Codes of Conduct are always good, zero-tolerance polices on the other hand are usually a bit extreme.
What starts out as well intentioned zero-tolerance policy usually ends up in absurdity. Like zero-tolerance policies in schools that started as banning weapons and now prevent students from bringing meals that need to be eaten with knife and fork. Hopefully they are able to keep the zero-tolerance policy to mean what everyone thinks it means now.
Codes of Conduct, I think, are good for some things, like actual conduct, and bad for other things, like assuaging people's irrational fears of possible violence. Which is what school policies are, basically.
Interesting! This is a less cut-and-dry debate than the one that's been going on throughout the rest of the thread. At the very least, Ts'o's comment was voiced in an inappropriate forum and I'd expect him to at least acknowledge he was wrong. I'd feel uncomfortable asking him to speak at a conference myself, if I was the conference-organizing sort.
The "insensitive"/"social suicide" thing is tricky. Thing is, there are places and contexts for those discussions to take place, and simply bringing them up because you have an opinion on them that you'd like to voice isn't exactly appropriate. In some ways, it can be a very offensive behavior: the term "mansplaining", which I'm sure is controversial around these parts, is useful to describe how some men think their opinion on things (like rape) ought to be important and listened-to, simply because, well, their opinion deserves to be respected! And in some cases they'll voice this opinion, however half-heartedly thought out, to people who have given this topic much more consideration and who are considerably more well-versed in both the statistics and the opinions that revolve around the subject.
I don't think 'mansplaining' is a very good term, I'm sure some women also speak this way so it might be better to come up with a term that covers the behaviour rather than the gender of the person speaking. To me it sounds sewing the seeds for stereotyping eventually leading to prejudice.
Oh, "obnoxious explaining" is a thing for both genders. I'm quite fond of obnoxiousness myself! But mansplaining refers specifically to men who feel like when they're in a conversation with a woman, they have to explain the basics of whatever topic they're discussing, even if the person they're talking to is much more experienced with said topic than the man is.
For instance, a lot of this conversation has revolved around men explaining why they think a policy against harassment at conferences is a bad thing. We don't have a lot of women participating in this discussion, but I suspect that if they did, they'd garner plenty of responses saying "Clearly you don't understand this issue as well as I[, a man,] do." And I suspect that because when topics like this on HN do get responses from posters that go "I'm a woman and I think this is helpful," they inevitably receive that exact kind of response.
I've been told, by some of my close ladyfriends, that this behavior is enormously frustrating, and that most of them recognize it as a thing which is almost always what a guy does to a woman, rather than a guy to a guy or a woman to a man. I see enough of that behavior to agree with them that yes, the term has a legitimate use (though it doesn't preclude people of either gender from being more generally irritating, of course).
This is the crux of the main problem with zero tolerance stances. That "in any form" gets interpreted in the widest possible way possible beyond the point of absurdity. This is because it is an absolute stance in a realm which is inherently subjective and relative to the various points of view involved.
> "when corroborated"
I think this helps with this a bit, as it requires at least one (hopefully more) other subjective view on whether it was harassment or not. Hopefully it will be enough.