Establishing a Code of Conduct
Setting a code of conduct can be a significant move for conference organizers. While a code of conduct is a valuable addition to a community, there can be some push back, especially from community members who don't understand its value or who haven't experienced any of the potential problems that face female attendees (or those faced by other populations who are underrepresented at conferences). But the difficult process of establishing a code of conduct that some conference organizers face can be valuable in and of itself, as Chavez explains: “A code of conduct gets organizers to have a tough conversation about what they want to see in their community — what they want to promote, encourage, and help foster —and finding a way to deal with what they might wish there was less of —such as trolling, silencing of new people's ideas, and other negative behaviors.”
Creating a code of conduct for a new conference doesn't require starting from scratch. Chavez points to a few options:“To establish a code of conduct, it helps to see what others have done. Some good sources for that are the Citizen Code of Conduct, this Conference Anti-Harassment Policy, and the Conference Code of Conduct, which all cover accepted behaviors and consequences for violating the policies. Each community is different, and might want to emphasize certain things over others.”
Unfortunately, some organizations take the easy way out when setting a code of conduct: I've heard so-called polices that are, in total, Bill and Ted's suggestion to “Be excellent to each other.” That statement isn't really enough to create a safe environment.
The Conference Code of Conduct made available by the Ada Initiative and the 2012 JSconf has become one of the standard codes of conduct used by technology conferences. Because the Conference Code of Conduct is so easy to adopt —it can be forked on Github as needed —it has become the de facto standard for technical communities to adopt. As it happens, the Conference Code of Conduct does suggest, “Be excellent to each other.“ But it also goes into much more depth, in plain English. The short version is as follows:
The Conference Code of Conduct also includes a longer and more detailed version explaining each point more specifically.