Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is harassment in your community unwelcome? Adopt a Community Anti-Harassment Policy!

Last week, the Geek Feminism community announced that we’ve adopted a code of conduct in our community. Our code begins:

The Geek Feminism (GF) community is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form.

This code of conduct applies to all Geek Feminism sponsored spaces, including our blog, mailing lists, and wiki, as well as any other spaces that Geek Feminism hosts, both online and off. Anyone who violates this code of conduct may be sanctioned or expelled from these spaces at the discretion of the Geek Feminism Anti-Abuse Team.

We took quite a long time to do this, after two harassment incidents associated with the Geek Feminism community (albeit, one probably not by people who are actually active in our spaces and who therefore can’t be excluded from them). We’d love it if others learned from our example and adopted a policy within their own communities. To that end, as of today, our Community Anti-Harassment Policy is available for re-use under Creative Commons Zero/public domain and we are beginning to develop associated resources, just as we have done over the past few years for the Conference anti-harassment policy

Here’s what you need:

  1. a policy (remember, ours is available for re-use, either as is, or in a modified form)
  2. a contact point where harassment reports can be received
  3. a group of responders who receive reports and have the power to act on them up to and including excluding harassers from your community

If your community does not have an obvious way to create a group of responders, start discussing how you can create one. In many communities, there is likely to be an existing volunteerocracy at the very least. Can these people reach consensus that your community should be safer from harassment, and that they are unwilling to work with harassers? Simply announcing to people that they must cease a behaviour, or they must leave the community, is in fact very effective as long as there is basic consensus around community norms. For online groups technical structures can help, but social structures are in fact the root of anti-harassment. You don’t need ops or admin power or the crown of the ancient rulers to enforce anti-harassment policies in your community, you need consistent anti-harassment responses by people with social power.

If you don’t know that your community has concensus on being anti-harassment. as a start you can declare your own personal anti-harassment stance, and publicly call for your community to adopt a anti-harassment policy, and a structure that enables the response team to exclude people from the community.

As Geek Feminism shows, activist groups or groups that have advocated for anti-harassment are not safe from internal harassment and still need a policy. And groups with no known harassment incidents are also not safe; it’s quite likely that people in your community have experienced harassment they felt unable to identify or report. Take steps to ensure harassing behaviour becomes known, and that it is known to be unacceptable.

One specific model we encourage you to avoid is the Our community is amazing! So wonderful! We rock! PS no harassment model in which you spend a lot of time affirming your community’s goodness and make a general statement about anti-harassment in passing. We discourage putting this in your anti-harassment policy for these reasons:

  1. you probably do not know the extent of harassment in your community without a policy and a reporting mechanism, and may not rock as much as you think
  2. stating that you are “anti-harassment” without saying what harassment means to you doesn’t give your existing community and potential new members the information they need to find out if their safety needs are a close enough match for your community’s norms

Stating your community’s great work or exemplary behaviour can be really useful for establishing social norms and letting people understand what joining your community means. They form a good basis for specific policies. But don’t make such statements in your anti-harassment policy, make them in a separate document listing your community’s values and goals. And it may be best to say that you aspire or intend to create an amazing space, rather than that you have definitely attained that goal. Statements that you are definitely no questions amazing may be used to silence people with critical feedback and in the end reduce your amazingness.

We also discourage private anti-harassment policies (shared only within a community or within its leadership), for reasons outlined by the Ada Initiative [disclaimer: I co-founded the Ada Initiative].

Do you already have a community anti-harassment policy, or have we convinced you to adopt one? List your community on the Community anti-harassment adoption page! And thank you.

