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back to article GitHub probes worker's claims of hostile, sexist office culture

GitHub is investigating allegations of sexism and inappropriate behaviour towards its female employees after one code jockey quit and went public on Twitter. Software engineer Julie Horvath left the VC-funded site last week, telling world+dog of an unpleasant culture at work. Horvath used her Twitter profile to allege she had …

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Hmm

The complaints all sounded slightly concerning until the last paragraph about hula-hooping... Umm, yeah what did you expect if you do that in the office?

Apart from that I don't feel qualified to have an opinion on this as I have no way to know what happened.

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Silver badge

Re: Hmm

If it was guys playing keepy-uppy with guys watching, they would not have been "gawking". If it was girls watching they would not have looked like a strip club. When she says events "went unnoticed by most" I feel I have to go with the majority and assume the complainant's biases were at the root of the problem there. If guys were playing keepy-uppy it would be them at fault for causing a commotion in the office!

She says she was left crying and shaking after a meeting with one of the founders. That will get her a lot of sympathy and make him look like a monster, but I bet he could say exactly the same things to a male employee and not get the same reaction. Female employees should be treated the same as males, and for their part they should accept equal treatment. But if that means men have to restrict their expression in a "feminized" environment whilst women are free to be themselves then claims of feminization should be taken seriously as sexual harassment.

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Re: Hmm

Being treated equally does not mean being treated the same.

Your examples are lazy stereotypes and hyperbole, try again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

Being treated equally does not mean being treated the same.

That's right, you tell him.

It's perfectly acceptable to talk to the men in exactly the same way as you've always spoken to them, but you mustn't do that to the women, you must be more delicate and sensitive when you talk to them. They have feelings you know, and you mustn't upset their feelings, and if the men complain you can always call them pussies and ridicule them in front of other men, for not being able to take constructive criticism.

It's arguments like yours David which are seeing men legally discriminated against, I hope you feel proud.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

Presumably she was simply no good at making the tea and coffee.

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Re: Hmm

ObnoxiousGit, have a good cry about it, it helps to vent your frustrations. (is that the pussy angle covered ok?)

I'll bite, but your hyperbole is just as silly as the first gents. Where is your reasoning, or properly marshalled arguments?

To take a different example to illustrate the point. Say, a person born in a wheelchair. We will install ramps, adjust heights of desks, remove lips around doors to give them free and easy access. Obviously more effort is being spent on this person, they are patently not being treated the same as someone blessed with being able bodied.

However, they are being treated equally. Given equal access to a working environment and something approaching the same opportunities in that environment.

So, treating someone the same is very different to treating someone equally. The first is based on encouraging similar behaviour, the second on valuing the individual. I know which I prefer in my staff.

Take another example, someone going through a major life crisis (death in family, divorce, whatever), you really wouldn't deal robustly with them in many a situation, you would (or I would), show some compassion. Someone else though, not undergoing those stresses, they don't get that extra tolerance.

They are not being treated the same, but are being treated equally according to what I consider reasonable.

Am I proud? Yup, extremely, thanks for asking.

(seriously though, get out of whatever work environment you are in where any of what you wrote exists, or is ok, it's not normal...)

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Trollface

Re: Hmm

GitHub chief executive and co-founder Chris Wanstrath said a “full investigation” of hula-hooping had been launched.

mod edit - link is to mildly NSFW Youtube vid, girl in underwear demonstrating hula hooping. Brightened up my morning, but please don't forget to mark stuff like this as NSFW in future.

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Trollface

Re: Hmm

David, are you comparing being a women to being handicapped and wheelchair bound? Absolutely disgusting, I expect some level of sexism when I'm on the internet but this just goes way over the line.

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Re: Hmm

NSFW TAG PLEASE !!!!

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Re: Hmm

David Dawson: "Being treated equally does not mean being treated the same."

Uhuh. What precisely does that mean? Please explain. I need to know. Really, I do.

What do the NSA and gender feminist ideologues have in common? The same mindwarping semantic word games.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

To take a different example to illustrate the point. Say, a person born in a wheelchair. We will install ramps, adjust heights of desks, remove lips around doors to give them free and easy access. Obviously more effort is being spent on this person, they are patently not being treated the same as someone blessed with being able bodied.

