Rails *is* (still) a Ghetto


While I know the title is both asking for trouble (because of the now anecdotal original article with a similar title) and flamebaity, please read on – my goal is not to get some great stats but rather to know your opinion about the situation and discuss the possible solutions of the problem.

How it all started…

I would not like to re-iterate what has been said on several blogs, just to summarize: Matt Aimonetti, member of the Rails Activists, gave a presentation at GoGaRuCo which contained sexually explicit images (according to some – I am not here to judge whether that’s true, and it doesn’t matter anyway, as you’ll see in the rest of the post).

I am not really discussing whether it’s appropriate to have images of nude chicks in your presentation at a Ruby conference (I think it’s not, it’s unprofessional etc. – but that would be a matter of a different post Update: Someone summed this up in the article’s reddit thread nicely: If you’re a Rails programmer, or a Ruby programmer, and you don’t decry this sort of thing, you have no business calling yourself a professional. It doesn’t matter how large your website is, how easy it was to write, how much better it is over PHP or ASP.NET or J2EE; by definition, you do not belong to a professional community. That’s all there is to it.
It’s incumbent on every Ruby programmer to either reject this sort of misogynistic sewage, or accept that you’re never going to advance the promotion of Rails in the public perception because members of the community still think it’s edgy or cool to put pictures of strippers in their public presentations.
And here’s a hint: if your decided reaction is to talk about how unimportant this is, how much it doesn’t matter, or how much it doesn’t offend you personally, you probably don’t understand professionalism at all.
) because sadly, I think there are far bigger problems here than that – shedding light on them is the real purpose of the article, not talking about pr0n at GoGaRuCo again.

Would You Walk Into a Hindu Temple with Your Shoes on?

hindu_temple.pngI have been living in India for 2 months last summer, working on a Rails startup. Maybe I am odd or something, but I knew that I had to remove my shoes when entering a Hindu temple, and _no one had to convince me (what’s more, I didn’t even think about it for a second) wether this is the right thing to do, why is it so, whether I should do otherwise etc_. This is a similar situation – I just don’t do X when speaking at a conference, if I suspect that X makes feel even one person in the room uncomfortable, whether because of his gender, race, nationality, Ruby/Rails skills, penis size or what have you – _regardless whether I think it’s fine for me, my wife, for other members of the community and/or the majority of the room_.

The trick is, how does a *hindu* feel when I enter a temple in footwear (even if that is perfectly acceptable in my country, culture, family, friends) – it’s perfectly irrelevant how do *I* feel in the given situation. Using the previous paragraph, try to apply this to a Ruby/Rails conference.

Shit happens…

Until this point in the story, I see no problem at all, and could even agree with the guys asking “what’s wrong with you, don’t make a fuss out of nothing” – the pictures Matt used are non-problematic in my book, and he had no idea they are problematic in anyone’s book – theoretically it could have worked, but the point is, *it did not*. Some members of the Ruby community got offended, and here our story begins.

…and hits the fan

One of the real problems is that after this has been pointed out, Matt still keeps answering “As mentioned many times earlier, I don’t think my presentation is inappropriate.”. As I mentioned two paragraph above, it doesn’t matter what do you think, unless of course, you don’t care about offending some members of the community. In that case you should not try to apologize at all. However, if you are trying, reciting “I don’t think my presentation is inappropriate” will not put and end to the discussion. It just doesn’t work. Why can’t you just simply apologize, admitting that this was a bad move (because it offended some, not because porn, sexual images or whatever in presentations are bad, per se) and finish the discussion?

Rails is Still a Ghetto

However, in my opinion that’s still not the worst part of the story, or to put it differently, some members of the Rails community still found a way to make things worse, by applauding to all this:


OK, you say, we are all used to DHH’s style, this is just how the guy is. That’s (kind of) cool, but I heard that most of the Rails core team (and obviously Matt himself) has the same opinion – and that’s a much more serious problem, because it means that a Rails activist, backed by DHH and other Rails core members finds all this OK, despite of the fact that numerous people in the community voiced their opinion otherwise.

This is not about being a closed-minded prude, shouting for police and suing everyone using sexually explicit images in a presentation. This is not even about women, as I have seen both males and females on either side of the fence. This is about mutual respect – I don’t agree with you, but respect your feelings. Or not, as demonstrated in this case.

