[Osmf-talk] Proposal - OSMF Should NOT Adopt a Code of Conduct
moriartymaps at gmail.com
Sat Dec 2 14:23:40 UTC 2017
I've admittedly only been on this mailing list for the past few months, but
have already found it incredibly discouraging.
Consistently when a person writes something that's seen as offensive by
another person, instead of the community saying: "*Hey, the way you're
communicating is offending folks*", a sizable chunk come to the writers
defense writing it off as free speech, a language barrier issue, or just
being direct. I don't see how it helps encourage someone to learn how to
communicate in a non-offensive means.
The result seems to be:
- Continual railroading of the conversation from the initial topic to
- Folks feeling bad about the state of this group
- Discouragement from contributing to the original topic given the new
topic of behavior
- The harassers original point being lost or harder to take objectively
For example, John I have a hard time taking a lot of your points at face
value because you continually write victim in quotations and preclude it
with "self-proclaimed". If someone calls you a name and it makes you feel
bad, you're a victim. To what degree can be debated, but people raising the
issue of communication they find offensive is healthy and good. If it's a
miscommunication and the harasser notes to use different language as to not
offend, great. If they continue offending folks with little regard for how
their writings are perceived, that's not good for anyone.
A CoC provides at least a framework for people to flag communication that
hurts them, and let's us collectively get better at talking to one another
through this less-than-ideal means. It also would represent a promise to
the community both present & future that this isn't a place where being a
jerk is acceptable. OSMF very clearly needs one, as this self policing
thing isn't working.
On Sat, Dec 2, 2017 at 12:02 AM, John Gilmore <gnu at toad.com> wrote:
> OSM should not adopt a "Code of Conduct" that presumes guilt on the
> part of anyone accused of a violation. Almost all of the ones I have
> seen have been completely biased toward self-proclaimed victims,
> privileging them against all other participants in the organization's
> activities. This creates an incentive for psychologically unbalanced
> people to claim victimhood, because it gives them power over other
> people, and a disincentive for participation by everyone else. These
> biased Codes say things like:
> If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference
> organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, ranging from
> issuance of a warning to the offending individual to expulsion from
> the conference with no refund... [it repeats this twice.] ...
> If you are planning to attend an upcoming event, and have concerns
> regarding another individual who may be present, please contact
> XXX. Precautions will be taken to ensure a victim's comfort and
> safety, including, but not limited to: providing an escort, prepping
> onsite event staff, keeping victim and harasser from attending the
> same talks/social events...
> See how any "victim" can prevent any other participant(s) of their
> choice from participating in the conference or in the work of the
> organization, merely by complaining in advance, without any further
> evidence? But when they get in touch in advance of the event, how can
> they ever be a "victim"? A victim of an alleged violation of the code
> of conduct that occurred outside the organization that adopted the
> code of conduct? How would the organization ever determine whether
> the accusation of some bad event that occurred distant in space and
> time is accurate, factual, or fanciful? The intent of this biased CoC
> is obviously to believe the alleged victim, and to straightforwardly
> censor whoever that alleged victim points out as their enemy. Oh, and
> to "prep onsite event staff", i.e. to slander the alleged victim's
> enemy, by pre-poisoning the minds of the event staff against them.
> And these are pretty egregious penalties, including financial
> penalties -- so what does it take to "trigger" them? Turns out that
> that is so ill-defined that nobody can tell in advance:
> Harassment will not be tolerated in any form, including but not limited
> to harassment based on ... [this is a self-referential definition]
> Harassment includes the use of abusive, offensive or degrading language,
> [there are no objective standards for what is "offensive" or "degrading";
> it's in the eye of the beholder. I just read a letter from an American
> Indian who claimed it was degrading that a football team calls itself
> the "Redskins". And what some people call "abusive" others call
> normal; whole governments claim that all use of drugs is "drug abuse",
> because that gives them power over those users.]
> intimidation [another ill defined word]
> harassing photography or recording [another circular definition.
> And let's not let anyone make any objective recordings of such
> interactions, that might bias future decision makers if they could
> actually see what happened instead of what an alleged victim
> reported. That would be harassing to the alleged victim.]
> inappropriate physical contact [again it's ill defined. Europeans
> traditionally kiss both cheeks; Californians hug; New Yorkers shake
> hands. I guess nobody should ever touch anybody.]
