Writing Well about Terrible People

September 24th, 2017

This morning, I set myself the task of turning my response to a New York Times article into something less ephemeral and annoying than a tweetstorm. I gave myself one hour to do it, which mostly meant not letting myself spend another two hours adding more links. I have a lot of feelings, and I’m […]

Talking & Listening about Conduct

December 23rd, 2014

I’ve written previously about why I think codes of conduct are important, and how we made one for SRCCON, and I’ve linked there to some of my favorite resources on the subject. I am heartened tremendously by the variety and sincerity of voices raised this week—of speakers and organizers, but most importantly of conference attendees—who have written and tweeted that they value codes of conduct and the larger mechanisms of support and care that are required to give them weight.

Others in our industry have expressed their skepticism about codes of conduct, for a variety of reasons and in a variety of registers. Those wishing to follow a blow-by-blow of debate will have little trouble finding reading material. I’ll concentrate instead on a few points that have become clearer in my mind since I initially wrote about our SRCCON code. Read more ⇒

Why You Want a Code of Conduct & How We Made One

September 12th, 2014

The day I drafted the code of conduct for OpenNews’ first conference, SRCCON, I mentioned it on Twitter and got some puzzled replies. Why would a conference need such a thing? Why not just say “don’t be a jerk?” The subtext was clear: a formal code treats professionals like unruly children, and surely isn’t really necessary, right?

So I want to go back to some basics and explain not only why codes of conduct matter, but also why you’re incredibly fortunate if you have the chance to make one. And then I’ll offer what I’ve learned about making one, and some advice I’ve received along the way. Read more ⇒

Thinking About Mozilla

March 31st, 2014

Like many people inside and outside Mozilla, I was quite startled last week to discover that the board of the Mozilla Corporation—a subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, my employer—had appointed as CEO a man whose financial support of Prop 8 had already been a major topic of conversation a few years back.

In the days since, the conversation about Eich’s appointment has been incredibly encouraging to me, both within Mozilla and in the larger tech community. I’m a new Mozilla employee, having gone full-time as OpenNews’s director of content in January, and my day-to-day work is very much focused on OpenNews, rather than the wider Mozilla world, so I didn’t know what to expect from my colleagues when this news broke. At every turn, I have been heartened by the degree of passion and care that have been apparent as colleague after colleague steps forward to express nuanced opinions, and by the commitment to equality and fairness that runs through the group like the stitches in the binding of a book. It’s less that I underestimated my colleagues before this mess arose and more that I underestimated nearly everyone’s investment in this issue.

In the conversation outside of Mozilla, I have been surprised and encouraged to see so many people get angry in service of a cause that has only gained a plurality of support in the US in the last few years. And as much as I’d rather not see a boycott of everything Mozilla does (which, it seems, most people still think of as “Firefox”) based on the actions of a single person affiliated with the organization, I am completely psyched to see this many people this angry in defense of civil rights.

So that has been incredibly good to see. But then there is the thing itself.
Read more ⇒

Why The Atlantic’s Scientology Advertorial Was Bad

January 15th, 2013

The Atlantic has apologized for the way they handled a “sponsored” article about Scientology on their website last night. That’s good, and necessary. (It belongs on their actual website, rather than in an email campaign, but whatever.)

The magazine would doubtless like for this to be the end of the discussion, and it probably will be. Most readers will forget it happened, except the ones who already hated the magazine. But the thing that happened last night is interesting for a couple of reasons, and I think it’s worth actually laying them out before we all agree to drop it and hope it never happens again. Specifically, there are two kinds of “bad” to talk about, here, and it’s very hard to talk about them at the same time, so I won’t. Read more ⇒

How to Kill a Troll

July 7th, 2012

Anita Sarkeesian is a cultural critic who makes YouTube videos. A lot of people like her work: she tried to raise $6,000 via Kickstarter to fund a new set of videos about women in video games, and raised nearly $160,000 instead. And it’s this fact—that people like Sarkeesian’s work, that they choose to listen to her and even put their money behind her projects—that so enrages some people who play video games. Read more ⇒