Some People Are Trying to Make FOSS Political

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Some People Are Trying to Make FOSS Political

Postby debiman » 2018-09-24 04:58

It is not me who is dragging politics into FOSS in general, and Linux kernel development in particular (and hence these forums also)!
Trying to avoid exactly that is what I write for.

This time, I will try to abstain from using certain terms that might be misconstrued for me belonging to the opposite political extreme (shudder).

Let's start by looking at an issue the creator of the current Linux kernel CoC has raised recently, titled "Transphobic maintainer should be removed from project".
  • Coraline took a statement from that maintainer's twitter account (so not directly related to the project) where he, in her opinion, reveals himself to be transphobic. That twitter feed is out of context, so it's hard to say what happened there initially. It looks like Elia is criticizing sex operations.
  • She then takes this as a base to demand kicking him out of a certain javascript project
  • during discussion in this issue people try to justify why "The personal views of a maintainer, as long as they are not influencing in a discriminatory way the contributions accepted in a project, should be off-limits for discussion IMHO." One of them chooses a silly and flawed analogy (instead of just locking the thread, this person actually tries to engage in a cool-headed discussion.
  • this causes Coraline to reply that the issue of transphobia apparently "runs deeper" inside this project (like she just uncovered some major corruption)

now i am not saying that I agree with the originally accused person, but what I can see from the twitter feed: they really just express their critical opinion. It's not a mad rage of Transphobia.
And really, even if a person was transphobic, where's the big problem?
people are all sorts of -phobic, and it's not against the law if they don't cross certain boundaries.
Elia certainly did not cross these boundaries.

Now the problem with the new Code of Conduct that has been added to the Linux kernel is that it expressly encourages taking measures against project contributors if they do or say something that might not be for the good of the project, even if they do it on a completely different platform. What so far was some people executing their right to express their opinions about other people executing their right to express their opinions, is now becoming a real issue of discrimination for many people online (not just FOSS coders).
Examples of unacceptable behavior by participants include:

  • The use of sexualized language or imagery and unwelcome sexual attention or
  • Trolling, insulting/derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks
  • Public or private harassment
  • Publishing others’ private information, such as a physical or electronic
    address, without explicit permission
  • Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a
    professional setting

so first we specify exactly what is unacceptable, then we add to that any "Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a professional setting"...?

I would also like to point out that the below examples of actions against certain participants are unacceptable as per above code, and that these participants have not actually shown this "unacceptable behavior".
criticizing someone or something, or having a different opinion about it, is not the same as attacking them/it.


This Code of Conduct applies both within project spaces and in public spaces
when an individual is representing the project or its community. Examples of
representing a project or community include using an official project e-mail
address, posting via an official social media account, or acting as an appointed
representative at an online or offline event. Representation of a project may be
further defined and clarified by project maintainers.

especially the last sentence. apparently even a personal twitter account may fall under that scope.

Ser Olmy wrote on LQ:
So it explicitly cover activities outside the LKML and the commit logs, such as social media posts and any and all online and real life activities. This is indeed very useful if you want to start a witchhunt to get rid of someone you don't like. All you have to do is dig up some old twitter drama you can then quote out of context and blow completely out of proportion, in order to misrepresent the person in question.

In the above example the twitter drama is not so old, but the rest applies imo.
This particular issue has been much quoted now, but Coraline's twitter activity seems to confirm that it wasn't just a 1-off.

Other people are doing "this" too.
Here you have the example of digging something up that happened 7 years ago. I managed to follow it back to this wiki which claims to have archived the original emails, Email1 and Email2.
I am not saying I agree whith what Tso (a Linux kernel developer nowadays) writes there, but that is beside the point! I do think he dares to have diverging and slightly weird opinions on a sensitive matter, and was stupid enough to discuss them online.
But he is not a politician, and all this should not have any bearing on kernel development, yet that is exactly what the new CoC, its creator and other people do.
Like someone else said:
So far I wasn't aware of what gender, colour, age or political inclination people on this project were, but suddenly it is becoming an issue!
Linux kernel developers have threatened to withdraw their contributions if the new CoC doesn't go.
I don't think that's a healthy reaction, but it shows that this has indeed a direct impact on FOSS; Linux and kernel development.

PS: I usually try to avoid it, but I have used the "he" and "she" pronouns in this thread where it seems clear what gender that person belongs to. Coraline Ehmke calls herself a witch, and iirc she explicitely says that she's a she.
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Re: Some People Are Trying to Make FOSS Political

Postby Hallvor » 2018-09-24 07:28

It seems to me the CoC is a double edged sword. People advocating to kick certain people out in a harrassing and abusive manner, making derogatory comments or attacking someone because of their political views, are themselves violating the CoC.

Am I right?
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