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Kathy Sierra and Codes of Conduct

Posted by Dave Smith On 4/02/2007 07:33:00 PM 0 comments

I have been monitoring a number of posts of varying perspectives in my usual RSS feeds regarding the Kathy Sierra controversy, and while there is still much "he-said/she-said" swirling about, it is abundantly clear that there was unacceptable and intolerable behavior on the part of some, who made vile, threatening and misogynistic posts - referred to as cyberbullying.

In response, Tim O'Reilly has made a call for a "Bloggers Code of Conduct", and other Codes of Conduct have been pointed to as well. Certainly there are some good words of advice in these - I will only touch on the high-level points, as Tim O'Reilly has more detailed discussion on each of these on his site:

  1. Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.
  2. Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.
  3. Consider eliminating anonymous comments.
  4. Ignore the trolls.
  5. Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.
  6. If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.
  7. Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person.
However, the deeper thought not expressed in O'Reilly's call is that this whole controversy unfolded in the technology blogosphere... Presumably populated by developers, enterprise architects, analysts, IT pros and other technology professionals. Perhaps I presume too much.


Even beyond behaving as humans, which means treating each other with basic dignity and respect - treating others the same as we ourselves would expect to be treated by others, the community also should behave like adults and professionals, as this type of vicious, misogynistic behavior gives the entire technology sector a black eye.

While I too may occasionally not agree with everything Kathy Sierra, Scoble, O'Reilly or others have to say, I for one nonetheless value them deeply as professionals, for their input and contribution to the professional community, for their experience and insight, and so on, and as such, would treat them with the respect they deserve. I am finishing reading one of the Head Rush books even as we speak. I am one who will defend freedom of speech to the last, even for those with whom I would disagree, and as such have little tolerance for anyone who would use threats of violence toward silencing others.

In our work, in our capabilities, in our words, we are to be humans, adults, and professionals first and foremost. In any professional environment, gender is irrelevant, and violence and cyberbullying is completely unacceptable. It is a sad commentary that the community even needs Codes of Conduct.

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