Create DrupalCon Code of Conduct (Old Draft)

gdemet's picture

The code of conduct draft has been re-written based on community feedback and is available for community review here: - we ask that you please offer your comments, questions, and suggestions on that page. Comments have been closed on this page.

The following is the proposed DrupalCon Code of Conduct that has been drafted by a group that includes past DrupalCon organizers, Drupal Association staff and board members, and other community volunteers.

We would like to invite the community to review this draft and provide any questions, comments, or suggestions in the thread below between now and 9:00pm Central US Time on June 5. On June 6, a finalized draft incorporating community feedback will be presented to the Drupal Association for final review, approval, and adoption.

There are a lot of people who have helped out with this effort over the past few months; I'd like to specifically call out a few who have provided some great feedback and advice: Amye Scavarda, Ashe Dryden, Bec White, Donna Benjamin, Megan Sanicki, Neil Kent, and Jacob Redding.

DrupalCon Code of Conduct

DrupalCon is an international event that brings together the people who use, develop, design, and support the Drupal platform.

At DrupalCon, we believe that our community should be truly open for everyone. As such, we are committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form.

This code of conduct outlines our expectations for participant behavior as well as the consequences for unacceptable behavior. This code is intended to supplement the existing Drupal community Code of Conduct located at

We invite all sponsors, volunteers, speakers, attendees, and other participants to help us realize a safe and positive conference experience for everyone.

Expected Behavior

We value the participation of each member of the Drupal community and want all attendees to have an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Accordingly, all attendees are expected to show respect and courtesy to other attendees throughout the conference and at all conference events, whether or not officially sponsored by DrupalCon.

  • Be considerate, respectful, and collaborative.
  • Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory or harassing behavior and speech.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants. Alert conference staff if you notice a dangerous situation or someone in distress.

Unacceptable Behavior

Unacceptable behaviors include: intimidating, harassing, abusive, discriminatory, derogatory or demeaning conduct by any attendees of DrupalCon and related events. All DrupalCon venues may be shared with members of the public; please be respectful to all patrons of these locations.

Harassment includes but is not limited to: offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability; inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces (including presentation slides); deliberate intimidation, stalking or following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

Exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.

Be careful in the words that you choose. Remember that sexist, racist, and other exclusionary jokes can be offensive to those around you. Excessive swearing and offensive jokes are not appropriate for DrupalCon.

While healthy, participatory discourse is encouraged, we will not tolerate abusive, badgering, or baiting arguments, whether during a session or otherwise. Likewise, disrupting the presentation of any individual, either through excessive interruptions, loud talking through a session in close proximity to a session, or attempting to take the stage (or similar presentation area) during another individual’s presentation will be grounds for immediate dismissal.

Consequences of Unacceptable Behavior

Unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated whether by attendees, organizers, venue staff, sponsors, or other patrons of DrupalCon venues.

Anyone asked to stop unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately.

If a participant engages in unacceptable behavior, conference staff may take any action they deem appropriate, up to and including expulsion from the conference without warning or refund.

What to do if you witness or are subject to unacceptable behavior

If you are subject to unacceptable behavior, notice that someone else is being subject to unacceptable behavior, or have any other concerns, please notify a conference staff member as soon as possible.

If the matter is especially urgent, please call/contact any of these individuals:

  • Neil Kent, Drupal Association Events Director
    [Contact info goes here]
  • Megan Sanicki, Drupal Association Sponsor Manager
    [Contact info goes here]
  • Jacob Redding, Drupal Association Executive Director
    [Contact info goes here]

The DrupalCon team will be available to help participants contact venue security or local law enforcement, to provide escorts, or to otherwise assist those experiencing unacceptable behavior to feel safe for the duration of the conference.


We expect all conference participants (sponsors, volunteers, speakers, attendees, and other guests) to abide by this code of conduct at all conference venues and conference-related social events.


  • All communication should be appropriate for a professional audience including people of many different backgrounds. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks.
  • Be kind to others. Do not insult or put down other attendees. Behave professionally. Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate for DrupalCon.
  • Attendees violating these rules may be asked to leave the conference without a refund at the sole discretion of the conference organizers.

Thank you for helping make DrupalCon a welcoming, friendly event for all!


The DrupalCon Code of Conduct is based in part on the Open Source Bridge Code of Conduct ( and the PyCon Code of Conduct ( It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License ( and is available for others to use and adapt for their own events.

Original Post:

Last fall, I started working with a number of folks involved with DrupalCon Denver and the Drupal Association on putting together a DrupalCon Code of Conduct that would supplement our existing community Code of Conduct for conferences and cover things like harassing behavior, etc.

Those efforts stalled out (due primarily to my own personal commitments), but it is an issue that's gotten some attention again recently within the community with regard to the presence of "booth babes" at DrupalCon. Having a conference code of conduct is emerging as a best practice for technology conferences, and we really should have one for DrupalCon.

The existing code of conduct covers some of these issues, but is not sufficient for a physical event. My feeling is that any DrupalCon Code of Conduct should supplement the existing community CoC, not amend or replace it.

I've already started a draft policy based on those used by other conferences; what I'd like is some interested folks to help review it in a smaller group, and then post to g.d.o for review and comment by the larger community. If you're interested in helping out and/or have other thoughts to share, please post them in the comments below. Thanks!

Here is some background and links to other policies courtesy of becw:

"Why conferences need a code of conduct":

Here are a few codes of conduct from other conferences:


Open Source Bridge

Geek Feminism wiki:

DrupalCamp Chicago 2010 had a code of conduct, and DrupalCamp Sydney used
nearly the same text:



Alex UA's picture

I think that this is a very good idea- physical interaction leads to specific types of conduct that we should address. I think that there are some good things within each, but I think the PyCon one gets to the heart of many of the concerns that have been raised regarding DC conduct over the years (aggressive behavior, sexist remarks/images in presentations, inappropriate garb worn by booth staff, overtly agressive acts towards other members, etc).

One big suggestion that I have is to avoid calling it the "DrupalCon Code of Conduct", because I believe we should insist that those who list their events on the groups site follow the community's event CoC. So, I'd suggest just calling it a "Drupal Events Code of Conduct" or even a "Drupal Meet Space Code of Conduct".

I'd also suggest that we include some guidelines for dealing with conduct issues- we don't want people booted from the community who didn't know the rules. Some of the items that offend our community are accepted in many others, so we need to be sensitive to the fact that we will need to educate new entrants to our community on our culture and morals.

Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg
ZivTech: Illuminating Technology

Agreed - "Drupal Events Code of Conduct"

pdjohnson's picture

If we move more towards a general name and phraseology this document can help those who arrange smaller events but want to adopt the spirit of what you are proposing. Most smaller events do not have the resources to invest in creation of such documents.

Paul Johnson
Global Social Media Lead for DrupalCon

I'm very interested in

ashedryden's picture

I'm very interested in helping with this, it's something that is really important to me that I speak out about a lot.

Having a more solid policy in place will also make victims of harassment more likely to step forward if they feel like it will be taken seriously and that action will be taken.

You might also look at the Steel City Ruby anti-harassment policy:

Excellent. Yes.

kattekrab's picture

I'm willing to assist. I've been involved in the creation of 2 conference codes of conduct.

Most recently for Drupal Downunder - which I based on the existing Drupal code of conduct.

I also drafted the code for the 2010 Open Source Developers Conference.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association

There was an unfortunate

christefano's picture

There was an unfortunate occasion at DrupalCamp LA 2010 when our code of conduct needed to be enforced. Having a published code of conduct made the job a little easier for the organizer (who happened to be me) to confront the attendee who was out of line.

Here's the code of conduct that DrupalCamp LA has had since that year, which I believe was based on DrupalCamp Chicago's code of conduct:

We've also adopted this code of conduct for Drupal Design Camp LA, and have made agreeing to the code of conduct a requirement for registering for the conference:

Everyone is welcome to copy these and further refine them for their own use.


gdemet's picture

Looking back on it, I think we may have actually based DrupalCamp Chicago's CoC on DrupalCamp LA's, as we built our website on top of the DCLA install profile in 2009 and 2010, and I think that text was part of the content provided with the site. Regardless of its origins, it's good material though.

I'm wondering if there might be a need for two different codes of conduct; one for larger, international events like DrupalCon, and one for smaller, regional or local events like DrupalCamps. In my experience, many of the issues at local events have to do with things like excessive alcohol consumption, use of illegal drugs, stalking, etc., so a very direct and to-the-point code of conduct makes the most sense.

International events have to deal with these issues, plus additional issues caused by a lack of understanding and/or respect for differences in cultural norms, "booth babes", etc., so a longer and more comprehensive policy is more appropriate for DrupalCons.


ashedryden's picture

I think they should all be the same - then people know what is expected of them when they attend any Drupal event. I would rather have more language to cover the most common situations than having different policies.

For right now, I'd like to

gdemet's picture

For right now, I'd like to focus on developing a code of conduct for DrupalCons, but once that's done if folks want to adapt it for use at other events, that's totally cool by me. The code will be released under a Creative Commons license, so anyone should be able to use it.

Because DrupalCamps are run by so many different kinds of groups around the world, it would be difficult to mandate the use of a single code of conduct at every event, though I guess the Association could require events that they provide fiscal agency for to adopt it.

Ah, that makes sense. I'm

christefano's picture

Ah, that makes sense. I'm remembering DrupalCamp LA 2009.

As a conference organizer, I'm interested in saving time and I think event organizers will naturally copy the DrupalCon code of conduct for their events. I look forward to seeing the wording around cultural differences.


JohnAlbin's picture

Should we also address the issue of role of alcohol within the conference? I like beer, but I prefer including others who need to avoid alcohol-laden parties. IMO, making the alcohol-free alternatives PROMINENT each night as opposed to just promoting our becoming-standard Drupalcon parties would be sufficient. The funnest night of the past several cons for me has been the trivia nights. But that's just one night.

Perhaps the conference code of conduct should include conduct requirements of the organizers as well.

  - John (JohnAlbin)

Good suggestion!

gdemet's picture

This is an attendee-oriented document intended to set expectations and standards, but there actually is a DrupalCon Organizer's Handbook that was started for DrupalCon Chicago and has been added on to by subsequent DrupalCon teams. I don't remember offhand if it includes making sure there are alcohol-free after-hours events, and that they get promoted, but it probably should. I'll look into that.

As someone who doesn't drink

redndahead's picture

As someone who doesn't drink and generally doesn't like bars. I sometimes find it bothersome, but have gotten used to it. I agree that Trivia nights are awesome, but that isn't an alcohol free environment either. I don't necessarily need to feel it's alcohol free just don't get tanked. So if anything should go into the code of conduct it would be "Don't get tanked at official drupalcon events. People won't like you afterwards."

I think the question here is

gdemet's picture

I think the question here is whether it's consumption of alcohol that's the problem, or the negative behavior that results when some people drink too much alcohol. If we have a code of conduct that addresses negative behavior, then it doesn't matter what caused the behavior.

I completely understand and sympathize with the concerns of folks in the community who don't drink, but there's also a large number of people who are able to drink socially in a responsible way without engaging in negative behavior or causing problems, and I want to make sure their rights are respected as well. Different people also have different alcohol tolerance levels, and what's excessive for one person might not be for another.

If we have a policy that asks people to behave in a manner that's professional and respectful of the folks around them, then it follows that getting tanked and acting like a jerk is not acceptable behavior.

Not booze per se

Crell's picture

I'm completely dry myself, but don't mind hanging out with people who are consuming alcohol in a non-jerk fashion.

The bigger issue is that alcohol-centric events often correlate to loud, crowded, and/or dark events. I'd rather an alcohol-involved event that was bright, quiet, and uncrowded to an alcohol-free rave where I can't hear myself think, much less talk to someone.

The Twin Cities DrupalCamp first night party last weekend was a great example; there was alcohol but also really good root beer, the space was well lit, it wasn't so crowded that I was bumping into people, and I could talk at a normal voice level.

I agree with the previous comment, though, that guidelines for organizers are separate from guidelines for attendees. For organizers, "have social spaces that are open, well-lit, and not too loud" is a good rule. For attendees, "drink responsibly and don't be a jerk" is a good rule. (Wordsmithing needed in both cases, of course).

Thanks for taking this on, George!

Conversation without shouting: FTW

ezra-g's picture

I'd rather an alcohol-involved event that was bright, quiet, and uncrowded to an alcohol-free rave where I can't hear myself think, much less talk to someone.

I agree. I tend to consume some alcohol at these events but also feel frustrated when loud settings make it nearly impossible to have a conversation with the attendees I'm here to talk with without shouting directly into their ears. In fact, the shouting/difficulty having a conversation is probably the thing I look forward to least about Cons and Camps.

NonProfit's picture

Regarding alcohol; I had previously considered writing to the Association but never knew just how to address this issue. Because it has been brought up here, I'd like to add my perspective.

A bit of a disclaimer, my wife is a Neuropsychologist. Most of her patients suffer from what is known as a traumatic brain injury (caused by a motor vehicle accident, sports injury, etc.) although a large minority have permanent brain injury from chronic over exposure to drugs or alcohol. I'm German and love a stout pint or two, but have been surprised by the level of inebriation at Drupal-related events. Please know I am not talking about having a few drinks. I'm talking about people passing out, peeing themselves, and hours later regaining consciousness, still inebriated.

I'm never offended, but am often saddened.

I don't want a policy about how much people should drink. I don't even know what the Association's role, if any, should be. However alcohol is a neurotoxin and one could make the case that the extreme consumption by some members of our community is not in the best interest of the project. Getting together is the purpose of DrupalCon and having a few drinks helps make a great time even better. But I wonder if a simple reminder like "You've only got one brain...please take care of it." would help the community in the long run.

I like this idea!

amycham's picture

I do drink, but by the time I get to the end of a dinner, I've already have a couple and have no interest in taking it further. (Running a booth and sprinting around a conference hall with 15-20 pounds of photo gear and a hangover is not fun!) Plus, can't have a good conversation in a noisy bar.

My favorite time at Denver was playing a board game with some colleagues and a venti chamomile. Would love to see alternatives to the big alcohol-centric parties get promoted.

Amy C. Cham
Twitter: amycham

Do we really need to regulate this in a CoC?

chrisstrahl's picture

While I agree that you probably shouldn't show up wasted to a session, I think that regulating social behavior, venues, and the "values" of DrupalCon parties is a little out of place for a CoC like this. We're talking about individual behavior at conferences, not how we plan the conferences.

I think if you want to have non-alcoholic events it's the job of the people that want to put on and attend those events to promote them (or work with the DA / conference team to promote them). I also agree that I would appreciate a venue where people have more ability to talk and hang out, but there were also dozens of people dancing and having a grand time at the venue in Denver.

While I agree with most everything else in the proposed draft, I think that this sentiment is out of place and should not be included. If we want to include a "please don't show up drunk or high to the conference" that seems reasonable. However, if you just want to advocate for a quieter less party-like atmosphere for DrupalCon parties, send an email to the conference organizers or promote one yourself - don't legislate it for everyone.

About the Alcohol, and the culture of exclusion

corbacho's picture

I agree that role of alcohol in the Drupal Cons should be taken in consideration.

I agree on this article

"You can't go anywhere, do anything or talk to anyone in the tech industry these days without a drink in your hand"

I don't have anything against alcohol, but the organization should care of not making anyone feel excluded because of it.

Current status

gdemet's picture

Thanks to everyone who's responded and offered to help out so far! Here's where we're at right now, and the next steps:

  • A group of 12 people, who include DrupalCon organizers, Association staff, board members, and other community volunteers are currently reviewing and editing a first draft, which is based on the PyCon and Open Source Bridge codes of conduct.
  • On May 30, I'll post the revised draft to this thread for wider community review and discussion, incorporating suggestions as appropriate.
  • On June 6, the finalized draft incorporating community feedback will be presented to the Drupal Association for final review and approval.

In the meantime, please continue to offer comments, suggestions, and ideas in this thread, and feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any thoughts or perspective you'd like to share privately. Thanks!

Code of Conduct draft is live!

gdemet's picture

I've edited the main post to now include the draft version of the DrupalCon Code of Conduct. Please offer any comments/questions/suggestions as comments in this thread between now and 9pm CDT on June 5. Thanks!


ashedryden's picture

Thanks again for organizing this effort. It's great to see the community behind helping to create a more safe and welcoming environment for all participants.

Thanks for your work, the

jyee's picture

Thanks for your work, the first draft looks great! I'm curious if we should expand this section:

If you are subject to unacceptable behavior, notice that someone else is being subject to unacceptable behavior, or have any other concerns, please notify a conference staff member as soon as possible.

Since we are a community, I'm mostly interested in empowering community members so that when they "notice that someone else is being subject to unacceptable behavior," they feel like they can step in (if inclined and when safe to do so). I realize that doing so is far more ambiguous than just reporting issues to official DrupalCon staff. But I also tend to believe that most offenses in our community are not done maliciously or intentionally and courteous intervention by peers will resolve many incidents.

I understand what you're

gdemet's picture

I understand what you're saying here, and I don't think anything in this policy should stand in the way of community members feeling empowered to courteously and respectfully let someone know if they unintentionally commit a faux pas. Intervention would be also appropriate if someone is in immediate danger, though that should be reported to a staff member as soon as practical.

My concern is that explicitly saying that anyone can step in to resolve situations in the code itself could be read as an authorization for vigilantism and could actually create more problems than it resolves. Part of the point of this policy is to help clearly set standards and expectations and to identify specific individuals who are responsible for the interpretation and enforcement of those standards, so there's no questions or ambiguity. Authorizing any community member to interpret and enforce the code beyond the very limited situations described above undermines that and could lead to arguments and conflicts over what is and is not acceptable behavior. I'd much rather see unacceptable behavior reported to staff and have them make the final call.

Choice of CMS

chx's picture

regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion or choice of CMS.

Is your concern that people

gdemet's picture

Is your concern that people may be ridiculed or made to feel unwelcome at DrupalCon for their choice of CMS platform or programming language?

If so, I think it may already be covered in the code:

We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form.

While healthy, participatory discourse is encouraged, we will not tolerate abusive, badgering, or baiting arguments, whether during a session or otherwise.

Be considerate, respectful, and collaborative.

While we've highlighted a couple of specific items (gender, sexual orientation, etc.) that are the most common subjects of harassing or discriminatory behavior, the code also makes it clear that harassing and discriminatory behavior isn't acceptable in any circumstances or for any reason.

While maintaining a healthy rivalry with competing platforms and technologies is fine, no one should be made to feel unwelcome at DrupalCon just because they don't use Drupal or its associated technologies.

And that should be made clear

chx's picture

it's called a _Drupal_Con so making clear non-Drupal people is welcome IMO is a good idea. Otherwise you might think once we discover a Wordpress user in our ranks we will tar and feather poor user :P

I would be banned for life with these rules...

mortendk's picture

Okay i have read through this a couple of times & have a couple of comments.

First of all this is great for a Discussion - and i think were all more or less on the same page
for me its very simple "Dont be an asshole - be considered & be a good person, make room for others"
im naive enough to think that should be enough of a ruleset.

Im aware that we are a community that is growing & that we needs to have somekind of rules, so new people that are coming in can get an idea of how we wants to have our community.
But with that said - feel like it dosn't represents a global perspective, to me this feels well "american political correctness" (sorry if this sounds disrespectfull for the people that wrote it, its not my meening to sound like an ass)

What im concerned about here is that when we first have this "dcod" as a "law"
How do we handle a situation where a self appointed "dcoc enforces" wanna read these rules very strictly?

I am pretty sure that i woudn't even be allowed into the conference, if these rules are to be enforced strict.
To list up the things i have broken of rules so far just the last year...

  • First of all i swear like a sailor (excessusive swearing) - which is not unusual for people from copenhagen (so can i now call that the dcoc is against my culture)
  • I have been known to used almost naked pictures in my sessions (of myself stripping almost down, imho i think it was hilarious) - that woudnt be allowed by following these rules.

I do know theres other that have pictures of me as well more or less naked & its used in sessions as well ( i totally get that its offensive against generally good taste though)

I indeed use sexual references in my slides, some a hidden underneath layers of language barriers & culturel slang, others are more visual, but always kept (imho) with a huge level of respect.
-> I wanna have naked markup
-> i wanna get the Drupals system to make sweet hot love to the Design - that is what i call the theme layer, the place for hot love making
-> usually a shot of ron jeremy, fully clothes but its always "fun"
-> several images that could be considered to be light gay male erotica

I simply have no way of knowing when i might offend X-culture. Do we have to now do huge manuals of what is concidered offensive in all the cultures of people that are attending an event.

This feels to me as a scandinavian very much as political correctness, that somehow just feels wrong to me

By having a ruleset with that many rules in i fear that were taking the edge out of a lot of talks & sessions!
What can we even use as a name for a session?
I had one called "how to make a themer call you in the morning" imho thats pretty funny, but it sure have a level of sex underneath it.

My point is that we need some room for not beeing so political correct, and we cant have a disclaimer that says "ooh but if youre person x - your ok by breaking these rules"

I do know im gonna break all these rules one by one (i will probably do a gimmick where they are crossed of one by one)
Im gonna do it with a shit ton of respect, im gonna check all my sexual references with a lot of individuals in the community before,
But i will not, and can not be political correct, as i think these rules are putting me & others under.

I cant figure out if this is a rule set that we need to have in the american part of the community (as it seems like its where theres a need for it - and its writting by americans) or im just blind for whats going on in the eu (i have no clue how its like in southern america, asia, africe , russia etc)

I hope to get some time in the future to figure out another way of writing this down into a ruleset thats a little longer than "dont be an asshole - be nice to people" cause that is what i really think should be the only ruleset.

/ king of rock | geek Royale


mfer's picture

Morten, I think you hit on an interesting area that is cultural. The Drupal community and events have to deal with cultural issues. For example, in the united states there is the PC culture surrounding Drupal. There are also European cultural differences. If Drupal goes to India there will be a whole new set of cultural norms.

Maybe the broader question is, how will the code of conduct be respectful of people in light of the cultural differences that accompany Drupal events? The US PC stuff will come to the fore front because the writers of that deal with it and that's the cultural context they come from and have experienced.

