[OSGeo-Conf] Code of Conduct at Events?

Peter Batty peter at ebatty.com
Thu Nov 11 00:27:42 EST 2010

Hi Eric, I will try to just say a few short(ish) words on this.

First, this is a complex and emotive topic. Please don't put words in other
people's mouths, it doesn't help us to have a calm and reasonable debate.
You said Jeff and Peter said that "sexual assault doesn't happen at FOSS4G".
Neither of us said anything like that (though clearly I hope it doesn't).

I think the thing that both Jeff and I were questioning is whether we need
an explicit policy on this. My general feeling is still that it is common
sense that we expect conference attendees to obey the law and behave in a
respectful manner towards other conference attendees. As you said in your
original note, there are a long list of other undesirable behaviors we could
have policies on including racism, respect for sexual orientation or
religious views, etc etc. We could fill several pages of a program easily
with policies on how people should behave.

I attend probably in the order of 10 conferences (mainly geo-related), large
and small, per year, and have done for many years. I don't recall ever
seeing a specific policy at any of these conferences along these lines. That
doesn't mean we shouldn't have one, it's just an observation.

One concern I do have if we have a prominently displayed policy is that many
people will jump to the conclusion that there has been an issue in this area
at FOSS4G in the past, which I don't think that there has, so far as I'm
aware. Some people might see it as a positive thing if we had such a policy,
but I am concerned that others might see it as a reason not to attend - wow,
if the conference organizers have to tell attendees that it's unacceptable
to sexually harass / assault other attendees, what sort of people are they
expecting to attend? As you noted, women are already under-represented at
FOSS4G and other geo conferences, and I would hate to see us adding
deterrents for women to attend (again, this may or may not be the case, but
I think it's a real risk).

You suggest that having a statement in the program may deter this kind of
behavior. To be honest I really doubt that. "Oh, the organizers of this
conference disapprove of sexual harassment, I'll save that for the next
conference I'm at".

If we do have some sort of code of conduct / policy in this area, that puts
the onus on the conference organizers to police that. What happens if
someone makes a complaint to the conference organizers, how do we judge
whether it is well founded or not?  I think there is a real risk of us
over-reaching what is reasonable for the conference organizers to be
responsible for.

Clearly none of us would want this sort of thing to happen at FOSS4G. It's a
complex topic and I can see pros and cons in regard to us having some sort
of code of conduct. And clearly the motivations behind proposing that we
have a policy are well-intentioned. I wouldn't rule it out, but overall I
lean pretty strongly at the moment to thinking that having an explicit
policy in this area may create more problems than it solves.


On Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 9:24 PM, Eric Wolf <ebwolf at gmail.com> wrote:

> I started a thread related to this subject on a friend's blog:
> http://www.flutterby.com/archives/comments/13625.html
> Some activity has started, including a link to the IETF RFC 1384
> Guidlines for Conduct:
> http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3184
> Which appear to have been lifted by our friends at OGC as their
> Principles of Conduct:
> http://www.opengeospatial.org/ogc/policies/conduct
> While neither of these explicitly mention sexual assault, they both
> imply it a little in 2.1 of the RFC. Personally, it wouldn't hurt to
> expand that section a little in the manner of the Code of Conduct from
> the SPI.
> Fortunately, we have time on our side. We don't have to make a
> specific decision any time soon.
> -Eric
> -=--=---=----=----=---=--=-=--=---=----=---=--=-=-
> Eric B. Wolf                           720-334-7734
> On Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 10:20 PM, Eric Wolf <ebwolf at gmail.com> wrote:
> > My ex-wife is a social worker. She works as an advocate for victims of
> > domestic abuse. She can recount numerous times talking to Sheriffs,
> > Pastors, Rabbis, and other community leaders who would respond simply
> > stating "we don't have domestic violence in this community." The truth
> > is domestic violence is as likely in a mansion as it is a trailer
> > park. It's just more likely to be brushed under the rug in the
> > mansion.
> >
> > As much as I'd like to be able to agree with Jeff and Peter - that
> > "sexual assault doesn't happen at FOSS4G", I can't help but look
> > around room at the lot of us - all white males - and think we may be
> > taking something for granted: the well being of our conference
> > participants.
> >
> > Having a statement in the program, at the very least, helps victims of
> > assault feel like they are being heard. It brings to the surface what
> > is a real issue; making everyone aware that the problem is real. And
> > maybe, it'll make some people realize they need to grow up or help
> > others have the courage to stop someone before they do something
> > stupid.
> >
> > From our perspective, it's a page in the program. From a victim or
> > potential victim of assault, it could be much more.
> >
> > -Eric
> >
> > P.S. I'm aware that the argument against is "where do we stop such
> > tangential inclusions?" I mean, do we need a statement denouncing
> > genocide? or discouraging heroin use? I'm not sure where to draw the
> > line but since the linked posting states "unwanted sexual attention up
> > and to including fairly serious assaults is not unusual at at least
> > some FLOSS events." I'm inclined to include something like the
> > suggested statement - or enlist an organizing committee member to
> > investigate the matter and decide where the line should be drawn.
> >
> > -=--=---=----=----=---=--=-=--=---=----=---=--=-=-
> > Eric B. Wolf                           720-334-7734
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 9:38 PM, Peter Batty <peter at ebatty.com> wrote:
> >> That was my initial reaction too.
> >>
> >> On Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 8:41 PM, Jeff McKenna <
> jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com>
> >> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> My gut reaction is that I hope we don't need to state this at our
> events.
> >>>  I'm not against including it in all of our FOSS4G program documents,
> but it
> >>> seems a little unnecessary.
> >>>
> >>> I'm open to hearing other opinions.
> >>>
> >>> -jeff
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> On 10-11-10 1:15 AM, Frank Warmerdam wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>> Folks,
> >>>>
> >>>> This just came across the SPI (software in the public interest)
> mailing
> >>>> list. I'm not sure if it is something we might want to consider for
> >>>> FOSS4G
> >>>> or other events. To me most of it seems like common sense that applies
> in
> >>>> all situations rather than needing to be specifically stated at
> events.
> >>>>
> >>>>
> http://lists.spi-inc.org/pipermail/spi-general/2010-November/002845.html
> >>>>
> >>>> I'll keep an eye for how it is received within SPI.
> >>>>
> >>>> (PS. I first wrote about this to the board, but on reflection I think
> >>>> this
> >>>> is a more appropriate place to contemplate the matter)
> >>>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> _______________________________________________
> >>> Conference_dev mailing list
> >>> Conference_dev at lists.osgeo.org
> >>> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/conference_dev
> >>
> >>
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> >>
> >
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