The periodic table of linkspams (27 June 2014)

  •  Take on the Harder Problem, Google | Lukas Blakk (June 20): “Stop acting like only a CS degree is what makes someone a valuable asset on tech (pro-tip: many people working in tech came to it via liberal arts degrees). Make the current adult tech world a welcoming place for everyone – then you can send in the next generation and so on without losing them in the leaky pipeline a few years in.”
  • Double Union: “Double Union is a hacker/maker space for women in San Francisco. [...] The space is explicitly not a place for people to come and ask Feminism 101 questions to their heart’s content.”
  • Tweet by @jennschiffer | jennmoneydollars at Twitter (June 24): “am I crazy for thinking that the problem isn’t getting women *into* programming but getting the creeps *out* of it? why is the onus on us?”
  • MultipliCITY | paolo  at Molleindustria (June  21): “SimCity promises endless possibilities. You can create the city of your dreams. But in reality you always end up with Phoenix, Arizona. The only type of city you can create is the modernist, car centered, grid based, North American city. [...] Probably the most fundamental problem with SimCity is the premise itself: that a single person, the mayor/city planner/dictator, can address the contradictions of contemporary capitalist cities though judicious planning. [...] This is the premise for the activity I’m proposing today. MultipliCITY is an asymmetrical multiplayer boardgame inspired by SimCity and Carcassone. It attempts to address and problematize some of these issue with a moddable game system.”
  • Nix Hydra aims to create deep games for women | Christian Nutt at Gamasutra (June 11): “It’s not the first “for women, by women” studio, and it’s also far from the only mobile studio that aims for a female audience — but what makes Nix Hydra stand out is that its founders started experimenting with development because of their own dissatisfaction with the games they saw. [...] while a lot of studios have recognized they have large female audiences — casual game companies trumpet it all the time — they’re not fundamentally rethinking how they make games when creating titles for those audiences.”
  • 2014—15 Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship: “The intention of the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship is to encourage research within collections in the area of feminist science fiction. [...] This award supports travel for the purpose of research on, and work with, the papers of feminist science fiction authors housed in University of Oregon Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. These short-term research fellowships are open to undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, college and university faculty at every rank, and independent scholars working in feminist science fiction.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Announcing Our Code of Conduct

As of today, the Geek Feminism Community has a Code of Conduct banning harassing behavior in our community.

This Code of Conduct applies to all Geek Feminism spaces, including this blog, the Geek Feminism Wiki, and all other Geek Feminism sponsored spaces. As of today, everyone participating in Geek Feminism spaces is expected to comply with the new Code of Conduct.

You’ll find the Code of Conduct at this link, and also in the top bar, under “About.”

THE ANTI-ABUSE TEAM:

Violations of our Code of Conduct will be handled by our Anti-Abuse Team. This team is made up of people who are active in the various parts of the Geek Feminism Community, including the blog, wiki, and associated forums. Members of this team will serve staggered six-month terms before rotating off.

The current Anti-Abuse Team is Alex Bayley, Annalee Flower Horne, and Tim Chevalier. You can find contact information for us on our Report Abuse page.

QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS:

You’ve been promoting Codes of Conduct for years. Why didn’t you adopt one of your own sooner?

We dropped the ball in a big way here. We’ve known for at least two years that we needed a Code of Conduct internally. We’re sorry for the inexcusable delay. We are especially sorry to those who have been harassed within the Geek Feminism Community, and who had to fend for themselves in the face of that harassment because we had no system in place to protect them.

We’re working on a more detailed breakdown of what happened and what we and others can learn from this, but that’s a subject for a different post. It should be up within the week.

We’ve worked hard to design a code of conduct and complaint handling process that works well for social justice communities who interact mostly online, based on ideas in the Geek Feminism anti-harassment policy (which is designed for in-person events) and on advice we’ve received from GF Bloggers and advisors who run their own online communities.

We are releasing this Code of Conduct under a permissive license, so that other online communities can act more quickly than we did. Harassment occurs in online spaces as much, if not more, than at in-person events and we strongly encourage other communities to adopt a code of conduct too.

How is this different from the Comment Policy?

The comment policy is still in effect for the Geek Feminism blog. For a community as big as ours, a comment policy isn’t enough. For example, moderating comments is not an effective way to prevent a Geek Feminism blogger or wiki editor from harassing someone. Comments are not the only–or even the primary–way that folks within the Geek Feminism community talk to each other.

The new Code of Conduct provides a process by which we can handle and respond to reports of harassment in our community, regardless of who the harasser is and how they interact with Geek Feminism.

I [comment on Geek Feminism posts/edit the Geek Feminism wiki], but I’m not otherwise involved in Geek Feminism. Does this Code of Conduct apply to me?

Yes. While you’re in our spaces, our rules apply to you. However, blog moderators and wiki admins are already empowered to enforce standards of behavior in blog comments and on the wiki. The Anti-Abuse Team is unlikely to intervene in situations that moderators and wiki admins can handle on their own.

If you are being harassed in blog comments or on the wiki and the moderators or admins aren’t handling it (or if your harasser is a moderator or admin), we encourage you to report the situation to the Anti-Abuse Team.

I have a specific concern with part of the Code of Conduct.

Geek Feminism bloggers, wiki admins, and other members of our community have extensively reviewed and revised the Code of Conduct. We’re comfortable with it. If you have a serious concern about the Code of Conduct, and your concern is not addressed below under “Things We’re Not Debating,” you are welcome to let us know.

I’m pretty sure something I’m doing or have done in the past is banned under the Code of Conduct. Does everyone hate me?

You’re probably not alone, and it’s unlikely that everyone hates you, but that’s not the point. If you’re doing something that violates our Code of Conduct, stop immediately.

Please do not use any of our forums to process what you did, why you did it, and how you feel about it now. Please do not use any of our forums to try to get others to absolve you of what you did or to affirm your self-image as a good person in spite of your actions.

If you need help discerning whether something you did or are doing violates the Code of Conduct, or whether your continued presence in our community is appropriate, you should contact the Anti-Abuse Team.

THINGS WE’RE NOT DEBATING:

I hate the entire Code of Conduct, and/or I object to the concept of Codes of Conduct.

We’re not going to debate the merits of clear, specific Codes of Conduct. Geek Feminism has one. You can either accept it or leave.

I want to debate specific aspects of this Code of Conduct as an intellectual exercise, or to explain to you why ______ isn’t really harassment.

This Code of Conduct is not open for debate. Accept it or leave.

I’m not reading something that long.

Since you can’t read it at all without agreeing to a web browser’s End User License Agreement, we can assume you are capable of reading and understanding documents that are a lot longer and more technical than our Code of Conduct. Much like your browser’s EULA, our Code of Conduct is binding whether you read it or not.

Your section on complaints you won’t act on is [racist against white people/sexist against men/etc]. Why don’t you treat everyone equally?

Since you lack the reading comprehension to understand “we are not here to explain power differentials or other basic social justice concepts to you” the first time we said it, further discourse on this subject would be fruitless.


We encourage everyone who interacts with the Geek Feminism community–bloggers, commenters, wiki editors, admins, and our various friends and advisors–to familiarize yourselves with the new Code of Conduct. We know from experience that clear, specific Codes of Conduct make communities safer and more welcoming. We’re glad to have one in place for Geek Feminism.

Please mind the linkspam (25 June 2014)

