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On the Code of Conduct


Hi all,

I changed the subject of my reply to "On The Code of Conduct", so as
not to mix threads of conversation.

Please keep in mind that this is only my interpretation of the code of
conduct. I am on the Grin moderation team, but this is not an official
position, only my personal thoughts.

I've been lucky to be member of and a participant in a lot of
hacker/nerd/engineer communities of all different kinds, from hacker
spaces, university clubs, co-living spaces, and educational

I don't want to make it sound like these communities were rife with
harassment, quite the contrary, the vast majority of interactions that
I've had in such communities has been overwhelmingly positive.
However, incidents of harassment, particularly unwanted and repeated
sexual advances, and demeaning of people on the basis of their group
affiliation, would pop up from time to time.

These incidents were unpleasant for all involved, but particularly for
those who were the victims of such harassment. In those communities
where clear policies, such as the Grin code of conduct, were in place,
incidents of harassment seemed to be less common, were easier and
cleaner to deal with them, and helped people who might be the targets
of harassment feel safe and welcome to participate.

This is all to say that the Grin code of conduct, in my personal
estimation, is not about theoretical concerns that are merely the
product of a moral panic, overactive imagination or fear mongering,
but is an attempt to deal with and head-off real problems which
actually happen in communities such as this one.

On Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 9:19 AM, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton
<lkcl@xxxxxxxx> wrote:
> ah.  i had not realised that the project has adopted one of this
> extremely dangerous and toxic documents.  to illustrate extremely
> graphically why they are bad, here is an absolutely and utterly
> incomplete list of example "behaviours" that have "forgotten" to be
> added:  it is unacceptable to murder, kill, rape, or to plan any of
> these activities, with respect to any members.

Although the code of conduct calls out certain behaviors as
unacceptable, the purpose of doing so is not to imply that these other
behaviors are somehow acceptable. A community can only use common
sense when interpreting the code of conduct.

If there is any doubt, I personally would consider any physical
violence, or threats or planning of same to be absolutely, 100%
unacceptable, and would both alert the relevant authorities, as well
as take whatever actions I could as a moderator to ensure the physical
safety of all.

Also, I think it's already covered by "Please be kind and courteous.".
Murder is definitely not kind nor courteous!

>  adopting a toxic proscribed "list of behaviours" absolutely
> terrorises contributors "in case they might accidentally hit one"

Again, we have to use common sense in applying the code of conduct. If
unacceptable behavior was not egregious, was accidental, and the
person in question agreed to refrain from that kind of thing in the
future, I hope that we would, and I personally, would lean towards
being forgiving and understanding.

I don't think that behavior would merit a ban would be the kind of
thing that one would engage in accidentally.

> and
> it absolutely disgusts people who would never even *remotely* consider
> doing any of those things.

That's unfortunate if true, but it seems worth risking a little
disgust in readers if it prevents a class of very real problems.

> worse: the people who *would* do these kinds of behaviours will do

I don't believe this is true. I believe that some people will
preemptively modify their behavior or be more thoughtful because of
the code of conduct.

Also, the purpose of the code of conduct is not just to encourage to
modify their behavior, it is also to spell out unacceptable behavior
in clear language, so that community norms are known to all, and
moderation is fair and neither unexpected nor capricious.

>  therefore, i strongly, STRONGLY recommend that you REMOVE that
> document as it will completely and irrevocably change the nature of
> the project, and cause it ongoing harm.

I think I responded to all of your arguments, so I don't believe that
this is true.

> however... if i do not hear from you within a week, or if you, the
> developers, have no intention of replacing that extremely dangerous
> document with an alternative, then i will require that you remove me
> from this mailing list, and i will be recommending to the people that
> i am in discussions with that this project be blacklisted from
> consideration.  it's *that* serious.

I hope you will also encourage them to read this response, so that
they can also take that into consideration.

> if this at all shocks you, please research the recent FreeBSD adoption
> of a similar toxic document, and the effect that it had on FreeBSD's
> adoption and development.

The FreeBSD code of conduct was indeed controversial. I won't attempt
to address everything there, since there's a lot, and as Igno said,
the project has had a number of issues.

