Removed use of gendered pronoun #1015

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alex commented Nov 29, 2013

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Thank you for contributing this pull request! Here are a few pointers to make sure your submission will be considered for inclusion.

Commit alex/libuv@1ff9d18 has the following error(s):

  • Commit message must indicate the subsystem this commit changes

The following commiters were not found in the CLA:

  • Alex Gaynor

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A single "user" isn't a plural "them". This seems not so important, but would be better "to top sending it twice"

@sam-github "one" is the singular pronoun you are looking for.

dbb replied Nov 30, 2013

"They" has been used in singular form for centuries, and it is still in widespread use today-- probably much more common than "one" except in formal contexts. I think prescription against it in program documentation is unwarranted.

Why not:

The nsent value is returned so the caller can avoid sending it twice.
If you get nsent, then you know data was sent and you can avoid sending it twice.
This tells the caller that the data was sent to avoid double sends.

This is assuming I'm understanding what this thing does at all, either way I think it can be rewritten clearer to just avoid the whole sentence structure at all by changing the writing style to be instructional ("You get blah blah if you see blah blah.") rather than formal ("One gets blah blah if one sees blah blah").

Hi, I'm kibitzing. I have nothing to do with this project and really have no business commenting on it.

With that out of the way...

There are strong reasons to avoid gendered pronouns. It seems as though that point has been made already here. I am personally an advocate of singular-they, because language usage is a moving target, and we have to skate to where the puck will be, not where it is now. To many speakers who were educated by the "English is just a different vocabulary for Latin" theory, it sounds wrong. But all the elegant solutions to the grammatical problem (Spivak pronouns are a runner-up) run afoul of that, and this one is simply reverting to an earlier version which has already been shown not to cause significant linguistic friction elsewhere.

To use "one" does really sound very formal and off-putting, and many readers have difficulty making sense of it.

"You" is an option as well, but in this example there are multiple people in context - the ideal user; the reader of the comment; the implementor who wrote it. "You" would probably mean the reader, who is likely a programmer as well, not really a typical end-user.

Rewording without a pronoun at all is an option, but kind of awkward here. It's probably my second choice for this situation after singular-they.

I leave you with a Douglas Hofstadter satire essay...

Thanks to Twitter, I was made aware of this. I see two solutions to this:

  • The users need to know that some data has already been sent, to stop them from sending it twice.
  • Read errors are reported only if nsent == 0, otherwise nsent is being returned to help avoid sending data twice.

The second one reflects my personal style choice of writing documentation: keep it passive and avoid pronouns.

While I am always happy to promote singular-plurals, since they are the one true solution etc etc etc, I like JimPanic's second suggestion better in this specific instance. Mentioning users at all is tangential to what's being said here.

fgc replied Nov 30, 2013

In fact a more impersonal comment style might promote better thinking. After all, by the time all this matters, no humans are involved: the runtime won't return nsent to you, me, him, her or they. "It" is up for debate. Read your Dijkstra, think clearer and avoid controversy:

The original docs aren't idiomatic English; this sentence reads oddly and the "him" is out of place. It gives the impression that it wasn't written by someone with English as their first language.

"The user needs to know that some data has already been sent, to stop him from sending it twice."

Bravo, this day will go down in history.
Future generations will look back and awe at their ancestors' progressive views.

Could you please also submit a pull request to Oxford dictionary for changing the word "history" to "theirstory"?

Plus please suggest the dictionary editors to change all the 'he/him' in the sample sentences to 'they'.

Mangina attack!

alex commented Nov 29, 2013

They/them can absolutely be used as an ungendered singular. Further, even if they couldn't, that concern would be trumped by the fact that using gendered language is hostile.


Rule 1 of writing: Throw your Strunk & White into the ocean immediately.

alex commented Nov 29, 2013

I've now submitted a CLA, but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to put in the subsystem part of the commit. Can anyone make a suggestion?


Sorry, not interested in trivial changes like that.

@bnoordhuis bnoordhuis closed this Nov 29, 2013

+1 for merging this change.

alex commented Nov 29, 2013

I'm sorry to hear that. I don't really see why you wouldn't merge it if it's so trivial though. Surely making the library less hostile is worth a few seconds of our time to press the "merge" button?

rdodev commented Nov 29, 2013

Glad this didn't go through. The White Knights of tech are getting a bit over their heads on this. One thing is to raise awareness of a problem that exists throughout society -- not just tech, a whole different one is to go to the extent of requesting a pull request to remove gendered references. That helps no one. Zero. It does not advance anyone's argument.

azer commented Nov 29, 2013

+1 "him" definitely needs to be replaced with "them"

eevee commented Nov 29, 2013

@rdodev I would like to raise awareness of another problem: dismissing attempts to actually change things as "white knighting", with the subtext that there's no genuine platonic reason women deserve to be defended.

Awareness is of little value if no one ever acts differently, and open source is supposed to be about fixing what's broken, right? Patches welcome and all that. Well, here's your patch.

rdodev commented Nov 29, 2013

@eevee "with the subtext that there's no genuine platonic reason women deserve to be defended."

Are you implying that women cannot defend themselves and need people to defend them? I think that stance is even more sexist that a "him" vs. "them"

adamv commented Nov 29, 2013

@rdodev so you need a woman to submit this pull request to consider it?

eevee commented Nov 29, 2013

@rdodev Are you implying that only women should care about how women are regarded? Isn't that how we got here in the first place?

When the very problem is that there are very few women participating in open source, what do you expect to accomplish by shaming men who try to make the environment more welcoming for women? That in itself is even more offputting.


So you're saying this pull request would have been accepted if it had been submitted by a woman rather than by Alex? Shall we see if we can put that theory to the test?


The White Knights of tech

What white knights? I don't see anyone typecasting women as damsels in distress.

It does not advance anyone's argument.

What argument? It's a small editorial change to reflect that sometimes women want to use libraries too.

Are you implying that women cannot defend themselves and need people to defend them?

That's a total load of bullshit. We should all strive to create the world we want to live in, whether it effects us directly or not. We're all in this together.

I don't even know why I'm replying to this. You do all know that Ben's moved on ages ago, right?

rdodev commented Nov 29, 2013

No, there's no need for this pull request be it requested from a man or woman. That's the whole issue I have. This PR will not advance women in tech, it will not increase the awareness, it will not get more women in tech or STEM majors. Such a trivial and minor change is about-face and grandstanding. You really want to make a change? Go volunteer at your local high school and get girls excited about tech or other STEM fields. Support groups like PyLadies or Women Who Code, CodeChix who are trying to bring in and support women into the field. But this PR? This PR is political: to be able to say "I stand for women's right in tech" because you changed a gendered pronoun without actual consequence.


@rdodev Make the change yourself and strip his name from the commit log, then. Being worried about someone's personal motivations in suggesting a good thing isn't a reason to not do the good thing.

seubert commented Nov 29, 2013

This PR and supporting PyLadies/WWC/CodeChix/etc are not mutually exclusive; suggesting so is absurd.


Given that the work had already been done, why click Reject, rather than Accept?

Yes, the change is trivial, but that's a reason for accepting it, not rejecting it.

Why do you consider it more appropriate to challenge how Alex chooses to spend his time rather than challenge the deliberate choice to continue using gendered language when a gender neutral alternative has been offered for inclusion?


