Erlang forums (was Re: PING TEST)

Richard O'Keefe raoknz@REDACTED
Tue Dec 7 12:32:30 CET 2021

I once typed up a set of lecture notes on the Law of Contracts for my
who was a law lecturer.  I understood very little of it.  But some key
 - there must be an offer of something
 - it must be accepted
 - there must be consideration (= payment)
 - the contract must be for a legal purpose
He said repeatedly "there is no contract without consideration".
Now I have visited the erlangforums web site and wandered around a bit,
but I never saw the code of conduct.  DIdn't know there was one.
I certainly never took any action that explicitly or implicitly constituted
acceptance.  So between whoever runs that site and me, no contract exists.

One problem with these codes of conduct is that they get elaborate and
political, and remain vague, making them best suited as a means of excluding
people for their views rather than their behaviour.  I note, for example,
that "harassment" is every bit as vague as "being an arsehole".  If someone
makes an absurd claim (such as "Erlang was actually invented be Tesla") and
bring evidence against it, it is open to the OP to accuse me of harassment
and for the moderators, should they not like me for some reason (I know, it
impossible, I am so lovable, even the sharks want to kiss me) to agree that
am a harasser.  We could imagine a rule such as "factual statements are
harassment", but unfortunately modern times are such that calling something
fact is now regarded in some quarters as intrinsically oppressive.

I learned a simple but challenging thing about security, recently.
* An engineer looks at a component and thinks "what is this mean for?
  How can I use it?"
* a hacker looks at a compoment and thinks "what does this actually do?
  How can I ABuse it?"

In the same way, any proposed code of conduct needs to be carefully
scrutinised by someone who is really good at thinking of ways the code
can be ABused to harm individuals and the community.

*I* do not have the wisdom to craft a code of conduct that cannot be easily
abused, and I have not seen any such.  The wisest man I ever knew (we
about politics and religion, but always got on very well together, probably
because he *was* wise) could be relied on, in any staff meeting where an
amendment to the student code was proposed, to ask "This has happened only
in the last 15 years; do we really have such a bad problem that we NEED a
for this?"  The answer was always "no", and we never regretted listening to

Perhaps we should ponder the major message that a code of conduct conveys.
It says, loud and clear, to any prospective member of the community,

Anything I write in mail or on a forum has to conform to the laws of
my country, which *already* cover things like discrimination and harassment.

On Tue, 7 Dec 2021 at 23:47, Ivan Uemlianin <ivan@REDACTED> wrote:

> Agree with Loïc, but for me the weirdest thing about erlang’s
> ToS is that they insist repeatedly that the terms are legally binding. I
> must “agree to be legally bound” by the rules, under English (and Welsh)
> law. So, by using the site, I am entering a contract, legally bound by a
> contract —- but with who?
> Nowhere on the site does it indicate what legal entity is behind the site.
> Is this omission deliberate or accidental? In either case I refuse to be
> “legally bound” to an anonymous entity.
> Given this, the particular content of the terms is irrelevant.
> Ivan
>> hilaritas excessum habere nequit
> > On 7 Dec 2021, at 09:56, Loïc Hoguin <essen@REDACTED> wrote:
> >
> > Nobody is arguing against rules, just against bad rules. Rules that are
> selectively enforced or subjective are bad. One good rule is that the
> topics posted must be related to Erlang and the replies to the topic.
> >
> >> On 06/12/2021 22:47, Fred Hebert wrote:
> >> The list of forbidden actions on the erlang forums (abusive, obscene,
> slanderous, defamatory, threatening, discriminatory based on
> race/sex/orientation/gender/nationality/disability/age/religion/affiliation,
> unlawful or fraudulent content, harassment or bullying, spam, doxing, etc.)
> is something I'd consider reasonable.
> >
> > Leaving the ideology problems aside, these rules are never enforced
> equally. For example there is a members-only topic about nominating a woman
> for some kind of award. According to the rules this is discrimination based
> on sex or gender.
> >
> > Another example would be if the BEAM conferences were posting about
> their diversity tickets, which discriminate based on most of the
> characteristics you quoted. "if" because there hasn't been a new conference
> yet, but you know it will happen.
> >
> > Another example would be a small company posting looking to hire people
> locally. Depending on where they are located they would definitely need to
> discriminate based on nationality.
> >
> > I can go on all day. I don't think all of these examples are bad, for
> what it's worth.
> >
> > If the intent is to avoid clashes between people, then you'd expect a
> simple rule such as "using these forums, do not attack other users or any
> other individual". Not an ever expanding accumulation of protected
> categories that are selectively enforced.
> >
> >>  * 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 therefore it would break the first rule I mentioned which is that
> the content must be on topic, or the second rule which is that you
> shouldn't attack people. The only other rules needed on top of that are
> more technical in nature, such as spam, phishing and so on.
> >
> >>  * 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.
> >
> > Rules do not get rid of subjectivism. *Good* rules, universally
> enforced, do.
> >
> >> 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.
> >
> > Unfortunately the people that setup these kinds of rules tend to not
> believe in them and they enforce them selectively. The rules end up having
> the opposite effect as a result.
> >
> > You don't need to look far to see this happening, it's everywhere these
> days. The only way to avoid this is to not divide people into categories,
> and not let anyone divide people into categories.
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > --
> > Loïc Hoguin
> >
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