Tuesday Trainings: Of Codes of Conduct and Reporting

This year we’ve changed the format of Tuesday Trainings to better get directly at the issues that seem to be on the minds of folks in our community. How are we doing that? Great question. We’re either seeking to answer commonly asked questions or address commonly heard complaints, concerns, and confusions.

If there’s a question you’d like to see answered or a topic you’d like to see discussed, please share it in the comments or email me at support@wordcamp.org with the subject line Tuesday Trainings. Now onto this week’s topic.

We’re interrupting our previously scheduled content to talk about something important for a safer community. I want to make all the information we have out there more accessible to all of you, so here we go with this week’s question.

Does the WordPress Community Team have a Code of ConductCode of Conduct “A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the norms, rules, and responsibilities or proper practices of an individual party.” - Wikipedia? How does that work? 

CoCCode of Conduct “A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the norms, rules, and responsibilities or proper practices of an individual party.” - Wikipedia (Code of Conduct) is one of those, in my mind, absolute necessities for any community. But it’s one that most people tend to shy away from talking about. There’s any number of reasons for that, but I think most of the time it comes down to people not liking to talk about things that make us uncomfortable. While there is nothing uncomfortable to most about the CoC, talking about it tends to lead to talking about breaking or violating it. Then people start to think about getting “in trouble”. When I think about getting in trouble my mind slips back to my childhood days and I’m a fearful tiny human not understanding what’s happening and why. 

So let’s remove that fearful lack of knowing and talk a little bit about the CoC for WordPress, specifically for WordPress community events like WordCamps, MeetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook., Contributor Days, and any other events in our program.

What is our CoC?

We use the same base CoC for all of our events. It can be found here in its draft form to be updated and used for individual events. It also comes as pre-loaded content in all 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. sites for the organizers to update and publish.

I won’t list the entire Code of Conduct here, though I do encourage you to read it in its entirety if you’re an organizer or it’s of interest to you. For today I want to focus on two of the sections specifically as they cover how people should and should not behave at events.

Expected Behavior

  • 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 organizers if you notice a dangerous situation or someone in distress.
  • Participate in an authentic and active way. In doing so, you help to create WordCamp and make it your own.

Unacceptable Behavior

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

Harassment includes: 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.

By the way, the Community team and WordPress event organizers don’t actively seek out misbehavior, nor do we actively seek out content to moderate. As a volunteer-run community, we rely on contributors to communicate expectations and report violations. We support WordPress community members by offering dedicated help when members see or experience anything outside of expected behavior. We invite you to help create a safer and more positive experience for everyone.

What happens if I do something wrong?

This is another one of those questions I see come up frequently – in public forums, in conversations with deputiesProgram Supporter Community Program Supporters (formerly Deputies) are a team of people worldwide who review WordCamp and Meetup applications, interview lead organizers, and keep things moving at WordCamp Central. Find more about program supporters in our Program Supporter Handbook. and mentorsEvent Supporter Event Supporter (formerly Mentor) is someone who has already organised a WordCamp and has time to meet with their assigned mentee every 2 weeks, they talk over where they should be in their timeline, help them to identify their issues, and also identify solutions for their issues., or as a private pingPing The act of sending a very small amount of data to an end point. Ping is used in computer science to illicit a response from a target server to test it’s connection. Ping is also a term used by Slack users to @ someone or send them a direct message (DM). Users might say something along the lines of “Ping me when the meeting starts.” in 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/.. Let’s ask it out in the open. What does happen if you do something wrong? What happens if someone does something wrong?

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

So if someone is engaged in unacceptable behavior they will be asked by an organizer to stop. Anyone asked to stop unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately, and usually they do comply. They just stop. And often that’s where it stands. I find that most of the Code of Conduct violations I have seen were made  by mistake, accident, lack of awareness, not understanding, or because of an emotionally charged situation. Most are not a safety issue and can be easily resolved by saying “please stop that.” 

When a swift end is put to the situation and no harm came to anyone, that’s usually the whole story of what happens. 

If it’s worse than that? If a participant engages in unacceptable behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, up to and including expulsion from the conference without warning or refund. 

What if it wasn’t so easily resolved?

When something isn’t so easily resolved, is reported after the event, or is egregious and/or causes harm, it’s often too much to put on our amazing, hard-working volunteer organizers. So we’ve created a safer space for people to report concerns or issues in the report form. 

All reports are handled confidentially to the extent possible.  Incident response teams  do not disclose or discuss the content of a report, or even its existence, without express consent from the reporter, unless in extenuating circumstances where a community member’s safety is actively threatened.

If you have witnessed or experienced a violation of the code of conduct or there has been specific behavior within the community that is alarming to you from a CoC perspective you can either email reports@wordpress.org or submit an incident report through this form.

Submitting a report isn’t a fix-all for community issues. We can’t do anything about things that happen outside of our community events and spaces. But if you experience or witness a violation of the CoC or behavior that is not okay at one of our events or in our digital spaces, letting us know at reports@wordpress.org gives us the opportunity to look into the problem and help to find a resolution. Sometimes it just helps keep us aware of what’s going on at events and online spaces. 

Do they get in trouble?

I feel like we’re back to being that scared little kid worried about being in trouble for showing up late to school or finishing the last of the cookies, so let’s try to clear that up with a little more information.

Not all of the reports we receive are actionable. Not all of the reports we receive are one sided. Some of the reports we get are more like someone waving a flag and saying “a little help here!”

In those cases we opt for research, discussion, and mediation to help clear up issues that are concerning before they become real problems. 

And yeah, sometimes someone does something that they shouldn’t. Someone may do something bad. Someone may do something that makes others feel scared, hurt, harassed, intimidated, or threatened. These we handle on a case by case basis with the help of those who have raised the issue. We listen to what they are seeking as a resolution. Evaluate the behaviors. Research. Talk to witnesses. And come to a conclusion about what we can best do to protect our community and its members.

I have more questions!

I’m not at all surprised if you do. There is a lot of nuance to working with the Code of Conduct and maintaining community safety and harmony. If you have questions I would love to hear them so I or another experienced deputyProgram Supporter Community Program Supporters (formerly Deputies) are a team of people worldwide who review WordCamp and Meetup applications, interview lead organizers, and keep things moving at WordCamp Central. Find more about program supporters in our Program Supporter Handbook. can answer them for you. What is it that you would like to know about the Code of Conduct or the incident report system? Let us know in the comments.

If you have a question about a specific report you filed or have a question you’re not comfortable asking publicly please email reports@wordpress.org and we’ll do our best toanswer you there.

Next up

Join us next week for a post from Angela and Taco sharing 10+ energizers for online events! I can’t wait!