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When Software Offends 467

ndogg writes "The open source Python projects Pantyshot and Upskirt have caused quite a stir within the Python community, and catalyzed the leaving of one of their developers (a woman whose native language is not English.) The original developer, Frank Smit, has renamed Pantyshot to Misaka, but that too has suspect etymology, as Violet Blue points out."
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When Software Offends

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  • Well.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:06PM (#36721466)

    That's the beautiful thing about freedom, you're free not to use media or software that offends you...

    There's plenty of bigots and assholes out there. If you feel it's worth the fight, be my guest. I'm gonna go with the second choice, which is ignoring it. They'll both have the same end result, anyway...

    • And that's exactly what the developer who was trolled into using the name did - she's not developing in the community anymore.

      • she's not developing in the community anymore.

        And this is newsworthy because...?

        I'll have to call my local media later. Someone holding a sign with a racial slur made me cross the street once. I don't know how I managed to cope with this without bringing my plight to the masses...

        • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:39PM (#36722044)

          If your goal is to build a community to develop software, doing things which drive people from the community tend to be counterproductive. If, in the alternative, your goal is to establish a community for the purpose of being antisocial jerks, then doing things which drive people who don't like antisocial jerks from the community would be worthwhile, I suppose.

          I had thought the goal of this Python community had more to do with the former than the latter, but I could be wrong.

          • If your goal is to build a community to develop software, doing things which drive people from the community tend to be counterproductive.

            True but, thanks to OS licenses, there is a perfect solution which the community can take without having to resort to censorship: fork and rename the project. Then, when presumably the community all downloads and uses the more appropriately named project it will send a very strong message to the jerk who wrote the original package that the community as a whole does not tolerate such behaviour.

            All this modern push for more and more rules and regulations is not always needed. If the community really belie

          • I often do/write offensive things to weed out the whiners. I'd rather goad someone into showing their intolerance through a harmless joke or pun, than find out much later once I've invested my time and effort into a relationship. I prefer not to censor myself - I see political correctness as the wool that is drawn over society's eyes. That doesn't mean I'm not a nice guy, I just don't candy coat my words. If my colourful vocabulary and frank talk is enough justification for someone to dislike or even de

    • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, 2011 @01:11PM (#36722696)

      And the managers are free not to allow a package with an offensive name in. Look, (non-government) censorship isn't always bad. We self-censor ourselves everyday. That’s part of living in a society. What if the package was called Childr@per or nigg3r? Should those be included? No. Is that censorship? You bet!
        Now, some people take offense at every little thing. Some people are very thick skinned. .The only question is, does this cross the line? I say this is the kind of behavior that keeps women excluded from geek culture. But just calling it "censorship" isn't a valid reason to enforce non-offensive package names.. I mean, come on.

  • by cultiv8 ( 1660093 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:16PM (#36721632) Homepage
    It's a slippery slope if the FOSS community enforces decency through naming conventions. However:

    It’s not that the names were simply sexual in nature: it was that they targeted a women over the very thing that makes them a minority in the Python community in the first place: you could call it a sexual exploit.

    So generally speaking, I support the name change, especially if this is true:

    She, not being a native English-speaker, had accepted on trust a foreign-language name for her library. According to Holden, the revelation - and the attention to her unknowing complicity - brought about with the name was so uncomfortable for her that she quit working in open source altogether.

    But it's still a slippery slope.

    • by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:28PM (#36721856)

      Easiest way to avoid a slippery slope is to build a fence. Establish guidelines, enforce them, and suddenly your slippery slope becomes quite navigable.

      • Easiest way to avoid a slippery slope is to build a fence. Establish guidelines, enforce them, and suddenly your slippery slope becomes quite navigable.

        Until you build so many fences that navigating the path becomes akin to navigating a maze.

        They have established guidelines and are enforcing them. The guidelines say, 'there will be no censorship.' They would rather people didn't abuse their freedoms, but will not remove those freedoms because a minority do choose to abuse it. What you're proposing is that they establish new guidelines because people were offended. If they do that everyone is offended, soon there will be a 40-page document on guidelines

    • FSCK you!

    • by Attack DAWWG ( 997171 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:41PM (#36722108)
      To be fair, FCKeditor was named after its author, Frederico Caldeira Knabben, who is from Brazil. Evidently that was his real name and he didn't at first realize the unfortunate similarity of his initials to an English swear word--but even if he had realized this, they were still his real initials, so I think he would still have some right to name it that. In any case, the name of the editor has now been changed to CKEditor.
    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      But it's still a slippery slope.