Isn't that exactly the same as making doorways high enough for stupidly tall able bodied people to fit through without banging their head. Comparing physical differences like this isn't ever going to work, because we have always built our physical environment to suit the wide range of different physical varieties which humans come in. That's why arguing that you shouldn't have to adapt your building to suit employees with physical disabilities doesn't wash.

Take another example, someone going through a major life crisis (death in family, divorce, whatever), you really wouldn't deal robustly with them in many a situation, you would (or I would), show some compassion. Someone else though, not undergoing those stresses, they don't get that extra tolerance.

Wow, and after the first example we have the second argument of "extreme circumstances". I would hope any employer would recognise extreme circumstances in anyones life (male or female) and respond appropriately. That would for example include treating anyone (male or female) with sensitivity and understanding when they are living through such circumstances.

It's really very simple, if one of your employees makes a mistake which would have you call them a 'moron', that 'moron' statement is universally applied. Male or female should make no difference to that. We call that equality. It has absolutely nothing to do with physical differences, all men and women are physically different, even within the same gender group. It has nothing to do with valuing your employees (male and female) enough to recognise when they need understanding from you.

Do you not think that after centuries of men treating women as some kind of other being, that actually they deserve to be treated honestly as equals? So how does an employer do that when he is treating women differently because 'they're women'?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "are you comparing being a women to being handicapped"?

Apparently:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/deformed-freak-born-without-penis,34732/

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Re: Hmm

A manager has to treat people differently. Different people react differently and must be managed differently. Any professional manager understands that.

If your goal is a dressing-down sufficiently serious to bring someone to tears then you are going to have to be much harder with some people than others. If your goal is not to bring someone to tears then don't.

And public feedback like you describe in your previous post is just bullying, whomever is the target -- it has no place in the work environment.

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Re: Hmm

David, are you comparing being a women to being handicapped and wheelchair bound? Absolutely disgusting, I expect some level of sexism when I'm on the internet but this just goes way over the line.

---

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA ... HAHAHA ...

( ... got tired of laughing ... )

I make a comment saying that someone should be valued as an individual, and you turn it into this. To answer "is being born a (wo)man (your choice) like being born into a wheel chair". Yes, it is, to an extent.

You get weird stereotypes applied to you all the time, forced into patterns of behaviour you don't want, denied certain opportunities for no reason than an accident of birth. Sure, that actually fits the point I'm making.

Deal with people. Some people need different things, that's the world. Trying to stick everyone into a generic box marked 'human' and thinking that's equality is delusion.

BTW, are you saying someone born into a chair is less valuable than a woman? (don't answer, that was hyperbole)

I expect some delusion when I'm on the internet, but this is AMAZING. ;-)

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Re: Hmm

David Dawson: "Being treated equally does not mean being treated the same."

Uhuh. What precisely does that mean? Please explain. I need to know. Really, I do.

What do the NSA and gender feminist ideologues have in common? The same mindwarping semantic word games.

----------

This is the first time I've ever been called a feminist. I think I might have a good cry ;-)

If you look, I'm not actually spouting feminist ideology, the opposite in fact, and I did explain, you just didn't care to read it.

I don't want a world where all women are treated the same as I am, as there aren't any 6'6" ginger northern english women software developers.

I think of myself as an individualist. Everyone should be equal under the law, but that doesn't mean they are treated the same way, as they aren't all the same.

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Roo
Bronze badge

Re: Hmm

"David, are you comparing being a women to being handicapped and wheelchair bound?"

No he isn't. Jog on.

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Re: Hmm

Being treated with equality (note the different) does not equate to treating everyone the same. It means treating everyone with the same level of respect, opportunity, etc. I don't know why this is difficult to grasp.

For example, while you may be treating everyone on your team equally if you buy them all a bacon butty for breakfast every day, by doing so you are not treating any Jewish, Muslim or vegetablist members of your team with respect. It's a trivial example but I hope it helps illustrate the point.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

Did you just describe being a woman as a disability or a life changing disaster?

I rather think you did.

