Code of Conduct at events [and 1 more messages]

Anthony Towns aj at
Fri Nov 12 06:16:08 UTC 2010

On Fri, Nov 12, 2010 at 14:53, Don Armstrong <don at> wrote:
> If a model policy of conduct is enacted, it should also include a
> recommended plan of action for conference organizers so that
> conference organizers can fall back on a work flow to handle the
> situation.[1]

For reference,'s policy is:

> Discrimination
> lca2011 is proud to support diverse groups of people in IT, and will
> not tolerate in any fashion any intimidation, harassment, and/or any
> abusive, discriminatory or derogatory behaviour by any attendees of
> lca2011 and/or lca2011-related events.
> Any complaints can be made to the lca2011 Organisers by contacting
> the Registration Desk during lca2011. All complaints made to lca2011
> Organisers will remain confidential, will be taken seriously and
> investigations will be made. Where lca2011 Organisers consider it
> appropriate, lca2011 may take any or all of the following measures:
>  - the alleged offender may be told to apologise
>  - the alleged offender may be told to stop/modify his/her behaviour
>    appropriately
>  - the alleged offender may be warned that enforcement action may be
>    taken if the behaviour continues
>  - the alleged offender may be asked to immediately leave the venue
>    and/or will be prohibited from continuing to attend lca2011
>    (without reimbursement)
>  - the incident may be reported to the Australian Police and/or
>    Human Rights Commission
>  - any other measure the lca2011 Organisers see fit


There are two instances where something like this came up, to my
recollection. One was in Jan 2007, while Hans Reiser's trial was
underway, where some attendees went around a conference party with a
number of faces on sticks (Bruce Perens, and Hans Reiser, iirc), doing
faux interviews with random people as a joke (in the spirit of
Everyone Loves Eric Raymond; iirc they'd done rms and esr the previous
year). A number of attendees found it a bit uncomfortable to have some
strangers with a Reiser mask and a camera coming up to them asking
questions like "Do you think I killed my wife?" while they were trying
to relax. The organisers ended up expelling them from the conference,
and making an announcement before the keynote the next morning that
those sorts of jokes aren't okay. The people who got expelled weren't
publicly named, though it wasn't hard for their friends to figure out
who they were when they didn't show up at the conference for the rest
of the week. I don't think they've been discouraged from attending lca
since then, at least if they leave any faces on a stick at home.

The other I'm aware of was in January this year, when Sam Varghese
(who was covering LCA for ITWire) was quoted in Matthew Garrett's
slides as a "what not to do" example in his talk on "Making yourself
popular: a guide to social success in (and for) the Linux community".
The other "what not to do" examples in his slides were all of Matthew
himself, AIUI. The end result was that the organisers didn't sanction
Matthew, and Sam posted an article on the topic in his coverage of
LCA, which you can find at:

LWN's coverage of Matthew's talk is included in

I think it's a bit optimistic to expect to have a procedure that will
handle these things -- in my experience each case tends to be
different enough from each other to need to be handled uniquely, and
doing a good job of balancing imperatives like "innocent until proven
guilty" and "the right to not be harrassed, hurt, or defamed" isn't
terribly easy. Having organisers not take up any responsibility to
help define what's acceptable both before and after events doesn't
make things better from what I've seen.

FWIW, YMMV, etc.


Anthony Towns <aj at>

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