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Changes 3/21/13 per PSF members / PyCon staff request to clarify pers…

…onal information disclosure / public name and shame
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1 parent 649f6db commit 500a3d25c27065598002f7c999de3fdfb7ab18b1 @jnoller jnoller committed Mar 21, 2013
Showing with 4 additions and 2 deletions.
  1. +3 −1 Attendee Procedure for incident
  2. +1 −1 Staff Procedure for incident
@@ -2,7 +2,7 @@ This procedure has been adopted from the Ada Initiative's guide titled "[Confere
1. Keep in mind that all conference staff will be wearing a conference t-shirt/button with the word “STAFF” on it (or otherwise clearly marked as staff). The staff will also be prepared to handle the incident. All of our staff are informed of the [code of conduct policy](/2013/about/code-of-conduct/) and guide for handling harassment at the conference. *There will be a mandatory staff meeting onsite at the conference when this will be reiterated as well.*
-2. Report the harassment incident (preferably in writing) to a conference staff member - all reports are confidential.
+2. Report the harassment incident (preferably in writing) to a conference staff member - all reports are confidential, please do not disclose public information about the incident until the staff have had sufficient time in which to address the situation.

andors Mar 21, 2013

While English isn't my first language, wouldn't "please do not disclose information publicly about the incident" be more correct than "please do not disclose public information about the incident"?


steviesteveo Mar 21, 2013

How about "please do not publicly disclose information about the incident"? It's inevitably going to be looked on as a gagging provision, though.

If you must have it, I'd emphasise letting the staff deal with it. "Report the harassment incident (preferably in writing) to a conference staff member - all reports are confidential. Please give the staff reasonable time to address the situation before making any public disclosure about the incident"

When reporting the event to staff, try to gather as much information as available, but do not interview people about the incident - Staff will assist you in writing the report/collecting information.
@@ -18,4 +18,6 @@ The staff is well informed on how to deal with the incident and how to further p
3. If everyone is presently physically safe, involve law enforcement or security only at a victim's request. If you do feel your safety in jeopardy please do not hesitate to contact local law enforcement by dialing 911. If you do not have a cell phone, you can use any hotel phone or simply ask a staff member.
+**Note**: Public shaming can be counter-productive to building a strong community. PyCon does not condone nor participate in such actions out of respect.

dannguyen Mar 21, 2013

+Note: Public shaming can be counter-productive to building a strong community. PyCon does not condone nor participate in such actions out of respect.

I think "out of respect" should be omitted for reasons of clarity and accuracy. Respect for whom? The reasons for an organization not to condone public shaming are many, of which respect (for all parties involved) is just one.


aviraldg Mar 21, 2013

Why just a note? This should work like "responsible disclosure" for security issues.


andors Mar 21, 2013

I think the note should be omitted in its entirety, as it acts as a reactionary comment on the current situation rather than policy.


jnoller via email Mar 21, 2013


andors Mar 21, 2013

To me there's a difference in saying "This is the proper way to do something, let's clearify", as done at line 5, versus "This thing (which someone did x days ago) hurts the community", as done here. Especially if it's explicit only for one parties actions.


lyndsysimon Mar 21, 2013


In this case, the actions of the other party were already explicitly addressed in the Code of Conduct: line 29.


jnoller via email Mar 21, 2013


wilkie Mar 21, 2013

You cannot leave this as termed. As it stands, 'public shaming' could mean far too many things. There is a time and place to make these calls as a conference goer. Calling it 'public shaming' is undoubtedly (and already used to denounce the victim and is going to be a cause of victim blaming. Be true to your own words and be explicit over implicit with that you are actually discouraging.


agentultra via email Mar 21, 2013


pythonchelle Mar 22, 2013


I don't disagree that public shaming is counter-productive. I think we would do well to separate the act of and legitimacy of speaking out itself with the method of speaking out. Maybe this could be reworded to emphasize that in order for the chair/PSF to take appropriate action vis a vis the CoC, it must be done within the appropriate conference channels... i.e. not Twitter, Facebook, etc, rather than focusing on the specific act of public shaming?