  • Applications for MotherCoders Fall 2014 Opens! | Tina Lee at mothercoders (June 20): “We are committed to creating a more dynamic, sustainable, and inclusive economy by on-ramping moms to careers in technology. Those who are interested in being considered for our Fall 2014 session must complete this survey by midnight on Sunday, July 13, 2014.”
  • ‘Cards Against Humanity’ Co-Creator Publicly Apologizes for Transphobic Card | Jessica Roy at Fusion (June 18): “”We were writing jokes for ourselves and we weren’t really thinking about how it would affect other people,” Temkin [a creator of the game] said. “But when you have something that starts to be part of pop culture, you can’t help but see how it makes people feel and feel some sense of responsibility for that.” [...] “We talk about the idea of ‘punching up, not punching down’ all the time,” Temkin said. “It’s something that we stand behind: making fun of those power structures, because they’re already powerful.””
  • Unicode Unveils 250 New Emoji, Gets Thumbs Down For Diversity | Eric Brown at International Business Times (June 17): “In the end, the problem rests on the shoulders of both Unicode and third parties. Third parties have the option of illustrating emoji however they wish, but universally stick to white as a default. Unicode, meanwhile, has the option of introducing more characters that would push Apple and Twitter to move beyond its majority-white character base. At this point, both need to take responsibility and introduce more inclusive emoji.”
  • Stephanie Kwolek, inventor of the super fibre Kevlar, dies at 90 | The Guardian (June 21): “Stephanie Kwolek, the American chemist who invented the super-strong fibre Kevlar used in bullet-proof vests, has died at age 90.”
  • Editor’s blog: I am sexist | Tom Bramwell at Eurogamer (Jun 19)[warning for discussion of violence against women] “It’s really hard to talk about sexism (in games or otherwise) when a large proportion of your audience hasn’t realised it is sexist, whether subtly or profoundly. [...] I don’t think they come from a place of actual misogyny. I think they are just a byproduct of the kind of casual ignorance I have personally embodied for pretty much all of my sexist life. [...]  I am writing this because I hope that if I stand up and admit that I am sexist, have always been sexist and will probably always have to rebel against this bit of programming in my head whenever it is triggered, one or two people will realise that they can relate to what I’m saying, and that will give them a bit of courage to try to do something about it as well.”
  • Should You Have a Baby in Graduate School? | sarah Kendzior at Vitae (June 16): “Pregnant graduate students pose a problem to an academic culture that values “fit” above all else. While pregnancy may feel to the pregnant like bodily subservience, it is often viewed in academia as an unwelcome declaration of autonomy.”
  • Lake Scene | Manfeels Park (June 18): [comic]
  • What the Internet’s Most Infamous Trolls Tell Us About Online Feminism | Fruzsina Eördögh at Motherbaord (June 20): “The 4chan ruse ended last Friday [...] but not before a silver lining had revealed itself: Feminists of color had very publicly become such an integral part of the feminist movement that trolls thought they were the vehicle to end all feminism online.”
  • Inside the Mirrortocracy | Carlos Bueno (June 2014): “We’ve created a make-believe cult of objective meritocracy, a pseudo-scientific mythos to obscure and reinforce the belief that only people who look and talk like us are worth noticing. After making such a show of burning down the bad old rules of business, the new ones we’ve created seem pretty similar.”
  • Major Ed-Tech Event Overhauls Code of Conduct After Troubling Accusations | Benjamin Herold at Education Week (June 19)[warning for discussion of harassment and rape] “The policy changes made by the International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE, focus on explicitly outlining unacceptable and harassing behaviors, clearly delineating protocols for addressing such behaviors when they occur, and identifying specific consequences for violations. Such guidelines have been adopted in recent years by other conferences and events in the broader U.S. technology sector, where problems of sexism and sexual harassment have been widely reported and documented.” This article takes a perhaps sceptical tone at times, but is interesting as an examination of a particular field in the technology industry.

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Note: this linkspam title has been changed; we apologize for having missed the racist history of the song we used for the week’s punny title.

Some Questions For Brian Carderella and Wicked Good Ruby

This is an anonymous guest post.

Today, the organizers of Wicked Good Ruby decided to cancel the conference. One organizer, Brian Cardarella, posted to the BostonRB list to explain his reasoning.

I have some questions.

Why was there no code of conduct?

Increasing numbers of tech conferences, both within Ruby and otherwise, are adopting codes of conduct. Codes of conduct protect attendees, particularly attendees from marginalized groups, and are an important part of making conferences safer. Codes of conduct also protect conferences and their organizers; having defined policies in place for what to do when harassment happens make the on-the-ground decisions easier to make and more legally defensible after the fact.

Ashe Dryden and the Ada Initiative, among others, have written extensively on why codes of conduct are important and on how to effectively write and implement them. There’s no excuse any more for not having one. Because of this, increasing numbers of people have pledged to not attend events without a code of conduct. Some companies have even decided to not sponsor events without formal codes of conduct.

This may partly explain your speaker-recruitment and sponsorship woes.

Why wasn’t your outreach to female speakers sufficient?

I’m glad that you read the advice that direct outreach to female speakers is often necessary to establish gender balance. However, you make it clear in your posts explaining the cancellation that you were primarily seeking female speakers to avoid “drama,” to not “get destroyed publicly,” to avoid “how crazy everybody gets over the gender issue in Ruby.” Nowhere did you say anything about doing it because it’s the right thing.

