Code of conduct / community guidelines

I believe that the only difference between the document we have and the more traditional Codes of Conduct is that they state specific offenses directly, unless if I am missing something, while protecting minorities and underrepresented populations at the same time.

If anything, a document (that serves as “the law” in this community) that’s vague in nature and pretty much open to interpretation is something that could be weaponized in the long-term instead. Leaving this matter in the hands of what a couple of strangers that would never otherwise contribute to the project in any shape or form rather than the people that are currently present is not a beneficial position to maintain, particularly because the existence of a more direct set of rules could also simultaneously signal that “Hey, everyone’s welcome, nobody’s going to haul you out for no reason, you should also join us and invest your time with us!”

I’d like to talk about that further, but I’m not sure if this discussion deserves a different thread.

Laws can always be changed by those with the power to do so. If, in the future, the Haiku project was made up of unreasonable people who wanted to use the policies as pretext for abuses of power, then having stricter laws would not really stop them, it would just require them to edit the laws to have the same pretext. Ultimately, there is no way to defend a project from its own authorities; if it has come to the point where no authorities can be appealed to, the project has rotted and should just be forked. So, trying to defend against such things in project laws seems to be a futile effort to me.

(I do not think Haiku is in any particular danger of this at the moment, as the developers and community seem to get along and discuss things reasonably and charitably.)

Yeah, you’re definitely right about that. But these documents really aren’t meant for the farfetched scenario where some hypothetical malicious maintainer somehow manages to instate a junta. If I were to keep on using farfetched comparisons, I’d probably label that document as a “social contruct”, which is going to be pretty useless if everything were to collapse.

Would that hypothetical, currently (possibly) nonexistent systemic abuse be happening in broad daylight and eventually (should a removal of the document follow through) turn out to be a matter of public record, or could you just play the PR card and just find your way around this by gaslighting the affected persons in question, both privately and publicly, while retaining the respect and the blissful unawareness of the community, as well as other minorities that may be a part of an environment that sort of works “against them” without them knowing, while freely maintaining the position that your environment is meritocratic?

Unlike the situation that I described initially, it’s true that stability deteriorates over a large amount of time, little by little, when no one is looking. I don’t think that it would be hyperbolic on my behalf to say that even if we are a collective that’s just working on a relatively obscure, but fun and charming operating system, the truth is that real-life politics and balances can’t apply here, the same way they apply in other fun and charming projects that other people run. Stuff happens sometimes. Relying on the trust we all have for each other right now is noteworthy, but it may turn out to be futile in the face of a destabilizing situation. It’s better to put a long-term safeguard in place that benefit us all rather than worry about probable but most likely insignificant reactions that won’t have an effect on the goals we want to achieve.

Since you suggested this should probably be another topic, I made one.

So, my position on this is it would have been simpler to adopt an existing code of conduct document. No endless arguing about the content, this way. It didn’t happen, so I went with a compromise (as usual) of adding what I thought was missing in our existing pages related to this.

In any case, the important part is how do we take action when we need to. And I can tell that we didn’t go with the “quietly settle the matter in private” option in previous times. People were banned from the project with much drama and burnt bridges (it happened only 3 times over 20 years, that I know of, 2 of which were active project members/contributors).

The stability of the Haiku project is maintained, I think, by our active measures to ensure no one is in a position of power. There is no benevolent dictator, no hierarchy, etc. And as one of the most trusted devs, I try to make efforts to erase myself and stress the importance of the team organisation. It is good both for my own mental health, and for the project as a whole.

So, should we include a (non-exhaustive) list of unacceptable behaviors in the code of conduct? I don’t know. I’d say it can’t hurt to have it. Currently what we have is:

Be nice to other people. Avoid insults and personal attacks.

