Underrepresentation and ignorance. This has been discussed to the end of times in the 90 posts before yours how the Rust team gets no trust bonus. I recommend you to let the matter rest.
With my moderator hat on, I am going to say very firmly that, when people who have faced discrimination share their experiences here, it is not okay to turn around and blame them for their reactions, even if you think they should react differently.
We won’t all agree here, but disagreement needs to be respectful and careful. If you have a serious problem with what a specific person is saying or how they are saying it, please consider contacting one or more of the moderators. We want to hear from all viewpoints, but directly calling another participant racist is not going to help this discussion and is not how we are going to let it proceed.
(If you disagree with this moderation call, again please take it up with me or the other moderators before arguing it in the thread. This thread should remain focused on the main issues, not any meta-discussion.)
I support all three initiatives (though I hope there will be more!), and am willing to help however I can.
Ok, ok. I should probably leave. I’ll just like to state for the record that I have not blamed anyone for anything. I was just trying to defend the team, which has always been very nice to everyone as far as I could see, for being unjustly accused, that’s all. Hope this all ends well.
Since this discussion is getting quite long, I wanted to fork out a thread focused on planning our outreach efforts. Can we move that subset of the discussion there?
So, as promised, it is Monday, and I am reading this thread. I’m sorry I couldn’t participate much earlier, it was simply impossible, but this thread – and more importantly, the underlying hurt that caused it – has been very much on my mind nonetheless. I just finished reading the whole thing top-to-bottom, and I want to give my overall reaction.
To start, I think there is a genuine problem being discussed here, and I’m glad it’s being discussed. While we have expressed an interest in diversity for a long time, and tried hard to ensure our community is welcoming, we have made relatively few active efforts to grow that diversity. We need to do better.
In any case, I believe strongly that when you’ve made a mistake, the right thing to do is admit it, and then focus on what you can do better right now. In terms of “official” actions, I basically agree with the next steps that Aaron put forward (community subteam; prominent blog post) and I’m very interested in having further discussion about proactive steps we can be taking. (Oh, I just saw erickt’s started a thread on this, so I think I’ll just go participate in that for starters. )
Rather than removing the subteams we have now, I’d rather that we simply grow them. The size of each subteam is not fixed and it was always expected that they will grow over time. Of course, as has been mentioned a few times, growing the teams (other than moderation) will require growing the community first, which will take time (as most good things do).
That’s definitely an angle we should pursue. I didn’t bring it up mostly because I don’t have a good sense for what’s possible right now, but I have already been talking to Mozilla management to explore options. There are likely dedicated organizations we may be able to work with as well.
Organizing Community Organization
Erickt has locked https://github.com/rust-lang/rust/pull/25585 and pointed discussion at this thread. To which I respond it has nothing to do with diversity and rather breaking the rules of quotations by modifying a quote without using brackets.
If anything I highly disagree with the reasoning behind the change. Past injustice don’t justify present injustice.
There is no “injustice” done by rephrasing an example. This is just a phrasing to make the documentation a little bit friendlier to a wider audience.
It is, however, awkward and somewhat misleading to rephrase a direct quotation without marking the edits; and there isn’t actually a particularly good reason to choose this particular quotation, as it is neither the original statement of the problem, nor a particularly good one. I’ve submitted a pull request that eliminates the quotation entirely, using an original phrasing of the problem, and making the rest of chapter match that phrasing, eliminating a few other awkward pieces: the switch from numbered philosophers to named philosophers, and the switch from male (or female after the pull request) pronouns in the formulation of the problem to singular “they” throughout the rest, preferring instead the appropriate pronouns when discussing specific philosophers, or singular “they” when discussing an unspecified philosopher.
I think that this phrasing should improve the text overall, without introducing problems of editing a direct quotation.
Speaking with my moderator hat on: For those who disagree with the PR on purely editorial grounds, @lambda’s approach is a good constructive one. I trust @steveklabnik will listen to any and all feedback on ways to improve the text, but ultimately I think this is Steve’s call to make, and I don’t think we need to use this forum for any prolonged rehashing of his editorial decisions.
Moderator hat off: For anyone who is specifically troubled by the choice of female pronouns for characters in this example, this is a good chance to empathize with people who feel the same about the constant use of male pronouns in similar situations. Consider whether you spend as much effort noticing and correcting “default male” language you encounter. Or, if you could live with the original pronouns in this text, consider whether you can also make peace with the new ones.
It’s the adversarial framing of the issue in the motivation that makes me uneasy.
If someone would like to revert this patch or switch to neutral pronouns after 30 years, feel free to set your alarm clock for 2045.
