Contributor Covenant

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= A Code of Conduct for Open Source Projects.



"Open Source has always been a foundation of the Internet, and with the advent of social open source networks this is more true than ever. But free, libre, and open source projects suffer from a startling lack of diversity, with dramatically low representation by women, people of color, and other marginalized populations.

Often it is the unintentional assumptions and actions of project maintainers and participants that make open source projects unwelcoming (or even hostile) to marginalized people: making assumptions about gender or race, reinforcing stereotypes, using sexualized or otherwise inappropriate language, or demonstrating a lack of regard for the safety and well-being of vulnerable people.

One way to begin addressing this problem is to be overt in our openness, welcoming all people to contribute, and pledging in return to value them as whole human beings and to foster an atmosphere of kindness, cooperation, and understanding.

Adopting the Contributor Covenant can be one way to express and codify these values and signal your intention to make your open source community welcoming, diverse, and inclusive."


Nathan Schneider:

"The Internet has so far forgotten the bias for democracy that long reigned among offline clubs, public companies, and other associations. How can the Internet catch up to my mother’s garden club—or, even better, enable a new renaissance in creative self-governance?

One step in the right direction is the Contributor Covenant, a code of conduct for open-source communities that has normalized the idea that there should be any rules at all. But the Contributor Covenant doesn’t specify who has the power to enforce it and how they make their decisions. Meanwhile, blockchain projects like Aragon and Colony have developed toolsets for community governance, but too often they rely on users grasping the peculiarities of crypto-economics. When the longtime benevolent dictator of the Python programming language resigned in 2018, an intensive process resulted in a simple elected board—one not so different from what a garden club might have. This kind of “exit to community” shows that we need not be locked in online feudalism forever.

The Internet can enable much more than just a return to regimes of bylaws and boards. I long for a time when communities can pick and choose from among governance plugins as easily as using an app store, or create plugins of their own. That way, communities of all sorts could benefit from each other’s innovations, mixing and matching and discovering better ways of working together. Rather than relying on formal bylaws full of shalls and subsections, we could develop visual interfaces for describing our communities more accessibly and intuitively.

The point isn’t to replace implicit feudalism with some other rigid default. I think what we really need is institutional diversity—lots of options available for different sorts of use cases. For instance, in the Linux ecosystem, there is the benevolent dictatorship of the kernel, which feeds the constitutional democracy of Debian, which feeds the corporate dictatorship of Ubuntu. Ubuntu’s relative agility depends on Debian’s democratic stability. Our software and our norms should enable all of the above, and much more."


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