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

Daniel Pocock daniel at pocock.pro
Mon Jun 14 16:02:41 UTC 2021

On 14/06/2021 12:03, Dave Cridland wrote:
> On Fri, 11 Jun 2021 at 13:51, Daniel Pocock <daniel at pocock.pro
> <mailto:daniel at pocock.pro>> wrote:
>     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>
>     > <mailto: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.
> No, no, and no.
> To clarify:
> By "General Advice" I mean advice published generically by groups
> promoting women in tech, LBGQT groups, and so on, as opposed to
> "Specific Advice" given to the XSF - I'm not aware of any of the latter
> and nor did I seek any.

A lot of those groups have vested interests.  The CoCs they promote are
never used against the people in authority.

There has been research in this area and it makes very different
recommendations, /rewards/ are better than punishments:


In the real world, we see people in authority are the biggest rule
breakers.  Look at Harvey Weinstein.  Weinstein would spread rumours
that women broke some mysterious CoC and the women could not get jobs
with other movie studios:


Now we all know the women were not the problem.

Google recently made smears that Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell
violated a CoC.  Google didn't dump these women due to wrongdoing, they
were dumped for having an opinion.  The CoC was used to justify the
decision and also to undermine the status of the women concerned.
Google used a CoC to smear their good names in the same way that violent
men in India use acid attacks to smear their ex-girlfriends.  The motive
of Google and those violent men is identical: to limit the future
prospects of the victim.  An employee with a "CoC violation" badge has
trouble finding the next job, a woman with permanent acid scars has
trouble finding a new partner.

There are cases where women have been equally reprehensible.  It looks
like some have been running a social media smear campaign against Jacob
Appelbaum.  Nobody ever filed any police report, they chose
trial-by-social-media or in other words, a good old fashioned witch hunt.

A solid Code of Ethics has a lot of protection against false
accusations.  It provides a procedure to deal with complaints against a
member of the board or the Conduct Team.  Most CoCs have neither of
these features.

> A lot of this general advice is conflicting - I've tried to resolve the
> conflicts as best as I can in the text I've written and would greatly
> appreciate feedback on it.
> The Board did (as noted in minutes), discuss CoCs for some time before I
> started writing, including discussing some of this general advice.
> We have had no pressure from any organisations I'm aware of; and had we
> received any I would certainly ensure this was known. We have had
> explicit comments from individuals on the fact we do not have a Code of
> Conduct in some areas, as Matt Wild notes.

Thanks for clarifying this.  I know that some organizations and
volunteers have told me they were under pressure when they asked bigger
organizations for funding or booths at events.

>     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:
>     https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250258/
>     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.
> It may surprise you, but I'm broadly in agreement with you (though I
> would explicitly not comment on specific cases of which I am unaware of
> the details).
> I note some of your issues in the XEP itself, as I hope you saw, but I'm
> happy to make more explicit that, in particular:
> * Involving the Conduct Team should be routine, and not reserved for
> serious issues.
> * Equally, the Conduct Team need not do anything overt, and probably
> shouldn't for the vast majority of cases. Sanctions, formal Actions, and
> public discussion ought to be anything but routine.
> * Exclusion and harassment by the Conduct Team are indeed exclusion and
> harassment, and the Code of Conduct applies to the Conduct Team and
> Board as much as, if not more so, than anyone else.

In other organizations this is not the case.

That is why every police department needs an internal affairs department
too.  Just look at the latest news about Murdoch and the British police:


The hint that a billionaire media mogul meddled in the British police is
echoed by large tech firms meddling in some free software organizations.
>     >
>     > 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
> I appreciate your point but introducing a Code of Conduct is intended to
> be a positive effort.
> Furthermore, the Conduct Team is a first step in measuring "community
> standards", and without that there is little possibility of saying
> whether standards change much, improve, or get worse.
> Also, we should make clear that the intent of Sanctions and Actions is
> not punishment, retribution, or revenge. It is to maximise inclusion and
> ensure that the maximum number of people feel comfortable participating
> in our community.
> Finally, you are correct in your assertion that creating a CoC is not
> the end of the process, but the beginning.

Would you consider looking at the HBR report and similar evidence and
trying to bring some of those findings into your approach?

It could be useful to adopt some of those other recommendations
simultaneously with adopting a CoC.  This means the CoC might have a
longer evaluation period.

>     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.
> I'm not sure that I disagree with this, except that I strongly feel that
> not putting in place a Code of Conduct is not a sign of good leadership
> and putting one in place does not in any way preclude putting effort as
> a community into broadening our efforts in the ways you suggest.

I'm not suggesting it be thrown out forever.  My suggestion at this
stage is to slow the process down and involve some of the other
resources that I've hinted at here.

A lot of the advice from online activist groups promoting CoCs is free.
 It could be interesting to consult outside experts who are trained,
qualified and experienced in topics such as workplace culture, law and
human rights.  My biggest client for my first business in Australia was
a specialist in this area.  When you compare the words of professionals
like that to the witch-hunt recipes coming out of certain activist
groups you can see the difference very quickly.

I'd be willing to volunteer some time to expand on these topics with you.



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