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Google Open Source Programming

Could Go Community's Threat of Public Shaming, Lifetime Bans Make Go a No-Go? 358

theodp writes: At first glance, the proposal for A Code of Conduct for the Go Community (attributed to Google's Andrew Gerrand) seems reasonable enough. How can you argue with the goal of treating everyone with respect and kindness? But the Devil is in the detail, and the proposed Code notes there soon could be consequences for calling someone an "idiot" or saying something is "so simple even my grandma could understand it" (the latter "marginalises women and the elderly by implying that something need be simple for an old woman to understand it"). And the punishment meted out by the Go Code of Conduct Working Group to those who find themselves on the receiving end of an anonymous complaint could be anything from nothing to "a request for a private or public apology, a private reprimand from the working group to the individual(s) involved, a public reprimand, an imposed vacation (for instance, asking someone to 'take a week off' from a mailing list or IRC), or a permanent or temporary ban from some or all Go spaces (mailing lists, IRC, etc.)." And no, this doesn't appear to be a goof. So, might individuals and companies think twice about embracing a programming language whose community's Code of Conduct threatens to ruin reputations and ban people from technical support resources for life? Too late to get this added to the list of questions for Alan Donovan and Brian Kernighan?
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Could Go Community's Threat of Public Shaming, Lifetime Bans Make Go a No-Go?

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  • Typical thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:09AM (#50845953)

    "This is a departure from the typical proposal process, since discussions Around Codes of Conduct tend to devolve quickly. By restricting the discussion Of this proposal to 1:1 conversations between myself and members of the Community, I hope to better hear everyone’s specific concerns without generating unnecessary noise."

    This is a typical excuse from people who want to push things through without public discussion. They call public discussion "noise". I have no idea who this guy is, but he sounds like an egomaniac. Well guess what? We are calling you out. You don't get "1:1 conversations between yourself" and everyone else. This is the Internet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Discussion about codes of conduct is seen to "devolve" by those pushing these codes of conduct typically because people do start pointing out the hypocrisy that's typically strewn throughout these codes of conducts.

      A clear example is the discussion about the Open Code of Conduct [github.com] from a few months ago.

      In that discussion, people started noting that the code of conduct essentially deemed it perfectly fine to discriminate in certain cases. For whatever reason, some of those pushing for the code of conduct were

      • Re:Typical thinking (Score:4, Informative)

        by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @11:49AM (#50847299)
        Same thing happened with Opal [github.com] and with FreeBSD [reddit.com]. It seems to always be the worst, most abusive people pushing for these updates.

        They're using "harassment" or "politically correct" as an excuse to harass and be assholes to people they see as assholes, and aren't really considering they're far worse than anyone they're accusing. The FreeBSD thing is interesting because it's someone advocating the newly adopted CoC be used to boot Randi Harper, who hasn't contributed to the project in years, but feels fine harassing male contributors and also pushed for the CoC in the first place to control other peoples behaviour.
    • If you work with them on "their" forums, in "their" community, can you not just follow their rules? You don't have to agree with them.

      You can also create your own community, where the rules are as you like them (i.e. probably none), and do what you want to do. I suspect you will end up with the larger community when you're done. More importantly, someone probably needs to do this since I have a strong distrust for Golang (also C# and Swift) given that it's a corporate sponsored language and probably not "fr

      • If you work with them on "their" forums, in "their" community, can you not just follow their rules? You don't have to agree with them.

        It's funny how this option is not acceptable to the activist zealots when it comes to the Linux kernel.

        That reminds me, how is SJLinux [github.com] doing?

  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:24AM (#50846029) Homepage Journal

    If he just removed the line about "microaggressions" and the following two lines (and examples), it would be a reasonable code of conduct.

    Of course, that would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The whole point of this exercise is to use the CoC as a means to promote an ideology.

    Now, given all the complaints this will surely generate, do you think he'll take his own advice?

    Just stop doing what it was they complained about and apologize.

    Somehow I doubt it.