Clicking the 'Merge pull request' button would have taken less effort than it did to click 'Close' and leave a comment, but the positive effect from accepting it had would have been much greater.


Hello, I might be a woman. 100% for Singular They. It is perfectly grammatical ("you" works the exact same way) and never socially problematic. I don't see what the problem is and I don't see why @alex and @eevee being proactive is some sort of motivation problem. I would recommend @rdodev consider that change begins with the small things.


I mean, we can't all not be tools.


While this little change is highly unlikely to have a large impact, it might have a small one–someone might see it and think "oh, someone is considerate of non-males in this male-dominated industry, that's great!" On the other hand, rejecting a simple change that someone wrote for you gives a mild signal that there are quite a few people who still don't care. And those who oppose equality will feel vindicated and supported.

None of these are a big thing. But when choosing between a minor positive signal and a minor negative signal, you chose the negative one for no reason at all. There was no work involved, there was no loss in quality of your code, and it would have been a small good deed. :-)


This PR will not advance women in tech, it will not increase the awareness, it will not get more women in tech or STEM majors.

Speaking as a woman, I frequently see documentation that uses exclusively male pronouns and and know that it's often because doc authors forget/don't consider that they have female readers too. The implication (intended or not) is that the audience of software developers is male. I mentally compare that to how I'm always assumed to be male first on the internet. I'm +1 on this documentation change.


Remember that the whole world is watching this discussion, and consider--carefully--the message you are sending, not just with the PR itself, but with the way it is being handled.


I've read enough documentation with "he" in it that I'm almost desensitized to it. It's never affected me. It's an honest mistake made by people who haven't really thought about it (and the problem exists outside of technology).

The concerning part here is that when it does affect someone, you're actively fighting against it. It doesn't hurt a single thing to merge this patch, but the damage you do in not merging the patch and defending why you're not merging the patch seems to be digging a hole for yourselves that you weren't initially in. :(

searls commented Nov 29, 2013

+1 to merge.

Even if the phrase "hostile" seems a little strong to me, it would be unreasonable for me to dismiss people who claim they perceive gendered pronouns as such. The requester is hardly asking for accommodation that requires a Herculean effort—in fact, closing this issue with a rebuttal certainly took much more effort than merely merging it in!

I'm personally disappointed that the Node and Angular maintainers seem to continually go out of their way to come across as inconsiderate jerks.


Stop pissing around and merge the damn PR. This is not political correctness gone mad, just an overblown conversation into something that never needed a conversation.

Using gender specific text where it is not applicable is just bad writing style. Nobody here is white knighting, you just wrote it wrong. Sort it out.


I don't see the harm in merging...


@sam-github @alex if you want an explicitly singular pronoun, how about "one"?


👍 :shipit:

jkahn commented Nov 30, 2013

+1 to the merge for another tiny step towards gender inclusivity in tech.


You really want to make a change? Go volunteer at your local high school and get girls excited about tech or other STEM fields. Support groups like PyLadies or Women Who Code, CodeChix who are trying to bring in and support women into the field.

Its funny that you ask this, so those women can later come across this documentation and find it male oriented.

But this PR? This PR is political: to be able to say "I stand for women's right in tech" because you changed a gendered pronoun without actual consequence.

The power to change that is yours. All you have to do is realize it would make things better in a small way, just change it and move on, like the small thing it will be after it's changed.


👍 to merging.


+1 merge it

agrimm commented Nov 30, 2013

Just merge it(TM).


👍 merge it.

ghost commented Nov 30, 2013

Enough laughs for today...

isaacs commented Nov 30, 2013

Landed on 47d98b6.

cczona commented Nov 30, 2013

"The structure of a language affects the ways in which its respective speakers conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view, or otherwise influences their cognitive processes."

This is a thoroughly researched principle, across many disciplines, and for nearly a century.

Read the diff. Its total effect is to remove a "he" and a "him". Merge it.


I completely appreciate the view of everyone who is disinterested in this pull request. As far as I can tell, libuv doesn't have anything to do with gender, so this is irrelevant to the project. Might I recommend, therefore, that the best way to avoid wasting time on gender discussions is to avoid writing about gender in your code (which this PR accomplishes)?

alex commented Nov 30, 2013

Thanks Isaac.

On Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 6:26 PM, Isaac Z. Schlueter <> wrote:

Landed on 47d98b647d98b6

Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHub

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isaacs commented Nov 30, 2013

"They" is "singular gender-neutral" in english, has been for centuries.

Libuv is intended to be used on all major operating systems, and by all genders.


guys the patch was accepted by isaac everything is cool (except this thread ofc :6)

cczona commented Nov 30, 2013

Thank you isaacs for committing the PR 47d98b6


Thanks, Isaac.

ieure commented Nov 30, 2013

Thank you, @isaacs!

wpietri commented Nov 30, 2013

For those wondering, the singular they has a long and distinguished history:

Both changing this and refusing to change it are political choices. There is no non-political option. I'm sure the original writers meant no harm; his should bet taken—like any pull request—as an offer of a step forward, not an accusation.


Job done. You can holler down now.

SaraJo commented Nov 30, 2013

yay, @isaacs!


yay. thanks for this @isaacs


Better as:

"only way to signal to the user" => to stop writing.



AlyxM commented Nov 30, 2013

Looks like I'm late to this discussion, but if anyone is still reading this and aren't convinced of the necessity of this change, see:

jjt commented Nov 30, 2013

Glad to see this landed.

@rdodev, everyone else here might not be helping as much as you like, but you are actively hurting the chances of encouraging more women in tech with comments like yours. Is that what you want?


Imagine this story for a second:

  1. Decide you're totally gonna hack with libuv, start reading source
  2. You notice a misspelling, an obvious typo, a missing word, etc
  3. You think, "oh hey I'll fix this and send a PR and help out! I like proofreading!"
  4. People accuse you of being a pedantic "grammar nazi," wasting everybody's time, etc., etc and don't merge it even though it's objectively better copy.

Wouldn't that be weird?

isaacs commented Nov 30, 2013

@github Can we please have isaacs/github#38?

SaraJo commented Nov 30, 2013

@ThiefMaster I do all those things, and though I appreciate your mindset of "do something that actually matters" I believe this is something that matters.

It's also worth noting there were barely any women in this thread. Just a bunch of guys that want things to be better.

Glad to see it was resolved, going back to coding.


EDIT: the comment this in reply to has been deleted.

@ThiefMaster Ah, of course. How silly of me! I could be writing code (I do) or hanging out on websites (like this one) or drawing attention to issues (like I do every single day, including the issue of "privilege talking down to unprivilege" - not that I would know where to find an example of THAT).

Please do not say that what people sincerely care about is "political correctness." It is tantamount to accusing them of lying. Please do not tell us that what we feel is important does not in fact matter and you know this because....?

Everyone supports feminists, as long as they're being feminist somewhere ELSE.


Can people please stop recommending 'alternative' causes, as if they have to be mutually exclusive? Advancement is exactly that, no matter how big or small a step it is, or how effective you personally deem it to be.


Thank you @isaacs :)



I'm a guy and wouldn't mind the female version being the default.

