RFC: Draft conference anti-harassment policy

Recent events show that not everyone has the same expectations for behavior at open source conferences. If you are a conference organizer, having an explicit anti-harassment policy can help prevent unpleasant and embarrassing incidents. But writing (and advocating for) an anti-harassment policy is, frankly, a lot of work.

Over the last couple of weeks, a group of veteran conference organizers put together a customizable anti-harassment policy suitable for most open source conferences. We are now asking for public comments on the draft policy, especially from conference organizers who are speaking from hard-won experience.

Draft conference anti-harassment policy

From the introduction:

An anti-harassment policy can help your conference in several ways. It can set expectations for participant behavior, publicly state the organizers’ principles, and give conference staff instructions on how to handle harassment. Part of the benefit of an anti-harassment policy comes from publicizing it before the conference, thereby setting expectations and preventing problems from occurring in the first place. It may also increase conference attendance, especially if competing conferences have less savory reputations for participant behavior.

We are also collecting resources for organizers considering adoption of an anti-harassment policy, including speaker guidelines, legal issues, and advice on customizing the policy.

To give feedback on the draft policy, comment on this post or send email to: valerie dot aurora at gmail dot com . We will integrate comments during the next week and release a “final” draft when the comments die down.

4 thoughts on “RFC: Draft conference anti-harassment policy

  1. Peg

    Those in position of power are expected to set positive examples on how to create an environment that encourages everyone to learn, play, and contribute.

    *Respect* in general seems to be a common theme these days:
    “OpenRespect, “was formed to provide a common place in which we can remind ourselves that irrespective of our views on openness and freedom, respect should be at the foundation of how we communicate.” — OpenRespect Website”

    PS: If you are a techie and are looking for Linux resources, Linux Magazine is a very good one.

  2. Tiferet

    I think it might be a good idea to include body size in the boiler plate
    as I have certainly had the unpleasant experience of being harassed
    about that, at work events and at conventions &c, particularly when I
    happen to be eating something that “fat chicks’ aren’t supposed to
    eat–even when it’s the food that event organisers have provided and
    everyone present is eating it, such as pizza and bottled drinks–or
    wearing things that “fat chicks’ aren’t supposed to wear. (I work in
    health care, so I have often been subject to comments by doctors who are
    not actually my doctors and know nothing about me except that I work at
    X place and do administrative/technical work.

    And in other news, Speak and Asterix say hello!

  3. John

    Might this addition (in bold) increase the deterrent effect?:

    If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, up to and including contacting law enforcement and expulsion from the conference [with no refund]

    And, for conferences that have particular concerns (e.g. bad past record), adding, where local law allows:

    Inappropriate physical contact is assault [, and it is legal to use force to stop it].

    Then, those who are inclined to try inappropriate contact may feel reminded that their potential victims have been reminded that a knee to the crotch is a possible reaction.

    Also, could there be something like:

    Participants are encouraged to support each other against inappropriate behaviour.

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