The Perl Foundation is fragmenting over Code of Conduct enforcement


I read through this story and related links because Perl is one of the oldest Free Software community in existence and transitioned from not having any kind of code of conduct to addressing toxic behavior over a period of years.

Since the article explicitly states the situation of the Perl community is bad, I did my best to collect facts that would allow me to form my own opinion o the matter. It references an article since deleted but that can be read from

It resembles publicly available reports in that it contains no details about the facts or the individuals who behaved contrary to the code of conduct or those that were victims. This is justified in general, as long as there also exist a non-public report that articulates precisely, down to the last detail, the facts, persons involved and reasoning for enforcing the code of conduct. However, it appears that no such report exists and that the body that issued the statement was not given authority to enforce any code of conduct by the Perl community:

AFAICT, this explains why the statement was retracted.

I tried to collect facts related to the resignation of Sawyer X. The articles cites harassment from one person in particular but there are no links to such conversations or quotes. Sawyer X resignation letter states that they have been harassed but also does not provide any link or quotes. That is is not to say this did not exist, only that an outsider like myself does not have enough information to form an opinion.

There are two links that demonstrate the racist behavior of one community member. The article states that the perl foundation did not address the issue but there are no links that would allow me to form my own opinion. The article also states that a complaint regarding the racist behavior was handled by someone at the perl foundation who was romantically involved with the author of the racist behavior. The article contains a quote from the person that confirms this.

Another resignation mentioned in the article is the person romantically involved with the author of the racist behavior who also was a member of CAT (the body who authored the later redacted reports).

A member of the perl foundation also resigned the same day, in reaction to CAT being put in hiatus. Interestingly this article contains a paragraph that resembles a code of conduct (point 5.).

The last resignation is from a 20+ year board member of TPF and the article in which he explains is decision contains interesting first person impressions:

the Perl Community has ignored toxic behavior for far too long.

which confirms there still is no code of conduct, no mediation and no enforcement. He also writes that:

Did the person in question deserve sanction? Yes. Does the Board have the right to exercise authority over events that it funds/organizes. Yes. Should the Board have applied the sanction to the individual? No, but only because the rules were not clear at the time of the offending behavior.


But I want to make clear that the CAT incident isn’t the reason I’m stepping down. I’m stepping down because it’s time. Fortunately, aside from the CAT incident, the Board is healthier than ever and under Stuart Mackintosh, I think it’s been doing great work. It pains me that the CAT mess overshadows everything else.

After reviewing the available information I disagree with the title. There is a crisis but “fragmenting” suggests something different. I however agree with this phrase in the conclusion:

The Perl community is not the first to struggle with “culture wars” revolving around a code of conduct, either, which makes it all the more puzzling why its board seems incapable of formulating one.