Wow, good for you, but the experiences of men and women in tech are not symmetric! Women make up only 1.5% of contributors to open source. It's hard for the other 98.5% to understand what that's like, without putting some serious effort into listening and empathy.

in some languages it results into REALLY ugly perversions (German: …)

Cool, let's revisit that when libuv switches all the documentation to German, which I'm sure will happen any day now.

And all women who rather waste time on issues like this one:

Actually this PR was opened by a man, and most of the comments in favor are from men as well. The thing is, men in tech aren't expected to prove ourselves "actually useful" every time we speak in public. Consider the bias you show by directing your "make yourself actually useful" comment at the few women participating in this conversation.

asaaki commented Nov 30, 2013

»in some languages it results into REALLY ugly perversions (German: …)«

I am a German native speaker and can only answer as follows:

If you put just the same effort and care into writing of your documentation like you already did to your code it is possible to produce readable text which is not even close to any kind of »ugly perversions« mentioned here.

gspanos commented Nov 30, 2013

Harassing and bullying at its highest form. Yet it is for the "good fight". I need to get off this planet.


For those interested in improving their technical writing skills, here are some style guidelines from Penn State. Avoiding gendered pronouns is number 3.


Honestly, seeing the gendered pronoun looked weird and unprofessional to me... regardless of any so-called "political" ramifications...

H2CO3 commented Nov 30, 2013

+1 merge this. "Not interested in trivial changes" is the wrong approach. Why not agree to making something better if one has already done the work for you?


It doesn't make sense to use gendered pronouns unless you're specifically addressing a single gender. "Trivial" or not, it's not a big deal to accept the pull request.

cool commented Nov 30, 2013

Shut the fuck up.

@chrisdewar chrisdewar referenced this pull request Nov 30, 2013
@bnoordhuis bnoordhuis Revert "doc: Removed use of gendered pronouns"
@isaacs may have his commit bit but that does not mean he is at liberty
to land patches at will.  All patches have to be signed off by either
me or Bert.  Isaac, consider yourself chided.

This reverts commit 47d98b6.
kerstin commented Nov 30, 2013

Thanks to @alex for submitting the PR in the first place, and thanks to @isaacs and everyone who commented on wanting to see this merged.

I believe these kinds of things do make a difference. Same for speakers, presenters, organisers etc. at events making an effort to e.g. switch between gendered pronouns (because yes, for many this is indeed still an effort, and probably even more so for non-native speakers of English, who are often not so aware of the finer points of the language or "accepted" alternative ways to express things). I'm always happy when someone does this!

@jorgenschaefer basically summed up the issue of/with this thread perfectly.


Are you people mad? (some of you)

It is a witch hunt, I'm surprised you didn't yet start to shout that non-believer should be burned to death.

You act like clueless teenagers that strongly believe that nobody understands them and even more then that - all world is surely working against them too.

The original poster disregarded some major rules in a contributor guideline. He signed no CLA, he didn't specify which module his changes affect.

Then you started shouting that "just merge this patch already" and some of you even "it's pointless to having to sing of every patch".

Wow, so... Not only we have a non-conforming PR, but also you want to push it through without a due contributing process. Just because it's a politically correct thing to do.

Also, I've looked through commit history just now - I honestly couldn't find more commits with changes trivial like this one (implementation-wise).

So when bnoordhuis says "Sorry, not interested in trivial changes like that." I believe that he has good intentions - he doesn't want to create unnecessary noise in this repository.

And mind that bnoordhuis said one thing in this topic - one thing. And there at least 10 experts of psychology that claim to understand why he did it and why it makes him a douche.

IMO, if you want to help - influence contributing guide. If guide will state that documentation style should be "passive and avoiding pronouns" then no PR including gender-flavoured documentation will ever get through. All the benefits and word "gender" won't have to even be mentioned!


@kamiltrebunia if you have read the whole history, you would see that before @bnoordhuis answered anything on this thread, @alex signed the CLA and asked for suggestions on saying which modules this changes affect. A pull-request is, first-and-foremost, a request for initiating discussion about an issue. Yet, @bnoordhuis did not engage into any sort of discussion. The comments that followed are regarding the form this PR was handled, and a larger social issue where actively preventing people from contributing to FLOSS is the default.

However, this doesn't make @bnoordhuis a douche, as he did not explain the reasons by which he rejected this PR, even though the lack of a discussion on the issue is in itself something I would consider a large issue in FLOSS. Now, this: 804d40e could make them a douche.


@kamiltrebunia It's not a witch hunt; it was a very, very simple PR addressing a very, very simple problem with the wording of the docs. Trivial, yes. But the off-hand way it got dismissed — and more to the point, the subsequent discussion and behaviour here has made this very much a "poster child" for one of the big problems in the industry (misogyny, if that wasn't crystal clear by now).

This has gotten to the point that the only acceptable behaviour is to accept the PR, regardless of "due process" issues. Much worse, as the behaviour of @bnoordhuis shows in 804d40e this is nothing about due process but about him making a stance against that thing you called "political correctness".

lutoma commented Nov 30, 2013

+1 for merging this.

ghost commented Nov 30, 2013

So when bnoordhuis says "Sorry, not interested in trivial changes like that." I believe that he has good intentions - he doesn't want to create unnecessary noise in this repository.

Unnecessary noise like 804d40e?

  • I have read the whole story.
  • I believe that documentation style is unprofessional (simply because of the use of pronouns).
  • I believe that we should be gender-neutral there, for the sake of gender equality.
  • "Political correctness" is a good thing, but can also be abused and I believe that using it as a leverage to skip contributing process is such abuse.
  • I respect every contributor to this discussion that had legitimate arguments - I was referring people that were pushy.

But most of all:

  1. The only real solution here is to ask future contributors not to do that. Asking to merge this very PR is almost meaningless.
  2. The only way to enforce that is by putting it into Contributing Guidelines.
  3. If such thing would land in a Guide, then those little "mistakes" in current docs would be meaningless and also, at some point would be just gone (along some refactoring).

So my stance is: Let's make sure that unprofessional wording (pronouns where they don't belong) in documentation doesn't get through PRs in the future and this PR that we are discussing right now - I don't care.

No noise in commit history and big win for "White Knights" ;-) // sorry for a little sarcasm!


A small point: in addition to alienating women, using "he" as a generic pronoun also alienates non-binary and agender people (many of whom use "they" as their personal pronoun, because it is a neutral singular).


+1 for merge


I preferred the Dijkstra option of removing the anthropomorphism altogether :-(



"Political correctness" is a good thing, but can also be abused and I believe that using it as a leverage to skip contributing process is such abuse.

Agreed, but this has gone beyond whether or not that was happening. The issue now is: how do the maintainers of this project and @joyent come across in the larger issue of women in tech. This issue is now a simple test of that issue. Like @leafstorm mentioned, the motivation isn't an excuse to not do the right thing. And going out of one's way to stick with the wrong thing (804d40e) is asinine behaviour.

As for your suggestion about contributing guidelines, I couldn't agree more.


@nelsonmenezes Isaacs has already landed the patch. @bnoordhuis is not a Joyent employee, but rather a StrongLoop employee.


