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Code of conduct does more harm than good

Posted on 01/01/2023 01:37:42 AM GMT

Code of conduct is a set of rules which gives an illusion of maintaining peace amongst the people of a community while introducing even bigger controversies and problems instead.

The Concept

A code of conduct (or CoC) is a document that establishes expectations for behavior of the open source project’s participants, a set of rules in simple words. A popular example of a CoC is of Contributor Covenant.

The Big Problem

The idea of it that it can help to create a positive social atmosphere for your community by enforcing upon "unproductive attitudes" from other participants can make you feel drained or unhappy about your work over time. This idea however, is dangerously flawed as it misses the concept of person's beliefs. No person's mindset is equal, even if they are likeminded, they still would not always agree with each other. A CoC can be targetted explicitly at a certain people's beliefs which could be deemed as "problematic" while in reality, that isn't really the case. This causes the discrimination against them as their rights such as freedom of expression are now compromised, which in turn can cause major internal conflicts within the community even leading to a community split in the worst case scenario.

Unfortunately, CoC used in many open source projects does exactly what has been told above, it actively targets specific groups of people who are getting disadvantaged through these set of rules, just because their views and opinions aren't considered "ideal" by the project maintainers or even just by a contributor (Especially in extreme forms of CoC like in Contributor Covenant). Usually this happens by unnecessarily dragging their opinions outside of the project inside the projects responsibility. This causes unnecessary conflicts within the community itself, while the unity weakens. The more recent example which signified this issue as well is of the generation of controversies during the introduction of CoC in Linux kernel development.

It also introduces unnecessary dramas over very insignificant things, leading to useless arguments which leads absolutely nowhere.

While introducing a document for enforcing rules for prohibiting on controversial views may seem like a good idea at first, however it can quickly mutate into containing rules which prohibits for even expressing normal beliefs, affecting you as well in the end.

The Solution

At the end, our views are different from one another. We may agree on something but disagree on other. Hence at the very least, we should just simply agree to disagree and walk away. It shouldn't matter if a person is a conservative or liberal, black or white, straight or gay, or anything in between, his or her skills shouldn't go to waste just because of the differences. We as a part of a community should be expected to have civil discussions without the requirement of unnecessary rules and regulations.

Hence the concept of CoCs should be deprecated, or at the very least should have very little rules written like so.

(Happy new year btw.)