Code of Conduct

(Bane Sullivan) #1

I think there should be a code of conduct explicitly written for this discourse site. Over time, I’ve seen people give unhelpful, often critical responses to people simply seeking help and wanting to learn on here and I have seen the use of sensitive/inappropriate data/images. In the case of inappropriate images, the admin were quick to alert the author that the image might be offensive to some people. However, I see a lot of comments including phrases like

Check documentation of vtkClassName

That type of response is both not helpful and condescending.

I think the admin should write a code of conduct to foster a supportive community here and discourage comments that don’t encourage new users to explore and ask questions. At times, I see comments and think if I were a new user getting that response, I likely wouldn’t come back here for help.

Here is a wonderful example from GitHub

(Andras Lasso) #2

I guess this refers to my post here. I felt I was being nice giving a hint about where to look for an answer instead of just asking re-posting an unrelated question in a new topic. It is useful to know that this may have sounded rude. I’ll try to hit a better balance between brevity/rudeness in the future.

Posting a code of conduct document might be useful, but I’m not sure how many people would take the time to read it; especially if it was such a good, thorough one like the GitHub document linked above. I would expect that direct feedback to potentially offending posts would be more effective: the person who answered would know that he needs to improve, and person who asked would know that there are nicer people on the forum.

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(Bane Sullivan) #3

Thanks for posting your thoughts @lassoan. I didn’t mean to single out your comment as I’ve seen others of similar nature from other users for a while now. I understand your intention was to help and to at least provide a pointer of where the other user could look for immediate help, however I’ve personally become heavily opposed to the “read the docs” responses as reading the docs can be an ambitious endeavor, especially with a hefty library like VTK.

On your concern that people might not read it… you’re absolutely right - even I, an advocate for Codes of Conduct, rarely read them in full. Perhaps a simplified bullet list would be more effective. Maybe something along the lines of:

  • Be welcoming and open-minded.
  • Respect each other
  • Always encourage questions and foster a community for learning
  • When suggesting a user reads a documentation page, perhaps link them to an example or an exact place in the documentation that is relevant to the question asked.
  • Communicate with empathy
  • etc…

This is quick first pass at this

Also, maybe a reminder in the drafting window might help - I’m thinking a little banner at the top of the preview on the right that says a rotating list of light-hearted phrases or quotes from the Code of Conduct to encourage users to follow the Code of Conduct, like:

  • “Don’t forget to encourage new questions!”
  • “Hey, have you taken a look at our Code of Conduct for this Discourse site? We worked really hard on it and would appreciate if you could check it out”
  • “No question is a bad question! Take a look at our Code of Conduct”
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(Andrew Maclean) #4

Most of us are professionals and know how to behave on public forums. My observation is that the newbies to the site learn pretty quickly. We don’t want to alienate these people in their learning phase. Also a code of conduct has to be culturally and socially appropriate. These mores change with time and enforcing them will get onerous. Trust people to say/do the right thing.

(Cory Quammen (Kitware)) #5

New registerees to the website are presented with a welcome message as follows:

Welcome to VTK Discourse — thanks for starting a new conversation!

  • Does the title sound interesting if you read it out loud? Is it a good summary?
  • Who would be interested in this? Why does it matter? What kind of responses do you want?
  • Include commonly used words in your topic so others can find it. To group your topic with related topics, select a category.

For more, see our community guidelines. This panel will only appear for your first 2 posts.

This message is shown the first 2 posts someone makes (we could raise that number). It is not displayed for longtime users.

I had also forgotten about the default guidelines page that ships with Discourse. I’m not sure it is linked anywhere easily accessible from the front page, but it could be linked to the Welcome to the VTK Discourse forum topic if we wanted.

Now, as to the idea of having a code of conduct. I think it can be a useful tool for some sites where abusive behavior can be a major problem. The issue I have with them isn’t so much it’s presence or lack thereof, it’s that the enforcement of norms would be about the same as if we didn’t have one. That is, someone sees a problem and does something about it. Usually this doesn’t rise to the level of requiring special administrator privileges, and ideally that’s how we would keep it.

I think a baseline of don’t be a jerk is reasonable and actionable. Having a Code of Conduct invites a potentially long, tedious process of litigating how a post violates or does not violate it, and I for one don’t have the time for that. Look at the knots Twitter gets itself into over banning certain types of content versus others. I don’t have a problem letting someone know that an example image is problematic or that they are being a jerk, and hopefully there are enough of us around with the same mindset. I think in most cases that handles the issue. We haven’t had many repeat offenders with any frequency.

Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.

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(Jean Christophe Fillion Robin (Kitware)) #6

Since creating a welcoming and inclusive space is reasonable and obvious for everyone already accustomed with the VTK community. Having a written document would not contradict this.

I then suggest to adapt the text from and update the content of the “Enforcement” section indicating that the document is provided as a guideline and that issue will be addressed collectively as they arise.

A link to this post could even be provided as a reference.

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(Bill Lorensen) #7


I like it. Short, sweet and to the point,


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