I don't have an answer but this is an interesting issue.

Should each DrupalCon have it's own code of conduct based on the cultural context surrounding it? If so, what basis should it be drafted on?

DrupalCon is an international

gdemet's picture

DrupalCon is an international event that attracts many different people from many different cultures around the world, regardless of its venue. The Code of Conduct is intended to protect attendees, and as such needs to address a broader set of concerns, not just conform to local cultural standards.

As a hypothetical, if DrupalCon were to be held in a place where it's frowned upon for women to speak in public, we would not discourage women from presenting sessions, even though that's the "cultural context" surrounding that venue.

What's interesting about this

webchick's picture

What's interesting about this response is it's exactly Morten's point, but in reverse.

So if we had DrupalCon in IHateWomenOpolis, you say we would not prevent women speakers, despite this being offensive to some attendees. (Totally on board with that.)

But yet if we have DrupalCon in IHateSexVille (aka the US :P), or there are IHateSexVille people in attendance who share those more conservative viewpoints, you're for a rule preventing the use of sexually charged slides. (FWIW, I'm totally on board with this, too. I'm also from North America, though. ;))

But it's interesting when I attempt to articulate why I approve of both of those sentences. The obvious reason is because there are attendees for whom sexually charged imagery causes real, genuine negative emotional reactions ranging all the way from mild distaste, to feeling unwelcome/singled out, to feeling physically threatened. And that's when your freedom to be cute and funny starts to impede on someone else's freedom to enjoy themselves at a conference that they paid to attend, and so that's where we draw the line. Seems simple enough.

And yet, it doesn't seem that black and white. Because there are also people out there for whom, say, homosexuals are just as threatening/offensive to some people as pornographic images are to others (actually maybe some of those are the same people :D). So do we prevent LGBTQI speakers? (I would certainly have more time at DrupalCon that way. ;)) I would assume not, because again with the impeding on someone else's freedom to enjoy themselves at a conference, and also with being exclusionary which is totally against our community code. So, ok. Do we instead allow LGBTQI speakers, but then not allow them to make references to their "wife" or "partner" in the context of a DrupalCon talk? Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

I realize this example sounds a bit ridiculous, and I'm obviously being a bit intentionally provocative here. But I think digging in and trying to get to the heart of what behaviours we're trying to encourage/prevent with this COC is a good and necessary thought exercise to do. A huge problem with laying down prescriptive rules like this is how much jack-asses will go to find loop-holes in them; this is why I'm also generally in favour of looser, "common sense" rules that give organizers some judgment leeway. However, since many other conferences have already adopted these sorts of rules, I assume that approach has been tried and failed in other contexts. It would be interesting to find out more on why.

I think what you're getting

gdemet's picture

I think what you're getting at here is the difference between sexuality and sexualization. The former is an expression of who you are as a person; the latter is behavior that's used to turn people into sexual objects.

One of the things we're trying to do with the code is help provide a friendly, safe, and welcoming environment where people can be comfortable being who they are without being harassed or turned into sexualized objects.

As I mentioned in one of my replies to Morten, the point of the code is not to prevent everyone from being offended; that would be impossible (and pointless).

To offer another hypothetical, if a lesbian presenter shows a photo of herself with her wife or partner fully clothed holding hands on a beach, that would likely be offensive to some, but it's no more inappropriate than a straight presenter showing a photo of herself with her husband fully clothed holding hands on a beach because it's not intended to create a sexualized environment.

On the other hand, if a presenter shows a photo of two naked or mostly-naked porn stars making out, that's inappropriate (even if some in the audience don't find it offensive) because it's deliberately creating a sexualized environment, regardless of the genders of the performers in question.

That doesn't meant that we need to remove all sex from DrupalCon, we just need to be conscious of our actions and the impact that they have. The code as written doesn't prohibit showing images of naked people, it just says that inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images may constitute harassment.

You're correct that the lines here are not black and white, and it's unlikely that they ever will be. And it's true that in different times and in different settings, the lines will probably be in slightly different places. That's why staff is responsible for deciding if and a violation of the code occurrs and what the appropriate remedies are.

But I do know that many people want some guidance about where those lines are to avoid making unintentional mistakes, and that's what we've tried to do here, based on the examples used by other tech conferences. I don't personally read it as being overly prescriptive or restrictive, but it seems like some folks are, and maybe we could make some tweaks to the language that make things more clear. That's why we're having this period of open review, and as always, patches welcome!


Crell's picture

And I agree entirely. This thread somewhat reminds me of the mega thread where "Male/Female" on d.o's profile forms was changed to "Male/Female/Transgender/Other", quickly and with little discussion; the big discussion then happened after the fact, and anyone who argued a point other than "that's enough" or "we should go farther" (ie, argued that we shouldn't go for the 4-part gender field and either keep Male/Female or remove it entirely) was automatically assumed to be sexist, or anti-non-normative-gender, or something else inherently "bad".

Disclaimer: I was one of those arguing that we shouldn't automatically assume that it was "right" to include every possible gender identity, and got attacked for "not understanding" someone else's perspective. Yes, I did consider that discriminatory.

Angie, I don't think your example here is ridiculous at all. It's at the heart of the matter. There are regions in the US where if we didn't allow homosexual speakers, there would be riots. There are other regions in the US where if you referred to "my wife", you'd actually be referring to something that is against the law in that state and some might get upset for that reason. My gut feeling is that more Drupalers today would be in the first group than the second, but does that inherently mean that we have to "take sides"?

Maybe that's one where everyone here would want to take a side; I know I'd be on the "riot" side myself. But there's plenty that's more subtle. Would it be more OK if morten had an equal number of almost-naked men in his slides as almost-naked women, or less OK? (Prevailing American culture is less tolerant of male nudity than female nudity.)

And that's before we even leave the US, much less get to European or Asian cultural conventions.

At this point I am also in the "less is more" camp. In part to avoid being a "killjoy" (there's plenty of risque things that can make a conference or presentation more enjoyable if done well, but can also certainly backfire), but also because one of the things we probably can all agree on is "dude, think before you act, and don't be a dick".

If you think first and act, and someone is still offended, then at least there's thought involved and you can actually have an adult conversation about it. The details beyond that (including whether the offense was real or imagined and if the listener was actually being over-sensitive) are too varied and complicated to capture in a CoC short enough that anyone would bother reading.

I think it's great that we're

drnikki's picture

I think it's great that we're talking about this, and that people who've felt mistreated/marginalized at previous conferences will have a document supporting them. I am concerned about over legislating things, and about making rules too stringent for our culturally-different community members. I don't think we're winning if we alienate one group in order to protect others. I don't think a different code for different cons is the answer though. A person should have the same rights not to be respected and not harassed at any drupal event. I don't have an answer, but agree that this needs to be addressed.

Would love to be involved if you all need it.

There's a lot to process

gdemet's picture

There's a lot to process here, and it may take me some time to draft a thoughtful response that addresses all of your points, but I did want to very quickly clarify a couple items:

What im concerned about here is that when we first have this "dcod" as a "law"
How do we handle a situation where a self appointed "dcoc enforces" wanna read these rules very strictly?

As written, interpretation and enforcement of the code is the responsibility of Association staff members, whose job it is to ensure a smooth-running DrupalCon that's safe for everyone. If someone had an objection to something someone said or showed as part of a presentation, they would need to let one of the Association staff members know, and it would be up to staff to decide whether a violation of the code had occurred and what the appropriate remedy was. The code of conduct is not something that anyone can decide to interpret and enforce on their own.

oooh cool sorry i totally

mortendk's picture

oooh cool sorry i totally missed that part :)

/ king of rock | geek Royale

When I read words like

elv's picture

When I read words like appropriate, unacceptable, excessive, I thought there was a large part left for interpretation as their meaning is largely cultural, and wondered how this would be handled if needed. You answered my questions.
But all my concerns are not all gone: it means a few individual will decide. So what is appropriate or isn't may well vary depending on where the Drupalcon is held or who organizes it?
We can't avoid everything that could be inappropriate to any culture anyway.

Also while I totally agree with the goals of this CoC, and encouraging open and respectful behaviour is good, I think making a list of specific things deemed "unacceptable" isn't the DA's role. It also shouldn't feel like a substitute to local laws.

Recognize the risk

ezra-g's picture

While what's "professional" is relative to certain cultures, we know that we have a lot of folks from cultures where things you listed (such as pornstars and erotica) aren't professional and would therefore be off-putting to conference attendees. It's important to recognize that the potential consequence of this is that we lose great contributors to Drupal.

With that in mind, is it really a bummer (and not worth avoiding the risk of losing contributors) to not have overt sexual references in a tech conference presentation?

If something is likely to be offensive or inappropriate given the professional nature of the conference, why not save it for an outlet of personal self expression, such as a blog, personal twitter account, work of art, song, etc?

My point is that i think its

mortendk's picture

My point is that i think its gona remove a lot of fun n edgy stuff & turn all sessions into wannabe suits talk.
Where we have to mind our language be politiely dressed etc

You make it sound here like everyone is grosed out about using a picture of lets say a construction worker thats dressed as hes form the village people (theres a ton of undertones in that for both genders)
Im pretty sure that there would be 1 or 2 in the audience that could be offended by that, but there would also be one or two that would be offended if i used one of the teletubbies (the purple one was accused by beeing gay at one time... its an english kid tv-show fyi)

So there will always be someone that will be offended, no matter what we set up as rules - its all about treating each other with respect.
I have personally crossed the line before, i got called out about it afterwards, discussed it & changed a little bit in my presentation style:

Its not about shoking/offending people its about entertaining and presenting technical stuff at the same time.

by setting up strict rules for all this were narrowing ways of expression our self, and that would be a damn shame.

/ king of rock | geek Royale

entertaining presentation

nickvidal's picture

It's totally possible to give an entertaining presentation without being a clown or exhibitionist!

I do like the word jester a

mortendk's picture

I do like the word jester a bit more, theres a better feel around it

But what do that have to do with this subject?
Please be constructive instead of sudden outburst like this, and we are talking about with respect towards eachother even that we might dissagree on this subject.

/ king of rock | geek Royale

Please be constructive

nickvidal's picture

Please be constructive instead of sudden outburst like this, and we are talking about with respect towards eachother even that we might dissagree on this subject.

Sudden outburst? :)

Please notice that I didn't offend anyone, nor called anyone a clown or exhibitionist. I just said it was possible to give an entertaining presentation without being one of these.

Jester? I didn't know this word. It does sound nice. Thanks!

The Code of Conduct is not

gdemet's picture

The Code of Conduct is not designed to prevent everyone from being offended; that would be impossible.

What it's designed to do is set a common set of expectations and establish safeguards so that people don't feel unsafe or unwelcome at DrupalCon. We want people to feel free to express themselves in creative, entertaining, and imaginative ways that don't involve demeaning, discriminating against or harassing others.

Morten, I've seen several of your presentations over the past couple years, and my personal feeling is that there's very little (if anything) you'd need to change as a result of this code of conduct. You said before that you've made some changes in the past after people said you had crossed the line; do you feel that you've been less effectively able to make your point as a result?

The point is that if someone finds Teletubbies inherently offensive, there's not much we can (or should) do about that. That's not what the Code of Conduct is designed to address.

Just don't show a picture of Teletubbies having sex in one of your slides. Then you might have some explaining to do. :-)

The nature of offense

NonProfit's picture

First of all, thanks George for taking this on. I think this is an excellent effort but have some significant reservations with it as it currently stands.

You are correct in explaining "The Code of Conduct is not designed to prevent everyone from being offended; that would be impossible." Yet the code explicitly states "...offensive jokes are not appropriate for DrupalCon." How can those two statements live in harmony?

My interactions within the Drupal community have been overwhelmingly (almost exclusively) positive. However, there are other members who have been made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable and those situations most certainly need to be specifically addressed. But because of the extremely personal nature of offense, I'm worried about any policy which allows attendees to be expelled from the conference "without a refund at the sole discretion of the conference organizers." Perhaps this is an escape clause which is meant to never be invoked, but I'd like to see more protection for the potential offenders (multiple warnings or jury trial?)

Ultimately, the code is intending to encourage mutual respect. However, we each have our own set of keywords, pixels and ideas that we are offended by. Furthermore, one can disrespect another while avoiding any specifically forbidden behaviors. Another can technically cross that line and most of us have grace to see past the deeds to the root (cultural differences, intended humor, immaturity, intoxication, etc.).

Context is important, as well. There is a significant distinction, as to how it reflects upon the Drupal project, between an attendee whispering a candid joke to another and that same humor being used from the main stage. I think Robert Castelo's "Style" (May 30, 2012 at 6:16pm) makes a lot of sense. Perhaps a more general code like Robert proposed be implemented for all attendees with additional guidelines for speakers and others officially representing the conference?

I think this is some great

hefox's picture

I think this is some great points.

It's very hard to make a place be "safe" (e.g. no one is offended) without making it "restricted" to the point of people not being comfortable.

I find it fairly hard to feel comfortable in "safe" places because the chance to offend someone by saying something I don't realize is offensive is high, and getting yelled/talked down to for that is not something I want to personally deal with. (Offended someone a few weeks ago at a birthday party for talking about my weight loss.)

However, I also understand why "safe" places are so important...

So my vote is for loose guidelines, and focus on remove hate, not as pecific words, images, groups of people.

(p.s., didn't dries have a semi nude photo in keynote at Denver?)


Robert Castelo's picture

I think we're aiming to write something that sets a tone rather than being a legal document?

If we want people to read and take notice of a code of conduct we need to avoid writing the guidelines in too formal a style, and also connect it more with the positives of the Drupal community.

Suggest something in this style, which I've adapted from the DrupalCon London Pub Crawl:

Drupal is a community - be friendly and talk to people you've never met before.

Drupal is for everyone - watch out for racism, homophobia or any other kind of abuse and step in to help if needed.

Drupal is fun - getting arrested isn't! Be friendly, respectful, and cooperative with others and do NOT break any laws!!!

Drupal is self organising – the framework is being provided for you, what you do at the event is up to you. You are entirely responsible for getting to and from the event, and for your own behaviour while taking part.

Drupal is scalable – if there are too many people in a session move to another session.

Drupal is free – the event is open to anyone interested in Drupal, enjoy!

This is good feedback; as I

gdemet's picture

This is good feedback; as I mentioned in my response to webchick above, while I don't personally find the language of the code overly prescriptive or restrictive, it's clear that some do. I think there's probably some tweaks we can make that will help change the tone without weakening it or changing its intent.

I'd actually read this.

HaloFX's picture

While the draft isn't nearly as long as some TOS documents, it is long enough that I think many (most?) would treat it as such and just skip it. Robert seems to catch the essence, and keep it simple enough it would actually get read, and could even fit in a event badge/booklet. Then people would have the outline with them at all times.

I'd take this ...

horncologne's picture

... and add Morty's "Be respectful, don't be an A-hole".

This covers it all in a positive, constructive way.

Nice one!

I am in agreement. Any

dkinzer's picture

I am in agreement. Any attempt to codify what is wrong and right in a very specific format is bound to fail in the context of a DrupalCon. There are just too many cultural differences that converge in individual cases. And, If the 'laws' are too specific/strict they can result in a stale and un-fun environment.

I think that the general rules work well as long as there is a clear way to address grievances. As for deciding on the outcome of those grievances I guess it's easier for the "judges" to have specifics to work with. However, it's probably best for the "judges" to be good, wise and smart (all ambiguous perhaps even loaded words, I know. Alas, that is the very nature of the thing we're discussing).

I would personally omit the

moshe weitzman's picture

I would personally omit the guideline about swearing. This is 2012, not 1955. The other forms of bad behavior are so much more destructive, it kind of cheapens the document to mention swearing. The fact that it says 'excessive swearing' does not clarify or improve the guideline IMO.

less is more

mortendk's picture

Why is it then nessesary to have that many rules - it seems to me that the current draft is taking care of any given situation that there might be.

  • ... now im might getting into stormy waters, so please dont take this the wrong way my american friends *
    Maybe its a culturel american thing that if its not written down, its not a rule? If that is the case please dont put em on the rest of the world, and i mean this with all the respeck in the world :)

It looks to me like all the conferences that have guides ... are well all american conferences? maybe a ruleset for behaviour is a thing thats needed in the US, or its just became a part of the conference scene "over there" (im danish, europa)
If that is the case, at its nessesary for the americans to have that ruleset, for drupalcons in the US. Well please just have em there - dont put em on us in europe. I might be totally wrong but i have never seen a ruleset for an event in europe, besides "dont be an asshole"
-sorry if i totally have misunderstood this, and a draggin this into an "europe freedomfries" vs." prudent america" its just the feel i get from rules like this.

** Even with all the rules in the world **
I am aware that having these rules might have an effect as a signal value, special for the female part of the drupal community, and as a guy i have no idea what it is that women are having to put up with.

there have just been a Dell Presentation here in copenhagen, where the mc, at the presentation (asshole #1 Mads Christensen), thought he was funny by putting women down in all kinds of ways - that was at an official Dell show!
im pretty sure they have rules for everything down to what shade of blue you can wear. (Dell finally came out with an official apology weeks after) after international outrage.
My point is that even by having the longest ruleset in history an asshole would still be an asshole & we can regulate us our of that by having long documents with rules.

I dont wanna long documents telling me all kinds of behaviour - it actually feels very much against the whole freethinking software culture i thought we were a part of, maybe im screaming naive or havent seen these problems, and if that so. we offcourse needs to have some.

What i would like to see is someting as s simple ruleset that outlines basic behaviour lets keep em as simple as possible:

  • Don't be an asshole
  • Respect other people's opinions.
  • Allow yourself to agree to disagree.
  • Use common sense.
  • No fucking boothbabes
  • Dont be a sexist asshole
  • When in doubt, ask yourself what your mother would say
  • Help out Cause drupal has karma

When we first start to have many many rules for everything,then were gonna end up having anything as a greyzone anyway, so they loose their meening anyways. The only thing we end up with is a huuuuge book of rules that nobody cares about, unless you wanna hit somebody in the head with em.

We are an international community, so if we really need to have rules make a rule set that is world wide acceptable, that can be accepted by as many different cultures as possible.
By that reason alone the coc should be as small as possible - we dont want have a huge bureaucracy, telling us all all the time how and what we should do.

/ king of rock | geek Royale

I think you have nailed it

adamelleston's picture

I think you have nailed it here for me.

I would back using a list like this over the originally posted code of conduct.

I think "Don't be an asshole" sums it all up for me.

Again may be a cultural thing.

Nail, meet head

spacebeers's picture

I think this sums things up for me quite nicely. I'd be happy with just "don't be an asshole". That works well in any language.

A dead Spock with no pants is the least of our worries.

Yeah I agree with a lot of

catch's picture

Yeah I agree with a lot of this as well. The more specific the rules are, the more likely the following will happen:

  • there'll be loads of debate over the specifics of the rules - should something be omitted or added to the list etc.

  • people will go out of their way to find loopholes in the wording so they can continue to be arseholes.

  • others will go out of their way to try to enforce the rules on situations where it's not appropriate or they don't apply.

already doing it...

rachel_norfolk's picture

The Drupal Community don't need to be told how to do something they are already doing really well...

Having been to one DrupalCon and several DrupalCamps (one of which I co-organised), I'm very much aware that the community is full of really amazing people that are more than capable of setting their own appropriate standards of behaviour.

My own personal circumstances might well have given someone an opportunity to take exception with me but have they? No - the people at the events were pretty fab, actually.

We're all grown-ups. Morten's guidelines above are more than enough to remind those that might forget occasionally.

oh - and if you're thinking of bringing Booth Babes - fine, go right ahead but they had better be prepared to answer all my questions!!


Whilst I understand the

markboulton's picture

Whilst I understand the intent of this document, I was a little dismayed to read it. Sorry, but It's long, overly formal, and will be used as a stick to beat someone with should they fall outside of what is 'acceptable' by a small minority of people.

I speak at, and attend, a lot of conferences. My experience is that similar community conferences to Drupal have a DNA – a shared understanding of what is acceptable – that changes from culture to culture. If you were to try and apply these same rules in Sydney, LA, Bahrain or Amsterdam, they simply wouldn't work because of what is considered appropriate behaviour in each culture.

The Drupal community is not a US community.

The Drupal community is an international one – with all it's wonderful quirks and amazing people. Sometimes, those people can offend others, sometimes people have fights – but if it's within the law of the country it is in, and they're not doing anything illegal, then it falls under what is deemed 'acceptable' by the community. And that differs enormously for the reasons I stated. And, in fact, that's exactly what makes travelling to these different cities so exciting. If you're wanting to lock every attendee in a hotel for a week and have the same talks about the same stuff by the same people with the same rules, then you may as well have it in the same place every year.

People are weird. The Drupal community is weird. But this weirdness is what makes it wonderful. Please don't change that.

As Morten said, let's keep it simple and use common sense.

Thank you Mark

mazze's picture

I really agree on this

I wholeheartly concur with

dddave's picture

I wholeheartly concur with Mark and on a broader level with Morten.


phoenix's picture

I couldn't agree more.

Good post Mark, The most

budda's picture

Good post Mark, The most sense I've read on this long winded US centric tripe.


axolx's picture


Cultural context of swearing

Everett Zufelt's picture

I don't think that a response has been given to Morton's comment on the cultural contexts for swearing.

Although I would find my self in general agreement with the document, and in complete agreement with its spirit (create a safe environment), I find that including swearing is a bit odd and puritanical.

I would hope that persons constantly shouting heck, gosh, darn, will find themselves with the same consequences as those using terms that certain persons may find more offensive. Language is about communicating ideas, and expressive language is often more about communicating connotative rather than denotative ideas. To restrict persons from using the language that they are most comfortable with using for self-expression would seem to me to be rather restrictive.

The Code already protects against harassment, we do not need a language clause to ensure that language is not used to harass, so we don't need a language clause at all, other than to promote a faux professionalism that may not be inclusive of all cultures.

Accessibility Consultant & Web Developer -
@ezufelt on Twitter | LinkedIn profile

If we shadows have offended, think but this...

kattekrab's picture

We had a shocker of a debate about a code of conduct in the oz foss community last year - which lead to me drafting the DDU coc with the assistance of Jacinta Richardson.

