Code of Conduct Draft

Robyn Overstreet edited this page Jul 1, 2015 · 30 revisions

#QUILTBAG++ Code of Conduct# (This is a work in progress. Please review the Meeting Notes Dec. 6, 2014 wiki page about Codes of Conduct, then add your contributions below.)

Adapting from the various CoCs we talked about, and others available online ( like Geek Feminism ) and thinking about what makes sense for our purposes, since we're not specifically a conference, or a school, or an xyz: Some rules will be specific to specific types of events, but ultimately, it seems like there should be a general set of guiding principles upon which more action-oriented rules are based. Maybe it makes sense to start with what we believe.


What are our guiding principles?

QUILTBAG++ NYC is a group that seeks to foster a respectful and accountable space. We want to provide guidelines and tools for being respectful, and in cases where that fails, guidelines and tools for being accountable. We acknowledge oppression exists in the world around us and we strive to avoid perpetuating these oppressions. We are working to remove barriers to participation for people who experience racism, sexism, misogyny, transphobia, transmisogyny, misogynoir, transmisogynoir, homophobia, femmephobia, classism, ageism, religious discrimination, ableism, fatphobia, and/or discrimination based on physical appearance, and avoid perpetuating these and other oppressions.

What rules/ codes come out of them?

  • "If you get called out on something, apologize and learn from it" (via Double Union)
  • Consent is key: obtain it before touching, taking photography/video, or directing sexual imagery/language/attention towards someone.
  • Language that reinforces social structures of oppression will not be tolerated.
  • Respect different communication styles. Don't dominate discussions; leave space for people who are more reserved.
  • No condescending behavior around technology skills. Approach people less experienced than you with generosity, not one-upsmanship. See Recurse Center's No Feigning Surprise and No Well Actuallys.
  • No superfluous call-outs.


Selected Codes, Rules, Notes, Ideas, Questions taken from Dec. meeting notes

From Miriam:

  1. Be as specific as possible about what constitutes harrassment or rule violation.
  2. Allow for nuance. Don't let something slide just b/c it wasn't on the list.
  3. Figure out the needs & personalities of the group & build Code of Conduct around that.
  4. Never say "work it out amongst yourselves" if the conflict has social power imbalances at its core. (Gender, cis/trans, race, etc.)
  5. Make it easy to report a violation and don't set arbitrary time limits or methods you can report it. Let the person affected report as they are comfortable.
  6. Be aware/inclusive of different communication styles. Make sure quiet people aren't talked over.
  7. Some people may find it scarier to talk about serious issues in person than via text (trans people with voice dysphoria for example).

From Sonali, Hacker School Social Rules:

  1. No feigning surprise. "What do you mean you don't know ...?" => "Hey, don't feign surprise!"
  2. No "Well, actually..." for showing superior knowledge without adding a positive
  3. contribution to the conversation. "Hey, don't well actually!"
  4. No "Backseat Driving." Don't jump into somebody else's conversation suddenly to spot correct / make unsolicited suggestions. You can either: (A) Let them figure it out themselves, or (B) Ask nicely if they'd like some input (now, or later at lunch) and if so, get the background on their process so far & then offer suggestions.
  5. No subtle "-isms" -- This is more complicated and needs more specificity than it currently has. Don't say "I'm being a Nazi" to a German. Don't say, "Hey guys / dudes, etc." Make sure to include everybody in the conversation / don't avoid eye-contact in ways that exclude people or encourage impostor syndrome in women / trans people / etc.
    • Q: is a subtle -ism another term for a microaggression?

On Calling People Out

  • When you call someone out, how much & how are you expected to explain what went wrong, & how to bring us back to what we were doing? Need social norms for responding to call-outs in a way that doesn't derail.
  • How to avoid a spiral of defensiveness when somebody gets called out?
  • Develop a casual attitude toward fucking up, i.e. "This is a mistake, and I have to fix it, but it's not a disaster."
  • How do you handle people being disruptive, but not actually oppressive? (Like talking too loudly or something.)
  • You're not allowed to call out just to prove how politically progressive you are, esp if it's not helping the convo at hand. I.e., a "well-actually" of call-outs
  • Empower everybody w/ tools for facilitation and mediation. But how do you do that with everybody constantly policing each other? (the constant policing is maybe a bigger problem online than in person)
  • Every meeting starts with a mini-speech about the social rules, including how to call someone out, how to respond when someone calls you out: acknowledge you made a mistake, apologize, move on

On Setting Rules

  • Be specific!
  • Be agile enough to deal with problems that come up that haven't been anticipated, and therefore aren't in your code of conduct.
  • Rules around microaggressions, respectfulness, and acknowledgement of structural oppression, VS rules around outright harassment (gamergate-style terribleness) --- not always a bright line, but the consequences could be very different.
  • If you're violating the Code of Conduct at the conference and someone reports you, they escort you out with no refund. Still need a way to discuss what's happened afterwards with the violator. (from SASS Conf)
  • (as above) Every event starts with intro to the rules ... everyone must explicitly agree (as opposed to a conference where it might be on the web site but never mentioned.)

Meeting Etiquette

A few relevant guidelines borrowed from Queer Mental Health Initiative:

  • Respect each other's names, pronouns, and experiences. Avoid making judgements or assumptions about other people's experiences or identities.

    • If you misgender someone, please apologize.
    • Try to refrain from contradicting others' experiences. We all come from different perspectives, and we do not all have to agree. However, if someone says something that offends you, please refer to the "Ouch" rule.
  • "Ouch": If someone says something that upsets or offends you, say, "Ouch." Then explain what upset you using an "I" statement. Please refrain from confrontational language. The group will then talk together to reach a peaceful solution.

  • Step Up / Step Back:

    • If you have something to add and are generally quiet, speak up! You may say something that helps someone else.
    • If you are talking a lot, or giving a lot of advice, please step back. Even if you have something to add, give everyone a chance to express themselves.