Code of conduct: supporting in projects

CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md

This week, Mozilla added PRs to all the repositories that Mozilla has on GitHub that aren't forks, Servo, or Rust. The PRs add a CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md file and also include some instructions on what projects can do with it. This standardizes inclusion of the code of conduct text in all projects.

I'm a proponent of codes of conduct. I think they're really important. When I was working on Bleach with Greg, we added code of conduct text in September of 2017. We spent a bunch of time thinking about how to do that effectively and all the places that users might encounter Bleach.

I spent some time this week trying to figure out how to do what we did with Bleach in the context of the Mozilla standard. This blog post covers those thoughts.

This blog post covers Python-centric projects. Hopefully, some of this applies to other project types, too.

What we did in Bleach in 2017 and why

In September of 2017, Greg and I spent some time thinking about all the places the code of conduct text needs to show up and how to implement the text to cover as many of those as possible for Bleach.

PR #314 added two things:

  • a CODE_OF_CONDUCT.rst file
  • a copy of the text to the README

In doing this, the code of conduct shows up in the following places:

In this way, users could discover Bleach in a variety of different ways and it's very likely they'll see the code of conduct text before they interact with the Bleach community.

[1] It no longer shows up on the "new issue" page in GitHub. I don't know when that changed.

The Mozilla standard

The Mozilla standard applies to all repositories in Mozilla spaces on GitHub and is covered in the Repository Requirements wiki page.

It explicitly requires that you add a CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md file with the specified text in it to the root of the repository.

This makes sure that all repositories for Mozilla things have a code of conduct specified and also simplifies the work they need to do to enforce the requirement and update the text over time.

This week, a bot added PRs to all repositories that didn't have this file. Going forward, the bot will continue to notify repositories that are missing the file and will update the file's text if it ever gets updated.

How to work with the Mozilla standard

Let's go back and talk about Bleach. We added a file and a blurb to the README and that covered the following places:

With the new standard, we only get this:

In order to make sure the file is in the source tarball, you have to make sure it gets added. The bot doesn't make any changes to fix this. You can use check-manifest to help make sure that's working. You might have to adjust your MANIFEST.in file or something else in your build pipeline--hence the maybe.

Because the Mozilla standard suggests they may change the text of the CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md file, it's a terrible idea to copy the contents of the file around your repository because that's a maintenance nightmare--so that idea is out.

It's hard to include .md files in reStructuredText contexts. You can't just add this to the long description of the setup.py file and you can't include it in a Sphinx project [2].

Greg and I chatted about this a bit and I think the best solution is to add minimal text that points to the CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md in GitHub to the README. Something like this:

Code of Conduct
===============

This project and repository is governed by Mozilla's code of conduct and
etiquette guidelines. For more details please see the `CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md
file <https://github.com/mozilla/bleach/blob/master/CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md>`_.

In Bleach, the long description set in setup.py includes the README:

def get_long_desc():
    desc = codecs.open('README.rst', encoding='utf-8').read()
    desc += '\n\n'
    desc += codecs.open('CHANGES', encoding='utf-8').read()
    return desc

...

setup(
    name='bleach',
    version=get_version(),
    description='An easy safelist-based HTML-sanitizing tool.',
    long_description=get_long_desc(),
    ...

In Bleach, the index.rst of the docs also includes the README:

.. include:: ../README.rst

Contents
========

.. toctree::
   :maxdepth: 2

   clean
   linkify
   goals
   dev
   changes


Indices and tables
==================

* :ref:`genindex`
* :ref:`search`

In this way, the README continues to have text about the code of conduct and the link goes to the file which is maintained by the bot. The README is included in the long description of setup.py so this code of conduct text shows up on the PyPI page. The README is included in the Sphinx docs so the code of conduct text shows up on the front page of the project documentation.

So now we've got code of conduct text pointing to the CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md file in all these places:

Plus the text will get updated automatically by the bot as changes are made.

Excellent!

[2] You can have Markdown files in a Sphinx project. It's fragile and finicky and requires a specific version of Commonmark. I think this avenue is not worth it. If I had to do this again, I'd be more inclined to run the Markdown file through pandoc and then include the result.

Future possibilities

GitHub has a Community Insights page for each project. This is the one for Bleach. There's a section for "Code of conduct", but you only get a green checkmark if and only if you use one of GitHub's pre-approved code of conduct files.

There's a discussion about that in their forums.

Is this checklist helpful to people? Does it mean something to have all these items checked off? Is there someone checking for this sort of thing? If so, then maybe we should get the Mozilla text approved?

Hope this helps!

I hope to roll this out for the projects I maintain on Monday.

I hope this helps you!

Want to comment? Send an email to willkg at bluesock dot org. Include the url for the blog entry in your comment so I have some context as to what you're talking about.