Code of Heat Conductivity
As many of you probably know, Rust has a Code of Conduct. Whether that’s a good or bad thing has been the subject of much debate, which after having abated for some time, was re-heated when Rust 1.6 came out. Seeing myself irritatingly on both sides of the fence, I thought, it’d be good to write up my thinking to better understand my position.
So what about that Code of Conduct? It tells us to treat each other
with respect, and refrain from certain behaviors.
It could be summed up
in the undying words of Bill & Ted: "be excellent to each other".
Update: Graydon asked me not to use this wording, because it’s become so
The Code also defines what Moderators can and should do against someone who doesn’t live up to that standard.
From that position, why should people rail against it? Their argument is that the Code can be misused to shut people up, or to oust people from the community who otherwise would have benefitted that community (“Homophobics are people, too!”). Others simply want to “call an idiot an idiot” and see their honesty devalued. Often an appeal to people to “grow up” and aphorisms like “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” are added, as is the slippery-slope argument that “sooner or later, everyone will be busy pussy-footing around everyone else and nothing will get done.”
During the last months, the Rust community obviously got done a lot, so I guess that latter claim shouldn’t hold too much weight. Also the appeal to “grow up” cuts both ways. Name-calling is not often regarded as adult behavior.
Even so, I don’t want to completely write off those claims, as there are certainly projects that are successful without a Code of Conduct (the Linux kernel being the one usually trotted out for the sake of the argument), and having met a few sociopaths in my career, I’m confident they would try to use a Code of Conduct against whomever they want to harm (According to some, this already has happened at other projects – no, I’m not going to link this). That some Codes of Conducts out there include topics which are subject to political debate doesn’t make the case easier.
Whether the chilling effects of this development is visible or not (and it likely isn’t), we should be wary of dismissing the detractors as trolls (though some clearly are), sexists (or other -ists), and look at what we can learn from them (I’m always for learning new things).
We as a community are well advised to be careful to assess the individual situation before judging – this applies to both sides of the issue. With that said, I’m optimistic that the current mod team is capable of addressing all issues that might arise in a fair and constructive manner.
So to those defending the Code of Conduct, please respect those who argue against it, as the Code tells you to. Of course you aren’t beholden to argue with trolls. The CoC tells you to leave any conversation you are not comfortable with or are riled up from, after all.
And to those who decry the “Social Justice”-ification of an open source project, please remember that it’s people who write and uphold the code. The Rust CoC clearly outlines a level-headed approach in dealing with breaches, and having been contacted by mods once when I was clearly in the wrong I can confirm that the mods didn’t initiate a witch hunt against me. So let’s give them the benefit of doubt.
Of course I cannot predict the future, so I – among others – will watch this space.