The Code of Conduct needs specifics
[short version: The Code of Conduct should be vastly rewritten. Yes,
*before* voting on it]
A few days ago, i saw the proposal for a Code of Conduct. First I was
very glad, then I read it and was perplexed. I made some research, which
confirmed my suspicion: the Code of Conduct that is actually proposed is
in the best case useless. You might say "it's better than nothing", but
actually it's not: that's giving yourself good conscience without really
improving the situation.
"Oh yes, we have a CoC. It helps in no way to avoid problems, but you
can't tell us to improve the situation because hey, we have a CoC. Also,
it was such a huge effort to make this happen, we won't put more anytime
soon and we would be sad to hear it doesn't work, so shut up".
I think if you do something, do it right. Lots of feminists, who work on
these questions since years, collectively, and are concerned by the
problem, have documented not only *why* have a CoC, but also *how* - not
following their advice is silly and wrong.
So, what's their advice, and what's missing? Please read the whole of
1 * List specific common behaviors that are not okay
2 * Include detailed directions for reporting violations
3 * Have a defined and documented complaint handling process
The proposed CoC doesn't list specific behaviours, has no clear way to
report violations and there is no sanction planned (or no way to have it
happen). This thing only says "be nice" (or "don't be a dick").
Saying "be nice"? Cute, but doesn't work, and it even helps harassers
going away with stuff.
1. Exemples with specifics do/dont:
down to Conduct)
Since *lots* of people don't see what's bad with sexist jokes, or asking
for body mensurations, or stalking you and publish your personal data,
it does make sense to list what's inappropriate. It won't be complete,
but if it catches 90% of bad behaviours, it's 90% we won't have to argue
about. Also, with exemples, it's easier to see if a given situation is
similar to those listed.
It might be complicated to agree upon a list, but rather discuss *now*
than when somebody complains and people start arguing if it was really
offensive, because one such argument informs lots of people they are not
So, an "Unacceptable Behavior" section should be added.
2. "Complaints should be made (in private) to the administrators of the
forum in question. To find contact information for these administrators,
please see [the page on Debian's organizational
There should be a way to report abusive or inadequate behaviour without
starting a quest to find somebody interested, maybe have
firstname.lastname@example.org where people can redirect you to the right place AND
keep trace, so that inadequate behaviour cannot continue on a different
forum. Or maybe see if https://wiki.debian.org/AntiHarassment can be
Also, why "(in private)"? People who are not confortable to report in
public will do it in private, but shouldn't *have to* be discreet about
3. "Serious or persistent offenders will be temporarily or permanently
banned from communicating through Debian's systems."
I think if somebody is a serious and persistent offender, they should be
banned from the project, and not only some communication channels.
In general, this Code of Conduct seems to be more afraid to bruise
offender's ego than to assure contributor's well-being. It's hard enough
to report when somebody treats you badly, I think those precautions are
counterproductive: it kindof says "people shouldn't be mean, but if they
are, it's probably ok". If somebody acts correctly or apologises in case
of offense, nobody will report them, so let's remove:
## In case of problems
"[...] However, regardless of whether the message is public or not, it
should still adhere to the relevant parts of this code of conduct; in
particular, it should not be abusive or disrespectful. Assume good
faith; it is more likely that participants are unaware of their bad
behaviour than that they intentionally try to degrade the quality of the
This just repeats all the above, and that's condescending to the people
who have to report something: it's probably not the first time in their
lifes that they are being harassed, they probably just ignore minor
offenses daily. It's insulting to assume they misjudge if something is
offensive. Maybe they do, but that's not very probable (especially if a
list of inadequate behaviour is provided).
There could also be a mention that you can speak up and/or report if you
witness inappropriate behaviour, not only if you're the target of it.
I'm not a DD, so I have no decision power on this, and I know it's a lot
of critics, quite late in the process, because I saw it only recently.
Oh, and of course it's long to read. But I really hope this proposal can
I can write specific amendments, if somebody is willing to sponsor them :)