      Indeed it is. Sometimes PC based name changes can end up costing millions or more, because the name change isn't obvious, there are legacy apps that depend on a naming, or simply because the name change creates animosity.
      Sun's switch from master/slave to the euphemism producer/consumer in order not to offend African-Americans by using the taboo word "slave" is a good example of all three.

      Changing a name can, perhaps, be appropriate when there isn't already an established name, but being PC just to be PC is

      • NIS comes to mind - it wasn't renamed for PC reasons, but legal - formerly known as Yellow Pages, until the phone book of the same name took legal action over the trademark. The old name remains in use for various commands (ypcat and such) precisely because to rename the command would break a great many scripts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:19PM (#36721674)

    Would anyone working for/at a real-world business ever use any of that software? I highly doubt that anything that can bring about a sexual harassment suit just from publishing its documentation is worth even a penny.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

      People joke, but this is the reason I stopped talking about GIMP in my photo editing classes. It's also why I stopped recommending GoDaddy to web clients. If you want to be taken seriously, here's a tip. Don't name your software something that has the potential to offend people. And don't make your website look like a Hooters ad.

  • by jfruhlinger ( 470035 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:21PM (#36721730) Homepage

    I love how this is all framed as people being "offended," so that everyone can say "Ooh, look at the little baby, so offended by harsh language." When actually the issue is that the names for these (non-panty-related) software has been picked out by dudes who apparently think that it's hilarious to take pictures up women's skirts without their consent (which is what everyone knows "upskirt" and "pantyshot" mean, on the internet). You don't need to be a native speaker of English to know what they think of women.

    • Hell, even without the sexual harassment issues, the fact that a native speaker of English decided to humiliate a non-native speaker through a name suggestion would seem to indicate that we're not exactly dealing with the nicest people ever,

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Interesting question: how has their[1] view of women been shaped by women's disgust and rejection of them? What THEY think of about what women think of THEM? (there's that scary "them" again...why do we always use this word when we talk about people we don't understand and have no desire to understand?) A little understanding goes a long way. The desire to label men as objects, to say they are nothing more than pantyskirt perverts, dehumanizes men and makes them into complete monsters, undes

      • So ... they couldn't get a date in high school, so it's OK for them to name software after a genre that revolves around the (implied or explicit) humiliation of women? I don't think anyone's labelling "men" as objects, I think people are labelling these particular men as rude.

  • You are free to change the name then.

    But i honestly must admit that i never got why you would call your software in any weirdly conotated way. You will just narrow the circle of users. Before i have to explain inside a company where non-geeks also participate in meetings that i use libupskirt i would rename it and use it under the other name.

    • Yeah, this is what I'm thinking. Fork the thing with two new features: a name you can mention in a business meeting without getting nasty looks from 3/4 of your colleagues, and a lead developer who has actually matured beyond the age of fourteen.

      By the way, what does this thing even do?

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:25PM (#36721794) Homepage Journal

    it's the aspies who give their software hostile and immature names which offend.

    What the fuck kind of idiot thinks "upskirt" and "pantyshot" are good names for a computer program?

  • Jesux [] proposed to remove '"kills" and "aborts" and "daemons"' and other anti-christian parts from linux and redistribute it. It was a colossal fail (or more likely a hoax), but it gave us all a pretty good laugh at the time. That was what, 12 years ago? I think that was far more offensive.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why would you name a parser like that? I mean, I'm all for freedom of speech, and that has to include potentially offensive speech, but why choose that? It's dumb. And I don't mean just the "potentially offensive" angle, but from a technical standpoint too. Talk about poisoning the Google searches! When people go looking for it, the legitimate software library you worked so hard to code is going to be buried way at the end of a long list of ... other stuff. Simultaneously I'm not keen on how easily of

    • by Catskul ( 323619 )

      Actually, that's a pretty good idea. I've I was part of the Python community, I think I would offer this suggestion to on the relevant mailing list. Someone aught to.

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:38PM (#36722038)

    I remember about 7-8 years ago, when someone coded up an emulator for the Neo-Geo Pocket Color. The supposed full name of the product (which none of the developers ever used) was "Rather A Pokemon Emulator?" and the logo was a Pikachu poorly Photoshopped for, shall we say, reasons of endowment. I don't recall if the software was open-source or not, but the naming controversy doesn't sound too different from this.

    Free speech allows you to name your project whatever you want, no matter how tasteless. Free association, however, allows people to decide not to use your project based on its name. Open-source even lets someone fork it, changing little if anything but the name, and snag the userbase out from under a puerile manchild.

