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Re: Code of Conduct complaint about Linus's comments at DC14

Theodore Ts'o <tytso@xxxxxxx> writes:

> I personally think the CoC language is fine if it is used when trying to
> smooth over a disagreement at a conference, but if it one side decides
> to use it as a cudgel against someone else, "I am offended --- I demand
> that the DPL make a public apology on behalf of the entire project and a
> decision yea or nea be made *IMMEDIATELY*" --- it is my believe that at
> that point, the CoC language breaks down and is insufficiently precise
> about what, exactly, is derogatory behavior.

This is frequently raised as a concern over codes of conduct, but it
appears to rarely actually happen.  It's much less common than complaints
about borderline conduct where there is a legitimate argument as to
whether or not it was in violation, but the report is made in good faith
(as in this case).  The concern that people will use the CoC as a weapon
without actually believing that the behavior was really in violation
appears to be a mostly theoretical concern.

I think it's fine for the anti-harassment team to use their good judgement
in the rare case that something like this seems to be going on.

> But apparently, it doesn't matter what you think.  Only that at least
> one person felt that they were personally offended.

I think it's quite sad the way that you went, from the start of your
message saying that this is "a school of thought," to now making this bald
statement that this is clearly what's going on in this specific case.  To
be explicitly clear, I am sure that the anti-harassment team will need to
occasionally say "we heard your complaint and we're unhappy that you were
upset, but we don't believe this incident has reached a point that
warrants further action."  And I don't see anything in the code of conduct
that rules out that finding.

Also, as a general point, Debian is not exactly in uncharted territory
here.  There is a wealth of practical experience with codes of conduct,
particularly around conferences, and (for example) the SF fandom community
has already gone through a lot of really difficult and disruptive work
here.  That also means there's a lot of information on the web about
common objections, and a lot of recorded experience about which of those
objections turn out to be problems in practice and which do not.

Most of us come from an engineering background, and many of us have a
security background, so we naturally think of ways to break or exploit the
system.  I know the feeling; it's as natural as breathing.  But it's worth
being familiar with the literature and larger experience, since often it
will put those worries to rest.

Russ Allbery (rra@xxxxxxxxxx)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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