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Dongle smut Twitstorm claims second scalp

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Life can imitate a Charlie Brooker drama, after all.

A programmer who made a "dongle" joke at a Python developers' conference has been fired, unleashing a Twitter lynch mob. His feminist accuser has also been fired after her employer suffered a DDoS attack.

"Women in technology need consistant [sic] messaging from birth through retirement they are welcome, competent and valued in the industry," wrote Adria Richards, a social media "consultant advisor and coach" at Sendgrid, who sparked the storm in a blog post called "Forking and Dongle Jokes Don't Belong At Tech Conferences", along with a related Twitter post. Which you really have to read.

(There will be a quiz on Monday.)

Richards was attending the Python conference when a nearby fellow attendee made a joke about "forking repos" [code repositories] and a dongle.

"The stuff about the dongles wasn't even logical and as a self professed nerd, that bothered me. Dongles are intended to be small and unobtrusive," she explained. "They're intended for network connectivity and to service as physical licence keys for software. I'd consulted in the past with an automotive shop that needed data recovery and technical support. I know what PCMCIA dongles look like."

"I was telling myself if they made one more sexual joke, I'd say something ... Then it happened ... The trigger" [our emphasis].

Richards realised that the dongleur was sitting behind her, but instead of giving him an earful, instead went to Twitter. The [unnamed] developer was then investigated by his employer and fired. Now Richards has been fired by her employer, Sendgrid, which suffered a DDOS attack after the palaver. Sendgrid explained she'd turned out to be the wrong kind of evangelist, after all:

A SendGrid developer evangelist's responsibility is to build and strengthen our Developer Community across the globe. In light of the events over the last 48+ hours, it has become obvious that her actions have strongly divided the same community she was supposed to unite. As a result, she can no longer be effective in her role at SendGrid. In the end, the consequences that resulted from how she reported the conduct put our business in danger. [Eh?—Ed.]

"Yesterday the future of programming [again, our emphasis] was on the line and I made myself heard," Richards declared in her blog post.

That much is certainly true. ®

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