Does this serve the goal of making the environment inclusive?
I’m pretty sure that was tongue in cheek. If not, meh. To me it read as emphasis on the original point of the post.
I’m mostly speaking for myself here, but given that tech has a huge skew towards males, a little thing like widespread use of female pronouns doesn’t make me feel excluded. I suspect other males have similar experiences.
On the other hand, many women have had bad experiences in male-dominated environments and may treat nonneutral language as the canary in the coal mine. Widespread usage of “he” may not in itself be directly exclusive, but it’s an indicator of exclusiveness and by being one, itself deters (and thus excludes) women. It’s also an indicator that “nobody noticed”, which can mean many different things and often points to an exclusive environment.
Sure, “they” could be used too; but I think the OP there feels that “she” would be a refreshing change, and I agree.
I can see how that could come off poorly, especially if you read it as something like, “If you disagree with this, shut up and wait your turn.” I read it more as a half-joking, half-serious suggestion that if the male-default language had been printed and taught for decades, then a female-default equivalent should be no less worthy. And even that intepretation might generate strong reactions, if you disagree with it.
If someone is using exclusionary, harassing, or trolling language in our forums, please contact the mods and we can address it with that person. But also remember that just talking about some issues is inevitably going to make many of us uneasy, even when we all do our best to express ourselves and read each other charitably.
I wrote this in hopes of preëmpting the predictable reaction that gendered pronouns ought to be neutralized as soon as they change from masculine to feminine. It turns out, I was right about that.
Based on your feedback, I just tried editing my comment on GitHub, in order to make it less cheeky. However, I was unable to do so because that pull request is now locked after receiving a despicable comment from a troll.
Along the lines of what mbrubeck has said, maybe this would be a good time to remember that communicating via text can sometimes be hard! When trying to put into written words the complicated thoughts in our head, things can sometimes get lost – subtle nuance, humor, sarcasm can all fail to cross the brain->keyboard boundary in a lossless fashion
Thus I think we all have a dual obligation: as writers, consider not only what we think we are tying to say, but also think carefully about how others might read what we say. And as readers, think carefully about what the author might be trying to say, even if you at first read a different meaning.
I had submitted my pull request not to indicate that gendered pronouns should be neutralized, but merely to make the entire example more coherent. At one point it had used gendered pronouns, at another it had used numbered philosophers, and at another it had used named male philosophers, and when using both numbered and named male philosophers used the singular “they.”
My personal preference when I am writing is to use a mixed group as examples, use the appropriate pronouns when referring to specific individuals, and use singular “they” when referring to an unspecified person, and that was consistent with the existing usage of singular “they,” so that’s what I proposed in order to see if the use of specific named individuals would be acceptable to meet your goal of having a more inclusive philosopher example. I am quite sensitive to the reasons for preferring feminine pronouns, however, so switched to them based on your objection.
Based on the objections since I switched the full example to using feminine pronouns, it looks like your predicted reaction was actually correct. I hope that we can manage to find a way to convince people that using feminine pronouns for an individual from a mixed group of people is not an assault on the English language.
Thank you for replying here and in the pull request. I hope I’ve made it clear that I believe your proposed changes were made in good faith and with the best of intentions. I’m pleased with the most recent changes to proposal: using “she” and “her” for unspecified, singular philosophers.
I am very supportive of your response to @chris-morgan’s objections about your usage of the English language. I was in the process of composing my own reply to this comment but, upon reading yours, I realized that there was nothing for me left to say.
Thank you also for CCing me on the issue, inviting me into the discussion, listening to what I had to say, and responding accordingly. I am hopeful that your pull request will be accepted in its current form.
FYI: I’ve carved off a separate thread to focus on the creation of a community subteam. I want to make sure we don’t lose momentum here, so please head on over and give your ideas!
Hi everyone, I did open GH issue regarding the PR regarding the gender-change in the dining philosophers quote because I was a bit concerned about parts of it and was asked to express my worries here.
The full text is in the issue but I’ll quickly summarize it. The problem with switching to anything but gender neutral pronouns is that it is a move form something (not adopting a quote) that probably can be seen from anything between OK at best to ignorant at worst to something (enforcing a specific gender) where a knowing decision to be non inclusive was been made. There are people out there who do identify with neither the male nor female gender, if we node move from male pronouns to female ones we repeat the same mistake made before just towards a different group of people. Admittedly a much smaller one then females but none the less an existing one, and frankly the goal of considering the gender of pronouns is to be inclusive so the size of a group should not matter.