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Tweak or Hammer

Hammering a point home can raise awareness, but the point that some women have felt uncomfortable at DEF CON is being made to death.

That's why I wrote about my positive experience as a woman at DEF CON and was content to leave it at that...

But then I talked to a reporter who told me there wasn't time to add my experience to a story about women at DEF CON unless I'd been harassed.

I've read too many stories like those which include some positive points, but overwhelmingly focus on the negative.

Even when well intentioned, that negative focus is starting to do more harm than good.

A Simpler Example

Let's say you're talking to a frustrated person with a computer problem, and you make a suggestion (maybe turning it off and on again).

That person might respond in one of the following ways:

  1. "Well, that sorta worked, but there's still a specific issue..."
  2. "There's still a problem, and I'm gonna tell everyone!"

The first response gives you new information about the problem, and it indicates progress, so you have a better idea of what to do next.

The second response makes it difficult to keep helping, and you might abandon your suggestion, because it sounds like nothing worked.

In other words, #1 allows you to tweak your suggestion while #2 hammers on the point that there's a problem (which you already knew about and tried to help fix).


Many women have had valid and troubling experiences at DEF CON, but the organizers have acknowledged that and worked to make things better for everyone.

If we keep hammering the nail that's already in the wall, eventually we're going to start damaging the wall.

Let's put away the hammers and focus on tweaking the progress that has been made, so next year can be better than ever!

<3 Mel