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The easiest solution is in the name — simply don't have a code of conduct. As the owner of a number of open source project, nothing baffles me more than the argument that civil discussion can't happen without an official document outlining the terms and conditions of participating. You don't need one when you you interact with people offline, why would this be any different? Surely, there are people out there who won't appreciate you, no matter what you're like or where you're from, but you're always very free to simply walk away when that's the case.





The linked article is an actual fully fledged code of conduct along with promiss to lock and ban those who dont follow it.

> Surely, there are people out there who won't appreciate you, no matter what you're like or where you're from, but you're always very free to simply walk away when that's the case.

One problem with this as strategy is that it makes moderate, constructive or polite people to leave first. It also makes me easy to use passive aggression or hidden-not-so-hidden bullying to make people leave when I disagree with them.


Moderate, constructive and polite people can leave also because there is a CoC. Reasonable people don't like when a community is lawyer-ing over rules, when rules get enforced ambiguously or nontransparent. All which are very common with code of conducts.

As someone who ran a medium sized community for almost a decade, I saw such reasonable people leave for both a lack of rules (X should be forbidden, I am leaving) and also when we had a fully fledged code of conduct (I am tired of all the drama over X, I am leaving), and ambiguous/transparency issue (I am leaving because of the cabal who try to enforce their own interpretation of the rules). When the first happen followed with the second and third what you are left with was only members who either completely did not care or where inactive. At that point we removed the code of conduct and replaced it with a more common sense guideline of "just treat people with respect, and if you don't you get a friendly warning/reminder" and we slowly regained stability.

Code of conduct has an inherently risk of becoming a weapon for those who want to use passive aggression or hidden-not-so-hidden bullying against an out group. The more strict the rules the more you need to have a transparent community process for enforcement, but sadly those tend to be mutually exclusive.


None of that has anything to do with what I said about "you're always very free to simply walk away when that's the case" means in practical terms. People use to sound smart and mature and it is easy to use to make people stop talking about problems they see. Whether the complainers are right or wrong, "those who dont like how treats them should leave" as universal strategy is neither mature nor smart.

I picked on that, because it is common cheap talking point that I was forced to re-evaluate few months ago (not just because of online issues).

The linked article is in fact code of conduct and even specifies what will get you banned.


Based on my own experience I don't disagree with the article statement you quoted above, but I would describe it using other words to be more clear. I would say that community conflicts resolving should prioritize deescalation and dispute resolution over norm enforcement and punitive punishment.

This article say things like "Email that person, and try to work it out. Email the owners of the community, and alert them. Whatever you do, do not make a scene, as that will burden the entire community with your issue. If it's truly a problem and you're truly an asset to the community then you will probably get an email back. Sometimes, you have to be the bigger person. Say your piece privately, and don't dwell on it".

The community I ran in the past even had a similar statement, but using other words. Instead of saying "do not make a scene" we said "don't create drama". We were frankly tired of peoples personal disputes escalating and dividing the community, and so was the community. Sadly at that point a lot of reasonable people had already left.


At which point does it becomes the repo owners job to help you assert your own personal space?

Why can't you ignore the douchebag?


Some communities like to grow and attract more people. Many people don’t like to have to spend time avoiding, deleting, or ignoring communications from douchebags, which is reasonable.

Widening the range of participatory reach requires specific effort to further optimize for welcomingness.


> Many people don’t like to have to spend time avoiding, deleting, or ignoring communications from douchebags

Could the platform the community uses make it easier to hide posts and discussion threads that people don't want to see? That would minimize the time spent trying to deal with it.


It's called the ban button, most platforms have one. Despite the lack of formal rules and myriad edge cases, for the general case only, there is broad consensus (in society, not necessarily within small groups) on what constitutes "threads that most people don't want to see [or be subjected to]".

A really good example would be Linus calling people fucking stupid, or screaming at them to shut the fuck up.

(Note: I know there are people reading this who want to read 100% of what Linus has to say regardless of how mean he is in saying it. That is not a refutation of my claim above, as it does not negate the fact that the vast majority of people in society never want to be spoken to in this manner by anyone, for any reason, least of all for making a small judgement error in software that isn't even "prerelease" yet.)


