Code of Conduct

The smooth working of the Fellowship depends on having discussions that are focused on furthering ODF within an atmosphere of mutual respect and collaboration. For this reason, ODF lists other than the odf-members list are moderated.

Official Rules (normative)

Please refer to RFC 2119 for the meaning of the uppercase words in this section. The term inappropriate postings is based on RFC 3005. Inappropriate postings include:

  • Unsolicited bulk e-mail.
  • Discussion of subjects unrelated to Fellowship policy, meetings, activities, or technical concerns.
  • Unprofessional commentary, regardless of the general subject.

Individuals found sending inappropriate postings MAY be removed from Fellowship mailing lists, but the moderator MAY choose to issue a warning. Once taken, the removal SHOULD remain in force for at least one year.

Acceptable behaviour (guideline)

What is expected from you:

  • Be courteous. Respect people's right for their own opinion and acknowledge that they deserve a measure of politeness in your response.
  • Give accurate information in the spirit of being helpful.
  • Respectfully disagree with or challenge other subscribers' statements.
  • Admit the possibility of fault. Nobody is perfect. You will get things wrong occasionally.
  • Respect different point of views. Similarly, while something may seem perfectly obvious to you, others may see it differently.

Unacceptable behaviour (guideline)

The following behaviour is unacceptable and may result in disciplinary action:

  • Flaming and trolling. What is trolling? You are trolling if you make comments intended to provoke an angry response from others. What is flaming? Flaming is the act of sending or posting messages that are deliberately hostile and insulting.
  • Posting only to incite drama or negativity rather than to tactfully share information.
  • Personal attacks and threats.
  • Being judgmental, mean-spirited or insulting. It is possible to respectfully challenge someone in a way that empowers without being judgemental.
  • Constantly purveying misinformation despite repeated warnings.


Choice of disciplinary action will be at the discretion of the moderator(s). Disciplinary action may be either a warning or removal from one or more mailing lists. Removal from the mailing list will generally be for at least one year, and may be permanent.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do the "official rules" prevent threats, attacks, flames, etc?
A: It is "unprofessional commentary" and it is "unrelated to Fellowship policy, meetings, activities, or technical concerns".

Q: Why is it so vague?
A: Specific rules are easier to dispute over technicalities and can more easily open the door to legal liability.

Q: Won't that make the rules less clear too?
A: Posters are expected to use common sense as to what behaviour is acceptable. That said, the "guideline" sections can provide additional clarity when needed.

Q: Is there a process for dispute resolution?
A: No. The Fellowship is not the place to resolve personal disputes. Personal dispute resolution is considered off-topic.

Q: Are there checks and balances on the moderator? Who chooses the moderator?
A: It will be the job of the Fellowship members to deal with any moderator that abuses moderator powers. The members can always elect and remove a moderator and can revoke any moderation decision.
About governance

Q: Ah, but what if the moderator moderates everyone who disagrees with him?
A: The odf-members list is un-moderated.

Q: Isn't a year too long?
A: No. A decision to remove a list subscriber is not taken lightly. Everyone must understand that unacceptable behaviour will be taken seriously.