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> One of the strongest criticisms against the old code of conflict is that it did not enumerate the types of behavior that are unwelcome. The new one cannot be criticized on that account.

Except that the list contains rules that are so general as to be completely subjective. The last rule forbids, "Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a professional setting."

The problem with such general rules is that you get selective enforcement. Node.js has the same code of conduct, and it has been used to try to evict Rod Vagg from the technical committee[1] for tweeting a link to a Quillette article on freedom of speech[2]. Rod's tweet got him in hot water, but one of his peers had plenty of blatantly sexist tweets and received no reports for CoC violations.[3]

1. https://github.com/nodejs/CTC/issues/165

2. https://quillette.com/2017/07/18/neurodiversity-case-free-sp...

3. Such as https://twitter.com/maybekatz/status/900414216888139776 "Men are fragile, often incompetent babies with no sense of humor, and I like reminding them of their inferiority."




Enumerating all badness is an impossible task. Ask anyone who's worked on any security product. You have 3 options.

1. Try anyway. End result - you are overrun by rules-lawyer trolls.

2. Try to enumerate good things instead. End result - people get too stifled and go elsewhere.

3. Be somewhat vague and depend on the community's ongoing evolution of acceptable behavior. End results can vary.

Option 3 is the only one without a guaranteed bad outcome, so it's the one you have to take. In many cases, it's even neared the ideal of kicking out rules lawyers and trolls while encouraging abrasive but well-meaning people to take some time to learn to communicate better.

In fact, that's what Linus is doing. Seems like the policy is already working correctly.

Free speech is about being able to say whatever you want to whoever you want whenever you want in the same way that free markets are about having no regulations. It's a cute idea that fails in the presence of bad actors who have more power than those they choose to attack. Maximizing freedom of speech in a community means designing regulations to curb abuses. And yes, those policies are going to be relative to the community's ever-changing standards. It's much better to acknowledge that than pretend a set of rules can ever be complete.


Linux was already doing option 3 with their “code of conflict”. Now they’ve replaced one divisive code with another. I wish they’d try to reduce polarization, not pick a side in the culture war.


> Try anyway. End result - you are overrun by rules-lawyer trolls.

Also there will be people trying to inject their politics as well.


This is a tad cynical, but I believe the vagueness has always been the intent: "everything is problematic". The flowgraph of offense is spaghetti so that punishments can be delivered on a whim.

The problem with this mentality is it gives all the power to the offended party. An accusation of offense is all it takes. You can't tell someone how to feel, so if they say they're offended, they're always right. The offending party is always in the wrong, no matter what they actually said. In Vagg's case, they cited an apology as offensive.

Is it ever the case that the offended party should simply grow thicker skin?


I agree, and then some. I think that most people pushing for codes of conduct aren't trying to make communities kinder and more inclusive. Instead, they are trying to suppress ideas they disagree with and punish the people who endorse them. This may sound like an incredible claim, but I'm not sure how it could be more obvious. Just scroll through the Twitter feed of the author of the Contributor Covenant. This is not a mindset that fosters civility and inclusion.[1][2] She has even endorsed violence against a member of the press.[3]

1. https://twitter.com/CoralineAda/status/874642259672801280 '“Meritocracy” is just thinly veiled misogyny and white supremacy propping up fragile cis het white men’s egos.'

2. https://twitter.com/CoralineAda/status/1029952846492565504 '“Reverse racism” is such a weird phrase for “justice”.'

3. https://twitter.com/CoralineAda/status/823064825366360065 "Why didn’t anyone punch the reporter giving the nazi air time?"


My policy on these things is a variation of the "Robustness Principle" of API design, which is:

> Be conservative in what you send, be liberal in what you accept.

The social version is:

> Try hard not to offend people; and try harder to not be offended.


Yes, sadly, it's all about politics and power, not "professional conduct".


Opposition to them is also all about politics and power, so there you go.


Not necessarily. Opposition to (intentionally) vague documents that have the potential to be used as methods of exerting political power can be seen as purely operational in order to keep the project afloat.


Really? Because it seems like it lists standards that are expected in actual professional environments.


Vague language is fine. This is a community, and we ought to be able to figure out for ourselves like reasonable adults what is and is not appropriate. If that isn’t happening, particularly because of the project leader, I don’t see how a CoC is going to matter.

The problem here is giving in to activism by having a CoC in the first place. That’s how it starts. It ends with this twitter mob bullshit policing reasonable free speech and ruining careers over legitimate discussions. Their mentality is that there is no room for nuance or discourse - if you don’t fully embrace their agenda, you will be destroyed. And they get off on this. Just look at CoralineAda’s twitter feed. Same thing that has been happening to Jordan Peterson for years.

Also, Linus taking time off could be bad for everyone. This isn’t a black and white issue. The cost of him being an asshole was that the project may have had fewer contributors than it would have otherwise. But people forget that the cost of not having Linus means we would have never had linux. That is not a net win.

None of this is meant to suggest that it’s just fine to be a dick if you’re a good enough contributor. But we must realize that personality traits are complex and often intertwined, and we don’t get to cherry pick them. Quite simply, when it comes to the human race, this is the best we have. The thing in Linus that makes him a dick is likely related to the thing that sustained his drive to create what he did. If there was a non-asshole Linus also creating Linux from nothing and giving it to the world, sure, go with that guy. But until we have perfect people, we should carefully consider what we are throwing away, and whether the trade is worth it.

I wouldn’t contribute to Linux after seeing how he treats people. But so what. A hundred of me can’t hold a candle to him. I can’t imagine trying to oust him and depriving the world of his product for the benefit of my hurt feelings.


"We would never have had linux".

