All FreeDesktop.org Projects Now Appear To Have A Contributor Covenant
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 8 April 2017 at 07:12 AM EDT. 97 Comments
FREE SOFTWARE --
X.Org, GStreamer, Wayland, LibreOffice, Mesa, VA-API, Harfbuzz, and SPICE are among the many projects hosted by FreeDesktop.org that now appear to be on a contributor covenant / code of conduct.

The Contributor Covenant for those unfamiliar with it is trying to promote a code of conduct for open-source projects that is trying to promote diversity and equality of contributors to libre software projects. From the covenant's website, "Part of this problem [of "free, libre, and open source projects suffer from a startling lack of diversity, with dramatically low representation by women, people of color, and other marginalized populations"] lies with the very structure of some projects: the use of insensitive language, thoughtless use of pronouns, assumptions of gender, and even sexualized or culturally insensitive names."

The covenant states in part that those contributing should use welcoming and inclusive language, be respectful to others, showing empathy towards others, avoid insulting comments, and avoid inappropriate conduct. For the most part, it's basically common sense.

Now it seems this Contributor Covenant is being forced onto all FreeDesktop.org-hosted projects. While I am not opposed fundamentally to a contributor covenant / code of conduct, I find this a bit surprising and newsworthy as it seems to have been just silently done with little public discussion. I'm also a bit surprised it didn't happen earlier, like when one of the root administrators to FreeDesktop.org decided to "vandalize" a driver Git repository or other past drama within the X.Org/FreeDesktop.org camp.

I only learned of this FreeDesktop.org Contributor Covenant on Friday when Daniel Stone, a Collabora developer and longtime FreeDesktop.org administrator, posted this patch to the Wayland mailing list that adds references to the covenant. He wrote on the patch, "All [FreeDesktop.org] projects are now covered by the Contributor Covenant. Include a reference to this in the Contributing doc, making it clear that we are all expected to behave like human beings."

About an hour later, the patch to reference the covenant was added in Git.

The FreeDesktop.org'ized version of this covenant can be found on the FD.o Wiki. That page itself was created just earlier on Friday.

While from Daniel's message this covenant applies to all FreeDesktop.org projects, I have yet to find any announcement (besides now a small mention of it on FreeDesktop.org) from the organization or any public discussions about this change, let alone informing the various mailing lists that they're supposed to abide by this behavior. So not sure how effective this will be if it's not made well known yet to those contributing (hence in part, this post) and enforced. But then again, while FreeDesktop.org hosts a ton of code and mailing lists for many critical open-source projects, there remains little transparency into FreeDesktop.org itself.

Update [10 April]: Daniel Stone has now published a blog post with more details as to their reasoning for moving ahead with this contributor covenant.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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