Implementing a code of conduct?

Heiki Lõhmus repentinus at
Thu Nov 3 15:46:48 UTC 2016

On Thu, Nov 03, 2016 at 03:31:41PM +0100, Mauricio Nascimento wrote:
> I respect the effort of creating such code, but I am against of having a
> Code of Conduct. People are able to decide by themselves how to behave in a
> polite way and how to treat the others with respect and kindness.

People are many and varied: some of us are polite in the sense most of
us understand politeness; some of us would like to be polite, but
genuinely do not know how to be polite; some of us think ourselves
polite, but fail to account for cultural differences; some of us just do
not care whether we are polite or not; and some of us are impolite
knowingly and purposefully when it suits us. Furthermore, this is not an
n-chotomy: all of us fall into more than a single category on occasion.

Now, it may not hurt much if people are impolite. However, attitudes
vary on this and if we want to be a safe forum for the largest possible
number of people, then we have to recognize that. This requires a *common*
understanding of what constitutes civility and politeness.

Further, different people also have different standards of behaviour
when it comes to interacting with people from different religious,
racial, sexual, or gender backgrounds. Some of these standards are
outright criminal, others "merely" obnoxious. As FSFE, we want to
welcome people from all backgrounds and we want to make sure they feel
safe. Having a clear CoC will hopefully reduce the probability of any
unpleasant behaviour and it will also tell victims that they will be
looked after: we are prepared to eliminate perpetrators from our
community, and where appropriate, encourage and help victims to make
appropriate reports to the authorities.

It is true that many of us want to do the right thing without having a
CoC. This extends to excluding people from the community when necessary.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to do the right thing without having a
CoC in such an instance: would it be just to exclude people from the
community if they never had the chance to learn our shared values and
principles? would it be just to impose sanctions they were never aware
of? No, it would not.

We are not facing a choice between telling people how to behave or not
doing so. We are facing a choice between giving everyone a shared
understanding of the community values and principles, sanctions for
violating them, and a safe space where the values and principles are
upheld on one hand and failing the community by occasionally imposing ad
hoc sanctions and on other occasions allowing our community to victimize
its members on the other hand. To me, this choice is a no-brainer.

Heiki Lõhmus
Vice President, Translation Coordinator
Free Software Foundation Europe
repentinus at
repentinus at
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