    • I have no problem with a code of conduct that states: "Be courteous and professional". In fact, why the hell does a code of conduct need paragraphs of rule lawyering? What bad behavior is not covered by "Be courteous and professional"? Trying to drill down into specifics just ends up looking ridiculous. Let's examine a few:

      "Microaggressions" are imaginary insults by supremely overly-sensitive people. If someone is being a jerk, they're not committing "microaggressions", they're being a jerk. You can i

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

    " So, might individuals and companies think twice about embracing a programming language whose community's Code of Conduct threatens to ruin reputations and ban people from technical support resources for life? "

    Or might individuals and companies embrace a programming language whose community that is polite and professional?
    Maybe it is time for people to understand that being straightforward and direct is not the same as being a rude jerk.

    If you read the actual proposal you will see that they have a range o

    • by Minupla ( 62455 )

      I'm with you here. And I'm with you despite understanding that a good portion of the community has social issues that might not be in their control. For some those people having a community say "Hey, there's a line here and you crossed it" may be the 'saving throw vs wisdom' (as I've seen it described) that allows them to hold up a mirror and start realizing that behaving in a manner that is perceived by others as being anti-social has consequences. Empathy can be a learned skill, but it's hard to learn,

    • Re:Or. (Score:4, Informative)

      by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:55AM (#50846253) Journal
      Or might individuals and companies embrace a programming language whose community that is polite and professional?

      No, no they won't - When access to the community depends on the mercy of a self-appointed minimod with the power to ban you without recourse... No sane company will touch this with a ten foot pole.


      If you read the actual proposal you will see that they have a range of options if someone is out of line.

      Yep... Up to "a permanent or temporary ban from some or all Go spaces". Thanks for your five years of contributions, but you made the wrong person look bad without even realizing it - See ya, better luck next career!


      The very fact that people keep mentioning Linus as a good example of why we "need" CoCs like this pretty much counts as its own best counterexample. He created the number one operating system in the world (if you include Android's market share), yet communities like this wouldn't even let him hang out in their playpen lest he hurt some poor snowflake's feelings. Yeah, thanks, I'll take a hundred productive-but-no-nonsense Torvalds over a kindler, gentler Gerrand any day.

      If you want pablum, stick to Farmville. If you want to join us in the coding trenches, wear asbestos underwear.
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        "If you want pablum, stick to Farmville. If you want to join us in the coding trenches, wear asbestos underwear."
        I have been in the trenches for decades and for the most part professionals don't act like jerks. You have a few primadonnas now and then that you put up with but for the most part they are just tolerated.

        • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

          Which makes a CoC a solution looking for a problem. And whenever you have that situation, you know someone is trying to foist some bullshit on you.

        • I have been in the trenches for decades and for the most part professionals don't act like jerks.

          Then there is no need for a code of conduct.

          I think the real problem here is that people like you do not know what these social justice warriors are talking about.

          They are talking about being able to take offense at whatever the hell they want. Statements such as "even my grandmother could use it" will be used against you, but only when they decide that you are next.

          for light hearted technical information.

          This is very offensive to people with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. Its a medical condition and out of their control. You s

      • Yep... Up to "a permanent or temporary ban from some or all Go spaces". Thanks for your five years of contributions, but you made the wrong person look bad without even realizing it - See ya, better luck next career!

        Do you have any evidence of this sort of abuse? Any? At all?

        Didn't think so.

        Your argument is essentially a slippery slope fallacy. If we don't allow absolutely anything, then we'll end up allowing nothing of substance. There are many, many productive well-moderated communities in the world that beg to differ. In fact, most real-life communities, because people generally don't act like jerks in real life like they do on line. I think it's the ever-present sub-rosa threat of a punch in the face, myself, b

      • by unimacs ( 597299 )
        Whether it's actually written down or not, pretty much every community has some sort of CoC. If not they will often invent one on the fly when somebody starts causing more trouble than they're worth. Even worse is when these people are allowed to continue to behave in a way that causes quality people to leave. Or the community spends more time bickering than accomplishing anything.

