LJ: writing off half the population is stupid, not funny

Story: Linux Journal: How Not To Run A BusinessTotal Replies: 16
Author Content
dthacker

Oct 01, 2007
6:05 PM EST
I've got three daughters. I'm not amused. I'm going to ignore the whole "is this offensive" argument for now and make this point instead. Perception is reality. If people are offended, then LJ is offensive, and they're alienating people that we need. The Linux and Free Software community cannot afford the loss of talent that LJ's attitudes are causing. LJ management: If you think Free Software and and Linux are worth promoting, then don't write off half the population with your sniggering locker room attitude. For those of you who have had to put up with this hogwash, I hope you realize there are those of us who read your articles, see your commits, and appreciate your advocacy. Please stand fast against the morons.

dthacker
dinotrac

Oct 01, 2007
6:26 PM EST
I've go three daughters, too, as well as two sisters, a wife and a mother.

I seem to be less upset than most by the ad, but I'm really upset that the folks at LJ haven't figured out that you can make the same joke without being demeaning. Oh sure they'll still offend the professional nose-out-of-jointers, but everything does.

Picture it more like this -- everything is the same except for the text:

" Well, what did you expect, sport? It's like our servers. Sure, they look great, but the real beauty lies under the covers in our frapnabbits and watchamacallits and our Linux OS. Treat them with respect and appreciation, and they might just take you places you never imagined."
albertw

Oct 01, 2007
7:31 PM EST
So it looks like they've lost 3 customers now. I wonder how long it will take at this rate to make a difference? Get the point?

Albert
gus3

Oct 01, 2007
9:28 PM EST
Lost me, too. I won't buy an issue of LJ, either as a subscriber, or off the newsstand, until Petreley is gone. Margaret Richardson was gone less than a month after this ad ran the first time seven years ago; Petreley deserves the same.
tracyanne

Oct 01, 2007
11:22 PM EST
While I agree that it's not at all professional, and the Gnull and Voyd and Mango Parfait jokes are less than infantile, I can't say that I'm in the least upset by the Ads in question, I don't find them offensive or demeaning, They don't bother me at all. I can understand that you do, but to me they are merely pathetic, and rather than feeling offended, or demeaned myself, I think it demonstrates the inadequacies of the people who created them. My low opinion of advertising people is merely confirmed.
jacog

Oct 02, 2007
1:03 AM EST
tracyanne:

Well, I am not offended either, not in a direct way anwyay, but there is something one must understand about this type of thing. The idea that "IT people" - programmers, system administrators, etc. - are all male, gets reinforced over and over again. This makes it harder for legitimately skilled women to get jobs in that industry. It may not offend everyone, but it is harmful.
dinotrac

Oct 02, 2007
1:10 AM EST
>The idea that "IT people" - programmers, system administrators, etc. - are all male,

Question:

Would you find this ad offensive, then, if the magazine acknowledged the existence of women in other ways?

Must every ad always address the entire market, or is it ok for an advertiser to address particular ads to a segment of the market? After all, I know that companies in the travel industry have specific ads aimed at gay travelers. Other ads target the straight trade.

Mind you, you've got to be careful how you do that. You might not want to start an ad that targets Latinos with "So fed up with all those stupid and smelly gringos that you'd just like to kill them all?"



jacog

Oct 02, 2007
1:32 AM EST
The way I understand it, it's not just this ad that's the issue, but that LJ makes a habit out of painting this stereotype.

As for that ad. Well, if the magazine was called Linux Blokes, and was specifically and openly aimed at males, then the ad would likely not have gotten such a nasty reception. Unless of course you are offended by women portrayed as sex objects, which I am sure a magazine called "Linux Blokes" might be so full of anyway that the blowjob ad would hardly even be noticed.

Tech magazines have a habit of being male-oriented though... bikini-and-iPod-clad women on the front cover - that sort of thing. And these are not guy-mags (supposedly), they are just tech mags that happen to carry the "technology is for men" subtext.

Advertising should not necessarily always target everyone, of course. Llike advertising panty-liners to men. But it's really daft to have an advert single out a demographic that has every right to be a prospective customer.

An aside: That ad also seems to only target single men or ones who'd consider cheating on their signifcant others.
tracyanne

Oct 02, 2007
1:45 AM EST
Quoting:This makes it harder for legitimately skilled women to get jobs in that industry. It may not offend everyone, but it is harmful.


I agree, on the other hand, I've never come across anything like that here in Australia. I suppose it exists, but I've never encountered it, and nor do I know anyone who has.
dthacker

Oct 02, 2007
2:20 AM EST
Must every ad always address the entire market, or is it ok for an advertiser to address particular ads to a segment of the market? After all, I know that companies in the travel industry have specific ads aimed at gay travelers. Other ads target the straight trade.

