[Members] NEW: XEP-0458 (Community Code of Conduct)

Daniel Pocock daniel at pocock.pro
Fri Jun 11 11:57:33 UTC 2021

On 11/06/2021 13:16, Dave Cridland wrote:
> On Thu, 10 Jun 2021 at 19:31, Daniel Pocock <daniel at pocock.pro
> <mailto:daniel at pocock.pro>> wrote:
>     On 10/06/2021 19:57, Jonas Schäfer (XSF Editor) wrote:
>     > Version 0.1.0 of XEP-0458 (Community Code of Conduct) has been
>     > released.
>     >
>     I notice that a lot of professional organizations have a Code of Ethics
>     A Code of Ethics tries to establish a balance between the rights of the
>     member and the rights of the organization
>     In comparison, many Codes of Conduct simply end up creating Kangaroo
>     courts.
> I'm not sure that's a correct characterization - some organisations have
> both a code of ethics and a code of conduct, but in researching these
> things, the general advice seems to be to get a code of conduct in place

General advice?  Or pressure from bigger organizations funded by Google?

Many small organizations have come under pressure or influence to have a
CoC when they request a booth at an event or a speaker requests travel
funding.  If the XSF received such pressure or influence it would be
useful to disclose that.

> as the first step - and, unfortunately, a procedure for enforcing that
> code of conduct. That procedure (along with others) can be improved with
> a code of ethics, that's certainly true.
> I'm rather hoping the Conduct Team mentioned in this document never has
> to be anything; but if it has to, I'm hoping for a quick, quiet, word
> and a nudge, rather than any court-like proceedings. It's really only if
> people genuinely want to carry on with behaviour that's counter to the
> code of conduct that we have to deal with sanctions and so on.
> If there's text you can suggest to make that clearer, then I'm very much
> open to suggestions - and of course if you think the code itself is
> either overbearing or has weak spots, please do point these out.
> I do note, in the Security Considerations, that any Code of Conduct can
> be abused to exclude people - but that said, I've tried to ensure that
> this would be very hard to do. Firstly, the Board has final say, and we
> have an appeals process. An abusive Board can also be recalled by a
> simple majority of members, whereas removing members' voting rights
> needs a supermajority of the other members. Changing either requires
> changing the bylaws - and I think those bylaws provide much of the
> balance between the individual and the organisation that you suggest
> might be lacking.

In practice, it is very murky

After people elected me as Fellowship representative in FSFE, I have
publicly commented on misuse of the Code of the Conduct there.  Various
people showed me messages they received from Community Teams.  In each
case, the person was afraid to speak or seek help.

No matter how the accusations are written, it often creates bad feelings
for the recipient.  Some people admitted leaving organizations rather
than appealing.  When they receive any kind of message from somebody
with a uniform and badge, they just want it to go away.

Moreover, as we are all remote, there is a tendency to write down too
many things in a dispute.  In an office environment, if there is some
minor dispute, people usually have a meeting and resolve the problem
verbally.  When you make written records of a problem, it makes the
problem appear bigger and it creates gossip culture.

If you are unaware of the recipient's environment and somebody sends
them a written reprimand it can be particularly harmful.  Consider all
those people with periods of depression (10% of the population will have
that at least once) or reprimanding somebody in the week that they lost
a family member.  These are things that actually happen in some
organizations now.

These written reprimands are often delivered at bad times: sometimes the
volunteer is on holiday or it is evening in their timezone.  It is not
clear if that is always deliberate.  Nonetheless, if a Conduct Team
interrupts somebody's rest then there is every risk that their future
responses and interactions will reflect that intrusion.  The strategy is
therefore counterproductive.

When Debian's men-with-a-badge sent the rape accusations to Jacob
Appelbaum they demanded a response in 48 hours.  Nobody can respond to a
rape case that quickly.  He didn't answer them so they went to the press
and started doxing him.  You may think this would never happen in XSF
but I suggest watching this move, The Experiment, there are various
other re-makes of the same movie about the real Stanford Prison Experiment:


In some cases and in some countries, a message sent by the Conduct Team
could itself be classified as an act of harassment.  This is a situation
to avoid and for good reason.

> Overall, then, I think it's quite hard for the system to be abused in
> such a way to persistently exclude people via the Code of Conduct, and
> very much easier to remove the Board that's trying to do so than exclude
> the members in the same timeframe.
>     As an Australian, I think I'm well qualified to warn about Kangaroo
>     courts.
> Oddly, it's an American term in origin. Who knew?
>     I'm all in favor of efforts to improve community standards.  I believe
>     that rules and codes are the worst ways to improve standards.  Two ideas
>     that are better than a Code of Conduct:
>     - leadership training, for example, encouraging members to participate
>     in a Toastmasters group or anything else that will give practical
>     experience of better communication
>     - real-world events where we meet, like FOSDEM.  Obviously harder during
>     the pandemic, nonetheless, it makes a bigger difference than a CoC
> I think both of these are, indeed, positive ways to improve how people
> interact with each other - but I don't see why you'd want to do those
> instead of a code of conduct.

The point is this: if you have a Code of Conduct but you don't have
anything else then:

a) the community standards may not really change much

b) you have some punishments that you didn't have before

If you invest in positive efforts then:

a) the community standards /do/ improve

b) you are /less likely/ to have punishments

Given that the XSF and XMPP is fundamentally about communication (from a
technology perspective), I would suggest that this is a community that
could seek to take a step back and look at the big picture.
Understanding the ways that people communicate and behave can help
improve things in both the technology and organizational domain.  It is
an opportunity for XSF to show significant leadership by putting the CoC
on hold and doing a wide-ranging examination of online communities,
remote working issues, membership rights and human rights as they all
intersect with the CoC.



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