[Pharo-users] Code of Conduct

Jerry Kott jkott at image-ware.com
Sun Sep 22 00:38:39 EDT 2019

Just… WOW.

I’ve been fighting the urge to add my two cents to the discussion, but didn’t feel ‘qualified’ - I’ve been just lurking here, both on the mailing list and this topic. I haven’t contributed to Pharo (yet), but any discussion that involves freedom of expression (which this is I believe) naturally piques my interest.

I only read the Code of Conduct version as of today, and while on surface it’s not that controversial (any longer), if I had any say in the subject, I would vote against any form or shape of it. Many have expressed their reasons, here are just some of mine:

The wording can change at any time (as we have seen over last couple of weeks), without any real accountability of the CoC authors/editors to the community. That alone should be a red flag. I have a somewhat remotely related example of that: In 1948, a single added sentence in the Constitution of my country changed it from a fledgling democracy to a brutal dictatorship that lasted forty years. ‘Foundational documents’ are extremely difficult to get right - whatever ‘right’ means.
Almost every CoC I have seen in recent times, in communities online and in the real world, reminds me this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Code_of_the_Builder_of_Communism <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Code_of_the_Builder_of_Communism> . Read the twelve rules. Shivers run up my spine when I see the similarities between that and modern Code of Conduct wordings. This was displayed in schools and other public building when I was growing up. Nobody I knew followed it, but it could be used arbitrarily to mark people as ‘enemies’ and discriminate against them - the very antithesis of tolerance and inclusivity.
(I repeat what others said) This is a predominantly technical forum, albeit with some creative aspects. I borrow a phrase here: ‘Any good idea withstands scrutiny’. Knowing that should be enough of an incentive to be thoughtful and respectful. That doesn’t mean you can’t fight for your idea (on the contrary), and fighting sometimes requires some strong words. Get over it. Life’s not ‘easy’, ’safe’, or ‘fair’.
I don’t see a problem on this list (or even in the wider Pharo/Smalltalk community) that needs solving or gets solved by a CoC. Why waste our energy on something that is not a problem?

If everything else got half of attention as this topic, wouldn’t that be awesome? Ultimately this is about human behviour, and as we know, that’s always the hardest thing to change/influence in any field. Speaking of which:

How is that security stuff coming along, Pharo community? Two years in the row my ESUG presentations included screenshots of a Pharo-backed web site, pointing out how insecure the site is. Details have been blurred to protect the site, but anyone who does Pharo/Seaside work should be alerted if they paid attention. I know that the maintainers of the site were in the audience, and I am amazed that they have not checked their site to see if they have some work to do to address the vulnerabilities. Note: this is not unique to Pharo. It’s a simple change in behaviour that should have happened, but it has not.

The point here is: as a community, Pharo (and other Smalltalk groups) has a lot of work to do. Code of Conduct is an unnecessary and wasteful distraction. In the meantime, I see no discussions here about how are we going to address the world-wide crisis of Privacy Erosion, or how to establish ethical coding best practices. How can we ensure that information collected as a result of our work remains confidential and secure where needed, and is used ethically for the betterment of the planet and the human race?

I don't give a rat’s ass about following a community Code of Conduct if it silences what I or others have to say in public, while our most private, personal data is harvested left and right by unscrupulous geeks in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. That’s a problem we should be trying to solve.

There. Stepping down from the soap box.

Happy Autumnal Equinox, everyone!

Jerry Kott
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> On 21-09-2019, at 9:51 AM, Steve Quezadas <steveeq1 at gmail.com> wrote:
> My issue is that this covenant is selectively applied to some things, but not others. The wording might change, but the cultural attitude will prevail on how it gets "enforced". Again, the best thing to do is simply keep it neutral and anything not related to pharo get thrown out as "off-topic".
> Harassment has never been a problem with this list. And any talk about the danger of "nazis" or "thugs" is irrelevent and should be thrown out. I, for one, don't want to see it on this list.
> On Sat, Sep 21, 2019 at 9:36 AM James Foster <Smalltalk at jgfoster.net <mailto:Smalltalk at jgfoster.net>> wrote:
> A nice thing about open source and the use of Git is that changes can be proposed and adopted quickly. Any proposal should be judged, not on whether it is perfect, but whether it makes an improvement. As a corollary, don’t assume that the current state is the ideal, but treat it as a platform for continuous improvements.
> In this case, the phrase you objected to was removed before you made your comment.
> James
> > On Sep 20, 2019, at 11:43 PM, Hilaire <hilaire at drgeo.eu <mailto:hilaire at drgeo.eu>> wrote:
> >
> > Le 19/09/2019 à 21:20, Esteban Lorenzano a écrit :
> >>
> >> So we are going to take the simplest one we could find that still can
> >> serve our community, you can see it here:
> >>
> >> https://github.com/pharo-project/pharo/pull/4660 <https://github.com/pharo-project/pharo/pull/4660>
> >>
> > Hello,
> >
> > Given the heat up on the ml, I took a look on the PR. It looks honest
> > and simple for but...
> >
> > ...I am really surprised -- worried will be more accurate ! -- by the
> > second part of this sentence[1]. I think it is even dangerous! What is
> > happening outside of the Pharo community should not be ruled by the
> > 'WE'. The 'WE' is not the universal moral police or justice. If you
> > think a bit about the Richard Stallman event, he was forced to withdraw
> > of the Free Software Foundation because comments he made in a mailing
> > list not related to FSF. He wrote his email contents were misinterpreted
> > (and we know it happens often) and used against him. Whatever it is true
> > or not, I don't see why you should be socially banned (or socially
> > killed) from one place (or more like all place) because of what happen
> > in another place. This kind of important decision can only be taken by
> > the justice where all matter are taken in consideration. Imagine one of
> > you kicked out of Pharo community because you loose your mind in another
> > channel? It makes me feel a bit like the Aldous Huxley world.
> >
> > [1] /We will not tolerate harassment from anyone in the Pharo community,
> > even outside of Pharo’s public communication channels./
> >
> > Hilaire
> >
> > --
> > Dr. Geo
> > http://drgeo.eu <http://drgeo.eu/>
> >
> >
> >
> >

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