09 May, 2011

Code of Conduct or anti-harassment policy

I went to LCA 2011 in Januari. There, a 'mild controvercy' (or rather 'nuclear war') developed around a keynote by Mark Pesce and how it was handled by the conference team. Now personally, I had little issue with Mark's keynote. Ok, there was some harsh language and some explicit imagery, but nothing that offended me. So when an apology was made during the closing ceremony, I was suprised and later on spoke out with some others against the 'censorship'.

Changing mind

But after a while I realized that the point of all this isn't about censorship or Freedom of Speech (vs freedom of 'not being insulted'). Those issues surely play in the wider, public area. I don't want to have laws which allow our government to prosecute anyone who talks about something they don't like! But that is not relevant here. LCA is NOT a public place. It is a conference organized by a team which has EVERY right to tell us under what condictions we can join! It is their conference, after all. And yes, one of those conditions is that we are supposed to watch what we say so we ensure a welcoming place for everyone.

As I've already been convinced that we do need to think about diversity, openness and anti-harassment after reading this LWN article about the darker side of open source conferences by Valerie Aurora, I've decided to draft up a Code of Conduct for the openSUSE Conference today.

You can find the Code of Conduct draft on the wiki and would love input!


  1. Thanks for starting this.


  2. feel free to check out - http://uds.ubuntu.com/harassment/ - I helped write it. The policy does need to exist and it is good that you are putting one in place.

  3. Why is this CoC limited to conferences? #suse should be welcoming as well of course.

    I agree with the sentiment behind "safe from offense", but obviously at a technical conference you should not expect to have your ideas go unchallenged. Actually specifically enumerating that this is OK is probably a good idea.

    So instead I would say something like "create an environment where people feel accepted and *welcome*". Or perhaps simply "safe".

  4. Thanks for drafting the policy, Jos. We do need it.

  5. thanks for the input, all. Ian - of course this should apply to #suse - we have our Guiding Principles for that. For the conference I wanted a more specific CoC, something to show clearly that we care about this subject.

    BTW I used your sentence, it is indeed an improvement :D


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