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Bronze badge

Re: Hmm

"Being treated equally does not mean being treated the same."

It sounds like David is suggesting some kind of "separate but equal" scenario. Perhaps we can just segregate everyone to make him happy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

@AC above don't worry, in his later rebuttel he refers to people being born girls as accidents.

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Gav

Comparison - how they work

"are you comparing being a women to being handicapped and wheelchair bound?"

God how I hate this dishonest discussion tactic. Rife on the interwebs, of course.

Let me explain how comparisons work. You take too things (say A and B) that are similar in a few key ways, and you explain this. In doing this you hope that the point you are wanting to get across is easier to understand in B, than it may be in A.

This is not the same as saying that A = B. If A = B in all things, then B would be A and any comparison would be totally pointless. What is meant is that in certain limited and relevant aspects you can draw parallels between the two.

Extrapolating this out, by implying that what was intended was all features of B apply to A, is a shoddy debating trick that third rate politicians and other scoundrels employ.

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Re: Hmm

There's nothing embarrassing about calling yourself a feminist, it just means treating women as people. As a man I find other men making stupid claims about this ficticious war on men totally embarrassing... please do shut up. For most of the history of humanity, women have been denied basic rights and it is time we let women have a voice - those that have been oppressed should have their turn to speak, and those that have oppressed them for so long shut just shut up and listen for a bit - instead of seeing equality as a threat to their penis.

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Re: Hmm

"Deal with people. Some people need different things, that's the world."

Equality isn't giving some people more and some people less so that we meet a minimum standard of "cuddly friendly happy" with effort, remuneration and tone adjusted to match the emotional state of each person.

Equality is ensuring equality of access; that everyone gets the same chance, the same opportunity, the same treatment, with appropriate adjustment for any disabilities that may be required to insure quality of access.

It is not equality to demand that I alter my natural - read, genetically precoded - behavior patterns to suit the whims of others whilst they are required to adjust to nothing. It is rank insanity to suggest that is somehow "equal".

Everyone has to learn to fucking cope. Whether you have a penis, a vagina, or a 40 ft tall spider robot body.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

"It's arguments like yours David which are seeing men legally discriminated against, I hope you feel proud."

Oh, yeah - it must be terrible to endure the difficulty of being a man in the technology business. Woe unto us! Those dratted women are dominating everything, and we just can't get a fair shake!

Seriously, the lot of you people - talk about true colors. Seeing dozens of outraged men behave in precisely the way that the woman in the article describes while simultaneously dismissing her claims as false would be comedic if it weren't so pathetic. I mean, really, people accusing her of attention seeking? As if putting yourself in the firing line of tens of thousands of misogynist loudmouths is somr kind of wonderful experience, and something you just do for the hell of it?

Any reason I might have had for doubting this woman's claims is easily erased by the commentards here giving a live demonstration of the tech world at its Neanderthal worst.

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Gold badge

Re: Hmm

I don't think the majority of people here are "dismissing her claims as false." What we aren't doing is "taking her word for it." We are aware that the world is a complicated place and the - shock of fucking shockers - women are just as capable of lying, misrepresenting the truth, being mentally ill, being prejudiced or being out of touch with reality as men.

None of us in this thread where there, we have no possible way to know how this played out in the real world. To take the lady's side on this without question is just as fucking sexist as to say "she must be wrong because she's a woman." Maybe she's right. Maybe it was a hostile environment. Maybe she's wrong, and it was a perfectly rational environment where people were treated equally and she's just a special flower lashing out because of her own prejudices or mental issues.

How can you unequivocally take one side in this without all the facts?

Men and women must be treated equally by law. It's also ethical to do so; there's no rational reason to treat them differently in most circumstances. (Bathroom-related items to one side.)

Men and women are also treated equally by law. This means both genders are expected to behave without prejudice, are expected to be capable of accepting criticism, are expected to be able to deal with differences in culture, gender behavior and more. There are no absolutes here. This is why discrimination issues are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

You are as guilty of rank sexism as the worst chauvinist in these threads. Your pervasive misandry is offensive and I demand an apology.

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Re: Hmm

As a man I find other men making stupid claims about this ficticious war on men totally embarrassing... please do shut up.

