[cabfpub] CAB Forum Draft Code of Conduct

Gervase Markham gerv at mozilla.org
Wed Apr 26 16:45:36 UTC 2017

On 25/04/17 22:39, Virginia Fournier wrote:
> Please keep in mind that Mozilla is already operating under
> substantially similar Codes of Conduct through its participation in W3C
> and WhatWG.  It would be hard to imagine that something would be
> acceptable under those SDOs, but not for CAB Forum.

While this may be true, I'm not Mozilla's representative to those
organizations :-) And anyway, if "someone else does it" were a
concluding argument, we would not be having any discussion at all about
what's best for us.

>> letter and spirit of this Code.  This Code applies to all Forum
>> activities, such as meetings, teleconferences, mailing lists,
>> conferences, and other functions.
> Do you propose that it apply to non-business parts of face-to-face
> meetings, such as dinners (official and/or unofficial)?
> VMF:  It would apply to all CAB Forum activities.  I would assume that
> would include official dinners, but not unofficial dinners.  Is there a
> reason to be rude, insulting, and unprofessional to other Forum members
> at unofficial dinners?   ;-)

:-) No. But one might discuss a wider range of topics in a wider range
of styles. Just as one might have different discussions at the local pub
after work than one might discuss around the water cooler.

> What does this mean in practice? Are you proposing that our mailing
> lists move to being moderated in some way?
> VMF:  They _may_ be.  Or they could be self-moderating.

I'm not sure what you mean by self-moderating.

It seems to me that our mailing lists are operating fine. If people need
admonishing about their words, than can be done tactfully by private
communication rather than by using a banhammer. Any sort of moderation
requirement would mean someone had to take on the burden of being the

> VMF:  ...  Members can raise the
> issue with the moderator - but they can’t go on the public mailing list,
> for example, and bad mouth the moderator, and complain about how they
> didn’t really violate the Code of Conduct, etc. to stir up some bile.  

Doing it in that style might be a Code of Conduct violation anyway. But
this clause bans any raising of questions about moderator behaviour, no
matter how respectfully put. I think that's wrong, and leads to the
suppression of the sort of debate which can improve the rules after
dealing with a difficult situation.

> VMF:  ... I think again the key
> is in the plain English meaning of the words.  It’s ok to argue with
> someone on the _ideological_ level, but not attack or insult the person
> on an _individual_ level. 

I agree, but that's not what the text says. It says "avoid engaging in
offensive or sensitive issues".

> clear that the proposed Code of Conduct intends to kick the discussions
> and activities up to a more reasonable, professional, respectful, and
> conciliatory level.  I’m not sure how anyone could object to that. 

I'm not objecting to the goal; I'm saying the words don't meet the goal.

> I prefer only to apologise when the apology is genuine. I hope I'm not
> alone in that; anything else is a recipe for insincerity, which does not
> breed good relationships. As a matter of courtesy, if someone objects to
> something you are doing, one would generally stop while investigating
> what the problem is, but requiring an apology in all circumstances is,
> to my mind, going too far.
> VMF:  ... However, if others
> also feel strongly about not apologizing, we can consider modifying this
> language.  The axioms I’ve heard are “when in doubt, apologize,”
> and “apologize early and often.”  But I get that other people have
> different views.

Thank you for being willing to entertain change on this point.

> How is the applicability of such sanctions to be determined, and by whom?
> VMF:  To be determined collectively by the Chair, Vice-Chair, and
> appropriate violating Member executive.  We’ll add this to the
> provision.  It would NOT go to a Forum vote.

This certainly needs defining very carefully, particularly
"collectively". Also, if someone is in "robust" debate with, say, the
Vice-Chair, it may be that they would find it difficult to be objective
if a CoC violation were alleged. Are you hoping to have a recusal process?


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