On Sat, Apr 01, 2017 at 09:39:36PM -0400, Alexander Belopolsky wrote:
Luckily, in the Python community, episodes that require repressive actions are rare enough that they can be dealt on a case by case basis without causing much distraction. There is no need to over-formalize the process.
"Over" formalize, of course not. We don't want an excess of bureaucracy, but who is to say that Raymond's suggestion is an excess?
Let me preface this by saying that 9 times out of 10, I read the first few lines of Wes' emails and hit delete. And the other time I just hit delete. I find his posting style annoying and pointless: if there's anything of value in them, I can't see it because he doesn't leave enough or any context. And frankly, I support Brett's decision to give him a temporary ban for (apparently) using the Python/Github infrastructure as a personal notepad, wasting people's time.
If that were all Brett had done, I would think "Job well done" and move on.
But he didn't. He labelled Wes a CoC violator, both privately and in public, for something which is a violation of the CoC only by *really* stretching the definition. I mean, come on now, insufficiently respectful of people's time? How Orwellian can you get?
I think that's a mistake. A small mistake, to be sure, and I don't intend to crucify Brett over it. Brett generally does a great job. But small mistakes grow to big mistakes, and I think that this demonstrates that Raymond is right, we do need *some* oversight and process before labelling people a CoC violator and kicking them out on that basis.
I am concerned about the scope-creep and over-use of the CoC nuclear option. This is not the first time either: in my opinion, the proponents of the CoC have consistently promised not to do certain things, then done so. They promised not to unilaterally add the CoC to mailing lists without consultation, then did so. They promised not to use the CoC to ban people for trivial offenses, and have done so.
I shouldn't need to say this, but for the avoidance of doubt I DON'T see this as part of some disastardly plot by the forces of multi-culturalism to suppress dissent. I don't think Brett and others are bad people intentionally excluding different viewpoints. I think that their intentions are good.
So please don't read this as a total condemnation or censure of Brett. I think he was well within his authority as admin to apply a temporary ban to Wes. Where I think he overstepped the boundary was by labelling it a CoC violation. Words do matter, and while I appreciate this is not the same sort of harm as labelling somebody a paedophile or sex offender, "banned for violating the CoC" is not something we should say lightly.
Over on Python-Ideas, I've just responded negatively to a technical suggestion by Ram Rachum. In my opinion, Ram has a habit of making poorly thought-out, superficially-useful suggestions which are invariably rejected. Should we hit him with the hammer of "Code of Conduct violation" for being insufficiently respectful of people's time?
A lot of people probably think that *my* posts are excessively pedantic, detailed and verbose. Including this one. I've been told off (off-list) by at least one senior developer for being too long-winded. Is that a CoC violation?
Based on the precedent now set by Wes' ban, the answer could be Yes. Is that what the community wants? Is that a good way to encourage a diversity of viewpoints and people?
I don't think so.
I don't see any malice in Brett's actions, I think it was just a miscalculation. But it normalises the use of CoC for a trivial offense that could be handled another way. It really should be a big deal to ban somebody for persistent violations of community standards, something we only apply to persist griefers, trolls, racists or sexists who insist on using the Python mailing lists etc to promote their hateful ideology, not just somebody who is apparently just socially awkward.
In a way, what Brett did is a bit like using anti-terrorism legislation against Wes for littering. You see, when he tossed that empty packet out of the car window, people might have thought it was hiding a grenade, and that makes it terrorism.
So I support Raymond's suggestion. I think this demonstrates that good intentions alone are not enough, we need a formal process to prevent CoC from being (unintentionally) abused, to prevent people being labelled as "CoC violators" for merely being a little *too* diverse.