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gender & gentleness

by Anonymous Monk
on Oct 05, 2003 at 10:11 UTC ( #296680=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

When someone posts a basic newbie question and using a (seemingly) female nickname, the community provides welcoming helpful comments.

The similar posting from a (seemingly) male nickname would be blasted:

"--", "RTFM", "hire a consultant", "you're screwed", "is this homework?"

I know social pyschologists have conducted similar experiments in labs, so the results should not suprise.

Still ironic. Particularly online. Where we all could be female, or male, or dogs.

Not suggesting this is bad or good. Just amused by how much biology stays with us as we go virtual.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: gender & gentleness
by antirice (Priest) on Oct 05, 2003 at 10:18 UTC


    I didn't realize anyone here based their response upon what could be perceived about the OP's sex from their handle. Just wondering, but could you provide a few examples? It's not that I don't believe you but I just can't recall any particular threads that would cause you to come to this conclusion. This just seems to be coming from left field.

    The way I respond is usually based upon how I'm feeling at the time. I normally read the post, not the name. If it warrants a reply, I do so. That's why I'm here. Of course, as of late I haven't responded much at all. I dunno, I think I'm getting old. (if you can even be called that at 22)

    The first rule of Perl club is - use Perl
    ith rule of Perl club is - follow rule i - 1 for i > 1

Re: gender & gentleness
by thelenm (Vicar) on Oct 05, 2003 at 15:18 UTC

    You're screwed, Anonymous Monk--. Was this homework, or do you need to hire a consultant to help you RTFM? :-)

    If you want people to listen to your observations, maybe next time you could post as Anonymous Monkette++!

    -- Mike

    XML::Simpler does not require XML::Parser or a SAX parser. It does require File::Slurp.
    -- grantm, perldoc XML::Simpler

Re: gender & gentleness
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Oct 05, 2003 at 16:17 UTC

    When making statements about "the community" as a whole, beware that any community is made up of individual members who may or may not share any or all views with "the community".

Re: gender & gentleness
by samtregar (Abbot) on Oct 05, 2003 at 18:55 UTC
    OMG, you mean CyberSpace isn't a radical social utopia where we float free as genderless, nationless super-beings? I better go sell my deck.


Re: gender & gentleness
by phydeauxarff (Priest) on Oct 05, 2003 at 16:39 UTC
    I haven't consciously posted responses based on the apparent sex of the poster, but I do try to look at the homenode of the monk posting to see if they have only recently come to the monastery and if so, will do my best to temper my RTFM's to make them as welcoming as possible...

    All of the answers you mention are valid...sometimes the best way to help someone is not do do the work for them but to show them how to help themselves...the trick is to not come off as some elitist jerk when doing so.

    I always try to remember the saying, "if you build a man a fire, you keep him warm for a day....if you set a man on fire, you keep him warm for the rest of his life" ;-)

      Terry Prachett++
Re: gender & gentleness
by dda (Friar) on Oct 05, 2003 at 15:07 UTC
    I agree with antirice -- is a very friendly site, and I recommend it to everyone.


Re: gender & gentleness
by allolex (Curate) on Oct 06, 2003 at 08:51 UTC

    Like antirice, I'd like to see some data. It sounds plausible, but there's nothing like evidence to support your claim. You clearly did not do your homework.

    So, you should collect a sampling of about 1000 randomly-chosen posts and have a look at the following factors:

    • Female/male ratio of the monks.
    • Do the posters come from cultures where being "nice" to girls is the norm? Does the norm apply universally, or just to heterosexual males?
    • Level of RTFM (Everyone gets told to RTFM at times, especially beginners). You will have to come up with a scheme of grading the level of response and correlate that to (perceived) biological gender.
    • That information will have to be correlated to the (perceived) biological gender of the responses' writers (i.e. the "community").
    • Of course, you will also have to come up with a means of objectively identifying the perceived bioloical gender of everyone posting. (Obviously, you could cut to the chase and ask everyone.)

    If given more time, I could probably come up with a few other criteria that would make this question answerable.


      ... and don't forget that you have to look at the phrasing of the original post - e.g. "I'm probably being stupid, but what's the difference between $foo and @foo?" is probably going to get a more sympathetic response than "$foo and @foo are the same thing, so why is my script not working? Stupid Perl..."

      Maybe women are just politer than men?