To everyone that thinks this is trivial... it is. It is absolutely trivial to fix and not get wrong again. That even one person had to comment on it to try to get the PR accepted, let alone this many people, is crazy.

rdodev commented Nov 30, 2013

@kamiltrebunia you are a doggone hero (#1015 (comment))

@jjt I honestly think everyone in this thread wants to encourage more women into STEM fields, and technology in specific, so that's not even at stake, IMO. My whole point is that this PR will not change the sexists or chauvinists. It will not make a young woman feel less intimidated going into a computer science lecture hall with 200 young men. You could literally s/(he | she)/they s/(him | her)/them through all the github docs repos and still have a marginal or negligible impact on the issue. The tough issues are reaching out and supporting women early, before college ideally. Making a case for STEM fields and the possibilities. Help/encourage local women groups or help fund those grassroots groups already making an impact on the issue. Influence/vote your local school board for a stronger STEM curriculum and funding (investment of your sales/property tax dollars, dammit). Groups to help support/document pay disparity claims. Make sure the community keeps self policing -- remember how the community responded to that sexist Halloween event in the Bay Area? Those things DO have direct and material impact and well worth the time and energy invested. And if you don't have the time or know how to do those things: donate to those who know and can do it. But evidently I'm in the minority here in terms of how the community should address the grander issue of women in tech, and I guess that's fine too.

Also for those saying in the social media what a disaster/train wreck this thread is: you should not be so quick to dismiss the passionate (although often uncivil and/or cynic) discussion about a very (perhaps the most?) important issue facing our field. A train wreck would be not to discuss it at all or the censoring of opinions.

jjt commented Nov 30, 2013

@rdodev I think that most people would agree that it would make a larger difference to actually get out there and support girls and women at all stages of development. But every little bit of positive change helps, as it's death by 1000 paper cuts for the marginalized.

Maybe it was just the tone of your comment - instead of just lashing out at this thread, I think you would have better affected your aims by saying something like "This is all well and good, but the larger issue...". It's the same as if you were to say "Good, I'm glad that they didn't bother donating that $5 to charity. Everyone should donate at least $100 if they want to make a real difference."

Every dollar counts.

rdodev commented Nov 30, 2013

@jjt "Maybe it was just the tone of your comment" I agree. I'm painfully aware and in retrospect, regret that I sabotaged my own intentions by "coming out swinging."

jjt commented Nov 30, 2013

@rdodev I think we've all been there!

SaraJo commented Nov 30, 2013

I must say that the conversation here is super encouraging, at least.
Thanks all for considering this an issue we can all take part in changing.

Sara J Chipps



No trees were killed in sending this message but a large number of
electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 4:06 PM, Jason Trill notifications@github.comwrote:

@rdodev I think we've all been there!

Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHub

jsdnxx commented Nov 30, 2013

My question for Joyent, @isaacs, et al: would you consider updating your to clarify the types of contributions that are sought for your open source projects?

jjt commented Nov 30, 2013

@jden I think that might be "too trivial" of a change for bnoordhuis.

winocm commented Nov 30, 2013

Jesus Christ, it's just a single line change.

What's the big deal over such an edit? It makes zero functional difference to the underlying program anyhow.

I can see people getting antsy over the entire feminist issue, but come on, this is beyond trivial.


Just to prevent late-comers from being confused about the current state of affairs: The change was merged, the reverting was undone, and joyent responded. I'm really happy to see so many people support even small changes towards more diversity. :-)

azat-co commented Dec 1, 2013

👍 for better grammar in docs, not everybody has to contribute in code

isaacs commented Dec 1, 2013

Please. Stop. Everyone.


Welcome to the new order of Femo-cracy.

Everything, just everything, must be completely, totally, and utterly free of any masculinity.

Femininity is perfectly fine, so you can have organizations like Rails Girls and Code Chix which will have people falling over themselves to cheerlead from the rooftops. You will have Github giving women free private repos, and not a squawk out of any of the feminist brigade, even though they make a big deal of "we really just want to say that men and women are equal, and gender is just a social construct." Well, my social construct right here would like some free private repos, thank you very much.

But put in something about Code Bros or something like that and you will have feminists jumping down your throat for the "bro" reference, claiming that it intimidates women in tech. (For the record, I think the bro culture in a lot of companies is disgusting, but I don't run around claiming it prevents me from participating in tech.)

Reject a pull request that unnecessarily refers to a "him" in the documentation as a "hostile reference", and have Bryan Cantrill pandering to the feminists and threatening to fire you if you ever try and reject such a pull request based on your unfamiliarity with English. (BTW, anyone find it ironic that cultural sensitivity is being thrown to the winds here?)

Even if you are silent right now (and I'm sure a lot of you are, because in this female-first culture we inhabit, it's either toe the line and bow to their every whim, or hear "misogynist" or "creep" hurled at you by someone who treats the Geek Feminism wiki like the bloody Encylopaedia Britannica) -- I suggest that you should completely reject this nonsense in your organization. If anyone is to be fired, it should be the sort of pantywaisted halfwit like Bryan Cantrill, who runs around threatening to dismiss people who don't even work for him, because that is the ultimate stick with he can beat you so he can strut around in front of his feminist overlords. Make it a point to fire people like him from your organization. If someone like him is your boss, find a different boss.

runn1ng commented Dec 1, 2013

This thread is getting better.

Please continue.



English doesn't have a proper gender neutral pronoun and there is not consensus on whether they and them should be used in place of one. Lots of other languages even have an arbitrary gender assigned to every noun! I usually try to stick to they, but it's entirely subjective and I won't fault someone for not doing it.

Since Joyent didn't extend the benefit of the doubt to the most prolific contributor to the project, I don't think we should assume the post on their corporate blog is anything but a cynical PR stunt attempting to build goodwill. Lets fix the real systemic issues in the FOSS community instead of bikeshedding grammar.

lsauer commented Dec 1, 2013

What @thestinger points out does have it merits. At the very least it makes one ponder.

However, without any study to actually show that the style in pronoun language triggers a change in women participation or engagement in already such an "academic" open-source project as we are discussing right now, seems a bit rushed. Yes, I actually googled it.

Whomever you reside with in the end, on this now full-blown politicized topic, be sure to take all sides into consideration. Thanks @Elizafox for chiming in.

Anyone up for interesting charts :


If I followed this project, I would had been "+1" for this pull request because it was trivial and served a greater good, removing gender from places where they are not necessary, like pronouns in documentation. On the other hand, if I were not up to speed on the systemic issues like gender inequality and such, I could easily see someone marking this as providing no functional value and punting on it.

That being said, Ben went with the latter approach and I do not see any factual evidence that indicates Ben acted nefariously. Based on the sole feedback from Ben on the topic, chances are good he's just not up to speed on the situation and he responded based on the net worth of the code being submitted. So if there was no malice in Ben's actions, why did Bryan go out of his way to make such a big deal of this, going so far as to make a public post on the Joyent blog saying "if this were the act of a Joyent employee, we would—to deliberately use a gender-neutral pronoun—fire them."

It's great Bryan and Joyent are conscious of the fact that something as simple to some as gendered pronouns can have a negative impact on people's perceptions, we should all be like then when doing anything for public consumption. But unfortunately, they seemed to follow the same course of action that most do when faced with this type of situation, instead of using it as a teaching moment they assume the worst and jump at the chance to make an example of someone.

Wouldn't it had been better to take the time to see why the pull request was denied in the first place and then act? If this was one of those teaching moments, and to me it seems it was, you just ruined it by forcing Ben's back against the wall.

Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy. - Isaac Newton



@Alyxr - I love it how when we actual get one of these fabled "women" chiming in their thoughts, a guy like you dismisses it with "Your wife is wrong". sigh. Seriously?

I'm sorry, but your studies prove nothing in terms of a girl looking at this thread and going, "Gosh, what a great, loving bunch of people. You know what, I wasn't going to before, but I'm going to learn JavaScript this weekend and contribute a libuv patch just because of how swell they are, and because they even used "they" in their docs".

Have any of us actually taken a step back, and looked at ourselves? This has degenerated into a 4chan flame-fest, replete with witch-hunts and all.

And people calling people "misogynists" just because they don't agree with you?

Look, take this as just one data-point, but I used to mentor Software Development 1A (first years) at uni - and yes, gee golly gosh, there were girls in the classes.

You know how many times I had people asking me why a comment/docstring might refer to "him", "he", or use the word "guys" - not once?

But you know what would have guaranteed me coming across as annoying and ostracising, and probably gotten a talking to? Pointing out "Gee , you're the only girl in the class, how can I make things more comfortable for you? Hey guys, come over here, let's talk about how we can make feel more welcome?".

They were there to learn - and it didn't matter what gender or nationality they were.


AlyxM commented Dec 1, 2013

@victorhooi I'm a woman.


@Alyxr Now I am one too.
I feel very offended that people didn't pay attention.

Now I'm a man.
Just shut up already.

Ps.: Check your privilege.



@Alyxr Indeed, but does that status give you free reign to claim "Your wife is wrong", and ergo, I must be right? Sorry, I don't believe it does.

Or does the fact that I have a disability give me the right to go around prescribing views to each and every single person with a disability? I'd hope not.

As I said above - take this as a data point.

This thread has already escalated a small issue (the correct procedure for a PR - which bnoordhuis was following), and people are using this as an excuse to get on a soapbox and preach, or use it to "prove" their feminist credentials.

And in the process, engaging in what's essentially bullying behaviour. I don't believe in bullying, nor airing one's laundry in public.

I think we should all hug and make up.

Anybody coming and reading this afterwards is going to notice our juvenile and reactionary behaviour more than what pronoun was used in some comment/doc.

Anyhow, I believe I've said enough.



Mwahahahahahahaha.... this is soooo funny. Should be tagged #firstworldproblems because that's where it belongs. 'Remove gendered pronouns' - f**k me if that ever crossed my mind. The problems some people have.

Homo feministus - weirdest byproduct of the 21st century!

PS: When I read the name Alex Gaynor... thought it was a pun.
PPS: Wtf is a non-binary agender person? Ok, it's easy. Spread them, find the gender. Male of female. Or just look in the mirror.

Fiskie commented Dec 1, 2013

Good to know plenty of resources are put into deciding what pronoun to use. I'm sure there's nothing more important to worry about.


Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone in the middle of that spectrum or outside of it...

Before responding to this massive thread, please read this:

If you still think you can add value to the conversation, please do, but if not, let it rest, please.


Oh wait. Now Ben's own employers are threatening to fire him. Following it up with a syrupy "Oh no, we didn't mean it like that, but no, actually we did, we'll fire him if he doesn't bow meekly before the feminist line even though he has written 28% of the codebase" (Side note: This is also why we need people like Torvalds who you can't threaten with firing. Torvalds would laugh in your face and tell you to go fuck yourself.)

Silent gentlemen of the community -- there are a few ways to deal with such problems.

Avoid working for assholes like Bryan Cantrill, and this Isaac Roth chap, whoever he is. Also, if you have anyone like them in your organization, fire them immediately, or don't promote them, ever. If they ever land in a position of power, they will be just about the worst white knights. Typically, look for pasty-faced men with unattractive partners -- they are generally the sort of people who wear "THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE" T-shirts. Put their lot in power, and your workplace will be full of fat people, arrogant girls with piercings, and a constant stream of "oh no, I didn't mean to offend you"s.

You are silent right now, but you have the power to do it somewhere down the line.

Fire A Feminist Tomorrow!™

xvysnuyf commented Dec 2, 2013

Oh wow. What bnoordhuis did was follow the protocol related to commits. Thanks to him libuv is what it is today. And now you ungrateful idiots have damaged the open source community with this witch hunt.

To bnoordhuis, I feel bad for all this stress you have been put through, and I hope you can put all this nonsense behind and keep doing what you love.

How strange is that not knowing the English language and all the drama surrounding gender pronouns in Github/Tumblr can get you fired. Me as a (rational) male I couldn't care less if the doc refers to the user as a fucking dog as long as it's understandable for developers. But you people take it to the next level which is moronic. If there were no doc guidelines then the best approach would have been to reach the project's owner and talk about using any gender-neutral pronoun and communicate about this topic if it really bothers you.

I've never felt this scared in the developer community. I'm not scared of (real) feminists, or women in my workspace, or anybody who has opinions about all this gender-in-tech thing. I'm scared to have morons and weak leaders such as Bryan Cantrill and Isaac Roth as bosses who helped blow this issue out of proportion needlessly.

Quoting Isaac Roth:

If Ben can’t learn, we’ll fire him. [Edit: See comment below. This is not meant literally.]

Huh? How in the world that cannot be literal? You have created a poisonous environment with your coworkers/employees, where they can be held at gunpoint and be told "or you learn, or I'll fire", where learning means agreeing with your point of view, whether is correct or not. If you think you are a leader you are dead wrong.

Your extreme "political correctness" is nothing more than a fascist regime.


toasting in an epic bread


Two things.

First, to the folks who were all about "white knights" and "omegas" and so on, please imagine this in an office after an interview: "Writes good code, but wow, some potential problems with attitude based on the GitHub comments. Tilting me toward no."

Second, @bnoordhuis, if I may: nobody wants you to leave. They just want you to listen and try to understand them.

It is totally not about you being unalterably a bad person or an "asshole"; it's about appearing as if you didn't care about the issue and as if you were uninterested that this really makes a difference to people. Disabusing people of that notion directly and saying "sorry" would help a lot.

It's a social bug, and social bugs are much like software ones. If you've committed bad code, you read the error messages, diagnose the bug, back out the buggy commit, fix the real bug, and take steps to not repeat it. The equivalent social steps are quite similar, except that you don't have to make apologies about bugs (unless you've done something like take production down).

No one expects bug-free code or mistake-free interactions. Fixing bugs is something we all have to do; some of us are good at getting social things right, and some aren't. Learning and improving, and admitting being wrong, are good practices for software and social interaction both.


Lot of free time anyone?

benatkin commented Dec 2, 2013


To me as a non-native speaker, the difference between 'him' and 'them' seems academic but hey, if it gets us scores of female contributors, who am I to object?

That seems rather snide. There are only 95 contributors now, so scores would be at least a 42% increase. This is hyperbole. After all the attention this has gotten, it's surprising and disappointing that you're dismissing these complaints with sarcasm.

I gave you the benefit of the doubt because of the other possible explanations for your short comment and revert. However, in your one shot to clear things up for the undecided, I think you blew it.


