LWN article on harassment in open source on Hacker News

Cat’s out of the bag now – my LWN article about harassment of women at open source conferences is currently #1 on Hacker News – and it includes a free subscriber link. Here’s a free link for you:

The dark side of open source conferences

I’m extremely pleased with the comments on the LWN story, the majority of which are supportive, articulate, and educated. The Hacker News thread could use more comments like those…

6 thoughts on “LWN article on harassment in open source on Hacker News

  1. “Either you go to the police or it didn’t happen.”

    That seems to be the prevalent counterargument. I’d hope to see you or one of your valiant compatriots address that head on. I hate to admit that I was originally confused by it.

    Thanks for your work on this.

    1. Hi Darrin,

      An LWN commenter with the nick “njs” wrote something I thought useful:

      A lot of people have pointed out negative issues with calling the police, but there’s another factor you’re ignoring here, Jack. There’s a lot of behavior that falls short of “sexual assault or solicit[ing] prostitution”–behavior that is not illegal, but is absolutely unacceptable in civilized society. To pick a non-sexual example, using the “N” word would hardly be the basis for any sort of police involvement, but it’s far beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior for many (I hope most) of us.

      If a woman is left with no recourse but to call the police, then any behavior that falls short of illegal is tacitly accepted. But I don’t accept it!

      In other words, apply the argument “Either go to the police or shut up” to some behavior other than women being harassed – something the commenter actually takes seriously – and the flaws immediately become apparent. The only reason to make this argument is if you are trying to silence people who complain about this behavior.

  2. Shooting from the hip here but what if the problems you describe are instead endemic of all professional conferences (or any large gathering really)? If you get a heavy gender discrepancy, would this not happen anywhere? What I’m getting at is that the _INDIVIDUALS_ need to be dealt with and punished, but I think these recent posts go out of the way to paint the whole community as male chauvinists. That hurts people who are doing the right thing, men or women, when it’s possibly just a numbers game.

    I think the message that needs to be sent is: “Look guys, there are plenty of women at these shows and we’d appreciate it if you recognized the fact and respect us in presentations, in conversation, and at social events.” and not “If you’re a female and you attend an Open Source conference you will be assaulted”

    If crimes do occur, they should be dealt with immediately and through police/legal proceedings, not blog posts long after the fact. An idea to ensure this happens: have a designated Operations&Security officer elected at the large conferences. Men and women are then made aware that this person is trained to deal with any situations that may arise and issues are swiftly dealt with.

    Disclaimer: I’ve never been to a large Open Source conference so I don’t know the ground truth.

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