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Re^7: 20 most important Perl Best Practices

by aaron_baugher (Deacon)
on Aug 27, 2012 at 02:16 UTC ( #989898=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re^6: 20 most important Perl Best Practices
in thread 20 most important Perl Best Practices

Imagining being a female makes me uncomfortable too. Or is it imagining being a programmer?

Aaron B.
Available for small or large Perl jobs; see my home node.


Comment on Re^7: 20 most important Perl Best Practices
Re^8: 20 most important Perl Best Practices
by pemungkah (Priest) on Aug 30, 2012 at 23:46 UTC
    Actually, imagining being female doesn't make me uncomfortable at all. As a software developer, it's part of my job to think imaginatively about what someone else might want or not want. How can you manage to develop usable and enjoyable software for someone else if you can't imagine what they'd want - or if you dismiss their desires and preferences? Is it impossible for a male developer to try to imagine the effect of wording or graphics and think, "Hmm, if I were a woman, that might make me feel uncomfortable or talked-down-to; I'd better change that"? I don't think it is.

    Have you ever caught yourself saying "nobody would want that" or "nobody would do that"? Quoting Michael Bolton's Rapid Software Testing class, "nobody would do that" means "nobody that I know, and that I like, would do that".

    Posting jokes equivalencing software features to large breasts and saying "nobody would really find that offensive" means you're thinking about the entire audience of people as consisting of a group in which someone who would be hurt, upset, or angry doesn't even exist.

    I'm no angel. I screw up with this stuff too. But when I see there's a screwup, I try to kindly say, "I think you should seriously consider that what you said is be a screwup." If it was me, then I should say "I screwed up, I have no excuse, and I'm sorry."

      If it was me, then I should say "I screwed up, I have no excuse, and I'm sorry."

      But you are being self-righteous. That is, completely ignoring the possibility that it was you that was wrong in this instance.

      With the best will in the world, how con you place your guess as to a women's sensibilities above the expressed opinion of a women who makes her living studying and teaching on that that very subject?

      (And BTW, whom has spent the last year of her life in Iraq, unpaid, applying her knowledge, skills and time, at not inconsiderable risk, to helping women directly; and trying to change the culture in that country to prevent the on going and systematic mistreatment of women. Ie. Dealing with *real issues*!)

      A little game.

      • Someone pops up a PerlMonk's complaining that the first three letters in the word "title" -- used in various places around the site -- might be offensive to women.

        Do we dragnet the site and expunge them all? Of course not.

      • Another someone pops up and claims that T.I.T.S. Or, Try It To See. is offensive to women.

        Do we expunge it? After 6 years We haven't, despite some expressed reservations about it at the time.

      • ... various increasing levels of possible offense ...

      • If someone else had popped up and complained about the use of what is widely regarded as the "the most heavily tabooed word of all English words", "The Most Offensive Word in the English Language", that creates a huge furore, even when only used by implication by one of the nicest, most PC women in broadcasting...

        Then I would have backed any call for its removal.

        But no one did!

        Ever wonder why?

      The point is, there is a sliding scale of what might offend someone somewhere, and it is literally impossible to try and avoid all the possible sources of offense, and certainly counter-productive to try. So we -- individually and collectively -- have to draw a line somewhere.

      You popped up to complain -- to me, despite it having earlier linked by someone else -- about a cartoon.

      In my opinion -- and, according to my best endeavors to get an authoritative opinion of the matter -- your suggestion that the cartoon in question is abovebelow on the wrong side of that line, is incorrect. So I rejected your suggestion -- not rudely or aggressively -- but by explaining why I thought you were wrong.

      And what do you do? Instead of conducting an open discussion on the subject -- as advocated by Swearn in the keynote you linked -- you take your wounded pride elsewhere to assemble the hoards to come here in -- clumsy, ad-hominem, and in most cases, far more offensive, both to me personally and in two cases, women in general -- defense of that pride.