      Tom Melly,
Re: gender & gentleness
by kutsu (Priest) on Oct 05, 2003 at 17:18 UTC

    Your findings are thankfully different than mine. I will admit, I didn't read the manual/tutorials before posting my first post (it used br tags for spacing). Yet, I wasn't told to "RTFM" in a mean way, actually several people on the chatterbox gave me advice and pointed me to the tutorials. At that time I assume people thought I was a guy, which I am, as I used he in conversation and pain isn't a "female nick" (assuming you use the 1950 definition of what female nicks are).

    That's just me though and one path in life doesn't cover all the hikers

    "Pain is weakness leaving the body, I find myself in pain everyday" -me

Re: gender & gentleness
by castaway (Parson) on Oct 06, 2003 at 11:09 UTC
    I have to agree with the majority here, I cant see I ever noticed any extra attention (not that Ive posted newbie-type questions much though ,). And as for myself, I tend not to look at who a question is from, unless its too vague or something, and then to contact them and ask for more clarification etc. (although I usually do that as a response to the post too).

    This held true in MUDs quite a number of years ago, where the ratio certainly was 95:5 M:F, but here? Nah.

    Anyway, theres enough females that answer questions too, are you suggesting they also only give helpful answers to other (seemingly) females? I doubt it somehow. :)


Re: gender & gentleness
by jacques (Priest) on Oct 06, 2003 at 04:14 UTC
    When someone posts a basic newbie question and using a female nickname, the community provides welcoming helpful comments.

    Association does not imply causation.

Re: gender & gentleness
by cLive ;-) (Prior) on Oct 06, 2003 at 04:04 UTC
    As much as we want to deny it, there is some truth in that, but it's not as blatant as it used to be 5/6 yrs ago. If I remember right, Eric Tachibana (Selena Sol), got started on the net with a thesis about gender in chatrooms. I tried to find the original article, but couldn't find it from his home page

    I'm sure it's out there somewhere though, if you dig deep enough :)


    cLive ;-)

Re: gender & gentleness
by Ella (Acolyte) on Oct 11, 2003 at 00:25 UTC

    Just a couple of points:

    This first one is actually quite relevant to the discussion at hand: If, as you say, seemingly female 'newbies' are treated with more 'leniency' by the monks, this is probably more insulting to the women - why on earth should it be accepted as more reasonable that a female should be more in need of understanding if she posts what is perceived to be a stupid question?

    But that brings me to a second, longer, only very tenuously related point (which probably ought to have a node of its own and is my own personal hobby-horse), which is that despite its having been written by a linguist and having innumerable parallels to natural language, perl is awfully difficult to learn if you're not already a bit of a techie. I need a "Perl for Kids" book. For me, not for my kids (if I were to have any which I don't). Telling a true newbie to read the FAQ and other documentation can be incredibly frustrating for the newbie in question - it doesn't matter how many entries one reads on e.g. "rand", sometimes you just need a kind person to take you by the hand and explicitly show you what it is you need to know before you can understand what's going on (and even then sometimes you don't....) Sometimes you're such a newbie you need help just figuring out what questions to ask.

    Anyway, this is an incredibly long-winded way of saying that as a true beginner, with little to no prior programming knowledge, I have not found perl to be terribly accessible for the newcomer, and as an (explicit) female, I have not found this site to be exceptionally 'gentle' or helpful. Quite the opposite on occasion, in fact. Not that I'm complaining, mind; my experience here has been quite positive on the whole, the few people to whom I've spoken have been very kind, and I do appreciate that the monastery will be a valuable resource for me one day once I get off my arse and figure out wtf I'm doing. And I thought that a female newbie ought to put her 2 cents in.


    'share and enjoy'
Re: gender & gentleness
by Anonymous Monk on Oct 05, 2003 at 16:47 UTC
    Where's your proof? I know of at least one female monk who continually gets slapped with RTFM because she continually refuses to do so (dumb).
Re: gender & gentleness
by michellem (Friar) on Oct 11, 2003 at 03:09 UTC
    As someone who's been posting on perlmonks for a while, and has a decidedly female looking nick (for obvious reasons), this conversation is pretty fascinating.

    I'm not a newbie anymore, but I have a very interesting sort of process I go through before posting a question to perlmonks. Although I do very much consider perlmonks to be a friendly place, I also tend to try and have all the FMs read before I post, because I don't want to look too much like a dolt (which of course I do fairly often). And I've gotten plenty of RTFM answers in my time, although I've gotten far more helpful and polite answers.

    In reading perlmonks, I've never noticed a bias. I think that the vast majority of the answers to newbie posts are polite and helpful. And I also want to very much agree with the idea that the way the original question is asked definitely helps to determine the tone of the response, which, actually as it should be.

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