Code of Conduct Procedure at WCEU 2016

Expecting 2200 people over two days of conference, WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. Europe 2016 was expected to be challenging. In order to offer a welcoming and inclusive experience to everyone, we were particularly keen on planning and executing a strict enforcement of the Code of Conduct during the WordCamp.

Here the plan we executed:

Preparation

We identified security officers among the organising team, based on experience and availability during the event.
We defined a clear incident reporting procedure and distributed to the org team and volunteers.

Security Officers

At any time, from warm-up events to Contributor DayContributor Day Contributor Days are standalone days, frequently held before or after WordCamps but they can also happen at any time. They are events where people get together to work on various areas of https://make.wordpress.org/ There are many teams that people can participate in, each with a different focus. https://2017.us.wordcamp.org/contributor-day/ https://make.wordpress.org/support/handbook/getting-started/getting-started-at-a-contributor-day/., we always had two security officers on duty. They were reachable at any time on slackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. and on the phone. Their contacts were made available to all the staff (org team + volunteers).

Security Officers shifts were organised to be gender-diverse, so to be able to address sensitive reports. Security officers on duty were instructed not to consume alcohol during their shifts.

Incident Reporting

The staff was instructed as following, via internal p2, slack and during the volunteers orientation:

If anyone contacts a member of the staff regarding a possible breach of the code of conduct or anything they feel distressed / worried / harassed about, assess the gravity but, if possible, do not take the message asking politely to hold on. Immediately establish a contact between the person reporting the incident and one of the Security Officers. During the conference days, the Security Officers are $officer_1 and $officer_2. During the afterparty, the deputies are $officer_3 and $officer_4.

Put them in contact providing their phone numbers:

$officer_1: +00 000 000 0000 (conference)
$officer_2: +00 000 000 0000 (conference)
$officer_3: +00 000 000 0000 (afterparty)
$officer_4: +00 000 000 0000 (afterparty)

On the CoC page of the event, it is possible to report any incident anonymously through a form constantly monitored by the Security Officers.

In case of incident report we followed this procedure:

  • Explain that they can provide the report in private and anonymously through the website.
  • Always take the report in private and with the presence of both security officers on duty.
  • Start asking what happened in their own words, focusing on objective facts. Just document everything without expressing any opinion on the facts they are reporting.
  • If something is not clear ask questions like: “please tell me more about that” or “please tell me how did make you feel” so to trigger spontaneous disclosure without imposing opinions or judgment.

Triage

This is the triage process:

  • If it’s a criminal behaviour or someone is in immediate danger: call the Police.
  • If it’s ongoing situation without immediate danger, intervene immediately to stop the situation. This should be done removing the actor from the context (taking the person in a private space, taking a walk outside, etc).
  • If the situation has resolved itself, document all available information and be on alert for future episodes.
  • If possible talk to all the actors and document their side of the story asking questions like: “we have been told there was an incident, can you tell me about what happened”. If they provide information use questions like: “please tell me more about that” or “please tell me how did make you feel” so to trigger spontaneous disclosure without imposing opinions or judgment.
  • If they don’t provide any information about the incident then provide a very minimal description of what you heard in a completely anonymised way. Example: “we were told that someone said …. were you aware of this?”.

Response

Possible responses may include:

  • Take no action
  • Privately explain to the person that their actions were in breach of the code of conduct and they are invited not to do that again.
  • Tell people to take a break, take a walk outside with them, let them chill in a private area.
  • If there is a risk for future actions, ban them from events like the party or other side activities that may encourage further incidents. Inform WordCamp CentralWordCamp Central Website for all WordCamp activities globally. https://central.wordcamp.org includes a list of upcoming and past camp with links to each..
  • Ban them from the event. Inform WordCamp Central.

Documentation

It’s imperative to document the entire process:

who received the incident report
who are the parts involved (unless they are reporting anonymously)
what happened, keeping facts and opinion separated
decisions and follow-up actions
anything that is somehow relevant

To keep in mind

An incorrect incident report can result in a breach of the code of conduct itself. For instance, public shaming on Twitter, implying that someone should be removed from a WordCamp for a minor incident, encouraging online blaming, etc, are all inappropriate behaviours that should be treated as breaches of the CoC themselves.

The role of the Security Officer is not to judge behaviours or people. Security Officers need to operate in the interest of the community, with the final goal of making the event welcoming to everybody. They need to know the CoC and its purpose. They need to explain to everyone, at every time, what the community expectations are and their role is to pacify conflicts, collect report, ensure that the CoC is enforced throughout the event.

Responses need to be balanced and well thought.

This procedure requires effort and dedicated resources to be carefully applied as is. As mentioned before, WordCamp Europe 2016 was expecting over 2000 attendees and there were over 25 people on the organising team. This procedure can be difficult to apply to smaller events with limited resources, but it has relevant principles that apply nevertheless. Establishing facts from both parties, impartial attitude, balanced responses, are all principles that should be applied at every scale, no matter the size of the WordCamp.