email about Stack Overflow
- via Email to firstname.lastname@example.org, 12/3/10. Reprinted here with permission.
- Hi, Jeff!
- I just made a critical comment on your SO blog post. I immediately felt bad, because I realized I'm using a service that I adore, but I never spoke up about it until I had a criticism. I usually avoid praising celebrities because I figure they probably get plenty of praise, but you seem to be a special case.
- I have an ongoing concern that one's ability to hone one's programming skills is dependant on community participation and support. This has the very unfortunate side-effect that one's ability to hone one's programming skills is dependant on their ability to assimilate into geek culture. Assimilating into geek culture can be very difficult depending on one's gender, age, ethnicity and culture. This is in addition to the fact that some people just do not fit in with that subculture, period.
- I can't say you have single-handledly fixed this problem, but I must give you praise for making the community support much more accessible to those who don't fit the geek model. It's not perfect, but SO is so much more accessible and friendly to diverse groups than any other programming community I've seen. That is amazing, Jeff. I hope you are aware of what an achievement that is. I actually first found SO because it was recommended to me by a fellow female programmer as being a female-friendly site.
- On Stack Overflow, I have never been told "Tits or GTFO." I have never been told to get out of the community to go bake someone a pie. No one has ever ignored what I'm saying about programming to instead solicit me for nude photos. That, if nothing else (and there actually is a lot else), makes SO a cut above the rest. I don't know how you do it, because you can't control your users, but somehow you've managed and it's brilliant.
- It is absolutely excellent that you let me preserve my anonymity by allowing me to participate without an account. I know that pseudonymity is shaky, since people can piece together things you say to figure out who you are, and I've seen that happen many times. With your site, I can use a different name for each question or answer, so my anonymity is assured and I feel a lot safer. I'm sure you're aware that a lot of women are afraid of attaching their identity to things they say or do on the internet, an issue that the Kathy Sierra incident brought into the limelight. It is also excellent that you give your users privacy controls over their CV at the careers section.
- So thank you, Jeff. Just thank you. You could have made yet another progrmaming community that was hostile to anyone who isn't a White Western male, but you instead made a revolutionarily inclusive one. You are awesome.