[python-committers] Making the PSF CoC apply to core developers

R. David Murray rdmurray at bitdance.com
Tue Mar 1 12:36:24 EST 2016

On Tue, 01 Mar 2016 04:10:08 +0000, Brett Cannon <brett at python.org> wrote:
> On Mon, 29 Feb 2016 at 18:01 Steven D'Aprano <steve at pearwood.info> wrote:
> > 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

Just so Steven doesn't think he's a minority of one, let me say that I
too find CoCs problematic.  I have a code of conduct, and it applies to my
*life*.  For shorthand, you could call it "being a gentleman", but a more
modern term might be "being civil".  Do I fail to live up to my personal
code occasionally?  Yes, and I hope people call me on it when I do fail.
Do I care what code of conduct the organization has promulgated?  No.
It has no affect on my behavior, nor will it.  At most, it might drive
me from the community if it is ever used against me.

Referencing a CoC will only work at all with those who are self-governed
by a personal code of civility.  Yet all such people need is to have it
pointed out to them that they have been uncivil, with reference to the
universal code of civility and/or a civil discussion about civility in
the immediate context.

Those who are not already self-governed by a personal code of civility
will not be bound by the CoC, though they may give it lip service and
carry on a long, probably uncivil, argument about the rules embodied in
the CoC.

Against those who are not self-governed, only power plays, which
ultimately probably means expulsion by technical means, will work...and
what matters it if you reference that expulsion to a specific code of
conduct, or the universal one?

How it actually matters is that people who are not civil will "rules
lawyer" you on the specific one if you have one and you attempt to use it
to police their behavior.  Worse, they will use it to "rules lawyer" people
they don't like or whose opinions they object to.

When things get bad enough that a call to (universal) civility is not
enough, ultimately someone has to make the call.  That person might
as well do it based on their own moral code, as the "owner" of the
resource[*], and not have to try to justify it based on some specific set
of rules-on-paper.  They are going to take flak for making the decision
anyway, so why hand the uncivil an extra weapon?

Note that I am not saying that there aren't/weren't problems.  Those
problems need to be (and are) addressed *universally* by a change in
civic culture via the cultural dialog that is always going on around us.
Discussions of what civility is in the context of specific incidents are
an important part of that.  Specific codes of conduct, on the other hand,
very often make the problem *worse*, and delay the implementation of
beneficial cultural shifts, because they attempt to freeze the rules,
very often do it badly, and thus become instead a weapon in the hands
of the uncivil and/or the power hungry.

All that said, the Python CoC is not a bad restatement of parts of the
universal code, so it is hopefully less subject to this abuse than
others that I have seen.  For that I am thankful.  As I am thankful
that the Python community rarely has conflicts that rise to the level of
intransigent uncivility.  The fundamental civility of this community is
one of the things that I value about it, even if it isn't quite perfect :)


[*] Yes, in our case that is ultimately Guido, as Brett indicated.

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