No, that would be silly. But if you're going to address one segment of the market, you don't have to offend another. I'd prefer that any magazine I subscribe to be trying to expand the market to Linux, instead of just targeting males. I'm not any happier with the "men are stupid" trend I see in other types of advertising.
tracyanne

Oct 02, 2007
2:52 AM EST
Quoting:Must every ad always address the entire market,


They never do. Ads always address a market segment.
hackmeister

Oct 02, 2007
5:38 AM EST
The word on the street is that Nick Petreley was let go last week from Linux Journal. Not sure if it was directly related to this or just the general direction of the magazine.
dinotrac

Oct 02, 2007
6:05 AM EST
>The word on the street is that Nick Petreley was let go last week from Linux Journal.

Yeah...verified on Nick's varlinux.org.

If he was let go for the ad, somebody is seriously goofy, me thinks. Advertising and general content tend not to mix. I suppose he could be a fall guy. After all, TC's comments indicate that the higher ups had no problem with the ad.
albertw

Oct 02, 2007
6:16 AM EST
People like to rant because it makes them feel relevant.

"then don't write off half the population with your sniggering locker room attitude"

It isn't half the population, a very small sliver actually. So by writing off the small minority they're probably appealing to the vast majority which equals money.

"The idea that "IT people" - programmers, system administrators, etc. - are all male, gets reinforced over and over again."

Aren't they? There are exceptions but most are. I teach Linux classes at the college level and only 20% of my students are women. Is it because there's someone at the classroom door mocking them so they don't feel comfortable coming to class or is it because the majority just aren't interested. A smaller percentage actually make it in the industry after getting their degree and most (not all) of the reason is they don't excel where they need to. A small small percentage take the world by storm.

At the point that the women outnumber the men the attitude will change because now women would be a bigger market and where the money is. Do you really think that will ever happen? At some point it isn't about prejudice anymore, it's just what is.

I don't read tech magazines to see ads. As a matter of fact I read all LJs and I never saw the ad. If you buy it to read the ads maybe you should pick a different magazine.

I think another thing needs to be addressed here as well. We've gotten so sensitive about everything that we no longer have what this great country was founded on - freedom. Yes we've gotten so free we aren't. We can't show and ad of a black guy with a basketball because then we're stereotyping black people and some short black guy will get upset, you can't tell the girl in the next cubicle that she looks nice or you'll lose your job and be taken to court (if you're lucky), you can't put an Indian guy running a 7-11 in a cartoon etc... It goes on and on. You can't put a guy getting a bj in an advertisement when in reality most women have given one and most guys have gotten one. We'll get to the point in time where we'll be fined for acknowledging real life.

We live in a knee-jerk society where everyone thinks everything has to do with them. If someone pulls in front of you on the freeway you have to get upset because your rights as a red blooded American were wronged. At the very least you honk or yell and unfortunately some drivers might go as far as popping a cap in the trunk of the offender. In any Latin-American country or most of Europe this wouldn't even get a reaction because that's just the way they drive.

If the magazine doesn't have anything good in it then don't read it - period, we're done, move on. At the slightest hint of offense people get the rope. We have as humans the ability to process emotion however we want. If you feel you MUST get upset about something focus on the c02 levels in the atmosphere or global hunger...

BTW - If anyone should get upset it should the head Unix admin at work because not only is she a woman but she's gay so the ad REALLY wasn't aimed at her, but she didn't, she like me was too busy reading the articles about Linux.

tuxchick

Oct 02, 2007
6:19 AM EST
"Must every ad always address the entire market, or is it ok for an advertiser to address particular ads to a segment of the market?...if you're going to address one segment of the market, you don't have to offend another."

Exactly.

According to my spies, Nick Petreley left for reasons not related to this, and he and Ms. Fairchild were both all a-giggle over the ad. Never mind that it insults men (stereotype loser geeks who can't get girlfriends) and women (not geeks, just boytoys), never mind that it is nowhere near "edgy", but is an old, worn-out joke; they think it's the bee knees. And it came with a fat check attached, which is probably its most compelling virtue.

Margie Richardson, according to the grapevine, left because she could not get along with Phil Hughs. Which makes her a member of a large club. Carlie Fairchild owns and controls the magazine now, and has been running it for a number of years. She bears the ultimate responsibility.

As I tried to make clear in the article, it's not just this ad. It's a set of ingrained and incurable bad values and attitudes. When Kevin Shockey, who was editor in chief of Tux Magazine, joined the board at Freespire that should have resulted in an ultimatum- quit the board or quit being editor. But no, it was all fine, no conflict of interest here. Sheesh.

jacog

Oct 02, 2007
6:31 AM EST
I just wrote a rather long post about why only 20% of your students are women, and decided to just delete it. You don't really get it and likely never will.
FredMobach

Oct 02, 2007
6:45 AM EST
>The idea that "IT people" - programmers, system administrators, etc. - are all male,

It's even worse. While my wife entered the IT world earlier than I did many people think she will only serve the thee and coffee.

The bank account managers, tax inspectors and so on always ask for me in a meeting while I don't know anything what they're talking about. Only the accountant understands, she a women. :-)

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