I spotted on Slashdot this morning that the FreeBSD Project has finally implemented a detailed Code of Conduct. I’ve spoken rather a lot in the last year or two about Codes of Conduct, so it’s of interest to me. Their prior code from 2015 had a number of weaknesses, largely in that it used vague terms like “be civil,” a question-begging instruction that leaves room for a lot of problematic behavior.
This comes a bit more than two years after Randi Harper (formerly FreeBSDGirl) publicly left (archived link) the project over a bunch of drama that included her being SWATted, of all things. The reactions she got for posting about her departure were kind of predictable. Let’s unpack some of the new Code, which Slashdotters and Redditors are, of course, reacting badly to.
For one thing, it’s got a lot of detail in it–lots of examples of bad behavior, which the prior version simply did not have. I’m pleased to note that deadnaming and outing are *specifically* included in this list. What’s not here, that should be: doxxing and SWATing, which could nominally be covered under “Threats of violence” or “Deliberate intimidation,” and ad hominem attacks and name-calling, which is potentially covered by “Sustained disruption of discussion.”
I’m impressed with the reporting instructions–there’s a contact address, there are detailed instructions as to what must be in your report, and there is advice that you should hear back within a set amount of time (48 hours). I’m also impressed with the detailed list of possible outcomes. The Code of Conduct team has a broad selection of options they can take to deal with any problems, and that’s good. Some Codes only allow for expulsion or nothing, and some teams may be loath to do that except in the most extreme circumstances.
This is a decent Code, in my mind. Time will tell how the project does under this new policy. I’d like to see something very similar in the communities I participate in, myself (are you listening, Perl?).