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Re: The Code of Conduct needs specifics

Hi Solveig,

On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 02:31:54AM +0000, Solveig wrote:
> [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.
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_invented_here

While it's worth discussing how the code of conduct can be improved, this is
a wholly unscientific appeal to authority.  There may happen to be a group
that has worked on CoC questions, but where's the evidence that their answer
is *right*?  Where is the evidence that their approach to CoCs results in
materially better outcomes?

My interest in seeing a CoC for Debian is not in banning a set of
specifically enumerated behaviors, but to improve the overall quality of
discourse on Debian mailing lists.  Defining the line beyond which behavior
will be censured can only ever give you a minimum threshold for behavior,
it will never help raise it any higher than that.

To inspire people to be their better selves requires a list of "do"s, not a
list of "do not"s.  The latter is something that the listmasters can already
handle under their existing authority; it's the former that warrants the
Debian project taking a position as a whole.

In considering the question of a code of conduct, I personally take my cue
from the one in Ubuntu: an affirmative statement of values the community
holds itself accountable to.  When I began working for Canonical and became
involved in the Ubuntu community, I agreed to the Ubuntu CoC, which meant
holding myself to a higher standard in my engagements not only with the
Ubuntu community, but with the broader Free Software family - including
Debian.  As a result, I noticed a change for the better in my behavior on
Debian mailing lists.

The behavior that I see on Debian lists these days that I think is
problematic would be unambiguously contrary to such a CoC, and this really
has nothing to do with, e.g., "sexist jokes".  Sexist jokes are bad and
should not be allowed on the Debian lists; but I also don't think that's the
problem that we need to be worried about solving by ratifying a CoC.

> So, an "Unacceptable‭ ‬Behavior" section should be added.

Personally, I would not be opposed to the addition of such a section; but I
still think this is secondary to the main purpose of ratifying a CoC.

> I can write specific amendments, if somebody is willing to sponsor them :)

If you would like to see change here, I think this is probably the best way
forward.  Without specific text to consider, this is likely to result in an
open-ended discussion that doesn't get us to a usable amendment in time.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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