About a week ago Adria Richards, a developer evangelist, overheard a couple guys behind her engaging in “dongle” jokes and may have misconstrued a “forking” reference as another crude joke while attending PyCon. Frustrated at the situation she snapped their picture and called them out on Twitter for their behavior. She also alerted PyCon staff to what was happening and they responded by talking to the individuals in question.
A couple days later one of the guys she called out was fired from his job at Playhaven, a sponsor of PyCon.
Word got out and the internet exploded. DDoS attacks were made against Adria Richards’ web site, her employer’s web site, and Playhaven’s web site. And Adria’s been flooded with the most vile of vitriol, threats, and harassment.
Plenty of commentary on this incident, from many different perspectives, have already been written and there’s little, if anything, of value that I could contribute to the situation. All I have to add is utter frustration at the whole situation. The guys making jokes could have been more aware of their surroundings. Richards didn’t need to call them out in such a public manner. Playhaven didn’t need to overreact and fire one of the guys because of it. The internet didn’t need to lose its shit on Richards in such an unconstructive and counterproductive manner. Now everyone is polarized over this and any chance of having a rational dialog about what happened is about as likely as Israelis and Palestinians settling their “disagreement”.
How do we prevent shit like this from happening? Education. Open dialog. Open minds willing to explore all perspectives. Santa Claus.
And, when all else fails, an emergency anti-rage app for you phone that shows you cute as fuck kittens. Feeling angry? Want to share that rage on the internet in a brutally uncooperative manner? Why don’t you watch some cute as fuck kittens first, then see how you feel.
In their defense, after about a minute it doesn’t feel so bad.
Brian Krebs is a journalist who specializes in computer security. His blog, Krebs on Security, is worth a bookmark even if you’re not into computer security. If nothing else, it will help expand your knowledge of all things related to that metal box sitting next to you that lets you play on the internet. That’s not a bad thing.
Recently Krebs profiled a web site that specializes in providing personal information about people (for a small fee). With such information it’s possible to gain even more personal information such as full credit reports. Such a scenario was recently put on stage with the news of celebrity credit records being posted online.
Not long after Krebs’ report went online he found his web site being DDoSed (flooded with massive amounts of traffic to the point it became inaccessible to anyone). Some people apparently didn’t like what Krebs was writing about. This was nothing that Krebs hadn’t experienced before. What was new about this particular experience was opening his front door a day later and finding himself staring down the barrel of a police officer’s gun. He had been SWATed.