So Rails continues to be the most socially unacceptable framework – associated with arrogance, elitism and whatnot in the past – now add pr0n images in presentations. Thankfully RailsConf is held in Las Vegas, and that should calm down all the people who associate Rails with all this crap :-). The real problem is that people associate you with the tools you are using – think Cobol, PHP, Java… or Rails. By being part of the Rails community people associate me with Railsy stereotypes automatically, which aren’t nice at all right now.

I hear you, dear creme-de-la-creme Rails (core) member, I know you don’t give a shit, and you think this is all prude babbling – because your hourly rate is more than some of us earn in a day, and you’ll be sought after even if Rails will have a much worse image than it has now. But 99.9% of us are not in the ‘circle of trust’ and would be happier if Rails would not be constantly associated with a ghetto.


In case you are wondering what does the acronym stand for, it’s “Matz is Nice And So We Used to Be Nice”. Unfortunately, the stuff I don’t like about the Rails community is sneaking into Ruby too, it seems, as the above case demonstrates. Besides this, the count of aggressive comments and reactions on various blog posts is really disturbing to me. Please (at least Rubyists) try to avoid being contaminated by all this shit and stop thinking you are cool because you can swear on a forum (always in anonymity). You don’t have to be a douchebag just because you are a Rubyist / Rails coder, as surprising as this might sound to some.


I think “incidents” like this and getting more and more antisocial members are inevitable by-products of growth in a community. The questions is, whether, and if, how, do we stop them. The problem is that it seems to me the Rails “top management” doesn’t want to stop them (what’s more, even encourages them) in the first place (please prove me otherwise – maybe I don’t see the full story – I’ll be the happiest to admit that I am talking bullshit).

I have to admit I have no clue what would be the right move – burying our heads in the sand and pretending everything is fine is not. Please leave a comment if you have an idea or anything to add.

107 thoughts on “Rails *is* (still) a Ghetto

  1. FWIW, I personally find those slides way out of line and inappropriate. Having said that, the style of delivery might have made it seem less inappropriate in real life. But I wasn’t there, so I’ll refrain from making any guesses here.

  2. I just don’t do X when speaking at a conference, if I suspect that X makes feel even one person in the room uncomfortable, whether because of his gender, race, nationality, Ruby/Rails skills, penis size or what have you

    I can’t quite buy this. I know vegetarians who are uncomfortable around situations where meat is being eaten but they tolerate it. I know Muslims who find it hard to tolerate being around the drinking of alcohol, but they appreciate that’s what a lot of people like to do. I wouldn’t stop eating meat and drinking alcohol in a conference setting for fear of causing a tolerable offense – perhaps others would?

    I like the Hindu temple argument’s structure, but I’m not sure it applies here. You could switch the venue to an art gallery, and suppose that it would be inappropriate to unveil offensive artwork in front of the women and children, but.. it happens all of the time and people get over it. That’s what people expect from artists. So I see the issue as being, perhaps, that many Rubyists consider themselves “artists” and the Ruby community as a “movement” rather than considering themselves “professionals” and the Ruby community an “industry.”

    People from a wide variety of social groups don’t seem to be turned off of art because some artists produce offensive or provocative pieces; indeed, the art industry is incredibly diverse. I think the mismatch comes in that many people see software development as an industry that should have certain norms and standards (e.g. no offensive presentations, the Rails Maturity Model stuff) whereas others see it as a sort of art and movement where people are expected to be passionate and throw whatever they can out there even if it could cause offense.

    I’m convinced this is not a gender argument. There are men and women arguing on both sides. To me, it seems more like “say what you want” versus “don’t hurt people’s feelings.” Which side will ultimately prevail depends on whether we consider ourselves to be part of an edgy artistic movement or a professional industry. Conferences need to make their minds up and stick to one or the other.. let those who get offended at everything go to the stale conferences, and let those who want to be offended and challenged stick to the edgier ones.

  3. Oh, just to be clear, on your points regarding the swearing and harassment that’s been made against some people recently, I agree; it’s totally unacceptable. There’s a massive difference between causing offense by saying what you believe and going out of your way to harass and intimidate people. The latter is effectively a form of virtual assault and should never be acceptable – from either side. My points on offense are based solely on indirect offense – not personal attacks.

