[Osmf-talk] Actually OSMF, we already have a "Code of Conduct"

Harry Wood mail at harrywood.co.uk
Mon Dec 4 12:47:02 UTC 2017

> guidelines were already in place, we had just forgotten about it.

Yes we have two "Code of Conduct" documents, and a bit of discussion needed to decide on courses action and bring something into adoption. The "Etiquette" wiki page is also relevant. The "Good practice" wiki page is not relevant (That's a list of map data editing best practices).

I worked on one a "Code of Conduct" back in 2010:
This went through a few tweaks, but there were two general aspects of this which we struggled with, causing it to be left in "draft" state:

1) It's not very specific. Handy wavy ideas of being collaborative and happy together.

2) We needed to decide a few things about how the rules will be enforced, and how violations will be punished.

It was sort of a Communication Working Group activity. Richard Weait was helping me, but with comments from others on the mailing lists at the time. Actually I think the very first text was drafted by Emacsen based on some other external community CoCs.

On (1) being specific, at the time I thought we might add some more points relating to mailing list etiquette, but I'm not a big mailing list user, so I wasn't sure what those would be (As with many things CWG, I was hoping for more help)

But the level of specificity is an important dimension of such a document, and increasingly I think it's completely fine if we collectively agree upon some hand-wavy principles and don't try to write super-specific rules. This idea will offend software engineers who like to encode the world in binary "if" statements. But there is no algorithm for being "nice" to each other. Writing out black & white rules of conduct is difficult.

This leads onto the second problem (2). How do we enforce the rules? Does somebody need to make a judgement? and if so who? Initially I felt like we'd be wasting our time skirting the real issue if we didn't tackle this, particularly if the rules themselves are so vague (thereby requiring lots of judgement). And I tried to state a few incontrovertible points about this, but leaving the rest open to be resolved before the document was taken out "draft".

But... I think I was wrong about this too, and actually there *would* be great benefit in taking the document out of "draft" (i.e. collectively adopting it) even without any details of enforcement. In any case I think I'll move the 'enforcement' section onto a different wiki page, so it can be tackled separately from the content of the CoC.

To the people who are suggesting NOT having a CoC, consider this: Does it really just mean you're on one end of these sliding scales? You would favour a document which does not say any rules very specifically, and does not describe enforcement of those rules? I'm quite far towards that end of the spectrum myself, if only because writing the document any other way is harder, but I think I think the vague principles document will still have value when things get heated.

Anyway, a lot of these discussions already happened back in 2010 mailing lists, and also on the wiki Talk page, but progress stalled.

More recently (2014) some other folks developed this one:
...which is a little more specific and, while still quite high level, a bit less vague and hand-wavy in its description of good behaviour. (Leaving aside some irritation I feel when people make no acknowledgement of prior effort) ...I like it! and I was pretty much in favour of just merging that onto the wiki draft. Some more discussion of that here:

On this mailing list at the moment there's two questions which overlap with this in quite an awkward way: Are certain people behaving in a harassing way? and was HOT's Code of Conduct used in a negative discussion silencing way? With that in the air, I feel like now is an awkward time to move forward with this, but maybe after the election it would be good.


From: Mikel Maron <mikel.maron at gmail.com>
To: osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org 
Sent: Monday, 4 December 2017, 2:42
Subject: [Osmf-talk] Actually OSMF, we already have a "Code of Conduct"


Back in 2010, we had a robust discussion of how to help keep our community civil, during one of the most tumultuous episodes in our history -- the license change.


As a result, the OSMF developed expectations for online communications at http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Etiquette, and put in place moderation rules and a group to deal with issues as they arise. While you could give this a different label -- Netiquette, Community Participation Guidelines (my favorite) -- it's not any different in substance from a Code of Conduct.

Moderation is an important but pretty thankless task, and the effort of people to take on this roll has waxed and waned. However it still happens. It's happened this week, on this list.

What's needed now is clarity and energy -- I think the discussions so far will provide helpful input. Let's take a look at what we have and refresh and update, survey the landscape of community guidelines in OSM (online, offline, discussion, mapping, code) and bring to some order and clarity, and support members to take on the task of supporting the rules. And raise awareness of what's there among newcomers and old timers alike.

So yea, guidelines were already in place, we had just forgotten about it. Let's get them in shape in and an active part of what we do.

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