FreeBSD now allows hugs!

Everyone makes mistakes. Every single one of us.

What’s important is not that we never make mistakes, but that we learn from them. That goes for organizations as well as individuals.

It is with this in mind that I would like to give a (long overdue) high-five to the FreeBSD Project. A very sincere, well earned high-five at that.

The FreeBSD project, in the summer of 2020, voted to change their Code of Conduct in a very positive way. (See: June of 2020! A year ago! This high-five is seriously overdue!)

A little background on Hug-Gate

Back in 2018, the FreeBSD leadership instituted a new Code of Conduct. It was… in a word… insane.

Among other things… it specifically outlawed (this is not a joke) “virtual hugs”. Things like posting an animated .GIF of a teddy bear offering a hug… or simply typing “*hugs*”… those things were now punishable by being kicked out of the project entirely.

To say that I had more than a good chuckle at their expense would be an understatement. Other news outlets (like The Register) did as well.

After these news stories ran, some members of the FreeBSD Project became filled with rage. To the point where one of the leaders of the project coordinated an On-Line harassment campaign against me (which included threats of physical violence) for pointing out how silly “banning not-real-hugs” was.

Which was, let’s be honest, just the weirdest possible reaction they could have had.

So, naturally, I did what any red-blooded nerd with a microphone would do in my position…

I kept poking the bear.

Over the year that followed I made a point of bringing up “FreeBSD Hug-Gate” with regularity. When something silly would happen in the Tech News, I would casually slide in statements like, “Well… this may be ridiculous… but not as ridiculous as banning virtual hugs.”

FreeBSD now allows not-real-hugs

Then, in 2020, the FreeBSD Project voted… to get rid of their (absolutely ridiculous and bizarre) “Hug-banning” Code of Conduct… in favor of a new one.

That new Code of Conduct? Doesn’t once mention hugs. In fact… it is a fairly reasonable document by which to organize a community. With such rules as:

  • Be friendly and patient
  • Be considerate
  • Be respectful

Rules that are… reasonable. Dare I say… good. Well done, FreeBSD!

What is even more heart warming, are the results of the vote:

Only 4% of the FreeBSD Project members voted to keep the strange, slightly twisted, “Hug-banning” Code of Conduct.

Which means a full 96% of the community saw the ridiculousness for what it was… and has a good head on their shoulders!

Let’s be honest. In any community — no matter how amazing that community is — having 96% of the people agree and be reasonable is not always a forgone conclusion!

So, once again, huge high five to the FreeBSD Project. You learned from a (pretty goofy) mistake and made your whole project better. Well done, my dudes.

Maybe it’s time for me to take another look at FreeBSD!

Also… to everyone in the FreeBSD community…

Bryan Lunduke

Former Deputy Editor for Linux Journal magazine. Former Technology Journalist for Network World. Former VP of Technology. Former Linux Marketing Director. Former Dishwasher.