Policy proposal: New Code of Conduct

Originally published at: Policy proposal: New Code of Conduct – Fedora Community Blog

The Fedora Council has been working with the Fedora Community Action and Impact Coordinator to update and improve Fedora’s Code of Conduct. This work began with Brian Exelbierd during his tenure as FCAIC and was then picked up by Marie Nordin at the start of 2020. The new draft of the Code of Conduct is more comprehensive than our current Code of Conduct and will be accompanied by a set of Clarifying Statements. The Clarifying Statements are a work in progress.

2020 has been a tough year for Fedora(and the world) and as noted in the recent Code of Conduct Report there were more than two times the number of incidents than the year prior. Based on this increase, the Council has agreed to expand management of incident reports to a Code of Conduct Committee, which is still in development.

The updated Code of Conduct will go through the policy change policy process and will stay open for two weeks for community comment before moving to a Council vote. Please discuss this on the Discussion thread linked below. Significant updates on the Clarifying Statements and Code of Conduct Committee will be communicated via the Community Blog.

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I’ll go ahead and be first to comment here. I’m going to repeat something I posted on Reddit recently, when someone recommended a minimalist Code of Conduct which says in its entirety “Be excellent to each other.”

“Be excellent” alone does not work. I know for sure because this literally was the Fedora code of conduct for many years. A statement like this does not influence people’s behavior or provide any help in keeping a community on track.

So, we switched to the current Fedora code of conduct, which describes itself as “a guide to make it easier to be excellent to each other.”

This is better, but it still has problems.

First, it is not specific enough. We have had several unfortunate situations with problematic behavior where the person involved simply felt that their actions were considerate and respectful. Sometimes it’s a troll; other times, someone with no clear idea what this is supposed to mean and cultural or other difficulties in getting to a shared idea. And for some people, it seems to just invite testing boundaries. (It’s a “code”, right? Let’s find the edge cases!)

Second, it is focused on intent, but not on impact. Behavior can be disruptive and harmful to other community members or to a community as a whole even if it was not intended to be so. These kind of violations don’t necessarily need to lead to suspension or similar consequences, but they may lead to a request to alter behavior, and possible escalation from there if that behavior doesn’t change.

Which leads to the third thing: it has no teeth. It says “It is important that we resolve disagreements and differing views constructively”, which we absolutely work very hard to do (often exhaustingly so), but it doesn’t give any clear indication as to what might happen when that’s not working out. And again, lack of clarity leads to boundary-testing.

So, I would definitely love to live in a world where “be excellent to each other” is sufficient. But we don’t, so we have to figure out a way to make the reality we have work.

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  • Participating in a Fedora communication channel, such as IRC or telegram

I know these are examples but perhaps it should simply say “Official Fedora communication channel” and linking it to Marketing social networks - Fedora Project Wiki

Individuals without access to https://pagure.io/CoC/new_issue may send an email to the following address: codeofconduct@fedoraproject.org. This email will be converted into a private Code of Conduct ticket by the Code of Conduct Committee.

Here, how will the Committee follow-up with the person who submitted the issue and vice-versa?

I’m pretty happy with this new version, it’s much clearer.

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This is going to go in the to-be-developed supporting documents.

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The Fedora Community has the right in its sole discretion and responsibility to remove, edit, or reject comments, commits, code, wiki edits, issues, and other contributions that are not aligned to this Code of Conduct.

Fedora Community in their elected bodies? Communication channel moderators? As a collective brain?

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Per my comment on the ticket at Issue #145: Code of Conduct Proposal - tickets - Pagure.io :

I find the term “sealioning” inappropriate and objectionable for inclusion in the code of conduct:

  1. “Sealioning” feels like an “un-word” (from the German, Unwort - I don’t know what this really should be in English). I believe there are more common terms with legal applications like “badgering” (yes, another animal, as in “badgering the witness”) that are in wider use and could convey the same or similar meaning (which I understand to be repetitive hounding (yet a third animal!) of an individual to answer the same question when clearly no answer is forthcoming) without requiring knowledge of an obscure web comic.

  2. Having now seen the web comic, I don’t really understand how “sealioning” has taken on the meaning it is intended the have here. It seems like the comic woman’s comment would run afoul of our code of conduct since it’s a public expression of dislike (hatred?) towards an entire class with no justification. Given the source material, I find the use of the term “sealioning” in the code of conduct objectionable. Substitute “sea lions” for any class or group of people in a comment within the Fedora community and I would hope that the speaker be called to account by some appropriate means (not necessarily “sealioning”).

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If I am being honest, I agree with you in principle. Sealioning is not a conventional term and it is often used in niches. But knowing that the lawyers have signed off on this and that we have a Clarifying Notes and Statements section, I am not sure if it is enough to turn my vote.

I remain +0 on the new draft for this reason, at least for now. I’ll change my vote to a -1 or +1 before the end of the discussion period depending how this discussion goes and what other points folks bring up.

What is 'Sealioning?': A Type of Trolling | Merriam-Webster

I think that this term is like “trolling”. " Trolling" is a common term in tech communities since many years. And it is now common outside internet.
However I guess that also “trolling” was not a widely known and accepted term when it was coined. Like “sealioning” right now. But, as a devil’s advocate :slight_smile: why “trolling” should be OK while “sealioning” should be not?

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A good fix here would be “The Fedora Project has the right…”, since the Project has a specifically selected leadership that can make calls in cases where consensus or other agreements don’t happen.

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Agreed. And the leadership can (and does) delegate that authority (e.g. to Magazine editors to moderate the comments, to Teams to moderate their discussion channels, etc).

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@riecatnor tells me that we can make this level of change without triggering a full review. I think that probably also applies to the “Fedora Project has the right…” statement.

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Well, for what it’s worth, the draft doesn’t use the word “troll” (or “trolling”) either.

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Does that apply to private Twitter accounts? For example say a contributor who have “I contribute to Fedora” in their bio, then post a tweet supporting the Arkansas (?) trans health care bill, would it be possible they get a warning or get banned for transphobia? I remember a precedent using the Contributor Covenant and I’m concerned about the neutrality of POV regarding that CoC and up to where it extends, I’d like to add this:

We welcome individuals regardless of ability, age, background, body size, education, ethnicity, family status, gender identity and expression, geographic location, level of experience, marital status, nationality, national origin, native language, personal appearance, race and/or ethnicity, religion, sexual identity and orientation, socioeconomic status, political orientation, or any other dimension of diversity.

Also:

All reports will be kept confidential. When we discuss incidents with anyone we will anonymize details as much as we can. This means that the identities of all involved parties will remain confidential

As I previously mentioned in a mailing list, I find very problematic that everything is happening behind doors instead of publicly for all contributors to be aware of the situation. Justice, and that’s what a CoC enforcement is akin to, is made in public courts not private ones.

Whoops. Sorry, I was convinced that I had read “trolling”, don’t know why.

Political orientation seems like a addition that would be easy to abuse to just give a excuse to a bad actor to repeat abusive stuff from one political party and claim this is protected expression.

I know this is a proposal with good intentions done in good faith, especially since that’s the kind of things that would be protected under some juridicitions (and/or labor code), but for a free software community with worldwide contributors, that seems pretty dangerous, so I would recommend against.

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And because I have hit “send” too fast, there is a few reason to start in private and keep things in private:

  • protect the people who report from retaliation (and I do not mean in a mafia way, more in the shitstorm on twitter way, cf the donglegate of 2013 incident)
  • protect the person who may be doing a good faith error, and who would prefer to not be admonished in public
  • avoid a mob and folks coming to give their opinion, and things turning to a shitshow

In fact, you say that Justice is made in public court, but this is a simplification. For example, the French law do have provision for private court see “Chambre du conseil” (for civil matters) or “Huis clos” (criminal one). Most notably, divorse, anything related to filliation matter is done in private without the general public, to preserve the privacy of the 2 parties and avoid scandale.

And even in free software, there is a ton of precedent. People do not ask to have mailing lists moderation to be discussed in public, nor telegram/irc/etc moderation.

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Can say we are fully diverse in age when US law requires a minimum age to contribute?

I apologize, was reading from my phone and missed the new discussion location. I agree on keeping the ticket clean.

I was thinking that arguments made in bad faith. Though that is clearly to vague a concept . Acting as a Devil’s Advocate would fit in that category, but not exactly what is trying to be talked about. Willfully trolling is again to vague.

The language everywhere else is perfectly acceptable and I don’t see anything that should be worthy of delaying the forming of a code of conduct. If there is anything else I can think of, I will be sure to post. I love that the code involves the whole community. We are part of the community just by being here.

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We might be able to say policial party. Though that being used as a shield shouldn’t be useable to protect from violate the spirit intended by the code. Every case would have to be evaluated on its own merrit.