We really tried to avoid an overly prescriptive list of what not to do, instead advocating that our code should be aspirational. I love the general Drupal code of conduct, so used that as a baseline.

I'm sorry I haven't had a lot of time in recent days to put input into the draft - but I think it might be helpful to concentrate on the behaviours we value, rather than emphasise the one's we don't.

I also took advice from Suzanne Ruthven, a NZ Human Rights Lawyer, who suggested a less is more approach to these things actually gives the organisers more options when it comes to needing to enforce the code, should an unfortunate incident occur.

As @webchick pointed out... we've too often seen people use the letter of the law to find loopholes to misbehave, just to prove a point.

And as for swearing... yeah, I'm with Morten on that. I'm Australian, and many of us use swear words are colourful multi-purpose adjectives.

As for sexual imagery? This is much more difficult. Creating a sexualised environment does make some people feel very uncomfortable, threatened and unwelcome. And often those people are women. Not always, but often.

On the whole, the Drupal community has a lot more women in it than other open source communities I've participated in, and as a result women are less "other" and less marginalised. However, I think we still need to be careful here. Nudity is much more acceptable in continental Europe, and in Scandinavian saunas than it is in the US, Australia or the UK - but does that necessarily mean it's appropriate on slides at a technical conference? And could the fun, humour and edginess be introduced in other ways?

"Offend" and "Offense" are difficult words. They're vague. Skud once wrote very eloquently about using different, more accurate words. We can't avoid offending people - some people take offence where others find humour, where none is intended, or just to cause disharmony.

Read what skud said about this here:

@gdemet - thank you so much for starting this work, and for inviting this discussion and debate.

I urge us to all to create a more positive statement - highlighting the kinds of behaviour we want, rather than putting too much emphasis on what we don't.

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association


pdjohnson's picture

What I like from the DrupalDownUnder code right away is it has clear overriding themes which jump out. Be respectful, Be considerate, Be careful, Be aware.

It importantly provides some reasoning behind why a code would exist in the first place.

"Unfortunately there have been unpleasant incidents at technical conferences in the past. Therefore we ask everyone to be aware that we will not tolerate intimidation, harrassment, or any abusive, discriminatory or derogatory behaviour by anyone at the event. "

Paul Johnson
Global Social Media Lead for DrupalCon

The more accurate the better

jurgenhaas's picture

There are a lot of good reasons why a short (and maybe loose) COC could be preferred. However, for a global community this would eventually turn out to be an escape route only.

As much as we probably don't like it there is a real need for accurate rules - and common sense while executing them.

It's a real challenge to bring so many different cultures under one single umbrella - but in the end that's exactly what we're doing while building a global community. The price for that is to agree upon a COC which everybody knows the 'does' and 'donts'. Otherwise you're just postponing the pain point.

A lot of comments are talking about respect and try using that as an argument against accurate rules. As I read it the thinking behind that is that while everybody respects everybody else (somehow !?!) that no conflict or offend would be noticable at any time anyways, so that's why some believe that more accurate rules aren't necessary.

This is wishful thinking. There will be situations where people are going to disagree if some behaviour was appropriate or not and then somebody has to moderate the conflict - and while the moderator has to follow accurate and written rules, the chances are that the conclusion will be acceptable by all parties. And while some behaviour will indeed turn out to be inappropriate eventually, that doesn't necessarily mean that the "judge" has to apply the strongest possible sanction. Conflict resolution has a lot of room within the grey areas.

To me, respect is bi-directional. Often, people define respect as "allowing others to live and behave their way". The second piece to respect is the fact that my own behaviour may cause problems to others. So, to "piecefully" live or cooperate with them I may want to consider adjusting my own behaviour.

And that's what we want to do if we really want to (continue to) build that amazing global community around Drupal.

My initial reaction was

Nick Lewis's picture

My initial reaction was belligerent. Here's my measured reaction.
1. Sometimes the medicine is the worse than the disease. I think this is one of those cases.
2. If we are creating a drupalcon de-sexing police, who will police the police? Or will they be Drupal's equivalent of Mexico's Federales? "Of course they are benevolent, otherwise, they wouldn't be in the position they are!"
3. Seriously, you guys are starting to scare me.

"We are all worms. But I believe that I am a glow-worm." - Winston Churchill

Local culture and laws

pmichelazzo's picture

Hi people,

This is a nice tread and I would like to show a different point of view in a different situation.

Brazil receive this year the first DrupalCon outside of EU-US axis and, for us, is a pleasure to receive well everybody coming from different countries and cultures.

When someone see the word "Brazil", remember carnival, naked women, beaches, etc. Yes, this is our culture and good or bad, we live with it. Here, if we have a code of conduct talking about wear is strange and could create problems, not solve them.

Is normal to see men using shorts and women using small t-shirts and/or shorts on the street, conferences, etc. So, what is the line between what is acceptable in a conference or not? Can we really create rules for this out of common sense? I think that it's hard to do because some rules or common sense from a place is different to other.

The second point is: where we meet the code with the local laws?
A simple example: in Brazil, if you wear a nazi t-shirt (with elements that's remember the germany nazi's) is a crime and people can be arrested. Also, You cannot talk about drugs in a public place when you have intention of drugs absorption (this is a problem too because how we can see this intention).

So, how can we remember these kind of local rules for everybody? Is just a supplement of the code or this is something that the organization need to say for everybody?


Paulino Michelazzo

Yes, I'm Brazilian and we don't speak Spanish here (but I can talk too).

Don't worry, we're re-writing

gdemet's picture

Good morning, everyone!

First things first: It's very clear from the feedback so far that the draft as currently written would be unworkable for the Drupal community, so we're going to rewrite it. Please give us a couple days to regroup; any new drafts will be shared with the community and ample time provided for feedback. That's the way this process was always intended to work, and I'm really happy to see so many folks participating in the discussion.

Some of the general points of feedback that we'll be incorporating into the new draft are:

  • Change the tone so it's less formal and "legal" sounding
  • Focus on good examples of positive behavior instead of on negative behavior
  • Include more of an international perspective particularly when talking about potentially "offensive" behavior.
  • Be less prescriptive and less restrictive
  • Keep it short and simple

To be clear, I believe that the Drupal community as it exists today is one of the most open, welcoming, and egalitarian communities I've ever had the opportunity to be a part of, and nothing in the code of conduct is intended to change that. The goal of this effort has always been to keep the Drupal community the bright, vibrant, creative place it is today.

I have to catch a train and will be offline for a couple hours, but will have more to post later today. I do want to thank everyone who's participated in this thread; it's very clear to me that this is a discussion that's been overdue for some time, and I'm glad we're finally having it.

Thanx man - Its an importent

mortendk's picture

Thanx man - Its an importent discussion that yes have been waiting to be out in the open, and this is the first step or "rules for a world wide community"

I think it would be a good idea to get a couple of "non americans" in the inner group right away to work in this (correct me if im wrong, i dont wanna create false rumors)

I surely hope that you will let this discussion go on untill we have a thing we all can live with, even that it will go over the deadline for next week. Its to important a discussion to let it just be settled by a little group in the DA (and would create a little bit of fire ;)

Anyways hook me up i would love to help out

/ king of rock | geek Royale

To be clear, we did have a

gdemet's picture

To be clear, we did have a few non-Americans in the group that helped review and draft the original version, but none of them raised any significant objections before it was released for community review and feedback.

I also want to make sure that everyone understands that while I am an advisor to the DA and there were several other people associated with the DA in the initial group, this is not a DA initiative. Whatever comes out of this will be presented to the DA, as they're the ones legally and fiscally responsible for DrupalCon, but it will be up to them to decide whether or not to adopt it.

Also, in case it wasn't clear

gdemet's picture

Also, in case it wasn't clear from my earlier post, we are going to push the timeline a bit to make sure the community has ample opportunity to weigh in.

Not my values

Jody Lynn's picture

As a lover (am I allowed to use the word 'lover') of alcohol, drugs, profanity and freedom I'm afraid I'm not wanted at this MidWest grade school version of drupalcon. I truly thought PC was a joke in the 90s but was long dead.

I want the non-Americans to know that not all Americans and not all women want to sterilize this community with rules. We are adults not boy and girl scouts.

Hi Jody - As I mentioned in

gdemet's picture

Hi Jody -

As I mentioned in my post above, we're rewriting the draft to change its tone. What would be really helpful for us when doing so is having a better understanding of what specific items in the previous draft you objected to, as it contained no references to banning alcohol or drugs.

I understand that you have concerns about the "excessive swearing" clause, and that's certainly something we'll revisit.

Yeah I guess it was mainly

Jody Lynn's picture

Yeah I guess it was mainly the reference to swearing in the draft that really bugged me. But I thought it telling that in the early comments some people were complaining about alcohol as well as if hoping to get more rules in there. It seems as though boothgate 2012 is being used as an excuse to add unrelated rules.

I like the anarchy of open source and I don't want to see an association taking on more authority.

Positive Encouragement more than Negative Restrictions

waako's picture

Thanks @gdemet, you guys have obviously invested a lot of time into this, and are being transparent and taking onboard the issues that this conversation has at heart.

As has been mentioned before, I think it is very important that any CoC should not be a "you must not do this, or this, or this, and even this" but instead a lead by example guide.
So focusing on things we SHOULD be doing rather than NOT.

This has been hashed over several times, but people will use rules as an excuse to object to things, things they probably wouldn't have objected to if it hadn't been written somewhere that they could.
Most British people feel that the UK is overly PC, I believe this is mainly due to how insurance companies interpret health & safety law. What is originally, 'safety precautions must be in place before changing faulty equipment' becomes 'a full solid scaffold structure must be erected and only a specifically trained contractor may be used to carry out faulty equipment replacement'. The latter has nothing to do with the law, but simply how the insurance companies write the clause to cover themselves and save themselves money.
This has of course negative effects on the work environment, because a dead lightbulb will take 2 months to replace, great expense and leave employees working without sufficient lighting...
Anyway, you get the idea.

In regards of images in slides, can we not use wording like "do use imagery that will entice, amuse and capture your audience's attention, remember though that some images have different connotations. No one wants you to lose audience members due to a potential misunderstanding"
That is much too long a sentence, but just trying to get the feel across :)

Ok, I hope this wont come

forgenator's picture

Ok, I hope this wont come back to bite my ass too hard, I'm just dumbfounded by this and it (as seen from above posts) has gotten feelings heated in one way or another.

Wall of text coming:


Why are everyone talking about banning boothbabes? First off, so we can't have boothbabes but boothguys are ok? Isn't this creating a double-standard? You can't be hot and wear hot clothes if you're a girl but if you're a guy it's ok?

No, you do not have to like it. You don't have to work with the company if you don't like it. But it's their choice to make that decision. You can voice it but you have no say into how they want to promote their company.

And what someone might think as a sexy outfit could be normal work atire to someone, I think women in business outfits are hot and sexy, can I go and complain someone when i see women in those?

Allowed to be yourself?

So you really want to tell me how to dress and act? What is this, Orwell's 1984? If i'm hot and steamy and look good in a sleeveless t-shirt and jeans why can't I wear them? I wish I would and someone might agree that I really do but it's again my own choice.

If i'm not breaking any laws wearing jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt I should be allowed. What's next, ban tattoos because someone from Japan might associate me with Yakuza and feel bad?

I don't like someone telling me how I can dress and behave if i'm not doing anything overly stupid. We are all grownups (at least I think we are) and we all know when someone is seriously stupid or acting stupidly (food fights, overly abusive language to everyone, you know, general wisdom most people have). And then a quick word will almost always suffice.

rules, rules, rules! We need more rules!

You cannot solve problems with rules. You can emphasize good behavior like has been pointed out but rules will only make everything fall apart. Like has been pointed out, someone will in spite break the rules because they are written. I know I would, isn't this all hacker mentality partially comeup because we don't like to be told how to act, behave and dress?

You might just as well start creating rules for how people CAN dress. And even then I can imagine someone feeling offended if we all wear potato sacks.


You cannot solve everything, there will ALWAYS be someone who might feel hurt, sexualised or something else. And no amount of rules will benefit that. Not even those positive rules ;)

And if people just don't take every single word personally, yes i have seen that and i think that's also stupid, we will get along just fine. If someone says something stupid you do not need to get a huge fit and form committees to think how to avoid this in the future. Like has happened now.

So relax, if someone says something stupid you can correct them, or let it slide. People say stupid things all the time. But that doesn't mean there is a problem that needs fixing.

Some facts

ashedryden's picture

The vast majority of Drupalcon attendees are white, straight males.

1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted or raped in her lifetime.

The tech community is rife with incidents where bad things have happened:

I don't personally know one woman who hasn't been made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe by the actions or words of someone at a tech conference. This is not okay and it has to stop. The number of women in technology is actually falling thanks in large part to the harassment that they face. I am super vocal and well-informed of these issues and I have considered giving up my career to not have to deal with the kinds of comments and harassment that I do constantly.

The Code of Conduct is being put in place to help people feel safer. No, this will not stop incidents from happening. What it will do is give organizers a tool to be able to point to one someone does something and it will make the victims of these incidents feel better knowing that these kinds of things will not be tolerated and will be taken very seriously.

If you feel that your right to be able to say sexually-charged things is more important than a quarter of your co-attendees feeling safe, your priorities are in the wrong place.

Yeah. This.

webchick's picture

Thanks for reiterating the grounding principles of this document, because the end goal here (allowing everyone regardless of gender, nation, religion, etc. to come to DrupalCon and feel comfortable and safe and have a great time) is something I think we can all agree on.

I empathize with those advocating for a simple set of "common sense" kind of guidelines, but I think eaton summed it up well with this:

"The challenge is figuring out what to do when some people don't have common sense, and complain that the guidelines aren't explicit"

So it'd be nice for those railing so hard against this CoC to come up with alternatives that keep Ashe's points in mind. "Don't be a dick" doesn't cover it, unfortunately.

Not going to happen

chx's picture

allowing everyone regardless of gender, nation, religion, etc. to come to DrupalCon and feel comfortable and safe and have a great time

we are too many, coming from too many cultures for this to happen. What we need to decide is what toes to step on and what toes not to step on. Simpler example: the society, in general, decided that smoking indoors is not allowed. In the fight between the freedom to smoke versus the health of those who do not smoke the latter won.

You can debate this forever. While I presume it's not OK to walk around shirtless, are we going to define the amount of skin that is allowed to show...? You want everyone regardless of religion feel comfortable then that's not going to be a lot of skin and then you get people who feel offended that they can't wear whatever clothing they want. This could go on forever.


wilkie's picture

Now, hmm, it is strange that people fight and rally against something as simple as committing to the idea that we don't discriminate or harass people. On any factor. Whatsoever.

And then the people that cannot handle the simple act of suggesting somewhere official that these activities are forbidden because it somehow restricts them? Hmm. This isn't a conference about debauchery and cutting loose and being a jerk, etc, right? It's about communication. And there needs to be a comfort level to focus on the communication. There needs to be diversity to improve the communication. There needs to be a comfort level to increase diversity.

Hmm. That's all there is to it. If you don't think you can offer sound advice for providing that comfort level, you should not be involved with organizing any professional event. That's my first, last, and only opinion offered here.

A Safe Venue

NonProfit's picture

When I made my earlier comment I was thinking in terms of risque jokes and naughty words. Obviously is does not apply to sexual assault and the like. I had no idea such conduct was taking place. I'm sorry for anyone who has experienced it.

I still believe general principles tend to work better than legalese. One piece to the solution may be to provide people a safe venue to voice concerns. A place way where they are assured their complaint will remain confidential and be addressed quickly. Also, training the organizers how to respond and providing them access to another level of authority (Drupal Association attorney?) should they encounter a situation where it is unclear what the appropriate intervention must be.

as soon as my deadlines are

mortendk's picture

as soon as my deadlines are done tomorrow - im gonna work on this.

Im ralling not of having a coc (as we allready do have) im rallying against the "american pc" feels this whole think smells of, and what will happen when we begin to try setting rules for everything that we can possible find (again sorry americans - i dont mean any disrespect, but i dont have any other word for it, anybody wanna help out?)

If we can have a simple "dont be an ass" list and then have a doc that goes "so if somebody is an ass this is what we do" - then were a whole lotta closer to something that isnt tasting of well american pc & putting rules on everything ;)

/ king of rock | geek Royale


gdemet's picture

I'm fairly confident we can resolve the concerns about the code feeling "overly PC" while still effectively setting expectations about acceptable behavior and protecting our attendees. I have some deadlines of my own, but expect to hear from me soon.

Be excellent to each other!

kattekrab's picture

Linux Australia developed a code of conduct. (I'm still not happy with it, as it's too prescriptive) BUT - they also adopted this tl:dr version inspired by Bill and Ted's excellent adventure.

Be excellent to each other!

Donna Benjamin
Board Member Drupal Association

Communicating the CoC

pdjohnson's picture

Whilst everyone is debating fiercely about the CoC we must also consider that once one has been established, it must be clearly visible and communicated to all attendees (without ramming to down their throats).

There is no point in having a document which is hidden in the depths of D.O or DrupalCon site.

Paul Johnson
Global Social Media Lead for DrupalCon

I've discussed this a bit

gdemet's picture

I've discussed this a bit with Association staff, and ultimately where the code "lives" will be up to them, but we can certainly offer recommendations.

Ideally it would be added to

bangpound's picture

Ideally it -- or some summary of it -- would be added to the program book like a PSA.

Utterly key.

davideads's picture

At FreeGeek, we just read our CoC to new volunteers during orientation. The Drupal community doesn't have that luxury.


chx's picture

... you won't find a more staunch ally of me in fighting against sexism in the Drupal community but making DrupalCons an over-legislated, suits-only conference is not going to help. Dragging the topic of sexual assault into this won't help either. That is against the law and we hardly need to reiterate "do not break the law", that's a given isn't it? Dragging the geek feminism wikia won't help either because that's oversensitive even for me. Calm down.

I'm usually with you on this,

linclark's picture

I'm usually with you on these types of issues, but telling a woman who is calmly expressing her opinion to "Calm down" is seriously problematic.

Please read A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not “Crazy”

"A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple."

So we are now at a war of words

chx's picture

Yes, I believe that comment was seriously overreacting. So now you are picking what words am I allowed to use? I am out of this issue. I have unpublished every comment of mine that hasn't had a reply yet, too. Have fun.

Edit: since the downvotes are gone, I have re-published and re-entered.

So fast to downvote

chx's picture

Everyone who have downvoted my comments so very fast, consider whether censoring this discussion is a good idea.


ashedryden's picture

We're asking for empathy in this situation.

Imagine what it would be like if you had to choose between being put in a scary/threatening position if you went to a conference. One where you actually worried about your physical safety or that you didn't feel comfortable enough attending. You don't want people to feel that way, right?

That is what we are trying to prevent.

And telling a woman who experiences these issues first hand to "calm down" is super disrespectful. Way not cool, bro.


chx's picture

You drag the geekfeminism wikia into this thread and speak of emphaty? Do you know what that place is? A witch hunt. Regardless of whether you made a comment of "So simple, your mother could do it" or made a talk full of slides of scantily clothed women, you are thrown into a list of 'sexist pigs'. There is no judge or jury, there is no empathy. That Googling your name now reveals you as a sexist pig, who cares? There's no appellate and there's no expiry of this sentence either. What empathy?


shadowspar's picture

I understand how you might think the Code of Conduct is an overreaction to something that doesn't happen very often, because quite frankly, you're a guy, and it's not happening directly to you. But how would you feel if you were frequently put down, made the butt of a joke in a talk, leered at, or God forbid, assaulted at a conference, and then told to "calm down" when you tried to take reasonable steps to make future conferences a safer place for you?

The GF wiki timeline is there to document these kinds of incidents to show how frequently these kinds of things do actually happen, in no small part for the benefit and education of those of us who are fortunate enough not to have them happen to us.

Women are telling you what kinds of things happen to them at tech conferences and why we should be taking measures to make them a safer place for everyone. How about believing them?

Seriously instead of

mortendk's picture

Seriously instead of battering a well known person in the commuity that you all know isnt a male shauvanistic pig, can we please get back on the subject, and use the energy there?

It have been stated it wasn't cool - chx is removing his own comment. its done.
Dont turn this into a series of personal attacks, based on other agendas, its very hurt full for an open discussion and debate, that i guess we all wanna have.

/ king of rock | geek Royale

I am genuinely mystified why

webchick's picture

I am genuinely mystified why downvoting indicating "I disagree with this comment" and linking to off-site references that back up claims made in an argument and help educate people is being seen as "censorship" or "battering" or "personal attacks."

I am very well aware of the

mortendk's picture

I am very well aware of the fact that women are attack all over the world on a daily basis. and that is not what were disucssing here.

What you doing here is is extremely offensive to me! - are you actually saying that because I fight for the right to mention gender, sex, sexuality & dont wanna end up having rules for every thing that we can possible find at a druplacon, - destroy the free sprit that our community have been built up upon.
am I actually supporting attacks on women well dammit im actually promiting sexual assults on women -
Do you really really think that is the case?

Using geekfeminism and their examples (i only looked at those reported for the Drupal community , 3 incidents is questionable at best. I dont think that this is the place to discuss these 3 incidents, we can take those in another place, that will only make this discussion even more complicated - but if that was the case i wonder why my posters in Denver wasnt burned (there was a woman on them, with guns & portraited as a mad div & span killer...)

My right to express my self under the "dont be an asshole" umbrella isnt an attack on any women,gays or whomever isnt from Copenhagen with viking genes -There must be room for us all, and all cultures.

If we have to have this discussion( and we should) i would really prefere that we try not to put each other into boxes and accuse eachother for to much and jump into extreme conclusions, as you have done here.

Else we can scream n shout and im gonna set the timer before the first Trippel opression card is played, the nazi card, göbels etc.

My priorities is in the exact right place, even that by having these you now accuse me for beeing pro rape. That is not cool & isnt a way to discuss this problem.

/ king of rock | geek Royale

Thank you.

bangpound's picture

Thank you to everyone who has worked on this. I think it's really important.

