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18 June 2020 Foundation for Public Code community call

Update from the Foundation

  • we’re excited to have completed our support for the OpenZaak market consultation * this was a big new area of work for the codebase stewardship team, and we’re not aware of any other market consultations hosted by public organizations that asked vendors how they’d like an open source codebase community to be structured
  • not a milestone, but it feels like the team has really settled into productive new working rhythms after having a new person join each month for the first 4 months of the year


Call question

Our Code of Conduct - used across the Foundation for Public Code - is based on the widely used Contributor Covenant. In the last year, we’ve discovered that most contributors to the Foundation for Public Code’s work are not volunteers, but professionals already bound by other codes of conduct.

Does this fact change what we need to include in our code of conduct? Are there other aims (professionalism, public values?) that could be better achieved with a different code of conduct?

Background reading


The discussion started with why we have a code of conduct, who it would protect and how applicable it would be in the context of civil servants and vendors.

We acknowledged that even though civil servants might be bound by very strict professional policies, the same might not be the case for vendors, especially smaller ones where the tone of the company might reflect the few individuals running it. At the same time, since our codebases are open source and developed in the open, anyone can come by and make a comment in the repository. This makes it important to have a code of conduct that can make the codebase a safe place to participate in, even though it might not be needed for the everyone in the community.

Secondly we noted that a code of conduct is only as good as the possible enforcement of it. Providing clear expectations on what will happen should an incident occur is crucial to make it meaningful. During our discussion it became clear that we all felt this was of top priority and should be mentioned at the top of our code of conduct. We also agreed that the code of conduct could be very sharp, almost harsh, in how explicit we could be of not tolerating bad behvaiour. We liked the clarity of Django’s code of conduct enforcement manual.

We agreed we could be more opinionated in terms of the standard of behavior we expect from our community. In the way citizens should expect probity from civil servants, we should serve our community with the most professional working environment. We wondered if we could include a stronger social contract in our future code of conduct, as our codebases all serve the public good.

We briefly touched on the topic of how the code of conduct applied when someone’s conduct outside of our community could make people within our community feel unsafe. This is a complicated topic that might not be solved by a code of conduct only. However we did not reach a solution during the call other than acknowlodging that measures might need to be taken to keep the community healthy.

On the short question of whether we should have the same code of conduct for all of our codebases and our general community, there was a consensus that this makes sense.

As a last side conversation, we noted that a strong code of conduct for online behaviour might differ from one for physical events and that we should investigate a need for a separate one for when we organize events.

Following from this, we concluded that we want to update our code of conduct and should create an issue that referred to this discussion.