  • by jra ( 5600 )

    I don't have a problem with a developer deciding to use names like this for a package, if they want to stick their neck out.

    The point here, is apparently that *the developer* wasn't sticking their neck out; someone else did it *for them*. *That*, I have a problem with.

    So, y'all people shooting at the name itself? That's a strawman; please look at what's actually offensive here.

  • I read the entire article and still have no idea what the upskirt/pantyshot libraries actually do. Seems like a bit of critical info to leave out of the article.

    • From Google:

      Upskirt: The Markdown library that sucks less than your Markdown library

      So what does it do? The library is intended to be a python library module used by various projects to convert Markdown syntax into HTML.

    • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
      It's python, and hence, relevant to nothing.
  • There's plenty of stuff that offends me to some degree or another, but I ignore it and move on because I can't censor someone else without giving them the power to censor me in return. Yes, those names are stupid, juvenile, and annoying. I'll be damned if I want to put anyone in the position of having the power to ban or reject software for those reasons, though. I'd rather be offended and annoyed than silenced.

  • For those who may not know, upskirt is the Markdown parser used and developed at GitHub under the name 'RedCarpet.' Both packages--upskirt is a fast C parser for Markdown, and pantyshot is its python wrapper--are immensely useful. Giving them those names, however, makes it difficult to integrate them into a professional software project. I find this to be the same attitude developers seem to have about users in general--library users, in this case. Some developers have a certain disdain for those whom do no
  • by rekoil ( 168689 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:50PM (#36722278)

    True story - when I was implementing an internal IRC network for a former employer, I was instructed to add BitchX to our desktop UNIX builds - but rename the binary.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @12:52PM (#36722312) Homepage Journal
    Really this has always happened in the male dominated world of technology and math and the like. It is a reflection of the fantasy world of boys and young men that has not yet been tempered with a healthy sex life and fueled by a need to be seen as socially equal to the other men a group, a need that often trumps the wishes of romantic partners. Most men will understand that such language is inappropriate in mixed setting, and not use such language, but some men will have such a need to convince other men of their sexual prowess that they will continue to use such language even to the detriment of the overall community.

    It used to be this was much bigger of an issue. Look up mnemonics for resistor color codes for examples. These names are mild in comparison. Boys must understand that a woman who is working on code is not going to look kindly when she is treated primarily as an object to be used to satisfy the boys need for sexual gratification.

    • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

      Your assumption that use of crude language is a male thing is rather sexist.

      I don't approve of calling a project something like that, but I the woman I hang out with are far FAR more crude in ordinary conversation than any of the guys I work with.

  • So humor you might use with your friends with whom you have understandings creates a problem when you use it publicly?

    I thought any kind of humor you want to use is always acceptable in all contexts. It never occurred to me that one might want to use diplomacy in a public project that you want wide acceptance of.

  • ....consider the CUSTOMER.

    Understandably, many Aspies despise convention, but if I name something "couchslug's wrinkly ballsack" I should understand that will have a rather limited appeal.

    It may alienate a tiny minority of potential customers who don't care to picture my nuts. That I find my nuts quite nice is beside the point.

    This concept is terribly difficult for some people to understand.

  • by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @02:09PM (#36723808)
    If we're going to rename software packages with sexually suggestive names, can we finally get a better name than GIMP.
    • Judging by Google, it's taken over the phrase. Perhaps this is a good way to get rid of sexually suggestive or offensive terms - name popular open-source projects after them.
  • by tdelaney ( 458893 ) on Monday July 11, 2011 @05:57PM (#36727096)

    The blog post got several things wrong about the anime character "Misaka" (actually Misaka Mikoto) from To aro Majutsu no Index/To aru Kagaku no Railgun.

    Firstly, she's about 15, not 11. In no way could you look at her and think she's 11. There is a clone of her who's biologically about 8 (Last Order) - maybe they mixed them up.

    Secondly, the whole upskirt bit in Railgun is having a laugh at pantyshots. Mikoto wears shorts under her skirt, so she's actually immune to upskirt and panty flashes, much to the disappointment of her roommate Kuroko.

    There is another character in Railgun who is constantly suffering panty flashes thanks to a friend, but it's not Misaka Mikoto.

    The blog also characterises Anime as "adult comics" when as we all (should) know, it's all animation (child-oriented or adult-oriented) in Japan.

    • I should note that the character who suffers panty flashes (Uiharu) never actually shows her panties to the audience IIRC. It's only her friend Saten who sees them and says what they are.

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