Code of Conduct questions

Daniel Stone daniel at
Mon Oct 22 07:17:45 UTC 2018

I've cross-posted this to freedesktop@, as the xdg@ list is only used
for actual specification development.

On Mon, 22 Oct 2018 at 00:36, Jacob Lifshay <programmerjake at> wrote:
> Hi, we were thinking of asking if freedesktop would host Kazan ( for us, however some of our community members have objections with how freedesktop's Code of Conduct is currently written. Would it be acceptable for a project on freedesktop to have a different code of conduct as long as it has similar intent? The code of conduct that we would like to use is similar to

Unfortunately, this is not something we're willing to do. If there are
particular properties of the libre-riscv charter you'd like to see
included in the fd.o Code of Conduct, or specific concerns you have
with it, we (myself, Keith and Tollef) would be happy to hear it.

The biggest divide is between 'enumerating badness' vs. 'Bill & Ted',
to be glib.

Enumerating badness (e.g. the fd.o CoC, based on the Contributor
Covenant) specifically elaborates _examples_ of unacceptable
behaviour, in order to make expectations clear. It sets very clear
bright lines on unacceptable behaviour, whilst allowing the scope to
be larger.

Bill & Ted (from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure) follows the film's
mantra of 'be excellent to each other', and is often quite vague in
what this specifically means. Usually this takes the form of
self-encouraging platitudes: we're all adults, we're all
professionals, we all want to be nice, we all want great software.
These are all good sentiments.

The reason we chose a CoC which specifically enumerates badness, is
that it makes expectations clear, especially for newcomers. If the
community's norms are 'good not bad', and everyone always observes
those norms, then by definition no behaviour can be bad: if you feel
you're being excluded in a way which violates the code, you aren't.
Specific enumerated counter-examples help make it clear what is and
isn't acceptable, and prevents bad behaviour from being accidentally
but irreversably entrenched. (Anyone who attempted to play rules
lawyer and use technicalities to work their way out of the spirit of
the CoC would not get a welcoming reception.)

Personally, I'm also extremely uncomfortable with the parts making
clear that 'roles and seniority' are paramount and must be
acknowledged for everyone. The combination of the two is an excellent
way to entrench abuse and hostility to newcomers: senior people are
good not bad, senior people define what is good and bad, and you as a
newcomer effectively have no recourse to complaint. Regardless of what
the intent of the authors was, the effect is sadly the same.

Some more background on the different styles is written up here:


More information about the xdg mailing list