I'm not going to entertain some of the arguments I've glanced at on this thread. Sexual harrassment, sexual violence, abuse are present in every culture on earth. They manifest in different ways, but it is not a uniquely American thing to be concerned about it.

The rules of the proposed Drupalcon Code of Conduct are widely applicable, but people bristle at the codification of common etiquette and (as chx points out) the repetition of basic criminal law. I sympathize somewhat, but I'm also thinking to myself "tough buns." If you didn't get it from school, home, your parole officer, your therapist, your mother, your imam, then it needs to spelled out.

I hope I can suggest a few things to improve the text and possibly the campaign to build consensus around meeting this need:

  • Make it a lot shorter. O'Reilly's statement was very elegant if kind of a weird mix of condescending and affirming tone. The longer it is, the more impatient the reader becomes. Focus on essentials, link to everything else.

  • Elaborate on the "consequences" and avoid vagueness. Right now, they appear to threaten punishment! I hope that we don't need to punish people, but I know things that have happened that were extremely severe. Make it clear that the code of conduct empowers people to have frank conversations about problematic behavior. That conversation might go something like this.

    Person A: "That joke you told in your session made me uncomfortable. It sounded sexist."
    Person B: "Oh really? I thought it was funny, but I understand. I probably should not have used the joke."
    Person A: "I hope next time you won't, but it was a useful session otherwise! Thanks for listening to me!"
    Person B: "Knock knock."

    A brief, frank conversation about a joke you told is also a consequence, and one that does not carry a fully-staffed bureaucracy of enforcement.

  • In this discussion, remind people what this is all about. This is for us, our friends and colleagues. The Geek Feminism wiki feels harsh to some, but there are real stories in there. Read Lin Clark's testimony or any of the items written about other conferences by other men and women. Listen to this BBC program about sexism in video gamer culture. This isn't just some effort to control your sense of humor and style... it's bodily, psychic security and self-preservation for people at risk of being harassed or assaulted.


Alcohol makes these issues more difficult to deal with, because drunk people can't make decisions or be reasonable sometimes. DRUNK. Some of y'all... damn. I would look forward to less alcohol-centered outings... actually I've only been to ONE drupalcon party, and it was there that I saw folks get non-consensually groped. But a conversation about a wider spectrum of evening activities at Drupalcon is another thread, probably.


gdemet's picture

This is exactly the kind of feedback that will be helpful as we start putting together the revised draft.

davideads's picture

+1 to the suggestions here, especially "the code of conduct empowers people to have frank conversations about problematic behavior". A space where someone can say "hey, that's not cool" and be listened to seems like a significant goal to me.

What do you think of ?


eaton's picture

I've read over the code of conduct that was proposed, and it seems reasonable. It's obviously a first draft, and there are a lot of areas that I think could use improvement and clarification, but generally speaking it's a vanilla statement about what kind of conduct is acceptable at public events. Lots of other conferences have similar official policies, including OSCON and other O'Reilly events.

There's a lot of blowback about it, though, and I think that most of it is coming from genuinely well-intentioned community members who are concerned about the proposed CoC, don't understand why it needs to deal with certain issues, or feel like it's another sign of Drupal getting all "corporate."

As I said above, I support the CoC team's work, and while I think the proposed CoC can definitely use some work (for example clearer explicit definitions around certain phrases like 'offensive speech'), there are interesting points that have been raised in the surrounding discussion. They deserve to be discussed, because we're a large, inclusive community.

"We don't need this, it's all common sense!"

A lot of the really serious issues that are being talked about in the Code of Conduct -- harassment, heckling speakers off stages, making racist jokes -- really feel like they should be no-brainers. As someone on Twitter said earlier today, "We're not children, we get this." For some people -- even a lot of people -- this is true. Unfortunately, humanity can suprise you, and statistics dictates that as our community has grown in size, it's also accumulated more people who don't "get it."

I have quite a few close friends in the Drupal and general FLOSS community who've been propositioned by conference attendees, physically groped by other community-members at sanctioned conference events, discouraged by offensive comments by on-stage speakers, made to feel unwelcome by public, on-stage conversations that belittled their gender or sexual orientation, and so on. While the Drupal community is (in my opinion) definitely a ray of light in the FLOSS world in terms of the number of minority community members we have, our size works against us: there are assholes in the crowd, and they will cause problems. It behooves us to figure out what our policy about these issues is before a post shows up on Hacker News talking about the farm animal porn presentation at DrupalCon 2016, or the sexual assault at a DrupalCamp, or whatever.

Most of our coding standards are common sense, too, but writing them down and documenting them helps eliminate ambiguity and helps educate to the people who don't get it yet. Even when they're subjective (spaces vs. tabs isn't a religious issue, after all) they lay down clear guidelines of what this particular community is like and how they handle things.

"It's Too Subjective!"

Perceived ambiguity about what constitutes "offensive" behavior seems to be one of the biggest undercurrents of concern -- the fuzziness is both troubling and (to some degree) necessary.

On the one hand, it's impossible to provide a detailed bullet list of every possible sexist, racist, or generally assholish thing someone could say. If we did, creative misanthropes would just take it as an invitation to work around the rules while being offensive. (Anyone who's ever been a 13 year old understands THAT dynamic.)

On the other hand, the idea of an invisible line in the sand -- one that's dependent on the subjective opinions of each conference attendee rather than a clearly articulated policy of "what is and isn't offensive" -- is scary. If I make a joke about theology and there's a pre-millenial dispensationalist in the audience, will this Code of Conduct get me ejected from Drupalcon?

There are two interrelated answers to that issue, in my opinion. We DO need good, clear guidelines around what kinds of things are considered "offensive enough to be not-ok-for-Drupalcon," and if people have questions about grey areas they need to be able to ask and talk about them without being treated like pariahs. I don't see a lot of that going on here in this particular thread, but it's a real concern that a lot of people have and it should be respected, too.

On the other hand, there's always going to be ambiguity because assholes will push boundaries. It's what they do. Heck, it's what I do. Wait a minute, does that mean I'm...? Hmmm.


"But Drupal is international, different cultures have different mores!"

That's totally true. And we've run into this problem before, when European Drupallers refused to attend American Drupalcons because of strict US travel policies and paranoid security requirements for foreign visitors. To some extent, we're always going to have to grapple with some uncomfortable collisions as we grow and expand.

However, our community has to balance a dual responsibility: acknowledging and accepting cultural differences, and respecting each other enough to ensure that we provide a welcoming and constructive environment.

Sometimes, it's just impossible to avoid offending a particular sensitive or opinionated person. If Anil attends Drupalcon and is mortally offended by the fact that I delivered my presentation wearing a T-shirt, or that Sally isn't wearing a proper head-covering, he might just need to accept it. If he's offended because I used a hilarious meme in my presentation that had a racial slur, or he's offended because Sally flashed the room while screaming, 'VIEWS ROCKS,' well, he's got a point: if I can't make my presentation without that racist lolcat, it's probably not a presentation worth giving. And Sally has a world of ways to say that Views rocks without flashing the audience; even if only a few people were offended by it, putting a couple of guidelines around what's OK and not OK isn't going to hinder her ability to communicate, engage with others, or express herself in the context of our community.

It boils down to mutual respect. Figuring out where to draw the lines is complicated, but it's not impossible or pointless.

"I object to dress codes!"

That's awesome. The Code of Conduct doesn't mention dress codes, so I'm baffled about why it's been brought up. I had people make fun of me in public for wearing a tie at my last Drupalcon presentation, so I think we're a long way from making suits mandatory.

"I'm not sexist or racist or homophobic!"

I totally believe you and I don't think that being concerned about the Code of Conduct -- or questioning why it's necessary or whether it's a good one -- makes you a sexist or a racist or a PHP-Nuke user. If someone says that it does, tell them to talk to me and I will ask them to form an orderly line and I will make them maintainers of some of my modules. That'll teach them.

A lot of people who have been harassed, marginalized, or otherwised crapped on at tech events -- as well as their friends who see it happening -- feel that Codes of Conduct and similar policies are a huge help in curbing those problems. It can be difficult for those people (myself included, sometimes) to understand why anyone would be against a document that says, basically, "Don't be a dick." Sometimes, it's easy for folks in that position to regard opposition to the proposed solution as inherent support for the people who are being dicks.

If someone says that you're being a sexist ass for opposing a Code of Conduct policy, I personally apologize and wnat to make clear that I disagree with them. I mean, you might still be sexist. But it's not because of your position on the Code of Conduct. Formal logic is hard, @justafish is still trying to explain predicates to me. She's a girl, so she understands math a lot better than I do.

"Everything will get boring!"

Okay, edgy is fun and all, but realistically we get bored when there's not enough racist jokes and cheesecake photos in our presentations, or saying 'You can't grab that lady's ass' is a serious imposition, well. Get new hobbies.

Seriously, though, there's a lot of joking around that happens between friends and colleagues, whether it's at Drupalcon or at home or at work. The challenge is that those conversations happen amongst friends who know each other and understand where they're coming from, and can easily offer a friendly, "Hey, not cool" if something goes over the line. At a public event, or during a session, or even sometimes in the hallways between sessions, we're in a different kind of space: a public space where we're also sending messages to other people who don't know us. Recognizing that certain things are appropriate in different contexts is part of the price we pay for being awesomely huge and successful.

In conclusion

I think a Code of Conduct is useful, and needed, for our community. Massive growth has already taxed our ability to assimilate newcomers, and "standards of not being an ass" are just as much a part of that as coding standards or understanding FAPI's tangles.

I think the proposed Code of Conduct isn't perfect, and needs some work, but it is not fundamentally flawed or out of sync with the Code of Conduct policies enacted by other well-respected conferences and professional/technical communities.

I also think that a lot of the concerns being expressed are important ones to address, and shouldn't be confused with "people who want to be jerks." I think they just want to protect the Drupal community as much as everyone else, and want to make sure that we don't make a new set of problems while trying to fix others.

Finally, there are a couple of straw men that keep coming up -- things like "I refuse to have a dress code" -- that aren't about the proposed Code of Conduct at all. Either they're attempts to start arguments, or they're misunderstandings of what's beign proposed. I'd encourage everyone to read over it carefully and figure out what it actually says, and consider ways it could be clarified or improved, rather than reacting to the general concept of anti-sexism or anti-harassment policies. The devil is in the details!

Thank you all. I love you.


chx's picture

I brought of dressing code because it's something NOT discussed just show how these discussions have no end.

On the other hand

At a public event, or during a session, or even sometimes in the hallways between sessions, we're in a different kind of space: a public space where we're also sending messages to other people who don't know us.

That's the root of the problem isn't it? The people in this thread definitely know each other and it's so very very hard to get used to the fact you point out. If we can come to terms with that, we can make a sensible and loose enough rules that noone feels restricted nor offended.

I brought of dressing code

eaton's picture

I brought of dressing code because it's something NOT discussed just show how these discussions have no end.

OK, thanks for the note. ;-) I actually came in and read the proposed CoC after the thread started ballooning, and after reading several of the posts (not just yours), I was under the impression that some sort of dress code had been proposed.

I just wanted to make sure that anyone who had the patience to read my post but somehow hadn't read the original CoC proposal didn't get the same impression I did. ;-)

Stranger Danger?

gdemet's picture

Thanks Jeff - I love you too. :-)

One thing your posted reminded me, and that came up in some watercooler discussions here at the office today is that there's one very important group whose voice is not being represented in this thread: that of the person who's never been to a DrupalCon before.

For the most part, this thread is full of very active and well-established members of the Drupal community who know how to treat others with dignity and respect. And we have the benefit of knowing that the vast majority of people in Drupal are like that.

But someone who's not already part of the community and who ends up going to their first DrupalCon in Munich or Portland or wherever doesn't necessarily know that, and we're all going to seem like strangers to him or her. And being in a room full of strangers, especially ones who are as enthusiastic and passionate as the folks in the Drupal community, can be a very scary thing.

A code of conduct won't solve that problem, but it will hopefully at least help give that person the peace of mind that while we may all be strangers to them, we're not scary strangers, and if, heavens forbid, something bad does happen, they know who to call for help and support.

As I said in an earlier post, the Drupal community is incredibly welcoming and friendly. Let's make sure everyone knows that.

This thread reads like a fox

seutje's picture

This thread reads like a fox news report or something, rather embarrassing to be honest.

If I ever get tempted to speak at a drupal event, remind me to read over some of these comments and wonder if it's really worth the risk.

And the flipside?

greggles's picture

You say you might reconsider giving a talk, but how about attendees?

I will probably never go to a flash or rails event as a result of the bad media coverage from a few of their presentations (and the poor way those were handled). On the other hand, the steel city ruby conference policy would make me feel like that is an event I could attend.

As presenters I think we really need to re-examine how we can best get our message across and whether walking the edges of professionalism is essential to a solid presentation.

I might actually stop

seutje's picture

I might actually stop attending if these sort of things get even more out of control, yeah. I'm already to the point where I almost completely refrain from talking to new people at Drupalcons, especially women, simply because I have no way of knowing what their level of puritanity is. And if I slip up for just a second, I'll be pretty much branded for life.

I'm a very shy person when it comes to face-to-face conversation, again, especially with women, and if I have to analyze every word 7 times before saying it, I won't be getting too far beyond "hi".

Take the DC Paris website for instance: what looked like a simple reference to burlesque and that painter what's-his-face-who-does-the-abstract-moustaches got horribly misinterpreted, posts were made, tweets were flying and suddenly it was an outrageous act of sexism. Bam! 50+ years of French cultural history pooped on and defaced.

This made me rather sad (I'm not French btw), as I thought we were above this crazy witch-hunt for things that could be misinterpreted by someone, somewhere, who would actually need to be scanning carefully to even notice it. After that, it just started getting worse and worse, and the once so open and careless community atmosphere that drew me in, closed up and became a minefield of political correctness.

I am a person who cares a great deal about what ppl think of me (might not always seem that way, but trust me, I care, too much even), and I generally want people to perceive me as a nice guy. To me, this thread feels like another (big) step in a direction I'm simply not able to go without shutting down verbally (or I would need to be semi-intoxicated all the time, which is also not a direction I want to go).

I guess my point is that by trying to be overly-inclusive towards minority groups (sry, I find "marginalized groups" to sound demeaning, so I refuse to use it), you might end up putting additional stress on some individuals in the majority groups who already struggle with the weight of a loose social etiquette.

Also, being white, male and in my 20's, I often feel that my opinion on things like this is quickly discarded, simply because I'm not in one of the minority groups. This is the main reason I didn't really bother to write a decent reply. Don't even really know why I'm writing this one, pretty sure it'll be instantly discarded, if I'm lucky and don't get scolded or accused of saying women deserve to be raped.

Another thing that's often neglected is that for many of us, English isn't our main language, and unfortunate as it may be, it's a very graphic language, a lot of the easy words sound rather harsh, but don't sound harsh to the non-native speaker due to his native language sounding even harsher. Of course they all have a politically correct alternative, but they are often much more complicated and not picked up by non-native speakers. There are some exceptions to this, like using "shit" instead of "stuff". This is probably due to how a lot of non-native speakers learned English, which wasn't in a class room (well, for me, at least, can't rly speak for everyone). A lot of American shows and films have pretty coarse language, and if this is your main source for learning dialogue, it becomes a habit to use them.

Completely agreed

chx's picture

The moment the geekfeminism-type witch hunt was dragged into this conversation it occured to me whether I am welcome at DrupalCon any more. I come from a culture where words English-speaking people would consider cussing is basically punctuation.

I already self-censor myself extremely heavily in writing, watch this comment above: "Otherwise you might think once we discover a Wordpress user in our ranks we will tar and feather poor user" <= how awkward. But I can't say "tar and feather him" or "tar and feather her". Now, this is (somewhat) doable in writing but in speech? Very hard.

But I can't say "tar and

gdemet's picture

But I can't say "tar and feather him" or "tar and feather her".

Why not?

The outrage...

chx's picture

"No, women are using wordpress/CMSes/whatnot too you sexist pig". "You are again portraying women who only use WordPress and want to exclude them from Drupal". Yeah. All that jazz. That's why not.

So it sounds to me like

gdemet's picture

So it sounds to me like there's two things going on here:

  1. You're currently self-censoring your speech because you're afraid of inadvertently saying something others will perceive as offensive.

  2. When people say that something you've said is "sexist", you feel like people are are calling you a "sexist pig".

I want to be clear that these things are happening now, without an event code in place.

If we were able to create a framework that enabled people to gently and discretely let you know if something you've said could be misinterpreted, and if they in turn felt confident that those concerns would be listened to and treated with courtesy and respect, wouldn't that be better for everyone?

This was actually one of the

gdemet's picture

This was actually one of the big motivators for me personally in drafting this code: to help those who might otherwise not know when they're being unintentionally offensive.

A number of folks I have talked to have expressed similar concerns: that they don't know where the line is, so they avoid saying anything at all.

If we had a code of conduct in place at the time of DrupalCon Paris, we would have had some clearer guidelines for handling the incident with the home page image, and it likely would not have been as big an issue as it was.

Lin Clark's post in this thread talks about how the organizers of Symfony Live in Paris recently modified a similarly controversial image on their site after having a conversation with those who found it problematic. That incident was handled in a positive way and that's the kind of thing we want to encourage.

Obviously that sentiment didn't come across in the original draft, so we'll make it more clear in the next one.

Specifically on the swearing

catch's picture

Specifically on the swearing issue, if you regularly exchange 'stuff' for 'shit', that's 'excessive swearing' in the sense of it being gratuitous. But it's also something that I'd have absolutely zero sympathy with someone getting offended by it, and tonnes of sympathy with someone who learned conversational English from films/tv/irc.

Guidelines for handling incidents sounds more like a conflict resolution policy to me, which feels like it should be a separate document referenced from the CoC, not really the CoC itself. I'm looking forward to seeing the redraft though. However I'm coming into this thread really late, and it's already getting hard to follow - so off topic but would it be possible to post a new thread for the new draft and link to it from here?

@catch, @gdemet already said

kreynen's picture

@catch, @gdemet already said he's planning on starting a new discussion w/ the revised #dcoc back in though I can see how you missed that.

Guidelines for handling incidents sounds more like a conflict resolution policy to me, which feels like it should be a separate document referenced from the CoC, not really the CoC itself.

+1 for that... we need strong conflict resolution guidelines for event organizers not a restrictive CoC for presenters and attendees.

You should want more from yourself!

wilkie's picture

If you keep an open mind, I'd like to give an opinion as to why you, and many others, may believe in stopping their participation because of a strict code of conduct. (Mind that the CoC has not been finalized) You must read this carefully. I know it is long, but read every word. I don't want to discard your opinion. It has value. I am a young, white male technologist in my 20's, also. I think maybe I have some room to give you some advice? I hope so. Can't hurt to read with an open mind that which was written by one.

You are thinking about this the wrong way. It isn't about you. But, it isn't actually your fault. That's important to note. But not in the way that it is inherently about your maleness, how you were born, an attack on men, or something you cannot change. It is simply that you have to think about how everybody else contributes to your field and responds to your behavior. Nobody taught you how to do that. That's why it isn't your fault. You don't know any better.

In a typical day-to-day space, you, being a young, white, male in a field dominated by young, white men, are more able to do what you want. You are in a position of control. You are in a position of power and authority. You have dominion over the diversity of people that surround you. And you enjoy the lack of diversity you have, for it affords you that control, power and authority. You gained this without effort or merit. You hesitate to believe me. That makes sense... you don't realize you are in that position. Nobody had to tell you such. You didn't need to know. This is privilege. Women and other minorities very generally lack this privilege.

You fear the code of conduct because you are (reasonably) threatened by the loss of control. You say you don't want to attend a conference with a stricter code of conduct. That can only be because you feel uncomfortable in that environment. You are uncomfortable because you are unfamiliar with that environment. You are unfamiliar with a space where you cannot illustrate a point with images of mostly naked women. One where you cannot make an implication based upon stereotypes of women. All of this because you are not used to having women in your audience. I use women here, but this can be replaced with any generalization. And, yes, all generalizations are harmful. You enjoyed the 'careless community' because when it was careless, it never hurt you. You are uncomfortable in an environment that is comfortable to others. This is a lack of empathy since you are using your privilege at the expense of those who lack it.

A point you overlook: you should want to gain empathy and lose privilege. This entails enjoying diverse company. A code of conduct can make it clear that diversity is wanted, and may hopefully help create such an environment. Why? Because bad things happen to those people who are not young, straight, white males. And a code of conduct that makes it clear that such things will not be tolerated can stand out. And those things should never be tolerated anyway. And, hey, you will gain a larger network and help develop technology within cultures where such knowledge and utilization is low. It's one of those win-win things.

And, well, to be really honest with you, and I cannot believe I have to reply to some of these remarks... but... contrary to your implication, being shy around women is totally not an acceptable excuse for your behavior. Also, don't worry, if you make a sexist remark, you can apologize. You won't be branded for life, but you'll still be wrong to have done so.

I can appreciate seutje's position on this

woeldiche's picture

I can appreciate seutje's position on this. I am myself currently considering whether to retract my session, cancel my accommodation and stay away.

This is not about fighting for a right to being sexist, include sexual imagery in slides or even - as Ashe implied - being a rapist.

It is fighting for having principles - like the well written, positive principles in the beginning of the document - without including an ever growing, vague, somewhat arbitrary and US centric list of things prohibited at Drupal events.

And it is standing up against witch hunts like the geek feminism wiki.

// Jesper Wøldiche

Just for clarification, You

jyee's picture

Just for clarification, You are telling us that you're considering a retraction and cancellation based on the first attempt and rough draft proposal of a document which you think has a well written introduction and is currently being rewritten? (See: #762713) You also consider the retraction to be an expression of opposition to a wiki that has absolutely no relation to the event for which you are considering leaving?

I'd like to encourage you and others in this thread to remember that George is very openly soliciting advice and input in order to rewrite the code into a better form. Rather than making rash reactions or threats of such actions based on something that is neither final, nor accepted by the community (or DA), please submit an alternate DCoC or provide better feedback or wait for the next draft and provide comments on it. There are a number of short, positively oriented "codes" in this thread that others have proposed (for example, Morten's and Robert's) that you could build on, consolidate or comment on in order to help draft a better DCoC.