One thing I will address is the huge controversy over the following in
the FreeBSD code of conduct:

"Physical contact and simulated physical contact (e.g., textual
descriptions like "*hug*" or "*backrub*") without consent or after a
request to stop."

I think a lot of people latched on to this and thought about all the
innocent and completely acceptable behaviors that they imagined might
fall afoul of the code of conduct, and thus result in moderator

However, I think that completely ignores the fact that the code of
conduct is not some smart contract running on some blockchain
somewhere, but a simple english document whose interpretation and
enforcement is up to the community in general, as well as the

We have a great community, and I am confident that community members
will be compassionate and fair in their interpretation of the code of
conduct. And I personally, as a community member, will do my level
best to do the same.

>  ok, so you didn't listen, in other words you are unaware of the
> procedures here:
>  http://www.crnhq.org/content.aspx?file=66138|37449y#Empathy

That document has some good stuff in it. Thank you for linking it.

>  which is actually a much more important indication of the fact that
> this project is extremely likely to fail than the issue of having a
> dangerously toxic document as the fundamental core basis of guiding
> community interaction.

I think I responded to your concerns about the document.

> in replying as you did, you also violated one of the key systemic
> laws of organisations, "all contributor and all contributions are
> valuable".

I don't think that you would have gotten the response that you did if
you had phrased your concerns with a little more care. I don't want to
attack the tone of your argument, since that doesn't really deal with
your core concerns, but if you avoid using bombastic, inflammatory
language, you'll likely get a better response in the future, and be a
more effective advocate for your concerns.

> you also failed to understand that it is often only through external
> help and insights that groups can be alerted to the existence of a
> problem.

I agree that that is indeed the case. However, claims such as that the
code of conduct "poisons and terrorises contributors" don't, I
believe, reflect the reality of the community. Help and insights that
come from outside are most helpful if they start with an understanding
of the community.

> i am not giving you these insights for *your* benefit - i am
> providing them so that the public records show that you were given
> advice, and you failed to listen to it.

Noted. Hopefully I can also contribute a differing viewpoint to said
public record.

> for the benefit of external people reading the mailing list archives:
> unless there is a change in how the project is managed and run, from
> prior experience i anticipate it will fail some time within the next
> 6-18 months.

I certainly don't think that this will be the case. From observing the
mailing list, development, chat, twitter, and reddit, it seems like
interest and participation of all kinds are slowly but surely
building. If the trajectory Grin is on now is any indication of the
future, I expect that the project will be healthier and more vibrant
than ever 18 months from now.

On Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 8:23 AM,  <chris@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> I think the current Code of Conduct embraces a mistaken zeitgeist, specifically sections like:

>    And if someone takes issue with something you said or did, resist the urge to be defensive. Just stop doing what it was they complained about and apologize.

I think that it's important that stopping and apologizing isn't an
admission of guilt or mean that you did something wrong, it just means
that something that you did bothered someone, so you refrain from
doing it again. Common sense and community standards still apply. If
someone is offended by the letter "E", we don't need to remove the key
from our keyboards.

> Applying this standard woodenly, we would be required to stop working on it.

I think that's why common sense on the part of all involved is so important.

> Some principles are better held by individuals than enforced by law and
> turned into political weapons…

I definitely prefer informal principals to codified rules, but I think
that if people intend to turn the rules into political weapons, then
that needs to be dealt with directly, instead of avoiding writing down

> I think a much shorter and simpler code of conduct would better serve this project in the long run.

I think some parts of it could probably be left out, but honest, I can
think back to my personal experiences, and a whole bunch of it touches
on things that have been problems in communities I've participated in.

On Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 8:59 AM, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton
<lkcl@xxxxxxxx> wrote:
> here's the thing, chris: ignatius has already spoken.... for all of
> you.  he's clearly stated, "everyone is happy, has always been
> happy".... so now if anyone says otherwise, it creates a serious
> problem of confidence in the project.

Igno was just commenting on his impression of the health of the
community, which is all that anyone can do. For what it's worth, his
impression matches my own. I think people do a really great job of
being polite, professional, and convivial, more so than a lot of other
projects out there.

I hope that anyone who is unhappy will feel comfortable speaking up,
either privately to Igno or the mods, or in public like we're doing

Best regards,

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