LISTEN: Interview with Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror




“If you want to prove that you understand something, teach it to someone else.”

Teaching without leaning on video clips with gratuitous gender shaming is even harder.


Yeah, I agree Mark, it's really unfortunate he didn't make that avatar a male one. But that issue aside, the message of the video is amazing.

And as alluded to in the leadup by Dean:

Since it was musical_note just Dean and I musical_note.

You can decide which of us is Eddie and Crystal, I'm good either way.


It's not only unfortunate, it's deeply disrespectful.

So walk the talk:

  1. If you see bad behavior from other men, speak up.

It's not other people's job to make sure that everyone enjoys a safe, respectful, civil environment at work and online.

It's my job. It's your job. It is our job.

There is no mythical men's club where it is OK to be a jerk to women. If you see any behavior that gives you pause, behavior that makes you wonder "is that OK?", behavior that you'd be uncomfortable with directed toward your sister, your wife, your daughter – speak up. Honestly, as one man to another. And if that doesn't work for whatever reason, escalate.

Something like "...great video, but the [gender shaming] is not OK" in the post is the least you can do.


That is both funny and sad. Hopefully not disturbing. Actually. @beschizza might want to see that.

(edit:this was in reference to a since deleted post, ChuckVs was also a response to it)


Hi there, maybe you'll see this. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your podcast discussion.

Discourse really seems to tackle a lot of issues that create lurkers like me. My default is just reading. I rarely participate because it seems like the main thing people want to do on forums is be critical.

Like for instance, your exchange with MarkDow. His contribution was an immediate criticism about gender shaming. I relistened to the beginning of the podcast, couldn't find the gender shaming.

Then I watched the duet which was really nice. No gender shaming there.

Then read your article about manuals being unnecessary. Then I finally watched the video associated with the article. The guy was kind of sarcastic so I didn't watch enough of it.

So at this point I've read your article, watched the duet. Spent a few minutes contemplating whether capes with scooped necklines and dangly ear rings were gender shaming.

Then I found it. After 3:32 in the video below the fold on your article on game design, there's a sequence of a cartoon boy hitting a cartoon girl with punching sounds. Uh oh not good.

That's why I always end up reading not posting. Because that's what that guy got out of your hour long conversation was a criticism of another guy's graphics in a video you didn't make, but linked.

Also bananas.


You should post more! smile


Hey great! We want lurkers to be rewarded for spending time reading, visiting frequently, etc. That's why a lot of the trust stuff explicitly does not weight posting. (However, it is good to "like" posts and we do try to encourage that.)

Well yeah @markdow's comment was a little off topic for this discussion which is why I didn't want to cover it at length and digress even further.

The meta of it is certainly on topic, though. How do you deal with someone lobbing completely random off-topic (although perhaps valid, I am not a fan of hitting women even in oblique third party reference sarcastic cartoon form) criticism?

I think what I'd recommend doing is telling @markdow to leave that comment on the original post it was related to (e.g. on my blog, which also uses Discourse, and trust me, I see all the posts there), and urging him to comment on some aspect of the actual podcast conversation this topic was about.

Because the best way to prove that you understand something is to teach it to someone else wink


Well, on systems which support threaded discussion, it's not such a problem. People who are interested can follow that thread, everyone else can junk it.


I seem to recall a recent codinghorror thread that dissapeared down the memory hole.


I'm not talking about censorship; I'm talking about systems which represent discussions as a tree, make that tree of comments visible to the user, and provide tools to follow or not follow individual branches of the tree of discussion.

Like Usenet in the 1990s, for example, with threaded newsreaders. If someone went off on a tangent, I could junk the thread and not see any of the rest of the discussion. If I was deeply interested in the tangential topic, I could have my newsreader automatically select any new posts that were in the tree of posts resulting from the tangential one.


But it is not remotely on topic here. That is like arguing that any random digression should be allowed, "because threads". To be honest the only reason I didn't flag it as off topic is because it is sort of a "have you stopped beating your wife yet" in that I am definitely not a fan of even sarcastic cartoon parody abuse of female avatars.