It's not entirely fictitious though, some feminists do seem to be seeking more than equality, take the campaign against lads mags for example.

That's not to say we shouldn't all be aiming for equality, but we can't blindly accept that everything labelled as 'for equality' will actually lead to it - there will always be those (male or female) who want a bit more, or who unknowingly apply their own prejudices.

For most of the history of humanity, women have been denied basic rights and it is time we let women have a voice

I completely agree, but what we shouldn't do is deny anyone the right to criticise what's being said. It's supposed to be a debate not a "oh we oppressed you, you'd better call the shots for a bit".

WRT the story, the Hula-hoop thing strikes me as a minor thing, but innappropriate if the guys were sat there just short of drooling.

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Re: Hmm

Another day, another feminist ruining the world for everyone else. Someone should remind her she was hired to code, not making the workplace a "better" place for women (when what she really wants is a hostile environment for men, and more privileges for women).

Sick and tired of these feminist types, they are the ones who constantly try and change everything for everyone else (when they are the ones who should be adapting), then bitch and moan when they don't get their way.

Feminism has lost its purpose and is now getting to be ridiculous.

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Linux

Re: Hmm

Or hulu hooping.

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Git Hub

the clue is in the name ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Git Hub

No no. That's Porn hub.

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A company full of gits?

If there is a genuine claim of sexual harassment and intimidation, then the employee presumably has the avenue of an industrial tribunal, or whatever the US equivalent is and that is where the matter should be taken and be kept.

Unfortunately, no matter how substantial your claim, taking it to Twitter and the Tech press is going to get accusations of attention seeking, and arguably in some cases it has been justified (not to say in this case without knowing all the details).

Regardless, I had to chuckle at the hula-hooping part, sorry - I couldn't put off the vivid image that appeared in my head as I read the paragraph. What else can you expect of a company called Github, borrowing from the name of the 'Git' repository, whose creator in his typical self-effacing manner described the reason for naming it, quote: '"I'm an egotistical bastard, and I name all my projects after myself. First 'Linux', now 'Git'".

It's typical to have a self-depreciating and comedic outlook within the coding community. I know this now verges on speculation, but people who tend to take themselves a bit too seriously may find themselves ostracised by more relaxed colleagues, who might try to avoid them for the risk of creating awkwardness. If both the girls and guys were enjoying the hoopla and the attention... maybe they weren't the problem?

Then again, maybe it's not the kind of professional atmosphere you want to work in, which brings us back round to the question, why work for the type of company that names itself after a 'git'?

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Paris Hilton

Re: A company full of gits?

"If there is a genuine claim of sexual harassment and intimidation, then the employee presumably has the avenue of an industrial tribunal, or whatever the US equivalent is [...]"

Do you mean something like this?

http://www.employmenttribunalsni.co.uk/index/employment_tribunals/industrial_tribunals.htm

There's no US equivalent. If a court gets involved, it has to be through a plain old lawsuit.

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Re: A company full of gits?

If there is a genuine claim of sexual harassment and intimidation, then the employee presumably has the avenue of an industrial tribunal, or whatever the US equivalent is and that is where the matter should be taken and be kept.

Not everyone wants compensation for a wrong or sees that as justice done. They may prefer letting people know what they experienced and having the company shamed into change.

Even if seeking compensation it is best to speak out before they place a gagging clause on any compensation arrangement.

There can also be strategic advantages in speaking out and letting the ex-employer sue for defamation and counter-claiming than commencing a case as a claimant.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't like....

my boss.

my boss's family.

my working environment.

my colleagues.

my job.

my career prospects.

my work/life balance.

my shoes.

What's the cause of all my problems? Sexual harassment!

Victim culture strikes again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't like....

Is that why women don't make it to the top? they would complain about the men using the glass ceiling to look up their skirts.

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Re: I don't like....

> Victim culture strikes again.

Idiot culture is alive and well too, it seems.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't like....

Uncle Siggy > 'Idiot culture is alive and well too, it seems.'

You're right. I should have more sympathy for a person who make a private matter a public affair.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't like....