@benatkin Quite frankly, he doesn't need (and probably doesn't want) your benefit of the doubt, or that of anyone else here.

alloy commented Dec 2, 2013

Glad this didn't go through. The White Knights of tech are getting a bit over their heads on this. One thing is to raise awareness of a problem that exists throughout society -- not just tech, a whole different one is to go to the extent of requesting a pull request to remove gendered references. That helps no one. Zero. It does not advance anyone's argument.

@rdodev I hope you’re glad with you framing @bnoordhuis’ actions in the context of your opinion on things. Nowhere –that I’ve seen– has he expressed to feel the same like you do.

rdodev commented Dec 2, 2013

@alloy huh? I wasn't framing his sentiments, my response was directed to the misguided thought that gendered pronouns are 'hostile' and are somehow preventing women from joining the tech field. Then two women in this thread proved that notion by saying they didn't find anything offensive or hostile about gendered nouns, even if it's grammatically questionable.

alloy commented Dec 2, 2013


rdodev commented Dec 2, 2013

@alloy not sure if you are trolling or haven't taken the time to read the thread, but here it goes:

#1015 (comment)
#1015 (comment)

Yup. uhuh indeed. Have a good day.

kerstin commented Dec 2, 2013

@rdodev: and how does two women saying this "prove" anything? (Funny also that you totally disregarded those who did say they'd prefer to see this changed.)

To everyone saying or implying that adapting/changing language doesn't help change things: does that mean you all use racist language, day in, day out? Just because, according to your logic, it doesn't make a difference anyway? These arguments really remind me too much of (old) people refusing to stop using (local translations of) the n-word because they "don't mean it in a negative way".

alloy commented Dec 2, 2013

@rdodev Thanks for the links, but, besides me having read them all, it doesn’t change history. Ben made the mistake to motivate his decision after the fact, which gave you the opportunity to make it into a ‘White Knights are out to get us’ issue, before Ben could nip it in the bud. From my point of view, you didn’t do Ben a favour. As a fellow open-source maintainer, I hope you reflect on that.

(Updated to clarify who I’m responding to.)

rdodev commented Dec 2, 2013

@alloy I do reflect on that and all of this thread and this situation in general. It saddens me that there are members of our community that choose to ostracize and paint someone as a sexist chauvinist simply because he was following procedure. I reflect how vile and vicious people can get -- even if we all want the same thing and fight for the same cause -- simply because we have different opinions on the approach. I reflect how is this thread going to encourage people (and women in specific) join and be part of the FLOSS community? So the way we solve issues is by getting people fired or publicly named and shamed and hypothetically fired (see Joyent's blog entry: disregarding Ben's earlier contributions to the project and his commitment to outreach programs? I hope other participants will reflect on that as well, because that is no way to create a healthy, welcoming, encouraging community.

alloy commented Dec 2, 2013

@rdodev I see a lot of pointing, but none regarding your own action, which is what I was talking about did not do Ben, in my opinion, any favour.

elslooo commented Dec 2, 2013

LOL so let me get this straight: Joyent fires an employee who (- this is kind of funny imo -) isn't actually an employee (- I'm not sure this is possible but please do correct me if I'm wrong -) over the use of the singular pronoun "he", which so far has only offended men and 5 women (moreover, 2 female developers indicate that they don't feel offended at all). I feel sorry for those of you who are offended. I agree that our industry should be a bit more female (I'm in University now and it's 98% male). However, you can't possibly blame either Ben or the use of generic pronoun "he" for that. The fact is that very few females (in my experience, of course) are interested in developing software, just like there are many areas (e.g. pedagogy) that are mostly female. There are 99 things we can do to try to change that but blaming Ben certainly isn't one.

ghost commented Dec 2, 2013

Blah. Sorry again, but… wow.

Joyent fires an employee who (- this is kind of funny imo -) isn't actually an employee

They said they would fire him if he was their employee and couldn’t learn from this, which is not totally true – though his actual employers said more or less the same

over the use of the singular pronoun "he"

Actually, I think it was over the revert. Supposedly there was an angry e-mail involved

which so far has only offended men and 5 women

This is 100% accurate and scientific. Good job on the argument, very relevant applauds

However, you can't possibly blame either Ben or the use of generic pronoun "he" for that.

No, but we can ask to change it and reasonably expect to not have a 70-message discussion about it

he fact is that very few females (in my experience, of course) are interested in developing software

Look back on this sentence. Read it again. If you find nothing wrong, you absolutely definitely have nothing to add here.

… and I don’t either. Except “stop making assumptions, people”.

alloy commented Dec 2, 2013

They said they would fire him if he was their employee and couldn’t learn from this, which is not totally true – though his actual employers said more or less the same

@rninty That’s not how the Joyent blog post came across to me. They seem to be implying that Ben is insisting to be sexist without offering any proof (highlight is mine):

On the one hand, it seems ridiculous (absurd, perhaps) to fire someone over a pronoun -- but to characterize it that way would be a gross oversimplification: it's not the use of the gendered pronoun that's at issue (that's just sloppy), but rather the insistence that pronouns should in fact be gendered.

His own employer, however, says quite clearly “If Ben can’t learn, we’ll fire him.”. I.e. he would not have been sacked the same morning he would have been had he worked at Joyent.

If you know of places where Ben explicitly says this, I would love to know of them.

ghost commented Dec 2, 2013

Oh, thanks. I got them a little confused. Scratch the last part of the subtext there.

And I don’t know of places where Ben says much of anything. Like I was saying… no more assumptions, please. All of the reactions are pretty wrong.

kerstin commented Dec 2, 2013

@timvanelsloo (and everyone else who does this): please stop using the word "females" as a noun to refer to women. It's derogatory/offensive. Thanks.


@kerstin You might find it offensive or derogatory, but I sure don't. Making statements like fact, instead of stating it is your opinion, is something that creates nonconstructive push back. The fact is female is the basis of the word feminist. I take no offense to being called a feminist or a female. I'm both. =)


@timvanelsloo and please also stop using the word "male" as a noun to refer to men. I feel deeply stressed and it's offensive. Thanks to @kerstin for pointing it out.

My only thought is: as a human being, how distorted can be your view on things to consider the word "female" - used in a completely respectful way as @timbotron did - offensive. Seriously.


Please stop pushing back. Please.


Yup, i'll leave it here and stop watching this whole conversation as it's depressing. Extreme reactions make me feel really sad and this whole thing is a huge loss for the whole community.

kerstin commented Dec 2, 2013

I'm sorry that you people don't get it, especially if English is your first language. What a sad state of affairs if non-native speakers have a better grasp on it. (No, Amy, this whole issue is not about grammar.)


@kerstin I agree this issue is nothing about grammar. This issue is about extremists on both sides pushing out a moderate POV. The grammar issue has been resolved. As such, the discussion should end. But it continues because certain people are using this as a platform to further their politics. The problem is all that is happening is the opposing POV is also participating. This isn't a constructive forum for how we can work as a community on behalf of women. In fact, it makes it very difficult to do so. Let's be done now here.


There's men and women, boys and girls. 'Males' and 'females' is indeed kind of derogatory as it applies mainly to animals. It's very impersonal. And we ain't animals, except those who think they turned human from monkeys... they might be, but I'm not with them. I'm a God created human being, a manly man. - I'm Eastern European, very non-native.

PS: But you can call me an α-male. I don't mind!

jfhbrook commented Dec 2, 2013

Can I call you a douchebag? Is that okay?


