[erlang-questions] Announcing Erlang.org Code of Conduct

Gordon Guthrie <>
Mon Mar 16 09:53:24 CET 2015


I'm glad the Erlang Community is thinking about a CoC - and I thought I
would explain why.

We started thinking about it in Edinburgh a couple of years ago.

A lot of my friends and colleagues are Rubyists and the Ruby community
always thought of itself as 'nice' and 'welcoming' but, like many other
communities, built the social side of the community around drink.

Then at one event a female engineer was sexually assaulted in public by her
manager, after drink taken. This had a spiral of consequences that ended up
with her leaving the industry - and (much less importantly) left the
community in shock.

At this point we started reviewing how we did things. Did we organise
events with 'compulsory drinking'? Yes we did. Turns out a fair number of
people (not just women) find find packs of drunk engineers unwelcoming.

I have organised 3 Fringe conferences at the Turing Festival, a couple of
Erlang Factory Lights, blah-blah-blah over the years - and at all of them I
assumed 'be nice' was enough.

Some things came out of the woodwork. There's a prominent drinks/networking
meetup in London that I have attended a couple of times. A female
engineering acquaintance said she wouldn't go to it be she'd been groped in
public there and told the organisers and they did nothing.

Other stuff emerges (not about Erlang events, but who knows):
* top tips for elevator pitches, never go in an elevator with a VC
* female speakers being jumped on by other speakers after he said "come up
to the room and I'll give you a copy of my book"

And in all of them, the point is that the assaulters were continuing on the
scene, going to events, invited as speakers.

At that point you start thinking "all my events were fine, weren't they?"
and the answer is "I don't know".

That's what a code of conduct for events is for. You want all your
attendees to come forward and report problems and know that you will take
them seriously and deal with it.

You don't write a supervision tree for the sake of the processes that don't
crash - something will go wrong and you need to have a protocol in place.

But its not just codes of conduct.

Started looking at other things like T-shirts. We all knock out swag
t-shirts. Turns out women won't wear boxy 'unisex' t-shirts except as
pyjamas - and they won't were t-shirts with slogans across the breast.

As part of the Mostly Functional conference I was working on an
Erlang-to-Javascript called LuvvieScript - I thought it would be cheery to
have a t-shirt that had across the chest:
./rebar make_luvv

Needless to say when I asked female friends about it they pointed out it
was an unwearable perv magnet - walking invitation to creeps. Erk! Scrapped
that plan and that t-shirt.

We produce conference swag that is unwearable by female members of our
community - not really welcoming.

So Edinburgh is moving towards:
* codes of conducts at TechMeetup and Turing
* moving away from 'compulsory drinking' and making soft drinks available
* fixing swag
* reaching out to women speakers, other ignored groups and first time
speakers

We will be doing that this year at the Beam Me Up Scott.ie conference at
Turing

And that's a good thing.

We've all seen the horrors that have been unfolding towards prominent women
in tech, particularly on Twitter, the last 6 months, with death and rape
threats, doxxing and swatting.

I don't think people on this list were taking part in that, or that
harassment happens - but I would be happier if we made a collective
statement that we have processes in place and the commitment to follow them
through.

My elderly parents clip newspaper articles about technology and give them
to me. So last week, that was the clipping I got - about how my industry
was a gynocidal shit pit. That doesn't make me feel good.

And if my parents know about it, there can't be a sinner on earth who
doesn't share that opinion.

Just my 2c

Gordon


On Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 3:49 PM, Benoit Chesneau <>
wrote:

>
> On Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 4:25 PM Fred Hebert <> wrote:
>
>> On 03/13, Loïc Hoguin wrote:
>> > I see little need for a code of conduct that basically says "be nice".
>> It's
>> > common sense after all.
>> >
>>
>> Then the code of conduct shall not be a problem for you.
>>
>> What the code does, however, is put a context around when and how
>> someone can be reprimanded on the list, and for what reasons. It also
>> gives a path of escalation in case of disagreement. Without one, this is
>> basically left implicit to whoever is swinging the banhammer, and who
>> you know or can talk to.
>>
>> It sets expectations and context over what is expected from members
>> *and* from moderators.
>>
>> > > It is pointless to send a message that only warns about posting style.
>> > > If you are trying to point someone to correct posting style
>> > > guidelines, please do so while at least honestly attempting to answer
>> > > their questions or comments. It is generally unhelpful to give only a
>> > > warning related to posting style, as newcomers may feel unwelcome,
>> > > only to leave. And that is exactly what we do not want.
>> >
>> > That's what you'll inevitably get now that you made a number of official
>> > "rules" for posting style. And you'll also get the associated frame wars
>> > about top and bottom posting.
>>
>> Then it goes against the code of conduct, please don't do that.
>> Moderation can do its job, as subtle as it may be to the onlooker, or
>> you can brin your problems to the moderators. Their contact info is
>> listed in the code of conduct.
>>
>> --
>>
>> Regarding top or bottom posting, I don't have strong feelings either
>> way, though I do get annoyed by gmail users never filtering down the
>> quoted part of posts yielding exponentially larger threads when you use
>> a client that doesn't fold quotes.
>>
>> Regards,
>> Fred.
>>
>>
>
> Why do we need a code of conduct now when we lived without it for so long?
> Also since we are speaking of a community who/when was discussed that
> document? Where can I find a list of the moderators?
>
> Also i agree discouraging people to not do top posting when most modern
> client use it as a default sounds weird  and not very welcoming for the new
> generation...
>
> - benoit
>
>
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> 
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