This story is hilarious. Someone made a change to node.js, changing all gender-specific pronouns (he/him) to gender-neutral pronouns (they/them). Ben Noordhuis thought it was a pointless change, and rejected it. It led to a controversy that shows how childish the node.js crowd is, and Ben Noordhuis stopped contributing to node.js, having previously been a very active contributor.
The controversy involving Ben Noordhuis shows that node.js is run by children and not adults. Only a defective personality type is attracted to node.js. If you evaluate hype and not technical merit, you’ll think node.js is amazing. Some intelligent people get tricked into working on node.js, because they don’t understand how something can be very popular and awful.
Why would someone make a commit changing gender pronouns? First, there are some people who really get uptight about that sort of thing. Second, if their change is accepted, they can say on their resume “I’m a node.js core committer! I submitted a patch that was accepted!”, and then all sorts of idiots will line up to hire them. Many employers are looking at GitHub profiles now, which has led to people making superficial changes so they can list all the projects they’ve contributed to.
Another point is that Joyent is the “owner” of node.js. They control the repository. They own the trademark for “node.js”. The more fools that Joyent can con into using node.js, the bigger their revenue. Also, if you’re an “early adopter” of node.js, you run the risk of your experience becoming worthless when node.js is exposed as useless, so any node.js programmer has to actively defend node.js at every opportunity.
Ben Noordhuis works for Strongloop, Joyent’s biggest competitor. Joyent “gains” by forcing Ben Noordhuis out of node.js, because now they have tighter control of node.js. However, they lose, because they risk a fork. They exposed themselves as children.
There’s another serious loss, driving major contributors out of an open source project. If the “owners” of an open source project drive out all the contributors, it will die and stagnate. For example, the current MAME team is angering most of the people who did the hard work years ago. The project is now stagnating. If the only serious node.js contributors are Joyent employees, that will lead to the death of the project eventually. This incident will make other highly competent people reconsider, before actively contributing to node.js.