Open Health Community 'Code of Conduct'

Many industries and/or organizations have chosen to establish professional ‘Codes of Ethics’ or ‘Codes of Conduct’. These codes serve several purposes:

·      to provide ethical guidance for the professionals themselves,
·      to furnish a set of principles and standards as a guide against which the conduct of the professionals may be measured, and
·      to provide the public with a clear statement of the ethical considerations that should shape the behavior of the professionals themselves.

The question is whether it is time to try and collaborate on the development and publication of a generally accepted code of ethics or code of conduct to help articulate the expected behavior of those working in the open source community.

Some argue that a code is not needed and that using common sense is enough. I like to believe that too, but have found that in a large diverse community of volunteers common sense may not be enough. Some simple principles and guidelines can truly be a help in avoiding unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings.

Code of Ethics – A set of laws, rules, principles or standards that are used to define acceptable professional behavior and promote high standards of practice consistent with our moral duty and obligations.

Codes of Conduct - A set of rules outlining professional responsibilities and proper business practices for an individual or organization.

In general, it appears that Codes of Conduct are preferred by professionals over a Code of Ethics. What do you think? Should we attempt to create a Code of Conduct to help guide those working in the open source community?


Selected Links to 'Codes of Conduct' and 'Codes of Ethics'

·      Ubuntu Community Code of Conduct
·      Joomla Community Code of Conduct -
·      ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct - 
·      AMIA Code of Ethics for Health Information Professionals -