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

Am Mi., 27. Nov. 2019 um 15:54 Uhr schrieb Simon McVittie <smcv@debian.org>:
> 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.

Yes, thank you so much! This has bothered me for a really long time
and I just never raised it because I thought it would create another
long thread discussing the term itself, derailing the actually
important discussion on the subject matter. However, especially in the
context of a vote, the choice of words and framing drastically changes
how things are perceived. Especially with a term that has a defined
meaning already, or at the very least is loaded with other,
non-technical associations. I don't think using it is neutral, as a
technical vote proposal should be.
I may be in favour of diversity in general, but may still prefer the
technical decision to focus only on one init system. Yet, for some
reason, I would have to vote against "diversity".

> 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 couldn't
> 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 focus
> 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 everything
> 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 choices
> onto individual systems, seem like something that we should decide based
> on their merits. Whatever the result of the imminent vote might be,
> I would like it to be chosen for the right reasons.

I do not see that using "diversity" as a term in technical discussions
would devalue the diversity efforts of the teams working on it.
However, I do think the points where you see it harm discussions are
very real. If you google "diversity" you can see it is pretty much
exclusively used in social contexts. By bringing it into technical
discussions, a neutral discussion suddenly becomes colored with
emotional opinions and people having to take sides for and against
diversity, instead of just having opinions about a certain subject
matter. And even if one disagrees with this assumption, taking that
risk is just not worth it as there are many other ways to say the same
thing: Just calling this "support for multiple init systems" is very
neutral as well as accurate, so would "Init system variety" be.


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