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Re: Promoting the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines?

From: Alex Sassmannshausen
Subject: Re: Promoting the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines?
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2018 12:08:56 +0100
User-agent: mu4e 1.0; emacs 26.1


I strongly support the CC and a specific CoC. Just to put my cards on
the table.

HiPhish writes:

> I have had two packages merged, which I guess that makes me technically a
> contributor, so here is my takes on the issue.
> In my opinion Codes of Conduct (or CoCs in short) are one of the worst things
> that have happened in recent years to Free and Open Source projects (hold that
> though, I will address it soon enough), and the Contributor Covenant (CC in
> short) is the worst offender. I will explain shortly why this is, but please
> allow me to elaborate first.
> There is no problem of harassment in FLOSS, there is a problem of socially
> awkward nerds in FLOSS.

I think you a have burden of proof here, given that our culture at large
has serious issues with harassment.  Why would you think FLOSS community
is somehow different from the wider community?

> Harassment presupposes malice, i.e. that the offending person is
> intentionally being abusive.

You can harass someone whilst believing your acting positively.  E.g. an
ex-partner that "just wants to show how much they love the person that
spurned them".  And ends up stalking them.

> If you have never said anything that made you want to vanish into the
> ground the moment it came out of your mouth you are not human. Some
> people will slip up more often than others, and let's face it: the
> people who are more likely to slip up are also more often the ones who
> are good at programming. Why is it this way? I don't know, I'm not a
> psychologist or anthropologist, I just need to know that this is the
> way things are.
> Now here is the important part: for an offensive act to be committed it takes
> two sides, the offender and the offended. Part of social competence is knowing
> not to slip up, but part of it is also knowing to just let it slide when
> someone else slips up.

You're conflating harassment and offense here.  It is one thing to be
offended by individuals using the wrong cutlery for the entrée; it is
another entirely for someone to, e.g. use crass racist caricatures.

> Again, I'm not talking just about online discourse, but social
> interaction in general. When someone says something stupid just ignore
> that person, and if it keeps happening try to correct them in a
> friendly manner. This is how we grow as humans.
> This leads me into why the CC is a harmful CoC. The CC presupposes malice by
> default, more than half of its content is focused on punitive measures, not on
> helping each other. In contrast, the GNU Kind Communications Guidelines (GKCG
> in short) explicitly promotes a cooperative two-sided perspective:
>> Please assume other participants are posting in good faith, even if you
>> disagree with what they say. When people present code or text as their own
>> work, please accept it as their work. Please do not criticize people for
>> wrongs that you only speculate they may have done; stick to what they
>> actually say and actually do.
>> Please do not take a harsh tone towards other participants, and especially
>> don't make personal attacks against them. Go out of your way to show that
> you
>> are criticizing a statement, not a person.
>> Please recognize that criticism of your statements is not a personal attack
>> on you. If you feel that someone has attacked you, or offended your personal
>> dignity, please don't “hit back” with another personal attack. That tends to
>> start a vicious circle of escalating verbal aggression. A private response,
>> politely stating your feelings as feelings, and asking for peace, may calm
>> things down. Write it, set it aside for hours or a day, revise it to remove
>> the anger, and only then send it.
> There is nothing like this in the CC, but there is this:
>> Instances of abusive, harassing, or otherwise unacceptable behavior may be
>> reported by contacting the project team at [INSERT EMAIL ADDRESS]. All
>> complaints will be reviewed and investigated and will result in a response
>> that is deemed necessary and appropriate to the circumstances. The project
>> team is obligated to maintain confidentiality with regard to the reporter of
>> an incident. Further details of specific enforcement policies may be posted
>> separately.
>> Project maintainers who do not follow or enforce the Code of Conduct in good
>> faith may face temporary or permanent repercussions as determined by other
>> members of the project’s leadership.
> The CC is claiming to foster "an open and welcoming environment" while at the
> same time holding a gun to every maintainer's head. The accused is not even
> allowed to know what the accusation is about (confidentiality clause), so how
> are they supposed to know what they did was wrong? There is no clause that
> allows the accused to defend their position, only punishment is defined. This
> applies even to the maintainer, so if they maintainer wants to protect an
> unjustly accused person, the maintainer will be on the chopping block. To make
> matters worse, the CC never defines what constitutes offensive behaviour.
> Take
> a look at the following list:
>> * The use of sexualized language or imagery and unwelcome sexual attention
> or
>>   advances
>> * Trolling, insulting/derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks
>> * Public or private harassment
>> * Publishing others’ private information, such as a physical or electronic
>>   address, without explicit permission
>> * Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a
>>   professional setting
> The fourth point is clear, but what exactly constitutes any of the remaining
> four? Is "Wow, thank you so much, I could kiss you!" considered "unwelcome
> sexual attention" or just an exaggerated expression of joy? Is overhearing
> people talking about "dongles" and "forking repos" considered unwanted sexual
> attention? If I wanted I could consider it the former and pull the trigger
> metaphorically. I am asking because this is not a hypothetical question,
> people
> have been loosing their jobs over these issues for real. Do you think this
> makes for a healthy community?
> The GKCG does not even attempt to define what qualifies as unacceptable,
> because unless you pay a lawyer to write a tens of pages long document which
> no
> one will read, you will never have a sufficient definition. Truly money well
> spent.
> As for the last point, if you really want to remove anything that would be
> inappropriate in a professional setting, you have to go all out. No "I could
> kiss you", but also no informalities, no emotion, and the project maintainer
> will have to sign all his mails not with "Ludo'" or "Ludovic", but as "Mr
> Courtès", RMS becomes "Dr. Stallman", Guix becomes "The GNU Guix project", no
> Hacker culture jokes and quips the manual, and so on. If this what you want?
> As a closing thought, I wish to address my opening statement that CoCs are one
> of the worst things to happen in recent years to FLOSS. The argument with
> which
> CoCs are "sold" to FLOSS projects is that there is problem of harassment in
> the
> community which prevents people from contributing. And yet I have to see any
> project where contributions have improved as a result of adopting a CoC, where
> people who were previously harassed became contributors. In fact, I have yet
> to
> see any actual harassment, and not just socially awkward nerds being socially
> awkward. On the other hand, I have seen enough examples of existing long-time
> contributors being expelled from projects and being harassed, especially by
> proponents of the CC. The CC's own author is one of the worst offenders of the
> CC's own terms, going after people's private social media accounts and
> quote-mining them to demand their expulsion or even extort money. Yet none of
> those people end up contributing to the projects they disrupt. Is the damage
> you invite really worth it?

I personally am not aware of such behaviour.  I think if you bring these
accusations into this thread it might be worth having some evidence


> Guix is too important of a project, functional package management is the only
> proper solution to package management.

All the more important we do everything we can to minimise the existing
barriers to contributions from all walks of life.

> I believe there are interest groups of proprietary software companies
> who would rather want projects like Flatpak succeed, which are more
> applicable to proprietary software. Please don't let them hold a gun
> to every contributor's head by inviting trouble into the project.

This reads hyperbolic, if not somewhat conspiratorial to me.  No guns
are being held to anyone's head, no life's endangered or violence even
threatened.  I also disagree with the implication that harassment
complaints might be weapons used by a nefarious competing party.

> You have people in this very thread who are afraid of contributing,
> and even I was considering leaving my packages just sitting on my
> local hard drive rather than submitting them upstream, but as the GKCG
> says: "Please assume other participants are posting in good faith,
> even if you disagree with what they say."

If you don't mind me asking, what are you afraid of?

Best wishes,


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