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Re: The Code of Conduct needs specifics

On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 01:19:11PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:
> In general, I understand where Wouter is coming from, and the points that
> Steve made about inspiring people to behave better in public.  However,
> this one paragraph really lept out at me.
> Wouter Verhelst <wouter@debian.org> writes:
> > This Code of Conduct is afraid to scare away potential contributors; so
> > a lot of effort has been put into making this a positive, welcoming Code
> > of Conduct rather than a negative, scary one.
> I think this is a mistake.
> The experiences of other groups have mostly convinced me that the point of
> a Code of Conduct should be to scare away potential contributors who
> cannot or are unwilling to behave according to the standards that we
> expect of our community, and to reassure the people who would be injured
> by violations of those standards that we're serious about declaring those
> people unwelcome in our project.  Not welcoming them and attempting to
> quietly encourage them to become better people (which doesn't work).


Perhaps I should clarify that, personally, I don't see someone who is
prone to aggressive and abusive behaviour as a "potential contributor"
in the above-quoted paragraph, and I don't think the project should,
either. I think that people who have no respect for their peers,
regardless of their technical abilities, should have no place in our

> If you want a diverse and welcoming atmosphere, particularly for people
> who aren't interested in aggressive communication patterns or who are
> historically excluded, you have to not welcome the people who make the
> environment hostile and uncomfortable for the people you want to attract.

This is absolutely true. However, I don't think you can do that through
a code of conduct; people who are abusive and aggressive tend to have
little consideration for other people's words. Instead, you should gear
your *actions* (in this case bans, whether temporary or permanent in
nature; law enforcement if thing get *really* serious) towards making
the environment not welcome for such people. The proposed code tries to
institutionalize and further encourage what is effectively already

Put otherwise, a code of conduct should be geared towards who will read
and heed it, not towards who will blatantly violate it, even in the face
of requests to stop doing so.

> It's not exactly a zero-sum game, but it is a choice.  You can choose to
> attract one type of project participant or the other, but not both at the
> same time.
> I think the Code of Conduct presents an opportunity for us to be clear
> about what type of project participant we're interested in, and what type
> of project participant we're not interested in, and that we shouldn't be
> afraid to be a bit confrontational here.

I think the current text does attempt to be clear about what we're
interested in. Having a list of things that we want to see implies
people can infer what we're not interested in, even if it's not

I don't think being confrontational is very helpful in this kind of

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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