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Comment Re:This is hilarious in a very sad way (Score 1) 1416

Every category of person contains "difficult" people.

But I have to say that while difficult people will cause damage wherever they go, the scale of damage they can cause depends immensely on whether the group they belong to has power or not and simply how numerous they are.

So no, while I'm pretty certain that the damage done to me by being stereotyped by women and minorities will be *personally* more costly than the damage to me by male stereotyping, the over-all cost to society (in tech) by white male stereotyping is *vastly* higher because they have the numbers and the power to act on such stereotypes. (Yes, the reverse is true in female dominated fields - try being a male kindergarten teacher.)

Anyway, not only is the damage caused by difficult people from the out-groups a lot smaller, but they're often noisy enough that they can actually get general society to focus on a topic (and then are generally ignored in favour of the moderates). So, do I agree with the radicals? Not with their words, but they'll end up causing a lot more good (and be bitterly disappointed when they only get a tiny portion of what they think needs to happen) than I ever will with my "reasonable" approach.

Comment Re:This is hilarious in a very sad way (Score 1) 1416

> Shouting 'I feel threatened here please hire more people like me/put me somewhere with others of my kind so I can feel safe" does not solve the issue.

Agreed. However, the original poster wasn't shouting. Her quote was "you probably don't realize how threatening a room full of strange men feels to many women", which is something I suspect we both agree upon.

As for the effectiveness of shouting, on an individual basis, I think you're completely correct. But for making a global difference? Well, history is pretty replete with examples of discrimination that has lasted centuries, so just going with the flow doesn't really cut it for the less than patient (along with the fact that our brains also want us to believe that if someone is abused, they must deserve it). So I believe actually calling out the problems *is* called for.

Now you might claim it's only the 'radicals' with unreasonable demands that really cause annoyance, but if history is any guide, it pretty much always takes some radicals to shake things up enough so that people pay attention and the moderates actually get listened to.

And honestly, as a geek male, I've had enough other males confide to me how "we both understand how women can't *really* do science, math or programming", that I can understand a fair number of them being just a wee bit irritated. It irritated me (especially the high school teacher) and I wasn't the one being victimized (except by having capable candidates leave the field, which damages us all).

Comment Re:This is hilarious in a very sad way (Score 4, Insightful) 1416

There is a difference between being a "junior member of the group" and not "one of the group".

The human brain has a tendency to cast to boolean. Once our brain has decided the pattern for what is an X on the basis of a bias in numbers, there's a strong tendency for it to try and toss out anything not part of the larger group. It's part of our brain make-up and requires no misogyny, racism, or anything else.

Not everyone succumbs, but enough do so that you can be certain in any of a certain size group where you stand-out for some reason that people's brains have clicked on, there are going to be some who are listening to that inner voice telling then you aren't really an X, and whose confirmation bias will ignore successes as coincidence and note failures as proof.

All because they are human - the shortcuts the brain uses to allow us to survive do not lead to fairness.

So, no, if you are the one person in the room that people's brains have decided stands out, there's a reason to feel threatened. (Or if their brains have decided you are already competent, the other way around - I've constantly noted that because I code "senior geek", my advice on technical aspects is taken far more seriously by a few people than the identical advice by someone who doesn't trigger the same stereotype).

Comment Re:VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance... (Score 1) 1122

> Equality of opportunity should be the goal, not equality of results (which can never actually happen).

Except that given how humans work via generalization, we know that any natural bias in results will be heavily exaggerated by our brains. Then we add in cultural effects - naturally a culture grows around the the biggest group that differs from the cultural preferences of the minority, and then we're exaggerating the bias even more.

It's how 60/40 splits become 95/5 splits - and it doesn't require malice at all - just humans being human.

The assumption that there should be equality of outcome may be wrong - but like a tug of war, you don't achieve balance by not pulling, and this does act as a counter-bias towards the naturally occurring bias, and helps do the job. It would be nice if it wasn't necessary, but hey, we're human.

Comment Re:VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance... (Score 1) 1122

Because the human brain has a strong tendency to cast to boolean. It knows what a programmer looks like, and those aren't them.

Now of course, you, personally, don't suffer from this bias, but the vast majority of humans do. A ratio of hires that might be "naturally" 65/35 becomes 95/5 (all number made up for illustration purposes).

Moreover, we then build an environment for those programmers, which *also* discourages women and minorities because their cultural preferences differ.

So, all that's being asked is to tilt the board a little the other way to counteract the natural occurring biases against them.

And note, this doesn't require evil racists or misogynists. The human brain and efficiency gains naturally act to re-enforce small biases, making them large biases. It's the network effect writ large.

We can try and minimize them, and we should, but we're not going to succeed. So we throw some counter-biases in.

The only thing I think we can do without is the ferocity of attacks from all sides. "Just" outcomes are not natural - which means that an "unjust" outcome is not evidence of malice, in and of itself. The idea that it must infects both sides, as it requires those seeing an injustice to find a villain rather than look at the best way to achieve justice, and just as poisonous, allows those operating in an unjust environment to truthfully see no malice, and assume therefor there can be no injustice.

Comment Re:Russian Engineers (Score 1) 263

In the physical world, if someone is determined to kill me, I will die. There are no practical measures I can take that will protect myself against the threat of a sufficiently determined attacker.

The electronic world is not much different. Unless I want to seal myself in my electronic basement, I will be hacked by someone who is interested in doing so, and the cost of doing so becomes cheaper every day.

By far the cheapest solution is to offer our would be attackers the opportunity to make a decent living, and, to no surprise, enrich ourselves as well. (The nice thing about economies - they are positive sum games.)

Comment Russian Engineers (Score 5, Interesting) 263

In much of the West, crime doesn't pay, or at least pay well. Your average street thug probably makes less than minimum wage. Sure, there are a few that make a lot of money, but it's like trying to make a money as a rock band. Only the 0.1% make a middle-class income, and only the 0.001% make the money you see in movies. Plus, you're likely to wind up dead or in jail.

Consequently, for the most part, only the badly educated or stupid become criminals. There's the odd smart criminal, but having a legit job (if that's available) is simply superior in every way.

And then you have the former Soviet Union, with a ton of really smart, very well-educated, very talented engineers, with virtually no decent job prospects at all, but still fairly good virtual contact with the West.

And suddenly, given a lack of options, you have smart criminals.

And that is a recipe for total disaster.

As a matter of survival of the Western world, we need to open immigration from Russia so that these smart, talented engineers can find decent jobs that benefit us before they find ill-paying jobs that cost us terribly.

(Many of my most capable co-workers have been Russians who were able to leave, and man, we their talent working for us, rather than against us, for both our sakes.)

Comment Re: You get what you didn't ask for (Score 1) 221

I'm glad that someone here recognizes this fact. I don't know how many companies I've seen that did things "right" went under or were bought by companies that took every software shortcut known to man.

The basic fact is that if the customer is ignorant of the intangibles like quality, they'll prioritize reputation and then price. If you're a smaller company, you won't survive long enough to get a reputation for excellence if you don't go cheap enough to allow you to undercut all your competitors. And (in general) going cheap means sacrificing quality.

Not sure how to get out of this cycle without inventing a better, more knowledgeable customer...

Comment Re:"Feel uncomfortable"? (Score 1) 608

So how could you possibly even get into hot waters, no matter what might be considered common decency?

Okay,let's take one example. I come from a pretty hard-core geek background and worked for a while with a small group of geeks in software development. We were a mono-culture. Meetings used an extremely efficient unwritten code. When you thought you understood a point someone was making and you either understood or disagreed, you cut them off, and raised your voice slightly. They instantly evaluated whether they thought you had understood them and either continued, raising their voice, or ceded control of the conversation. This could go back and forth for a second or two, with both sides evaluating the strength of their point and the other's point until someone backed down (which usually took maybe 2-3 seconds at most. Failing to cede to a stronger point made you look like an idiot, so there was enough incentive to realistically evaluate.)

As long as everyone was understood this verbal ballet, you could have a 2 hour meeting with barely a single sentence carried to completion. It was an intricate dance with everyone participating, barely a wasted word, and it would also last about 30 minutes instead of the two hours.

