There’s no question that the tech world is an overwhelmingly male place.
There’s legit concern that tech is run-amok with “brogrammers” that make women programmers feel unwelcome.
On the other hand, people just want to laugh.
It’s at that intersection that programmer Randy Hunt, aka “letsgetrandy” posted a “project” (in geek speak known as a “repo”) earlier this week to software hosting site GitHub called “DICSS.”
Read that word out loud. Yes, it’s supposed to rhyme with “kicks.”
The project, which is actual free and open source software, is surrounded by geeky jokes about the male anatomy.
And it’s gone nuts, so to speak, becoming the most trending project on Github, and the subject of a lot of chatter on Twitter.
And, Hunt tells us, the folks at Github are scratching their heads wondering what they should do about it.
Github, if you remember, was under fire about a year over accusations of how a female employee was treated.
Some people love DICSS (and, we have to admit, some of the jokes did make us snicker) … and some people are, understandably, offended.
The offended people point out that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes tech unwelcoming to women, and not just because of the original project, but because of some of the comments (posted as “commits”) that might take the joke too far. (And, we have to admit, the tech world really doesn’t need another thing that encourages sexism. A lot of male programmers are just as sick of that as women are.)
Reaction to the project in both camps is all over Twitter.
This isn’t the first “brohumor” Github project that Hunt created, either. His first, Brototype, was in a similar vein and got a similar reaction, although not as big as this.
We reached out to Hunt to ask him about all this.
Business Insider: Why did you decide to do the DICSS project?
Randy Hunt: It started as a joke amongst coworkers, after a particularly impassioned argument between religious zealots for LESS, Sass, and Stylus, and why it’s suicide to pick an alternative when “my favourite” is clearly the best.
[Editors note: To decode that a little, LESS, Sass and Stylus are all methods used to program Web sites, and every coder has a favourite.]
So I responded that I’m eschewing them all in favour of DICSS — directly injected CSS. It became a joke around the office, that eventually manifested itself online. [Editor’s note: there’s no such thing as “directly injected CSS.” It’s a geeky play on words that makes for an interesting acronym.]
BI: Did you expect anyone to notice it? What kind of reaction were you hoping for?
RH: After the response I got from Brototype (another funny repo I made which became unexpectedly controversial), I’d be lying if I didn’t expect there to be some reaction here.
But this is far bigger than anything I could have predicted. At some point today, there was a meeting in the offices of Github to discuss what to do about me and my joke. I’m flattered!
BI: Some people love it (guessing you like that) … some people think its sexist-pig-juvenile … what are your thoughts on that?
RH: People want to be offended. It’s reverse privilege.
I am judged for the work I do and the quality of it, and I’ve spent years and great effort to become a talented member of my field. I can’t help thinking that if people wanted more people in the community, they should spend less time complaining about the community and more time encouraging people to push the boundaries of technology a bit and learn to see things in different ways.
Amongst those I know, DICSS has actually been suggested to be a possibly very interesting new way to do things. The point of all of my joke repo’s is that they’re actually useful code. They just happen to have funny names.
BI: Would you call yourself a “brogrammer” (am guessing yes given your other project “brototype” and the below-the-belt humour in that one) and why?
RH: Not at all. I’m just a fun-loving programmer who adheres to the old saying (was it Mark Twain?) that if you “choose a career you enjoy, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
I don’t have any need to exert any alpha male behaviours or other “frat boy” activities in my career. I’m a very productive part of not only the development, but the business decisions of the companies I work for. I simply like to have some fun sometimes, and tell some jokes.
And so what if some people don’t like that? If it were everyone, that would be different. But at present, we’re not talking about everyone. Just a group of people who spend more time policing political correctness than they do making useful software.
I have other, serious projects on my Github, and if this kind of trolling is what it takes to get visibility for those, I see it as a net win.