        Linus gets away with it because it's his show and there's no shortage of people who want to contribute to the kernel. But for
    • Re:Or. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @10:24AM (#50846467)

      The problem is that CoCs are always enforced by those with the thinnest skins, because, almost by definition, they are the only ones who care.

    • Probably. This, after all, is just restating what you'd expect in any community that wants to act like, and attract, professionals.

      The other thing that bothered me about the write up is that it didn't really explain how all Go users would be subject to this code of conduct (which is what it is.) From what I could see, it only says that you need to exhibit certain standards of professionalism when you're involved in working with the group responsible for steering the language.

      Do many Go developers actua

    • Two examples:

      “Microaggressions,” the small, subtle, often subconscious actions that marginalize people in oppressed groups.

      Read: "your conscious actions may show manners and a firm attempt to be decent, but your Id is racist/sexist/whatever so you need to apologize for things that you don't even consciously realize you are doing."

      Don't just aim to be technically unimpeachable, aim to be your best self.

      If someone takes issue with something you said or did, resist the

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:29AM (#50846059) Journal
    "Go" fuck yourselves, 'kay?

    Hey Andy, have you ever wondered why Plus failed so miserably?

    Well, good news - You'll get a second chance to learn this lesson in the very near future!
  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:29AM (#50846069)

    Even Andrew's Grandma would think his code of conduct silly, he should talk to her about it

  • by MerlinTheGreen ( 180976 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:35AM (#50846095)

    I simply cannot see how having a code of conduct based on treating other people in a respectful manner will result in discouraging desirable developers and companies from joining the community. Quite the reverse in fact!

    • There are a lot of people (like me) who will pretty much see these rules as a challenge. Eventually I will do something stupid...just because. And if that gets me banned for life, then I am screwed.

      I would avoid it completely.

      On the other hand, if I can lend a hand to someone, I absolutely will. If I can do something to make things better for other people...I will. But if you put down rules that essentially pre-judge me, I will purposely do something to piss you off.

      It's the same as giving a middle fing

    • by sylvandb ( 308927 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @10:36AM (#50846575) Homepage Journal

      Your implication that I am not desirable is offensive. I demand a public apology and if it happens again you shall be banned for life.

    • "treating other people in a respectful manner". Sounds nice doesn't it? Who could possibly object to that? Trouble is - no-one knows in advance what constitutes "respectful", and Microaggressions can mean whatever you want them to mean. I think I'm a generally polite sort of person, not prone to trading insults, but I wouldn't like that threat hanging over me

      • trouble is - no-one knows in advance what constitutes "respectful"

        If you don't know what constitutes respectful behavior, then maybe you weren't brought up right. I don't mean you specifically, of course.

        Microaggressions can mean whatever you want them to mean.

        This is where listening comes in handy. It's kind of a lost art.

        • > If you don't know what constitutes respectful behavior, then maybe you weren't brought up right.

          I know what *I* think is respectful behaviour, (and I daresay we would largely agree were we to compare notes). However it won't be me pointing a finger and brandishing a copy of the CoC to get someone drummed out of town. In my view the sort of person who will use this will typically have an arcanely complex definition of respectful behaviour, doubtless involving odd new pronouns I've only vaguely heard of.

          • However it won't be me pointing a finger and brandishing a copy of the CoC to get someone drummed out of town. In my view the sort of person who will use this will typically have an arcanely complex definition of respectful behaviour, doubtless involving odd new pronouns I've only vaguely heard of.

            And yet, many people are able to participate in online forums without getting banned.

    • I simply cannot see how having a code of conduct based on treating other people in a respectful manner will result in discouraging desirable developers and companies from joining the community.

      Just read the comments to this story. You'll get the picture.

      "Those people who are complaining about bullying really need to have their asses kicked!"

  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:41AM (#50846147) Homepage

    I know the 'microagression' thing is a beloved trope of the left and fearless Social Justice Warriors. But the thing is, in order to show what a good person you are in this context, you have to keep moving and moving further and further to the left. It always comes to a point where it becomes ridiculous and counterproductive.