It also utterly excluded anyone who wasn't raised middle-class white male geek. The idea that interrupting people was horribly rude, that people who had something vital to say would never speak up because they were raised to not interrupt didn't occur to anyone in the group. The idea that people felt dismissed, demeaned and generally devalued wasn't even on my radar.

Now in this case, no one went to HR. What it took was for me to get ever so slightly annoyed that one of our best programmers (a woman) let us waste half an hour walking into the swamp that she was well aware of. She explained (with far more patience that I would have shown if the roles were reversed) why she did not feel comfortable speaking. She'd never been asked for her opinion. She was usually cut off after a sentence or two, etc., etc.

From my cultural background, it was *her* responsibility to barge in, interrupt us, and if we didn't catch on immediately, raise her voice to indicate this was a "real" point.

Anyway, we did get straightened out, adjusted our meeting culture to take into account the reality that a modern high-tech workforce is probably only 20% standard middle-class white male geek, and that the cultural standards that I assumed were default were anything but.

A code of conduct would have acted as a reminder that one doesn't have to be a jerk to end up being a jerk...

Comment Re: "Feel uncomfortable"? (Score 1) 608

I find people who hate arbitrary codes of conduct to be the most pleasurable to work with. I know that they have a sense of humour, and can get into a heated argument without throwing around words like sexism, racism, and discrimination.

Like you, I'm a middle-class, straight, white male. I'm never going to be the subject or sexism, racism or discrimination, and there's certainly freedom in excluding anyone who doesn't share my cultural context. Indeed, it's often pleasant to work in a monoculture where I can assume that everyone takes things in exactly the way I meant them. Where, because I'm not a raging jerk, it's automatically someone else's fault if they're offended by by anything I say or do.

However, in the real world, I am expected to be a grown up and deal with people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. I am expected to be mature enough to understand that just because I didn't mean to be racist or sexist doesn't mean my words or actions weren't offensive.

Sure, there are jerks of all stripes. But I find that if I've decided that everyone who I've offended is a "social justice snowflakes who go whining to the boss and/or media at the slightest perceived provocation", then one of those jerks is me.

Comment Re:"Feel uncomfortable"? (Score 1) 608

Unreasonable people won't need a code of conduct to be unreasonable. Then again, if someone was genuinely offended by my use of a term, I'm happy to switch it to something less upsetting. That's just basic consideration.

But a code of conduct can help define minimal expectations from a culturally diverse crowd that might otherwise offend each other without intention of doing so.

Comment Re:"Feel uncomfortable"? (Score 1) 608

> the non-written laws of common courtesy have left the building ages ago.

I get where you are coming from, but the reality of a very diverse bunch of contributors means that what is considered common courtesy (and thus what can be considered acceptable behaviour) can be shockingly different, depending on cultural upbringing (class, geography, gender, etc.)

What I consider minimal professional behaviour can be considered stick-up-one's-butt political correctness by others (and not necessarily just male others, either).

A code of conduct helps an informal organization make it clear what "common courtesy" means to all its members. A useful thing as the monoculture many of us grew up with disappears.

Comment Re:"Feel uncomfortable"? (Score 4, Insightful) 608

> If a project needs a Code of Conduct, I don't want to be part of that project.

If you find the very existence of a Code of Conduct objectionable, then not being part of the project is probably best for both you and the project.

But no whining if there's a dearth of co-members who are actually pleasant to work with.

Comment Re:You can't fix this. (Score 1) 284

The trouble is that for a sizable segment of society, their privacy+eyeballs is the only asset they have to sell.

Making Microsoft, Google, et al start charging for everything (or raise their prices in order to make up for the loss of revenue) is going to flat out deny services to those who can't afford them (or are unbanked and have no access to credit cards).

Sure, adding $100-$200 a month to my bills (in the form of micro-transactions, subscriptions, etc.) to protect my privacy (and only have anonymous ads shown) would easily be worthwhile trade for me and my ilk. Add in another $100-$200 a month to get rid of ads altogether.

And in the end, I'd be a happier camper, down maybe $5K a year (at worst) to replace all the 'free' or discounted services I currently enjoy.

But there are a hell of a lot of people for whom a $5K annual expense is not an option. Should they essentially be cut off from the Internet?

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