Taking Cyberstalking seriously

Over this last year several women found the heart to speak up publicly against various forms of abuse against men who were part of the Scala community.

Recently their voices were joined by another one, the charge in her case was one of cyberstalking.

While badly understood, the impact of cyberstalking can be supremely stressful, inflicting a variety of psychological harm on the victim — a subject in which the sciences and humanities can agree. (Short et al, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24875706)

A well-known person (who is not the subject of this inquiry, but mentioned for context) regularly engages in behaviour consistent with many aspects of cyberstalking, primarily in his case the collection and archival of communication, which has been abused out-of-context multiple times to threaten, intimitate, and hurt people.

Sadly, cyberstalking is often not taking seriously because it’s objective boundaries are unclear — a fact which perpetrators can and do abuse to escape both reprimand and justice.

On a phenomenologically basis the dictionary or legal definition is besides the point. What matters — and should matter to us — is the lived experience of each woman, which we need to carefully and attentively take into consideration.

Above everything else, we need to take her voice seriously, something I am sure we can all agree on.

In the victim’s case (which I won’t name on account of not having her permission to do so), she has made the distressing impact of her stalker’s behaviour very clear.

Yet, just days after this incident a changeset to the Scala’s COC were proposed by a member of the Scala Center, administrator of this message board, and employee of Lightbend: https://github.com/scala/scala-lang/pull/1303

The proposed changeset was to:

  • no longer disavow the threat or posting of public information which personally identifies individuals (while ignoring that such information is incomplete and can easily be twisted by selection)
  • remove the definition of ‘doxing’

This not only demonstrates that she was not taken seriously, but worse, serves to muddy the waters right around the matter which led to her trauma.

The close proximity to the recent events suggest no coincidence, but either extraordinary ignorance, or worse. In either case, any such change would have lead to harm to victims of cyberstalking.

The purpose of this letter is to

a) raise awareness about cyberstalking and it’s impact
b) ask the Scala Center to use it’s influence to ensure that it’s resources are not used to harm cyberstalking victims, or even enable their abusers.

I’m aware that the Scala Center’s influence ends at a certain point, and at this junction I’m inviting the wider community to help: Be aware, reflective and call out instances of cyberstalking when you encounter them.

This letter is pseudonymous for obvious reasons, but it’s authors have been writing Scala in numerous functions for nearly a decade.


I also consider this topic to be important.
Helping potential and future victims is very important, but we should not ignore those who are being hurt in reality right now, and we should not allow ourselves to cleverly justify certain perpetrating behaviors.


I have withdrawn the CoC wording change PR, as the motives for it are being misinterpreted. It seemed like a harmless clarification to me, as stated in the PR itself, but it seems that people are reading it all sorts of different ways. I genuinely did not expect anyone to consider this a big deal 🤷

The motivation was to make it clear that moderators have more latitude to stop personal information from being posted, not less latitude.

In any case, the change would not have gone through without approval from the major users of the CoC, and this is stated in the PR itself.


I think it was too early to withdraw the PR. There was room for that to become a better idea with more discussion.
Dropping it too early seems to suggest that you are giving priority to the realization of individual beliefs and underestimating the possibility that diversity can produce something better.

Thank you.

Yes, I wholeheartily agree. If you know of whom I’m talking, please reach out to her and let her know that you support her.


I’d just like to provide a vote of support.

I don’t know where the lines are between “holding people accountable for their public interactions” and cyberstalking and causing psychological harm. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about, nor is it a behaviour that I’ve ever engaged in.

I do however feel very strongly that everyone in the Scala community should feel safe, and that no one should feel that they’re in danger, or have to endure harm. I also believe that when people speak up and say that they’re experiencing harm, it should be taken seriously and there should be an effort to address the situation.

I’m personally exhausted (due both to issues in our Scala community, and other offline things going on in my life) so I won’t get involved and try to help. That least I can do though is offer my support here and now, that I support this be raised. I really hope matters can be resolved (and swiftly at that) so that this woman can feel safe again. And I’m really sorry that she has had to go though feeling this way. Not good.


Cyberstalking, doxing, psychological harassment, and causing harm are not acceptable. The Scala Center organization does not allow this in our spaces and strongly proposes to other organizations to do the same. We take it very seriously.

That said, in this forum, we are closing and archiving this topic for the following reasons:

  1. We believe the allegations raised in this thread are unjustified. There was no intention to weaken the Code of Conduct, and the misunderstanding is now cleared up;
  2. Discussions about the changes should be discussed on the PR;
  3. No changes will be rushed;
  4. As per the CoC, “If you think a moderator action is unjustified, please take it up with that moderator, or with a different moderator, in private. Complaints about moderation in-channel are not allowed.