Ah, but we do have Linux. And it can survive without Linus, if needed. In fact, it must survive. He's 48 now. What do we do in 50 years? Do we assume something else is going to come along that's so awesome that Linux becomes obsolete and gets abandoned? I don't think that's a good assumption. A better assumption is that computers are now stable tech, like internal combustion engines, and that Linux is the best OS we have, and could be around for centuries. Which is an amazing legacy for him, but... it's going to be a legacy, sooner or later.

And what if he has a heart attack tomorrow? I just lost a friend to a heart attack this week. Not much older than Linus, and in great health. It happens. Do we just give up, or does Linux go on without him?


Jordan Peterson is a hill you even want to spill blood on?


He sure is. Oddly, every time I encounter someone who has a knee-jerk downvote reaction to seeing his name, it seems to be the case that they have no idea who he is or what he has actually said. People actually think he is some alt-right figure, which couldn’t be more inaccurate, and certain groups of activists love to promote that.


It really depends on what your definition of "the alt-right" is. If by that term you mean "white nationalist political activist", obviously he's not that. The term is inchoate, people imbue it with different meanings depending on context, and not all of those contexts exclude Peterson.

"Intellectual Dark Web" would be a more fitting category if it weren't such a self-parody.

It's I think worth saying that serious people who have almost certainly put more energy into understanding where Peterson is coming from than any of us here, including having interviewed him in person, have come away from the experience attributing some pretty damning beliefs to him. For instance: I don't think you'd easily win the "he's not an outspoken misogynist" argument. Obviously, that by itself doesn't put him in the "alt-right". But, of course, casually and comfortably engaging with people like Stefan Molyneux muddies the waters on the "alt-right" thing, too (again: in some common meanings of the term).


>”It's I think worth saying that serious people who have almost certainly put more energy into understanding where Peterson is coming from than any of us here, including having interviewed him in person, have come away from the experience attributing some pretty damning beliefs to him.

This is a truly bizarre way to launder your own views through unnamed “serious people,” who, apparently, by virtue of having spoken to Peterson in person, are able to understand his use of the English language better than the rest of us who, presumably, can only see those exact same conversations online.


> People actually think he is some alt-right figure,

He's a socially conservative figure, somewhat popular with the alt-right because social conservatism is a central feature of the alt-right (it may be “alt”, but it is still “right”), though his a commitment to Western liberal (in the classic sense) democracy gets him criticism on the alt-right (which is used to democracy at least in the Western liberal form.) Example of both the praise and criticism (focussed more on the latter) from a site which self-characterizes as being within the “reactionary rationalist” subset of the alt-right: https://greyenlightenment.com/sjws-and-democracy/


To late to edit, but: “the alt-right (which is used to democracy at least in the Western liberal form.)”

Should be: “the alt-right (which is opposed to democracy at least in the Western liberal form.)”


Jordan Peterson isn't alt-right. But sadly, he is beloved by the alt-right, who don't understand him any more than the left does.


"Them's fightin words"?

Why, what's wrong with Jordan Peterson? He's rather the celebrity these days, I saw his book in the number 2 position at the bookstore only a few days ago.

Your post doesn't seem to have any substantive in it. Just a vaguely threatening implication that referring to Peterson by way of example will attract some sort of retribution.


There's no implication of retribution, it's a turn of phrase based on the idiom "hill to die on", which people often invoke when taking a side on a controversial issue. The implication is that defending him is not worth, like, getting a splinter or paper cut or something.


Well, let me rephrase. Why wouldn't he be worth defending?


> Just look at CoralineAda’s twitter feed

So, I just did, and you are right, it is nauseatingly wholesome. Someone should put a stop to that.

> Same thing that has been happening to Jordan Peterson for years

Despite Saudi Arabia's claims, I can assure you that Canada has not, in fact, imprisoned Mr. Enforced Monogamy.


"Fuck you Matz" [0] is "nauseatingly wholesome?" I guess we have very different opinions about what makes a person wholesome.

[0]: https://twitter.com/CoralineAda/status/1029170073938944000


Nobody wants to read a Jordan Peterson argument thread, so we should kill this tangent, but you just proved my point here. If you knew anything about him whatsoever, you’d know that he is absolutely opposed to forced monogamy.


Don't bother, people who don't understand rhetorical questions are not worth arguing with, specially when they're driven by political agenda.


Just what exactly was rhetorical?


> has been used to try to evict Rod Vagg

Isn't the key distinction here the word `try`? He was not actually removed. In order to criticize the enforcement of a CoC doesn't that require an example of some actual enforcement?


This is sort of like almost being hit by a car and thinking, "Well I didn't get hit. I don't need to pay more attention when crossing the street." Also, Rod had to fight tooth and nail to keep his position. Things could have easily gone the other way.

But here's an example of a code of conduct/ethics being enforced unfairly. Douglas Crockford was removed as keynote speaker from the Nodevember conference.[1] Apparently because some people thought he violated the conference's code of ethics. Summaries of the whole kerfuffle can be found here.[2][3]

1. https://twitter.com/nodevember/status/771520648191483904 2. https://paulstraw.svbtle.com/crockford 3. https://medium.com/the-mission/pr-nightmares-when-political-...


"Sure, we dragged you through a three month trial and held you in jail, but you were declared innocent! What are you all stuffed up about? The system worked!"


"Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always."


How much energy went into not having him get evicted? The CoCs invite witch hunts and time wasting.


Indeed, now everyone can contribute to the kernel.


This makes the assumption this delivers more value to the kernel code base; to be proven.


Sorry, I meant for that to be sarcastic.


Sorry, I didn’t pick up on it.




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