FreeBSD Code of Conduct

Slashdot linked to the FreeBSD Code of Conduct. The article claims there is some controversy, so that’s what the comments focus on. I wrote:

Having just read the Code of Conduct, it seem generally fine. Some of my concerns are that the rules are too broad, and some are that they are too narrow.

The “Comments that reinforce systemic oppression related to” wording seems super vague. This portion has the highest potential for abusive use. To be clear, I’m fine with all the protected criteria that come in that rule. I’d much prefer replacing that with “Harassing comments related to”

The “unwelcome comments” thing is pretty broad. If someone says to me on IRC, “I’m tired all the time.” and I say, “You should stop eating so much junk food and get some exercise.”, I’m now in trouble if they feel that comment is unwelcome. With this rule, the only option for me is to never engage in such a conversation. Is that helpful or harmful to building relationships and living fulfilling lives? I think it’s more harmful than helpful. Now, I agree that continually nagging that person to eat healthy is inappropriate. If this was limited to “repeated”, “after being asked to stop”, or similar, it would be better.

I have some concerns about the “dead” names thing. I get and agree with the point: use the names people pick for themselves. As long as this isn’t enforced robotically, it should be fine. There are some legitimate reasons to use names that were in use in times in the past. For example, I think citations to publications should use the name of the author at the time it was published, because the point of the citation is to help you find the publication. This is supported by, for example, an APA Style Blog post. The issue of whether to change one’s name is complicated for the individual and has implications for the wider community.

For another example, yesterday I was considering replying to a years-old mailing list comment, and quoting some text. The author of the quoted text is trans and has changed names. Am I required to edit the “On DATE, NAME wrote:” line? To be clear, in new text, I would address this person using their new name (and have actually done so). I said in a follow up comment: I actually struggled with this for several minutes before ultimately deciding to just drop the “On DATE, NAME” bit. I ultimately determined the answer to my own question, so I dropped the email before sending it.

I personally don’t see a problem with person A saying “*hugs*” to person B without (advance) consent. Though, this is situational. If someone says, “Sorry for the delay on this bug, I’ve been distracted. My dog died.”, I see no problem with “Sorry to hear about your dog. *hugs*”. On the other hand, something like “You’re such a special snowflake. *hugs*” is an improper ad hominem attack. Even in the first example, I do have a problem if they keep doing it after being told by person B to stop, so that rule is fine. On the other hand, saying “*backrub*” out of the blue does seem across the line. I’m struggling to think of an example where that would be unambiguously appropriate.

I’m not sure why the “as necessary to protect vulnerable people from intentional abuse” exception exists to the “outing” rule. Why would it be necessary or acceptable to out someone to protect them? I said in a follow up comment: In terms of the exception to the “outing” rule, I was assuming that the person being outed was the vulnerable person. I see my error now, and this makes sense.

“Publication of non-harassing private communication without consent.” is problematic as a blanket rule. If someone says something important publicly which is materially contradicted by private statements, that might be necessary (albeit tacky) to share, even if those private statements are non-harrassing.

“Knowingly making harmful false claims about a person.” I would strike harmful. Why is it necessary that the false claims be harmful?

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