> unwelcome sexual advances [now here's a doozy. A sexual advance is
> completely fine and appropriate, UNLESS the person it's addressed to
> declines it or does not "welcome" it. At which point you are a
> harasser and you are banned from the entire activity? How could any
> relationship ever get beyond friendship if it's already a crime to
> merely be turned down? Who would risk merely asking? And what
> happens when the advance was obviously "welcome" at the start, but
> the alleged victim decides later that it was "unwelcome"? I know
> a guy who's spent years living in exile in an embassy over just that
> So it defines harassment as harassment, and then says harassment
> includes some other things that are completely subjective. Oh, and by
> definition, it includes other things that they didn't even mention.
> There's never a complete definition of harassment; it's all defined by
> its alleged victim. Do you see how this is actually a recipe for
> creating real, officially sanctioned harassment (banning, etc), of
> someone who perhaps never did anything at all?
> Here's another Code, from Vox Media. It has a lot of the above
> problems, and even some more:
> Furthermore, any behavior or language which is unwelcoming --
> whether or not it rises to the level of harassment -- is also
> strongly discouraged. Much exclusionary behavior takes the form of
> microaggressions -- subtle put-downs which may be unconsciously
> delivered. Regardless of intent, microaggressions can have a
> significant negative impact on victims and have no place on our
> So according to Vox's code of conduct, you can be banned merely for
> unconscious feelings or expressions, "regardless of intent". It
> doesn't even have to be harassment, it just has to be a vague,
> "subtle" thing that you didn't even know that you were doing (and that
> you may never agree that you were actually doing). Many textbook
> examples of microaggressions are statements of principle like "Every
> person deserves an equal chance" or "We promote based on merit"
> [because this denies the theory that some people should get a greater
> chance, to compensate for past discrimination]. See in general:
> The Ada Initiative goes further:
> The major weapon of harassers is arguing whether something is
> actually harassing.
> So let's not only have a circular definition, but let's also have one
> that says that if you argue that you didn't harass someone, you are by
> definition a harasser! Not only is somebody else your judge, jury and
> executioner, but you don't even get to plead your side of the case!
> Like the witch trials at Salem, if you protest, you must be guilty,
> and if you don't, then you suffer the penalty anyway.
> Rust's Code is quite a bit better, but:
> Remarks that violate the Rust standards of conduct, including hateful,
> hurtful, oppressive, or exclusionary remarks, are not allowed. ...
> Remarks that moderators find inappropriate, whether listed in the code
> of conduct or not, are also not allowed.
> Moderators will first respond to such remarks with a warning.
> If the warning is unheeded, the user will be "kicked," i.e., kicked out
> of the communication channel to cool off.
> If the user comes back and continues to make trouble, they will be
> banned, i.e., indefinitely excluded. ...
> If a moderator bans someone and you think it was unjustified, please
> take it up with that moderator, or with a different moderator, in private.
> Complaints about bans in-channel are not allowed.
> Did you notice how the censorship can be done by any individual
> moderator, but nobody is allowed to talk or complain IN THE COMMUNITY
> about the censorship? Yeah, you can complain to the censor, and
> that's about as useful as pissing into the wind, but the rest of your
> community will not be able to even know you got censored, nor weigh in
> on whether it was appropriate. It'll just look like you quietly went
> away. The second thing that censors classically ban is discussion of
> censorship -- and here it is staring us in the face.
> And of course it says that ANY posting is grounds for kicking you out
> "whether listed in the code of conduct or not". There's a clearly
> defined standard for you to follow: guilty until proven innocent! But
> there's no way to prove your innocence, since the standard is
> completely subjective.
> On the other hand, Ubuntu's CoC is far more evenhanded, and never even
> mentions harassment at all; it's about everyone getting along to
> accomplish the goals of the organization:
> Somehow, Ubuntu managed to avoid the steamroller of "everybody is
> guilty, we just haven't gotten around to enforcing it against you yet"
> that's a hallmark of this Codes of Conduct movement. Let's see if OSM
> can do that as well. The best thing in my opinion would be to
> explicitly DECLINE to produce any kind of "Code of Conduct"; it's just
> a politically correct term for official censorship of some people that
> some other people simply don't like.
> John Gilmore
> osmf-talk mailing list
> osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the osmf-talk