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Re: Code of conduct, question to all candidates

On Fri, Mar 03, 2006 at 10:20:59PM +0200, Lars Wirzenius wrote:
> Many people consider the aggressive, often unconstructive atmosphere on
> major Debian mailing lists to be a problem. You only need to make a
> little spark and suddenly you have ignited a huge thread, up to several
> hundred mails per day, a number of which are personal attacks. Even if
> they aren't, people insisting in mail after mail that their point of
> view is only correct one can be considered quite aggressive. And even if
> you disregard that, the mere volume of discussion is more than
> overwhelming, it can be outright scary.
> A code of conduct has often been mentioned as a possible solution to
> various communication problems we have. The code would have to specify,
> either explicitly or implicitly, some rules for acceptable behavior. 
> What do you think of a code of conduct? What in your opinion would be a
> lower limit on acceptable behavior? Do you think that strict rules would
> be better than general guidelines? Who should be the judge if a
> particular case follows the code of conduct or not? Would the code be a
> good thing, or would it necessarily be a threat to freedom of speech,
> and stifle innovation? Should any kind of behavior be allowed on Debian
> mailing lists?

Please see my response to the 3rd question asked by Josselin Mouette:

To address questions not in that earlier response: Rules need to be
clear, but applied with consideration, on a case-by-case basis. There
should be a small and respecteable group judging and governing the
application of the code of conduct, with a clear procedure for appeal --
in any case, any corrective action should be in proportion, losing ones
temper just once should't result in a permanent ban, for example. I
don't believe a code would be a threat to freedom of speech, or stifle
innovation, on the contrary. Maintaining an open discussion forum where
people can freely exchange idea's and arguments *without* being met with
unrespectful non-technical jabs would increase innovation.

Compare this with walking around on the streets: if I feel like, I can
go outside now and take a walk, and nobody will stop me, including the
police. However, I'd rather not go take a walk if I know chances are
high that outside there'd be people who would yell at me for walking so
slowly. If feel unsafe or threatened, I'd stay inside. A lot of people
do so in unfriendly neighbourhoods, they prefer to simply avoid
problems, but deprive themselves from following what's happening
outside, and prefer to gather with small groups of friends at say a
fitness centre. The problem is that this a downgoing trend, more
'unfriendly' people will join the persons sitting outside yelling at
whoever dares to come along.

At some point, action should be taken, and someone calls in the police
so that they patrol more often. Yelling is warned against, repeated
offenders get a temporary ban. Everybody dares take a walk again at
night. The annoying people in part will hopefull move on to some
different place where they can bully people, or get a live or so
[hopefully not get a computer with internet connection and join a Debian

Is this limiting freedom of speech? No, I don't think so. Does this
help against a very limited amount of people frustrating productive
discussions? Certainly it does. Debian lists are special purpose lists:
they each have specific intentions. They are not places for unhelpful


Jeroen van Wolffelaar
Jeroen@wolffelaar.nl (also for Jabber & MSN; ICQ: 33944357)

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