So people can get banned for being “not nice”, insulting or attacking others personally. Probably wide enough to cover all cases where we need to use that rule, but also not very specific. But on the other hand, I would be annoyed to have a restrictive code of conduct, where we end up having to tell someone “sorry, that behavior is indeed totally unacceptable, but it isn’t covered in our code of conduct so there’s nothing we can do about it”.

Additionally there’s this:

Users are to refrain from delving into discussions about religion, politics, gender, ethnicity, etc.

I don’t like the wording of it much. Initially it was only for religion and politics (which I think are indeed out of place here) but then gender and ethnicity were added there, because a code of conduct should mention them in some way, right? But it isn’t great because now we are in principle not really allowed to even talk about them (which is more a “hiding the problem” approach than anything else).

In general I think the flexibility is ok. You would need to drive away so many members from the project before you could get enough power/meritocracy points to do anything, due to the flat organization. This gives us the time to react and address the problem, I think?

Please do not enact a Code of conduct.

Those documents are always used as weapons and they suck the life out of projects.

Common sense tenets, like :

Be nice to other people. Avoid insults and personal attacks.


Users are to refrain from delving into discussions about religion, politics, gender, ethnicity, etc

are good enough for civilized people.

Lets keep it that way and lets not burden this nice community with social weapons like codes of conduct.


10 posts were merged into an existing topic: How to improve docs related to contributing?

I already addressed the weapon argument, and, in conjuction with what @PulkoMandy said earlier, this is not about the god forsaken name or the hosting necessarily, but it’s about the long-term efficacy.

The point that I tried to get across earlier is that I don’t think how commonplace the following scenario is; A person makes passive aggressive jokes that indirectly, but ultimately, endorse the opinion that I shouldn’t exist. I don’t take it very well and consider that they’re hiding behind humour, I tell them off (reasonably), which would mean that I will be the one that gets punished because I “wasn’t nice enough and didn’t come to a ‘civil’ resolution with the person who’s likely not to get punished by the system put in place”.

This isn’t a “Contributor takes over and ruins everything” scenario, it’s an everyday, absolutely realistic example that I, as well as most people that I know of, have experienced. How would that be dealt with, if the current document is way too afraid to mention any other forms of discrimination apart from the half-baked definition schools taught 20 years ago (and still do where I live) and everyone is literally just afraid of the name, despite already having an insufficient, unclear document that serves the same purpose?

Am I in breach of the Code of Conduct for bringing up this side of the argument? Does it protect me or others, or just a short-term reaction from a bunch of non-programmers that are unrelated to the project that act like they’re into this sort of thing? Would I be able to convince another person who just wants to escape their own hell called reality and maybe, just maybe play around with Haiku for the same reasons you do that at least they’d at least be safe enough here?

I think it all boils down on “who is this project more afraid of”, not sure if I got it right.

As far as I am concerned, I believe in resolving things by talking them through, I tend to leave the benefit of the doubt and it’s not like I’m going to immediately block off someone because they possess a different (as in not the same, but not radical) viewpoint due to the fact that our sociopolitical backgrounds are different. That’s an element that I’ve also seen present throughout my short time with Haiku and the reason why I find this whole thing SO, so beautiful.

But hell, if all of this is because of a potential explosion of overopinionated Hacker News users that has tried downloaded the .iso and played around with the system for 30 seconds at most or a tech influencer on Twitter swaying decisions and the direction through their influence, it’d just be a matter of adopting an additional line that just says “please don’t do that kthx”, since public boxing matches aren’t always particularly helpful (but then again, I’m just presuming what you all mean, so I’m not sure ¯\(ツ)/¯).

Me too, and that is exactly the reason why this project doesn’t need a code of conduct replacing the sane Community Policies it already has.

Naming things does not resolve problems, it only puts barrier between people, barrier they also use as weapons whenever the chance.

Therefore, I strongly oppose enacting any kind of new code of conduct.

This community hasn’t needed it in the past, it does not need it now.


