Code of Conduct?

Hi everybody, I was editing our participation guide, and there’s a section explaining that we may ban people from the site if they behave badly, so I wanted to link to our Code of Conduct, and I realised… we don’t have one!

At the moment our participation guide basically just says 'play nice, and read this wikipedia page on etiquette.'
But I don’t think it’s enough - we need to have clear guidelines, and a course of action for when things go wrong.
This is something I think we need to sort out before OSCEdays 2016.

A CoC is like a bike lane - it doesn’t stop bad behaviour from happening, but it shows the expectations and standards of a community, and makes it clear to everybody when someone crosses a line - even regarding offences which may otherwise be hard to call people out on - ‘everyday sexism’ etc. If there’s a CoC, it’s easier for other community members to either step in directly and say ‘hey, that’s not on’, or go to the right person who will take responsibility for dealing with the situation.

The tricky part for us as a distributed event is of course enforcing a CoC. What if people come along to a local event and have bad experiences, and the CoC is not followed - harassment or other bad behaviour is not dealt with, problems are not taken seriously, etc?

So my suggestion would be a template for following and enforcing a Code of Conduct at local events. To develop a template Code of Conduct we can use these guidelines set up by the Ada Initiative.

We can’t be certain it will be enacted perfectly everywhere, but we can make it as easy as possible for local teams to follow our lead:

  • provide a template CoC which they can use ‘out-of-the-box’ if they want
  • ask local organizers to have a CoC discussion with participants either before or at the start of their event (it’s ok if this is brief)
  • ask local organizers directly to prominently link to CoC on their local event page/forum category, and name at least one person who is the local contact person for issues regarding the CoC.
  • provide a list of local events on our main website which shows which local events have a CoC and a contact person, and which do not (yet)

other ideas? thoughts? counter-arguments?
@Gien @Jaime @Lars2i @sharmarval @Silvia @TechnicalNature @unteem

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Mmh. To be honest, I don’t think that at this point this is needed or would be helpful.

I remember seeing a talk by Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia). He said, that you can think of a million things that can happen and go wrong and create a huge set of rules to make sure they do not happen. But this most likely will avoid anything to happen. Also positive things.

You have to trust and give people freedoms.

So I would suggest: Nothing bad happened so far (as far as I know). Let’s deal with bad things when they happen. This Code of Conduct can overcomplicate things and send the wrong message to people. The global OSCEdays and every local organizer already have enough on their plate.

I was already not super happy with the Code of Conduct part in the participation guide. But in that length I think it is ok at the moment.

Ok, thanks for the input - I have some thoughts on this but I will first wait and see if others also have anything to say.

Zara Rahman sent me this useful resource for learning more about Codes of Conduct, and whether they’re necessary, how to implement one etc. (it’s a little focused on coding/tech/open source conferences so not exactly the same participants/culture that we have, but still relevant)

Hey guys,

I agree that a code of conduct can make sense, but I am not sure that our community needs it as much as a hackaton community does, since we “eco-hackers” would be more accustomed to women than computer as developers (sorry, I know this is an unfair and grotesque over-generalisation).

That said… I have come across this doc that I find really nicely done. There is even a code of conduct conveniently we can adapt for our cause :wink:

It covers everything needed to organize a hackaton, so we might as well use it to take inspiration and present and complete all of our info that we already have.

The doc is really simple and well designed:

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Hey Sam,

sorry re slow response. No proper connectivity at la casa till tomorrow.

My 2 cents: If you design to keep out the trolls you attract trolls. Rather than a set of rules saying “this is what will get you banned”, I prefer a “this is a space where we treat one another like this” and “the conversational culture tends to be like that”. If and when problems ensue then deal with them on a case by case basis- no matter what you do someone is likely to be unhappy in conflict situations anyway and you don’t have resources for community managers full on afai anyway. Here are the Edgeryders guidelines for interacting with other members:

Hope this helps


I think it’s a good idea to have one, even if it’s simple. I think it’s important to find people who are more likely to be vulnerable and ask their opinions. Asking someone like me (a white educated male), II can make educated estimations, but I’ve never been stalked, threatened or verbally/ physically abused in a way a lot of other people I know have, so my estimations are no that useful.

I like the idea of asserting what the community is. E.g. This is a place for respectful conversation. We value listening to and learning from a diverse range of people. Abusive communication is not welcome in this space.

It’s way way way better to have a basic code of conduct in place than have to deal with a situation based on some values you’ve materialised on the spot.

Here’s the code of conduct we wrote for an in person conference last year :

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Generally a code of conduct can be useful … when it is needed.

To restate my opinion on this:

Imagine you give a fresh married couple a gift card for a gift card for a marriage crisis advisor …

What kind of ideas do you plant in their heads? What kind of image you produce of them by that, for them. How do you guide how they think about themselve, how they invent their marriage together? Was it a mistake to get married?

Imagine you give them tickets for a world trip and 6 months off, instead. Give them them means to develop a healthy relationship!

When things have gone wrong its time for the crisis advisor gift card - and then not too late. But before anything happened it is just an accusation. Saying: “I suspect YOU to behave badly.”

I really like what @Nadia says: Just add one sentence saying something like:

“The OSCEdays is a space where we treat one another respectfully, every voice can be heard, equally.”

This is a beautiful spin. And it is likely to attract the right people and inspire good action. This is the world trip.

It is the way we communicate that produces the culture! When we are inclusive, and I think we are, culture will be like this. And in the best case we will never need a Code of Conduct.

In my opinion a Code of Conduct is a band aid for a broken culture. If I see one, I think, ah, things have gone wrong here - the culture is fucked up. But nothing like this happened here, so far.

I agree with Sam and the others that we need one, even more so, now that we will have an organization that manages this community. A short, clear and positive one (what is welcomed, not what is banned), like the ones suggested, would work. It would help deal swiftly and fairly with any instances of abuse, for which social media is a perfect space, as we can point to the CC and not have to argue about that particular instance and after somebody has been deeply hurt within our community. It’s not about trolls, but about some people not understanding certain cultural sensitivities. It’s better to be proactive than reactive.

Seeing the CC I would not interpret it as reflecting poorly on our community, on the contrary, I would think: we are open, but only to a civilized communication and common work.

We discussed this in our call yesterday and decided to create a basic document for the global OSCEdays which outlines the positive, inclusive aspirations of our community, and sets some basic guidelines.
This week I will copy+paste some bits and pieces from existing codes of conduct to create a draft which we can then discuss and improve.

Alongside that document, I think it would be useful to link to resources about Codes of Conduct and include an invitation for local events to consider introducing a code of conduct, making people responsible for dealing with issues when they arise etc.
This is not something that local teams MUST do, but it would be good to have the information there for them so that if they decide it is a priority, we can make it as easy as possible to implement.


The key is to create a code of conduct that is unique to your company. So many organizations fall into the trap of writing a code of conduct that is stale and not at all individualized. Try to maintain some sort of tone or voice that is unique to your company. Here are some examples from well-recognized companies: