Development Communities : Keeping safe


I decided to try and write this to bring together some information and thoughts on keeping safe while collaborating while developing software.

In terms of  Debian, their  code of conduct is a pretty robust and comprehensive document and should be the first point of call for anyone getting involved with Debian.

Any adult key workers should be prepared to read this and other documents and ensure you understand how to keep safe.

With regard to  mailing lists,  IRC channels and or forums  etc perhaps the advice should be considered in addition to general advice from elsewhere.

This advice goes both ways.  So you should consider what YOU are doing not just what others are doing.

There is no need to give out personal details:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location etc)

The following are pretty much standard

  • Keep to the thread topic
  • Keep to the channel or list general subject
  • Avoid private messages where possible if you do get a private message consider
    • Who has messaged you?
    • What they are saying or asking?
    • Was the private message intentional? It is easy on mailing list to reply to a individual rather than the list
    • If invited to another list or channel consider
      • Is tis an official channel or lis
      • Why are you being invited
  • Mailing lists are usually logged,  IRC channels are also logged.  However you should know
  • Who is in charge of the list or channel
  • How to contact that person
  • Who to contact if you are upset or worried about something that someone has said or asked for.

Remember this goes both ways YOU can have complaints made against you too.

It is sometimes useful to copy information such as the output from programs or error messages, for example:

  • Error messages from programs
  • Compile or run time errors
  • Output from specific commands e.g ls or lshw on linux

When doing so, you need to consider how send this information. For example

  • Use services such as pastebin on IRC and perhaps mailing lists,  this avoids huge amounts of text being posted to a channel (flooding)
  • If you are not sure ASK or ask for the channel guidelines
  • From a safety viewpoint consider
    • What is being asked for and why,
    • Screen shots from applications
    • Photos of hardware
  • When doing so consider
    • Does that image have any information that can identify
      • Who you are
      • Where you are

Channel and list guidelines tend to be rather specific so it is a good idea to ask if you are unsure on something.

This advice is general,  and designed to keep everyone not only safe but able to take.part without causing problems.