I think a code of conduct that does explicitly say “don’t be racist or sexist or harrass other people, such behaviors are not welcome here” would be better. If you don’t agree, I have to assume that you support racist or sexist views or you think it’s fine to harrass people in some cases? Is that an opinion you can defend?

I don’t understand the “weapon” thing. The code of conduct does only one thing, it allows people to send an email to the development team (or individual members of it) in case there’s a problem. That’s all. I don’t see how you can weaponize that. If the development team thinks your accusations are stupid and baseless, they will take no action. If you do this repeatedly everytime there is someone you don’t like, they will ban you, not the persons you complain about. It’s not lile we’re talking about adding a “ban this person immediately” button to the forums for everyone? (there is one already, but only for the moderators).

So, I don’t understand what the “weapon” would be here.

As for “we did not need it until now”, well, the whole point is having it ready for the day we need it, so we have the structure in place to handle the problem when it happens (and, no, sadly, it’s not an “if” but a “when”. we can only hope it will not be frequent).

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That is a really spurious argument and I feel insulted by your assumptions.
The community policies already achieve that goal without resorting to a long list of interdiction.

I don’t understand the “weapon” thing.

In my experience, these codes are always abused by angry people that take offense to whatever some people say.

The code of conduct does only one thing, it allows people to send an email to the development team (or individual members of it) in case there’s a problem.

The current community policies already achieve that goal.
Do we really have a problem that needs a better solution ?

As for “we did not need it until now”, well, the whole point is having it ready for the day we need it, so we have the structure in place to handle the problem when it happens (and, no, sadly, it’s not an “if” but a “when”. we can only hope it will not be frequent).

I stand by my argument. We don’t need it because what we have in place is good enough and drafting a long list of interdiction and sanction would not solve a problem that does not exist but will (from my past experience) be abused.


So, do you think “don’t be racist, sexist, or harrass people” is a long list of interdictions? Do you think it can be abused? Do you think it is unfairly restricting freedom of speech or does it make you uncomfortable to have something like that in the code of conduct?

It seems a pretty obvious line to not cross to me, but unfortunately we may need to be explicit about it (and some people were banned from here because of these already, so yes, we do need some rules).

It can be replaced by “don’t talk about topics unrelated to development in development resources (mailing lists, bug tracker, code review)”. Any real life discussions may hurt someone. Proposed list may need to include “don’t hurt people religious, political, economical, philosophical beliefs” and much more.

It can. For example someone can consider use of he/she as sexist and force using “they” instead. Someone else can force the opposite. This is probably the “weapon” mentioned above.

That’s a very hypothetical “someone”. Especially as we already use “they” as a neutral pronoun in various places (in the interface guidelines, in the activity report when the person writing them doesn’t know the preferred pronouns of a contributor) and it was never a problem. I’m not a fan of other more unusual pronouns but I think “they” is fine.

Now if someone complains that they are being misgendered despite asking for specific pronouns, yes, I’d consider that not acceptable. I’m not going to demand we ban someone for an occasional mistake, but if it’s repeated and not accidental, it would certainly raise questions.

The goal of the code of conduct is still not to have an automatic ban or whatever. So, the potential consequences of it (which can go as far as banning someone from the project) are counter balanced by the fact that the people handling the problems will use their judgement and take only appropriate and proportionned measures. Which makes the “weapon”, I think, quite limited in use.

You asked for an example of how a code of conduct could be abused, then let me give you one.

If we had a stricter code of conduct and a I was of a litigating kind, I could report you as making derogatory comments towards me because you are branding me in front of the whole community as potentially being a racist and a sexist just because I don’t want a code of conduct, without any proof I could be one of those things or any prior misconduct on my part in this forum.

That is border line libel as you put derogatory tags on me in front of everybody just because I was not able to express my reasoning in a manner clear enough for you to understand it.

As I told you, I was offended by your comment. This is not a joke.

But on the other hand, I know you are a good person and I know I am reading too much into it and that your intention was not to hurt me.

