Jokes and Tweets End with Two Fired Techies

twitter bombAdria Richards began the 2013 Pycon Technical Conference as an employee and evangelist for email service provider SendGrid and ended up as a former employee – all because of inappropriate humor.

No, it wasn’t Adria Richards who made tasteless jokes that got her fired. She was the one who took offense at some of the banter going on behind her during the keynote session at Pycon, which is the largest annual gathering for developers who use open-source Python programming language. She decided she to challenge the behavior.

In addition to asking conference organizers to deal with the situation, she tweeted:

Not cool. Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and “big” dongles. Right behind me #pycon pic.twitter.com/Hv1bkeOsYP

The jokesters were chastised by Pycon organizers. Richards’ tweet, however, had amplified the situation. The man making the crude comments eventually was fired for his behavior and later went on to apologize to Richards on Hacker News.

Richards was terminated, too.

In separate SendGrid blog posts, CEO Jim Franklin announced first the termination of Adria Richards and then the justification.

Effective immediately, SendGrid has terminated the employment of Adria Richards. While we generally are sensitive and confidential with respect to employee matters, the situation has taken on a public nature.

Her decision to tweet the comments and photographs of the people who made the comments crossed the line. Publicly shaming the offenders – and bystanders – was not the appropriate way to handle the situation. Even PyCon has since updated their Code of Conduct due to this situation.

“Donglegate” and Richards’ tweet sparked a variety of reactions online, ranging from thoughtful analysis and full support to having her web site hacked and receiving death tweets.


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