Kudos for @jesusabdullah

elslooo commented Dec 2, 2013

Okay I never intended to offend anyone by calling them a female or a male and in my offense, as a non-native speaker I've always been taught that (fe)male and (wo)men are synonyms.


This thread offends me. Please do away with it immediately. Also, please stop calling yourselves 'Software Developers' as that offends those of us who actually care about software, instead of pronouns.


Pay no attention to it. (Puts headpones back on and concentrates on extending Github streak)

ghost commented Dec 2, 2013

Writes another comment about how people should stop commenting


"@timvanelsloo (and everyone else who does this): please stop using the word "females" as a noun to refer to women. It's derogatory/offensive. Thanks."

LOL! With this comment this conversation officially jumped the shark. No more reason can possibly occur around here. From now on let's just admit that we are all trolls and stop pretending that we care about any issue at all.

You are nuts, @kerstin, go home.


@kamiltrebunia Calling someone "nuts" is offensive. Telling someone to go home is unfriendly. It's clear you are frustrated but those types of actions just add fuel to the fire and frustrate others. Be kind, please.


I'm offended by easily offended people and people who can't tell the difference between claiming offense and contributing to a pull request.

Oh, and people who think declaring something is offensive is a complete argument.

If you're in the above categories, please leave and exchange your liberal arts degrees for a free coupon to "You are not special 101"


LOL, "the word "female" is offensive to women" -- @kerstin looks like the typical AdaCamp / RailsGirls feminist who runs around with a massive chip on her shoulder getting offended at the drop of a thimble. You can't really hold a sane conversation with these people. @kamiltrebunia was right, she is nuts.

The only solution here is to stop responding to people of her kind, and get on with your own code, or outreach, or volunteering, or whatever it is you do to get more people interested in tech. ❤️ ❤️ to sane people in tech.

rlemon commented Dec 2, 2013

I always viewed other developers as "professionals", but I guess every industry is plagued with this type of bothersome drama. It serves no other purpose than to illicit pointless debate. Him/Her/Female/Male/Kangaroo, it doesn't effing matter how you address someone given that your overtone is friendly and professional. Now can we all put back on our big boy pants (it is a phrase, get over it) and return to meaningful work. Thanks. /ThreadIgored

ghost commented Dec 2, 2013

I am also commenting to say I am leaving the discussion


--------- Day of a Typical "Developer Evangelist" ---------

@rlemon You mean "big person pants"

Oh wait, "pants" is a masculine-centric word that reduces women's participation in tech.

"Big person item of clothing worn round the middle."

Oh wait, "big person" is offensive towards people who have excess adipose tissue and reduces their participation in tech.

"Put on your plus-sized person item of clothing worn round the middle."


This is ridiculous. Community lost great developer for nothing. This is real lost, not that circlejerk with linguistic woman rights.


BTW, in the spirit of actually doing something about this, I have started a repo at to document some of the typical reactions that misandrists like @alex and @kerstin use to promote their female-only agenda. This is done in a spirit of free thought -- they are free to document their thinking and so am I.

Feel free to contribute, or just use it whenever you encounter something like this in the wild.


@excelsiores +100: I think he/she/it meant adult human leg covers.

jfhbrook commented Dec 2, 2013

"geek misandry" ? Are you shitting me?


@CodeAngry it is very offensive that you are excluding young people. They are also human beings!


@jesusabdullah Maybe he is! I would.
@ThisIsSoGood 'Big boy' translates into political correct language to genderless 'adult'. I hope...

PS: I wish some vote buttons would be present here. There's some epic commenters I'd +1. Glad there's still people with common sense here. The rest are elsewhere, doing actually useful work.


@excelsiores: I fail to understand why using gender neutral pronouns is female-only agenda. It's true that English lacks a proper singular gender-neutral pronoun but it's ridiculous to present a grammar bikeshed like this as a gender war.


@jesusabdullah Your username uses religious names in a way that combines cultural appropriation with humor that is offensive to me because of my religion. Please change it immediately.

jfhbrook commented Dec 2, 2013

@excelsiores cool story bro.

kaithar commented Dec 2, 2013

Ok, let me get this straight ... @bnoordhuis attempted to follow policy, reverted a commit on the basis that no-one has privilege of being above the rules, and this is the mess that resulted?

I'm not telling you my sex, my gender, my ethnicity or even what language I consider native ... cause none of that matters. You know what matters? Equality. Grats everyone, you failed Equality 101.

Equality: the state or quality of being equal; correspondence in quantity, degree, value, rank, or ability.

Special policies for dealing with gendered pronouns: discriminatory.
Having genital comparison exercises that stink of "holier than thou" attitudes towards women in tech: discriminatory.

You want to know why women don't like these communities, and why the few that do contribute tend to stealth all over the show? Because every time the subject of gender gets brought up, this kind of nonsense happens.
Every single time a flame war like this happens it shows once again that most of the arguments are "Men need to change there behaviour to be respectful to women."
It doesn't matter who is being targeted or why, if you're being a dick then you're being a dick, end of story.

You want to show your respect and support of ? Treat them as completely equal to yourself.
Don't protect or defend women. Fight the idiots that think women aren't equal to men and make women uncomfortable in the first place.

This comment thread had neatly proven the root issue: people lose all rational though capabilities the moment someone suggests discrimination might be involved, devolving to mobs more interested in making a point than engaging a brain cell.
I'll be over here, slow clapping while hitting my head on the desk.


if you're being a dick then you're being a dick, end of story.

I think you need to stop using male genitalia as a symbol of being impolite or bad in some way. That is extremely offensive towards men.

Oh damn, I said "male".

kaithar commented Dec 2, 2013

@excelsiores Wheaton's Law says hi


'female' is not offensive or derogatory, but it is depersonalising when used in isolation to refer to women ("those females"), or a single women ("that female"). You can say they are female, but to use it as an identifying noun is removing the humanity from the individual.

The scale of offense is similar the original pull request drama. It's not actually a big deal, it's just words, but it is callous to not understand why it makes people feel belittled and sit righteously on your side of the fence without bothering to consider things from a different point of view.


I would like to inform people here that GitHub has decided to close the GitHub repository @excelsiores created to point out the problems that lead to this kind of long flamewars.

Unfortunately over there at GitHub office they only support freedom of speech as long the speech is a match to their own opinions.


@ThisIsSoGood Freedom of speech exists only for the politically correct. Otherwise, no such thing! So, as long as you say the 'right' things, you're in the clear. ...And I Stared his repo.


@ferrouswheel -

Thank you for sharing that point of view.

I can assure you, when I used the word female and I can only assume that when @mistydemeo used the word female, neither one of us intended to dehumanize those of our gender or ourselves.

My usage, and I assume the usage of Misty, related to the definition of the word as given by Webster to depict a population composed of members of the female sex <the female population>. Nothing more, nothing less. In fact, the first definition for women, provided by Webster is an adult female human being.