adriarichards Mar 27, 2013

I agree with wilkie that the phrase "public shaming" is vague, assumes intent and can lead to victim blaming. I was directly involved in the incident that took place. Early Thursday morning (3/21/2013) at about 4am, I requested by email that the PyCon organizers add version control to the Code of Conduct instead of changing the content without notice. I provided screenshots showing the difference from the Google cached version and the new one. I've seen these notices provided several ways -- via change log files, version control systems like Github or using blog posts as reference points. After the changes mid-week, "public shaming" started circulating in several media reports prompting my email to PyCon organizers.


nixpulvis Mar 27, 2013

I think what everyone is trying to say by public shaming is "public" ie Twitter, Facebook, or any form of media, "shamming" ie bringing attention to comments, actions, or appearances, is not the proper way to handle a situation that someone feels deserves recourse. This should not discourage one from bringing attention to a problem, just lay out some guidelines for how to go about that.


whit537 Mar 27, 2013

Having the Code of Conduct here on GitHub is a big win. Thanks for pushing for that, @adriarichards.


whit537 Mar 27, 2013

I agree that "public shaming" is loaded and sensationalist. The model of "responsible disclosure" from the security world is the most helpful language I've heard so far (@aviraldg introduced it early in this thread, and @jnoller picked up on it below). On that model, what @adriarichards did was irresponsible disclosure. But of course, she did it before the model was recognized, and without her actions we wouldn't be having this conversation at all. :)

I think it would be a net win if this incident led to the spread of the "responsible disclosure" meme for Codes of Conduct.


jnoller Mar 27, 2013


Please see tip / 742d899 for the current wording. I failed at conveying responsible disclosure.


agentultra via email Mar 27, 2013


kstrauser Mar 27, 2013


Remember: no Code of Conduct, not even a signed contract, removes the ability or right of a victim to report assault or harassment to police. The "public shaming" proposals I've seen don't even seek to limit the victim from telling the world about unresolved reports of harassment. I think the intent is to say "please give us the opportunity to handle this here at the lowest level first".

Also, please note that the charged terms of "victim" and "perpetrator" assume guilt.

And finally, I do think "handling it locally" can make a huge difference. If I were pulled out of a talk by a PyCon staffer to address a complaint someone made about me, I assure you they'd have my undivided attention. On a much smaller scale, if my daughter hit another kid at the park, I'd hope that I'd have the chance to deal with it myself without the police being called first. That would not mean that my daughter was "getting away with it" - in many ways, she'd probably have an easier time with the police.


nixpulvis Mar 27, 2013

The scope of "public" might need some clarification. If you are in a public place and say something, it seems reasonable that the group of people that you are in earshot / view of are the public. I agree that any actions said in "public" should be safe to address to "public". However when you bring an issue to a broader public, such as twitter, then people who have no context to the situation become involved. It's not fair for the accused to be openly discussed by people not aware of the context.


whit537 Mar 27, 2013

I think it would be a net win if this incident led to the spread of the "responsible disclosure" meme for Codes of Conduct.

I mean, I think that's a win from an institutional point of view. But, also, fuck institutions, sometimes. :)

I guess I'm just really torn between @wilkie's idea that it's good to "make a scene" (twitter) and the idea that many small, quiet actions are more effective in the long run (cf. @carljm, twitter). The goal is for the next mr-hank not to make a dongle joke (right?). I want mr-hank to not make the dongle joke because he wants to not make the dongle joke, not because he's scared of the repercussions. I want mr-hank to refrain from dongle jokes out of love, not out of fear.

Also, if @adriarichards decides to "responsibly disclose" next time, I want it to be out of love for mr-hank and the PyCon organizers (and I'm not saying she didn't act out of love this time!), and not out of fear of violating a Code of Conduct or of Internet vitriol.

Really the goal is for both mr-hank and @adriarichards to feel welcome and loved and human at PyCon. And everywhere.

I guess I just feel like both activism and institutions are brutalizing and dehumanizing if not motivated by love. If I make a scene to get a point across but I don't act out of love for the person in power that I'm standing up to, then I find myself not believing in my activism. (I'm talking about myself here, not anyone else.) When I make a scene I find myself wanting to immediately step in and bring the person on the "other" side back over so we can work through it together and by the end of the scene we can have unity. Likewise, of course, an institutional Code of Conduct is only as good as the people who use it. The PyCon Code of Conduct works because @jnoller is the one using it.

