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01 May 2009, 13:34

Rails community derailed over presentation

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A presentation on CouchDB given at the recent Golden Gate Ruby Conference by Matt Aimonetti, a member of the Rails Activists, has triggered controversy within the Rails community. The presentation in question was titled "CouchDB + Ruby: Perform like a Pr0n Star" and was themed throughout with sexually suggestive images. Complaints and expressions of discomfort with the content began to appear on blogs in the days following the conference.

These complaints were followed by various defences of the presentation, most notably from David Heinemeier Hansson, original creator of Rails, who declared himself an "R-Rated Individual" and declared that "Alpha male programmers aren't keeping women out". Heinemeier Hansson's response though, was seen by some as not showing appropriate leadership; Mike Gunderloy announced that because of this, he was resigning his position as a Rails Activist.

The debate elsewhere has also expanded to a wider discussion of sexism and the nature of communities, particularly ones that occur around FOSS (Free Open Source Software). Whether the controversy will lead to a more tangible split in the Rails community is currently unclear, but in his detailed summary of the issues, Martin Fowler calls for a more socially responsive Rails community that still retains its "edgy" character.


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