However, I will adapt my usage of language away from female if some find it offensive and your polite explanation is appreciated. In exchange, I ask that we all remember we are part of an international community with many languages, customs, different generational experiences and perspectives. It's always good to assume the best of one another, which I am certain your tendency is to do, as well.

kaithar commented Dec 2, 2013

@ThisIsSoGood @CodeAngry With the qualifier that I've only read the gist version that was linked from that reddit thread...
Given that said repo appears to have been both horrifically sexist and a perfect demonstration of the kind of nonsense being berated, I'd say it's quite appropriate for it to have been closed.
There's not even an attempt to hide the stupid "women's rights are oppressing me" narrative. I'm not even sure where to start listing the offensive remarks, it's that bad.

It's not respectful, it's not constructive, it doesn't serve a justifiable purpose. It might be a pure troll, but I'm not going to assume @excelsiores wasn't serious.
Just because you have free speech doesn't mean you should open your mouth, particularly if you're going to utter such drivel as it may be a woman's choice to take a lower-paying job with more flexibility. while linking to an article dealing with the fact a pay gap does exist but is more complex than any simple statistic.
Why, exactly, should we be taking it as fact that women choose to have lower paying jobs to get extra flexibility? Because they want a family? Because women can't take the pressure like men?
Give me an argument in favour of this view that isn't sexist or insulting, an argument that has some kind of credible statistical support, or GTFO civilised company.
If you can't make the same argument after doing s/women/men/g on it, you've failed.

There are complaints that the tech community is hostile because exactly because of things like being defended. What kind of reaction, exactly, do you expect to get from a woman new to tech if she encountered that as an example of coders and their opinions of women?


@kaithar You are hilarious. "Why should we be taking it as fact that ..."

This whole shitstorm started after the original patch author claimed that it is "fact that using gendered language is hostile".


And now imagine all these keystrokes be turned into some useful code... Some people have too much time to spend on nothing really valuable.


@bartoszmajsak I'm glad those who thing this is an enormous issue aren't writing my code. Their priorities are all screwed up.

kaithar commented Dec 2, 2013

@ThisIsSoGood that has nothing to do with what I said, or are you trying to make a connection between gendered language and sexist pay inequality?
I'm not going to waste my time with further analysis, but at first glance your reply appears to be a false equivalence fallacy. Certainly has all the hallmarks of a troll.

If you haven't something sensible to say, please let the adults talk.

azat-co commented Dec 2, 2013

this is getting interesting: witch hunt, bad Joyent, etc.


@kaithar - since @ThisIsSoGood appears to have joined GitHub solely to post on this thread, I'd say you can safely conclude troll. I recommend blocking anyone who has no repos and no activity to improve your day.

kaithar commented Dec 3, 2013

@joemcmahon yea, that hadn't escaped my notice :(


The only actual tragedy here is what @bnoordhuis said: "I'm probably going to step back from libuv and node.js core development.". I kinda see this "probably" as something that's going to happen, unless someone changes the laws of physics. Thank you Ben for all your hard work. You will be missed.

Hey, community, thanks for the neutrality in the docs and all the fuss, but in this case YOU are the assholes from the 4th slide. If this is your solution to the humankind problems, then I'm totally underwhelmed. For those who don't understand the tone of this message, I am not against neutrality in docs, or women in this field, but you people need to learn how to deal with this shit in a way it doesn't have consequences like these.

For some halfwits posting on this issue: yay, a victory for feminism. Cool story bro. A defeat for tech at the same time. Does Pyrrhic victory rings any bells? Did this victory of yours produce any relevant outcome that's at least on break even with the consequences?

As for @isaacs (and the rest of the Joyent who caused this), thanks, that's really mature to support #38. Closing comments over "irrelevant" issues. This issue right here is fucking relevant. Next time when I'll have an issue with the networking stack from node I guess I'll need to thank the lords of grammar and weep for joy that I live amongst linguists who care or understand these cultural issues that mostly exist for native speakers instead of having a dialog with people who actually write some fucking code that gets the shit done.

I'm out. I'm too angry to continue in a relevant way, to put it gently.


Somewhat off topic, really, but agreed, there are standard English ways to
say the same thing/

  • "We check to see if the data has been sent so we don't send it twice."
  • "Check to see if the data has been sent; don't send it again if so."

It isn't necessary to use a gendered pronoun to be able to communicate the
concept - in fact no pronoun is needed at all.

The discussion, however, is about the social procedure, not the patch. Had
it been rejected with "bad English, not acceptable" then it would have been
about the wording.

If there was a full-up style documentation guide, I'd suggest constructions
similar to my second example would be clearest and would eliminate any
personification and gendering problems.

At any rate, I'm pretty sure the dead horse has been flattened out to a
nanometer-scale paste by now, and further discussion here is probably of
minimal value.

@bartoszmajsak bartoszmajsak referenced this pull request in javaee-samples/javaee7-samples Dec 3, 2013

It's high time to introduce some consistency :) #147

kaithar commented Dec 3, 2013


The only actual tragedy here is what @bnoordhuis said: "I'm probably going to step back from libuv and node.js core development.". I kinda see this "probably" as something that's going to happen, unless someone changes the laws of physics. Thank you Ben for all your hard work. You will be missed.



The saddest thing about it is that no one asked him to leave. No one
wanted him to leave. They just wanted him to listen.

It is very difficult and painful to be on the receiving end of a situation
like this; I hope that he changes his mind and decides that he can come
back and use what happened as a way to learn about the issue, instead of
depriving the community of a good contributor because of one bad choice.

On Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 6:42 AM, kaithar wrote:


The only actual tragedy here is what @bnoordhuis "I'm probably going to step back from libuv and node.js core
development.". I kinda see this "probably" as something that's going to
happen, unless someone changes the laws of physics. Thank you Ben for all
your hard work. You will be missed.


Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHub


@joemcmahon: If you don't want someone to leave the community, you don't make a post on your corporate blog implying they're a sexist asshole for sitting on the other side of you in an age old English grammar bikeshed.

I would be surprised if someone didn't leave the community after an attack on their character made by Joyent. Expecting a contributor to keep on going after abusive treatment like this is ridiculous.

Joyent is risking a libel lawsuit when they lie like this on their blog:

but to characterize it that way would be a gross oversimplification: it's not the use of the gendered pronoun that's at issue (that's just sloppy), but rather the insistence that pronouns should in fact be gendered.

Ben never said this, or implied it.


Congrats all, you've killed the goose that laid the golden egg for the benefit of exactly zero actual people.

isaacs commented Dec 3, 2013

I can pretty well guarantee that ALL the opinions expressed here are woefully uninformed. Continuing to comment on this thread only is doing harm.

Everyone. Please. Just stop.

@mojombo Hey, can you try to encourage your team to take the isaacs/github#38 feature request seriously? The inability to close threads is doing active harm to open source projects, and you're seeing it here. I've offered to pay $1000 out of my own pocket if you can deliver this feature by the end of 2013. Surely someone at GitHub wants an extra Christmas bonus!

isaacs commented Dec 3, 2013

I'm going to delete all comments after this one. You've been warned. Stop posting here. Take it to personal email if you want to keep debating things.

isaacs commented Dec 4, 2013

@eteled START

eteled commented Dec 4, 2013

This issue is monitored by @eteled. Any further comments on this issue will be automatically deleted.
Only repo collaborators can START/STOP etelde.

@isaacs isaacs locked and limited conversation to collaborators Jun 9, 2014
isaacs commented Jun 9, 2014

@eteled STOP

eteled commented Jun 9, 2014

This thread is no longer monitored by @eteled.

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