Recently I blogged about some concerns that I have had about increasing disrespect in the Open Source, Free Software, and Free Culture communities. My blog entry shared some of the work I started on an OpenRespect Declaration, but I wasn’t sure if I should publish it.

I did some thinking on this, and reviewed some of the fantastic comments on my blog, and I decided to go ahead and launch There I have listed the declaration with a few extra points about:

  • the importance of honesty (thanks Jef Spaleta for the suggestion)
  • the importance of remembering that people pour their heart and soul into their work

The site is pretty simple, and pretty minimal, so don’t expect a rip-roaring experience there, but it gets over the most important point – the OpenRespect Declaration.

In my spare time I plan on adding some additional materials there — tips and suggestions about keeping conversation respectful, and how to deal with disrespectful folks — so if anyone would like to propose some content, just drop me an email.

Before I wrap, I just want to offer a few notes to bear in mind regarding

  • this is not specific to the communities I am part of, but designed to apply to any community.
  • this is not a United Nations declaration, it is not necessarily representative of what the entire Open Source and Free Software community, it is representative of what I feel is a fair set of guidelines around respect. Don’t like it? No worries, ignore it!
  • I don’t plan on turning into a mission; I am too busy and pre-occupied with other things, but I felt I needed to do something – this is a start, and I hope can grow the site to be more useful as time goes on.
  • this won’t solve all the problems, but it is a start, and if helps just one conversation be more respectful, it was was worth the minimal amount of effort that I put into kicking this off. :-)

If you think is a good idea and would like to help, I would just encourage you to encourage people to read it, encourage your projects to be inspired by it, and otherwise spread the word. I would also like to encourage all of you who think the OpenRespect Declaration makes sense to blog it, dent it, tweet it etc to spread awareness.

Thanks, everyone for providing constructive feedback on the idea. :-)

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  • Jo Shields

    tl;dr: “be excellent to each other”

  • Aaron Seigo

    “Don’t like it? No worries, ignore it!”

    That’s not how useful democratic discourse plays out, nor how communities foster improvement. It is, however, how one avoids critique in the hopes that enough people will sign on while everyone else stays quiet that regardless of any challenges with the proposition (which will not be uncovered let alone addressed due to that silence) that the proposition will still take hold.

    If you are going to make grand statements, please be ready to engage others in discussion with the aim to proving and improving the starting position.

    If you are going to make statements about how communities should operate, you need to be prepared for people who don’t agree with it to not ignore it.

    Why? You are attempting to have an impact on communities we all share (which is NOT inherently a bad thing at all!), so you will end up experiencing feedback from others in those communities. It is a shared resource.

    It’s also why I spent quite a bit of time detailing my thoughts on OpenRespect in my blog here:

    I hope others in our communities from all perspectives will join in on the conversation as well, since it is an important topic which you have started to address.

  • suprengr

    Jono, You wonder if it A Good Idea…? IMHO It should be written into international law!

  • suprengr

    At the very least the link to it should be added to Ubotto as a “warning shot” perhaps under !respect ?

  • jono

    I was being pithy – I just mean that people should not feel forced into agreeing with the statement. If people for whatever reason don’t feel it sums up their views, it is cool to not advocate it. :-)

    Thanks btw, for the blog entry – I can see you spend some time articulating your thoughts there is a very detailed fashion. :-)

  • Malaria

    Perhaps you saw this:

    I do think that having a kind of GCD for FLOSS projects’ statements/policies/codes-of-conducts is a must have.

    Why not setting-up a wiki page somewhere and/or a mailing-list? You don’t have to (and you shouldn’t) manage this alone.

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  • LaHaine

    Does it require copyright assignment to Canonical?

  • Steve Baker

    That looks like a perfectly reasonable start.

    How about turning those bullet points into numbered points with anchored hyperlinks? This would make it easier to throttle abusers politely point out to individuals which aspects of respect they are lacking.

  • Steve Baker

    “throttle abusers” was supposed to have strikethrough formatting 😉

  • james

    Hi – Good effort but..> Respect is not judging people based upon their genetic or social attributes, but instead the quality and content of their discourse.

    Why not Respect is not about judging people but considering, debating and perhaps rejecting their ideas without judging the person Note – in this way you can respect a child with childish ideas and poor discourse, teach them perhaps and not judge them – which they do not benefit from

    Hope you like my view – if not – I still think you are promoting a good concept :)

  • zomglol

    Respect is earned, not demanded. If you want to be respected, you can start by respecting others. Perhaps you should start by honoring your commitment to the Fedora team. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you Jono, Canonical (yourself included) is not good at following the golden rule. When you do, perhaps at that time you will begin to earn some of the communities respect.

  • Claschx

    from a anon contributor to linux : i’m with you 100%. I hope this will encourage you to persevere in your initiative

    greetings from the extreme!

  • Gordon Messmer

    I know this guy who’s been extraordinarily disrespectful of other Free Software companies:

  • John

    Polite and respectful is subjective, does the biggest bully get to decide how to behave? Freedom of speech also means you have the right to insult. If someone thinks an open source app is totally useless he should be allowed to say so in his own words! He might be right you know. Don’t forget to respect the messenger, even if he brings bad news in his own words. Will open respect respect the messenger?

  • YetAnotherBob

    A good beginning. I have noticed that there is a declining civility in public discourse. This is not just in the Open Source/Free Software arena. See it in political sites, news sites, religious sites, hobby sites.

    We need to all find ways to be more civil and/or courteous to one another. This is a lost art that was once taught in schools. We need to get it back.

    I can disagree with you without being disagreeable. That should be considered a valuable skill.

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  • Jimbo

    Seriously, do we really need to launch websites for everything these days?

    If you need to teach somebody what ‘respect’ means by having them read the definition on a website, then there’s something a lot deeply wrong with them that reading a website is unlikely to help.