To argue that nothing is ever possibly off topic "because threads" is a community discussion anti pattern in and of itself.

There is always "reply as linked topic" in the right gutter; it is there for precisely this reason.


Well, you also described it as

so I wasn't really sure which was the case.


There were two mitigating factors

  1. It references a somewhat germane blog entry about community software design, but for the wrong reasons (incidental aside 3:32 into a linked video from the blog post)

  2. There is a distinct "have you stopped beating your wife yet" aspect to the criticism in that it implies anything but extreme visible disagreement is implied endorsement of a fairly oblique and incidental aspect of the linked video.

You be the judge: did allowing this off topic aside improve or degrade the discussion? Is this discussion something you would reasonably expect / want to read -- if you were someone who listened to (most of..) the audio of the podcast this discussion is ostensibly about?

You tell me.

(also, I think it is unfair to ask readers to bear the burden of having to take action and click to suppress unwanted asides. Writers should bear that burden of being on topic plus or minus 20 percent, not the thousands to millions of readers who follow.)


I get this, and when I comment on your site(s), I will totally hew to it. Easy.

In contrast, here I hew to what I observe, that BBS tends to be on or off topic plus or minus banana percent.

For a brief moment I had Level 4 'powers', accidentally, which I used only to split off-topic comments into their own threads. Give a derailer their own rail, very few will follow them down the rabbit hole. and those that do aren't affecting the original conversation anymore.

I think it's a great strength of the platform, if community moderation heads in that direction then I think you've made something that can get to conversation within 20% tolerances. Falcor will always be helpful.

I also think maybe the linking of other commenters into conversations might need to be tweaked. I'd love to be able to turn off someone ability to rope me into/ refer to me/ reply to me in conversation individually. Or at least to turn off notifications from a single user without turning off notifications for all users? Some folks grate on each other, and it might help with that if one party has a way to opt out of engagement.

Still listening to the podcast. Pleasantly meta.

edit: because i really did listen to the end: I bought a CODE before I knew of the association. I've tried several backlit keyboards, and this is the finest one I have yet owned. Needed a better cable. Has one now.


Probably true. On the other hand, I don't think I've ever seen a side thread in this system. I assume they get shown some way in the original thread that spawned them, right?

If it's true that readers don't generally follow the off-topic threads, then I think it would probably be a good feature if a comment could be flagged as off-topic, but left intact in its parent thread -- but if anyone else wanted to follow that off-topic thread, the system would then split off a new discussion and move the original comment and reply there. That way you could avoid lots of dead single-post discussions.


IIRC yes, the side threads get a placemarker left (this comment and X replies have been moved to [link] or somesuch.)

Why avoid them? What is the cost of letting them happen? I see a cost to leaving an OT/inflammatory post in a thread and a benefit to giving people an opportunity to learn when people don't want to discuss their idea, or when they do they have a venue that doesn't disrupt the original conversation as much as seems to happen on sensitive topics around here.


They’ll clutter up the list of discussions with stuff that nobody is interested in.


And they will fall quickly off the list of discussions if nobody is taking part. Or they will deserve a spot on the list when people do.

Also, the list of discussions can be filtered by topic. Boing will always bring you to front page article discussions. 'meta', 'games', 'wrath', these are all categories for user generated content, which is encouraged.

They may not be the -original- topic, but they might a topic being discussed... in parallel to the original.

@codinghorror encourages use of the (Reply as new topic) button when someone catches themselves being about to be more than 20% off topic. How about when they don't catch themself? I'm not sure most of us here in the peanut gallery are entirely sure when someone else is going to see us that way, and rather than 'clutter up the list of discussions' we might chime in slightly off topic in a way that ends up disrupting the original conversation. But if the community had members empowered to say that a subdiscussion is derailing the original, and can press that button after the fact, it could well aid discussion.


Great interview @codinghorror and I love Discourse and the project. I still want to be a part of it and hope my community will figure out how to support what you are doing because it's so perfect and what all of us on the interwebs should be supporting.