RFC: YAPC Code of conduct up on github?

Ya´akov Sloman yaakov at perlfoundation.org
Sun Mar 24 14:53:16 PDT 2013

Hello, everyone.

As Community Advocate for TPF, my portfolio includes "community health and growth", so the sorts of issues around a CoC are very much incorporated into my rôle.  Of course, I am very happy to see so much interest in community issues, it's a sign of at least one aspect of health, but, from my perspective, this particular activity is question begging.  I believe we need to come to a community consensus on three more fundamental things before the work of writing the CoC can be a service to the Perl community, which is surely the intention here.

To advocate for the Perl community as a whole, that is, for those not only participating here, but those not present (which includes many current, long-term members of our community and all future ones), I am compelled to ask for that three question be answered, in terms of the consensus within the community before the process of writing a CoC (or editing the existing one) can move forward.  Asking these questions presupposes no particular answer, it is a way to find the genuine consensus and create something truly descriptive of the ethos.

1. What is the purpose of the CoC?

Writing a CoC is a *practical* step.  To do it in a way that is *practically* effective, we need to know why we are doing it at all.  This is not an uncontroversial question.  Some in the community feel the need is self-evident, others deny the need altogether.  Most people haven't even considered it, and may not care one way or another.  For this reason, we need a charter, a goal, something practical that is expected to be the outcome of a *good* CoC.

2. What are the criteria for success?

Once we have a goal, we can identify empirical tests, which may be objective or somewhat subjective (the subject being the Perl community) that will allow us to determine if the CoC, as written, does achieve the goal that was set for it.  This is very important, since the CoC will almost certainly contain some specific things, rather then general principles, which might need emendation or ever deletion, and we'll need to be able to tell if that's the case.  If we can't come up with a way to test the efficacy of a CoC, I don't think we have any business writing one.

3. What is the process for amendment in light of failed testing?

We must, from the outset, have a process for dealing with the results of testing.  If we don't, the CoC will become a burden, and surely will be a source of unending friction among community members.  The process should ensure that the CoC evolves with the community, and continues to reflect a consensus about the ethos.

In the end, a Perl Community CoC must reflect the community itself.  While it will undoubtedly change the community by dint of its existence, it must also reflect the changes the community is willing to make.  Ideas and even phraseology from other communities' CoCs will no doubt be very helpful, but only after we understand what our community believes is right.  The CoC must be *descriptive* of the broad center of Perl people, and *prescriptive* only for those people who stray outside this. I don't believe we are in a position to claim we can write something descriptive at this time.  We first need the answers to the questions posed above.


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