  4. When we aim to keep the most number of people happy, we are aiming at the lowest common denominator. We are aiming at mediocrity. Switch on your telly to confirm this (switch it back off quick).

    There are lots of dull “professional” documents about CouchDB if the porn thing upsets you. It’s good to have diverse documentation that appeals to different audiences 🙂

    But if I’m likely to upset Hindus by wearing footwear in their temples, they probably shouldn’t invite me to their temple because I don’t plan on taking my shoes off. Maybe they want me in their temple more than they want me to take my shoes off. Are sandals ok? Can I walk on my hands? I’m not sure where this analogy is going.

  5. @Peter: it’s a different thing. If I invite muslims and non-muslims (who will want to drink a keg of mojito each) to my party, then somebody is going to be unhappy, either because the other party is drinking, or because they can’t drink. This is kind of a lose-lose situation.

    However, I doubt anyone would feel much worse if, say, presentations would not contain pr0n pictures. If that’s not the case, they should probably go to the local peep-show instead of watching a tech presentation.

    In other words, if a decision can make everyone happy at almost no cost (not being able to watch pr0n during a presentation is kind of OK, no?) , why not chose it?

  6. I think you have gone too far turning the “is pr0n in a conference talk appropriate or not” debate into a tolerance matter. We all get offended by many issues, and when talking you cannot take every single point of view into consideration. Having said that, this isnt an ordinary presentation but yet its not that bad either, and maybe a simple “matt, you crossed the line i think” would be enough. Should be.

    And to go a little into the tolerance issue, we are so equal, we have the right to make a presentation with pr0n, to be offended for it, to not change our minds on the motives that led to make such presentation, and to stay offended. Some guys sound like they feel personally attacked than just offended.

    We should be able to talk about this matters, and not just run “offender/offended” discussiosn where everybody is defending themselves and not their ideas.

  7. If Ruby on Rails is to continue increasing in popularity the rails community can’t keep acting like it’s a small club of boys, who find porn and foul language acceptable when trying push the rails agenda forward. We should all be stewards of the rails community and have consideration that not all people working in rails have the same value system. I personally see no reason for adding porn and foul language to a presentation other than the shock value and hopeful admiration of the other boys in your club. It adds no value to the content of the message and diminishes the community that could benefit from the message. At some point the rails community needs to adopt a level of professionalism appropriate for the broader community of developers, that is unless we want to keep rails for ourselves where only members of the boys club are allowed.

  8. Its just a dumb thing to do, arrogant and piggish. Let him self destruct, who cares.

  9. Seriously, this presentation was titled “Perform like a P0rn Star”. What in the world did people expect? I’m assuming attendance of this presentation was not required and so anyone who was offended by the presentation put themselves into the position to be offended intentionally. Members of the Rails/Ruby core (e.g. DHH) saw this as a “well duh” the presentation was meant to be edgy, but no one had to attend it.

    The presentation did not reflect a professional image on the presenter; however, I don’t ascribed the lack of professionalism to the language or the entire community (and this is as an outsider looking in (I’m a python guy)). I agree that the situation could have been diffused a lot easier by just apologizing for inadvertently offending people with what was intended to be humor (ala Obama’s Special Olympics gaff not too long ago). But one presentation (and how it was handled) does not define a language or a community.

  10. @peter: But then who decides what constitutes “porn” and what not?

    I’ve looked through Matt’s presentation, and I wouldn’t classify anything in it as porn. Racy, erotic pictures definitely yes, but no porn anywhere.

    Someone else might not see it that way, and say that it is porn. Who is right?

    Giles Bowkett has used pictures of women in bikinis as well, but no one complained then. Granted, there were only one or two slides with them on it, and he also put in pictures of men in underwear, and they were wearing sombreros, but I’m sure there’s someone out there who was offended by them.

    Somehow I have a feeling that is is a knee-jerk reaction to him using the word “pr0n” in the title and erotic pictures in his presentation.

    Maybe next time we should just tag presentations as NSFW, and then no one can complain that they weren’t warned.

