to write English proficiently."

Imagine, if you will, that Silicon Valley is THE place to live if you want to be a programmer. Alice has job advice: "Move to Silicon Valley."

Now imagine that Bob wishes to open a hackerspace code+cafe in New York. Should we really tell him that this is a bad idea? Is it somehow a terrible idea to help programmers who chose to ignore Alice's advice to be productive? Is it somehow undermining TheGrandPlan™ to support a programmer in New York City?

Are we "fragmenting the hacker community" by opening a cafe in NYC?

I can't think of any good reasons not to make Stack Overflow available in Portuguese. And any or every other language. An argument to keep SO English-only might as well be accompanied by an argument that there should be no conference talks in any language except English, no programming books in any language except English, and no help or online documentation in any language except English.


I agree, let's flip this around and think like customers. We go out to choose a vendor for some important service.

Vendors A and B have roughly equal parity on features and services, but vendor A's employees eat their own dogfood and vendor B's don't.

Now in one sense, who cares? Eating your own dogfood is a means to an end, not the end itself, so it's like finding out that McDonalds employees don't eat McDonalds food. As long as they wash their hands, who cares what they eat themselves?

But on the other hand, I'm a human being, and I'm personally a lot more comfortable doing business with a company that seems to care about its product from top to bottom, and isn't staffed with people who don't like their own product enough to use it.


Yes, employees that use their own product generally a great and encouraging sign.

But what if you find out that the employees at company A use their own product only because the CEO ordered them to do it or get fired, and they actually hate the product themselves too?

No longer quite so encouraging.

They are mistaking the indicator for the thing indicated. Dogfooding is an indicator of quality and commitment when it happens naturally; when you artificially compel the indicator, it's no longer a good indicator.


They are mistaking the indicator for the thing indicated.

This is one of the most important (and neglected) insights in business. People often optimize for the indicator at the expense of the thing it is supposed to indicate.

Example: One metric is of customer dissatisfaction is unsubscribes. If you make your unsubscribe process difficult, unsubscribes go down. In reality, dissatisfaction might be climbing through the roof, and a difficult unsubscribe process may actually make it worse, not better.

That being said, there is a difference between: "If you don't care, go work somewhere else so that the only employees left here are the ones that care," and, "Do it even if you don't care or else I'll fire you."

The former might be about getting rid of unmotivated dead wood. Some people are good no matter what, leave them alone. Some are terrible for your company no matter what, fire them or entice them to quit. The remainder are the ones to manage.

But then again... You don't want to fire or push out the people who might be able to tell you that the dogs hate the dogfood because it tastes like shit. Which was the punchline of the joke that the entire "eat your own dog food" expression is based on.


I think you are missing the point of the "eat your own dog food" mantra that originated from Joel Spolsky. No one wants to literally eat dog food as we all imagine it would taste terrible. The same holds true for your product. That product you have been working on for your company, whoever it may be, is total, utter, garbage, and if you have to eat it everyday you will realize it tastes terrible.

The more you use the product, the more aware you become that your product is bad, and this is necessary to make it less bad. And this is true of every product out there; even products, services, etc... that people hold up as "good", they still have room for improvement. If the people responsible for creating that product can't put in the time to use the product so they can feel their customers' pain and improve the product, then they should just move on.


It didn't originate with Joel Spolsky. "Eating your own dogfood" was already a meme at Microsoft when Spolsky arrived there (1991), and that's where he probably picked it up from. Wikipedia attributes it to Paul Maritz:

"In 1988, Microsoft manager Paul Maritz sent Brian Valentine, test manager for Microsoft LAN Manager, an email titled 'Eating our own Dogfood', challenging him to increase internal usage of the company's product. From there, the usage of the term spread through the company."



Point still stands, but thanks for the "Well Actually".



I suspect all those employees at paypal who aren't using the paypal mobile app already know their product sucks and/or is useless, they don't need to be educated to know that.

I suspect it's the CEO who doesn't actually realize it, but maybe he does.

Still, I suppose the theory could be that if they are forced to use the shitty product, then they will be more motivated to fix it, that they currently lack motivation to fix it because they are not using it.

I doubt it will work that way, but it's a theory.


What if they have no use for the product rather than 'don't like' said product? It is quite possible to just not need to use PayPal and still work for them.


I also don't think being in over your head or having architectural issues is a crime - it's the default state for startups, especially ones trying to keep up with big growth.

While this statement is usually true, let's not generalize. There are some kinds of business or services where you are doing a disservice to the world by being in over your head.

Example: If you decide to "disrupt" home construction and sidestep the various annoying and taxing construction regulations. You simply must not go around selling houses to people unless you are actually very, very confident that you are not building a dangerous product.

Same thing for making food that people eat, pacemakers, radiation devices, and taking people's money to safeguard. It's not a crime to make mistakes that nobody with reasonable experience could foresee, but it is absolutely wrong to make avoidable mistakes that hurt your customers due to industry inexperience.


A lot of the dynamics you're describing here on Hacker News also apply to Hacker News. It's the same problem: Surface quality content and don't allow the items on the front page to choke out new submissions just because they're on the front page attracting all the votes.



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