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Re: [Debconf-discuss] DebConf conference policy on profanity

On Wed, 2014-09-03 at 20:11 -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> I should preface this by saying that I personally don't feel that strongly
> about this one way or the other.  But it came up in another forum that
> isn't the right place to talk about it, and I've been trying to make a
> point of doing my part to move some of those conversations to a better
> location.

Thanks, Russ.

> I was mildly surprised during registration by the inclusion of expletives
> as something that was ruled out by the conference code of conduct.

Me too.

> My
> (not particularly well-researched) impression is that use of non-gendered
> expletives in English is something that's become somewhat generational.
> Using four-letter words was considered very impolite and unacceptable in
> professional public venues in my parents' generation, but appears to
> hardly be noticable in the generation in college now, with a change point
> somewhere around my generation.

It has also not been unusual for a few expletives to appear in slides or
spoken words in talks at previous DebConfs.  So far as I know, that
hasn't been something people complained about in the past.

Given that people are now bringing young children to DebConf, it may be
something we should take more care over now.

> To be specific about what words I'm talking about, I have seen people use
> both "shit" and "fuck" in a professional HR presentation context with
> basically no reaction (although the latter is much less common).  Several
> speakers used those or similar words during various presentations; often
> they were immediately apologetic, but the audience appeared not to take
> this part of the code of conduct particularly seriously.

I decided to point out the discrepancy between this rule and the actual
accepted practice at DebConf, by reporting the inclusion of an expletive
in Zack's opening talk.

Biella also tweeted one of her slides in advance of her talk, and I
pointed out the rule to her then.  I believe she subsequently discussed
the (considerable) number of quoted expletives in the slides with the
organisers, and they settled on a content warning at the beginning of
the talk.

I think that the option of a content warning (only for expletives) is a
sensible approach, but the Code of Conduct should formally allow this
rather than being informally overridden.  I think that any such warning
should also be included in the online schedule so that it's visible to
those planning which events to attend or considering joining an event
that has already started.

> Now, it's quite possible that I'm rather privileged here and am just
> unaware of the issues.  I am *not* asking for this to be changed, at least
> at this point.  However, I am curious as to what was the intent for
> including that rule in the code of conduct.  Specifically, I'm wondering
> if this posed a concern for any of the attendees, or if it was just
> something that seemed like it would be appropriate to have in the code of
> conduct.

Patty told me she said she drafted the CoC based on what LCA uses.  She
said she had asked for feedback on debconf-team but didn't receive any
(or not much; I don't remember exactly which she said).

> I should be clear here that I'm only talking about words that either never
> had or that are used outside of any sexual meaning, and are not used in a
> way that implies any sexual meaning.  I am specifically *not* talking
> about gendered expletives or sexual innuendo, and would support continuing
> to rule out such things in the code of conduct.



Ben Hutchings
Experience is directly proportional to the value of equipment destroyed.
                                                         - Carolyn Scheppner

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