jackbinswitch.btc | Blog
March 02, 2023
8 min read

Stacks Code of Conduct: A Profoundly Bad Idea

Stacks Code of Conduct: A Profoundly Bad Idea

This is not what I wanted to write about today, and probably not what you want to read about today. I have spent the last week interviewing builders, and there is so much cool stuff to tell you all about. So the fact that those articles are now sidelined until further notice should alert you to the level of importance regarding this topic. It is very important that you read this, and help pass it on.

The Stacks Code of Conduct SIP

For some background you can refer to the Github here. I would also advise you to check out the resources Hero Gamer provides here, as well as read this overview of the SIP process here. Before we get started I want to make a few things clear:

  • I have a massive amount of love and respect for the Stacks community. While I vehemently disagree with this proposal this is most certainly not personal. It is ok to disagree.

  • I am a pleb in the Stacks community. I do not possess a tremendous amount of assets, nor am I employed by any of the organizations within Stacks. I have benefited tremendously from my time here in the ecosystem, and have been a part of the Web3 Start Up Lab. I write about Stacks because I believe in this blockchain and its community.

  • I am a man acquainted with his own shortcomings. One of which is that I say what I think. I try to be mindful of how my words may be interpreted, and do my best to not intentionally hurt anyone. The Bible says that the power of life and death resides in the tongue, and I try to put more love in the world than hate. Sometimes I say things that don’t register as hurtful to me. If during the course of this series of articles I fail in this endeavor, or at at time really, please call me out on it. If I ever say or do something that hurts you personally, please let me know.

The Gist

There is a proposal being considered for a “code of conduct”, and a list of enforcement actions for violations of said code, in the Stacks ecosystem. The wording of the proposal is innocent enough, and hard to disagree with. As we delve deeper into the document in future installments, we will look at these on a case by case basis. For the purpose of this article, parsing the wording is not necessary. The very existence of such a code jeopardizes the future of this ecosystem, and no amount of verbiage changes that. So for now this will be the focus of my attention.

Why This Code of Conduct is Such a Bad Idea

  1. The very first problem with this idea is that if approved this SIP would allow for community moderators to become the arbiters of what is accepted speech and behavior in this ecosystem. It is obvious to me that this very idea is antithetical to the idea of a decentralized blockchain.

  2. The second problem with this idea is that it not only distracts from the work being done in the ecosystem, but it can and will ultimately hamper the work being done in the ecosystem. If people are more concerned with saying just the right things then that is bandwidth that could have been put to work building.

As Bitcoiners we believe that the market will ultimately choose Bitcoin because it is the superior alternative to the current financial system. If we as Stackers profess to believe this then why would we not also believe that the free market of ideas will regulate behavior adequately enough? Cause and effect is an immutable law of nature, and more than sufficient to keep this a civil, constructive, and inclusive environment to all members. Trying to create an apparatus that forces people into submission is antithetical to the Bitcoin ethos.

  1. The third problem with this idea is that while the wording of the current proposal seems reasonable enough, history shows us how this will play out over time. The well meaning people who impliment these measures are not immortal, nor are they capable of ensuring that anyone who follows in their footsteps will not be a bad actor that will not abide by the original intent of the creators.

While we agree that disagreement is a healthy part of conversation and personal relationships, it will only be a matter of time before disagreement becomes grounds to penalize and disinfranchise people. Once this camel’s nose is under the tent, it won’t be long until the whole camel is in there.

  1. Stacks is a public blockchain. Anyone can use it, and should be able to use it however they would like. Let the market decide the merits of someone’s usecase. No person alive has been endowed with ultimate authority to determine how someone else should use a public resource. You buy the ticket, take the ride, and let the market decide whether you are wise, foolish, or a bad actor.

Stacks Cant Be Evil

This is the foundational principle of Stacks, yet censorship is inherently evil. Freedom of speech is not granted by a foundation, government, or entity of any kind. Freedom of speech is a right by granted to you by the virtue of your being alive. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences, we all agree on this. However, it is unreasonable to think that one imperfect person, or a group of imperfect people, is qualified to determine what right speech is. The market of ideas is more than sufficient to provide the remedy for bad actors.

If Hiro, Trust Machines, The Stacks Foundation, Xverse, etc want to have their own rules, thats great! These are private entities, and they have every right to set the expectations that they want their employees to follow. That said, no one in the Stacks ecosystem has the right to tell anyone what they can or cannot say under the guise of protecting feelings.

I read things that offend me on a daily basis, being protected from offense is not a human right. I have every freedom at my disposal to determine how I will react to such offense, but I should never be empowered to censor anyone.

Closing Thoughts

This code of conduct proposal is quite disheartening. I will be releasing subsequent articles that will address specific parts of the propsal in further detail.

Thank you for reading, as always. Until next time, Jack.

Subscribe to the newsletter