Who Was Adria Richards?

Adria Richards was a well known developer (having 10,000+ followers on Twitter, and several thousand subscribers on YouTube) who was very active in “race and gender related rights”.

At PyCon in March of 2013, she overheard two men (sitting several rows behind her) make a joke about “big dongles”. Adria took offense, and published a picture of the two men (violating Twitters TOS in the process). The company employing the men was notified, resulting in one of the men losing his job.

Later, several people protested the firing, resulting in Adria Richards being terminated at her place of employment.

Issues

There are several issues surrounding the ordeal.

First, the joke was not even sex or race related in any way; “forking big dongles”, as it is, consists of “forking”, or copying a developer’s project to contribute to it, use it as a base for a project of your own, etc., and “dongles”, which is a piece of computer hardware. The joke was completely innocent.

Moreover, Adria blatantly identified the individuals by posting a picture of them, violating their right to privacy. She could have easily contacted the individual’s privately, but instead did something that she knew would likely have retaliatory blowback on the two individuals.

Lastly, Adria being let go is a thorny issue. Firing her for the whole ruckus may be debatable, but Adria also demonstrated concerning behavior that would make holding anyone holding a position in a company questionable in the eyes of an employer.