> It's called the ban button, most platforms have one.

Do they? I can flag a post here on HN, or I can report one on reddit or facebook, but that still requires a moderator or forum administrator to handle the issue. In my newsclient, the effect is immediate and only affects my own view of the forum.


Why do you think this is about "personal space"? Why do you think the "moderate and constructive people left, assholes are majority" is not having consequences for repo owner?

> Why can't you ignore the douchebag?

Why the "No Code Of Conduct" author could not just ignored those discussions and want to threaten bans?

Also, back to strategy, it depends on what kind of douchebag we are talking about. When douchebags are the only one who talk and are unopposed, it is douchebags who sets what the culture will be.


Why is HN so heavily moderated? Have you looked at what unmoderated communities devolve into?

Back when I used to read and post to Usenet, my killfile handled almost all of the bad content so that I never saw it. The nice thing was that I was in sole control of that file and no one else had any say in what I did or didn't want to see.

Great, why not stick to Usenet now? Why did it become less popular?

My best guess is the fact that most ISPs discontinued their usenet feeds around the time that Andrew Cuomo (back when he was the Attorney General of New York) came to an agreement with a number of ISPs to block access to child porn in certain newsgroups[1].

[1] https://www.cnet.com/news/n-y-attorney-general-forces-isps-t...


> but you're always very free to simply walk away when that's the case.

I think the whole point is: if somebody has no incentive not to insult or harass you, that kind of behaviour can be used to bypass technical discussion.

Would you be happy if, after many years you're involved in a community and you do good work, some people start insulting you, and your answer is just to leave?

Yes, sometimes CoCs are too complex and deal with idiotic details. Yes, I don't think that changing "master-slave" into "leader-follower" really has an impact or whatsoever. But some basic rules about what's acceptable and what not are a good thing, IMHO. No two adults share the same vision of the world. Just state the obvious, if needed; is that SO hard?


> Would you be happy if, after many years you're involved in a community and you do good work, some people start insulting you, and your answer is just to leave?

Would you be happy if, after many years you're involved in a community and you do good work, some people start a smear campaign against you and invoke CoC to push you out of the community?


> if somebody has no incentive not to insult or harass you, that kind of behaviour can be used to bypass technical discussion.

Sensible people can tell when insults or harassment are being used in this way, and ignore the noise. And if an overly 'welcoming' project is being overrun by less-than-sensible people, no CoC is going to save it - it needs a clean fork to start a new community from scratch around it.


Except, in a lot of circumstances you do need it offline. Rules of order for Parliaments, town hall meetings, and everything in-between. Constitutions for local groups and clubs. Bye-laws for local areas.

Codes of Conducts are a lightweight way of expressing how interactions are goverened and disputes resolved.

The idea that adults don't need rules and guides to fix things is disproven by politics and conflict. Good politics is based on rules. Bad conflict happens when there are none.


I participate in a lot of communities that have CoCs. Never read any of them. It shouldn't take a document to show respect to other people in the community, save a few heated moments (it's human nature). In my opinion, public participants don't need to check the CoC before calling out behavior A as inappropriate. I'll call out what I consider inappropriate behavior without checking with the CoC, and try to bring the other person to my point of view.

And this is totally fine! CoCs are there for the end-of-the-line decisions where the "being reasonable" options have been exhausted. They are also useful sometimes for setting the tone for meetings / events.

The various uses and normal behaviour are not mutually exclusive!


so you substitute your own private, undocumented, ever-shifting, tone-driven value system for any given discourse context's set of actually codified rules.

that's still a CoC. you've just added entitlement.


Got it. I didn't know we renamed it from morals to CoC. TIL.

By being all in the nose about other Codes of Conduct and effectively codifying the expected behavior in your community, you're having a Code of Conduct yourself. I do agree that CoCs are little more than a distraction, but you just need one line to state you don't have one for your project- or perhaps even none at all.

I saw a recent comment on lobsters on how CoCs are an americanised way of solving issues, and it deeply resonated with me. Lot's of other things I see in american companies and even american media started to making more sense to me.

https://lobste.rs/s/h7mdza/how_github_blocked_me_all_my_libr...




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