While we’re gearing up to introduce our new, easier way to sign the Code of Conduct, maybe it’s not a bad idea to chat about the code itself - at least the first section of it, which gives a high-level overview of the code’s finer parts. Feel free to respond to the conversation starter questions, and feel even freer to ask your own!
Ubuntu is about showing humanity to one another: the word itself captures the spirit of being human.
As a bit of a philosophy nerd, I admit the project name helped draw me into the community. Defining what it means to be human by our shared connections to each other (I am because we are), not just individual thought processes (I am because I think) just felt right. For the project, it means without a community, we don’t exist - and working better means working together, no matter how challenging that can sometimes be.
How do you show humanity to one another? How would you want someone to show humanity to you in our community?
We want a productive, happy and agile community that can welcome new ideas in a complex field, improve every process every year, and foster collaboration between groups with very different needs, interests and skills.
Wow, the last two parts of this paragraph have been at the core of our work for the past few months. The membership process is improving thanks to a proposal from new member Mark Johnson back in February 2021, and in a matter of days (days!) we’ll have an easier way to sign the Code of Conduct for contributors. But we know this process isn’t the only one that needs improving coughthewikicough, and Rhys and I want to make those improvements more efficient in the future.
Fostering collaboration inside and outside our community is also near and dear to us both - and it’s part of the spirit of open source. To quote a recent show, “when one of us shines, we all shine,” and I think we see a big part of our jobs as helping to turn those sparks of joint effort into steady and collaborative flames. But we all come from so many different places and backgrounds, and contribute for so many different reasons, and so doing this well can be tricky.
How have you collaborated with people or groups who have had different needs, interests, or skills? Is there something you think that could make that collaboration easier? What can we try to eliminate (or at least minimize) that makes that collaboration harder?
We gain strength from diversity, and actively seek participation from those who enhance it. This code of conduct exists to ensure that diverse groups collaborate to mutual advantage and enjoyment. We will challenge prejudice that could jeopardise the participation of any person in the project.
This section might seem like the most controversial of the Code of Conduct, but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be. Ubuntu is all about defining humanity through our relationships with each other, and if we’re only welcoming people who look a certain way, are from a certain background, or have similar experiences, then our humanity isn’t complete. For various and complicated reasons, open source communities like ours have often been pretty homogenous places. We have had some pretty great global diversity from the start, and we have contributors in pretty much every time zone! That is something we should be rightfully proud of. But just think how much more our community could do if it explicitly sought participation from some of those diverse groups that haven’t been reflected in our community - yet.
In what ways do you think our project shows diversity? How do you think we could improve our diversity? Are there any prejudices we need to be aware of and wrestle with together?
The Code of Conduct governs how we behave in public or in private whenever the project will be judged by our actions. We expect it to be honoured by everyone who represents the project officially or informally, claims affiliation with the project, or participates directly.
This one can be hard. I mean, I live on Twitter a LOT more thanks to this position, and there are times (so many times) I want to fire off a snarky comment or reply with a particularly brutal gif or a well-chosen hand gesture emoji. But I always realize I’m a public face of not only Canonical but the Ubuntu project, and so I take a deep breath and move on. Moreover, I want to use my behavior, whether in public or private, for good - whether it’s representing our community during an office hours or a conference, or just having a conversation on Telegram/Discord/Reddit.
Yes, being nice on Reddit IS possible.
But I don’t think this section means being a doormat, and there are times where we’ll need to correct misconceptions, etc. But we can disagree and challenge things without being jerks. As one of our former community managers put it, our candle doesn’t shine any brighter by blowing others’ out. There’s just more darkness, and that’s the last thing the world in its present state needs. Hence why part of our new membership application process will not only be signing the CoC, but answering questions about it during the interview.
What situations have you faced that have made living up to our Code of Conduct hard? How did you handle it? What advice would you give to others dealing with similar situations?
Codes of Conduct sometimes get a bad reputation, and sometimes they get used more as a hammer than a guide. But I’d encourage everyone reading this to think about how we can keep improving our code of conduct and making it as useful and as meaningful as possible. Do we have more conversations, like this one? Do we have mentorship and other learning opportunities? Do we make a catchy song about it?
I’m looking forward to your thoughts, and to keeping this conversation going!