Discussion: Code of Conduct Response Questions

Over the years since we put our Code of Conduct in place for WordPress events, global community team volunteers have helped organizers respond to reports that they’ve received. Over the past few months, some “edge case” questions have come up that I’d like the group to discuss, so we can create a consistent and transparent response system.

The global community team is committed to ensuring WordPress community events are safe and welcoming places for all attendees. We can’t control how people behave at our events, but we do set expectations for behavior both with our code of conduct but also — and even more powerfully — in the ways we respond to issues.

Currently, if a community member breaks the code of conduct at an event, our standard practice is to ask the attendee to leave*. In some cases, the community member will be asked to refrain from attending WordPress community events for a certain period of time, usually a year. We tell the person that after that year is over, they should email support@wordcamp.org and ask to start attending again, at which point we’ll reassess. Multiple questions arise from this practice:

What if the person doesn’t respect this request?

We can remove someone from a meetup.com group, but we don’t currently have any tools to block someone from buying a ticket to a WordCamp. We don’t have a centralized list of people who have been asked not to participate in the program for a certain period of time. I’m not sure how to reliably prevent someone from attending a WordCamp without some kind of automated tool, but the thought of creating a list of people-asked-not-to-attend-WordCamp is quite unpleasant. Is there another way?

What if the person starts attending again after the year is over, and breaks the code of conduct again?

Do we then ask the person to refrain from participating in WordPress event for a longer time, or permanently? On one hand, if someone is not able to consistently follow the code of conduct, there doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason to keep giving him/her multiple chances to disrupt our events. On the other hand, permanent is… permanent. If the person has worked on the issue that caused their behavior (received treatment for an addiction, attended an anger management course, etc), is it possible for them to regain the program’s trust?

What if we receive reports that a community organizer has broken the code of conduct?

We depend on the community organizers in our groups to *enforce* our code of conduct. So if it’s found that an organizer has behaved inappropriately, should we follow the standard practice described above, or should we hold our organizers to a higher standard of behavior and respond in a different way?

What are we missing?

If you have other questions or feedback about how we respond to code of conduct reports, please comment on this post!

*EDIT: I should have been more specific: not all code of conduct reports result in an attendee being asked to leave an event. The consequences of a code of conduct report depend on the kind of behavior reported.