Dear Fellow Code4libbers,
I hope I am not about to get flamed. Please take as context that I have been a member of this community for almost a decade. I have contributed software, support, and volunteer labor to this community's events. I have also attended the majority of code4lib conferences, which have been amazing and life-changing, and have helped me do my job a lot better. But, and I've never really known how to talk about this, those conferences have also been problematic for me a couple of times. Nothing like what happened to Noirin Shirley at ApacheCon (see http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Noirin_Shirley_ApacheCon_incident if you're unfamiliar with the incident I mean) but enough to concern me that even in a wonderful community where we mostly share the same values, not everyone has the same definitions of acceptable behavior.
I am watching the toxic fallout from the BritRuby conference cancellation with a heavy heart (go search for "britruby conference cancelled" if you want to catch up and/or get depressed). It has me wondering what more we could be doing to promote diversity and inclusiveness within code4lib. We have already had a couple of harassment incidents over the years, which I won't rehash here, which have driven away members of our community. We have also had other incidents that don't get talked about because sometimes one can feel that membership in a community is more important than one's personal boundaries or even safety. We should not be a community where people have to make that choice.
I would like for us to consider adopting an anti-harassment policy for code4lib conferences. This is emerging as a best practice in the larger open source software community, and we would be joining the ranks of many other conferences: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Conference_anti-harassment/Adoption. The Ada Initiative has a great discussion of why adopting an Anti-Harrassment policy is a good choice for a conference to make, as well as some example policy statements, here: http://adainitiative.org/what-we-do/conference-policies/ Here is a summary:
> Why have an official anti-harassment policy for your conference? First, it is necessary (unfortunately). Harassment at conferences is incredibly common - for example, see this timeline (http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/index.php?title=Timeline_of_incidents) of sexist incidents in geek communities. Second, it sets expectations for behavior at the conference. Simply having an anti-harassment policy can prevent harassment all by itself. Third, it encourages people to attend who have had bad experiences at other conferences. Finally, it gives conference staff instructions on how to handle harassment quickly, with the minimum amount of disruption or bad press for your conference.
If the conference already has something like this in place, and I'm just uninformed, please educate me and let's do a better job publicizing it.
Thanks for considering this suggestion. If the answer is the usual code4lib answer (some variation on "Great idea! How are you going to make that happen?") then I hereby nominate myself as a member of the Anti-Harrassment Policy Adoption committee for the code4lib conference. Would anyone else like to join me?
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Digital Library Systems & Services
Stanford University Library