So I guess I feel like both activism and Codes of Conduct are potentially valid modes for me (again, I'm not saying anything about you :) ), but neither are absolute for me. The absolute for me is love.


hurleyit via email Mar 27, 2013

A listing of [PyCon staff is located here](/2013/about/staff/), including contact phone numbers. If at all possible, all reports should be made directly to [Ewa Jodlowska]( (Event Coordinator) or [Jesse Noller]( (PyCon Chair).
@@ -58,7 +58,7 @@ Give accused attendees a place to appeal to if there is one, but in the meantime
It is very important how we deal with the incident publicly. Our policy is to make sure that everyone aware of the initial incident is also made aware that it is not according to policy and that official action has been taken - while still respecting the privacy of individual attendees. When speaking to individuals (those who are aware of the incident, but were not involved with the incident) about the incident it is a good idea to keep the details out.
-Depending on the incident, the conference chair or his designate may decide to make one or more public announcements. If necessary, this will be done with a short announcement either during the plenary and/or through other channels. No one other than the conference chair or someone delegated authority from the conference chair should make any announcements.
+Depending on the incident, the conference chair or his designate may decide to make one or more public announcements. If necessary, this will be done with a short announcement either during the plenary and/or through other channels. No one other than the conference chair or someone delegated authority from the conference chair should make any announcements. No personal information about either party will be disclosed as part of this process.

agentultra Mar 21, 2013

You should use gender-neutral pronouns. The conference chair may be someone of another gender or gender-identity.


isaacsanders Mar 21, 2013

"the conference chair or their designate"


sauravc Mar 21, 2013

Since 'conference chair' is singular, to be grammatically correct your suggestion should be "the conference chair, or his or her designate"


hurleyit Mar 21, 2013

Actually, lots of places have adopted their as a singular. Or you could just just remove the "his."


dfltr Mar 21, 2013

The epicene they is just as grammatically correct.


dequis Mar 21, 2013

I believe one of these should be appropriate


holdenweb via email Mar 21, 2013


ivanov Mar 21, 2013

"the conference chair, or a designate" or "the conference chair, or a chair's designate"

If some attendees were angered by the incident, it is best to apologize to them that the incident occurred to begin with. If there are residual hard feelings, suggest to them to write an email to the conference chair or to the event coordinator. It will be dealt with accordingly.

90 comments on commit 500a3d2

Depending on the incident, the conference chair or his designate may decide...

Perhaps that should be reworded to be more gender inclusive:

Depending on the incident, the conference chair, or his or her designate, may decide...

Or just make it neutral:

Depending on the incident, the conference chair, or designate, may decide...


jnoller replied Mar 21, 2013


+1 Public shaming brought public shame to us all.

Great decision, now this is professional :)


Good work, Jesse.



A fair addition.

I note that it only requires that an incident be reported before publicizing, not that incidents not be publicized. I like it.

ianb replied Mar 21, 2013

It would be quite nice if, after the event, organizers could make an anonymized summary of what general things happened and how PyCon dealt with them. If everything is kept hush hush I think it means whatever learning happened about specific incidences is limited to those who were directly involved.


jnoller replied Mar 21, 2013

I'd love to see a way people can easily report incidents where they don't feel like they are in a position to confront in a private manner and it's during the middle of a presentation.

I understand that it's easy to see this incident as an example of attempting to shame, but I see it as an attempt to report. I'd have no idea how to report otherwise during the presentation and with all of the information needed for the team members to respond.

This change seems to be designed specifically to make it harder to complain, and easier for a small group of people to cover up abuse.

It reminds me of the "roach motel" dark pattern. Soon: "to complain publicly about any PyCon behavior, send a notarized statement from three different witnesses to our P.O. Box..."

@hurleyit, are you saying we need a PyCon 911 system? There seems to be at least one PyCon Staff member (if not more) at all events. Also, if I understand correctly -- incidents don't have to be reported in real time. We don't need to build a police state at PyCon IMHO.

@killerswan, are you implying that PyCon covers up incidents? This was my first PyCon and it appears from the outside that things are trying to be done in the most transparent of ways while continuing privacy for all parties involved.

To call it a police state is a bit much. But people could easily have anxiety disorders that make it hard to directly approach someone. Under this, they have no recourse but to leave the talk in order to get behavior that is against the code of conduct to stop. That's ridiculous.

@killerswan This change is designed to prevent mindless internet witch-hunts when things can be handled in much more responsible ways.

