Exit Condition: when to ragequit, raise hell, or duck and cover

Accepted Session
Long Form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 23, 2016 from 10:00 – 11:45am in B202/203


If you're caught in a job or a project where you simply can't convince your colleagues or organization to treat you with respect, it often feels like you're in a maze with no clear way out. (Un)fortunately, you're not alone. There's no universal solution to navigating a toxic or abusive workplace, but there's power in finding a theoretical context, sharing our stories, and learning from each other. Come learn about the options of voice, loyalty, and exit, and hear the stories of others who have had to make hard choices.


Too many of us have found ourselves baffled and hurt by a fundamentally hostile workplace or a toxic F/OSS project. When we’re in the middle of it, it can seem impossible to navigate: actions we take in good faith are met by illogical responses, or are used as proof of our failings.

One model that we can use to understand this is Alfred Hirschman’s Exit-Voice-Loyalty model. [1, 2]
When we are unhappy with a situation, we have options: we can double down and stay loyal, we can speak up and try to change it, we can stay grudgingly and diffidently, or we can leave. This talk will cover the model, and then use it to frame case studies of several individuals’ experiences in the workplace and/or free and open source software projects. We’ll discuss the challenges faced and how we’ve addressed them, what concerns we’ve weighed, the effects of speaking up, and the constraints we’ve had to consider.

After the presentation, there will be a facilitated discussion about our own related experiences.

This is a two-part long-form session. Schedule:
40 min talk
10 min Q&A
5 min break
50 min facilitated discussion (unrecorded)


sociology, toxicity, abuse, tradeoffs

Speaking experience

Frances Hocutt has spoken at Open Source Bridge for the last two years, giving a keynote address in 2014.[1] She has also presented at LinuxFest Northwest,[2]
SCALE 13x,[3] the Wikimania Hackathon,[4] AdaCamp, and WikiConference USA. She has taught the Ally Skills workshop to Wikipedians and to scientists, and has facilitated discussion on community health at Foolscap.

This is a new talk.

[1] https://franceshocutt.com/2014/07/01/why-are-these-people-following-me-leadership-for-the-introverted-uncertain-and-astonished/ , http://opensourcebridge.org/sessions/1682
[2] http://linuxfestnorthwest.org/2015/sessions/developers-eye-view-api-client-libraries
[3] https://www.socallinuxexpo.org/scale/13x/presentations/developers-eye-view-api-client-libraries;
video available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kk83qfb9q0k
[4] https://wikimania2015.wikimedia.org/wiki/Hackathon#Schedule , https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T101588


  • Hocutt  frances march 2015


    Frances Hocutt has taken part in the science-to-tech branch of the great STEM reshuffling. In the process, she’s written, spoken, mentored, and co-founded Seattle’s first feminist hackerspace/makerspace. She prefers elegance in her science and effectiveness in her art and is happiest when drawing on as many disciplines as she can. Hocutt jumped into F/OSS development with work on the Dreamwidth journaling platform and the MediaWiki web API and expanded into work on MediaWiki and associated Wikimedia-ecosystem contributor tools. Her current interest is applying tools from one discipline to another area entirely, with an eye to offering others the space, tools, and community that they need to change and live in this world.

    Photo used under CC-BY-SA-3.0. “Hocutt, Frances March 2015”, by Myleen Hollero.


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