  11. It is not about professionalism – it is about manners. It is about making people comfortable, and putting sexually explicit images into the middle of a lecture about programming is more than a bit rude. Manners are not about being “right” they are about making people comfortable – creating and fulfilling social expectations. Professionalism includes manners as a matter of course.

    Frankly, if I was holding a conference, I would blackball a guy who did that. The people who are defending this sort of behavior are the sort of people I fire the moment I run into them – they believe that their individualism conquers all, that they are somehow “above” the rules, that there is no need to get along or present themselves well – in short, they are the unwashed, ungroomed, smelly programmers who argue with you all the time and think they are being awfully clever when they are just socially inept and need to be hid in the closet.

    @John- not including irrelevant porn images in your lecture is not about mediocrity- in fact I would suggest that it is the opposite – have enough faith in your presentation not to resort to gimmicks. It shows a sort of laziness in presentation, because it certainly was beyond the presenter to make the material interesting in itself.

  12. Peter Cooper, you demonstrate exactly the sort of attitude the OP author (Peter Szinek) is complaining about. The point is not whether it is appropriate, but whether you are open-minded enough to take other people’s concerns into account, whether agree with them or not – in other words an exercise in diplomacy. Your favourite reaction seems to be to belittle someone’s conerns, and that’s not diplomatic.

    If you want to compare this to how muslims feel about beer, note the difference between inviting a muslim along on a night out with your drinking buddies, proverbially rubbing muslim’s face in alchohol at a seminar on a techie subject. In the former case at least, the muslim knows what to expect and can make an informed decision. The latter case is a surprise and also unnecessary (there are many analogies)

    You also seem to be flattering yourself if you think Rails is some kind of artistic movement and any looks should be overlooked in the name of passion. It’s not. It is one of many web frameworks designed to get a particular job/set of jobs done. That’s about as far away from art as you can get.

    I don’t think porn analogies and other childish gimmicks add anything to Rails or any software movement, it just serves to re-inforce the impression that the Rails crowd is little more than a collection of childish prima donnas, who, having created something that is semi-useful to the rest of the world, use their new toy as a way of annoying some groups of people who might have annoyed the Rails crowd in the past.

  13. catamorphism over on reddit had what I think was the best comment on the issue: “It’s a question of whether you as a speaker want to remind women, explicitly, that you see them as sex objects first and as professional colleagues second.”

  14. I’m more offended by the childishness of the presenters – and the conceit of folks like DHH. The content isn’t as offensive as their cocky, geeky, ‘we’re so edgy’ hipster shit.

    But luckily, not all the presentations were like this, and not all Rails folk are like this. Let them get on with their stupid things, it doesn’t affect you and I, unless someone has to sell Rails to their boss based on this 🙂

  15. Peter, I think his point is that in a professional setting, you need to aim for the lowest common denominator. Why show a “pornographic” presentation when a large piece of your audience is not possibly going to be offended, but likely to be? It’s foolish to even think that’s a good idea. And it’s not a gender issue at all. I mean, I’m a guy. But I’m a married guy. I would’ve definitely walked out of the talk, and further, I would’ve been furious if he had presented something like that at the Hoedown. As the post’s author mentioned, whether or not you agree with the offense is irrelevant; if you’re presenting a topic to an audience, then you have agreed to engage them on a certain level. If you break that agreement (e.g., speaking another language, showing them material that’s inappropriate or irrelevant, peeing on them during the presentation, etc.), then they have every right to be upset.

    And really, was this whole shtick necessary? I mean even Zed’s presentation titled “THERE WILL BE PORN” did not, in fact, have any porn at all. And that was at RubyFringe, the conference where, if there was porn to be had during a talk, it would probably be there.

    But more seriously, let’s be totally honest with ourselves: that presentation isn’t art. He wasn’t acting as an artist. He wasn’t presenting an art piece at all. Putting images on a screen that objectify women with no artistic end other than to be inflammatory and, obviously, cater to the men in the room does not constitute “art”: It constitutes someone giving an inappropriate presentation in a professional setting.

    As to whether or not we’re a “movement” or an “industry” is a completely moot point. Even in an art movement you have purists who do not tolerate things outside of a norm. Just because we’re “artists” doesn’t mean we have to push certain accepted limits, especially when there’s no real artistic “value” ascribed to our actions other than “OMG IM SO COOL BECAUSE I CAN SHOW GIRLZ IN SHORT SKIRTZZZZZ.”

