Behaving Responsibly in the Chef Community

Today one of our most prolific community members announced his decision to leave Chef and go on a software engineering sabbatical, in part because of how he was treated by a few members in our community. As a company, Chef takes the safety and security of our employees extremely seriously. Further, it is our heartfelt desire to have a community where diverse opinion is welcome and where members feel safe and secure to engage in healthy, and sometimes spirited, dialog with the mutual goal of creating value and growing as professionals and human beings. As a community, we need to use this event as a moment to reflect on how we treat each other.

De-humanizing the authors of software

It is easy to anthropomorphize software and praise it when things go well and curse or even hate it when things do not. In open source projects it’s easy to identify the authors and maintainers of a particular software project and direct your feelings about the software towards those individuals. Likewise it is easy for the individuals who see comments made in public forums such as twitter, mailing lists, and GitHub to take these comments very personally.

Often times, the most prolific contributors are very dedicated and, as a result, can be very opinionated and passionate about their projects. This dedication and passion are, in fact, characteristics of many great engineers. At times, these very same characteristics can make these people targets of misguided rage, anger, and hurtful words and actions. It is sad to see a talented and passionate member of our community make the decision to leave as a result of how they were treated. We, the collective individuals that make up the Chef Community, should take this opportunity to reflect on how we treat one another and on how we can use the power of the community to lift people up rather than tear them down. And at the same time, we should also consider how diversity in opinion and style can make us all stronger and better.

The Chef Community

The Chef community is a mixture of professionals and volunteers who come from all over the world and work together to make Chef better, including mentoring, teaching, and connecting with other members of the community. Diversity is one of our biggest strengths, but it can also bring increased communication challenges at times.

As a community member, you know that the Chef community is an environment built on generosity, professionalism, friendship, and hugs. As a result, we’ve adopted and published a set of community guidelines.

As a company, Chef stands behind and helps enforce these community guidelines. As a community, we must be ever vigilant of our guidelines and ensure that they are comprehensive and supportive of our diverse community.

Behavior that violates these guidelines is unacceptable and should and will not be tolerated by anyone in our community nor by Chef.

We are reviewing and enhancing these guidelines right now as part of our ongoing efforts to improve the Chef Community. Going forward, our community guidelines will include a clear path for handling incidents and a discussion on the actions that will be taken when someone violates our guidelines. Specifically, our guidelines must:

  • Outline actions that will result in punitive action
  • Indicate who is responsible for determining when punitive action is warranted
  • Specify punitive actions and an appeals process

The code of conduct we use for #ChefConf is explicit about these things and will inform the new guidelines.

Committed to the Community

Chef takes allegations of misconduct very seriously and will investigate and address each incident. As a community, we are refining our policies and procedures for upholding our community guidelines.

Behavior outside of our community guidelines is unacceptable and should and will not be tolerated by anyone. If you encounter such behavior, please contact a member of the Chef community team immediately.

Next Steps

Thank you for participating in these conversations. Here are some immediate actions you can take to help us improve the community.

  1. Behave responsibly and help us address unacceptable behavior when it occurs.
  2. Participate in the RFC to rewrite our community guidelines.
  3. Join us at the next Chef Developers’ IRC Meeting to discuss the RFC.
  4. Join us at one of our upcoming Chef Community Summit events to discuss this topic in person with other community members.

Thank you for helping our community grow and evolve.

Nathen and Adam

Author Nathen Harvey

As the VP of Community Development at Chef, Nathen helps the community whip up an awesome ecosystem built around the Chef framework. Nathen also spends much of his time helping people learn about the practices, processes, and technologies that support DevOps, Continuous Delivery, and Web-scale IT. Prior to joining Chef, Nathen spent a number of years managing operations and infrastructure for a number of web applications. Nathen is a co-host of the Food Fight Show, a podcast about Chef and DevOps.