First off, I appreciated having a PDF on Github. Google Docs and Github are both pretty sluggish on my computer, so being able to download and open it in my PDF reader was a lot nicer than the last time in Google Docs.
As for the document itself...
Mark Olson noticed a problem with the use of "kindness" in the header, but couldn't pin down the specific problem. I think that problem is that "kindness" is noticeably more casual than "collaboration" and "mutual respect". I'd suggest changing it to "courtesy" instead. I also think it would read better moving "can" to before "feel", and changing "We commit..." to "We are committed..." I've put the changes in italics below:
This Code of Conduct helps us build a learning community that is rooted in courtesy, collaboration, and mutual respect. Whether you’ve come to ask questions or to generously share what you know, join us in building a community where all people can feel welcome and participate, regardless of expertise or identity.
We are committed to enforcing and improving the Code of Conduct. It applies to everyone using $CommunityName$ and the Stack Exchange network, including our team, moderators 1, and anyone posting to Q&A sites or chat rooms.
I agree with Rob that researching your question is something the community generally expects, and I feel that it would fit well under the first bullet. The part about feedback is a bit redundant and would be better placed under the feedback bullet. I'm not sure the volunteers sentence is actually important.
If you’re here to get help, make it as easy as possible for others to help you. Include your research and what you've already tried when asking a question so we can provide the best answer.
I'm pretty sure new people are the only ones who will need to learn about our community, so "especially if someone is new" is probably redundant in the next bullet. I've read a lot about people having a hard time with the StackExchange model, treating it like a forum instead, so maybe that was what you intended? It seems like a good thing to mention here.
If you’re here to help others, be patient and welcoming. Learning how to participate in our community can be daunting, especially for people who are used to discussion forums instead. Offer support if you see someone struggling or otherwise in need of help.
To put some comments by Tom Limoncelli and Tim into an answer, I'd suggest the following rewording for the next bullet:
Give and expect feedback. Kind, respectful, clear and constructive feedback is an essential part of our culture. When someone suggests an improvement, consider how you can use it to improve your question or answer.
Like others, I agree with avoiding humor all together being trouble, but the warning still sounds reasonable to me. I think "friendly" and "kindly" are a bit inconsistent with the otherwise professional-sounding writing, and it took me a minute to figure out what "engaging" meant in this context. My suggested rewrite:
Be kind. Be polite and respectful to others. Be careful with jokes and sarcasm -- tone is hard to decipher online and it can be easy to misinterpret. If a situation makes it hard to act respectfully, leave the situation and move on.
The second bullet might benefit from some examples like the first. An example of an example:
- Personal attack: People who believe in rocks are lazy, ignorant idiots who can't be bothered to do a simple google search and read about the mountains of evidence proving they don't exist.
- Personal-feeling attack: This question is lazy and ignorant. It doesn't account for the mountains of articles a simple google search pulls up for "do rocks exist". Spoiler alert: They don't.
- Subtly personal attack: A google search for "do rocks exist" would turn up mountains of articles proving they actually don't.
- Focusing on the content: I noticed your question is important whether or not rocks exist. If you remove the paragraph about rocks, it would be easier to read and likely see more people who can answer.
On the "No bigotry" bullet, I'd prefer to just say "groups they identify with" and leave it at that rather than making a list of them.
"When in doubt, just don't" is witty and concise. It also feels flippant to me and reads like a subtle put-down. Maybe it's just the negativity in this section getting to me, but I dislike it a lot. I'd go for this instead:
No bigotry. We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on the groups they identify with. When in doubt, it never hurts to rephrase it more tactfully or omit the remark entirely.
Reporting and Enforcement
Personally, I don't care whether flagging alerts moderators or triggers an automatic deletion. The process could involve chanting while interrogating a rubber duck taped to a counterfeit Mona Lisa and I'd be perfectly fine with that (well, maybe it'd be a bit creepy). What matters to me is whether the bad stuff goes away.
Saying "We'll respond as quickly as we can" on the Contact part but not the Flag part suggests contacting you gets faster results than flagging the content. I suspect you'd prefer the opposite implication so the moderators can handle the stuff they can and leave staff more time to handle what moderators can't.
"We take your reports seriously" is topically similar to the bullets and dissimilar to the remainder of the paragraph. Combined with the colon at the end of the first paragraph, it makes more sense to me interpreting the bullets and two surrounding paragraphs as a broader "reporting and enforcement" paragraph, briefly interrupted by a bulleted list, rather than a narrower "What you can do" paragraph (with bulleted list) followed by a "what will happen" one.
Thanks to the above interpretation, "We take your reports seriously" is most closely associated with the Contact bullet. By combining with the "We'll respond as quickly as we can" problem, it implies you take contacting more seriously than flagging. Again, that would promote contacting first and flagging second.
It also occurred to me while writing this that I was operating under the assumption that flagging and contacting were equivalent. A brief look at the contact form suggests they're actually very different, and should probably be addressed separately.
I'd rearrange things as follows:
Every person contributes to creating a kind, respectful community. If you find unacceptable behavior directed at yourself or others, you can flag the content to alert the moderators. We take flags seriously and will respond as quickly as we can.
Those who don’t follow the Code of Conduct in good faith may
face repercussions deemed appropriate by our moderation team. All actions will be taken on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of our moderators. This is how moderators generally handle reported issues:
If you have concerns about how a moderator has handled a situation, you can contact us directly.
I'd personally like to see the middle section of the graphic softened a little. It suggests to me that making one (different) mistake per month for six months would get me suspended, even if I'm clearly trying to improve. I'm pretty sure the moderators would avail themselves of the "case-by-case basis" part to just give a warning in each case, which makes the middle section seem overly harsh to me. Or maybe my lack of experience with moderators has driven a false assumption and they really would suspend me for that, in which case I suppose that's fine to leave in.
Also, the hard-of-seeing will need some OCR tools to read that graphic if you don't include an alt text or replace it with plain text.
The term "avenues" seems to be synonymous with "methods" in this context, but I don't think that's what you intended. I suggest changing it to "direction" instead.
We created this Code of Conduct because it reinforces the respect our community members expect from one another. Also, having a code provides us with a clear direction to correct our culture should it stray off-course.
I don't have much (any) experience with Chat, but I get the impression it's more of a "learning and social" community than just a "learning" one.
I feel apathetic toward the TL;DR sections, largely because they're essentially duplicates of what I've already read. I'd likely feel differently if I hadn't already read everything else and made them redundant, or if they had been at the top instead. It's probably not typical that someone would read the whole document and then the TL;DR though, so I think it's all right.
I feel fairly neutral about the Reporting and Enforcement section. It feels like impassively describing the system to me. I think that's okay too.
I feel a little depressed reading the Unacceptable Behavior section. There's a lot of negativity. I think I feel like it's accusing me of being the type of person who would do those kinds of things. I don't like the section. I understand it's necessary, but I still don't like reading it.
I like the Our Expectations section best. I know I hit on it pretty hard, but it's still my favorite and I think that's why I did. It has a lot of potential to be friendly, positive and welcoming. It also feels like good advice for life in general, not just StackExchange. If I were the kind of person who put motivational stuff on my wall, I'd make the edits I suggested and pin the first section up.
I might do that anyway.