I have to wonder: did you read the widely available advice for how to do outreach to female speakers properly? I’m wondering this for two reasons: first, the lack of a code of conduct makes it sound like you weren’t interested in meeting female speakers’ likely needs; this may have contributed to their lack of interest. Second, the way you characterize your outreach makes it sound like you emailed people saying “Hey, I need a woman so the internet doesn’t fall on my head, and you’ll do. Wanna speak at my conf?” That’s not nearly as appealing a prospect as, say, “I really admired your work on [gem]; do you want to talk about it at WGR?”

Maybe I’m being too harsh on you with that assumption. But, still, I wonder why you only asked twelve women, given that you were trying to fill 24-36 speaker slots. (Were you assuming they’d all say yes?) I wonder when you started your outreach process, given that popular speakers are often booked months and months in advance. I wonder why you didn’t even let your CFP hit its deadline before snappishly assuming no women would apply in the last week.

Why did you blame women for WGR’s cancellation?

By your own account, the biggest reason you cancelled WGR was a lack of sponsorships. Why did you throw that frankly bizarre paragraph about lacking talk proposals from women? It’s a nasty little pit of nastiness, and frankly seems pitched to incite the “drama” you claimed to want to avoid.

Why did you want to blame women, instead of the people with the money?

I leave the answer to that question as an exercise for the reader.

Quick hit: Girls just don’t wanna have fun at conferences

Over at The Spandrel Shop, Prof-Like Substance writes about women’s experiences with harassment at academic conferences:

So dudes, pull this apart a little bit. First off, the frequency with which inappropriate advances occur is causing some women to avoid after hours social events. Not only does that have consequences, but that very fact in itself should bother you. Also consider that even consensual sexyfuntimes have very different career implications for men versus women. These communities are small and things get around. Finally, are you going to be That Guy who women are warned against being around alone? Do you want the dumb things you say when you’re out late to be the reason a woman leaves the field or is uncomfortable attending social events? Consider that maybe your work colleagues are not the best target audience for your affections.

This is ground we’ve covered before at Geek Feminism, of course. But I thought the comment thread on this post was, for once, worth reading. I especially liked the following comment from user EMoon, replying to a persistent concern troll asking for rules to tell “oblivious” men when to hit on women (so they don’t have to think about it for themselves):

You want a rule? Here’s the rule. Don’t do it. Never hit on women at a conference of any kind, or in a workplace of any kind, or at any function associated in any way with work, or at any function not associated in any way with work. Don’t make suggestive comments on their appearance, either to them or to other men with the intent that they will overhear. Don’t wink at them. Don’t stare at their bodies. Don’t stand too close. Don’t touch. Don’t pat them, hug them, drape an arm around their shoulders, or–should you necessarily be in a picture with them (an award ceremony or the like) decide to put an arm around them with that excuse. Don’t follow them around. Never hang around in the hotel hall outside their rooms, or outside the women’s toilet. Don’t do it. ANY of it. And don’t think it’s not noticed if you do.

Quick hit: #NotJustHello

Today, Mikki Kendall — who you’ll remember from a previous Wednesday Geek Woman feature — started the #NotJustHello hashtag to talk about how women experience street harassment, in ways that go far beyond an unknown man saying “hello”. In just a few hours, there have already been a lot of great conversations not just about specific experiences of harassment, but about boundaries and the difference between flirtation and harassment.

Inspired by some of the responses to the hashtag, which echo responses that I’ve seen every time women share their experiences being harassed, I created a new Geek Feminism Wiki page, I can’t believe that happens, about the repeating pattern of men responding to these accounts in ways that reflect a need to prove that they are surprised it ever happens.

What would a feminist payment/funding site look like?

We’ve had several discussions here over the years about what a feminist social network would look like, most notably Social Networking Requirements and The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted. In a similar vein, and in light of the recent problems with Gittip, I’d like to open discussion about what a feminist payment/funding site would look like — a feminist alternative to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, or to micropayment/ongoing support like Gittip or Patreon.

