Sexism? or Stupidism?: Wikimedia Foundation – We will keep you in mind for “LESS CODE RELATED TASKS” and “oops, we rejected you by accident”




As a woman in the FOSS communities for over 15 years, I know the issues and have experienced sexism within and from without the community.

Some are ridiculous to me. Some are serious offenses. This time, I was offended.

In fact, one of my best friendships was forged in IRC in 2000 with someone who had no idea I was not male and made the statement that “women belong in the kitchen”. Of course, I demanded an apology, thus exposing myself as female.

You see, that is the great thing about IRC. That 1337 programmer giving assistance with C++ or Java, that could actually be a female and you had no idea!

I saw there was an opening for a Technical Writer at Wikimedia Foundation. You know… the Wikipedia people.
I had all the qualifications. So, I applied. Sounded righteous. It was remote with a few days in San Fran. I met all the requirements. On the first interview, I was asked if I used IRC. IRC! Of course. I was using IRC when lilo was running freenode. Tragic.

So, imagine my surprise when I received a reject notice from Wikimedia Foundation.

I was surprised. I had the experience and skills.

What happened here?!

Keep in mind, I have worked as a programmer, have a degree in computer science and a Masters in IT from ASU. I have written more programs than I can ever count in C, Java, C++. I have written a few database driven apps for work, using PHP and SQL. I have several Droid Apps I created on Google and I also have written Linux installers and ported software to GNU/Linux distros. In fact, I am working on a mobile Moodle app right now and have a distro PicLE (Pic learning environment) I am working on. I have embedded (mostly microcontrollers from Microchip) and know 8086 assembly.  I could go on and on, but I won’t. All of this is on my resume and was emphasized in the interview.

Yet, I received a rejection letter. A nice one… So I found Quim Gil, the Lead who was available in IRC, and asked him what happened.

Around 2:13pm MST 12/17/2013

I hoped, maybe they didn’t go with the project. So, I decided to find the lead, Quim Gil (qgil) on IRC and ask him.

<aicra> Hi Qim. I was wondering. Did your team decide not to go with a technical writer at all for the 3+ month contract or was there some reason I was not selected

<qgil> we haven’t selected a candidate yet, and I can’t comment anything to anybody at this point

<qgil> or.] wait

<qgil> did you receive a notifcation?

<aicra> yea

<aicra> I was surprised

<qgil> what is your real name?

<aicra> and disappointed but from your response, I see that there are possible candidates so it was probably me

<aicra> Marcia Wilbur

<aicra> worked at the FSF

<aicra> Community minded

<aicra> Free speech advocate

<aicra> 🙂

<qgil> I remember, not all the details but I remember

<aicra> I was hoping it was that your team decided not to select a tech writer. But I see. It was something I lacked, something about my qualifications that did not fit

<aicra> Appreciate your time

<qgil> you can send me an email asking for details, I would need the time that I don’t have now to reply properly

<qgil> I think your qualifications are good, but this 3 month contract has a very precise goal where developer experience is appreciated beyond technical knowledge

<aicra> No, Funny thing was I was trying to reach out to you on irc earlier but never saw you on until today. Maybe we have different IRC hours

<aicra> Appreciate it.

<aicra> Good luck. If it doesn’t work out, please keep me in mind

<qgil> I actually marked your application as someone to keep in mind for more community and less code related tasks. True it is! 🙂

<qgil> tech community, I mean

<aicra> Great! Thanks!

<aicra> 🙂

<qgil> thank you for your interest in contributing to Wikimedia

<aicra> hold on a second

<aicra> Sorry but did you write less code related?

<aicra> I see

<aicra> Can I ask what language?


I did not receive a response. I waited several minutes. Had to run anyway.

So, I did email him as a follow up before running out the door. Here is my response.

Hi Quim,

I just wanted to follow up on the comment made about “less code related tasks”.

In fact, that is more disappointing than if the reason had been something else.

I have a 2 yr. degree in computer science with data structures, assembly and database which means I am very knowledgeable and experienced with:



I also worked on the Gentoo fork. I have created database driven applications and Linux installers as well as Android applications.

I have not worked as a programmer, except at Aries and my resume does not reflect a lot of programming but unless it is Python (which I haven’t touched since 2005),

However, I would think that with a degree in Computer Science one might know that I have coding skills.

Very disappointing.

Shortly thereafter, I received an email that my reject letter was a mistake. Actually, I received an email that the reject letter was an “ACCIDENT”.

Hi Marcia,

I am so sorry – I rejected you by accident! We actually want you to have a conversation with Quim this week if you are available?
Akshata will get you scheduled once you send us your availability.

Sorry again for the error.


Was it really? Or was it to cover themselves so people wouldn’t learn about what transpired?

Seriously, though. I started to wonder about how many female developers are at the Wikimedia Foundation? What was the attitude toward female developers in our community?

I kept thinking about those words:

…developer experience is appreciated beyond technical knowledge.


So, before committing to an interview, I asked about diversity. The response was as professional as any corporation or organization.

They do seem to have somewhat of a diverse workforce.

All the while, all I could think of was…


I believe that Quim’s first response when he saw my name was female was to let me know I didn’t have the coding ability they wanted. Really?

Great assumption! Am I to give him the benefit of the doubt?

…developer experience is appreciated beyond technical knowledge.

  •  I don’t think my developer experience is appreciated or could be appreciated!!!

No. I’ve been a female developer within this community for well over a decade. There were no females at Slashdot, Tina was the lone female at NewsForge and the only reason I got as far as I did was because in the beginning, these guys had no idea I was female in IRC, I was a computer science major at Arizona State and I love to code.