  16. @Markus The problem I see with the NSFW tag at a conference is that the Conservative Corperate types who fund many an attendee’s way to conferences will look at that and simply make the decision that the conference isn’t worth spending the money on, and by extension the technology as well.

  17. @Mike K: I cannot understand why you compare it to “rubbing someones face in it”. The presentation was titled “CouchDB – Perform like a pr0n star”, which tells me that there is a good chance of seeing partially nude people in this presentation. In addition, I’m sure that attending this presentation wasn’t mandatory.

    Should we start rating our presentations, similar to movies in the US? Then nobody can claim that they had their faces rubbed in something unexpected.

  18. Can we please just stop getting our panties in a knot about images of the human body / use of certain English words. Both are completely normal things and shouldn’t be excluded anytime especially not in the sort of context this presentation was in. Let’s get over ourselves, shall we? Maybe we (Railists, Rubyists, whatever) aren’t like your typical corporate cubicle coder, but that’s a good thing. Let’s show nude or otherwise shocking photos, let’s swear all the fucking time, let’s write great code to give our customers that tingly feeling of using a passionately designed product. We’re doing most of these things now, let’s continue.

  19. @JGM Then the conference organizers have to declare rules on what is and what isn’t acceptable. This would suck for several reasons, but at least it would tell a presenter what he’s allowed to do and what not.

  20. In other words, if a decision can make everyone happy at almost no cost (not being able to watch pr0n during a presentation is kind of OK, no?) , why not chose it?

    I don’t think that’s the choice available. The choice is about dropping the edginess. It would be sad to lose all edgy, potentially offensive presentations. Of course, edgy presentations should be restricted to obviously-edgy events and contexts.

    Mike K: You also seem to be flattering yourself if you think Rails is some kind of artistic movement and any looks should be overlooked in the name of passion. It’s not. It is one of many web frameworks designed to get a particular job/set of jobs done. That’s about as far away from art as you can get.

    Stating something does not make it so. Many developers consider programming to be an art. As I said, I’m on the fence about it, but look at the sort of quirky and original behavior and presentations that have been popular in the Ruby community over the last few years – much of it springs from people with an artistic approach to their work, not career developers. Rubyists tend to push at boundaries in a rather unscientific way.

    I am not “flattering” myself. I already said I’m on the fence regarding the art vs science of programming. I can, however, at least acknowledge that many people do consider it to be art. This is objective.

    I don’t think porn analogies and other childish gimmicks add anything to Rails or any software movement, it just serves to re-inforce the impression that the Rails crowd is little more than a collection of childish prima donnas, who, having created something that is semi-useful to the rest of the world, use their new toy as a way of annoying some groups of people who might have annoyed the Rails crowd in the past.

    You may not have heard of Rails if the early members of the community had not been so brash and off-the-wall. Their bold presentations, humor, approach and, frankly, innovative ideas were instrumental in the marketing of the framework. This has never been a community of dry, scientific programmers with no sense of humor.

  21. Everyone has strong opinions, some stronger than others. What we all need to be aware of is that we all have a choice also. I personally don’t see any pornographic images in the slideshow, just a bit of skin. I don’t see anything that wouldn’t be acceptable on television (British television anyway, and we’re prudes!).

    Matt chose to use provocative images that turned what could have been a boring presentation filled with blocks of code and snoring from the patrons in the back seats, in to something he thought would inspire opinions and amuse those who aren’t so sensitive. He was no doubt aware that if anyone didn’t like it, they could use their right to get off their seat and leave. I don’t push my opinions on other people, or force them to conform if they choose not to. Why should we?

    As for those saying that it lacked professionalism and therefore should not have been shown or allowed to be shown. Seriously, there are plenty of unacceptable behaviours in business that we allow to continue, like lying, cheating and generally back-stabbing those around us in an attempt further our career (Watch “The Apprentice”, I wouldn’t hire anyone with their evil behaviours), yet a presentation that only borders (and that’s pushing it) on pornographic gets this kind of reaction?

    Wake up, people. He didn’t hurt anyone, and to those that are offended => Use your right to not look.

