Persona Non Grata in the Hacker Community

By Xah Lee. Date:

True: Couple of nights ago I dreamed that I agreed w Xah Lee on some defect of git usability. Co-workers pointed and laughed at me. —,

This reminds me of Tonya Harding, the infamous bad girl skater who tried to break her competitor's knee. She is considered a Persona non grata. Quote:

In diplomacy, the term persona non grata (Latin, plural: personae non gratae), literally meaning “an unwelcome person”, refers to a foreign person whose entering or remaining in a particular country is prohibited by that country's government

In non-diplomatic usage, referring to someone as persona non grata is to say that he or she is ostracized. Such a person is for all intents and purposes culturally shunned, so as to be figuratively nonexistent.

In police circles, this term is often applied to any officer who broke the Blue Wall by informing against fellow officers, for example, testifying against officers who were corrupt. Frank Serpico was one real life example, while a cultural example is Paul Newman's character in Fort Apache, The Bronx, who informed on a fellow officer after witnessing him throw an unarmed man off a rooftop during a riot.

Wikipedia has a list of persona non grata of the diplomatic sense: List of people declared persona non grata

There are other persona non grata in the computing world. Stephen Wolfram, is one, the biggest one. Arguably, Richard Stallman would also be one, in the commercial software world. Randal L. Schwartz, the infamous perl hacker, probably have been personal non grata for a number of years.

Part of being a persona non grata, is personality traits. Non-social persons, asocial, anti-social, cockiness, megalomania, schizoid personalities, people who are not likable, difficult to work with, all contribute.

Part of it, is social and political. If your are staunch of your view X, or being a harsh critic of community Y, you are not welcome. If you, for whatever reasons gained social stigma without being at fault, your friends, colleagues, potential partners, will distance themselves from you. That's how society works.

Nobody wants to be associated with losers, and you want to avoid controversy.