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Software firm SQLite alters Benedictine goals

02 November 2018

A DATABASE-management company in the United States that adopted some of the Rule of St Benedict in its formal code of conduct has been forced to employ it as its code of ethics instead.

The company, SQLite, is a free-to-use server-less database engine for commercial or private use. Notable users include Google Chrome, Safari, Adobe Systems, and Skype. The company’s founder, Dr Richard Hipp, said on Tuesday that he found it “perplexing” that the code of conduct had caused controversy online.

Last week, it was reported that part of the Rule of St Benedict formed SQLite’s code of conduct (News, 26 October). After criticism, the rule is now filed under “Code of Ethics” on the company’s website, although the code of conduct now states: “The original document we put here was more of a Code of Ethics of the project founder. While we stand by those principles, they are not in line with the modern technical meaning of a Code of Conduct and have hence been renamed. . .

“Much like the care and effort we’ve put into securing the longevity of SQLite, we’d like to do the same for that community by clarifying our goals and expectations for all involved.

“To that end the SQLite project has officially adopted the Mozilla Community Participation Guidelines as its Code of Conduct with the exception that the reporting email address is changed to codeofconduct@sqlite.org. While we are not doing so in reaction to any current or ongoing issues, we believe that this will be a helpful part of maintaining the long-term sustainability of the project.”

Speaking from Charlotte, North Carolina, Dr Hipp said that he had been aware of the Rule of St Benedict for a long time, and that he considered them to be the “best way to live a virtuous life”.

Dr Hipp, a Christian, said: “At the beginning of the year, I had customers come to me with supply and registration forms that asked for a code of conduct, and we didn’t have one. I considered Benjamin Franklin’s 13 values.

“I ran it past everyone in the company, and everyone approved, even non-Christians. It went completely unnoticed until someone on Twitter saw it and social-justice activists decided it was radically offensive.

“Among certain members of the social-justice community, the term ‘code of conduct’ is sacred; not meeting particular requirements is essentially blasphemy.”

The new code of conduct is written by social-justice activists, and links to Mozilla’s guidelines.

Dr Cripp points out: “As long as we live up to the Benedictine rules, we do not need to resort to the Mozilla code of conduct.”

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