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Re: Code of Conduct: picking up

Hi Norbert,

Op 26-11-13 15:07, Norbert Preining schreef:
> Hi,
>>  but even so, remain respectful. Disagreement is no excuse for poor
>>  behaviour or personal attacks, and a community in which people feel
>>  threatened is not a healthy community.
> What does
> 	"poor behaviour"
> mean?

That which is socially disruptive.

> What does
> 	"person attacks"
> mean?

(Personal attacks, not person attacks)

argumentum ad hominem, if that's clearer? I.e., this is to say "play the
ball, not the man".

> Regarding this:
>>  Note that many of our Contributors are not native english speakers or
>>  may have different cultural backgrounds; see also our [diversity
>>  statement](http://www.debian.org/intro/diversity)
> it is already questionable do refer to things like the above statements.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Can you clarify?

> Combined with:
>>  Serious or persistent offenders will temporarily or permanently banned
>>  from communicating through Debian's systems. Complaints should be made
> it means that the exegesis of what the above agglomeration of glyphs
> in the Roman alphabet means is in the hands of those with the loudest
> and powerful voices in Debian, which does not necessarily mean
> that the intepretation agrees with other's opinion.

No. The interpretation of what is and is not acceptable is in the hands
of our listmasters.

As was pointed out during the BOF at debconf, the listmasters aren't
delegates, but they probably should be if officially given this
responsibility. However, that shouldn't stop us from discussing this
text, provided that little detail is fixed before the text becomes
official (either by asking the DPL to make listmasters delegates, or by
changing who receives the responsibility of making the required judgement)

> Why don't we try to be *honest*, something like
> 	Debian is a practical oligarchy. If you don't happen to
> 	sit in key positions, you should be careful what you 
> 	are saying since disrespectful behaviour versus the
> 	oligarchs will be punished by bans without recurse.
> 	Like in every jurisdiction, Debian is not about true or
> 	false, good or bad, but what is declared as right or wrong
> 	by the law makers.

I vehemently disagree with that statement, and I don't think the draft
that I wrote comes even close to such a thing.

I also happen to believe that this is currently not the status quo in
Debian; and if it were, then that would be an even better reason why we
need a code of conduct. We don't want bad behaviour; not from random
mailinglist participants, not from Debian Developers, and certainly not
from people in a position of power.

> Following the Code of Conduct I will probably be punished for making
> jokes about the different gender, different religion, different
> political opinion, and maybe even different OS. Where is the border,
> where is the limit.

The draft explicitly confirms the possibility of different cultural
backgrounds and different moods, and allows for some leeway with that in

In other words, if making a joke in bad taste were to get someone banned
from our mailinglist, then I think we would have failed -- unless it is
the Xth time someone does so, persisting in the face of people asking
them to stop.

> The whole point of what I wrote is that
> 	Good behaviour *cannot* be defined. Period. 

Correct. I don't think I'm trying to do that.

> That is the reason we have a juridical system.
> Laws decide on breaking or following the law, but not 
> on good or bad (behaviour). But laws try to be clear in *what*
> is defined. All this code of conduct tries to look like a law

This is where we disagree. I'm not trying to make it look like a law, at
all. The point is for people to have a guideline of behaviour. Yes,
there are some punitive measures in there, but those are only as a last
resort: the draft only mentions "persistent" (i.e., people who persist
in bad behaviour, even after being warned that their behaviour is
unwelcome) or "severe" (i.e., people whose one-time behaviour is
sufficiently disruptive that it, by itself, is a problem for our community).

There is a fairly large grey zone between "good behaviour" and
"something clearly unwelcome". I have tried to make this text so that it
would discourage things that would be in the grey zone, while only
resorting to bans when things are clearly out of line.

> The only standardization of "good behaviour" found in wide spread
> use are religious based (8 folded path, 10 commandments, ...). Do
> we want to go this way, becoming a religion?


> A short "Gedankenexperiment": What if someone in the upper ranks of
> Debian (committee, delegates, secretaries, etc) decides to pervert
> Debian and starts being *very* active, positively, acquiring a lot
> of followers, and at the same time a lot of powers by combining
> some of the jobs or distributing them between friends. Then, (s)he
> uses this to silence those opposing further steps on grounds of
> bad behaviour.

I'm not sure what you're afraid of here, which makes it hard for me to
produce a counterargument.

I don't think it's "bad" if people in a power position (I'm wary of
calling that the "upper ranks") are "*very* active, positively". On the
contrary. If that makes them acquire a lot of followers, then I can only
see that benefiting Debian in the long run.

I also don't think it's necessarily a bad thing if someone in Debian
acquires a lot of power. We are very much a meritocracy; this means you
can't acquire power without a lot of hard work. Once you've done the
hard work, you get to decide how you do it, which could indeed be
described as "having power"; but since it's you who needs to do the
things that your "power position" allow you to make decision about,
anyway, this usually isn't a big problem (even though I'll grant you
that there are exceptions).

The only thing that might be an issue is that someone might try to
silence opposing voices on the grounds of "bad behaviour" where none
exists. I think that's unlikely; however, even if this were to happen, I
think we already have plenty of tools to fix that problem (depending on
the situation, off the top of my head I can think of: invoking the
technical committee, having the DPL replace misbehaving delegates, a DPL
recall election, or overriding a decision under constitution §4.1.4; I'm
sure there are more options)

> The educated around here might be reminded of a
> certain unahppy figure in the 30ies and 40ies in Germany.

Please try not to invoke Godwin's law.

> *************
> Non-legal style documents that allow for punishment are dangerous.
> *************

Only if no human judgement call is made before such punishment is
invoked. What is "good" behaviour is impossible to define, as you said;
I therefore think it's better if a team of human beings makes that call,
based on a number of guidelines. The team proposed in this draft are our
listmasters, and the proposed guidelines are in this code of conduct.

I'll also point out that in effect, this doesn't actually change
anything; our listmasters _are_ already implementing temporary bans for
people who are disruptive on our mailinglists. This would only make that
officially their responsibility, which it currently isn't.


This end should point toward the ground if you want to go to space.

If it starts pointing toward space you are having a bad problem and you
will not go to space today.

  -- http://xkcd.com/1133/

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