[FOSDEM] It's time for a Code of Conduct

jurgen.gaeremyn at telenet.be jurgen.gaeremyn at telenet.be
Fri Oct 30 15:33:35 CET 2015

Hey all, 

<tldr;>Summary, idea for action at the end</tldr;> 

I'm seeing two explicit camps here. On the one hand, we've got existing volunteers (including staff) that are swamped by loads of work, and when making the cost/benefit (un)conscious analysis end up feeling that they can't take up yet another task. 
On the other hand, there's a group of people that needs to be split up into 2 groups: (1) people who were a victim of (un)intentional harassment and (2) people who step up to protect the people who are in the first group. Both see the need for clarity. 

The clarity is twofold: 
(1) Victims of harassment need to know where they can find help or means to report 
(2) Clarity as to what isn't acceptable in our group. 

So there's the obvious: illegal stuff is not acceptable. And immediately taking legal actions is the way to go if so... (so now we're all gonna call the cops if we see someone smoking pot?) 

First thing a victim needs, is a safe haven, a place to sound their nasty experience and hear someone who acknowledges this story. This does not imply numbly believing all that a person says (as also a victim always starts from a subjective experience and his/her impression is not always in line with the intent of the called offenders). 
What are typical expectations: 
- solve my problem, take corrective actions (eg. thievery) 
- report an issue so this can be fixed (isn't this in the open source spirit?) (eg. non-accessible spaces) 
- report an issue so this won't happen to others in the future 

Typically this kind of psycho-social skillset is something not as present with many developers (just as not that many social workers are great devs, it's a skill too). 
I consider myself skilled in this matter, and would be glad to volunteer to man a help-point for harassment reporting or minority issues (in FOSDEM, females are a minority as are people with a handicap, even more than the traditional ethnical minorities). 

I can imagine there are more (potential) volunteers that would be glad to step up to man this place for time slots during FOSDEM. Possibly in this team not all volunteers will be as skilled (but the same goes for the network team), but I'm convinced that this is a team that can actually grow through the years. 

This volunteer team should have direct access to key staff, and will only do this if they judge this as important/acute. 
Complaints should be stored (anonymized), these volunteers can take notes. Staff can evaluate these statistics after the event (and no longer be surprised about this, now the third year) 

A place where you can talk (and cry) discretely is a good idea. I hope that is something that could be arranged with the ULB. I'd be glad to contact the conseiller en prévention to talk about this topic. Psychosocial concerns is an import topic on corporate safety nowadays... 

The key staff isn't the team that should work on working out procedures - this isn't their skill set + they already work 25 hours per day to have a great FOSDEM... 

Putting my money where my mouth is... I'm willing to help on this. 


- Have a room (and phone number?) where someone can report issues. 
- Have a new TASK in the volunteers application. 
- Have an (anonymized) register of complaints. 
- Have a follow-up and procedures. 

----- Oorspronkelijk bericht -----

Van: "Emanuil Tolev" <emanuil.tolev at gmail.com> 
Aan: "Pieter Hintjens" <ph at imatix.com> 
Cc: "FOSDEM visitors" <fosdem at lists.fosdem.org> 
Verzonden: Vrijdag 30 oktober 2015 15:25:35 
Onderwerp: Re: [FOSDEM] It's time for a Code of Conduct 

On 30 October 2015 at 14:20, Emanuil Tolev < emanuil.tolev at gmail.com > wrote: 

On 30 October 2015 at 14:03, Pieter Hintjens < ph at imatix.com > wrote: 

It would be useful to put down a central meeting point for volunteers interested in this, so that there's a central place reports can come to, and so the volunteer group can organise each day. I'm inclined to suggest the desk at K, the only problem with that being that it can be quite crowded. But it does have a supply room in the back if immediate private conversation is required, and it's close to the staff room for serious reports. 

Actually apparently there already is a staff member who coordinates this aspect (see other thread by Johan). Now he's mentioned it I do recall being told there was one when I last volunteered. Perhaps we can form a more organised group this year while reporting any incidents to that person, and working on producing simple and short briefs on what to do in after-the-fact situations. A conduct hack! 





On Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 2:41 PM, Daniel Pocock < daniel at pocock.pro > wrote: 
> On 30/10/15 14:10, Andreia Gaita wrote: 
>> On Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 1:47 PM, Daniel Pocock < daniel at pocock.pro 
>> <mailto: daniel at pocock.pro >> wrote: 
>> On 30/10/15 13:06, Andreia Gaita wrote: 
>> > This is not a question of "Why". It's a question of "When". If you're 
>> > asking why, especially in shocked, appaled or sarcastic tones, you 
>> > seriously should take it upon yourselves to rethink your attitude 
>> > towards other people and maybe realize that being an unempathetic 
>> > asshole might work well when you're chugging beers with your 
>> mates, but 
>> > doesn't really help towards making the tech environment a place where 
>> > everybody can feel safe and supported. 
>> > 
>> > You want to know why a code of conduct is needed? Because of you, 
>> that's 
>> > why. 
>> You have written about people being unempathetic but I feel this 
>> conclusion fails to show empathy with the people you are trying to 
>> convince. You literally conclude with an "us-and-them" posture. 
>> Why would I be empathetic towards people that are being sarcastic and 
>> dismissive of something that has been clearly shown to be important 
>> through countless examples and conversations over the years? Why am I 
>> the one required to be empathetic towards people who apparently don't 
>> think that this is important because it doesn't happen to them? 
> Because you obviously care about this and that is the effort that 
> leaders sometimes have to make when they want to change something. 
> Also, because it will show how you would negotiate with people in a 
> real-life conflict situation, listening to both sides and gaining their 
> trust, no matter how you feel about it personally. 
> At no point was I trying to defend any of the more ridiculous things 
> that have been said in this discussion. It is not about showing empathy 
> with such comments but looking behind them to try and work out how to 
> reach the people who made them. 
> Regards, 
> Daniel 
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