I'm with @hurleyit - There should be a way to report people without disrupting the entire conference for you. Most sports stadiums in the US now have ways to report rowdy fans over SMS. It could be as simple as a separate twitter account that you tweet at, it autofollows for 10-15 minutes, and then the reporter can DM images or details. Gives a public record (the initial "@pyconhelp hey, want to report a code of conduct violation") while offering a channel to privately share identifying information. Or someone could hack something together using Twilio or whatever.

It's not a huge necessity, but it might make it easier to report in a way that's both transparent & fair to the reported... Just an idea.

@sujal, nice idea -- however it makes me wonder if we're over engineering a solution. From the outside, there appears to be just a few incidents from the entire conference (based on the blog posts) of many days and 2500+ people from all 50 states and many countries. Are we trying to fix an issue that doesn't exist?

@maestrofjp The issue exists. We already have one bug report and I've read many of them. I'd suggest looking at these incidents like bugs. We need an easy way for people to report bugs as they happen or these things don't get reported until much later and generally in a very public way.

@killerswan that seems like hyperbole to me. This is an attempt by Jessie to make the conference a safe and respectful environment for everyone. This discussion should stay in the realm of the rational for us to actually accomplish safety and security for everyone involved at PyCon. (Which I think is everyone's goal here, especially Jessie's) @jnoller

@hurleyit as a bunch of Python hackers, I am sure that we could come up with a system where people can easily report incidents from their seats. :)

@aviraldg The context: half the people in any room are doing things like tweeting pictures of cool stuff they saw at the conference. To have a prohibition on doing the same thing with something bad is odd.

In all honesty, I have a feeling that most "incidents" can be solved by just saying something. Off color comments and inappropriate jokes happen all the time at the office or in professional settings -- as much as we'd like to think it does not.

I'd rather focus on how to we build community. To quote a commenter on a G+ thread - Kathleen Flippen (sorry, thread is marked as limited -- not public):

"Perhaps we need to worry less about watching everything we say in a completely paranoid fashion, and working more towards encouraging open dialogue, meaning someone can tell you they find what you said offensive without fear, and you can apologize and not do it again? Maybe I'm just a dreamer? :)"

@maestrofjp it's possibly over engineered... my buddy here was laughing at me for suggesting anything more complicated than a web form, but I like the transparency of having the initial tweet be public.

I don't know how much Pycon needs it. I don't go to many conferences, Pycon included. This issue keeps coming up, though, and it might be a fun way to build something to help. That's all.

@maestrofjp In all honesty, I find that a privileged view. For some people, confronting others uses up a lot of energy and with certain groups, they would always be confronting others. It's also comforting to me to know that I would not be stuck in one of these situations with no way to resolve it that wouldn't open me up to being rude myself or a poor reaction from the person I'm addressing. I mean, look at the things people have written about her as it is. Many of them are misogynistic and horrible. I've had similar happen to me when I try to address it as you say. That's why I prefer to have a third party present during confrontations.

@sujal, I do worry about the possibility of false positives and I guess I do like the concept of "innocent until proven guilty." It is easy to take things out of context especially if you do not know the person. I assume that is why PyCon takes privacy on both parties seriously.


jnoller replied Mar 21, 2013

Well, if you want that, I suggest making it possible for people to privately report incidents while the event is happening through their phones or computers. Otherwise, people who feel like they are being harmed will only be left with a public report option or being forced to suffer through something.


jnoller replied Mar 21, 2013

+1 @jnoller - right on. I do find it interesting that during this comment thread that most of us (including myself) have made the assumption when discussing possible FUTURE incidents that the "offender" is guilty by the shear fact that something was reported. I think this underscores the why investigation needs to take place first in order to get the facts straight.


great to see a community not accepting an "off the shelf" policy and continuing to refine and iterate on it.

Good job. Thank you for everything.

I would love to see a reporting feature integrated into @lanyrd—or at least the basic emergency contact information displayed—so people will know how to handle these types of situations across different events.

Maybe a code of conduct could be added to an event page as well—with one or several boilerplate options available.

Just a thought.

I would hope most people would know this, but might it help to let people know that conversations during presentations should be kept to a minimum and at a volume that doesn't disturb those around them? What really got me about this was that the details of the conversation were a bit irrelevant.


