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Framework Bound

The first version of this blog was entitled Framework Whipped. I attempted to compare the code that uses a framework to the concubines in a harem. I thought my comments were clever and funny; but many people found them offensive.

I sincerely apologize for that offense, it was not intentional. I broke Don Norman's law:

“If you think something is clever and sophisticated beware-it is probably self-indulgence.”

I will try to avoid mistakes like this in the future. I appreciate the conversation about them, and hope that it can continue constructively.

Let me also say this. My original post had made women the butt of a set of very bad jokes. This had not been my intent. Nor did I realize I had done it. It was pointed out to me later; and I agreed and apologized. I believe that was the right thing to do.

Pointing out that you are being made the butt of a set of bad jokes is an honorable thing to do. There's nothing wrong with standing up and saying "No I don't want to be treated that way."

I have 50,000 followers to my Twitter feed. If I inadvertently make a bad joke, and then don't correct it, others might decide to follow suit. I don't want that.

So to those of you who think I caved under some kind of pressure, you're wrong. I revised the blog because I was wrong.

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H2CO3 commented May 11, 2014

Oh dear.

I am just starring in honest perplexity at these bloody-mouthed haters who all wish your demise. As if they were waiting just for something like this in order to be able to say something bad about you. This is very, very immature, childish behavior. An indication of pure, clear, uncontrollable jealousy.

Or, which would even be worse maybe, the indication of lack of basic text comprehension skills.

Sexist metaphors (and even jokes) were always around, targeting men and women equally. Other exclusionary-minded metaphors, such as those targeting specific nations have also existed for a long time. And the single case they were frown on always boiled down to one very thing: the complete lack of sense as to what they mean in a situation. In other words, the lack of ability to abstract. (An ability that people in our industry are supposed to have, by the way.)

Hey overzealous defenders! Have you never cracked a Scottish joke? (Don't even try lying to me -- I know you have.)

But wait a bit. This article was not even that. It was not even sarcastic, at least not in the direction of women. If one is ignorant enough to have interpreted it as a kind of social criticism (which it wasn't, since it was the criticism of a technology), one should realize that, at most, it could be the criticism of the practice of maintaining harems. But certainly, unequivocally not as a criticism of women.

There's a mental disease whereby the patient suffers from irrational fear of nonexistent things. This illness is called paranoia. In every single corner of the 'Net, there's an overly enthusiast girl or guy ready to defend themselves against those who didn't even attack them. And they are starting to vision all sorts of tendencies, whatever shall please them. They are only annoying as long as they don't imagine stuff about serious things. But when they do, then they get dangerous. It takes only a slight mention of anything like sexism, racism, or any other social and political unfairness and injustice on their part, and everybody groans. That's just mass psychology, because we are so accustomed to the so-called "freedom" of our age, that in the end, we (they) can't see the forest for the woods.

Meagan Waller: your diatribe against reasonable arguments is, again, unwarranted, and childish at best. Telling me to "fuck myself" shows me that you're not professional enough to be worth arguing with. Grow up. And get a life, if you haven't got better things to do other than insulting innocent people whom you are jealous of by twisting their words.

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I have developed what I call the cat tail theory of conflict, which might help here. When you have a cat, and particualrly when you're busy in the kitchen, you might step on their tale by accident. The cat screatches, and jumps away; you feel bad. You try to comfort the cat - and soon enough you're petting and cooing and the cat is rubbing against your legs. All is right with the world.

But this story can go wrong in a lot of different ways, for both parties. For example, the cat might get so angry that it attacks you, perceiving the initial harm as an attack. Or you might blame the cat for getting under-foot in the first place, and so even though it is already in pain, you verbally abuse it, perhaps for giving you scare. Or the cat isn't satisfied with your cooing and pets, and in fact gets more angry at you, for a wide variety of reasons, most of which involve ego and respect. An important error mode is that the person, out of malice, truly intended to step on the tail. More error modes can occur to your thought.

This is a wonderful metaphor for human conflict. People have tails. And people step on each others tails. That is what happened here: Bob thought he was being funny, accidentally stepped on someone's tail, and is now showing concern and support and sincere regret at having caused the harm. That is good - remember, he could have reacted in a lot of other, far worse ways. In fact, in the cat-tail theory, this is basically the correct response.

Cats have to be careful, though, to not themselves fall into an error mode. It is a mistake to not accept the comfort of a sincere apology, and the concern of a someone who clearly didn't mean to cause you harm, and who is showing warm, self-deprecating concern and is doing his best to make things right. If you fail to do that, then at best you harm your own credibility, and at worst, you risk invaliding the reasonableness of your original concern.

TL;DR - he harmed you without meaning to, and now he's sorry. accept the apology, forgive him, and move on with life.

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Your reference to Don Norman misses the point. People aren't offended because you're being self-indulgent. That, by itself, is merely irritating. What takes your metaphor beyond self indulgence and into offensiveness is your failure to consider how a woman reading your metaphor would feel.

