The last week started with a bang as Linus Torvalds announced a four-week break from the kernel. Shortly before, Torvalds had added a new code of conduct document to the kernel. The document was written, as was its predecessor, by Greg Kroah-Hartman.
Both events are related because Torvalds is not one of those who remain friendly when molested by developers with bad code or bad behavior. Torvalds, as well as some other developers, often strikes a sharper tone, especially with repeated misdemeanors. However, this has always displeased part of the community, which includes renowned developers. They believe these failures are unprofessional, hurtful and ultimately harm to the community. All the more so if the affected developer actually acted with the best of intentions.
The rationale for the new Code of Conduct is that the original Code of Conflict missed its target. The new “Code of Conduct” should now apply to all kernel areas and make the kernel a friendlier environment. The text is based on the template of www.contributor-covenant.org. Immediately after the announcement of the change, numerous criticisms were expressed, but in many cases from outside the kernel. On the kernel mailing list itself, the discussion did not take up much room, but here the most relevant contributions should be found. The criticism is that the rules are very general and in some places unclearly formulated, and that immediately threatened with countermeasures such as exclusion, which leads to censorship or self-censorship. As in the previous text, the members of the technical advisory board of the Linux Foundation are provided as mediators, but the implementation of measures is in the hands of others. For example, the administrators of the mailing lists are already against spammers, but also, in very rare cases, against trolls.
Specifically, Edward Cree wrote that the Code of Conduct was unpleasant and a threat to him. He suffers from Asperger syndrome and therefore could hardly empathize with other people. Therefore, he must always be very careful with what he writes. The “Code of Conduct” makes this much worse, as he now has to fear being excluded after an unintentional wrongdoing.
With a deeper analysis of the phenomenon, Eric Raymond intervened and established links to culture and ethics. His contribution should, according to his own statements, only provide arguments, but take no position. Significantly shortened his comment is that the transition from a barely regulated system to regulations as strong as the “Code of Conduct” by many developers would be perceived as a deterioration and thereby deter them from the collaboration. In his opinion, no project has improved after it has introduced a “Code of Conduct”.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht