Linux Foundation Should Stop Using Bots for Code of Conduct Enforcement Because Bots Fail the Community
The wrong assumption that bots and algorithms (or “hey hi”) can handle Code of Conduct enforcement is causing backlash/resentment/accusations against the Linux Foundation, both from guys and girls (of different backgrounds).
YESTERDAY we wrote about bots being used by the not-so-cash-strapped millionaires to enforce the 'Code of Conduct' of the Linux Foundation, contrary to assurances originally given. Is this about cost savings? Are 130,000,000 dollar per year not enough? Today we’d like to present one example of this, not as a hypothetical example but as a real cautionary tale. When we lose touch with fellow humans and where due process barely exists, things are bound to go south. Bots help people dodge accountability for mis-classification; it thus becomes easier to gaslight the falsely accused.
The situation at the Foundation may, at this point, be limited to chats. That, however, may change in the future and we’ve already discussed how committees are stacked by monopolies. This means that the censorship will be more corporate-leaning, not based on objective truth or perceived ethics. It’s about money and power.
Our source has had experiences with this elsewhere. Our source isn’t the victim; it’s the witness rather than the suppressed, albeit the source experienced other types of censorship by the Linux Foundation (we covered this in the past). To quote: “This reminded me of how we fought censorware as a community with Peacefire and the great Mattel escapade (where skala and jansson turned over the rights to cphack to mattel but it was GPL’d). Censorware picked up on terms and blocked people with names like “hancock” and spilled into filtering issues — banning and blocking certain websites. We were unable to view what was happening behind the scenes and with the ACLU involved, a ruling came in from the copyright office allowing us to legally decrypt banned lists.”
Now it seems like the Linux Foundation (LF) decided to step into somewhat of a scandal, in effect using the ‘Code of Conduct’ as a pretext for banning people right and left.
Our source spoke to somewhat of a victim who had experienced this firsthand; the falsely accused person “shared with me something that happened which indicated LF uses a bot in chat to mod or monitor,” our source recalled. “Now, as far as the Foundation’s chat — where users are likely voluntarily subject to the coercive terms of service to participate — I imagine we may never know what terms the “bot” is checking for. However, could be a fun time… for someone, so included to test the waters.”
It’s worth noting that some of them are female. We’re not talking about a “men’s club” here; the LF cannot tell the difference! Therein lies the problem with bots…
To quote verbatim:
"Communication today with dev:
As a side note: I am many years a trainer for the LF and apparently a big fan of the kernel and [project name] project.
I attended the US virtual embedded linux conf and was a speaker in the [project name] dev days
Suddenly I got an email that I violated the code of conduct ;)
It turned out that they scan all the chat conversations and grep? No idea what they do keywords I guess
I said something on the chat like “I like girls on [transportation mode]”
This was totally out of context and I don’t find it offensive. At least I didn’t intend it to be offensive.
Maybe the correct thing to write was, “I like girls/guys/non binary/… on bikes/planes… ;)”
I didn’t further follow it up with them since this is IMHO just stupid.
Him: Hehe ;) Really I don’t understand it
BTW an interesting view with the Code of Conduct and maybe that’s the whole idea behind it.
Silence some people. I am not sure many people are aware of this.
I can tell you, as a somewhat insider of the LF, there is lots of politics and money.
I believe there are many capable people there, but the politics are questionable."
In short, things are taken out of context and considered offensive, whereupon community members are being sanctioned, by bots.
“All in all,” our source noted, “I agree there are some organizations with some capable and good volunteers trying to do positive work. However, the organizations seem to be failing us. Have failed. The organizations could do better…”
If one is going to adopt a Code of Conduct and also enjoy an annual turnover of about $130,000,000, at least hire people who can figure out nuance and context. Don’t allow oppressive measures to run in ‘auto-pilot’ as it’s bound to piss off the very core people who are falsely accused. And in the case of the Linux Foundation, they could certainly use greater diversity (instead of just talking about it). Complainants about the LF’s conduct are female as well; they too don’t feel like they benefit from a mere illusion of them being protected. What’s being protected? Monopolies, big banks, and oil companies. Check this year’s press releases from LF.
This post is also available in Gemini at gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2021/03/18/bots-for-code-of-conduct-enforcement/.