[FreeBSD-Announce] Initial FreeBSD Core Team comments on concerns about harassment in the FreeBSD community

George Neville-Neil gnn at neville-neil.com
Sun Jan 3 02:16:20 UTC 2016

Dear FreeBSD Community:

There has been significant communication over the last two days relating to Randi Harper’s recent blog post, which demands an urgent response. First, and to be clear: there will be no tolerance for harassment or abusive behavior within the FreeBSD Project or its broader community. We encourage any community members aware of problems in this regard to contact us immediately.

We take Randi's post and the concerns she (and others) have raised extremely seriously. It is important to understand that the ultimate outcome of her complaint, and interaction with Core, was the resignation of the party in question’s project commit rights — a result that respected Randi’s specific request that action be taken quietly. However, we believe (and agree) that the project has much to learn about how best to respond to online abuse and harassment. We will better document our procedures — and the changes to them that resulted from this experience. These changes in particular will reflect how to earlier and better differentiate conflict resolution (for which our procedures are currently tuned) and harassment (which demands different procedures). It is clear that there are additional improvements to make.

A number of members of the FreeBSD developer community have requested a more detailed accounting of the events Randi describes in her article. This will be produced. The Core e-mail correspondence involved is quite substantial, and it will take several days to sort through to complete a report suitable for distribution. The delay is in part because of the necessary confidentiality with which reports of harassment and requests for conflict resolution are treated: as a matter of policy, and also, commonly, the request of those reporting concerns, they do not appear in published Core Reports and hence have not been prepared for distribution. We ask for your patience as we prepare this material, which may offer an additional view on events.

A brief comment on the Code of Conduct. The Project’s committer guide has long required that developers treat each other with respect. Community members will hopefully be aware of the more recent (and concrete) Code of Conduct (CoC). This document, already under development, was rushed into service (leading to less feedback sought than we would have liked) in July 2015 as a result of Randi’s report — and has since been updated several times following community (and legal) feedback. This CoC is critical to both documenting — and enforcing — community standards. It is, of necessity, a living document, and in October 2015 we appealed to the FreeBSD developer community for volunteers to assist with further improvements. We also solicited a number of independent reviewers from broader open-source, corporate, and academic communities to assist with updating it further (as well as auditing it for implicit bias). The FreeBSD developer community was this week (re-)invited to contact the Core Team about joining that committee, which had its most recent teleconference in the last week of December.

Please do watch this space for further information in the immediate future. While this message was initially prepared for the developer community, it is one that we are comfortable with being distributing further. However, the report to be released next week will be more suitable for public discussion. You should also feel free to get in touch with us individually or collectively with your concerns or suggestions.

The Core Team

PS The previous message has been adapted from a similar message sent to the FreeBSD developers mailing list on 2 January 2015. While intended primarily for that audience, it is also suitable for the more broad FreeBSD community, and has been posted for that reason.
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