I don’t do it for the beer!

This is a rant that might sound silly, but this is one thing that has started to irk me significantly. I’m tired of people that paint all developers out there as beer drinkers, even more so when they actually seem to akin them to drunkards who code under influence.

I do not drink. I can’t, to be precise, but even if I could, I don’t like getting drunk, I never got drunk really but I know enough of what would happen to me because I had, at one point, to use Xanax, and I don’t want to do that anymore. It wasn’t fun! This does not mean that I have a problem with people, or developer, drinking or having fun. Those who know me, know that I’m very socially liberal at heart, I really don’t care what you do with your own free time, as long as it’s not causing trouble to me or others.

When I went to FOSDEM, the pre-conference event is a beer event. I can understand that: it’s Belgium, and the Délirium is on the Guinness Book of Records after all. Last VDD there was a beer event as well, but the place was definitely apt and if you got upstairs (which I didn’t, bad me!) you would have found a number of other things, including non-alcoholic cocktails — me and Luca came back the weekend after VDD, although I didn’t try any because I didn’t have my blood sugar test strips and I didn’t want to risk getting too high for comfort.

But in both cases, this is just a mingling event, and it doesn’t really bother me at all. First you can get other drinks as well (at FOSDEM you usually see me with a Diet Coke or water), and second this stops the moment the conference actually starts… to a point. The VideoLAN people didn’t give us barrels of beer during the conference, but a rather more general refreshment, for which I’m definitely grateful (the croissants were delicious, seriously!) Thanks guys!

But then there are posts like our own Donnie’s that tick me off a bit. Then we got tweets such as the one today from Chad Windnagle of Joomla. Seriously? Donnie actually tooting the (mangled) responses of a survey by one company (Zend) which extrapolates that the majority of developers love beer (compared to what? teachers? teenagers?), and people at GSoC proclaiming that the unifying factor is beer?

I know it’s a tiny minuscule offence in comparison, but to me, this is still a shade of the “brogrammer” stereotype that is also giving us the grief of sexist pigs in our communities, in the bigger picture. Which does not mean that everybody (or anybody) who drink is part of the sexism problem – it is not, and I wouldn’t blame Donnie to be offended if I was to suggest this; he’s the first person who fights against it – but these remark do make me understand how women in tech feel. I do feel shunned every time a point is made across that if I’m a developer I have to enjoy beer; when a major point is made of a conference about the amount of beer available, I do feel less welcome than I should.

To me it still feels like there’s this stereotypical bad example of “the developer” (either opensource or not) that is the pimply overweight sexist who lives in the basement of his parents, and can’t wait for a conference to get drunk. And that’s hurting us, because some developers take this stereotype as a license to indulge in the negative aspects of it, ruining it for everybody.

So let’s start with a simple rule

Developers, open-source or not, are all different from one another. They have different genders, different goals in life, different lifestyles, even different values. Communities are formed when you share some (but not strictly all) of these characteristics. Open-source communities for the vast part are formed by developers (and not) who like to see, and to show, how things work.

And now let’s make sure we shatter that outdated stereotype, as I really really enjoy getting to know the diversity of people I work with.