    Remember the "Black Lives Matter" people who deliberately disrupted the furthest left presidential candidate America has ever had, the openly socialist Bernie Sanders? Yeah, that. If there is anyone who is a friend of the extremists in BLM, it's him - and yet they treated him like an enemy. Even if you're on the left, or the hard left, there are always others who are ready to show you just how far down the rabbit hole goes.

    Now, this is just a programming language, this isn't the literal jackboot of oppression as employed by left-wing governments of the past. Nobody is going to be sentenced to slavery or sent down to the countryside for defying Andrew Gerrand. So, let's keep some perspective here. However, this is showing all the classic signs of the ever-ratcheting extremism that is a hallmark of the political left. They'll come for you too, even if you have a stellar record of social justice warrioring. A single offhand comment is sufficient. I thought I recognized the "theodp" account, and sure enough it's one of Slashdot's solidly left-wing contributors, with a long record of approved social justice friendly submissions. But even SHE is turned off by this kind of thing! :(

  • by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:44AM (#50846171) Homepage Journal

    Some people really love gigantic CoCs. It seems like big CoCs are the in thing right now, but personally, I find massive CoCs to be uncomfortable.

    Dick jokes aside, while I'm in favor of having some community expectations of conduct, I'm not in favor of building a huge body of rules to cover every single situation. What you need are some simple rules ("conduct yourself with courtesy and professionalism", "don't be an asshole", etc) and a group of trustworthy moderators who enforce those rules fairly regardless of the political views of the person the rules are being applied to.

    Even if your rules are well-intentioned, the trouble is that the larger and more specific the rule set, the more easily one clique or another will be able to manipulate those rules to their advantage. It's better, as a moderator, to be able to identify individuals who are toxic and remove them from the community than have a set of arbitrary and overly specific rules that you'll ultimately fail to enforce fairly. All too often, you'll end up deciding that you *want* to get rid of a particular community member due to them having an overall negative impact on the community, and then watching them like a hawk so that you can ban them for the tiniest violation of your rule set, all the while your regular (and less toxic) users are constantly committing tiny rules violations themselves.

    To be honest, large rule sets *invite* toxicity, because a) people tend to see them as a challenge, and b) some people realize they're part of the in-crowd and can get away with flouting the rules while other people who *aren't* part of the in-crowd get banned for small infractions.

    And this is to say nothing of CoCs which *aren't* well-intentioned. The GitHub projects CoC, for instance, explicitly carved out rights for people to bully others based on race, sex, orientation, etc, simply based on whether that person is part of the majority with respect to those particular attributes. I'm all for disallowing gendered and racial harassment, but I have to suspect the motives of people writing a CoC that gives certain people carte blanche to engage in that kind of harassment. Harassment is *ever a good thing*. You aren't losing anything by disallowing *all of it*.

    • Agreed. This CoC would have been a thousand times better if the entire thing was limited to what they listed in the summary:

      Treat everyone with respect and kindness
      Be mindful of how your words may be interpreted
      Don’t be destructive or antagonistic
      If you have an issue, please mail conduct@golang.org

      Also, you've undoubtedly just violated the Go CoC with that little joke. Apparently, post

  • This is bizar.
    Anybody with 2 braincells knows that Linus' phrasing and wording of critique can be notably immature.
    He admitted that himself!

    Why does a PL need such a policy in the first place?
    For instance, the company employing Linus can very well send him a notice, emphasising the fact that he is a public figure - wether he likes it or not - and should be careful when about to fall into profanity. They can offer him a secretary to cross-read his mails on delicate/enraging issues.

    There is no need for a frig

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      SJWs are pushing these 'code of conduct' policies on open source projects so they can infiltrate and take over, just as they've done on everything else. This is why you never, ever, accept any of them into an open source project, and laugh when they suggest that you need a 'code of conduct'.