  22. dude, we all hope to be as cool as you one day… it’s a shame that you need to porn and profannity to be effective in what you do at life. Most of us have grown out of that stage of life (humm…. when graduating from high school???). It’s sad that you think that those traits add to the mystic of being a cool programmer. When one develops a more comprehensive vocabulary and mastery of their domain they have no problems expressing their opinions and sharing their ideas with others without resorting to profanity and nudity to help express their views. We’re not prudes… we just know when it’s appropriate and when it’s not.

  23. This is exactly what’s problematic about Rails. The perception among many of us is that it’s been infiltrated by a bunch of douchebags that want to sell books and start “boutique consultancy” of their own. Quite frankly, all this drama is going to kill Rails in the end. You can talk about suits not getting it all you want, but let’s face it, the world does not run on to-do lists, tweets and whatever the else the Web 2.0 darlings dream up in their college dorms.

    Moreover, business owners look at this crap and I imagine they have to ask themselves: Do I want my business/startup at the mercy of these immature, hipster jerks? The answer is no.

    As a result the only industry that Rails appears to be building is consultancies to rescue projects and book sales. Give me a break.

  24. I feel offended when somebody do a presentation about Rails instead of working in PHP (or whatever).
    Please, don’t be rude and stop doing presentations in any non Ruby-only event.

  25. One problem – the ruby community is bigger than the rails community.

    I dont use rails, and I dont care what the rails community does.

    But saying that THE WHOLE RUBY community needs to shout out loud is ridiculous.

  26. It was in poor taste and clearly unprofessional. He should be shunned at future conferences. Being a little edgy and anti-corporate is fine — being an ass is not. Manners people — manners. Would your mother be proud of you if you did this?

  27. You guys are from the USA obviously. You act as if it was full hardcor3. Catch up with the times suits and ties are out.

  28. (a) anyone who thinks programming isn’t art hasn’t seen _why, ever…
    (b) …or ruby.
    (c) I appreciate that some people can and did get offended by the presentation. I, personally, am ‘offended’ that they would then try to push that sort of “omg boobies nooo think of the enterprise!!!” knee-jerk reaction onto MY conferences, but am I going to whine about my being offended? Of course not, to each his own. Whiners are douchebags.
    (d) To call Rails a ghetto because of this presentation is to call white folk murderers because of Hitler. To only start calling rails a ‘ghetto’ for things like this now is to not have ever, ever seen a DHH presentation.

  29. I don’t agree.

    There will always be people who are offended, disregarding the reasons. The only way to solve this problem is by ignoring those that don’t “get your point of view”, and doing your best to please those that do.

    He looked at his audience, measured their willingness to see the humor in his presentation, he even named the presentation accordingly.

    Do you complain about the pr0n section in a magazine store as well? ‘Cause here in Europe, the Playboy magazine sits right next to Gamers magazine.

    Pick an audience, please them. Ignore everyone else.

  30. This is just silly. Someone made a bad judgment call, and some people took offense to seeing some racy pictures. Now, you have written this long rant that condemns an entire community based on a small and rather insignificant incident.

    I’ sorry, I just don’t buy this nonsense about having to make sure that no one is ever offended. People take offense. It’s what people do. They take offense to matters that are far removed from pornography. Have we forgotten the ridiculous bickering between Alex Payne and much of the Ruby community that happened just a few weeks ago?

  31. The fact that you are using “shit” in a professional article shows you are not a professional and don’t belong in a professional environment. Totally unnecessary.

  32. I miss Merb. We didn’t have all the extra baggage, perceived or otherwise. It was just about smart, fast code.

    And, before someone says it, I know Matt was on the Merb team, but I don’t know that he would have felt the need to ‘spice up’ his presentation back then.

    Anyway, maybe we can just use this as another example that we should be civil to each other.

  33. There are two issues here it would seem.

    Firstly was the presentation offensive? I don’t think so – as Jamie say, you will see much worse at 9:30pm on British TV. My wife says it’s not offensive but she knows people who wouldn’t like it.

    So it’s pretty near the mark.

    Secondly, was it professional? One of the things that has attracted the “new generation” of Rubyist (those who, like me, came on board with Rails a few years back) is precisely that edginess, that attitude. If I wanted to do dull things I would wear a suit and write VB, but I don’t – I want to create exciting things and move forwards.

