Even before Bruce wrote this timely article, I wondered whether more women in open source might be a cause or an effect of better moderation. My brief time working with the late Telsa Gwynn at GUADEC 2003 suggested that moderation was one of her under-appreciated roles. But she was attacked by the misogynistic mob (AKA the open source community.) Were it not for Telsa's thick skin and an overdeveloped sense of forgiveness, none of us would have benefited from her work. Many other women and others outside of a particularly narrow age/race/religion/gender profile have experienced similar when attempting to contribute and most gave up. We tolerate Linus's rantings and ignore that only timing and humility separated Linus from countless other early *nix hackers. We tolerate Gangolf Jobb's racist license and Trumpish rantings because he is a good coder. My family and remote team members met at GUADEC Istanbul where a very well-known opensource developer spewed misogynistic rantings that embarrassed and offended me, projected a terrible impression of Christians and Euro/American society to my global team who were experiencing western society for the first time. He came very near to inspiring at least one person to push him into the Bosporus. Why does this happen? Part of it is the same reason Whitney Houston and other rock , movie and sports superstars are bat shit insane. Society should be a counterbalance to the Id, but when we worship people as superstars, there is no counterbalance and Id rules. The defence mechanism takes over when the inner demons unleashed by bad decisions are externalized, possibly as police brutality. Similar forces were at play when Hans Reiser became our OJ Simpson.
In the past that role of moderation was performed by a central government (e.g. the FCC), a tight group of highly educated individuals, a class/caste system. Twitter and Facebook use something close to a democracy but the S/N ratio can quickly fall to the level of CB radio, AOL and usenet. The more sophisticated merit-based moderation system used by Slashdot, some opensource projects and creative sites such as worth1000 works well, at least above a certain threshold. But these systems must be designed to prevent individuals or small groups from becoming immune to criticism. Within government legal frameworks the censor or impeachment is a mechanism for moderation. We could do something within opensource communities where an individual's ethics could taint their contributions. Each of us would be able to choose whether we want to contribute or use ethically-tainted patches.
Back in the 1980s when I may have been the last male to wirewrap a PDP-11 core memory board, a friend commented, "Did you ever notice that men in the comp-sci program are (80s equivalent of "Meh") but the women are brilliant?" Yes, I did notice that. But whatever happened to Karen Norwood, Maureen T, Kathy Christiansen, Norah K, and the sole woman in our Physics program?
This is where overloading the == operator comes in. Equality is an overloaded word. Here in Ireland, the word was a slogan for LBGT marriage rights which passed referendum with an overwhelming majority. But the word "equality" doesn't apply to gender, race, religion or immigration issues here. But do we really want women to become equal to 20-something males who live in their parent's basement who have the moral and emotional depth of comic book and video game heros? I don't. Let's take the best woman have to offer and not try to force them into our broken mold.