Erlang forums (was Re: PING TEST)

Fred Hebert mononcqc@REDACTED
Mon Dec 6 22:47:45 CET 2021

On Sun, Dec 5, 2021 at 11:58 AM Dmytro Lytovchenko <
dmytro.lytovchenko@REDACTED> wrote:

> I'd love to have a good old benevolent dictator's code of conduct: Don't
> be a d-k or i'll ban you.
> Luckily i'm neither an official nor a community manager, so that's only my
> personal view.

I'll answer this email broadly because this is a common pattern for
responses around codes of conducts, not because it is anything personal
related to you. I am not a moderator on the Erlang Forums nor these mailing
lists, though I can say it is much nicer to be a moderator in a place that
does actually have rules because you know what the hell it is you're

I don't recall seeing "just don't be an asshole" work super well because
*only* people who are self-proclaiming to be assholes will agree that their
behaviour, when acted against, was warranted. By experience, most other
instances of someone being an asshole and being told not to be an asshole
complained that they were in fact not an asshole and that it's the rest of
the world/community managers who have to adjust, and to please point out
which rules they are breaking?

Of course, a community can then try setting up rules, but then a similar
contingent of people, some of which could be considered assholes in some
given community where this takes place, would then advise against making up
rules because they are not needed.

"Being an asshole" is ambiguous, relational, and dynamic. It is based on
fluid mechanisms in social relationships. It is debatable and hardly
enforceable. It allows abuse both from being over-permissive or
under-permissive depending on who acts.

The list of forbidden actions on the erlang forums (abusive, obscene,
slanderous, defamatory, threatening, discriminatory based on
unlawful or fraudulent content, harassment or bullying, spam, doxing, etc.)
is something I'd consider reasonable.

I will propose the following ideas:

   - Self-selective communities ("people who like Erlang enough to write
   about it on a forum" in this case) should have ways to exclude people,
   because otherwise the only mechanism in play will be one of self-exclusion.
   The significant idea is who do you keep and who do you exclude. A community
   where only the people being harassed (to pick one example) leave
   self-selectively (because they're fed up) means you're left with the
   harassers and not their victims. You set up rules to protect against
   categories of exclusions, and that's normal.
   - "Excluding people because they are racist" and "Excluding people
      because of their race" are not the same regardless of both being
      "exclusions", much like high-fiving and being slapped in the face aren't
      the same thing even if they are both "skin-to-skin contact potentially
      resulting in a loud noise and potentially some pain."
      - If you can't bring up a topic about programming Erlang without
   breaking the rules above, then your topic wouldn't have been about
   programming Erlang in the first place and it shouldn't be a problem for
   others not to know about it. It follows that this topic's exclusion should
   not impact the topic of the community at hand (Erlang)
   - if you don't want rules and there are no rules, then you can't ask to
   be pointed to which rules you were breaking when you are excluded because
   you asked for there to be none, or otherwise you have to accept the deep
   subjectivism of whoever being a mod may believe you to be an asshole and
   that's it.

I tend to prefer a set of basic rules protecting basic communication
mechanisms, both as a participant and when I happen to be a moderator. Some
people may feel they can't openly be themselves if they can't also be
racist or sexist or discriminatory. If that feeling is strong to the point
they would rather self-exclude themselves from such communities, then that
is a feature, not a bug.

This is, of course, entirely disjoint as an argument from people just
preferring the mailing list formats, hating the forum mechanism or
browsers, or whatever. I am only stating my personal position on the
dislike of ToS or codes of conducts by some people, in the abstract without
pointing any fingers. My arguments here are general, made against arguments
I have heard before and not explicitly against anyone in this thread.

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