No threats have been made

woeldiche's picture

I do not view considering retracting my session a threat. I am no big name in the community - no one except the chairs would notice.

I also don't intend it to be an expression of opinion or opposition. The 2nd - 4th paragraphs were not about why I would stay away. 'This' refers to mine and others' opposition the CoC as it is written. I can see though, how that wasn't clear.

I'm considering staying away for a combination of reasons, one of which is this. I feel this is creating a restrictive, unwelcoming and by proxy accusing environment, that only tolerates specific, sanctioned cultures and opinions.

We can call it a first draft, if you prefer. I have no confidence that we will be able to influence this in any substantial way. I expect to see a few edits to wording but keeping the list of sins.

When I finally was naïve enough to comment on this, it was to say that I can appreciate why this could make people stay away. Only today I have spoken to one person who cancelled the reservation and two who like me are considering staying away. For me that is a situation worth pointing out.

I mention the wiki because it and the thinking behind it is why a large percentage of males are scared shitless from voicing their opinion. Even chx felt compelled to delete his comments on this post - and people have the nerve to claim its about tolerance.

// Jesper Wøldiche

If this really is going to be

gdemet's picture

If this really is going to be a deciding factor, can I at least ask that you give those of us who have been working on this the courtesy and respect of waiting on your decision until the Association has formally decided whether or not to adopt a final version?

I would hate for anyone to give up their chance to attend or speak at DrupalCon for reasons that later turned out to be invalid.

This shouldn't be a discussion of me

woeldiche's picture

Let's not make this about me. Whether or not I attend make no noticeable difference to the event.

That said, for me it's not about what goes into the final document. It is the movent behind it, the idea that everyone must necessarily adhere to a specific, North American, restrictive set of rules and morals that is creating a hostile environment.

Like we way some people consistently use the word 'offender' to describe people who have said or done something they disagree with. To me this is extremely confrontational, accusatory and only makes it more difficult to reach out and have a discussion with the actual people whose behaviour they wish (well demand actually) to influence. If you start a conversation by calling me an offender, I will probably not listen to the rest you have to say.

With fear of invoking Goodwin's Law, this reminds me of the patriotism debate in the US: "You either agree to everything we suggest, or you hate America!". Here it's just "You either agree to everything we say, or you are a sexist bastard."

It is turning Drupalcon into a place where there is no longer any room for diversity and difference of culture or opinion. It doesn't matter if we finalize the rules in a document, you will still get tarred and feathered by the mob if you act outside these PC rules.

It is my impression that it is the same for the other Europeans who are right now thinking or deciding to not go. We discussed it again this morning and it seems like even the girls are reconsidering (yes, total hearsay - but it saddens me, that we are creating this US vs. The World conflict).


It is also about Drupalcon turning into a trade show without room for devs and US-centricity of the DA, but that is most certainly for another discussion.

// Jesper Wøldiche

I do totally agree.Also the

omissis's picture

I do totally agree.

Also the point webchick has made about the mom in cph is absolutely right, so I think a good, more Drupal-ish solution for all these problem could be:

  • a dedicated person/staff at conferences to help people who have been somehow offended
  • targeted communication effort during every DC to inform people that we all care about diversity, etc but that we want the community to be awesome and rely on responsibility instead of being constricted by rules
  • targeted communication for offended people to encourage them to tell the staff what went wrong b/c we DO care and we DO want to get better, create a better environment, etc.

I don't think that enforcing rules will solve anything: for the sake of making a small group happy will piss off a good bunch of other people(myself included) who clearly does not want either to offend or not to welcome other people.

Getting back on the mom example, even though I understand she was offended (and I think that even 3 years after it would be a good thing for the Drupal community/Dries to apologize with her) it was a bit of an overreaction given the context she was in. That's absolutely not to say that she had to take it or leave it, but that the community, for its own nature, has these defects but ototh it's open and actively willing to work on them and it's also willing to apologize(correct me if I'm wrong but I don't know anybody who never makes any mistake).

Last thing: some people will always complain and be offended(and some will always offend) and there's nothing we can do with it, unless they go beyond limits imposed by law. In case of the mom in cph I'm sorry she was offended, but otoh "moms"(as well as parents and others) are a category of people with a low tech knowledge, therefore it's "natural"(not polite nor correct) that they are taken as example, not for despising them(I believe everybody loves his/her mom), but just because "they earn that" by focusing on other things in life other than programming.

I'll try to explain that by using an example that makes me the offended one and how I think it believe this thing should be handled.
A few days ago the @drupalcon twitter account sent out a message thanking a sponsor saying:
"Italy is not only spaghetti but also great open technology, thanks ..."

Being italian, I have to say I did not enjoy that tweet too much, and I find it sort of offending and disturbing, first of all because if you believe Italy is only spaghetti you might not be the perfect fit for handling the marketing of an international conference and second because I read between the lines(but that might be my fault, I can't prove it's the same for other people) a veiled cultural blame. Why am I not raging against the DC or writing email to the organizers asking them to remove that tweet? Simply because there are found reason that gave birth to those clichés and therefore I understand why that not-so-PC tweet was posted: in the end it is up to each and every one of us to change a little the cliché(s) and work for a better community, being us danish moms, italian gangsters or philippin terrorists ;)

PS: and btw of course italy's not only spaghetti! We got DrupaLasagna, too! :D

Let's not make this about me.

gdemet's picture

Let's not make this about me. Whether or not I attend make no noticeable difference to the event.

Of course it does! I'm assuming you must have been very interested in attending at some point, and you're a presenter, which means that the conference organizing team and track committees think that you have valuable knowledge and information to share with the community.

If you're having second thoughts now, that's definitely something we should explore. DrupalCon is an awesome event, and after all this, I think it's more important than ever that you feel comfortable attending it.

That said, for me it's not about what goes into the final document. It is the movent behind it, the idea that everyone must necessarily adhere to a specific, North American, restrictive set of rules and morals that is creating a hostile environment.

I think we need to separate "intent" from "impact". No one is intending to "create a hostile environment" or to make everyone adhere to "North American rules and morals" (whatever those are). The intent is to help make our conferences more welcoming and safe for all attendees. To be clear, this also means making more non-North Americans feel welcome at our conferences.

It sounds like your concern is that the proposed code of conduct will have the imact of creating a hostile environment for attendees, so let's discuss that.

Like we way some people consistently use the word 'offender' to describe people who have said or done something they disagree with. To me this is extremely confrontational, accusatory and only makes it more difficult to reach out and have a discussion with the actual people whose behaviour they wish (well demand actually) to influence. If you start a conversation by calling me an offender, I will probably not listen to the rest you have to say.

I discussed this in one of my responses to chx and in my summary yesterday, but let me repeat it here, because it's definitely a concern that you and a lot of other folks have expressed. Again, my background here is as someone who primarily speaks English and a bit of German, and I understand this might be an issue that's only specific to some languages.

In English, if someone says, "I find something you said offensive", or "You offended me when you said that", that is not the same thing as saying, "You are an offensive person." There is a big difference between offering criticism of ones words or actions and criticizing the person themselves.

If someone offers criticism of something I said or did, it's very easy for me to listen to that criticism, understand how I have offended, apologize, and correct my behavior. If I think that someone is criticizing me as a person though, then that feels like a personal attack and I haven't been provided with any constructive criticism that would help me resolve the problem.

It's becoming clear to me that this is something we need to address, because people need a way to work out their differences that the status quo is currently not providing.

With fear of invoking Goodwin's Law, this reminds me of the patriotism debate in the US: "You either agree to everything we suggest, or you hate America!".

This isn't just an American thing; ultra-nationalist politicians in many different countries say things like this and when they do, it gets a lot of press, but in my experience most people understand that you can have a lot of different opinions and still love your country just as much as the next person. I don't think it's a valid analogy for this debate.

Here it's just "You either agree to everything we say, or you are a sexist bastard.

With all due respect, I don't think that's what's going on at all. There are many different kinds of people represented in this thread, many with passionate opinions on both sides. Yes, people have said things that have been misinterpreted and people have gotten offended as a result, but most of those situations have been resolved with a little additional communication and understanding. Ideally, our code would promote that communication and understanding.

It is turning Drupalcon into a place where there is no longer any room for diversity and difference of culture or opinion. It doesn't matter if we finalize the rules in a document, you will still get tarred and feathered by the mob if you act outside these PC rules.

So it sounds like you're arguing that this is happening now, without a code of conduct. I would argue that some of the problems we've had in the past have occurred because people didn't have a good outlet to express their frustrations. Let's see if we can change that.

It is also about Drupalcon turning into a trade show without room for devs and US-centricity of the DA, but that is most certainly for another discussion.

I also share some of these concerns, but let's tackle one thing at a time...

woeldiche's picture

The label 'offender'

My issue with the label 'offender', is the implied malintent (hope that is a real word in english) and the existence of a unified codex of acceptable behavior.

The large majority of incidents where a minority feel offended or slighted is - as I see it - due to naïvety or ignorance caused to primarily spending time in a monoculture eg. only working with able bodies males.

Telling me that I offended people by some action of mine is fine, if they are willing to explain, as it allows me to avoid making mistakes in the future. But to my ears the word offender implies that I deliberately slighted someone or acted offensively.

The second issue as mentioned above is that labelling some people 'offenders' implies that a unified code of behavior exists, which is not the case when trying to span as many diverse cultures and languages as Drupalcon. We cannot hope to write a list of banned offenses that will work globally. We will have issues where doing some specific action will be offensive to one person or culture, but banning it will be offensive to others.

This is the reason I have argued for positive principles for Drupalcon - like creating an environment where all are welcome and treated with respect - but are adamantly against listing specific offenses.

What we can hope to do is create an environment that emphasizes our collective focus on being open, inclusive, tolerant. And in that environment make it possible and acceptable for people to communicate what they find acceptable without anyone being attacked, tarred of feathered.

Hostile environment

Regarding the intent/impact: I feel confident that no one intends to create a hostile environment. I apologize if my comment read like that. But it is my experience that two things are happening:

  1. Some people feel so strongly about this, that they start perceive people of differing opinion as the opposition. Someone to be fought rather than interacted with. And when people take that attitude and bring it into a discussion or with you to drupalcon the atmosphere do indeed get hostile.
  2. The idea that a list of universally unacceptable behavior exists across countries and cultures exist, is another cause for hostility. Suddenly people disagreeing with you is not just disagreeing, that are universally wrong and by extension must be trying to defend some kind of despicable behavior.

I am saddened by the way this discussion have brought out some ugly comments and also extreme overreactions to people voicing different opinions - also from me. This is not what I consider a constructive debate. We might reach a usable consensus in the end, but everytime this happens it gets harder and harder to look each other in the eyes afterwards.


There is also a large amount of miscommunication going on as far as I can see. I did some crawling on the Twitters and was surprised by a largish amount of people seeing opposition to the #dcoc as an opposition to working against harassment or sexism.

When I read the comments here, I can find almost no one who disagrees with the intent of fighting harassment, sexism or demeaning behavior. It does however make it easier for me to understand their reactions if that is how our opposition to the #dcoc is seen.

One of the reasons of this could be - I think - is one's own motivations. If a person is fighting for the #dcoc primarily as a tool to combat sexism or create a safe environment, any opposition could easily be taken as opposition to those goals I know I react that way.

Maybe clearing this up could be a step towards a more constructive and emphatic debate.

No ill intent

I can see your argument or why you argue as you do. I can respect that. I also - maybe I should have started with this - perceive only noble intentions from everyone. I do however in this case think that the cure is worse than the disease.

I assume we will never agree on this. But I regularly talk to people around Drupalcon or d.o who are genuinely afraid of voicing any opinion that disagrees with or tries to nuance the sexism/harassment debate out of fear of being labelled a sexist, chauvinist or ignorant or being attacked by a mob. You can choose to discard the notion, label them immediately or whatever else might happen, but to me this is a real, serious and present problem.

For what it is worth, this have been handled by you without reproach. I disagree with your 'solution' but I am grateful and impressed by the constructive responses and continued work to keep this from fracturing.

// Jesper Wøldiche

You fear only your own ignorance

wilkie's picture

But I regularly talk to people around Drupalcon or d.o who are genuinely afraid of voicing any opinion that disagrees with or tries to nuance the sexism/harassment debate out of fear of being labelled a sexist, chauvinist or ignorant or being attacked by a mob.

Ignorance about what is or is not sexist is not an excuse to be sexist nor fear any rhetoric that discourages such. You have not said anything sexist, however, if you or anyone else does not know what is sexist and this scares them from contributing... then they should rightfully stay away from any public appearances. And you should certainly not be public speaking. Seriously. It pains me that this is so obvious. Rar.

It sounds like you're saying

seutje's picture

Ignorance about what is or is not sexist is not an excuse to be sexist nor fear any rhetoric that discourages such. You have not said anything sexist, however, if you or anyone else does not know what is sexist and this scares them from contributing... then they should rightfully stay away from any public appearances. And you should certainly not be public speaking. Seriously. It pains me that this is so obvious. Rar.

It sounds like you're saying insecure people should stay away from conferences. I guess we could all stay home, where we can easily gain confidence about accidentally offending people and getting nailed to a cross for it.

Thanks for making an account just to write that, not offensive at all!

I believe I'm the one who

linclark's picture

I believe I'm the one who introduced the word "offender" into the debate (although it is hard to know for sure from the threading).

I meant it simply as a shorthand for saying "the person who caused the offense". However, since the more widely used definition of offender is "a person who transgresses moral or civil law", I can understand where you're coming from on this.

I 100% agree with you that in most cases (when we aren't talking about serious impropriety) the offense that is caused is unintentional. It isn't due to a moral failing of the person who caused the offense, but instead is due to a (correctable) lack of awareness. The word offender probably didn't communicate this and I'll keep that in mind for future comments.

Thank you.

woeldiche's picture

Thank you for taking time to answer.

// Jesper Wøldiche

Thanks - Your words and

gdemet's picture

Thanks -

Your words and support are very appreciated, and I want to thank you for having such an open mind during this entire conversation. It's certainly been an educational and enlightening experience for me.

My perspective is that a lot of theses issues and concerns have been festering in the Drupal community for some time now and if nothing else, the arguments, discussion, and debate around the proposed code have helped everyone better understand each other, even if they don't always see eye-to-eye. Yes, there have been some very unpleasant things said and some unfortunate personal attacks, but at the end of the day I firmly believe that getting all of this out in the open and doing something about it now will help make us a better and stronger community.

One of the biggest takeaways for me personally out of this is having a much better understanding of how afraid so many people in the community are that their words or actions will be misunderstood. It's become clear to me that dealing with this must be part of any code that's adopted by our community.

linclark's picture

There is one thing that I would like to see emphasized in the Code of Conduct that isn't currently in it.

How offenders can engage with the criticism and turn it into a positive experience

For me the worst part often isn't the original offense but the silencing I feel when I bring up these issues... whether that silencing is from myself, the offender, or from the angry hornets nest of apologists that descends on women who bring up these issues.

I would like to see it (or a supporting document) emphasize what positive interactions around this can look like (as bangpound touches on above).

NodeOne Card Game

For example, I think that the NodeOne response is a shining example of a positive way to engage with this criticism:

Of course this was not our intent, nor was it to show disrespect to women or offend anyone. The image was there just to contrast the geek. But, as Liz Henry wrote, "the base of the joke here is that geeks are men and that women are a commodity". The only excuse I have is that we were naïve about these issues. But, as Lampdevil stated, "Ignorance of how an action could be interpreted doesn't make the action itself harmless." I cannot agree more, and that is the reason for the apology.

This doesn't blame the people offended for being offended or try to silence them. By accepting that they were ignorant in this single instance and understanding why it is problematic, they've taken a big step towards mending the damage. They have taken the effort to remedy both the surface issue (the card game itself) and the underlying issue (the unconscious perceptions which led to using a woman to symbolize non-geek).

Symfony Live

Another example is the Symfony Live conference. The image on their website was a group of male geeks and a buxom woman holding a sign saying "I need a geek". While the organizer didn't understand the issue at first, after we had a conversation he sincerely thanked me for helping him understand the issue and it ended in a (virtual) group hug. These things can be positive interactions that bring people together more than they tear them apart.

As I said in my blog post a year ago:

I don't expect perfect behavior from anyone (or my version of perfect), I just expect to be able to openly say "that made me uncomfortable" and have the other person really think about why that's the case and try to fix it.

How do we foster this?

While these are positive interactions, I myself have experienced a whole lot of negative and even scary interactions when explaining how a remark, joke, or image affected me. How can we make sure that doesn't happen?

To me, there are three components here:

  1. We need to have a code in cases where there are issues of serious impropriety, such as non-consensual groping, where civil discussion isn't the answer but removing the threat is.
  2. I do think it is important to state our values clearly for new people. These values should include taking consideration for marginalized groups when interacting at face to face events and trying to be as un-ignorant as possible. ps. Yeah, I know that's not a word.
  3. We need to find a way to educate potential offenders of that rule (and the defenders of those offenders).... particularly on ways to respond when they are called out so we can foster a culture that doesn't silence marginalized groups.

While some people think that we already have this culture, the fact that women (including me) are still silencing themselves or being silenced by others means that we don't. We do have a better culture than many tech communities, but we still have some ways to go.

Who else?

NonProfit's picture

These values should include taking consideration for marginalized groups...

I think this is an important confederation. What other groups would you identify as having been marginalized?

As someone is privileged in

linclark's picture

As someone who is privileged in most ways, I don't think I have the answer to this.


ashedryden's picture

A pretty good indicator is looking around and seeing who is missing. Currently our community (and most STEM communities) skew very heavily toward white, straight (or straight-passing), abled males between their early twenties and mid forties. There is nothing wrong with falling in that group or having any of those attributes, but it's important to consider the situation of people who don't have them, they include:

Women, people of color, people with disabilities, people who don't have English as a first language, LGBTQI people, younger and older than the average of the group people, people in poverty, non-Christian affiliation, etc.

I myself am privileged, like linclark, in nearly every regard: white, straight-passing, middle class, English speaking, etc.

The Drupal community I know

NonProfit's picture

Obviously, we want all of Drupal to be welcoming to people from all demographics. I think it's great when the majority looks for ways to include and be sensitive to those different from ourselves. It's necessary, also, for people to have a safe place to vent their fears and frustrations. Processes to assess those grievances and enact change, when appropriate, should be developed. It is clear there have been some very real problems. I'm glad the Association is aware of these and interested in crafting a solution.

However, the community I know is a very welcoming one. In our local group there are women who are liked and respected and contribute. There are people significantly over 40. Folks from various ethnic descent. Non-Christians, too! We teach and learn from one another. It's not 50% women. But if it were, I can't believe anything other than everyone (regardless of the groups they are a part of) would be welcomed and valued for what they bring to our learning process.

A pretty good indicator is looking around and seeing who is missing.

I disagree.

I don't know that the absence of any particular group indicates they have been marginalized by our community. Drupal, is ultimately a group of people who are self-associating. The lack of any particular demographic does not imply our community has excluded them. Perhaps I'm inadvertently misrepresenting your statement, if so, please correct me. Your comment has a good number of likes, so obviously others identify with your thoughts! Am I just missing the boat?

Thanks for your well

ashedryden's picture

Thanks for your well thought-out reply :}

It's generally accepted by sociologists that a community as a subset of the whole should represent the same demographics outside of it.

For instance: if the population of women is between 49 and 52% or the population of LGBTQI-identified people make up between 10 and 15% of the population, a diverse community would reflect that. 49 out of 100 people would be female, 10 out of every 100 would identify as LGBTQI. Now obviously there are many factors that go into this - some of which we have absolutely no affect on. In our case it'd be things like being able to afford having access to the internet or being literate, but also included in this are things like discrimination and acceptance of these marginalized groups.

It's also important to remember that just because you aren't witnessing things first hand doesn't mean they aren't happening. I, for instance, have never seen racism first hand in the community, but I am also a white person. From Drupal events I've attending, including Drupalcon, I can tell you that the number of people of color that attend is far below the population as a whole. In examining the reasons for that, we can help foster an atmosphere that is welcoming and - here's the most important part - accepting to more people of color.

theory vs. methodology

NonProfit's picture

@ashedryden Thank you for your kind response. Please know I believe we have the same end ideal. I don't want to be looking at different sides of the same mirror and arguing about what we see. If anyone feels marginalized at a Drupal event, either from direct or indirect behavior, I sincerely hope we can analyze what can be done to improve their experience.

It's also important to remember that just because you aren't witnessing things first hand doesn't mean they aren't happening.

I agree 100%.

...we can help foster an atmosphere that is welcoming and - here's the most important part - accepting to more people of color.

Yes, yes, yes!

It's generally accepted by sociologists that a community as a subset of the whole should represent the same demographics outside of it.

+1 this too! But I agree with your theory but not your methodology. I realize you stated "Now obviously there are many factors that go into this - some of which we have absolutely no affect on." I maintain the pool of potential DrupalCon attendees is radically different that the population as large.

For anyone to want to attend they must at least a) value Drupal, b) have a desire to attend this particular event and c) have the means to do so. Cost, geographic location, sessions offered and alternative events each effect our subset of a subset of a subset of potential attendees. We're both pulling for the same thing here, so I don't want to argue over minutia, but if I understand the numbers you presented, anything less than ratios found in the general population indicate the community is at fault. If that's our goal, I can virtually guarantee we'll never come close to acceptable attendance levels.

Possible DA action:
• Poll IT professionals from various underrepresented demographics (can I call that FVUG?) as to why they do not choose to use Drupal.
• Contact D.O users FVUG personally and ask why they are not attending sponsored events.
• Locate formerly active users FVUG and inquire why they have removed themselves from involvement.

Thanks for this perspective

gdemet's picture

Thanks for this perspective and these suggestions. This is very helpful.

Perspective in a community

leontong.brightlemon's picture

The first point I'd like to make is that I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Drupal community and its members who are extremely generous, dedicated and altruistic. The fact that this thread has received such a response is testament to the fact that there are a large number who are highly passionate about making Drupalcons inclusive and welcoming - which is how it ought to be.