      There is an interesting phenomena that has gained increasing recognition in media and media study circles over the last few years that has sometimes been termed "offense by proxy". There are several well documented cases of this. I will describe one I was personally witness to.

      An little known, unfunny, "shock jock" so-called comedian, was taking part in an equally obscure comedy panel show, late at night on a little watched to-air channel. He cracked a joke made a crass, sexist, bigoted remark about a female athlete's looks. It drew groans and boos of shock and offense from both the audience and the other panel members -- despite several of them being known for their near-the-mark humour. I turned over.

      Over the next few days the story made headlines in the press and on TV and the communications watchdog (OFCOM) received huge numbers of complaints. The comedian in question was roundly barrated; he has since disappeared from TV -- both the panel show in question and others he sometimes appeared on.

      A few weeks later, OFCOM held a hearing and passed their judgement, and called for both the comedian and the TV channel to apologise.

      One interesting fact came out of the whole thing. The total number of complaints OFCOM received exceeded the audience figures for the program by a factor of 2 or 3 depending on who's audience figures one used. Since statistics show that at most 2% or 3% of a programs audience will every put pen to paper even for the most grievous of offenses, it is estimated that of the thousands of complaints received, 90%+ must have been written by people who could not have seen the original program. (The segment was cut from the on-line catch-up service version.)

      Offense by proxy.

      Looking at the time-lines, all those "offenderati" that came along to attack me as a result of your blogging, would almost certainly never have seen the cartoon had you not called attention to it by blogging.

      And of those, the only women who, -- by her own admission -- was more concerned with how you were treated, by another responder to your original post, than the cartoon. I did not construct the cartoon. Or post it. Or even provide the original link to it. And I do not control the opinions of that other poster.

      So, the ultimate result of your misguide attempt to "be sensitive", targeted at the wrong person, and your actions to call wider attention to it, had exactly the opposite affect than (I hope) you intended.

      And as a result, I've had to suffer 10 days of offensive, ad hominem attacks. Thanks!

      I'm not apologising, because I did nothing wrong.


      With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

      RIP Neil Armstrong

        And as a result, I've had to suffer 10 days of offensive, ad hominem attacks. Thanks!

        I'm not apologising, because I did nothing wrong.

        You don't have to apologize, really. You just have to stop arguing, because I believe you've made your argument, and there are really no further points to make (on either side). By continuing, you seem (to me) to be stubborn and unsympathetic, unwilling to concede that another interpretation of the situation is a valid interpretation worthy of sympathy. I am sure that is not a fully accurate description of you, but unfortunately I have only these last 10 days of reading these discussions to go on.

        Looking at the time-lines, all those "offenderati" that came along to attack me as a result of your blogging, would almost certainly never have seen the cartoon had you not called attention to it by blogging.

        Are you saying that bad behavior shouldn't be publicized? Of course, this argument is all about whether or not the behavior was bad, but if it was bad, should it not be publicized? If it wasn't bad, does it matter if it was publicized?

        I will say one final thing on this, because I don't seem to be getting my point across.

        I do not think you are a bad person. I have tried to not say that. If I have, I apologize.

        I have said I thought the attitude, assumptions, and behavior in the posts about this subject were not right.

        I do not equivalence your having said something I thought was insensitive with your being a bad person.

        I do believe that there is nothing wrong with saying "We can do better". I did not say "you can do better", or that "you did a bad thing", or "you are a bad person". Most of the other folks who have come in to post have been saying, "dude, did you really want to defend a sexist cartoon as a good thing?". None of us are saying "you must be horrible", but "that was not a good thing to do" in the hope you might see that we're saying "you should consider that women may read this and that it's not polite to say that."

        You are not bad. Possibly you have a harder time than most in imagining what someone else would feel.

        Error messages are not trying to tell you that you are a bad programmer, but that you made a mistake.

        "We can do better" is an error message. The other posts are an attempt to communicate what the error is, since your followups all seem to be saying "there is no error here".

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