Uncle Siggy > 'Idiot culture is alive and well too, it seems.'

You're right. I should have more sympathy for a person who makes a private matter a public affair.

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Bronze badge

Re: I don't like....

As far as I can tell, she only went public about her reasons for resigning after the anonymous posts accusing her of being a terrible coder and incapable of taking criticism.

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Re: I don't like....

You're right. She should help the people who want to sweep things like this under the carpet. That's clearly the way to force them to change.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't like....

You're right. She should help the people who want to sweep things like this under the carpet. That's clearly the way to force them to change.

You're right, those women who happily took part in the hula-hooping incident must be forced to change so that they conform to the standards that this particular woman believes are acceptable.

They must come to understand that they have failed their gender, that women everywhere will be abused, maybe even raped, because they thought they could engage in such an activity.

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Gold badge

Re: I don't like....

"You're right, those women who happily took part in the hula-hooping incident must be forced to change so that they conform to the standards that this particular woman believes are acceptable.

They must come to understand that they have failed their gender, that women everywhere will be abused, maybe even raped, because they thought they could engage in such an activity."

This. 10,000x this.

Why does a company's culture get to be determined by the loudest individual? At what point is it "one person with a problem" and not "everyone else in the company" who has the problem?

I am not saying that there is or is not real gender prejudice occurring here. I am not there so I can't possibly know for sure. Despite this, the lady's own account contains incidences of other women being perfectly chill with the corporate culture; enough to make me question "is this the culture or the individual?"

If I am uncomfortable with ladies walking around with clothing that sexually excites me against my will am I allowed to request that they alter their behavior? Or will I go to jail for making the request because the mere fact of making that request is sexual harassment? Why then can this lady demand others change their behavior when it when it would seem everyone involved is totally okay with things (the hula hooping incident) except her?

Why does having been born with one's reproductive organs on the inside as opposed to the outside confer upon the person in question a socially acceptable "right" to demand dramatic changes in behavior in others whilst simultaneously providing a blanket immunity to similar standards for that individual?

This is a complex issue and one that cannot be judged based upon hearsay. And if saying that makes me a misogynist in the minds of some, so be it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't like....

You work at Oracle don't you?

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GitHub's official response

I wasn't there either and I don't know what happened. However, anyone whose immediate announcement is "yeah yeah victim culture feminization so-called sexual harassment" is saying more about their own attitudes, and their own likely refusal to see bullying and marginalisation when it's going on under their noses, than about whatever happened.

And given GitHub's official response: https://github.com/blog/1800-update-on-julie-horvath-s-departure it's pretty clear that whatever precisely she did suffer, it probably was horrible, and probably wasn't too different from her description of it.

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Re: GitHub's official response

Eh, no... GitHubs official reply says nothing at all. It's just the standard reaction of a company, and standard reply in a situation like this: Serious accusations have been made, (no matter how baseless they may be), and a tabloid with very low editorial standards, and a voracious appetite for clicks is on the story. If you don't do anything, it'll just further feed the story. Call the lawyers? The law might be on your side, but it automatically seems suspect and will just give the Tech-Tabloids twice the appetite for clicks.

So the best response is to make a solemn condemnation of sexism, hand out a month or two of paid leave to a couple of people, while you do a "thorough investigation". In a month or two, the interest has passed, the people on leave will come back from their vacation in Europe, and everything will go back to normal.

And if the investigation would happen to uncover evidence of Julie Ann Horvath being a s**tstirrer extraordinaire and that the accusations are completely baseless, you can be pretty sure that Techcrunch won't touch it with a ten foot pole. They'll be off to the next scandal or startup they're hyping.

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Headmaster

I just wanted to point out, since some people seem confused on this point, that she is not alleging sexual harassment. Just the regular kind. In fact the most substantial allegation seems to involve grudge against her on the part of a company founders' wife.

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I just wanted to point out, since some people seem confused on this point, that she is not alleging sexual harassment

Nope, she is.

Reference the interaction with a GitHub employee who professed his love for her, was sent packing, and subsequently began to "disappear" her code changes (TechCrunch story, search for "awkward, almost aggressive encounter").

I believe that falls under the definition.

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