I'm only speaking for myself here, but it seems to me that if I am bothered by someone at a conference, and for any reason it is not feasible to confront them assertively, and it is important enough that I cannot just solve the situation by disengaging - then I can leave the room and talk to conference staff. I don't believe that there is a forced choice either to make a public issue first, or just suffer in silence.

So, because someone else appears to be violating the code of conduct, I need to miss out on the presentation? Really?

How about we don't make inappropriate jokes out of respect for those attending the conference with us?

While I think the incident is rather unfortunate it's an opportunity for the PyCon organizers to take a more pro-active approach to educating the community about what is and is not appropriate behaviour.

Better reporting tools are not the answer. We should be educating people. This policy change shames the people who are willing to speak out against this kind of inappropriate behaviour.

I myself had to respond to a situation where a male colleague was making disparaging sexist comments at PyCon of all places. I took the more discrete approach and other than ejecting myself from an uncomfortable situation I felt like I achieved nothing by it. I don't want to teach my daughter to program if she's going to be raised in a culture where she is just going to have to be conditioned to report it and deal with it. She shouldn't have to suffer this kind of behaviour in the first place.

The PyCon organizers have a great opportunity here to take a positive, instead of an apologist, approach to dealing with this issue.

I don't think I will be attending next year if this is how we as a "community" are going to handle these sorts of situations.

@agentultra Like any other behaviour that a community condemns, though, unless these incidents never happen (which we know to be false) there needs to be a policy to deal with them. However I do feel that if a 911/reporting app is required then we've already lost. I haven't been to many conferences in recent years but if the atmosphere necessitates such reporting tools then I'd steer clear.

@daviddoran I've had to sit through presentations where people in the audience were doing stuff like this and worse. Heck, I've had to sit through presentations I'd rather leave because the presenter was doing these sorts of things, but leaving would require inconveniencing more than 10 people as I tried to sneak past them to get out to the aisle and to leave. Most of the time is fine, sure. But it has and will continue to happen.

@hurleyit In a cinema, if someone is making noise you can ask them to quiet down. If they don't, you can step out and talk to the staff. Sure, in an ideal world everyone would be quiet and you'd never miss a minute of a film. But I don't expect the cinema to provide me a "Report A Moviegoer" app and I hope we never feel the need for one.


jnoller replied Mar 21, 2013

@agentultra, I think we can all agree that root of all these social issues occur much earlier in life / schooling / family values / etc. However, it is unfair to think that PyCon can fix people.

I agree education is the correct course, but we cannot expect people that make remarks to walk into PyCon with the CoC as a primer and suddenly act professionally. I learned early in young adulthood is that the world can be a nasty place even though I hold a rather idealistic on the world most days.

I think the only recourse is for the conference to try their best involving sticky social issues and making everybody aware of the CoC. As we travel down this thread, I do applaud @jnoller and PyCon for trying their hardest and trying their best.

@daviddoran This isn't a cinema. I'm not at conferences for my entertainment. Feel free to not supply one. Don't cry "why is there no diversity" when you don't.

@hurleyit I was replying to your earlier comment above, by the way. That's sad to hear...I haven't attended many conferences the last few years so I'm not acutely aware of how prevalent this behaviour is. In my experience it hasn't been. But, sadly, it appears it's a bigger problem than I thought.

I don't think anyone should be forced to miss presentations, certainly not on account of other people acting foolish or bullying. But it should normally be possible to talk to conference staff briefly about it and then sit back down, if I want someone talked to or kicked out. I would personally only change seats or leave the room if I were very upset, to avoid becoming more upset, because in that case, awkwardly getting up or filling in from slides or videos would be a lesser evil compared to an uncontrolled escalation of the situation. This is just the personal best I can do with the bad situations which unavoidably happen to me from time to time, since I cannot control others. My point is that there are almost always other options in the mixture of talk and disengagement, so that there is not a forced choice between a bruising public blowout and passive endurance.


jnoller replied Mar 21, 2013

Also, I can think of at least a few cases where leaving one's seat during a presentation might be difficult to impossible:

  • People with mobility issues
  • People who are with a child
  • People who are sitting in the middle of the row, particularly if they are a larger person or the other people in the row have not kept the floor clear.