I’ll start:

  • The system helps bring the most marginalised and most in need to the forefront, rather than the most popular.
  • Policies that don’t automatically shut down accounts for “offensive” content when those accounts are, for example, documenting abuse or educating about sexuality.
  • It doesn’t require you to create a video to launch a campaign (pet peeve! but see Photography on the GF wiki for some ways in which photos/video can lead to harassment for marginalised people).

For further background/points of discussion, some resources around this are starting to form on the GF wiki. See for example:

Ideas, thoughts? What payment/fundraising needs do you have in regard to feminist/activist work?

To Linkspam And Beyond! (20 June 2014)

  • Tristan Walker: The tech world has implicit racial biases. Here’s how to overcome them. | Carmel Deamicis at PandoDaily (June 11): “”[...] This person is black, this person is white, I don’t discriminate, I’m meritocratic,” Walker says. “But no one ever talks about implicit bias. It’s rampant and real.””
  • We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome | Tasha Robinson at The Dissolve (June 16): “She’s something female characters so often aren’t in action/adventure films with male protagonists: She’s interesting. Too bad the story gives her absolutely nothing to do. [...] here’s a quick questionnaire for filmmakers who’ve created a female character [...] But now what? Screenwriters, producers, directors, consider this.”
  • Reimagining the Female Superhero |  Lindsey Morris at Girls Gone Geek (June 18): “Saturday I attended a panel at Special Edition: NYC, and from what I gathered it was one of the only panels that day that was even nearing maximum capacity. The totally stellar line-up of creators for the talk included Gail Simone, Amy Reeder, Marguerite Bennett, Emanuela Lupacchino and Jenny Frison – moderated by Ben Saunders. This panel and its participants were great in every respect, and it produced some great conversations. [This] is the entire discussion prior to Q&A.”
  • Gale Simone to writers: Keep the hell up | Shaula Evans at The Black Board (June 17): “When the idea of an Incredible Hulk reboot came up at a recent John August/ Craig Mazin Scriptntoes podcast, their guest screenwriter David S. Goyer (who is writing the first film that Wonder Woman will appear in) called She Hulk “a green porn star that only Hulk could f***”  [...] Comic book writer Gail Simone, whose notable works include Wonder Woman, Red Sonja, and Batgirl, responded on Twitter. I’ve archived her remarks here because she has some GREAT and on-point advice to writers in all media about the need to “keep the hell up” with our audiences and the changing world around us.”
  • Keynote: Composing a Functional Community | Katie Miller at Erlang Solutions (June 16): [Video] “We know the wonderful benefits of functional programming, but when it comes to sharing the lambda love we often do a poor job. In this presentation, Katie will draw on her experiences as a journalist, workshop instructor, functional programming student and women’s group founder to take you back to that time before you knew what jargon such as monad meant, and offer ideas and inspiration for helping people of all kinds and categories along the path to FP enlightenment. Be warned, content may challenge the status quo and your mind: be prepared for code in an unfamiliar syntax.”
  • Female leaders are missing in academia | Tanya Fitzgerald at The Conversation (June 18): “The persistent numerical imbalance of women and men at senior levels in universities does not appear to be cause for concentrated and wider concern. [...] we need to think beyond simply counting more women in by increasing their numbers. While numbers are important to create a critical mass, it is a change in attitude towards female leaders that is needed.”
  • Is Coding the New Literacy? | Tasneem Raja at Mother Jones (June 16): “What if learning to code weren’t actually the most important thing? It turns out that rather than increasing the number of kids who can crank out thousands of lines of JavaScript, we first need to boost the number who understand what code can do. As the cities that have hosted Code for America teams will tell you, the greatest contribution the young programmers bring isn’t the software they write. It’s the way they think. It’s a principle called “computational thinking”.”
  • Too Fat to Be a Scientist? | Rachel Fox at The Chronicle of Higher Education (June 17): [Warning for discussion of harassment] “I can’t stay in a field where it seems that I’m supposed to apologize for my appearance every day. Although there’s a growing movement to promote a more nuanced model of weight loss and metabolism, the mentality that everything comes down to a lack of self-control is still pervasive in the scientific community.”
  • Still ‘Searching for Safety Online': collective strategies and discursive resistance to trolling and harassment in a feminist network | Frances Shaw (2013): [Warning for discussion of violent threats] “This paper examines the discursive responses that participants in a network of feminist blogs developed to handle trolling in their community.” This is an older link than we usually include, however it seems particularly relevant.
  • Silence is Complicity | Natalie Luhrs at The Radish. (Jun 16): [Warning for discussion of harassment and sexual abuse of children] “If you deliberately prey on vulnerable members of our community and continue to do so after you’ve been caught, I believe that you forfeit the right to be a part of our community.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Why I’m ending my short experiment with Gittip, or: why we can’t have nice things, part 2,039

