[cabfpub] CAB Forum Draft Code of Conduct

Rich Smith richard.smith at comodo.com
Wed Apr 26 19:25:06 UTC 2017

I’m generally not in favor of things such as this because in my view it shouldn’t need to be stated that one should engage with ones’ fellow humans with respect, dignity and a modicum of decorum.  That said, further comments inline below.


From: Public [mailto:public-bounces at cabforum.org] On Behalf Of Virginia Fournier via Public
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 4:39 PM
To: Gervase Markham <gerv at mozilla.org>
Cc: Virginia Fournier <vfournier at apple.com>; CA/Browser Forum Public Discussion List <public at cabforum.org>
Subject: Re: [cabfpub] CAB Forum Draft Code of Conduct


Hi Gerv,


Thanks for your comments.  Please see my responses below.


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.


Best regards,

Virginia Fournier
Senior Standards Counsel
 Apple Inc.
☏ 669-227-9595
✉︎ vmf at apple.com <mailto:vmf at apple.com> 

On Apr 25, 2017, at 6:53 AM, Gervase Markham <gerv at mozilla.org <mailto:gerv at mozilla.org> > wrote:

Hi Virginia and Tarah,

I have some questions about your proposal.

On 22/04/17 01:56, Virginia Fournier via Public wrote:

CAB Forum Code of Conduct (the “Code”)


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?   ;-)

[RWS] The policy should be very clear that the CoC covers ONLY conduct which takes place on official Forum mail lists and official Forum activities.  Whether or not there is a reason to conduct oneself otherwise outside of official Forum activities is irrelevant.  How someone may choose to conduct themselves outside official Forum activities is not the concern of the Forum.  I state this clearly because there are cases where individuals have been drummed out of organizations for engaging in activity or speech outside the official activities of those organizations, including the case of a former CEO of one of our members.

II.  _Moderation_.  These are the policies for upholding the Code.

 * The Forum Chair and Vice Chair may moderate all Forum activities.
    In addition, Working Group Chairs may moderate their Working Group

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.

 * If a participant thinks an action of a moderator was unjustified,
   the participant should take it up with that moderator, or with a
   different moderator, in private. Complaints about moderators and
   actions taken under this Code are not to be aired publicly, as such
   complaints would not comply with the letter and spirit of this Code. 

I would find this difficult to agree to. No code of conduct is perfect,
and no moderator acts entirely above reproach. Raising issues with
either, in a courteous and professional manner, should not itself be a
code of conduct violation.


VMF:  Mozilla has already agreed to this as part of the WhatWG Code of Conduct.  Why would it not be acceptable here?  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. 

[RWS] I’m in agreement with Gerv on this point.  If one is to face censure publicly, and IMO being removed from a public listserv is a public censure, one should have the freedom to publicly present ones’ case before the Forum should they so choose, so long as it is done in accordance w/the rest of the terms of the CoC.


 * Don't just aim to be technically unimpeachable, try to be your best
   self. In particular, avoid engaging in offensive or sensitive
   issues, particularly if they're off-topic; this all too often leads
   to unnecessary arguments, hurt feelings, and damaged trust; worse,
   it can drive people away from the Forum entirely.

Or, depending on how they are discussed and handled, they can lead to a
deepening of relationship. A robust discussion as to the merits or
otherwise of President Trump, for example, might be considered by some
to be a sensitive issue - and yet such a thing, over dinner at a CAB
Forum face-to-face between consenting adults, seems like an entirely
reasonable thing. I think that the Code should not seek to police the
issues discussed, only behaviour undertaken.


VMF:  This is also in the WhatWG Code of Conduct.  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.  Compare:  “I understand you support Trump.  What do you see as the pros/cons of Trump as President?" vs “You support Trump?  LOL!  Why?? You could only support Trump if you’re a brainless, blithering idiot!  I hope you get eliminated from the gene pool before you have kids!”  Very different approaches.   I think it’s 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. 

 * If someone takes issue with something you said or did, resist the
   urge to be defensive. Just stop doing what it was they complained
   about and apologize. Even if you feel you were misinterpreted or
   unfairly accused, 

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:  This is also in the WhatWG Code of Conduct.  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.

[RWS] Again, I’m in agreement w/Gerv.  An apology is, or at a minimum can be construed to be, an admission of guilt.  If one is indeed guilty then that is fine, but if one maintains ones’ innocence, I can foresee the possibility that an unwarranted apology might be trotted out as evidence of guilt.  “If you’re not guilty, what is it that you were apologizing for?”

 * Violations of the Code on the part of a Member representative may
   ultimately result in the representative being asked to leave a
   meeting, be removed from a mailing list, be suspended from some or
   all Forum activities, or the Member may be asked to remove the
   representative from further involvement with the Forum and/or
   replace such representative with another qualified individual from
   Member’s organization. 

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.


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