The Linux CoC

This is a busy time of year for me, with lots of conferences and other events taking place. It’s busy most years, but this past October was especially busy in my life. I’ve been in New York, London, and Hong Kong during the month, which is quite a spread of time zones. It’s been a mix of work and pleasure, and I agreed to all these trips, so I can’t complain. In any case, it’s both an exciting set of trips and a daunting set, and I don’t know if I’d want to do that again.

In my travels, I noticed some press about a new Linux Kernel Code of Conduct. This is a change from the original Code of Conflict that Linus Torvalds published. I’m not sure he adhered to his own words from the reports I’ve seen over the years about his comments to developers. In any case, he signed off, though not everyone likes the new code of conduct. I don’t know enough about the issues, but I do realize that not everyone behaves well towards others, especially in this business.

In any case, I go to lots of conferences. I meet lots of people, and see lots of different situations play out between attendees, organizers, venues, and speakers. For the most part people are fairly well behaved and treat each other respectfully. That’s not always the case, which is why many conferences and organizations have adopted some Code of Conduct that should apply to those that attend events, are members, etc. I do think this is a good idea, as it gives us a common framework where we can evaluate behavior as well as debate future changes.

Last week PASS has their annual Summit, with their own Anti-Harassment policy. While I haven’t observed any actions that would violate the policy, I have had friends report they have experienced these types of behavior. I’ve had friends ask for an escort over concerns of potential behavior. It’s sad that this happens in the world, but it’s a reality. I’m glad that organizations are trying to move in a direction that protects those that feel harassed or threatened.

It’s likely that there will be overreactions, reports of misunderstandings, and similar issues. Certainly some people want the freedom to behave as they see fit, where they don’t believe they are doing anything wrong. I understand that, but ultimately I also believe that it would be better to have a few people investigated or thrown out of a conference for no reason than have others suffer because they aren’t believed. I’m here for any of you that are struggling with abuse, and I hope others are as well.

I hope that we learn to live by the famous quote from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: be excellent to each other. If some of you can’t do that, then at least learn to live by Wheaton’s Law.

Steve Jones

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