Code of Conduct

The Ubuntu Code of Conduct is probably the most widely read document I’ve written. Agreement to it is prerequisite to participation in the Ubuntu community in all official and many unofficial capacities. It is has successfully set a positive tone and helped turn Ubuntu into what is probably the most friendly and civil free software project I’ve worked in.

Over time, quite a few free software projects have copied or adapted the CoC. Tired of giving folks permission, the project went ahead and licensed the CoC under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license to explicitly allow reuse as long as attribution to the Ubuntu project is given and derivatives are similarly modifiable.

In a recent development, it was adapted by the Fort Erie, Ontario town council for use government interactions of their business improvement areas! It’s amazing to see the document gain so much traction! Unfortunately, the person who repurposed the CoC did not attribute the document correctly and was publicly accused of plagiarism by another council member!

Ubuntu is happy to have Fort Erie, and anyone else, use or adapt the CoC. Folks should just take care to be honest about where it came from and maintain the BY-SA license.

12 Replies to “Code of Conduct”

  1. It’s kind of funny the article you link to describes  the CoC as coming from an ‘african-based website’. I don’t even know what that means.


  2. Mark, and term Ubuntu, are both from South Africa. Not a whole lot else about the distribution is and I’m pretty sure the website itself is based in the UK.

  3. I just read the article and someone is accusing someone else of plagarism. “Noyes accuses council colleague of plagiarism”, the headline reads. Obviously this implies they think what someone did was illegal, at least according to their limited, conventional view of copyright. Someone needs to educate them on CC and the ‘brave new world’ of copyright ;-)

  4. Does anyone know if she credited the Ubuntu Project?  I mean if it is CC, she’s technically supposed to. Someone must have figured it out, since it is mentioned in the article, and the one accusing doesn’t seem to be familiar with modern copyleft/right practices. I am betting that Ubuntu was properly credited.
    All in all, this is great. All news is good news. You never know, Fort Erie might be installing edubuntu on all of its computers next fall after 8.04 LTS comes out, thanks to the publicity.

  5. I <3 the CoC.  Double-checking xchat, I only hang out in Ubuntu- and minority-related (read:  female or non-straight) channels (which have policies like that for obvious reasons).  It’s probably why I don’t (often) get the reactions that prompted xkcd #322 (at least on IRC…), and when it DOES happen in one of those channels, there is a full-channel pounce upon the offending person.  Except when I ask questions in ##java.  They really are that dumb.

  6. Hi folks,
    I found your comments most interesting. Please do not lose sight of the fact that councillor Sandy claimed that he “Authored” the Ubuntu Communities work. Another local newspaper’s coverage spell’s it out at…(…where it printed his “Conduct Guidelines”. The Ubuntu Community is to be commended for its unselfish efforts and in promoting its CoC. Councillor Sandy would do well to thoroughly read before seeking praise for someone elses work.

  7. Good morning,
    I came across your blog and read the previous comments. I too would commend the real author of the Ubuntu Code of Conduct. However, I would disagree with anyone who believes that Councillor Annunziata isn’t guilty of plagiarism. He is an elected public official who took someone else written work and put his name to it. The Ubuntu CofC is certainly worthy of universal recognition and practice as its real author encourages and promotes. It was wrong  for Councillor Annunziata to claim authorship to this written work. For almost 2 weeks now he has had ample opportunity to make this right but has refused. During this time other town councillors have apologized publically for their errors in public statements. The irony in all this is that Councillor Annunziata introduced a “Code of Conduct” to us. I wonder if he even read it?
    Costa Koutroulakis,
    Fort Erie resident

  8. If anyone is interested, you can view the Fort Erie Town Council meeting where Councilor Noyes queries Councilor Annunziata about the issue.  Search YouTube for JohnGilmour or use:


  9. Thank you John for posting the link to the video of the council meeting.  It is the best way to see first hand what this guys intentions were in utilizing the Ubuntu Code of Conduct; to take credit for the ‘crafting’ of it and to imply that he was indeed the author.  It was only after that other councillor said she knew where it came from that he knew he was caught.  It is an amazing tape to watch.  I also read stories from your local papers.  His excuses that ‘you can only word something so many ways’ and ‘unfortunately there are no other words to use’ are excuses you would hear from a child in Grade 2 writing a book report, not a town official writing something.  This was a clear cut and paste job.  Although he couldn’t find any words left to write his own conduct code, he had no shortage of words in his excuses for the plageurism.  This councillor is the last person who should be in charge of ‘authoring’ a code of conduct in the first place.

  10. I’ve begun to think Councillor Annunziata hasn’t got many original ideas, by this and previous correspondance I’ve had with him. Although lack of originality isn’t an offence, failure to acknowledge the rightful author of the Ubuntu Code and his “error” in claiming it his, is not befitting an elected official.

  11. We’re still waiting for an apology from Clowncillor Annunziata, but he refuses to acknowledge that what he did was unethical at the very least.  All we expect was that he acknowledge his source and give you full credit.  BTW, he began his remarks at council with a famous quote from George Santayana and he never gave proper credit for that. It’s one thing to use another’s idea and work, (it’s done all the time,) but Sandy acts as though that is not necessary to attribute quotes and codes of conduct to the proper source.  What other ideas will he lift before this is all over?

  12. I personally am thrilled that it was suggested and, as long as credit is given in the future, don’t care very much how it was represented in the past.

    You obviously have your own political and personal disagreements and issues in Fort Erie which I am not and do not care to be involve in. As far as I’m concerned though, I’m just happy to see the conduct used and as long as credit is given properly in the future, I have no problems at all.

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