Few days ago Linus Torvalds added code of conduct to the Linux kernel. And then lot of discussions started.

I had no plans to take part in any of them. But last week I was dragged into one of them and it was not fun. Turned out that people I know and trust when it comes to technical discussions (never met most of them) do not quite understand the need for such.

There are many “code of conduct” documents. Often they differ a lot. I have my own and it is probably the shortest one:

Do not be an asshole. Respect the others.

Simple. I do not care which gender people have when I speak with them (ok, may stare at your boobs or butt once) nor their sexual preferences. Colour of the skin does not matter as most of my friends I first met online without knowing anything about them. Political stuff? As long as we can be friends and do not discuss it I am fine. Etc etc.

It works on conferences. And in projects where I am/was involved.

Someone may say that part of it was shaped by working for corporation (is Red Hat corpo?) due to all those no harassment regulations and trainings. I prefer to think that it is more of how I was raised by parents, family and society.

My code of conduct
                

11 thoughts on “My code of conduct

  • 24th September 2018 at 13:50
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    Doesn’t work – you need to define what would constitute for one to be an “arsehole”.

    Also, even such a remark as this:

    [...]ok, may stare at your boobs or butt once[...]
    

    in itself, may be offensive to some.

    The very things you have mentioned – family and society, i.e. cultural differences, etc. – is what makes us (human beings) have different sensitivities and find different things offensive. At the same time, things which we observe on daily basis, may be extremely offensive to others.

    So, yes, sometimes CoC is needed for those very reasons – in order to make sure we are all on the same page, certain things simply have to be “spelt out”.

    P.S. Marcin and I meant on the ‘net over 15 years ago and only once in real life :^)

    Reply
    • 24th September 2018 at 14:00
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      Thanks for comment.

      Sure, cultural differences may affect what we see as as offensive and what not. But do we know what other will? That’s why I use short version.

      Definition of ‘asshole’? I think that it is not needed — hard to learn English without knowing some curse words.

      And boobs/butt part was consulted with few females from different countries — they found it funny rather than offensive.

      Reply
  • 24th September 2018 at 16:44
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    It is better for the code-of-conduct document to be explicit as to what is OK and what’s not OK.

    Here is an actual example of a fail. In a mailing list with hundreds of participants, a person posted a link to a female researcher’s work that had some important research results. Their comment was along the lines: “Not only is she beautiful, she is also very smart”. Thankfully, many called this comment as inappropriate. The person that made the comment was genuinely confused and did not understand why such a comment, which was commonly made in their country, would be an issue on an international mailing list. How do you explain in a code of conduct the inappropriateness of such a comment? It needs quite some thinking to capture the issue. One way would be: If you substitute the person with someone male, would the comment be awkward/inappropriate? Like in “Not only Marcin Juszkiewicz is beautiful, he is also very smart”.

    We all carry cultural baggage and these manifest in online discussions and conferences. Instead of dealing with such problems again and again, it’s better to solve with a comprehensive code of conduct. If an issue appears, you would just need to direct to the comprehensive code of conduct and not deal with the drama.

    Reply
    • 24th September 2018 at 17:21
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      Simon: there always will be something not covered by CoC — nevermind how many things it will list.

      Speaking of sentence in your example… I am aware that in some cultures/countries it would be fine and in some not. But would not overact on it when author does not know why it was offensive to some.

      I mailed company wide ML with “Can you people learn GMail filters” mail. Then someone pointed me out that ‘you people’ is offensive in US because this is how black people were called. I apologized in reply.

      There will always be a chance to offend someone because of cultural differences. What matters is how author reacts.

      Reply
  • 24th September 2018 at 17:27
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    I don’t really have a problem with CoC’s, I find CLA’s more of a problem in the free software sphere. However it does seem there are members of the community who find being reminded not to be dick some sort of SJW inspired plot against their free-wheeling libertarian ideals. Watching it being discussed on social media was just outright depressing although I suspect a lot of the commentators where not active contributors.

    If I have any criticisms of the particular CoC that was chosen is it’s attempt to list particular oppressed groups – mainly because as soon you have such a list you start getting arguments about what is and isn’t on it. Debian’s diversity statement is beautifully simple in comparison:

    The Debian Project welcomes and encourages participation by everyone.
    
    No matter how you identify yourself or how others perceive you: we welcome you. We welcome contributions from everyone as long as they interact constructively with our community.
    
    While much of the work for our project is technical in nature, we value and encourage contributions from those with expertise in other areas, and welcome them into our community.
    

    Anyway it’s only a minor thing and I don’t think I’ll have any particular problems complying to one currently in the kernel source tree.

    Reply
  • 24th September 2018 at 19:14
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    IMHO you can not define what beeing an arsehole means.

    And that’s why all those CoC’s also don’t work as they are intended, because all the legalese again boils down to some vage and loosely defined terms and the only thing that’s been won is that some people start to game the system to take advantage over other people using the CoC.

    In the end IMHO a single one lined CoC is as good, or IMHO even better, than a big convolute of text CoC because in the end they both are based on inprecise terms and the short CoC acknoledges that and requires cooperation. Even the longest CoC breaks down in case of non-cooperative individuals, so there is IMHO nothing won with it…

    Reply
  • 24th September 2018 at 19:15
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    FYI “you people” is not offensive in the USA, and is not a term for black people. It means exactly what it means. Has it ever been used in an offensive way, sure… but the term itself is does not entail anything offensive. BTW – I like your code of conduct, short & simple is the best.

    Reply
    • 24th September 2018 at 19:55
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      I got that hint in private mail:

      Just a heads up, the phrase “you people” is often used as a pejorative when referring to people of color within the United States. It is considered quite offensive in some circles, and is generally best avoided in polite conversation.
      Reply
  • 25th September 2018 at 00:16
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    The term “arsehole” is not universal – bigotry, misogyny, racism, etc. all are well defined.

    Reply
  • 26th September 2018 at 18:31
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    What about:

    Rule 1: Be polite in all your conversation (remember, what your Mum taught you) Rule 2: Crucial part of politeness is that discussion should be always ad rem (about the issue), never ad personam (about a person). It is OK to say, that some idea is stupid; it is almost never OK to say somebody is stupid.

    Reply
  • 27th September 2018 at 12:13
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    I believe that your upbringing determines your attitude on how you behave in general with every one;leaving politics and religion out of the equation

    Reply

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