    Which suggests this is part of the culture clash as Ruby moves into the mainstream. And out of the ghetto?

  34. Your idea that ‘professional’ industries don’t use marginally explicit material is disingenuous. Most industries use titillating imagery in all of their promotional material. Are you also going to tell me that all the ‘booth-babes’ that unprofessional companies like Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, etc. have hired was just a complete waste of money?

    I think what really makes people uncomfortable is the fact that a bunch of nerds suddenly understand something very basic about marketing: sex sells.

    Now, I’m not claiming that just because every other professional industry uses it makes it right. I’m just pointing out that a lot of professional organizations use ‘sex’ to get attention.

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  37. Of course, sensitivity to women in the audience is a strong consideration. However, I feel the real point is that this dude is basically insulting the intelligence of every male in the audience by saying “the only way I can maintain your attention is by show you boobs”. Not to mention, what does this attitude have to say about his own deep insecurities about his topic and the quality of his presentation.

  38. “I have been living in India for 2 months last summer, working on a Rails startup.”

    So HAVE you been living there, or WERE you living there last summer?

    ALso, congratulations for being so wonderful to know to remove your shoes. The stars in the sky shine a little brighter just for you, cuz.

  39. @Andrew: no, it’s not. Most of the rails guys (including the ‘problematic’ ones 🙂 are really bright, creative and pleasure to work with (at least the ones I worked with are like that).

    The point is that there are some problems which would be nice to address to make it an even better community. That said, Ruby/Rails is still the nicest community I know (been part of Python and Java communities in the past, so my sample is quite small though).

  40. And I think that community — including You, Peter — has overreacted “a bit”. Where “a bit” is the most “diplomatic”, “politically correct” and “professional” summary of what I’d like to state here 😉

    Come on, programming is supposed to be our hobby, it has to be fun. 15 years ago “The Church Of Saint IGNUcius” was fun. Half a year ago Linus’ “Wanking Walruses and Masturbating Monkeys” was fun. Today it’s a perfectly shaped female butt in g-string on the first slide and porn-industry references throughout the slides — but it’s still fun!

    I really feel sorry for your girls, guys, If you haven’t smiled at least twice while watching these slides.

    (And yes, they made me want to try CouchDB 😀 )

    It’s so widespread and popular now (I was hoping that only reddit-related crowd would blow this little joke to such a great crusade for political correctness) that I’m going to jump the boat and write a blog post about that.

  41. @Baz the “edginess”, opinionatedness and even some part of DHH’s rebellious behavior are exactly the things (among others of course, like the beauty of Ruby) that made me move from Python to Ruby a few years ago. However, I think some of these issues are being pushed over the edge in some cases (and it’s not just me – this post was produced after talking to a few ‘top management’ Rails guys) and it would be perhaps appropriate to discuss them.

  42. Hey, common Yankees! Loosen up a bit. The images in the presentation are not porn, this what you see in the streets of Dutch cities everywhere, every day. Especially if you walk the red light district of Amsterdam 😉

  43. I find it hilarious that people are actually questioning whether the content should be considered inappropriate. I worked for several years in a major corporate environment where my job was essentially assisting HR in firing people for this kind of behavior. There is no question — it’s inappropriate and unprofessional.

    The fact that every day people get fired and sued because this sort of material creates a hostile work environment, offends people on the basis of gender and sexuality, and has real consequences for those involved renders all of this stupid rhetoric moot.

    Face it — those in fringe corners of the IT / software industry have a woefully inadequate perspective on the real professional world. There is a great insulation between them and the (harsh) legal environment.

  44. Josh, it’s hilarious how you see a relationship between a conference speech and a 9-5 job. Go back to your cubicle.

  45. BTW, Peter, the blog engine is behaving weird — captcha entered on a white page with php error “headers already sent”, same layout for “your comment has been added”.

  46. People who try to be edgy are not… Don’t believe me? Look at Madonna. If you joined the Rails community because of DHH’s edginess, that’s about as bad as joining because of his gorgeous hairdo. I’d love to know what kind of insane, new apps people are building because of Ruby… Oh that’s right, to-do lists are the new “task lists” and “tweets” are the new “blogs”… Cutting edge, ladies and gentlemen!

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