As someone who builds and works with communities, and studies groups and the research on intra-group and inter-group behaviour and dynamics, I can assure you that the issues being tackled here are as old as the hills. This is a political, moral and ethical question that has puzzled thinkers from pre Classical Greece to the present day. Working out a fair and reasonable way to address the needs of everyone in a group or society has, and will continue to, challenge politicians and legislators for as long as we live and work together.

In the UK and US the right to free speech has not been a given for a number of years. Recent acts of parliament have made sure of that. And yet we hold ourselves up as beacons of democracy.

Not to take this out of context and to bring this from the high level to the specific: having organised, presented, sponsored and attended many Drupal, tech and non-tech events over the years I have to reiterate that the Drupal community is one of the finest I have come across - tech or otherwise - and I am proud to play a very small part in it from time to time.

Do DrupalCons need a code of conduct? Yes they probably do. Does it need many pages to tell people not to break the law? Probably not. Remember Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King both kept what they had to say brief. And that was about slightly broader issues.

In terms of problematic occurrences we are likely to be talking about 5-10% of instances from 5-10% of DrupalCon attendees. 

If this does go down the heavy handed route what will be next? The DrupalCon police? Dressed up as Druplicons? (But armed..!)

I think all this needs is a level of perspective and a bit of common sense. But I can assure you those are two things that most groups struggle with.

However if any community can do it - I would hope it is this one.

Involvement of Models at Drupalcon

AmyStephen's picture

"Booth babes" is a condescending label for women and it really should not be used. It would be better to refer to these participants as models since that is descriptive of what they are hired to do.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, I think it's worth stating that modeling is not the same as working as a prostitute or a stripper. Modeling is a well respected, professional career option that people are well within their rights to choose.

I question what would reasonably be used as justification for excluding models from involvement without discriminating against them.

  • If the basis used for their exclusion would be "they are not technical staff", then it would be important to set a standard, verify their skills and that of others working at booths.

  • If the basis of their exclusion is that they were hired for the primary purpose of attracting attention to a vendor booth, then it would be important to state what the valid reasons are for selecting workers to staff booths and it would also be important to think through how this will be verified.

  • If the basis of their exclusion is how they are dressed, then it would be important to provide a clear definition of the dress code that will be imposed on everyone working at a booth. That dress code should be sensitive to age, gender, current fashion, and an acceptance that there is a wide range of viewpoints in the world as to what is acceptable attire for women, ranging from what a woman might be allowed to wear in the Middle East to what a young professional woman from Hollywood or Paris might wear.

Initially, it sounded "appropriate" to me, too, to exclude this group, especially when considering them as "booth babes." But, after trying to work out the criteria for exclusion, I now fear that excluding them might discriminate against women on the basis of appearance and level of technical skill. And, clearly, that is not what anyone intends.

Do you have any

gdemet's picture

Do you have any thoughts/feedback on the language used in the initial draft of the code?

Exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.

There is no defined dress code; instead, judgment about whether booth staff has created a "sexualized environment" is the responsibility of event staff.

George - my response

AmyStephen's picture

George - my response disappeared, but, the "more Twitter-sized" answer is I have no clue what "sexualized" means and the fact that it's mentioned three times in that little paragraph scares the bejezus out of me. (Even though I am pretty sure I'm not likely at my age of being kicked out for that reason.)

I'm with the "less is more" gang. Put something on the ticket that attendees are expected to help ensure a safe and positive environment for everyone and could be asked to leave if conference organizers believe otherwise, you can request a partial refund here, you can complain privately this way, publicly this way, bearing in mind that the community policy is not to publicly explain reasons for the expulsion of attendees.

If you want to give conference organizers a bit more encouragement to deal with problems straight up, no ignoring things, then maybe each conference could have a team of former conference organizers who will as a big blob of a team make the final call.

And leave it at that. IMO.

I see no reason to mention sex.

I'm glad you mentioned this -

ashedryden's picture

I'm glad you mentioned this - it's important to note that there is nothing wrong with women choosing that as a profession. There is nothing wrong with them making that decision for themselves.

What I, and many other people, are disagreeing with is using women as a carrot to a company's booth/to sell their product. Unfortunately we have a really big issue in tech with women being seen as less intelligent or having fewer skills. It's not uncommon to get asked if you're attending with your boyfriend/husband or for people to assume you're a booth babe (reading the results from Googling "mistaken for a booth babe" are disheartening). I've talked to just as many men who say that they feel insulted that some companies are marketing to their genitalia rather than their brains.

The hardest part of this situation for me is that many people employ models for their booths in a sexualized manner. When we have so many incidents of sexual harassment or worse, I'd like to discourage creating a sexualized atmosphere in an effort to make female attendees more comfortable.

When women aren't first seen as what they contribute to the community, but for the fact that they are women, that is an issue. I think that once we can get past that issue, women being hired specifically to work in booths won't be nearly an issue. Women being seen as models hired to portray a technical person makes us believe that there are no women that want to be a technical person.

I'm 30 years in this industry

AmyStephen's picture

I'm 30 years in this industry and I am not naive about these issues. I am also not shy about standing up and saying bullshit when I believe there is an violation of women's rights. I have daughter who is 23 years old and I was - and am - her advocate.

The challenge is helping educate and sensitize a community to the problem and engage them in bringing a solution, being very careful not to alienate or scare the community in the process since no one can learn when they are afraid to fail. That means lots of awareness building, patience, letting people debate openly without consequence, ask questions and be a part of building the solutions.

I do not believe the presence of female models at an event represents a sexualized environment. I am not threatened by their involvement in the slightest. They do not diminish my technical skill and I do not believe their presence will suddenly create some type of increased caveman effect on others.

We have to be open to and accept the involvement of all women in the role they choose to be involved. That could be difficult to accept at first if they choose roles that are not tradition in our culture. But if we really believe in empowerment of women and in their right to choose their own course in life, then we have little choice but to embrace them as they are and not marginalize their choices. That's what we are asking others to do of us, as women, so what choice do we really have? =)

Beautifully written and well

Anonymous's picture

Beautifully written and well articulated points. I agree completely with everything said here.

I also agree that a Code of Conduct is needed because it isn't always about the individual and his/her behavior, but about group behavior and what the people in power choose to allow at their events. It sends a clear message to would be offenders. If it does not apply to some, well that is all well and good so they should not take offence.

Your argument is both sound

dkinzer's picture

Your argument is both sound and wise.

We need your help

wilkie's picture

My female programming students struggle. Some have no idea that this field is open to them. No idea about pioneer women in tech. They are often not comfortable to even contribute in classroom discussion. They mention they are uncomfortable to continue the career.

Why? Because you are invisible. You need to make yourself more visible. You need to be a role model for these young women. The hiring of these models makes you less visible. It hides you, even indirectly, behind what they believe to be a more fashionable image. It may not threaten you, but it hurts all of us.

It is really obvious to me. It makes me really, really sad. I want you to see it, too. If only more people did. Help me, please.

AmyStephen's picture

Over the history of people, rarely did people discriminate against other people because they intended to do harm. Most discrimination starts with good intention, but rationalized thinking.

25 years ago, or so, my boss explained to me that the reason for a large pay inequity between me and my male co-workers was because they had to earn enough money to feed their families. He was sincere and genuinely concerned for those families and the family unit. He wasn't worried about me because I had a husband, too.

The argument against gay marriage is that allowing "them" to marry will destroy marriage for the rest of us.

The argument against allowing people of color into historically white educational institutions was because they would lower the standards of learning.

I could go on and on and on with examples of how rationalizing why one group should be excluded was used as justification for the whole. History is littered with good intentioned people discriminating against other people for noble reasons.

You will simply never convince me that excluding a group of women on the basis that they choose to participate because of beauty instead of their geeky mind creates a community more accepting of me.

It sounds good, it comes from generous attitude, great people with big hearts, an honest desire to do the right thing, but it is rationalized thought - and in my opinion, it is discriminatory.

What creates a good environment is when a group of people who embrace individuals as they are, in the roles they choose for themselves, without trying to fix or correct or change one another, but rather see the strengths and help people plug into those roles.

Frankly, I believe a big reason for Drupal's explosive growth is that Dries has an innate strength at seeing these individual strengths and plugging them in where right where everyone can "be who they are EVEN MORE" and help the community at the same time.

I would be really surprised if the Drupal community can't figure out how to allow a very small group of people to participate even though the only reason they are involved is because of how they look and the marketing benefit that provides. Who knows, maybe there is a budding geek who wants nothing more than to exchange her heels and hairspray for a comfortable pair Birkenstocks and a crack at Ajax-enabling a user interface. W00t!

I appreciate your concern for women in technology and your obvious big heart. It's fabulous to have people so generous helping others.

Might as well comment

wizonesolutions's picture

I keep tweeting about this (@wizonesolutions), may as well chime in my general thoughts here in the hope they contribute something.

1) I dunno if a code of conduct is the way to go to address the harassment issues reported at conferences, but it seems something should be done. Maybe attendees themselves could form support groups (sorry, can't think of a better term atm, take the concept not the wording). Or maybe the organizers could just make decisions on the spot.

2) I guess a code is wanted so people can't complain that the organizers were unfair. But on the other hand, how often are organizers really going to be unfair? Do we need to enshrine this in a code? I think organizers are pretty smart and can handle things on a case-by-case basis. Just like how you have to listen to crewmember instructions on an airplane :) Maybe it should require more than one organizer to take action like expulsion, but yeah, I can see the need for something to be done.

3) The end goal of this is a blend of people being safe (like, 80% of it) and people feeling safe, so they'll come. guards would do the trick? They tend to blend in pretty well, and I've never thought, "Oh, security guards? This sucks!" when going shopping at the grocery store late at night. Oh, wait, but then we need a policy for them to enforce...dang circular logic.

But summing it up...I think organizers are competent and can handle stuff already. Maybe emphasize that and make it easy to contact them privately about problems. And make it clear to attendees that look, we aren't going to micromanage everything about your behavior, but show respect and if you see you're making someone uncomfortable, stop or you'll be in trouble.

P.S. Just got turned onto, and I like that one. Focuses on the main thing we are trying to prevent, from the looks of it.

WizOne Solutions - - Drupal module development, theme implementation, and more
Fill PDF Service - - Hosted solution for Fill PDF

Thanks for your comments.

gdemet's picture

Thanks for your comments. The Steel City Ruby Conference policy has virtually the same language as the proposed draft, and likely comes from the same source material.


marcrobinsone's picture

To outsiders (people who haven't cannot attend DrupalCons), this kinda gives the impression that DrupalCons are strictly for first-rate citizens.

I mean no disrespect (I'm sure we all value democracy), but it feels sad that the one-glorious-community-event in the Drupalsphere's existence is being tainted with suspicions of malice & imprudence.

In the duration of this public discourse, please - don't forget that:

  • WE DREAM to participate in Drupal events
  • PEOPLE HOPE everyone have fun mingling with other HUMAN BEINGS
  • PEOPLE SHOULD INTEND NO HARM to anyone at any given time & space
  • RESPECT is GAINED, not maintained

By "we", I refer to people like us who look up to people like you who are a wholesome part of this community.

I beg from all of you who commented on this thread: what you might be taking for granted could be someone else's dream in life -- I simply wish that you keep this in mind.

And no, I maybe Filipino but I'm not a terrorist :-P

WE DREAM to participate in

kreynen's picture

WE DREAM to participate in Drupal events
PEOPLE HOPE everyone have fun mingling with other HUMAN BEINGS
PEOPLE SHOULD INTEND NO HARM to anyone at any given time & space
RESPECT is GAINED, not maintained

@marcrobinsone This is great! I think your rewrite of the CoC is covers everything that needs to be said.

The very idea that the someone finds the term "booth babe" offensive is why an enforceable CoC is an exercise in futility.

Back in 2010 I asked by mother to attend DrupalCon CPH with me. I was trying to grow the community and get her interested in Drupal. She told me she was very offended by the condescending remarks Dries made about mothers in his keynote. She left the conference and said she would never use Drupal again because of this experience. Even with all the time that has passed, my mother refuses to use Drupal and doesn't even want to talk about it.

I realize this is all hearsay, but you can confirm that my mother has not posted to GDO, DO, or made any commits since DrupalCon CPH. I know a lot of time has passed since the event, but I didn't realize I was supposed to inform the event staff so I'm doing it now.

@morten, if I had told you that Dries offended my mother, what would you have done? What would the DA do when I told them I told @morten and he told my mom to "grow a pair"?

Obviously this is all theoretical... except the part where Dries said something that someone thought insulted mothers. That really happened.

The community already has a number of rules and policies we selectively/subjectively enforce. Do we really need another one? How about a policy that we don't approve any new policies until we can effectively enforce the ones we already have?

I love my mother, but I'm not interested in a CoC that is going to make DrupalCon an event she would feel comfortable attending. She enjoys attending a church where everyone smiles and no one says how crazy it is to worship a zombie from 2000 years ago. I want to be part of community where it's OK to point out the zombie in the room... regardless of who it offends.

If nothing else, PLEASE consider adding elements of SXSW's Code of Conduct to the current draft.

If nothing else, PLEASE

jyee's picture

If nothing else, PLEASE consider adding elements of SXSW's Code of Conduct to the current draft.

Since I've never been to SXSW and am not familiar with their CoC, could you post a link to it? All I get when googling is the Photography Crew CoC and the Content Aggregator's CoC, neither of which are very applicable.

Yes, please - a link to

gdemet's picture

Yes, please - a link to SXSW's code and the particular portions of it that you find applicable would be most appreciated!

moms are good advocate(s) of safety

marcrobinsone's picture

@kreynen: perhaps we need more moms in the community ...

What's so great about moms? -- they know! They just know!

... They know: the threshold of what is safe (they same way they care for their children) -- without even blinking an eye (or in this case, without even reading a document telling them what's good or bad).

Of course, dads are awesome too. Let's not forget they're efficient enforcers of rules & regulations.

Hmmmm, maybe this whole CoC thing should be decided upon by parents! :-D

I'm sorry to learn that your mom quit the Drupal community. I'm sure she would have made a brilliant code contributor.

you mother...

mortendk's picture

"@morten, if I had told you that Dries offended my mother, what would you have done? What would the DA do when I told them I told @morten and he told my mom to "grow a pair"?"

Okay lets take this as a perfect example.
If you mom had come up to me and said "morten i just attended Dries keynote im offended n angry im a mom, and i can actually use a cms system, that made me really said if you all think that because im 40+ i cant use a computer"

I would not tell her to grow a pair - cause that would have been totally disrespectfull to her.
I would have told your mom that damn i can see that was pretty dumb that dries said that, im pretty sure what he ment was something along the lines of:
"we wanna do a cms that so easy that even people that dosnt care about computers, cms etc can use it - its a normal thing for us geeks that have been here for 10-15 years to use references to our own moms that might not bee into computers."
That we offcourse have no intention to scare away anyone, but that sometimes, because of who we are, we uses references to what we know in our own lifes, we cannot be perfect all the time. If i stumpled into the the dries later (probably at the bar) i would mention it to him -> "dude you pissed of some moms today - some of them can both code & tell us how to behave, we better watch our back now"
im pretty sure that dries would get that message, and would change the slides a tiny bit to something like "So some of us have mothers or fathers that are not skilled with our epic geek skills..."

But lets keep perspective here with 1200 attendees (cph attendees), were bound to say, do, act in someways that somebody getting offended by something somebody said is gonna happen no matter what. that You mom beeing offended, would not have made me call of the whole conference and made dries go down on his knees to repend his sins against all computer skilled mothers.

Who i would teel to grow a pair
If it was a 30 year old metal, beer drinking dude at the bar, shouting at me for using myself barechested in a session "dude that was goddamn gay, you gross me out" - I would have told him to grow a pair, dont be afraid of my male hotness & lighten up a bit, and dont be a fucking hater.

If it was a Christian that was getting offended by Jeremy Keith's keynote, where he came around some religious issues, i would also have taken my time to listen to that to - Its all about Respecting eachother & taking the time to listen if somebody is getting pissed of.

Btw i had good church going mothers coming to my last session in Denver, and afaik there wasnt any complains from them, it seemed that they enjoyed emself.
only complain got from others was "my slides was to good, so they lost perspective" - "i should stop entertaining and start teaching code"

My own mother told me a simple thing:
If the way you deliver the message, makes the message drown. Then tell it in another way.
its kinda translated from danish so i hope the meaning gets through ?

I have been called out twice after my session, that i did something stupid that made em feel not so good : slides with models in em, over sexualizing subjects etc -Offcourse i have taken that up to consideration, my intention when i do a session is:
Give people a solid 60 minuts round of theming badassery, where the hopefully laugh's their asses off, get some valuable information about ways of doing themes, get a shitton more respect for the frontend & dont fall asleep.
If my messages gets clouded by having a picture of x, well then i better have a good explenation for why its nessesary to have it in there. Is it worth it (like putting myself halv naked in) then im gonna do it!
If i know it will hurt someones feelings, i would probably not.

So back to my ruleset "What would you mom tell you to do" & "Dont be an asshole"

If we need any drupalcoc it should be based on what to do if you feel violated, offended etc. Not a bunch of rules that tells my how i should behave, by stating the obvious -aka dont be an asshole.

Im brought up in a society where we learn not to be complete asshat's & where we learn to respect women, if thats not the case in ... ooh lets say find a country where that could be an issue ... hmm lets pick: America.
Well then thats another problem that the drupalcoc cant solve.

I actually feel offended when somebody begins to talk down to me with rulesets that states the obvious - should i then run to the DA and say the offended me?

/ king of rock | geek Royale

"If you mom had come up to me

webchick's picture

"If you mom had come up to me and said "morten i just attended Dries keynote im offended n angry im a mom, and i can actually use a cms system, that made me really said if you all think that because im 40+ i cant use a computer""

I'm going to stop you right there. (And yes, I realize the parent was a troll post, but this bears worth talking about as a hypothetical.)

You're 40+ year old, surrounded by a bunch of 18-30 year old men, and a handful of women. You're also a woman, and a mom. This is your first DrupalCon. You don't know anyone (other than your son). But it's clear that there's an enormous social hierarchy here and some people are "personalities" who have a lot of clout in the community. You could not possibly feel more intimidated / out of place.

The keynote presenter, who also happens to be the freaking project founder, puts up visual imagery that causes basically all the men (and a few women) in the audience to have a good laugh at your expense. This helpfully reminds you that you're an "other" in this crowd, just in case you somehow forgot or were under the misguided impression that we were all equals here.

Are you really going to walk up to Dries, or any of the other top Drupal personalities, and point out that you were hurt/offended? No. Please, be serious now.

What you're going to do instead is take away from that experience that this is a tech community that condones the same kind of "brogrammer" atmosphere as every other tech community, and you're not only going to stay home for subsequent events, but you're also going to tell 7-10 of your other geek female friends to do the same.

And this is why the number of women in computer science/open source is continuously falling.

Now. Let's imagine there's a Code of Conduct that's visible in the program guide that says we don't condone that kind of behaviour, and here's who to talk to if it happens. Seeing this, you feel supported/empowered, because you have a leg to stand on, and a face to talk to, in order to raise your concerns. And these concerns can be raised to people who have the requisite "karma" to have the polite but firm conversation that needs to be had with the person who offended you. Education and apologies happen, everyone moves on having learned something, and you go back to your 7-10 geek female friends and tell them how awesome DrupalCon was.

That's the goal of this document. And I would hope this is a goal we can all agree to, even if we clearly disagree on the precise word-smithing.

We can agree on this

chx's picture

If the document will say "In general, we do not condone sexual / offensive behaviour. If you feel uncomfortable please talk to X, Y and Z" without trying to outline exactly what those behaviours are then we are good. We have managed to address the concern of women in this thread (yes, we do not accept those things and yes, someone got your back) while addressing the concerns of males too (we do not create an over-regulated environment).

PHPUK conference, London

zenlan's picture

PHPUK conference, London 2011, keynote speaker based his talk on his mother's inability to use a PC. (She could use an iPad though, progress has been made, the mother figure is not entirely in the dark ages)

Devs Love Bacon conference, London 2012, a speaker mentioned her mother as an example of someone who was baffled by IT. (A female speaker for a change, progress has been made, denigration of the mother figure is not purely a male behaviour)

Just two recent conferences I have attended in my 20 years as a dev.

You guessed it, I'm a 40+ woman. I am sick of the 'mother' mentions in conference presentations. It makes me feel so small in a room largely populated by young men, it makes me feel like they all pity me.

Its sad that in the year 2012 we need to point out to some of the cleverest people on the planet that they shouldn't be rude to other people. As much as I dislike long lists of rules, I can't see things changing on their own. I'm not going to go and complain to the organisers, I already feel like a pitiable outsider, I don't want to feel like a party-pooper too. No, I won't complain, I will smile and chat to anyone I can. I'll probably tweet and just avoid the next conference you hold.

To anybody here on this thread who is thinking of not attending another Drupalcon... thinking of not attending conferences is normal for me. On the whole I would rather not go to conferences. Because I know that I won't automatically fit in and I won't feel comfortable. Its normal for me to spend months agonizing over whether to buy a ticket. Quite often, when I do finally click the buy button some wine is involved ;)

ps. I have had some fun at conferences too, its not all bad. :)

Four legs good, two legs bad!

larsdesigns's picture

As long as singing the beasts of England is banned, I am good.

Oh snap... I just baited you

kreynen's picture

Oh snap... I just baited you into asking the SXSW CoC. I'm pretty sure they don't have one, but why wouldn't we want to copy a conference that year after year brings together a diverse group of some of the worlds brightest, most creative people every year?

  • Are people offended at SXSW? Check.
  • Are women sexually objectified? Check.
  • Are men sexually objectified? Check.
  • Are inanimate objects sexually objectified? Check.
  • Do presenters insult or put down other presenters and attendees? Check.
  • Do people behave unprofessionally? Check.
  • Do presenters criticize the government, god, SXSW organizers? Check.
  • If I put something else on a list of things not to do, would someone do it just to cross it off the list? Check.

I'm really am requesting to include more of SXSW's CoC... more nothing. All of nothing, if that's possible. Isn't it possible that one of the things that make's SXSW great is that they aren't telling the presenters or attendees how to behave?