@agentultra I don't see the apologist line here. Rather, I read it as "We, as a community, want to build a positive and inclusive atmosphere. We believe that this is possible. Incidents and disagreements will happen and we believe that, from experience, it is harmful to all parties to jump to the court of public opinion. The aim is not to silence any injured party or protect any perpetrator."

This is just my (optimistic) reading of the code of conduct as an outsider. At the end of the day, no one is under a gag order. The best way to ensure a great atmosphere is to have great people on the ground. It sounds like the PyCon people are doing pretty well and they're just trying to put their experience and thinking into writing.

@agentultra No I know you were talking about the policy and not the people. But I just think that "please don't make it public before we can talk" is helpful.

I had someone on twitter offer a suggestion - is there any way we could include some of the reasoning for asking people reporting incidents to keep the information private until staff gets an opportunity to review and address the situation?

Any policy that limits the actions a victim can take to mitigate their abuse (within reason, and without allowing abuse to be conducted in the other direction) is vehemently anti-victim and pro-abuser, and frankly comes across as a way to prevent PR issues for the convention, while not doing anything to help prevent such abuse from occurring in the first place. It's a shame, given that it seems the con did a good job of responding to the event initially.


jnoller replied Mar 21, 2013

If a person is a victim of abuse or harassment, it is certainly up to them with regards to whether or not they would like to talk about it publicly. Certainly many may choose NOT to do so, and these people should of course have their privacy respected; but disallowing someone the option of bringing it to public attention does so much more to protect the behaviors in question than it does to protect a victim.

Now, disclosing the identity of someone ELSE who has been abused, without their permission, SHOULD of course be disallowed, as this infringes upon the agency and privacy of the victim, but that is not really what is specified as far as I can tell.

@draconum In my experience, the vast majority of incidents where one or more parties are offended are not intentional. Often, sincere apologies are offered and the issue can be closed to the mutual satisfaction of all parties.

The part that I see the PyCon staff attempting to fill here is that of a mediator. Given that role, it is entirely reasonable to expect they be given a chance to mediate before public accusations are made.

Your stance - that "any policy that limits the actions a victim can take to mitigate their abuse ... is vehemently anti-victim and pro-abuser" - seems to imply that the person reporting is right and the person being reported is wrong. "Victim" and "abuser" are words that have very specific connotations associated with them, which may or may not be applicable.

I fully believe that the primary mission of PyCon is to provide a safe and inviting venue for all attendees. I think we can all agree that the conversations that are being held at this very moment across social media are not conducive to meeting this goal. What I believe @jnoller and the rest of the staff are doing here is attempting to prevent this from happening again - and that this is entirely within the scope of their responsibilities in that role.

Finally... this is on Github. If you fork this and issue a pull request, I can't imagine that it would not be considered and discussed. In the end, we are a community, and the only way problems get solved is when people speak up with a solution.

@lyndsysimon I'm not suggesting that anyone who reports an event is, by definition, always truthful, but I would contend that harassment, both reported and unreported, is far more common and pervasive than fake reports of harassment are. Especially considering the consequences for reporting - the woman who sparked this as a public issue has received a significant degree of violent threats since talking about it publicly, despite it being well established at this point that what's she is saying is true - there is VERY little incentive to make a false report.

That said, this all comes across as the conference wanting to make the final determination of whether or not a report is legitimate before allowing someone to come forward in a public forum about it, and expecting a victim of harassment to trust that a conference will always make that call in their favor seems suspect; again, this far more serves the needs of the convention (which certainly does not want to deal with a PR issue, or indicate in any way to its attendees that problems may actually occur there) than it does any victim or potential victim, who, you know, may actually want to know what kind of environment to expect when they actually show up there. Keeping reports of what goes on out of the public eye simply hides the problems without really fixing them, and suggests that attendees who may wish to do things that make others uncomfortable can do so without the concern of their employers finding out about it, or, heaven forbid, the all-feared "raging feminists" people like to talk about.

What also seems suspect is the degree to which people are quick to denounce such terms as "victim" or "abuser" because they suggest that any sort of abuse may have occurred. It seems dismissive; almost like putting one's head in the sand or covering ears because one doesn't wish to confront misconduct or acknowledge that it occurs within one's own community. This is part of the problem - without publicly acknowledging that misconduct does occur, it becomes especially difficult to eradicate. Indeed, how do you get rid of a problem that you don't have in the first place?


jnoller replied Mar 21, 2013

@jnoller Which, according to the proposed clarification at hand, seems like it might only happen if the conference itself determines that it is necessary to do so. My point is that it's not the conferences' call.

