On Mon, 29 Feb 2016 at 18:01 Steven D'Aprano <steve@pearwood.info> wrote:
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 03:11:25PM +1000, Nick Coghlan wrote:
> On 28 February 2016 at 12:27, Steven D'Aprano <steve@pearwood.info> wrote:
> > Nobody *has* to tolerate jerks, especially on an email forum. Just
> > filter their emails into the trash.
> This approach means every *future* participant in that community then
> has to encounter the person that's behaving like a jerk, realise they
> consistently behave that way, and add them to their own filters.

It also means they get to decide for themselves what is and isn't
unacceptable behaviour *to them*, without imposing those values on those
who don't share them.

Look, I get it. I'm outvoted, and the community -- at least those who
are willing to speak up publicly -- agree with the CoC. I'm obviously in
a minority here, and I accept that.

But that's not the point. The point is that if we're actually going to
be "open, respectful and considerate" as the CoC requires, then we
actually have to make time to listen to those diverse viewpoints we say
we want to listen to. If we're serious about the CoC, then we should
treat it seriously and not just give lip-service to it.

How can we say we're in favour of diversity if we don't give those
diverse voices and viewpoints a chance to speak up before making
decisions? Community values come from the entire community, not just
from a couple of guys with admin powers on the mailing list software.

Being open, respectful and considerate means that, even if you have the
de facto power to apply whatever rules you want, you *ask first* and
listen to what the community has to say. Maybe you'll be surprised by
what they say. Maybe you won't. But you won't know unless you ask.

Even if the community is overwhelmingly in favour of the change, at
least those with a different opinion will have had the chance to be
heard. And that is critical for a healthy community. "You never listen"
is deadly for relationships, whether they are family, business or
community. There is a reason why members of minorities are often
described as "voiceless", and why we should *listen to them*.

Even if, after due consideration, we choose to dismiss their point of
view. We're all adults here, and I trust that none of us expect to "win"
all the time. So long as we get a fair chance to have our say and have
it honestly considered with an open mind. I don't ask for anything more
than that.

The most frustrating thing is that we've been through this before. In
2013, Brett and Titus did exactly the same thing on the Python-Ideas


So let me make it clear: Brett, and the other list maintainers, you're
not listening. Even if I'm a minority of one out of the whole community,
your words say "of course we care what you think" but your actions say
"actually no, we couldn't care less". You might not have intended it
that way, but nevertheless that's the way it is.

I see where the issue came in: I simply considered the discussion on the CoC already settled. As you pointed out in your second paragraph, the community has decided that they like the idea of a CoC (for instance, I was applauded at PyCon US 2014 when I gave the opening address and pointed out that there was a CoC in effect). I also went through these points with python-ideas years ago (and you're right, it wasn't a discussion as much as an edict of new rules on python-ideas, but I felt that was necessary to deal with the situation). I wasn't trying to silence dissent, I just considered it a settled point.

And the key word for me is "settled". It's like people wanting a Python 2.8 release: at some point we decided the key points were made and that our decision had been settled. I feel the same way about the CoC, so I didn't view it as silencing the anti-CoC side before they could argue as much as the argument had been had and the CoC side had won.

Imagine an alternate universe where Brett had said, "I'm the dictator of
this mailing list and I don't care what anyone thinks. From now on, I'm
going to ban 'jerk' behaviour, and if you don't like it, tough." How
exactly is that alternate universe different from what actually took

Two ways. One, the CoC is at least written down so it isn't quite so arbitrary as "Brett says so!" The other is that I considered it "... tough, because we have already had this discussion as a community and decided having a CoC is a good thing".

When this happened on Python-Ideas, people wrote to me defending the
change on exactly that basis: Brett's the dictator and can do what he
likes, he doesn't have to listen, if I don't like it, I should leave.
This was coming from people who were vigourously supporting the CoC and
the need to be welcoming to all. If there is a way to reconcile those
two seemingly contradictory positions, I don't know what it is.

In that instance I think it's because when you come down on the anti-CoC side, the pro side tend to view it as you're putting the worry of silencing dissenting voices over protecting those who feel they can't speak up without a CoC. And since the pro side views the CoC as enough to prevent dissenting voices from being silenced in the first place then that makes the anti-CoC as censoring more implicitly and the possible explicit censoring of the anti- side.

I'm not accusing Brett or anyone else of being a moustache-twirling
villain who is out to ruin this group, or of acting maliciously. I truly
believe that he is trying to act in the best interests of the community.
But I think he is failing. It takes actual effort to listen to minority
views, really listen, not just say "we're listening", and in this case I
feel that Brett didn't even bother with the "we're listening" part, he
just went straight to the "we know what's best".

Having your voice heard goes a long way to making people feel welcome.
Having rules applied by fiat with no opportunity to be heard is not
open, respectful or considerate, but it is a good way to build
resentment and make people feel like outsiders. Which is exactly how I
feel now.

(Although the measured and reasonable responses to my earlier email have
gone a long way towards mitigating that. Thank you to all those who
replied respectfully, and thankfully this time I wasn't told to GTFO if
I didn't like it.)

I have worked in a team where managers would apply policy changes that
affected the entire team (including other managers) without a period of
consultation, and it is toxic behaviour. It breeds resentment and a
feeling of being pushed into the outer. The feeling of voicelessness can
break work-places, families and entire communities, and one of the most
important parts of social justice is to give people a voice.

Right, but as I said earlier in this email, this was not some knee-jerk decision where opposing voices had not been listened to previously. To me the CoC debate spanned years and has been settled at this point. So it isn't like a manager walking into a meeting and saying "we're switching to Java because I say so", it's more like "the rest of the company has standardized on Python and we're the lone hold-outs, so we're finally going to align with the rest of the company".