I don’t need a code of conduct to resolve that misunderstanding. I don’t need a code of conduct to convey to you that I was offended by your comment. I can just tell you how I feel and I’m sure you will understand without litigating the whole thing.

And if I’m wrong and you don’t understand, then so be it, we will still agree to disagree, in a civil manner, like decent human beings, without a code of conduct full of treacherous terms subjects to (mis)interpretation by people who might not be as civil as we are.


I can reverse this argument very easily: the fact that we don’t have a strict code of conduct allows me (or anyone else) to continue suggesting such things. What can you do then? What if you are offended by this to a point you find unacceptable, you report it as suggested in the current policies, and the person you report it to decides that my behavior is fine and totally acceptable?

I find that the current one is worse in that aspect, it’s much easier to misinterpret a very vague statement than a precise one.

And the changes I’m suggesting are just adding things that I already consider not acceptable. So it wouldn’t even change anything. Racism and sexism are not welcome here, the only difference would be that we would actually write that down on a webpage. It will not change this much the behavior of the people handling the problems. But at least it will be clear what our standards are.

You’re always reluctantly saying the same argument repeatedly without elaborating, and after being told that “Hey, maybe, setting clear terms is good, I don’t think why setting clear terms that name offenses (which is something our current document already does, just insufficiently and vaguely), unless if someone is an offender”.

I really don’t think that he accused you, he just, like myself, did an induction and came to a potential conclusion (“Certain forms of behavior are going to be explicitly prohibited” + “Person disagrees with the restriction” + “Person doesn’t explain their intentions”), and then drew a potential conclusion with reluctance simply because the intentions are not established. Just a repeated mention of “this can be weaponized”, with a clear reluctance in mentioning the case scenario.

If you’re talking about a person taking advantage of personal vitriol and then alleging that this vitriol is the result of discriminatory behavior without sufficient evidence, then I’d get that, and that’s the only example that I can imagine while desperately trying to put myself in your shoes. That would be a problem that can still occur with the current guidelines. Apart from the example that I had to think through (which can’t be fought against unless if you had an even more precise document describing things in great detail, while alienating literally everyone apart from the people that are supposed to be), I seriously don’t get it, and I’d get why they would make the same induction due to the lack of information.

“We reserve the right to moderate or remove posts of an aggravating nature, ban users from the forums and mailing lists, remove commit access for developers, etc.”

I could just report you to the forums and say that you’re dropping accusations, or that Pulko is unfairly dropping accusations, because this conversation is gradually and slowly devolving into a vicious circle where nothing is clarified, the conversation goes nowhere, and we’re all just going at each other’s throats and dropping ad hominems. Or, you could do the same to me because what I said could also be perceived as a threat, rather than a hypothetical example! If there was room for misinterpretation in a previous community you were previously involved with, imagine how much room there is for the same exact thing to happen again now the way we are now. Either way, all of this is already pretty frustrating.

I don’t think that CoC’s aren’t meant to be the middleman in average misunderstandings. As I said earlier, despite being a proponent, I believe that our differences is what makes the project beautiful, and I don’t think that this position is contradictory. They mostly don’t govern attitude and positions, but misconduct (as in whether you can drop a slurs or say that I should be burned at stake).

I’ll try to tone down my activity on this thread, I think that I said what I had to convey clearly and that repeating the same points in order for them to be overlooked is pointless to the conversation.

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IMHO, it is always better to say things clearly. Even if it hurts, it is the best way to avoid misunderstandings.
Whatever is written CoC or your country laws, the problem comes from people thinking “Everything that is not explicitly forbidden is allowed.”.
Because of them, you need to manage room for solutions in cases that you didn’t think about before they happen. So, there will always be interpretation.
The thing is to reduce it to the minimum. More cases are clear, less there’s room for it.
After that, it’s also a matter of trust in moderators to not abuse of the small latency that you give them.
Unfortunately, this world makes people paranoid.

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