Donglegate / Adria Richards

Donglegate / Adria Richards

Updated Dec 07, 2014 at 08:58PM EST by Brad.

Added Mar 21, 2013 at 07:31PM EDT by amanda b..

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While attending the 2013 Python programming language convention PyCon on March 17th, 2013, developer evangelist Adria Richards tweeted a photo of a group of developers seated behind her during a plenary session, stating that they had been making crude jokes about “forking” and “‘big’ dongles.” She also sent a follow up tweet[1], citing PyCon’s Code of Conduct[2] which states that “all communication should be appropriate for a professional audience” and “harassment and sexist, racist or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate.”

Following her tweet, PyCon staff members contacted her via Twitter[3] asserting that they had dealt with the situation. The following day, Richards presented her account of the entire situation on her blog[4], explaining that she initially chose not to say anything to the men out of fear of “being heckled or [having my] experience denied,” but later tweeted her complaints out of concern for future women developers.

Notable Developments

March 20th: PyCon Responds

On March 20th, PyCon issued an official statement about the situation on their blog[5], stating that both parties were addressed in private where they agreed and apologized. Contrary to initial reports, neither party was removed from the conference. The organizers also noted that they valued their attendee’s privacy and later updated their Attendee Procedure for Incident Handling[6] to add that they do not condone public shaming in these incidents.

March 21st: Terminations

In the early morning on March 21st, CEO of Playhaven Andy Yang posted a statement about the incident to the company blog[9], announcing that the offending person had been fired from the company. By noon on the same day, SendGrid announced Richards' termination on Twitter[10] and Facebook[11], despite an early tweet from Richards (shown below) claiming that SendGrid supported her.

Online Reactions

As news about the incident spread across Twitter, #Donglegate[7] emerged as the hashtag for related discussions, which was used more than 1000 times on March 20th. On Reddit, nearly 100 unique threads[12] about the incident were submitted to different subreddits including /r/MensRights[13], /r/TumblrInAction[14], /r/geek[15] and /r/news.[16] There were also two popular posts in /r/Technology[17] that were removed by the moderators. On March 21st, a Redditor on /r/Geek[18] pointed out a tweet Richards made on March 14th[19] (shown below) making a joke about a friend stuffing socks into his crotch region in response to him getting a pat-down by TSA agents, intending to point out her hypocrisy. The post accrued more than 2100 upvotes, 1300 points overall and nearly 750 comments within 13 hours.

News Media Coverage

The Daily Dot[21] was the first site to cover the incident on March 20th, followed by coverage on Techcrunch[22]. BetaBeat[23], New York Magazine[24], Businessweek[25], Mashable[26], Buzzfeed[27], VentureBeat[28], The Atlantic[30] and Ars Technica[31] the next day. It was also reported[29] that SendGrid suffered from DDoS attacks following the online backlash.

SendGrid's Statement

At 6:30 PM on March 21st, SendGrid CEO Jim Franklin issued a longer statement about Richards’ termination via a blog post[20] wherein he explained that while the company supported her right to report the incident, they did not support the means by which she did it or the extreme responses that came from it. He also claimed her actions "strongly divided the same community she was supposed to unite" making her unable to effectively do her job, resulting in her termination.

Search Interest

[Not Currently Available]

External References

[1] Twitter – @adriarichards' Code of Conduct Tweet

[2] PyCon – Code of Conduct

[3] Twitter – @pycon's Tweet

[4] Adria Richards – Forking and Dongle Jokes Don’t Belong At Tech Conferences

[5] PyCon – PyCon's response to an inappropriate incident on March 17th

[6] PyCon Code of Conduct – Attendee Procedure for incident

[7] Twitter – Tweet results for #donglegate

[8] Topsy – Tweet statistics for #donglegate

[9] Bloghaven – Addressing PyCon

[10] Twitter – Richards' Termination Announcement

[11] Facebook – Richards' Termination Announcement

[12] Reddit – Search results for "Adria Richards"

[13] Reddit – Reaction by PyCon to Adria Richards bullying incident

[14] Reddit – Adria Richards has been fired from Sendgrid

[15] Reddit – Adria Richards has been terminated from SendGrid.

[16] Reddit – SendGrid Fires Adria Richards

[17] Reddit – /r/technology mods have now hidden two popular posts about the Adria Richards/Pycon Incident

[18] Reddit – Adria Richards, the "Developer Evangelist" who got someone fired from their job after overhearing a sexual joke at PyCon, just prefers her jokes to be about penises.

[19] Twitter – @adriarichards' TSA Sock Joke

[20] SendGrid – A Difficult Situation

[21] The Daily Dot – How a "big dongle" joke brought out the worst of the Internet

[22] Techcrunch – A Dongle Joke That Spiraled Way Out Of Control

[23] BetaBeat – Why Can’t the Tech Community Talk About Adria Richards Like Grownups?

[24] New York Magazine – All of Silicon Valley Is Scandalized Over a Stupid Dongle Joke

[25] Businessweek – Brogrammers Making Sex Jokes and Other Reasons Startups Need HR Departments

[26] Mashable – SendGrid Fires Company Evangelist After Twitter Fracas

[27] Buzzfeed – Woman Publicly Fired For Tweeting About “Sexual Jokes”

[28] VentureBeat – Breaking: Adria Richards fired by SendGrid for calling out developers on TwitterV

[29] VentureBeat – SendGrid under DDOS attack after its developer evangelist complains about sexual jokes at PyCon

[30] The Atlantic – Hackers Got a Woman Fired by a Startup After She Called Out Sexual Harassment

[31] Ars Technica – How “dongle” jokes got two people fired--and led to DDoS attacks

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