      Of course, it doesn't really work with an open source license, since the coders they kick out of their own projects can just fork and start a new one. Except they'll presumably ensure that GPL4 has a section which prohib

    • There is no need for a friggin' policy just because .5 % of people in coding MLs get childish and unprofessional in a post or two every odd year!!

      No, but there is a need because 0.01% are childish and unprofessional all the time. Any sufficiently-large community will eventually attract some jerks. You can shout them down, sometimes, but it's a distraction and doesn't always work. Better just to correct them quietly. Those that just can't behave, you ask to leave, because whatever their technical ability may be, there are others who are better and know how to act like grownups, at least most of the time.

  • My Granny is Grace Hopper, Rear Admiral, you insensitive clod! (1)

    (1) No, of course she isn't. - Disclaimer so Google doesn't ban me

  • If anything this makes me MORE likely to use Go. Access to IRC, etc. is a privilege not a right. If you abuse it you get it taken away. Deal.
  • Go enforces a certain cording style, has rules regarding what you should use and what you shouldn't use and now even specifies how you should behave.
    Such uniformity makes sense if you have a company with well defined goals and want to promote teamwork. So yeah, it is very good for Google : they make a language the suits their needs, with rules that matches their company policies.
    As for the outside world, then yes, for me it is a no-go. Putting rules beside what's necessary for compilers to work is a great w

  • *sigh*... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @10:22AM (#50846457)

    There's no doubt he needs a code of conduct, and I agree with some of the provisions in there, but you have to read between the lines to get what he means, and it's not pretty. I'd like to quote them all, but there's too many, so I'll stick with the worst:

    Remember that people have varying communication styles, and that not everyone speaks English fluently.

    I sympathize here, as I agree: no everyone does learn English. However: you need to settle on a standard language, and English is the best choice most of the time. Forgive someone for writing sentences with a little awkward grammar? Definitely. Machen es so niemand kann mich verstehen? Nein.

    Be charitable Interpret the arguments of others in good faith, do not seek to disagree. When we do disagree, try to understand why.

    Translation: judge a person on their social status first, and if they outrank you in developer status or connections, keep your mouth shut, no matter how bad the bug. (And yes, it will become this way.)

    Be thoughtful Productive communication requires effort. Think about how your words will be interpreted. Remember that sometimes it is best to refrain from commenting entirely.

    Hand in hand with the above. Make sure never to anything that could possibly start a confrontation, and if someone has a wrong answer or makes a bug, don't say anything for fear of making conflict.

    “Microaggressions,” the small, subtle, often subconscious actions that marginalize people in oppressed groups.

    Long list of things, but this is the worst. Basically, since anything could be offensive (because this totally specifies what's a ""microaggression""), always speak as reserved and uptight as you can, and never relax your guard.

    Don't just aim to be technically unimpeachable, aim to be your best self. If someone takes issue with something you said or did, resist the urge to be defensive. Just stop doing what it was they complained about and apologize.

    Yeeeeah... Basically, never ever defend yourself, just immediately bow down and admit you were mistaken. The project leader is always right, he knows what's best, and never never ever ever never ever ever doubt him and his infinite wisdom.

    J is a regular poster to the golang-nuts mailing list. On one thread, they make the comment “Go’s type system is so simple even my grandma could understand it.” Another poster points out that the comment goes against the code of conduct, since it marginalises women and the elderly by implying that something need be simple for an old woman to understand it. J says “Fair point. Sorry for saying that.”

    YEEEEEEEEEAH... Okay. My grandmother uses that line a lot, and I occasionally do to. My grandmother lived through WWII, with a polish mother, and lost her entire family (save for her parents). I dare this guy to do what she did, to be even a 1/10th as badass. My grandmother and I never mean any disrespect when we say it, it's a very tongue in cheek thing, and only when this guy insists it's offensive does it become so. Why, you ask? I'd never take it serious before, because it's so obvious that my grandmother very well could do it, and yet he has the balls to seriously think my grandmother is not capable of, let's say, lifting a pan. That is way more offensive than the original phrase ever was, just wow.

