Something for Perl event organisers to take into consideration

Jacob Kaplan-Moss:

I’ve decided this is so important to me that I’ll no longer attend or speak at conferences that don’t adopt and publish a code of conduct. I’ll also be using whatever clout I’ve got to encourage conference organizers to adopt and publish anti-harassment policies. […] So why, given the issues [with codes of conduct that] I outlined above, do I take this so seriously?

He makes the point, but does not emphasise it enough in my opinion: the code of conduct is not there to communicate to attendants how or how not to behave (in which capacity it is superfluous with the well-behaved majority and ineffective with perpetrators): it is there to reassure members of minorities that they will be heard and their concerns are understood.


I've talked to JT Smith, organizer of YAPC::NA about this, and YAPC::NA will have a code of conduct.

YAPC::NA this year had one too. Unfortunately we didn't get organized enough to make a public spectacle of it.

I'm not sure what to think of codes of conduct. What's the difference between a conference that has a code of conduct, and one that doesn't have one? What is the difference that's being made? How is it enforced? If something is not covered by the code on conduct, does that mean the organization isn't going to act upon it? But if an organization proves it will act on things not covered by a code of conduct, doesn't that show a code of conduct wasn't necessary? This years YAPC had a code of conduct, but few people knew. That makes for an ideal datapoint: did anyone notice a difference between this years YAPC and last years YAPC that can be attributed to said code of conduct?

For me, actions say more than words. And so far, code of conducts are just words to me.

It is my own belief that a public statement of principles, averring that the community understands and values diversity, and expects the event to be one where every attendee feels welcome and safe is important but that a code of conduct is a sure way to start debates about how to parse the rules.

I think there must also be a pre-existing action plan for conference organizers concerning response to complaints, escalation and if needed eviction. This cannot be allowed to be invented on the spot if we are serious about dealing with misconduct.

I am not convinced there is any positive value to a code of conduct that isn't subsumed and greatly improved by the statement of principles.

As a woman who works as a developer, and where just about every thing I love to do is dominated by men, I can appreciate having a CoC.

Thing is, in the types of situations he brings up, I'd not be afraid. Irritated, to be sure. Any appreciation I may have for the individual would be gone as well. Heck, I might even be irritated enough to shoot something back. But I'm also not what I consider to be your typical woman, either.

But I argue that a CoC is not needed just for the women and minorities. They're needed for everyone. By putting the need for a CoC into the context of providing a safe place for minorities you're more or less providing credence to the idea that we are somehow frail or something and need protection. And I know that was not how it was intended. It's one of those situations where you just can't win no matter what you do and it sucks. I can appreciate that.

It's a thorny subject and one I'm not even sure I know where I stand. On one hand I'm pretty sure I sometimes get treated differently when people know I'm a woman. On the other, I don't usually bring it up because I don't want it to be written off as me being "oversensitive".

At the end of the day I usually try to just shrug it off.

Back on the topic of CoC's though, I guess I always assumed (though I've never had the chance to go to one, unfortunately) that conferences had something along these lines. I suppose in a way the fact that they didn't for so long suggests that they really weren't needed until recently. I think that disappoints me more than anything.

Aristotle: You write "Rather, the code of conduct is a message to the marginalised".

Rather, a code of conduct makes me feel marginalised where before I didn't feel so.

So what if I hear someone making a gay joke? Do I go to the organizers and rat them out?

But it seems to be a sign of our times to put warning labels and regulations on everything - especially interesting since it usually comes from the land of free. Coffee may be hot! Knife may be sharp!

(Warning: this reply may contain an opinion!)

Did you misunderstand? Being gay, I am one of those marginalised by a code of conduct.

Not all the "victims" appreciate the gesture.

Again, I feel it is over-regulating.

There already is a code of conduct, the law. It covers practically everything mentioned there.

And sentences like "If you feel that a threat exists against your person, we advise you to seek a restraining order against the individual in question" make me cringe. Are they serious?

It strongly feels like "We are your Health and Safety department, we will make your life better and if necessary will use force to do so".

Yes, there are unsavory incidents, but I hope they can be resolved by talking to each other, not by immediately deferring to a self-imposed etiquette police.

Actually, it's a matter of personal preference and principle: I dislike superfluous layers of control.

But I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree there. :)

Also, looking forward to seeing you in Riga!

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