A Developer with a Pencil

An Open Letter: Internet, Lighten Up

Yesterday, something terrible happened.

Me and a group of dev-friends were working a few months ago on a private project in ruby, a simple state machine implementation that was hosted as a private repository on Github. A few days ago one of my friends came to me and asked to use this project - so I opened it to public access.

Well, I really didn’t see it coming.

First let me say, I do not - under any circumstances agree or endorsed such behavior either in code or in the real world - but part of the test code for that repo included mentions of the words “gay” and “gangrape” in conjunction.

It was first brought to my attention on Twitter - I immediately went to the code and shamefully removed the offensive file and added a sorry note to the readme file. I also published a quick tweet explaining how sorry I was and that no matter how funny it was in our inner developer circle (yes, including a homosexual with a sense of humor) it shouldn’t have crossed the line into the Internet public highway.

The tweet mentioned above caused an immediate avalanche that headed straight at me, by people that were focusing entirely on how offensive this code was, but disregarded the fact that I admitted in a mistake, promised to make sure it wouldn’t happen again - and published 2 (!!!) public messages on being the down bottom ashamed that I am.

Yes. It is almost inexcusable. But things should be put in perspective.

Not every time someone makes a bad decision, a mistake or even something awful like we did - deserves an immediate attack and a righteous stampede.

The Internet and the open-source communities are FULL of naming conventions that are offensive and considered hurtful to almost anyone alive. As a Jewish person I come across at least 3-4 times a day with the all-known Grammar Nazi that you all know, but as a person that lost a huge part of his family in the holocaust, am I offended by this WIDELY used meme? or by wide usage of the “Nazi” phrase everywhere in the open-source community? or maybe I should go up to all of the people that use MongoDB and ask them if they know how hurtful the word “Mongo” (Check the other uses section where it says “A variant of mong, a derogatory shortening of Mongoloid”) means to some people?

No. I am not offended either by the Nazi, and not even by 10gen (Guys, I love you).

I am not offended because people make this things either by mistake, either by purpose and in most of the time no matter what you do - someone can take offense. Being judgmental and complaining about hurtful things you find on the Internet is like complaining on the noise level in a Megadeath concert - it is there, and it will always be there.

So please, if you see someone making a mistake - or something that you think worths the heads-up - there is no need to start a witch hunt, let them know and I am sure that if they are reasonable people they will change whatever it is that is bothering you and beg for forgiveness.

Yours, Elad