On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 03:11:25PM +1000, Nick Coghlan wrote:
On 28 February 2016 at 12:27, Steven D'Aprano firstname.lastname@example.org 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 list:
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.
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 place?
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.
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.
Technically, the CoC only says that we should be "receptive to constructive comment and criticism", it doesn't say anything about avoiding criticism in the first place by consulting with the community before making changes that affects them. But I think that the three overriding principles of openness, respect and consideration should apply *proactively*, not just retroactively.
If I knew what you considered "a jerk", then I might be able to say whether I agreed or disagreed. For all I know, you might consider this email to be nothing but me being a jerk.
It doesn't read to me as you being a jerk, but it does read to me as you responding without actually reading the PSF Community Code of Conduct that Brett linked to.
Nick, give me some credit. I was around when the PSF voted on this the first time, and I was around when it was applied to the Python-Ideas list. I've read the CoC many times, and I'm quite familiar with it. This is not some knee-jerk reaction. I've been thinking about this issue for some time.