The free software project SQLite adopted the benedictine rule as the code of conduct

SQLite is one of the database engines most used in the world; its creator estimates that there will be about a billion of SQLite databases active right now. It is the kind of software that the users don’t know it, but that is part of many applications that we use every day without knowing it. In his day, for example, was part of Digital Freedom, but can also be found in the information technology infrastructure of computers, mobile phones and tablets. In February of this year, its creator and main responsible for it decided to adopt as a code of conduct written by the chapter IV of the Rule of st. Benedict: “the instruments of good works”.

Run a free software project implies direct you to those who contribute their time and effort to maintain and improve it, usually without charging you a hard on anyone for it. A little concerned of a successful project, it is inevitable that there will be conflict, that traditionally have been treated according to codes of conduct implied, that depended on the people in charge of the project and who put the focus mainly on the meritocracy. It wouldn’t really matter where you came and who you were, what mattered was the quality and quantity of your contributions.

However, in recent years, it has generated an intense campaign in favor of the adoption of written codes of conduct, and to focus not on meritocracy, but in a behavior, more courteous and respect to women and minorities. The most popular is the so-called Contributor Convenant, that under the idea of “fostering a community that is open and welcoming,” has been explicitly created with the aim of fighting against “the insistence on dogmatic principles meritocráticos of governance”. This code of conduct has recently been adopted by Linux, for example, after Linus Torvalds was withdrawn a month later due to his inability to control his temper and has been used to try to force the acceptance of contributions, on the basis not of their quality but to the race of those who contributed.

Richard Hipp, creator of SQLite, explained in October, the reasons behind adopting the benedictine rule in place of any version more modern and progressive, after the decision was announced on the internet. In the first place, because many companies asking him to enforce a code of conduct, the one who would; without that requirement it would have kept with one implicit, as was the case in practically all open source projects until three or four years ago. But also because modern codes don’t define very well what can and can not do, and leaving too much to the discretion of those who are in charge to put it in practice which behaviors are unacceptable. In contrast, the benedictine rule includes dozens of precepts, although many of them do not seem very likely to be applicable to a free software project, such as “do not perform the lust of the flesh” or “give yourself frequently to prayer.” Hipp thought he’d delete the rules inapplicable, but he was not with the authority as to enmendarle the flat to Benedict of Nursia. Instead chose to include an introduction which explained that the idea was to honor their spirit general.

After the buzz generated on social networks, Hipp decided to rename it as “code of ethics” and put a code of conduct more standard (in particular the one used by the Firefox browser) that includes, for example, the obligation to use pronouns invented by activists, transgender people in the united States.

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