So, thanks Wikimedia, but no THANKS!

  • Side note:  I believe Wikipedia has lost it’s connection to our community and the support. The point is, “Why are they paying someone to do this gig if they had community support!” Forking has already been suggested and as I write this, Wikipedia is being decentralized and will soon be available P2P as a community effort, not managed by Wikimedia Foundation.

As for me, I’ll keep focusing on Free Speech, censorship and maybe scandalous behavior (cough – Wikimedia)!

P.S. Not to be crude, but really, just because I have the ability to Quim, doesn’t mean I can’t code… Quim!

Also, regardless of whether it was sexism, everything pointed to this organization or at least this lead being disorganized. To me, regardless of how many applicants, if one contacted me in IRC, I would either pull up that person’s info or agree to meet at a later time. If I was not the one who lacked coding skills, then I did not really make that great an impression during the interview process, now did I?!

I want to work with someone who is excited to work with me on an interesting project. I want to be at least somewhat memorable! Wouldn’t you agree? After all, for some of us, it isn’t all about the money…


UBUNTU is SPYWARE – Call to Canonical: CHANGE THIS

Yes, That’s right. Ubuntu is spyware.

When you search for something using Ubuntu, those results are reported to Canonical. Once the results are reported, these results are forwarded to Amazon who displays ads based on your search.

Amazon Lens is spyware by definition and while there is an option to turn off the settings, why are these there in free software in the first place?
Richard Stallman on Ubuntu


How to turn off the search results
A better idea is to just use another distro.


Freedom over convenience!

Being a Female Programmer

You know, It really isn’t easy.
I started my journey in a Computer Science Course at Ricks (Now BYU Idaho). I was the only female who survived the course. Why? Was it the material? No. That was easy. Was it the exams? No. It was the attitude of the instructor who insisted at least one time during each class that women could not understand computers or programming. One by one the other girls/ladies/women in the course dropped. It was down to me and another girl. We stood alone. She could take no more. I begged her not to drop the class because of this one terrible instructor. She did.

I was alone. I was alone in this PASCAL course. I was alone in Assembly. I was alone in Data Structures. I am alone all the time.

Such is the life of a programmer!

So, how did I make it? First, I joined Systers, a bulletin board where other women vented about how bad things were. They talked about the good, the bad and the ugly. I had worked in my dad’s electronics manufacturing plant. It was no place for a female. I was always one fo the guys.

I finished a 2 year in Comp Sci, and tranferred to ASU, where the Engineering Advisor, Manny miscalculated my GPA and rejected me for the Computer Science program. I entered the Mathematics program and discovered his mistake. It was too late for that semester. I went to admissions and inquired “HOW could this happen?”
Things worked out for me. I took the time out that term to write about the DMCA. I went to Linux Biz Expo, met Miguel, Linus and Jon Maddog Hall. Then, I went to Stanford and met Shari Steele and was invited to work there. I had some great adventures.

However, I never finished my Bachelor’s in Comp Sci because I intended to go to Law School. Any old Bachelor’s would do! I got an internship at the Free Software Foundation. I got into a Master’s in IT. Then I did take the LSAT but did not have any loans left.

My first job was as a programmer. People did not believe I was capable. My coworker asked me to help with him switching out a sound card. I did. I went to xFree86 to change the module. He started screaming at me because I had never used that one and didn’t remember off the top of my head. Funny how when he was screaming I did remember the module name. It worked no problems and he apologized.

When I went for a job after, the recruiter told me that he found it hard to believe that I had written training for Linux. I asked him what he meant. He told me that it would be hard, even for him. I responded that he did not have a degree in computer science. He told me that this is just what people would say.
When I went for a coding job, I was not given one because I had no experience. I was told, “Come back when you have a Bachelor’s” or “Would you like to be a recruiter?” At the same time a man with no degree and no work experience applied for a C++ entry level position and was given that opportunity.

I’ve ported applications people couldn’t get to work, I was using FFMPEG before it was popular, there is so much I have to offer. I wrote a lot of C programs, C++ games, Java Applets, used PHP Ming. I was expert in PHP in 2000, I had Perl when that was popular. There are a few things I won’t touch – Non OO Visual Basic.

I’ve written Python, Pascal, Perl, and PHP. I’ve written Java, javascript, work with AJAX, JQuery before and after MIT license requirements. I can write C, C++, even played with some C# when I needed to on a project to make context sensitive help.
I can use DocBook, LaTex, Framemaker and CMS like Drupal or Joomla.

I’ve been declined work or promotions for being “just average”,”unqualified” and many times people seemed shocked that I could code. In fact, one coworker said, “How would YOU know that.” I respond with, “It’s obvious. Look at the code!.” Then I got, “Yeah, but how did YOU know it!”

George Seto during a Wells Fargo interview called me an “average user”. I insisted no. Then, a few months later, no one in the entire state knew how to install, configure and manage Moodle. There was a school district that needed a few servers done. There was only one person in the entire state who knew what “SHE” was doing. Yeah. That’s right. I went and did the installation and configuration. Had a great time too. I wasn’t cocky about it either. Even though, it really only takes me about 1/5 of the time they took to do it with me guiding them because I should have just shoved them over and said, let me just take over and do it. But, there is this thing called politeness…

So, I was hoping because I was young, sexy and Asian, maybe that was it. I was too hot to be a coding nerd.
But I am ASIAN! Well, half. You would think they would believe it… since I’m ASIAN.

You want to know why I hide in the shadows and hack.
The world is not ready for me and maybe not ready for you…