I'm not a lawyer, but my guess is there are already laws on the books in every city a DrupalCon has been held that would cover the egregious offenses. I'm pretty sure both sexual harassment and disrupting a conference presentation are against the law in Munich and Portland, so we're good on those for awhile.

If you don't like the use of booth babes, just tell the company that. If even a few people say something, a smart company would adjust their marketing. A dumb one won't be at next DrupalCon anyway.

I say something whenever a company doesn't offer women's tshirts, but I wouldn't support a policy banning anyone who doesn't stock both. Is it sexist to give a women a man's small? Maybe. Is noticing that women and men have different shapes because women have breast sexist? I'm sure someone thinks so, but I don't care.

I believe I'm hardcoded to notice breasts, ice cream, and good, clean design. If you use these in your marketing will it get my attention. Yes. If your company isn't what I consider a good, socially responsible business will it matter? No.

I really thought this would die from the weight of it's own ridiculousness, but that hasn't happened. If there are people that are going to keep pushing until there is something official, I'd like to see as little as possible.

As alternative draft, I'd like to propose this as the Drupal CoC...

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life -
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.

For anyone who doesn't know, that's from Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. I think that's about as useful as the current draft and less controversial... of course someone will still have an issue.

This is inaccurate

gdemet's picture

Isn't it possible that one of the things that make's SXSW great is that they aren't telling the presenters or attendees how to behave?

I've actually presented at SXSW on three separate occasions, and I can tell you that they definitely do have a very long and extensive set of agreements that speakers are asked to agree to both as part of the session submission process and before you receive your speaker's badge. They also have terms that exhibitors are asked to agree to, and I believe there is a set of rules that you're provided along with your registration badge, though I haven't been in the last two years, so I couldn't say for sure.

SXSW does a lot to ensure a safe and welcoming conference.

Are you saying that SXSW has

kreynen's picture

Are you saying that SXSW has a CoC that bans booth babes, excessing cursing, and presentation porn that people ignore year after year?

Additional Observations and Thoughts

gdemet's picture

This has been another great day full of passionate feedback and discussion, both in this thread and on social media. A special thanks goes out to Paul Johnson for helping track some of the Twitter conversations and for connecting me with someone in the Joomla! community who was able to provide some context for how they've dealt with some similar issues.

Here are a few personal observations based on some of today's discussion:

  • Some people feel right now like they have to self-censor their speech because they're afraid that they will inadvertently say something that others construe as offensive. This seems to particularly be a concern for people for whom English is not their first language.

Let me just say first off that I totally understand this. I'm a native English speaker with a pretty good mastery of the language, but I've still been in a wide variety of public speaking situations (including the main stage of DrupalCon) where I've worried that something I've said could be misinterpreted and misunderstood. Absolutely one wants to get off a stage after a presentation, open up Twitter, and see a bunch of posts calling you out for something you didn't mean.

I would like to point out though, that this situation exists now regardless of whether or not there's a code of conduct. I'd like to see us adopt a code that makes everyone feel more comfortable around each other and not feel like they have to walk on eggshells all the time.

  • This concern is exacerbated by the feeling that some folks have that being told "You've said something I find offensive" equates to being told "You are an offensive/sexist/racist/horrible person". This may be another nuance that's best understood by native English speakers, but in my experience there's a big difference between those two statements.

One of the reasons I advocated for including some of the additional examples of unwelcome behavior found in the PyCon Code of Conduct in the initial draft is that I thought it would help folks in these situations better understand where "the line" was so that they'd be less likely to inadvertently cross it.

Based on these observations and discussions, however, it seems like a better approach might be to set up a clear framework to enable people who find particular actions or words offensive to either work them out directly with the offender or take them to a responsible third party who can then mediate the situation. If we go this route though, it still means that people would need to take responsibility for their own actions and words and agree to listen to constructive criticism with an open mind, respect, and courtesy.

  • A number of folks have argued that a code of conduct is not necessary because people can and should work out issues between themselves. Amanda Rodriguez very eloquently described her experiences and the tools she's developed to deal directly with people who offend her (

I agree 100% that if and when possible, people should work out problems between themselves, but as other folks have pointed out, that's often not possible, particularly in situations that involve harassment or other forms of abuse. One of the goals of the code is to provide tools and resources so that people can let other folks know when their rights have been violated and not feel powerless.

  • A couple of folks have pointed out that laws already ban things like sexual assault and violence, so we don't need to have a policy that does so as well.

All I can say to that is that relying on the legal system alone (at least in the United States) is woefully inadequate when it comes to things like sexual assault or rape. Yes, if someone commits criminal behavior it can and should be a police matter, but we as a community need to do everything we can to make sure that situations don't escalate to the point where something criminal happens and the police have to get involved.

It will likely be early next week before a revised draft is available, but rest assured that all of these points and more are being heard. Thanks!

Thank you for mediating this

ashedryden's picture

Thank you for mediating this discussion!


chx's picture

Someone approached me today on IRC saying "I found a lot of your comments on that CoC thread pretty upsetting". We got to the following where she translated my opinion into this: "we need to acknowledge from the start that there will be no perfect solution, and then try to do the best we can to make a good, simple code". That's one. Two. About the geekfeminism wikia: "I saw it was as a way to demonstrate that there is gender bias in the tech community, with concrete examples, mild to severe, rather than vague statements that some people might say are all in our heads. But I guess I can also see how it might seem accusatory." To which I answer, once again: linking the incidents page into this thread is perceived as a validation of all my worst fears because it's not seemingly accusatory it's a place of damnation stretching back to thirty years which you can't get out of.

Edit: because it is not clear apparently: what we are afraid of that even minor things will get us into that page. And so that's when the rather amiable discussion turned really ugly.


ashedryden's picture

I didn't link that in any way to be a threat. I apologize if it came across that way. I did not know that you had a personal dislike toward that site and I didn't link to it to incite a riot.

I linked to it because some people don't realize that things like this happen - and that they happen with a scary amount of frequency.

I don't believe that the CoC influences what is put in there (as you might know, there are incidents in there that have happened at Drupal events and we don't even have a DC CoC). Many conferences are just now adopting these kinds of policies to help combat problems because more people are standing up and speaking out about the things that have happened to them.

I think that we can agree that we both want people who have been in the community for a long time or who are brand new to feel welcome and comfortable. I think you and I are just approaching it from different ways:
- I want to see that everyone is of the same understanding of what is and isn't acceptable behavior. I want people to know if someone does cross the line, that they know that we will take it seriously and that there will be consequences.
- You want people to use common sense and don't want to see people being punished for things they didn't do. (If this is oversimplified or wrong, feel free to correct me)

This is a good starting point for us to work from. Maybe instead of starting with a list of things that are bad, we should have started with what we want to see in the community or how we want to see things change. I'm completely open to any suggestions on how we can have that discussion.

- I want to see that everyone

catch's picture

- I want to see that everyone is of the same understanding of what is and isn't acceptable behavior. I want people to know if someone does cross the line, that they know that we will take it seriously and that there will be consequences.

There's things that are clear cut (sexual assault, threatening behaviour, racism), but which some people will still overstep the mark. People brought up law enforcement earlier, it's definitely not enough to rely on law enforcement (either that people will report incidents to them, or that they'll do anything about it if they do) if someone's carrying out that behaviour in a relatively closed group you have some kind of influence over. Law enforcement agencies are particularly bad at enforcing laws around sexual assault and racism, not to mention breaking them themselves this. So while it feels like common sense that you should not do those things which in many countries are also criminal offenses, and that this might not be necessary to spell out in a code of conduct, in terms of having a procedure to deal with incidents like that that actually feels quite important to me.

However there's also going to be massive grey areas that cause some people offense but that others find acceptable and will go out of their way to defend.

I don't think it's ever going to be possible for people to have a common understanding of what's acceptable or not in those cases, because offense tends to be caused explicitly because people have different understandings of those things.

If someone was brought up on the code of conduct for criticising religious belief I'd probably be one of the first people to leap to their defense for example. Although criticising particular religions also gets used as a thin cover for racism and I'd expect that to be confronted strongly. I can't really tell from the first draft which of those two situations it might be covering.

Again it comes down to having a mechanism to deal with situations where offense (or worse) was caused, and what in particular triggered that offense really feels secondary to me unless it's in the extreme common sense category.

Focus + big picture

arianek's picture

Firstly George, thanks - I think you're doing a great job of mediating this.

And big thumbs up to pretty much everything Eaton and Lin Clark said - I'm really feeling those posts that acknowledge the reality of the situation, but also note that we don't want to deal with it too rashly either, and the purpose should be not just to reprimand but improve.

Here are my main feelings:

1) I support having a basic COC for DrupalCons (namely because I've experienced first hand examples of why they're needed). It helps to be clear about what will be tolerated and what won't.

2) I don't think it should be too prescriptive. Things like swearing, clothing, drinking, etc. should completely be left out as they're too general/common sense. But it should be clear and to the point on the important things. The focus should be on things that are really inappropriate and threatening to others. Harassment, [EDIT: teasing/bullying/racial or sexist or etc. jokes], unwanted sexual advances, etc. The obvious.

3) With both the obvious and non-obvious things, there are always chances of false accusations, overreacting, etc. That's why this should be a guideline to direct people to report anything (whether it's on the COC or not) that they're uncomfortable with to those who will deal with the situation. And we'll have to trust those people to deal with it appropriately and with their best judgement.

4) I don't think we need to necessarily include recommended/positive behaviour. That's really just sugar coating and making it longer.


Just to frame this a bit more - I don't drink, I don't like drunken loud venues, and wish there were more non-drinking events, and agree that if someone is harassing others it doesn't matter if they're drunk or not, so the drinking is really not the issue. I don't like sexually charged incidents at conferences, and have found them threatening in the past, especially in my earlier days attending cons. I've heard horrible stories from friends in the community, and had some mildly uncomfortable situations myself. That said, I've worked in male dominated industries a lot, and am a fairly confident person, so I don't usually let these sorts of things drive me away, as they're on the greater scheme of things, fairly good within the Drupal Community. Of course there is always room for improvement, and I know a lot of other people would really be scared off by the same things I might tolerate.

To give a concrete example, at one of the first cons I went to (Boston? DC?), I was indeed offended by Morten's slides. But that did not scare me away from the community or even make me feel threatened, it just made me think "WTF... who is this guy??? And who let him up on the podium?"

And of course now years later, I know him personally, know he is in no way a predator, or wanting to drive people out of the community by offending them. He's a very strong personality, and sure there are cultural differences, but he is definitely learning to adjust to make people feel less offended, so I would hope like George says, that there would be no risk of anything happening with someone like him because of the COC. Over the last couple years, I've seen myself that he's making efforts to be more aware of what he says and how it might affect others. In Denver, I even had a conversation with him before his session where he brought up the topic of sexism and sexualized content and talked about how he's purposefully trying to be more mindful about the issues.

The reason I bring up this example is that I think it's a very good case of someone who feels extremely strongly about this topic and may disagree, and yet he's listening to the feedback there's been over the years, and trying to accommodate the "cultural differences" if you want to call it that, and trying to be more respectful of people who might be offended. I think that's really what's important. Nobody gets shut out of the community when they both feel understood and like they're trying to work towards common ground, even if it's difficult.

I'm pretty comfortable bringing things up myself, but I know a lot of people find it really hard, and can be easily scared away from the community. The fact is that this COC is not being drawn up to protect all of the people above who are saying it's not necessary. That doesn't mean that your opinions don't matter, but please realize that you are speaking from a position of being someone who doesn't feel the need to be protected.

Let's get past the arguments about who's taking what too seriously and what does or doesn't actually happen at our cons, and focus on the most important parts of this rather than the brush offs and edge cases.

And I think Lin's point is really, really important that one of the most critical parts of having this COC actually be useful in the broader long term sense is gearing it towards making conversations and critiques about issues that come up more openly accepted and civil. It would do wonders just to decide as a community that we're open to listen and discuss when people feel something threatening or offensive has happened, rather than shut the discussion down. And (aside form cases where it's actually an extreme/illegal incident) this dialogue and understanding is IMO even more important than for reprimanding the offending person/people, which might make a one-time impact. We want to have a long term impact on the most important parts of this, and let the rest (alcohol, parties, clothing, swearing) be "common sense" as others have noted.

That is how we'll actually make the community more welcoming and understanding. Not by slapping people on the hands for being "bad", but by helping everyone become more aware of the issues that are most important to make progress on so they can be more sensitive to how their words and actions affect their fellow community members.

exhausted from reading this thread

jenlampton's picture

Hey all, I just want to take a few minutes to shine some positive light on this situation.

Our Drupal Community is way ahead of the curve in a lot of ways already. We have more women than most tech communities, we have more LGTBI members than most tech communities, attendance numbers at Camps and Cons indicate that we are a well-rounded group of people from many origins, ethnicities, and perspectives, and for the most part, we seem to get along pretty well. Before we get too bent out of shape about this, let's get some perspective.

I've been attending Drupal events since 2007, and DrupalCons since 2009. The only time I've ever personally felt uncomfortable at a Drupal event was this year in Denver, when a gentlemen from Washington DC assumed I'd like to be groped. (Thanks, whoever you were that worked for FEMA.)

The more we try to turn DrupalCons into "real tech events" and make them less like Drupal events used to be - the more we're going to have to face these kinds of "real tech event" situations. And the more our community grows, the more likely we are to have a few bad apples appear in the bushel.

But you know what, as a community, we already police ourselves pretty well. There was also a "Booth Babe incident" at DrupalCon SF in 2010 that some of you may not know about - because it was handled quickly and efficiently when members of our community noticed it, thought some people might find it offensive, and took care of it. And we didn't need a Code of Conduct to do that.

I understand why some of you think this is important, but let's not model ourselves after communities that haven't come as far as we have already. Let's be sure that we're not imposting rules for the sake of having rules, and only solve the problems that are actually problems. 'Cause Jerks will be jerks - and a Code of Conduct won't stop them.

'Cause Jerks will be jerks -

HaloFX's picture

'Cause Jerks will be jerks - and a Code of Conduct won't stop them.

I have been thinking this the whole time. The most egregious violations will not be curbed by some writing on a piece of paper, even if required to accept the "code" as terms of attendance.

Denver was my first Drupalcon, and I spent a fair amount of time in the exhibit hall, but didn't notice the "babes". A lot of this seems to be a knee jerk reaction to the "babes". I don't say this to down play any of the other concerns, but I think this one point is perhaps the only thing discussed that could be actually easily controlled with some code, so make it part of the exhibitor requirements.

They won't

chx's picture

But what we want to establish here is that a) the community does not accept them b) if someone feels wronged they have somewhere to turn instead of running. That's my understanding at least.


HaloFX's picture

I think Robert nailed it nicely, with perhaps a line about contacting an event coordinator and what they say goes.

No need for all the legalistic stuff.

davideads's picture

A argument some are raising in the thread (including @jenlampton's very thoughtful comment) seems to go “the code of conduct is just words and will be broken because jerks will be jerks, ergo we don't especially need a conference code of conduct.”

Yup, jerks will be jerks. Crap will go down. But having a reasonable definition of what constitutes behaving like a jerk and some guidelines in place for when crap does go down goes a long way towards being able to respond in healthy ways.


BrockBoland's picture

I think this is the heart of this entire discussion for me: no one is saying that Drupalcon should change from what it is right now. There have been some unsavory incidents, but it seems to me that the CoC would just codify existing community expectations and provide a course of action to deal with the kind of jerks that are going to be jerks regardless of any policy.

Policies that match practice

davideads's picture

There was also a "Booth Babe incident" at DrupalCon SF in 2010 that some of you may not know about - because it was handled quickly and efficiently when members of our community noticed it, thought some people might find it offensive, and took care of it. And we didn't need a Code of Conduct to do that.

As a community matures and grows, it needs to have rituals and culture that help it continue to grow and improve, which includes written policies like a code of conduct. I'm curious how you would write a code of conduct differently based on the booth babe incident. What did you learn then that could strengthen this policy?

Comfort or Safety?

HaloFX's picture

A lot of the talk seems to be about making people feel comfortable. A CoC may make people feel more comfortable, but will not make them safer. Scums bags, are scum bags.

Which brings me back to the alcohol aspect. One big thing I did come away with from Denver(my first DrupalCon), was a big disappointment with the alcohol culture. I probably would have felt different if I was there on an employers dime, but as a freelancer, it was a couple thousand dollars out of my pocket to attend. I was very excited to hear the official party was going to be quieter and have opportunities to talk. From what I have gathered about Chicago, Denver was even louder, and I found it impossible to do any real networking. That place was so dark and loud, I can see how there were easy opportunities for sleaze bags to make a move. I also think that any CoC must extend to the official party as well. Since it is a paid event, purchased through DrupalCon and part of the conference.

When Portland was announced on the closing day, my wife asked if I would attend. I told here, probably not. There was such a huge deal about alcohol while announcing it, that I was already turned off. And don't get me wrong about beer, I brew my own! I just didn't expect the alcohol to be such a culture of the event.

On several occasions I mentioned I wasn't so excited about all the boozing and my opinion was not received very warmly. I skipped out early on the Lullabot party, and was made to feel out of place while leaving because of it, or that I didn't have enough beer in me. So don't think just sexual stuff puts people in an uncomfortable situation at a Con. As a first time attender, there was HUGE pressure to go get hammered. If there is a next time, I know I will just go hang in the Coder Lounge.

^ This. In London it was a

wizonesolutions's picture

^ This.

In London it was a pub crawl or something, and while I fully appreciate the cultural aspect of it, there wasn't any alternative that I could go to...'cept the coding lounge, I guess. I posted about this once at, and the feedback said to me that I was probably in the minority, so I figured that's cool, as long as most people enjoy it. After the response to the DrupalCamp Twin Cities party though ( or just search Twitter), I'm convinced that parties can be awesome for both kinds of people and would love if that vibe made it to the cons.

Most camp party styles won't jive with me. That's cool. But when they do? OMG awesome.

Sorry, I don't mean to go on a tangent, just saw a comment that tickled my fancy.

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kreynen's picture

We are already a diverse community. We need a CoC that allows the community to monitor itself and only escalates when that isn't working.

All I can say to that is that relying on the legal system alone (at least in the United States) is woefully inadequate when it comes to things like sexual assault or rape.

@gdemet I'm not sure what you meant by including that, but I hope you did NOT mean to imply that we need a CoC that explicitly prohibits sexual assault and rape in addition to disrupting a private event or sexually harassing an attendee because the law isn't good enough. A few people have already suggested dropping the legalese, but I think this gets to the root of the problem I have with this approach to a CoC.

@gdemet, is one goal of a CoC to give the event organizers some legal cover to kick someone out based on subjective criteria because the local laws aren't restrictive enough or take too long to enforce?

Statements like "Harassment includes but is not limited to..." are just too open and subjective to then be followed up by "expected to comply immediately" and "expulsion from the conference".

I agree w/ most of what @arianek is saying and I think part of the solution is to have...

  • Simplest CoC possible that encourages respect and direct communication between the offender and the offended, but offers safe way to report ANY behavior to event staff.
  • Public event organizer conflict handling guidelines that makes suggestions for when to consider addressing the situation with a conversation, when to ask someone to leave the event, and when to take legal action.
  • Outline a process for influencing the type events at a con or camp (how to ensure it will be NEITHER an alcohol centric, brogrammer-fest NOR something my mom would enjoy)
  • Provide a description of the Drupal community to vendors that let them know that stocking both men's and women's tshirts will be seen as positive and sexy men or women who don't understand the product will not.

Keep the CoC a simple. Most people SHOULD think that the CoC is commons sense... because anything we actually expect people to follow most of the time has to be common senses. While other groups have created a list the things you might do that might get you kicked out or what vendors cannot do, WE should focus on the fact that everyone in our community will NEVER agree on what's acceptable. The focus should be on providing a safe way for people who feel uncomfortable to express that AND the opportunity for the people causing the perceived problem to adjust.

The CoC should acknowledge that when we bring together a diverse group of people from all over the world and there will be differences in what's acceptable. What's important is to have a process in place for at least having a conversation... even if the outcome is that the offender isn't willing to change. The CoC can not be used as a tool by a conservative, overly PC group that's easily offended censor behavior.

Even if "everyone" other than the presenter agreed that extremes like cursing like a sailor or wearing a burka while presenting was NOT appropriate, I'll still defend the right to do it even if it makes the majority uncomfortable.

Booth babes shouldn't be part of a DrupalCon, but not because they are banned by a CoC. That shouldn't be part of DrupalCon because it is an effective way to market to this community. That (and every other example I've seen in this thread that isn't already illegal) is an issue that can be resolved better by educating the offender than creating a rule prohibiting it.

@gdemet I'm not sure what you

gdemet's picture

@gdemet I'm not sure what you meant by including that, but I hope you did NOT mean to imply that we need a CoC that explicitly prohibits sexual assault and rape in addition to disrupting a private event or sexually harassing an attendee because the law isn't good enough. A few people have already suggested dropping the legalese, but I think this gets to the root of the problem I have with this approach to a CoC.

What I meant there is exactly what I said in the next sentence: "...if someone commits criminal behavior it can and should be a police matter, but we as a community need to do everything we can to make sure that situations don't escalate to the point where something criminal happens and the police have to get involved."

@gdemet, is one goal of a CoC to give the event organizers some legal cover to kick someone out based on subjective criteria because the local laws aren't restrictive enough or take too long to enforce?

My personal feeling is that event organizers should be empowered to take whatever actions they need to ensure a safe conference. This means they may try various remedies such as warnings or requests to desist if appropriate; with expulsion from the conference being the final recourse.

Legally, I suspect they have this power already, but I think it's also important for folks to know that there are real consequences for continued and unrepentant bad behavior.

The other comments in your post are largely consistent with the feedback from other folks that are currently being incorporated into the revised draft, though I don't think we're going to address the question of having alcohol-free events available (that's probably better material for the organizer's handbook).

Introduce Presentation Ratings (ala Movies)?

brian_c's picture

It seems to me that dictating what is OK and not OK in a presentation is somewhat akin to dictating what is OK and not OK in a film presentation.

Do we ban all R-rated movies because some may find them offensive? No, we simply mark them as "R-rated" so people can make up their own minds about what to attend. Why not take the same approach here?