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ghost commented May 11, 2014

Uncle Bob's castigation for his blog post isn't warranted. It's perilously easy to offend just about anyone on the Internet. Bob Martin's comments in his post were well put in spite of the poorly chosen metaphor. But, there is a major difference between intending to harm with one's words and not having that intent. Keep in mind that offense is always subjective, even if the offender intended to cause harm. People are constantly offended about all manner of things, and if we were constantly pursuing an apology for everything we were offended by we would accomplish nothing else. Regardless, Bob did apologize for offending people, and he revised his blog post. The mature thing to do would be to silently accept his apology and move on. The argument put forward in the post is born out of years of experience, so look past the offense and interact with the ideas in a mature fashion.

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graffic commented May 11, 2014

Let me quote Christine Stockton

Being offended does not make you right

Feeling offended is an emotion, not an argument. Using it as an argument is a logical fallacy (Appeal to emotion). This doesn't mean being offended is irrelevant, but it’s the catalyst for the argument, not the argument itself.

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tjg commented May 11, 2014

Hey overzealous defenders! Have you never cracked a Scottish joke? (Don't even try lying to me -- I know you have.)

Presumably this man couldn't mention jokes at the expense of Blacks because his intentions concerning "sexism, racism, or any other social and political unfairness and injustice" would be even more obvious.

As for his personal attacks and gaslighting, his target doesn't come from some "corner of the 'Net", but is directly affected by her own company's blog being a platform for "Uncle Bob's" disturbing rants. Blatantly unprofessional. If programming one day evolves past the 1950's, future programmers will ridicule such attitudes.

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telent commented May 11, 2014

Feeling offended is an emotion, not an argument.

Which is why I prefer to talk about "marginalisation" rather than "offense". The problem is not when you upset people with your comments, the problem is when your comments are likely to contribute to reinforcing negative behaviour (disparagement, bullying, exclusion, assault, whatever) towards less-advantaged or minority subgroups. That is objective and can even (in principle, at least, if not in practice) be measured.

Someone smarter than me wrote about this in more detail and greater clarity recently, but I'm damned if I can find the link now

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ericgj commented May 12, 2014

I agree with Meagan, glad you rewrote and made an apology but it really is a typical non-apology to say "many people found them offensive". There's nothing in what you wrote that indicates that you recognize sexism as a problem in itself.

If you do feel you were in the wrong, but have trouble in general recognizing sexism in what you write, can I suggest having a woman colleague (perhaps an administrative assistant!) read your articles first before you publish them?

It's a real shame, since the points you're making about autonomy from frameworks deserve to be heard and debated, but now they will have this episode overshadowing them.

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acdcjunior commented May 12, 2014


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Marlena commented May 12, 2014

Meagan is right that your apology reads as a non-apology.

There is a difference between making the moves and making a heartfelt apology. This apology reads very clearly as making the moves, and I get a very strong whiff of, "I really hope this makes those angry women go away."

If this is something you actually care about changing (who knows, maybe you really only care about making the moves. In that case, have fun with that.) I suggest you read and learn more about diversity issues beyond a blog post or two and that you consider bringing in and paying a consultant, perhaps someone from Ada Initiative, to give you diversity training.

Here is a post that will give you a place to start, but as I said, reading this is like version 0.5 in diversity training.

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Acid Carbonic, I fully agree and support your words, but unfortunately they didn't solve Uncle Bob's problem, they just throw him into a different fire, because, now, everywhere in the world, many groups of people are condemning him for criticising the practice of maintaining harems.


We cannot make fun, criticise, mock or even, sometimes, just talk about anything related to human beings anymore, because every single person in the planet is part of many different groups and talking about groups is forbidden. The strange part is that you can make a joke about anything, but you have to tell people, in advance, that what you're about to say is a joke, so they switch to the joke mode and their feelings are not (publicly) hurt, if, by any chance, they are part of that one the teller is making fun of. Yeah, a very simple binary condition can take you to hell or heaven. But there is a corollary to that rule: if you are part of that particular group yourself, you can make fun of them without warning. So, a white jew can make fun of jews, but not black people, as women can be critic about other women but probably not gay women and specially not harem's women, because, probably, they would be talking about a milenar culture Wikipedia isn't able to explain much far beyond the usual "it's a bunch of girs sex-slaved by a single rich man".

That's what we are becoming, that's what we are telling our children to become. What is it? In a near future we will not be able to talk about anything else different from the title of our article. We will be fated to be bored for the rest of our lives and those that doesn't like to be 1) criticized for every single thing they write 2) write boring stuff, will just stop writing, because they are happier by just not writing at all.

Thanks for making this a better world.

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@telent, +1

Good perspective.

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For all those who are attacking the attackers, please note that Martin has edited this document several times, making it a much better apology, but did not note that he'd made changes. Several of the commenters here were reacting to an earlier, much different version:

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gurdiga commented May 14, 2014

@meaganewaller, I think essentially I agree with @javajosh.

It seems to me that the subject of the article was remote from the issue discussed here, which makes me believe that it was accidental. The fact that many men do express in this way, is partly due to culture of the circles they spent time in, and the bad habits they picked. This is not meant to be an excuse. This is not to say that I as a person am not responsible for my manners or which circle I pick—in the end I am the person that does the choices.

I’ve emphasized “the person” to say that I think this kind of issues are so much better dealt with in person. A face-to-face conversation tends to make this kind of mistakes good memorable lessons, which end up improving the ecosystem. Mixing rage into the conversation, not that it’d be inappropriate, it just tends to make for much less listening, which is regrettable.

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