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Doug Belshaw's 'mother test'

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Doug Belshaw is the Web Literacy Lead for the Mozilla Foundation. In October 2012, Belshaw gave a keynote speech at the Digital Futures in Teacher Education conference in which he used So simple, your mother could do it as shorthand for ease of explanation:

I now have the ‘my mother test’. My mother reached the grand old age of sixty a few months ago and now if I can explain it to my mother, then I think that the average person can understand it. So I thought how could I explain ‘openness’ to my mother in a way that she could understand?

Nicky Watts subsequently wrote a blog post calling out Belshaw's comment as problematic. Belshaw took Watts' criticism of his talk personally, posting an angry and defensive rant on his blog about why his comment couldn't possibly be sexist because he wasn't sexist. In his rant, he attacked Watts for "misrepresenting" him even though she was representing only her personal reaction to his talk, not him:

Now, I know that what I probably should do is ignore or perhaps downplay it. But I’m not going to, because I’m actually outraged that the author feels like she can get away with misrepresenting me in this way.

Some commenters, including Benjamin Stover, suggested to Belshaw that he should think harder:

You have an opportunity here to be more sensitive to an important cultural issue in tech. There’s a better way to address getting feedback from your customers who may have a different perspective from you, the creator of your product. I suggest, with love, that you put your ego aside and help move this conversation in a positive direction.

Belshaw said, "Thanks for the advice, especially the ‘write the angry post then delete it’ stuff. I’m leaving it there, on the advice of my wife – a woman I have a lot of respect for." (As of October 2014, two years later, the blog post remains on his web site.) This is an example of I asked a woman and she said it wasn't sexist.

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