@draconum Not only that, but it fits the patterns people, especially women, often face when trying to deal with these issues, patterns that often end up perpetuating the status quo.

@draconum Even if we discount the possibility of malice, there are still too many ways for things to go wrong. Identities can be mistaken, memories can be faulty, definitions can be unreasonable, evaluations of the situation can be based on incomplete information: I could go on. That's why there's a legitimate need for an independent review by an outside party.

This can indeed be difficult for some people, but that doesn't mean it can be allowed to slide: indeed, it only makes it more important that reviews be done. There are three basic questions that need to be answered in order: whether wrong was done, whether it was done by the person reported, and what actions are appropriate and necessary in light of what was done. In all but the most egregious cases, the various parties to the incident are simply too close to it to be qualified to decide all three of these unilaterally. In cases egregious enough that we might decide one party to the incident can decide some of these questions unilaterally, the very nature of what was done renders those same parties even less qualified to decide the others. That's why, in cases of actual torts and crimes, we use courts for review. For workplaces and other matters within formalized groups of people, review boards exist to serve similar functions. The same should hold true here.

Public shaming is a powerful thing, and contrary to what some say, it is not inherently evil. Some people really do need the threat of shaming to keep them in line, and some people really do need to be shamed for things they have done. But its power makes it dangerous, and malice is not the only danger scenario. That's why there need to be safeguards. This proposal isn't perfect -there needs to be more detail on the review process- but it's a step in the right direction.

That said, this all comes across as the conference wanting to make the final determination of whether or not a report is legitimate before allowing someone to come forward in a public forum about it, and expecting a victim of harassment to trust that a conference will always make that call in their favor seems suspect; again, this far more serves the needs of the convention (which certainly does not want to deal with a PR issue, or indicate in any way to its attendees that problems may actually occur there) than it does any victim or potential victim, who, you know, may actually want to know what kind of environment to expect when they actually show up there

Only that's not what the policy says. It asks people reporting a Code of Conduct violation contact staff first. That's all - no more, no less. If the abused party then feels the need to rally community support, then there is no prohibition from doing so.

In my eyes, this is very Pythonic - we don't have private members of classes because "we're all adults here". The same concept applies. PyCon staff is asking for an opportunity to attempt to resolve any potential issues among peers. Nothing requires that all incidents must be reported, and nothing prevents the injured party from whatever they want afterwards if they do report.

As for my own opinion, I support @jnoller's modification wholeheartedly and believe it might be helpful to have additional input from other members of the community. The intention is certainly not to limit the recourse of individuals being harassed, and if that can be clarified - it should be.

Skud replied Mar 21, 2013

How would this policy change apply to, for instance, an incident where a keynote speaker had inappropriate sexual material in their slides? Would people be allowed to take pics of the slide, tweet them, or blog about the incident, or would this policy change have a chilling effect on that? If people were to tweet/blog about it publicly, who do you think would be most vilified and attacked for their behaviour: the speaker who showed the slides in contravention of the policy, or the people who tweeted/blogged about it in contravention of the policy?

Another question: What would be the effect of this policy if PyCon weren't responding well to incidents, but instead hushing them up or dismissing them out of hand? I'm not saying you would, but "don't talk about it publicly, we'll deal with it" requires a massive amount of trust to work. PyCon may be deserving of that trust, but the tech community at large isn't, at this stage. How will a potential attendee (perhaps one new to PyCon and Python) know whether to trust you more than the tech community at large? And what effect will this have on other organisations who clone your policy in future?

@lyndsysimon I would say, then, that the verbiage could probably use a bit more work if it's not intended to prevent or discourage speaking out by a victim. It certainly came across that way to me, and I am not the only one. That alone suggests that it's not entirely clear.

Obviously this is not a committed/effective change and still in progress, so there is still some time for that to occur; and I apologize if I'm not coming across as being constructive here, or misunderstanding intentions (though, certainly, intention is typically difficult to ascertain in many situations, in the first place), but I'm simply concerned that PR or other concerns are being placed above those of the attendees and hope to ensure that is not actually the case.

I think it is very GOOD, to be certain, that conference staff are provided training in the dealing with these situations, and that training appears to have been helpful in the diffusing of the situation that sparked this whole conversation, at least on-site. I think that does show that the conference is working towards making its space safe, and that's obviously something I like to see.

@Skud what you're saying is essentially my concern, as well - not every conference or convention actually has procedures in place that appear to be as developed as those at PyCon seem to be, and saying "we'll take care of it, no need to alert anybody else about this matter" does seem to require a great leap of faith on the part of a victim. It's grand that, in this particular case, it was dealt with well by the convention - something that the person bringing all of this up does mention in detail - but that has, historically, not always been true in every situation, at every conference.

@thespooniest I don't really disagree with you, for the most part. Any situation like this is going to be tricky for all parties, and it may well be, for all I know, that PyCon is the party best equipped to diffuse them. My issue is still that discouraging the public reporting of one's experiences has the (perhaps unintended) effect of reducing the visibility/awareness of negative events that occur, and it's the public awareness/backlash that may actually discourage others from engaging in similar behavior. And it's been pointed out by @lyndsysimon that the intention here isn't to discourage public reporting of one's experiences, but that is apparently something that is not yet clear based on the current proposed wording, in my opinion. Perhaps I'm not being helpful in that I don't have a re-wording to propose, but hopefully my and others' concerns will better inform the final outcome of any changes or clarifications made to the policy.

It's really too bad people don't have the common decency to learn to work things out with each other. Short of a really serious issue anyway.


holdenweb replied Mar 21, 2013


holdenweb replied Mar 21, 2013


holdenweb replied Mar 21, 2013


holdenweb replied Mar 21, 2013


jnoller replied Mar 21, 2013

@Skud Valid points! Remember, we're using the staff and attendee template from the Ada Initiative and GF wiki; I'm not 100% on the wording, ironically because I wrote them early in the morning after a nice round of harassment. I'd love alternative wording to get the general point across: We want everyone to come to staff first so we can help keep all of us safe - this is as much for people reporting harassment and assault as it is for the unpaid volunteers triaging difficult situations.

The goal (I hope, obviously) isn't to have a chilling effect; its to discuss how to get everyone to use the proper channels (e.g. staff) to rapidly deal with situation and especially protecting the names and identities of the reporters. It also, as a side effect, protects the accused of potential false reports from getting posted publicly first and ruining their lives.

Those two were the public disclosures done by pycon staff, per our own guidelines. So yes, I believe in responsible disclosure.

To everyone else: Thank you for your comment. I will be bowing out of this discussion as I am no longer PyCon chair; my successor will be following up on this discussion and probably do better wording than me based on feedback.


kstrauser replied Mar 22, 2013

@jnoller Will you still be maintaining this repo?


jnoller replied Mar 22, 2013

@kstrauser The repo will in fact live on, I've handed admin rights to my successor, you'll note that the repo is not under my personal name due to this. I hope that we can all discuss proper wording to get to the soul of what I was trying to poorly convey.

@jnoller, my compliments on the thoughtful draft addition, and thanks for your leadership. Two minor copyediting niggles:

  1. 'Condone', here, is a minor (and common) word-usage error, as it actually means to deliberately overlook, to turn a blind eye towards, to conspicuously disregard, to grant tacit and passive approval towards through inaction and failure to comment. (That comes from the Latin condonare: to absolve, to grant pardon for.) Suggest either 'approve of' or 'endorse', as closer to intended meaning.
  2. Suggest changing 'nor' to 'or', as the word 'not' earlier in the sentence already applies to both verbs that follow it. (Read aloud the sentence both ways to see why 'nor' doesn't work.)

Best Regards,
Rick Moen


jnoller replied Mar 22, 2013

@rickmoen - can you check out tip? I merged a PR from @pythonchelle today that fixes the verbiage I failed at.

@jnoller: Tip of the Panama hat to @pythonchelle for that rewrite, which certainly looks good to me, FWIW.

Best Regards,
Rick Moen


pythonchelle replied Mar 22, 2013


holdenweb replied Mar 22, 2013

Looks good. Thank you for the changes to the PyCon Code of Conduct.

This should work like "responsible disclosure" for security issues. [@aviraldg]
So yes, I believe in responsible disclosure. [@jnoller]


I think that "responsible disclosure" is a great precedent to follow here, at an institutional level.

Love that this is happening on GitHub. This sets a great example.

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