    N replies “It’s impressive to see a woman doing such great work. Nice job!” K writes to the CoC Working Group to say “I felt really deflated for my work to be seen as impressive just because I’m a woman. Can you say something to N for me?” T, a member of the working group, reaches out to N to explain how their words affected K.

  • The rationale is literal counterfactual nonsense. Having an CoC is neither necessary nor sufficient for having a friendly or "welcoming" community. The proposal gives no evidence about problems in the community or about how these problems would be solved.

    The CoC is a non-solution for a non-problem.

  • Many of the people who this is designed to protect in the end won't like it.

    I've been around the ziggurat a few times, and unless things have changed in the last few days, it takes at least two willing participants to have a kerfuffle. And since this CoC is designed to protect victims, it will remove the professional victim's raison d'être. And in a world where some people believe that disagreeing with them is harassment, or the never clever "microagression", what we have here is what will end up be

  • The downsides being cited against Google's Go "poiteness" policy are all hypothetical. Let's let it play out, do the experiement and see how it does actually play out. You have to try something new or you'll end up where you 've always been.

    If you are one who likes where things are, and I am not criticizing anyone who does, then things are as good as they're likely to get IMO. If you think the conversational tone and interactions online would be better if they were other than they are now, then you have to

  • by tomxor ( 2379126 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @11:11AM (#50846919)

    Thanks ok... in the face of politicly correct censorship we can always turn to Orwellian concepts for inspiration, enter: GoSpeak

    • 1. So simple even my grandma could understand it = So simple a double plus ungood coder could understand it.
    • 2. Idiot = ungood think
    • 3. moron = double plus ungood think
    • 4. asshole = unnice
    • 5. Linus Torvalds = double plus unnice plus 1337

    Now just need to write a Go program to normalise the various offensive synonyms on their forum... fixed no need to ban anyone.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @11:23AM (#50847051) Journal
    The problem here is the same problem that plagues the rest of the Internet, and before the public Internet, dialup bulletin-board systems (BBSs): It's much easier to be a complete ass to someone when you don't have to do it in person to their face. People can and will say anything when it's just text on a screen, because there are few if any consequences. When you're able to be completely anonymous as well (no alias, just literally anonymous) it's even worse, because there are literally no consequences. Of course there's no help for it, as requiring everyone on the Internet to use their real name would destroy a large and very important part of what the Internet is all about. Civility and courtesy can't be legislated, they are qualities that an individual has to willingly adopt, and in my opinion the choice whether to do that or not is a great indicator of the character of the individual in question: Can you observe and respect the implied social contract that exists when you interact with people face-to-face, when you're interacting with them over the Internet?
  • Even my grandmother could understand it's a reference to a generation brought up without pervasive internet and personal computing.

  • ...marginalises women and the elderly by implying that something need be simple for an old woman to understand it

    I am deeply offended at your quickness to assume that my grandmother is "elderly" or an "old woman". I also don't understand how one can so callously write off all the people whose grandmothers do not self-identify as female. Whoever proposed such an intolerant policy deserves a lifetime ban.

  • My grandma is Grace Hopper!

  • ... he's hoping he can please all the people, all the time? Yeah, there shouldn't be a problem accomplishing that. It's not like people have been famously saying that that's impossible for the last 150 years [wordpress.com] or anything. Proceed.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm offended by the mailing list name golang-nuts because "nuts" is a slang term used to refer to testicles. By naming the mailing list golang-nuts it indicates that it's a male dominated mailing list where women (those without "nuts") are not welcome. Please change the mailing list name to be more inclusive.

  • I've been assuming it was the game Go until it became clear it was some programming language I'd never hurd of.
  • Go won't be used for Linux kernel programming anytime soon.

  • Lumbergh: Yeah...I'm gonnna have to...say...nnnnoooo to this one.

    Seriously, if some tool is spouting off and needs to be called on it...

"It says he made us all to be just like him. So if we're dumb, then god is dumb, and maybe even a little ugly on the side." -- Frank Zappa

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