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Re: Please drop/replace the use of the term "diversity"

On November 27, 2019 2:54:04 PM UTC, Simon McVittie <smcv@debian.org> wrote:
>On Wed, 27 Nov 2019 at 11:27:13 +0000, Chris Lamb wrote:
>> May I gently request we replace the use of the word "diversity"
>> throughout the "init systems and systemd" General Resolution prior to
>> it being subject to a plebiscite?
>Thank you for raising this, Chris.
>I agree. I have been uncomfortable with this in the context of "init
>diversity" efforts, but I didn't raise it in the past because I
>articulate clearly why I felt that it was a problem.  Since it's now
>on-topic, here's my best attempt at that:
>The diversity team, and wider efforts around diversity in Debian and
>in software in general, have used "diversity" as a catch-all term for
>personal characteristics of our contributors and community members when
>discussing inclusion and how we treat people, as a way to avoid having
>to enumerate specific characteristics (which would tend to lead to
>on those characteristics at the expense of others).
>If we use the same word in discussions around technical decisions, this
>raises some concerns for me. Jokes about the emacs and vi religions
>aside, technical preferences are not really the same thing as the
>characteristics we normally refer to by "diversity". Of course, we
>should treat the people who hold those preferences with respect, but
>that isn't the same as considering implementation of their preference
>to be an ethical imperative for Debian.
>To take a deliberately slightly absurd example, preferring Gentoo over
>Debian is not an inclusion or diversity issue; we welcome constructive
>contributions to Debian from people who would prefer to be using Gentoo
>(notably some of our upstreams!), but we do not consider it to be an
>ethical imperative to expand the scope of Debian to encompass
>Gentoo does.
>I would hate to see diversity and inclusion of people (the meaning of
>the word used in the name of the Diversity Team) harmed by creating a
>perception that the term "diversity" has been devalued by stretching
>it to encompass technical preferences, because I think diversity and
>inclusion of people is much too important to let that happen.
>Conflating diversity of people with diversity of implementation could
>easily also harm our technical decisions, in either direction:
>* it could influence technical decisions away from making a choice as
>  a project, and towards creating infrastructure to make that choice on
>  individual systems, by developers who do not wish to be perceived to
>  be opposing "diversity" in the interpersonal/Diversity Team sense of
>  the word;
>* conversely, it could influence technical decisions *towards* making a
>  choice as a project, and *away from* making that choice on individual
>  systems, by developers who might believe this use of "diversity" is
>  disingenuous (even if it was not intended as such).
>The extent to which we make choices project-wide, and the amount of
>technical cost we are willing to accept to be able to make those
>onto individual systems, seem like something that we should decide
>on their merits. Whatever the result of the imminent vote might be,
>I would like it to be chosen for the right reasons.

I am deeply saddened by this message.  I think it is entirely misguided, but I fail to come up with a way to explain it that is no one will think violates our code of conduct.  It's things like this that are causing me to start to view it as a mistake.

Scott K

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