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.. _code_of_conduct_interpretation:
Linux Kernel Contributor Covenant Code of Conduct Interpretation
The :ref:`code_of_conduct` is a general document meant to
provide a set of rules for almost any open source community. Every
open-source community is unique and the Linux kernel is no exception.
Because of this, this document describes how we in the Linux kernel
community will interpret it. We also do not expect this interpretation
to be static over time, and will adjust it as needed.
The Linux kernel development effort is a very personal process compared
to "traditional" ways of developing software. Your contributions and
ideas behind them will be carefully reviewed, often resulting in
critique and criticism. The review will almost always require
improvements before the material can be included in the
kernel. Know that this happens because everyone involved wants to see
the best possible solution for the overall success of Linux. This
development process has been proven to create the most robust operating
system kernel ever, and we do not want to do anything to cause the
quality of submission and eventual result to ever decrease.
The Code of Conduct uses the term "maintainers" numerous times. In the
kernel community, a "maintainer" is anyone who is responsible for a
subsystem, driver, or file, and is listed in the MAINTAINERS file in the
kernel source tree.
The Code of Conduct mentions rights and responsibilities for
maintainers, and this needs some further clarifications.
First and foremost, it is a reasonable expectation to have maintainers
lead by example.
That being said, our community is vast and broad, and there is no new
requirement for maintainers to unilaterally handle how other people
behave in the parts of the community where they are active. That
responsibility is upon all of us, and ultimately the Code of Conduct
documents final escalation paths in case of unresolved concerns
regarding conduct issues.
Maintainers should be willing to help when problems occur, and work with
others in the community when needed. Do not be afraid to reach out to
the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) or other maintainers if you're
uncertain how to handle situations that come up. It will not be
considered a violation report unless you want it to be. If you are
uncertain about approaching the TAB or any other maintainers, please
reach out to our conflict mediator, Mishi Choudhary <>.
In the end, "be kind to each other" is really what the end goal is for
everybody. We know everyone is human and we all fail at times, but the
primary goal for all of us should be to work toward amicable resolutions
of problems. Enforcement of the code of conduct will only be a last
resort option.
Our goal of creating a robust and technically advanced operating system
and the technical complexity involved naturally require expertise and
The required expertise varies depending on the area of contribution. It
is determined mainly by context and technical complexity and only
secondary by the expectations of contributors and maintainers.
Both the expertise expectations and decision-making are subject to
discussion, but at the very end there is a basic necessity to be able to
make decisions in order to make progress. This prerogative is in the
hands of maintainers and project's leadership and is expected to be used
in good faith.
As a consequence, setting expertise expectations, making decisions and
rejecting unsuitable contributions are not viewed as a violation of the
Code of Conduct.
While maintainers are in general welcoming to newcomers, their capacity
of helping contributors overcome the entry hurdles is limited, so they
have to set priorities. This, also, is not to be seen as a violation of
the Code of Conduct. The kernel community is aware of that and provides
entry level programs in various forms like
The Linux kernel community primarily interacts on a set of public email
lists distributed around a number of different servers controlled by a
number of different companies or individuals. All of these lists are
defined in the MAINTAINERS file in the kernel source tree. Any emails
sent to those mailing lists are considered covered by the Code of
Developers who use the bugzilla, and other subsystem bugzilla
or bug tracking tools should follow the guidelines of the Code of
Conduct. The Linux kernel community does not have an "official" project
email address, or "official" social media address. Any activity
performed using a email account must follow the Code of
Conduct as published for, just as any individual using a
corporate email account must follow the specific rules of that
The Code of Conduct does not prohibit continuing to include names, email
addresses, and associated comments in mailing list messages, kernel
change log messages, or code comments.
Interaction in other forums is covered by whatever rules apply to said
forums and is in general not covered by the Code of Conduct. Exceptions
may be considered for extreme circumstances.
Contributions submitted for the kernel should use appropriate language.
Content that already exists predating the Code of Conduct will not be
addressed now as a violation. Inappropriate language can be seen as a
bug, though; such bugs will be fixed more quickly if any interested
parties submit patches to that effect. Expressions that are currently
part of the user/kernel API, or reflect terminology used in published
standards or specifications, are not considered bugs.
The address listed in the Code of Conduct goes to the Code of Conduct
Committee. The exact members receiving these emails at any given time
are listed at Members can not
access reports made before they joined or after they have left the
The initial Code of Conduct Committee consists of volunteer members of
the TAB, as well as a professional mediator acting as a neutral third
party. The first task of the committee is to establish documented
processes, which will be made public.
Any member of the committee, including the mediator, can be contacted
directly if a reporter does not wish to include the full committee in a
complaint or concern.
The Code of Conduct Committee reviews the cases according to the
processes (see above) and consults with the TAB as needed and
appropriate, for instance to request and receive information about the
kernel community.
Any decisions by the committee will be brought to the TAB, for
implementation of enforcement with the relevant maintainers if needed.
A decision by the Code of Conduct Committee can be overturned by the TAB
by a two-thirds vote.
At quarterly intervals, the Code of Conduct Committee and TAB will
provide a report summarizing the anonymised reports that the Code of
Conduct committee has received and their status, as well details of any
overridden decisions including complete and identifiable voting details.
We expect to establish a different process for Code of Conduct Committee
staffing beyond the bootstrap period. This document will be updated
with that information when this occurs.