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

[...apologies for reviving what is essentially a dead thread, but as primary
author of Debian's CoC I would like to clear up something...]

On Thu, Sep 04, 2014 at 11:23:27AM -0400, Theodore Ts'o wrote:
> There was a very strong diversity of opinion, and if it happens that a
> random set of people on some team gets to decide what clearly had a
> strong diversity of opinions, with a resulting potentially very severe
> penalty, then maybe the CoC is unfortunately vague.

The CoC is *intentionally* vague on what happens when people misbehave.
It does so because I felt that mixing a baseline for expected behaviour
on the one hand, and procedures for dealing with transgressions of that
baseline on the other hand, would be conflating two things that are
essentially separate issues. In essence, the CoC says "you should behave
like this; if you don't, there will be consequences," without spelling
out what those consequences are and how the decision is made.

Does that mean I think it is a bad idea to actually spell that out? Not
necessarily. It might make sense to write up some document that explains
the procedure(s) which will be followed when a complaint is filed and
what the maximum penalty for a particular transgression is, or it might
not, or it might be more trouble than it is worth. That decision is
something I do not feel qualified to make, not having had any experience
in actually having to deal with complaints.

Having said that, at any rate I do not think that such a document should
be mixed in with the code of conduct; if it is written at all, IMO it
should be a separate document, possibly linked to from the "further
reading" section. The code of conduct is mostly written with (potential)
contributors to Debian as its target audience; people who would
intentionally violate it, or who don't care about what other people
think of their conduct, are decidedly *not* its target audience, since I
don't expect such people would read such a document in the first place.
With that in mind, having a list of possible consequences be part of the
CoC would not serve much purpose and would, as one participant to the
discussion pointed out, only serve to spread the (hopefully wrong)
impression that Debian is a community with many problems.

In addition, since as a result of the vote the code of conduct is now a
document that can only be modified by GR (and therefore is somewhat set
in stone), listing procedures in the same document would be positively
harmful in case those procedures ever need to change (which is pretty
much a given for any set of procedures).

In short, yes it's vague, but I believe that's a feature, not a bug.

It is easy to love a country that is famous for chocolate and beer

  -- Barack Obama, speaking in Brussels, Belgium, 2014-03-26

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