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

Jesper Louis Andersen <>
Wed Mar 18 15:24:15 CET 2015

On Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 2:32 PM, Gordon Guthrie <> wrote:

> I am introducing a CoC for Erlang events because I have become aware of
> sexual assaults against female engineers at tech events (some of which I
> have attended).

While somewhat tangential to this discussion, I think this is the right
move for events/conferences. Whenever you have an incident, it will often
be against a female engineer because statistics says so. And you better
come proactively prepared to handle the incident, so you don't have to
begin drawing in information once it happens. It can get pretty heated. I'd
argue conference organizers needs to educated  about human psychology to
handle the situation, as you will risk dealing with the darker parts of the
human mind. Law enforcement doesn't get educated in the subject for fun:
they deal with heated arguments on a daily basis. As a conference organizer
you can't a priori claim to have the same level of education and
experience, so I'd suggest that the responsible people make sure they have
the necessary knowledge.

It is also worth mentioning that culture plays a role. An event where
people come from all over the world means the risk of misinterpretation is
much higher than normal. Which in turn means that what is taken for a
resounding "NO" in one culture might not elicit the same cues in another.
Knowing how to defuse such situations before they explode is highly
beneficial, and this is where a CoC can level the playing field among
several cultures for an event.

As for the horror stories in the news, several factors plays a role. News
media are vultures for these stories, because they generate ad revenue. A
large part also has to do with what I colloquially call "outrage culture"
in which relatively small incidents gets blown up to the point where the
outrage overtakes the narrative. At this point, due to the amplification
factor of social networking, anything can happen, and it usually ends in
misery for every party involved. These two factors ensures you can't ever
be fully guarded against a horror story, even if you try very hard[0].

[0] Scott Aaronson, the quantum computing complexity theorist, provides an
ever so eloquent introduction to online shaming culture
http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=2221 which I heartily recommend.

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