Code of conduct pledge and cosigner list

Although I’ve mentioned it a couple of times, informally, I would like to more publicly/formally talk about my participation in the Code of Conduct Pledge (#CoCPledge) movement—and hopefully add value to the movement with a sortable list of co-signers. (I’m not using this post to make all the arguments about why codes of conduct are important, but I’ve written about it before, and I will again.)

Now, I’m no John Scalzi, and I know there aren’t any events/organizations that would miss me so much that they will drop everything to develop one of these statements (and the buy-in and policy changes that go alongside them). BUT I think I can help this movement by developing a list of co-signers—a bit like Mr. Scalzi‘s, but hopefully in a format that can be sorted/filtered. The 1500+ co-signers on his thread range from sci-fi convention attendees to famous authors, and although I’m confident that there are many people relevant to library conferences, I can’t point to them. Same with tech events. Same with conventions.

Who knew, the librarian would suggest that we need metadata? :)

Again, I’m sure my code of conduct pledge will have little to no effect—beyond the tons of work I am putting into helping a couple of organizations/events I care about to adopt them—but I think that many of us making this commitment absolutely will matter, especially if event organizers can see how many attendees/speakers/volunteers they’re losing by not adopting these codes.

Would you like to sign/pledge?

So, if you have taken a similar pledge to Scalzi’s or to mine (below), would you please fill out this very short form? I’ll put a page up on the Geek Feminism Wiki, or some other appropriate place, listing co-signers in some organized way. (If lots of people end up on the list, maybe I’ll ask for help. I’m also setting it to be publicly viewable, so people can start using the list before I do anything with it, if they want.) If you want to write a blog post about your particular pledge, I think that’s fantastic; feel free to include the link in the form.

As for what, specifically, you’d be agreeing to and whether exceptions are OK, I agree with Mr. Scalzi (again :)) on the whole idea that you’re an adult human who will make the right choices for you, and your pledge doesn’t have to be the same as mine or as his; you decide what you’re comfortable with!

My version of the pledge

I pledge not to volunteer for organizations or to attend conferences, conventions, or tech events without “strong, specific, enforced” codes of conduct* — for me, that means they must have 1) a list of protected classes of people**, 2) some kind of demarcation between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors**, 3) a reporting/enforcement mechanism in case of code of conduct violations, and, if I’m serving on an event’s organizing committee, I also insist that we have 4) a plan for enforcement.

* “Codes of Conduct” is interchangeable with “anti-harassment policies” or statements of appropriate conduct” — what matters to me is the policy, not its name. The “strong, specific, enforced” rule originally comes from the Ada Initiative.
** Because nobody understands “everybody” properly; nobody’s neutral; Wheaton’s Law is not enough.

Some examples

  • ALA’s Statement of Appropriate Conduct definitely meets #1 and #2, and while it’s a little weak on the enforcement side, I still think it meets that criterion, too. I assume Conference Services has some policies in place, but I’m not a conference organizer, so I don’t need to know the details.
  • Code4Lib’s Code of Conduct is a thing of beauty. I think it would be hard to get passed in certain library circles, since it restricts discriminatory speech in talks (I’m sympathetic to the intellectual freedom argument, even though, personally, I place safety/inclusion above it), but I really like it. It addresses online behavior, too, and I also appreciate that. It doesn’t have a step-by-step guide for staff/helpers, that I can see, but again, I’m not an organizer, so how would I know?
  • SLA’s Anti-Harassment Policy is also quite good, though there’s a grammatical error that makes it a little hard to parse. Again, it disallows certain behaviors in talks, which I approve of, but I understand the arguments against that kind of rule. And, again, it’s the tiniest bit vague on enforcement—though, reading it, I’m convinced that it will be enforced, which is the main thing.
  • I hate to pick on one of my all-time favorite conferences, but, based on the pledge I am taking, I can’t attend ER&L. It’s good that they have a code of conduct, but it’s so vague as to be no help.
  • Outside of library land, I’m happy to see that Emerald City Comic Con fits the bill. I’m attending that on my way back from Code4Lib, this year, and as the closest fan convention to me (unless Vancouver has one), I would have been sad if I’d had to swear off of it.
  • I’m not going this year, but PyCon is also safe, which makes me happy. I’d really like to go, sometime!

About Coral Sheldon-Hess

Python dev, librarian, engineer, feminist, maker, bird nerd
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