Instead of enforcing a "lowest common denominator" set of rules intended to prevent anyone, anywhere, from possibly being offended, why not simply provide indicators that presentations may contain "R-rated" content?

Just a random thought..

I actually think thats a

moshe weitzman's picture

I actually think thats a brilliant idea, at least as far as session content is concerned.


BrockBoland's picture

In terms of language, perhaps, but I see this ending poorly. Can an R-rated session base most of its analogies on racial stereotypes and misogynistic images?

Presumably, organizers will

moshe weitzman's picture

Presumably, organizers will pick people of high quality and character to present. And then they get to see outlines and even final slides before the session. Sure, there is a slight possibility that one of these high quality persons goes rogue and changes his slides at last minute and gives a 'more than R rated' presentation.This presenter would never be selected again. All things considered, I'm more worried about Drupalcon sessions becoming boring as sin.

I don't understand how this

arianek's picture

I don't understand how this would be useful - the only thing that this would end up covering is swearing/language. The rest of "R rated content" ie. violence, sex, etc. is still not appropriate, making it pretty moot.

Who decides what is "appropriate"?

brian_c's picture

The rest of "R rated content" ie. violence, sex, etc. is still not appropriate

Is there consensus on that? Because with all due respect, you don't speak for everyone. Certainly not me.

If (as an example), Morten wants to put a picture of himself in a G-string, getting spanked by the Village People while swearing like a sailor (as an example of what happens if you don't follow good theming practices of course), and puts a clear warning on his presentation that it contains "Adult material and vulgar language that some may find offensive", what is the problem exactly?

I find such "colourful" presentations hilarious, and IMHO they're one of the big draws of DrupalCon. And I don't think I'm alone in that sentiment. There's a reason Morten's presentations are always packed.

The language above reads, "inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces (including presentation slides)".

I guess what I am arguing here, is that presentations are NOT public spaces. They are closed presentations where viewers may use their own discretion whether to attend or not. So why not allow a range?

I agree with others in this thread that things that truly cross the line (actual harassment, racism, etc) are already covered by existing laws.

And again, this is specifically a suggestion for session presentations (because people have choice about which to go to). Keynote speakers (eg Dries) probably have an added responsibility to deliver "G-rated" (or at least PG-13) presentations.

Good question

brian_c's picture

Can an R-rated session base most of its analogies on racial stereotypes and misogynistic images?

I dont know, could a movie get away with that?

And if it did, wouldn't it be so panned and reviled that nobody would ever want to watch anything by the makers again?

Again, there are LAWS in place to cover stuff that is, well, illegal. For everything else, it's a question of personal taste.

The problem I see here is

HaloFX's picture

The problem I see here is that movies are pre screened by a third party and rated by the third party. To do something similar, sessions would have to be complete before DrupalCon and submitted for approval. I recall presenters changing their presentations at the last minute. I know presenters are supposed to be in a ready area before hand. Perhaps an organizer could pop in and quickly flip through a presenters slides before hand and check for naked Morten shots. :)

Perhaps slides are only pre screened if a presenter has never presented at DrupalCon? Perhaps slide decks should be posted online for community review 24hrs in advance, and only allow for flagging, so presenters aren't being critiqued before they present.

I have never presented at a DrupalCon before, but have spoke to a few presenters about the experience. I would hate to put any extra anxiety on a presenter before their session.

Asking presenters to self rate could be dicey. If the presenter thought the material was OK, why would they rate it otherwise?

Speaking as a past DrupalCon

gdemet's picture

Speaking as a past DrupalCon speaker, track chair, and organizer, my perspective is that it would be very difficult to make this workable, and it would definitely put extra stress on presenters and the conference content team.

If it is necessary to include legitimate content that a presenter knows in advance that some might find objectionable, then I'd rather have the presenter just warn the audience at the beginning of the session.

I really don't see the

brian_c's picture

I really don't see the distinction.

Whether you go with something like my "R-rated" suggestion, or the CoC envisioned in this thread, either way you're going to have to do one of two things: A) trust presenters to abide by a set of guidelines themselves, or B) enforce said guidelines by pre-screening presentation content.

Why is a CoC that presenters have to follow "workable", but a self-ratings system they would have to follow "unworkable"? It's the same problem, a set of guidelines they have to follow. The only difference is that following the CoC they would self-censor, whereas with an "R-rating" they would self-rate.

Either way, you have to either trust the presenters, or not trust them and enforce rules with pre-screenings.

My personal take is that

gdemet's picture

My personal take is that track chairs and content teams should not be focused on determining whether or not a presentation contains content some might find objectionable; they should be focused on making sure speakers have everything they need and are prepared to deliver an awesome presentation at DrupalCon.

I would prefer that speakers use their own judgment and apply common sense; if they are unsure whether content they'd like to use in one of their slides might be objectionable or have questions, they should reach out and ask others. If it is necessary to include potentially objectionable content in their presentation, they should let the audience that up front (though to be clear that shouldn't be an excuse for "anything goes").

The other concern I have about an MPAA-style ratings system is that, at least here in the United States, it's highly subjective and what rating a movie gets has a lot to do with studio politics. The recent debate over what rating the educational documentary, "Bully", should receive illustrates the myriad problems with the current system.

It's also important to keep in mind that people in different countries and cultures "rate" different kinds of content differently; for example, the MPAA is much harsher on sex and language and much more lenient on violence than ratings boards in other Western countries.

Totally agree that speakers

brian_c's picture

Totally agree that speakers should use their own judgement. I was just pointing out that you pretty much HAVE to trust their judgement in EITHER case, UNLESS you want the additional burden of pre-screening enforcement, which isn't realistically feasible.

You're right about ratings subjectivity and cultural differences... so don't use a literal ratings system, just identify potentially objectionable material as what it is ("Adult material", "Vulgar language", etc) so people can make up their own minds, according to their own subjective and cultural beliefs.

(Sorry to add one more post to this monster thread, last one I promise)

Session Rating System

NonProfit's picture

I don't like the idea of a session rating system. Movies are scripted and prerecorded. Sessions are live. Unexpected things happen. If you want to take this to the absurd extreme, the "G" presenter writes a line of bad code, can't find it, drops the f-bomb, and is in violation. Yet the "NC-17" presentation, which has been intended to push the envelope, remains in compliance.

Ultimately, we vote with our feet. When we don't like a presentation we leave. If we're truly offended, we can always review the session and explain our grievance. The Association can watch the tape and act accordingly.

This is really great + specific feedback

davideads's picture

This is awesome. We should applaud everyone who has pushed this forward. This is a very solid code of conduct, and because of Drupal's scale could represent real progress in achieving genuinely inclusive and participatory open source projects.

A strong point of this policy is how well is specifies how to contact people when an incident occurs -- the reporting guidelines are clear and strong.

I do think it could use a stronger de-escalation policy/mechanism: You can ask people to leave for the day without rendering a final judgement, and it is extremely important when there is abusive, inappropriate, or violent behavior to stop the behavior and

I'd also like to see the code of conduct provide a simple framework for longer term justice and healing. To me, this means some accountability and transparency about code of conduct violations from conference leaders. Perhaps this could be a report discussed observed and reported code of conduct violations at the event. Here's what happened, here's what we did, here's what we can learn from it: "A participant was watching pornography in a public area. Tiffany Farriss asked the participant to leave for the remainder of the conference."

I'd rewrite the intro a little:

DrupalCon is an international event that brings together the people who use, develop, design, and support the Drupal platform. DrupalCon should be open for everyone. A safe space, healthy conversations, and diverse perspectives make our community stronger and our software better.

We are committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form.

I'd drop "We invite all sponsors, volunteers..." from the intro and generally search for slightly simpler ways to say "this applies to everyone at all times while doing conference stuff".

I think there's a way to tweak the "be careful with the words you choose section" a little.

Healthy, inclusive, participatory conversation is encouraged at all conference events. Sexist, racist, and exclusionary terms, badgering, baiting arguments, verbal abuse, excessive swearing, and offensive jokes are alienating and diminish the quality of discourse.

One thing to note: This section has a line that originally reads "While healthy, participatory discourse is encouraged, we will not tolerate...". Don't make it a dichotomy! Healthy participatory discourse happens because you don't tolerate bullying and abuse!

Last, maybe put the summary at the top? tldr and all that.

I do think it could use a

RobW's picture

I do think it could use a stronger de-escalation policy/mechanism...

I think laying out a path to de-escalation would be a great, forward looking addition to any code of conduct the Drupal community produces.

IMO, it starts with understanding that racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, aren't something you are or are not. There isn't a binary. We're all on a complicated spectrum, with as many axes (axees? axis-es?) as there are -isms, influenced by the way we were raised, who we interact with, history, and a wider culture that can reinforce positive and damaging attitudes and stereotypes. Even if we are working hard to be inclusive, or belong to one (or a few) marginalized categories ourselves, we can still hurt people, especially passively or accidentally.

As Jay Smooth says, we can go farther by addressing the action instead of some imaginary binary of "being" X-ist or not. And if people know that just addressing an action is not an attack on who they are, and a good faith mistake doesn't mean they'll be kicked out or publicly made a pariah, both personal censuring and the barrier to confronting incidents when they do happen will be reduced.

For example, in any situation where someone feels excluded but not threatened, I think we should encourage a conversation (whether face to face, casually mediated, or just through the grapevine) like:

A: "The way you [talked about, framed, illustrated something, etc.] made me feel excluded."
B: "Damn. Sorry about that, I didn't mean to. Thanks for letting me know, I appreciate it. I'll try not to do that again in the future."

I've messed up plenty in my life. Some great people have shown me that dropping my ego, admitting I made a mistake, listening, and saying sorry is almost always a good first step to making amends and reversing the damage (not to mention one of the better things you can do to grow as a person). If we could roadmap this in the DCOC, I think it would be very positive.

As a side note, there was some confusion over terms up there. Marginalization is different that being in a minority. Marginalization deals with power: for one reason or another, usually due to societal perception, a marginalized person has less power in certain situations, or just their life in general, than a less-or-non-marginalized one. Minority is based on numbers alone. They can be closely tied, but aren't always (apartheid South Africa, for example).

Thanks David - This is

gdemet's picture

Thanks David - This is awesome feedback, and a lot of these changes have already made it into the revised draft.

FreeGeek Chicago Code of Conduct

davideads's picture

This is a shorter, simpler model of a Code of Conduct used by FreeGeek Chicago, a diverse and vibrant community recycling organization I helped start.

If people are curious, I'd be happy to talk about how our community has dealt with specific situations of harassment, abuse, or violence. We've had a few such incidents in our day, and I think we've done a good job discussing them and learning from them as a community.

Current status of revised draft

gdemet's picture

A new draft of the code is currently being edited and reviewed before being released to the community for wider comment and feedback.

I am hoping that it will be ready for everyone to look at on Monday, June 4. I've brought some additional people into the process, (including more non-Americans), and I want to make sure they have the opportunity to review and provide feedback before it's released to the wider community.

What I can tell you about the new draft as it currently stands is that it is a nearly complete rewrite of the code, written in much more straightforward, streamlined, and positive language. The language outlining specific "unacceptable behaviors" has been largely removed, and an entirely new section has been added discussing ways that people can work out disagreements in a positive and constructive way.

I want to thank folks for their continued patience: it's important to make sure that everyone is heard from and that we take the time to do this right.

In the meantime, I am continuing to review the comments made in this thread and elsewhere and respond to questions as necessary. I know that some of the topics being discussed are ones that are very sensitive and personal to many, but I would ask everyone to please keep an open mind and consider the perspective of the person you're talking to when responding. These are difficult conversations, but they're ones that are important to have.


leontong.brightlemon's picture

This is a fascinating discussion. I agree with Robert (Castelo) that high level guidelines rather than legalese should prevail.

For those who think that we don't need a CoC I would cite Hobbes (the 17th century philosopher not the cartoon tiger after whom he is named) who stated that rational individuals guided by logic will always act in their own self interest first - and therefore contracts and laws are required to protect us from falling prey to that. This is especially true in more individualistic societies (I'll leave you to decide where yours is on that scale). In Leviathan, Hobbes drafted nineteen laws (a few of which have already been rewritten in different words in this thread):

The fifth Law is complaisance: that every man strive to accommodate himself to the rest. The observers of this law may be called sociable; the contrary, stubborn, insociable, froward, intractable.

The eighth Law is that no man by deed, word, countenance, or gesture, declare hatred or contempt of another. The breach of which law is commonly called contumely.

The ninth Law is that every man acknowledge another for his equal by nature. The breach of this precept is pride.

(He was writing 400 years ago so you could replace "man" with "person").

The point is that high level guidelines like these have fed into jurisprudence and legislation from national constitutions to international law. So the Drupalcon CoC does not need to be a lengthy document.

The DrupalCon CoC for attendees - being much narrower in scope - really ought to be able to fit on the back of a conference ticket.

It goes back to perspective and context. You don't need to tell me specifically not to murder, rape, pillage, commit arson, treason, international espionage etc at a Drupalcon. I'm pretty sure there are professionals elsewhere who have those bases covered thank you.

Furthermore you don't need to list out every permutation of race, language, religion, height, weight, hair and eye colour etc. not to discriminate against (refer you back to Hobbes above).

Guidelines for speakers, exhibitors and sponsors etc ought to be slightly longer. After all we are representing Drupal in some way and professionalism from each of us is something that will benefit us all.

Btw, for those who are interested, a sound reference for the above is here: (No - I haven't read the whole of Leviathan either)

Penguin vs Leviathan

jeckman's picture

Of course, in opposition to the Hobbesian view, it's worth reading Yochai Benkler's The Penguin and the Leviathan - How Cooperation Triumphs Over Self Interest especially in the context of an open source / free software community.

His basic point is that designing systems and communities based purely on this "self-interested, punitive" model is insufficient - we also need to consider all the ways people cooperate and collaborate willingly and with the best interests of the community at heart.

Life isn't all nasty brutish and short.

It's been fascinating to watch this dialogue evolve as the community defines for itself acceptable behavior and mechanisms for regulating conduct, trying to balance an admirable goal of being a welcoming and hospitable community for diverse audiences against a fear of over-regulation or restriction.

Looking forward to the next official draft - thanks gdemet for starting the thread

Of course...

Alex UA's picture

"Life isn't all nasty brutish and short."

Of course this is correct, and Hobbes himself would have agreed. That's because Hobbes was talking about when people live(d) in a society without physical security when he said that. Obviously we're no longer in that state of nature, but it's just as obvious we aren't as far removed as some would lead us to believe. And it wasn't just brutish and short, it was also without almost any of the hallmarks of society...

Here's the quote:

""Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.""

Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg
ZivTech: Illuminating Technology

Operational Proposal

gdemet's picture

When the new draft is released to the community (hopefully tomorrow), I'd like to post it in a new thread if no one has any serious objections.

There's been a lot of fantastic discussion in this thread, but as we've gotten closer to 200 comments it's gotten increasingly difficult to follow, and I'm concerned that new folks won't know where to start. I'm also concerned that it will be difficult to identify whether comments are intended to provide feedback on the old draft or the new draft.

If this approach is generally acceptable to everyone, I'd of course post a link to the new thread, both as a comment and at the top of the page. I'd also like to ask that we consider closing comments on this thread at the same time, though I don't want to cut short any ongoing discussions. Thanks!

A new post makes sense

woeldiche's picture

I think a new post makes good sense for all the reasons you outlined above. In some cases this thread is also nested so deep, that I actually had to view source to figure out what people replied to :-)

// Jesper Wøldiche

Good plan!

BrockBoland's picture

And seriously: thank you for all the time you've put into wrangling the drafts and discussion.

Some late reactions

laura s's picture

I've been reading this thread for several days. So many great comments from all sides! It's almost impossible to keep up here. I just want to share my two bits on some points made here and there.

First of all....

re "american political correctness"

I would like to present, with respect, some observations:

  1. This is politics, not political correctness. Politics is a process. Political correctness is a label meant to stop the process. (Tagged and bagged, done!) I find the comments specific to the points and proposed language most helpful. I find ad hominem attacks to be more revealing of the speaker's biases than supportive of the speaker's argument. Of course, as an American, I suppose I shouldn't claim the right to declare that nobody should be offended by American privilege. But is this proposed CoC about American privilege? Really?
  2. There is no single "American perspective." If you don't believe me, I invite you to spend some time on YouTube watching some of what passes for political "discussion" here. In the US we're entering the political season, with regional and national elections coming up. Many, if not most, campaigns post their ads etc. on YouTube. Watch those as they get posted from now until Novemer, and then tell me that there's a single American political view. Politically we can't even agree on whether the sun rises in the east. There is no single "american pc".
  3. Freedom of speech is also an American political value, by the way — just google up 'Skokie protest' if you have doubts.
  4. The great irony is that, accurately or not, most Americans consider Europe to be the place of rules for everything, a collection of nanny governments. So maybe we can try to keep the provincial attitudes out of the discussion here?

Whew! Now that I got that out of the way....

Imposing new rules? Or preserving unwritten rules?

Knowing many of the participants in this thread, I feel that the code being discussed, hashed out and worked up is needed not for those of us in this discussion, but for the broader community-to-be at future events.

My first Drupal event was at OSCMS. There I met Dries, Angie, Larry, chx, Addison, so many others. I didn't know anybody, but most people seemed to know each other, at least via online. The code of conduct that was in place there was unwritten, but understood, because it was a small enough group.

Every event since then has gotten bigger, and that inherent sense of community has been increasingly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the diversity of people — by gender, by profession, by ethnicity, by socio-economic background. DrupalCon Denver wasn't a conference, it was a convention of strangers.

In all of these DrupalCons, in my first-hand experience, I have never encountered any real problems where I felt unsafe. Yes, there have been some jokes in poor taste. Yes, I'm terribly shy and I end up meeting far fewer people than I would hope, each and every time. Yes, I tend to skip most of the evening parties because overly loud music and college-style drunkenness aren't really my cup of tea. But I've witnessed nothing like the horrorific incidents documented in the geekfeminism wiki, and never encountered the kinds of incidents reported by other women here.

And yet does that mean we will never encounter patently offensive, even frightening, behavior in the future? The events are just too big. In the context of a tech world where some pretty outrageously offensive behavior is simply a fact of life, I feel it behooves us to come up with some sort of guidelines.

DrupalCons are growing. New people are coming. Now's the time for those of us already here to somehow codify how folks are expected to behave.

For me, the ideal result is that we have guidelines that don't create a new DrupalCon ruleset, but rather clearly and simply state the unwritten rules we've been operating under for years now, so that future DrupalCons don't become something they heretofore as a rule haven't been.

Feeling safe ≠ never being offended

Here's where I may differ with some here. I don't think anyone has a right to not be offended. Sorry, it just can't happen. There's too much diversity. Too many opinions.

But this doesn't mean there's no way to help ensure that DrupalCons are places where non-straight-white-young-males feel at least safe, even welcome. There are ways beyond a CoC to welcome folks and encourage them to participate. Those ways have existed for years, and a few people have been very good at bringing out the welcome wagon at every event. And defining safe ways to resolve instances where offense is taken could bear more fruit than attempting to define all instances of offenses to be avoided.

And there is a point where offensiveness can become frightening, especially when offensive behavior is tacitly accepted or even condoned.

Censorship vs. Manners

When it comes to governments passing laws, my own feeling is that the best way to address offensive speech is with freedom of speech. Public discourse, not restriction, is the best way to disempower and discredit the offensive. Censorship is a horrible thing, imho.

However, this is a Code of Conduct under discussion here. We're not talking about governmental laws, we're talking about a code to which everyone can voluntarily agree as a basic set of ground rules.

Even barcamps have ground rules. Consider it expected etiquette.

Context counts

What's acceptable on the street may not be acceptable on the conference floor. What's acceptable on the conference floor may not be welcomed in the presenter's slide deck. What happens at ad hoc bar gatherings may not be acceptable at a company-sponsored event, which in turn may have things we may not really want to have at DA-sponsored events.

Again, we're talking about expectations of behavior, not laws.

And context is important. Is it censorship to include in the CoC a provision against, for example, full frontal nudity? No. You can have your full frontal nudity elsewhere without including it in your presentation at an event officially sanctioned, organized and financed by the community via the Drupal Association.

Just because you don't hear it....

The tree still falls.

Face it, guys, shit happens. Sorry, just because you've never been made to feel unsafe or feel you never offended anyone doesn't mean you get to judge how, when or whether someone else should get offended. Or frightened. Or feel bullied.

Gratuitous nudity happens.

Griefing happens.

Groping happens.

The tech world is no paragon of virtue in this regard.

The nitty gritty

So how to define the Code of Conduct?

Simple principles run the risk of being too vague to be useful.

Detailed regulations run the risk of Kafkaesque nightmares and gaming the system.

My own preference is for a statement of affirmations that is simple and clear. Ultimately the actual encouraging and (ugh) "policing" of inappropriate behavior comes down to the organizers and the community there in the moment. But I do feel that a CoC can help clarify expectations so that these kinds of incidents are quickly and easily resolved without perceptions of arbitrariness or having transgressed unwritten, unknown laws.

This is harder than rocket surgery. Or at least feels like it is. I don't see any easy solutions, and applaud George et al. for taking this on.

At OSCMS in 2007, my session on Community Building and Management was packed full of people, and one of the big discussion topics (I held it as an open forum, not the lecture norm of today's Drupal events) was how to deal with community misbehavior. How to define it? How to address it? How to prevent it? Is it even possible? At what point does more intervention stifle community participation? At what point does less intervention have the effect of inviting some of the best participants to leave? Discussion was very lively, with a significant plurality, if not majority, of attendees participating actively throughout.

These are not easy ideas to grapple with. They're not new ideas, either.

I'm delighted to read the discussion in this thread, which has been much more civil than the snark shots fired from outside.

Laura Scott
PINGV | Strategy • Design • Drupal Development

Revised Draft Now Available for Community Review

gdemet's picture

The revised draft of the DrupalCon Code of Conduct is now available for community review and feedback at: - please offer your comments and feedback on that page.

I will leave this thread open for another few hours, but unless anyone has any serious objections, I will be closing this page to any new comments, as I think it's gotten a little too big and unwieldy to effectively follow the discussion.

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