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From Joan Touzet <>
Subject Re: [PROPOSAL] Code of conduct - edit of the point 2
Date Sun, 27 Jul 2014 15:44:46 GMT
----- Original Message -----
From: "Benoit Chesneau" <>
On Sun, Jul 27, 2014 at 11:06 AM, Dave Cottlehuber <>
> > On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 8:59 AM, Jan Lehnardt wrote:
> >
> > > Empathy is the capacity to recognise emotions of others.
> >
> > This is not a capacity. Just a feeling that you are able to. A
> behaviorist assumption by the way.

It is not behaviourist. Go read up on mirror neurons. There is
plenty of physiological evidence supporting. Empathy is innate to the
human physiology. Further, validation through discussion is the core of
this point: trying to understand their emotional states and using
that to intelligently inform your discourse on the mailing list is
crucial to supportive discussion.

The project is asking the same of you (and all other participants),
and making it clear in this clause that tone-deaf responses that
intentionally ignore others' emotional state are not appropriate.

> In the few language I know (i admit to only know 4)

Using my empathy I read this as passive-aggressive disagreement. I
am going to ask you to please assume good faith on the part of those
you are discussing this with. It is clear you are both frustrated and
angry in this discussion to me (again, empathy) and I am doing my
best to respond in a matter that will not further antagonize you.

> And it is definitely a psychological term.

Our project is littered with jargon that is terribly intimidating to
those not of a computer science or engineering background. We are just
about to pass bylaws that encourage those without that background to
contribute in the ways that they can: on design, translation,
documentation, project management and many other topics. To these people,
and to many engineers & computer scientists, this term is a lot more
familiar than Brewer's Therorem or Shannon's Theorem - or even Occam's

> Why you have to use the term "empathy" and why it has to be there. Why a
> description of what the expected behavior from the member of the community
> isn't enough?

The description has been laid out in that same paragraph quite clearly.

   "Be empathetic, welcoming, friendly, and patient: We work together to resolve conflict,
assume good intentions, and do our best to act in an empathetic fashion. We may all experience
some frustration from time to time, but we do not allow frustration to turn into a personal
attack. A community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not a productive one.
We should be respectful when dealing with other community members as well as with people outside
our community."

But this description alone is insufficient without making it clear that
awareness and recognition of the emotional state of others is a critical
capacity that we require within this community.

> Also you and other keeps forgetting to answer how a conflict based on "lack
> of empathy" will solved.  Who will be the more empathetic?

We are talking about empathy for the other people engaged in collaboration,
not third parties here. This is not about, for example, showing deep empathy
for the homeless or poverty-stricken. This is about me, Joan, showing empathy
for you, Benoit, and understanding that your emotional state is potentially 
affecting how you are participating in this discussion. Claiming that you
"only know 4 languages" to me triggered a mental recognition of your response
as possibly passive-aggressive, to which I'm attempting to respond as delicately
as possible.

> I strongly suggest to have a neutral code of conduct. Not something that
> looks like a political agenda trying  to impose the usage of some
> conflicting terms.

Narrowly looking at this single sentence, I hope you have misunderstood the
intent of this clause to mean "empathy for underprivileged third parties."
The point is empathy for other contributors and their emotional state. I am
showing restraint, not resorting to personal attacks, and doing my best to
make you feel comfortable within this discussion and to not feel threatened
by my words or actions.

I'll provide another example. Last week, Noah reverted a number of my edits
to the proposed bylaws. These were primarily syntax and grammar edits, but
just the same it angered me greatly. Noah and I had a short discussion on
IRC during which I tried to explain to him how angry I was. Noah had a lack
of empathy in that he thought I was joking. When I explained I was really
angry he and I both agreed to take a pause for an hour or so. By the time I
came back, we came to a satisfactory resolution. Further, Noah personally
apologized for upsetting me, which helped me feel better about contributing
to the project in the future.

This is really all we're asking of people with this clause. It is neither
codification of a social justice agenda, nor tantamount to enforcing you
to make every CouchDB commit an act of selfless love for the underprivileged
of this world. We must be a friendly, supportive community where one's
emotional state is not something of which to be ashamed, neglected, or
willingly trodden upon by other members - especially those who hold status
through being recognized committers or PMC members. In other words, no role
gives you the permission to walk on others' feelings. They must be taken
into consideration with every action.


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