[Linux-aus] Linux Australia Code of Conduct - revised draft

Russell Coker russell at coker.com.au
Mon Nov 28 14:26:07 EST 2011

On Sun, 27 Nov 2011, Russell Stuart <russell-linuxaus at stuart.id.au> wrote:
> Part of the secret that makes this work so well is the experimentation
> it allows.  One group might want a highly focused conference with very
> strict rules - for example might imagine a Church open source group
> wanting a very strict T&C's indeed, and it would probably work well for
> them.

What Church T&C issues are you thinking of?

If a Church (or anyone) wanted to have a conference where everything was 
suitable for young children then I don't think that this would be a problem.  
But that wouldn't in any way go against what we are discussing here.  Having 
an LA minimum set of rules which can be supplemented by various conferences 
seems reasonable.

However some church groups just can't be accommodated.  For example the WBC 
and all groups associated with it would be unlikely to ever adopt a policy 
that would be acceptable to the Linux community and our reputation would be 
permanently damaged if we were to do business with them.

I think that your example of a church group was a bad one given the recent 
public role that churches have in trying to prevent gay marriage.

> At the other extreme, BarCamp is very successful with almost no
> rules at all.  We can and do have groups like the Ada initiative
> promoting things that clearly favour one gender.  So, if they want to
> have T&C's that are designed to appeal to women but probably aren't so
> appealing to males, and in doing so manage to broaden the open source
> church then so be it.

I can't imagine what T&Cs the AdaCamp might possibly have which would cause 
problems for any reasonable men.

I think that most men who read these discussions aren't personally bothered 
because most activities that are discussed are things that they don't do 

It seems to me that the greatest risk to the typical male delegate is not 
having something be banned which they want to do.  I think that the risk is 
being in an environment where borderline activity is encouraged and then being 
the one to accidentally step over the line.

In regard to the issue of jokes, having an environment where discriminatory 
jokes aren't acceptable seems less risky for men than an environment where 
such jokes are acceptable up to an unspecified point where they get reported 
back to HR, blogged, or something else happens.

One thing to keep in mind is the fact that of all the things that might happen 
to someone who makes other people unhappy at a conference, a quiet and 
confidential discussion with the conference organisers BEFORE things go too 
far would be one of the least unpleasant outcomes.

> themselves.  As has been pointed out repeatedly, there must be few
> documents less read on the internet than a T&C document linked from a
> check box.  And if you think the subset of people who take the time to
> carefully read and internalise the T&C's has any significant overlap
> with the subset of people whose mindset allows them to impulsively do
> stupid things during the conference, than you live in a different world
> to me.)

There are few things more read in the geeky parts of the Internet than a 
document which has been discussed, blogged about, written about in the media, 

> The remainder is more of a personal observation on LCA, having being
> involved in running one.  We (LCA2011) pushed the same requirements on
> speaker talks as we did attendees.  I think this was a mistake.  When it
> comes to the unwashed masses insisting whatever they do is G rated seems
> like a pretty good idea to me.  However the same doesn't apply to
> speakers.

The speakers are in a position to influence others.  Expecting the delegates 
to behave better than the speakers is not realistic.

I think that the expectations for formal prepared lectures should be a lot 
higher than the expectations for casual conversation.  I think that throughout 
the conference the speakers should be expected to live up to the same 
standards as all the delegates.

> We want our speakers to make a splash.  I know people had
> varying opinions of Mark Pesce's talk at LCA2011.  Some loved it, some
> hated it.  Personally, as an attendee I was indifferent to it.  But as a
> LCA organiser, I think it was great presentation.  I would strive to
> have one just as contentious at every LCA.  Why?  Because as a LCA
> organiser, my goals are to promote open source, and have people want to
> attend next years LCA.  There is no better way to achieve than to get
> people around the planet all talking about LCA, and that is Mark did -
> admittedly with some help from one of our sponsors.

Of course there are ways of getting contention without offending people.

You could have some public debates.  Issues such as GPL vs BSD licenses are 
ongoing and get attention.  Whenever there are two competing products there is 
scope for a debate about it, KDE vs GNOME, MySQL vs PostgreSQL, and lots more.

Some speakers use more hyperbole than others.  Speakers who tend towards 
hyperbole and are actively encouraged to do so could get a lot of attention.

Some years ago at a Debian miniconf there was a presentation about the Red Hat 
installer which got a lot of attention.  If a Microsoft representative was 
given a forum to describe technical deficiencies in Linux when compared to 
Windows it would get a lot of attention - this is probably when everyone will 
decide that they don't want such attention...

> Unlike the unwashed masses, we do have some control over the speakers.
> They are vetted by the papers committee, and if they stuff it up they
> won't be invited back.  That for me is more than enough.  If we want
> strong, memorable speeches we must be prepared to let the speaker take
> some risks.  It is a public performance.  They are on display.  If they
> really stuff it up, it won't be just the papers committee that makes
> their disapproval known.  There are lines that can't be crossed of
> course, there are always such lines, and if they are cross we will have
> to shut down the talk.  But I would put them at the legal boundaries, at
> roughly what can be said on broadcast television to adults.

Broadcast TV covers a range of material, much of it isn't to the taste of 
typical LCA delegates.

Also note that we do have <18yo delegates (and even speakers) so we can't 
unconditionally permit everything that can be said to adults either.

My Main Blog         http://etbe.coker.com.au/
My Documents Blog    http://doc.coker.com.au/

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