This is a guest post by Sky Croeser, which originally appeared on her blog.

I love doing teaching and research, but I also want to be doing more to engage and build communities outside of academia. Recently, I decided to start experimenting with Gittip as a way to support that. Gittip “is a way to give small weekly cash gifts to people you love and are inspired by. Gifts are weekly. The intention is for people to depend on money received through Gittip in order to pay their bills, and bills are recurring.” I like the idea, and I liked that the ‘top receivers’ shown on the front page included several activists working on diversity issues, which suggested that it wasn’t just a tool for programmers to use, and that it’s possible to make a decent (if far from extravagant) income doing public outreach and community-building work.

Then, someone on Hacker News criticised the site for supporting people who ‘yell on Twitter and demonize men’, saying the site had become ‘a joke dominated by professional victims’. Sadly, this is not unexpected. The level of daily vitriol directed at women who actively address sexism in tech culture (and in other spaces) is astounding. What was unfortunately is that Chad Whitacre, founder of Gittip, responded this comment by thanking the poster for his feedback.

When people called Whitacre out on this, he responded by saying that he was talking about the part of the comment that referred to the how ‘leaderboards’ were displayed: he was agreeing that perhaps the front page on Gittip shouldn’t focus so heavily on those who give and receive the most funds. I was hopeful that he’d follow this up with a simple and unequivocal statement along the lines of, “Of course we want diversity activists using Gittip! This is an excellent use for the tool and it’s important that we support them.”

Instead, Whitacre’s responses have both tacitly and explicitly supported the ongoing harassment that many of Gittip’s (previous) top users, including Shanley, Ashe Dryden, and Nóirín Plunkett face. Tacitly, by thanking misogynists for their feedback and not speaking up against misogyny, Whitacre supports a culture of harassment that pushes women out of geek communities:

gittippattingHNonthebackExplicitly, Whitacre has contributed to the ongoing harassment that women working on diversity issues in geek communities face by writing a blog post explicitly attacking Shanley, particularly for the tone of her criticisms of him. I am not going to link to the blog post. And just in case anyone wants to say that Whitacre would have responded better if only someone had explained it to him more politely, it’s clear that other people have been approaching these discussions in a gentler way, and haven’t managed to shift Whitacre’s approach. Also see Julie Pagano’s email to Whitacre.

In response to this, many of Gittip’s users have been leaving or are going to leave, including Shanley, Ashe Dryden, Steve Klabnik, Skud and probably many others that I’ve missed. For many, this comes at a huge cost: people like Ashe Dryden have spent a long time building up their support base on Gittip, and get a significant proportion of their income from the tool. This isn’t a decision taken lightly.

This is what builds homogenous communities. When privileged people fail to stand up for marginalised groups within their communities, those groups eventually understand that they’re not welcome and won’t be supported and leave. Initial shifts towards diversity are rapidly undone.

I’ve shut down my account, too. I don’t want to work to build support through a platform where key communities members are not only unwilling to support their top users, but are also willing to actively attack them.

There’s now a page up about this on the Geek Feminism Wiki: Gittip crisis. I’m hoping that in coming days there’ll also be resources compiled around alternatives to Gittip, and about how people can support people who’ve stopped using Gittip.

Editor’s note: such pages are welcome on the wiki, for existing ones, see: Gittip transfers for users who have transferred elsewhere, Fundraising mechanisms for activists and a (not yet filled out) Feminist reviews of payment processors. All pages are in early draft, please help out by filling them in and adding related pages.