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From Noah Slater <>
Subject Re: Encouraging Diversity - Update 6
Date Wed, 16 Nov 2016 22:54:01 GMT
Okay, back to the topic.

Perhaps we should update the code of conduct. It seems that a lot of the
unease here relates to the nature of our planned responses to conduct

I can tell you how I see it, as one of the people behind the work that went
into our code of conduct.

There are two types of response:

1. Restorative justice

This is where we speak to the person who violated one of our community
standards. We tell them that what they did was not acceptable. Sometimes
this is enough. They apologise and things are fixed.

Sometimes they don't, and you need to work with them to help them
understand why it wasn't acceptable. Sometimes you need to work with the
person or people who were affected. Sometimes you need to undo the damage
that wad done.

This is laborious work. I should know. A good chunk of the time and energy
I put into CouchDB was precisely this sort of thing. I used to think of it
as "emotional tanking", if you're familiar the gaming definition of that

2. Punitive justice

This is where the violation was so severe, or the person is so resistant to
change, that you have to take some sort of measure by force. This might be
the removal of someone's membership, removal from a PMC, revocation of
committer privileges, removal from a list, ban from an IRC channel,

It should go without saying that this should always be the last step.

(In the past I have erred on the side of being too patient with people who
are clearly not willing to change. Keeping people like that around can
really damage a community.)

Anyway. This distinction between restorative justice and punitive justice
is just my own personal model. I can't say it's shared by the other people
behind the code of conduct. Though having worked with Joan now for many
years on CouchDB, I would be surprised if she didn't at least thin
something approximately similar.

On Wed, 16 Nov 2016 at 23:53 Noah Slater <> wrote:

> This is the last email I am going to send on the specifics of me not
> liking the response I got on this thread. I have a follow-up email that
> will hopefully get us back on topic.
> Here's an excerpt of what you chose to email me privately:
> > Now, you have claimed that you have been suffering from prejudice and
> discrimination in the past, but I have no recollection of actual examples,
> where there really was an unacceptable behavior conducted AND that there
> were no repercussions from the ASF. Without examples, you are making
> unsubstantiated claims and hypotheticals, and those are really hard to
> discuss, due the the vagueness and rhetoric that accompanies those. With a
> public record, where you can point at "Look, here.... this... that... and X
> said, and Y defended..." then that is something you can use to convince me
> that this is not about a cry-baby and victimhood culture that people are
> trying to breed at ASF, with the silent support of those who are scared of
> speaking up against it, because they don't want to be cast in unfavorable
> light.
> "you have claimed"
> "I have no recollection of actual examples"
> "you are making unsubstantiated claims and hypotheticals"
> I'm reporting on my feelings. They're not "unsubstantiated claims" because
> I don't need to substantiate my emotions. If I tell you I had a bad time,
> you ought to just accept it. They're certainly not hypotheticals either. I
> wish.
> Do you see how this language you've chosen, and indeed the approach you've
> taken, contribute to the invalidation of my emotional and psychological
> state?
> You make it clear that unless I convince you, personally, that I am right
> to feel the way I feel, you will categorise the act of sharing my feelings
> an attempt to spread a "cry-baby and victimhood culture".
> This is not the way we should be responding to people who are saying "I
> had a bad time".
> Maybe if someone was saying "I had a bad time, so take these specific
> punitive measures against these specific people". Then we would want to
> collect documentary evidence. We'd want to understand the ins and the outs
> of the situation. But that would fall to the appropriate group of people,
> who would want to do it sensitively, and in private.
> Emailing random people you've seen posting on a mailing list about having
> a bad time and challenging them to justify themselves to you is not okay
> behaviour. But I am going to stop talking about this now. I don't think I
> can explain it any better than this. Perhaps someone else can chime in if
> they think they can help.
> On Wed, 16 Nov 2016 at 03:17 Niclas Hedhman <> wrote:
> On Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 8:46 AM, Noah Slater <> wrote:
> > You misunderstand. This isn't about replacing one type of assumption
> about
> > your intentions with another type. Instead, it's about holding people
> > accountable for their actions (and the effects of those actions)
> > irrespective of their intentions.
> Please explain or elaborate what you mean by "accountable". If
> "accountable" means "Hey, you should not have..." with a "Oh, sorry about
> that, my mistake" reply, then I have no problem. If it means "Hey, X said
> Y, ban..." (which is what I read in the word 'enforcement'), then I do have
> a big problem with that.
> > As has been mentioned on this thread already, not many people explicitly
> > set out to send a harmful email. And yet many harmful emails are probably
> > sent to our lists daily.
> And likewise, many people are reminded daily that emails are difficult
> medium to communicate in and that words often can be read in more than one
> way.
> > You sent me a private email saying, effectively: "Suppose you are right
> > about what you claim to have experienced, I have yet to see the evidence.
> > Please dig up that evidence and show it to me to convince me you're not
> > just a cry-baby."
> Do you want me to post it full here? Because, I didn't say "you", I said
> "people"... and you may have chosen to include yourself in that. "People
> commit murders" --> "He just called me a murderer!", do you see the
> parallel?  Again, I think this shows the problem of expressing oneself in
> email, since it is impossible to anticipate every possible interpretation,
> both among native speakers and those that are less fluent.
> > It certainly doesn't engender any confidence that you would take me
> > seriously and not challenge me point by point, if I were to go to that
> > herculean effort of documenting all the things that contributed to my
> > emotional burnt out over the years.
> I didn't ask for "all the things". I asked "what [changes] in ASF could
> have led to an outcome that satisfied you."
> Instead, you hand waved a "This is a thoroughly horrible email for you to
> have sent me. " without further explanation, and now you say that it was
> because you think I called you a "cry-baby" when I didn't;  <quote>convince
> me that this is not about a cry-baby and victimhood culture that people are
> trying to breed at ASF</quote>
> I also assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that you are a native speaker, and
> that you wouldn't have problem parsing my language. If I thought otherwise,
> I would indeed have constructed simpler sentences.
> > When we harm someone (for our purposes, let's assume unintentionally) the
> > person we harmed is usually not in the best place to do the emotional
> > labour necessary to explain why they are upset, or what was done wrong.
> >
> > This is where we find utility in shared community standards, clearly
> > documented in things like a code of conduct.
> I agree, and we have a Code of Conduct. I have no issue with people who
> speak out against ad hominems and name calling, and I agree that such
> behavior is unacceptable. What I do have a problem with is words like "feel
> safe". It is subjective and the ASF can not institute any mechanisms to
> make that a reality, other than banning criticism, debate and frankly
> anything that is not a lambda expression (free of side-effects). Being
> criticized on technical merit, conflicting opinions on possible ideas and
> similar non-personal topics, should not in my opinion be curbed. I think
> that is not the intention, but some people may think that is "feeling
> unsafe"...
> > These are not tools to bash people around head with. They are learning
> > resources. If there was a page somewhere that said "when someone is
> > reporting having had a bad experience, try to listen, believe, and
> support
> > them" (and so on) I could say "hey, I think what you did is in violation
> of
> > this principal". And then maybe other people with more energy than me,
> who
> > are less emotionally invested in what just happened, can talk to you
> about
> > it.
> Yes, this is very good argument and something I fully support. I would also
> appreciate language in Code of Conduct and "goals for diversity" page to
> that effect, i.e. "education", "promotion", "encouragement" and "peer
> support", rather than the very harsh "enforcement" (maybe I am too
> sensitive to that word, after living in China too long).
> I have just posted a proposal to change that "correct" what I take issue
> with.
> Cheers
> --
> Niclas Hedhman, Software Developer
> - New Energy for Java

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