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Fri, 16 Oct 2009

Signing Jokes in Contracts

It is great to see that the collaboration between Debian and Ubuntu is improving; and I don't say that just because it probably can't be much better within the Debian/Ubuntu Games Team, we have people from both distributions working inside the team and most of the packages don't carry Ubuntu specific patches (anymore) because of that.

Actually, seeing that things do go pretty well in that area made me consider signing up to become a MOTU. To do that one has to sign the Ubuntu Code of Conduct (CoC) which is a fairly good document, actually. I wish there would be something similar within Debian that is considered binding, it would be able to reduce quite some tough and rough times, actually. It is about and explains to be considerate, be respectful, be collaborative, what to do when you disagree, when you are unsure and wants you to step down considerately. If these principles would be carried out amongst all the free software communities (and I really mean carried out and not just be there and grow old) I expect it would be much more welcoming for new people. And it's not too hard to do your part for it (... says the person who just recently had to excuse for her behavior).

Anyway, there is this one part with the CoC that itches me. It's not that one has to sign it with their GnuPG key, but related to it. Making it a requirement to sign it gives the document a much more official character, actually gives it the feeling and impression of a contract and I expect it is meant to carry that feeling. Though, there is this one part in it that I consider off for such a document:

Nobody knows everything, and nobody is expected to be perfect in the Ubuntu community (except of course the SABDFL).

Given that the acronym SABDFL refers to Mark Shuttleworth it means that one has to expect him to be impeccable—which I am sorry but cannot sign. I don't expect that from anyone else but myself, even Mark is only human and can make mistakes. Even though it's obvious that this is a tongue-in-cheek kind of joke which might be meant to make it clear that the Ubuntu community isn't just sterile having this in a document that is expected to get signed by contributors is just an extremely bad idea.

Sorry, Ubuntu, as long as this joke is part of the CoC I can't sign it with clean conscience, no matter how much I would sign the rest of it a thousands' time. It really makes me wonder how many others actually did read the "contract" carefully that they are signing but on the other hand simply didn't care. There is too many site signup stuff out there that noone reads neither.

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