Debian is Too Large to be Polite? (March 26, 2006)

A lot of the discussion at this year's Debian leader election is about people on the mailing list being rude and crude. Apparently, the group has grown a little large for fully informal procedures.

Some candidates propose applying a code of conduct around the mailing lists. On its face this sounds counterproductive to me -- a mailing list is supposed to allow all opinions, are they not? With 900 people speaking, you fundamentally need to prepare yourself to get shocked once in a while.

Additionally, many of the people proposing such codes of conduct have not been careful to say how they will enact it. Censorship (why beat around the bush?) can be helpful, sure, but it is important to be woefully careful about it if you want your organization to stay healthy.

Most importantly, though, focusing on crude comments misses the main issue. The issue is for the team to work together to enrich each others' understandings and to make decisions that everyone feels is a fair reflection of the groups' desires. Here are some directions, taken from existing democratic political organizations, that seem likely to help:

Lex Spoon