Having a Code of Conduct for PyCon Australia is an important part of being able to assure attendees that they can feel safe, comfortable and respected at all times during the conference. Of course that code of conduct is meaningless unless there’s a process for escalating problems and a response to them. To be open and transparent about our process, we are releasing some anonymized information about incidents that were reported to the Code of Conduct response team before and during the conference.
There were four incidents handled by the team as potential violations of the Code of Conduct:
- Reported via an anonymous email, the tweets of a member of the PyCon AU paper core organiser team and committee made remarks strongly against the use of talk titles of the form “Make X great again”. The report expressed concern that this was exclusionary based on political beliefs. In response, the team drafted and published a clarifying statement: https://2019.pycon-au.org/news/inclusivity-and-political-statements/ that the MAGA political message itself was not welcome, but people of all political beliefs are. Talks with MAGA titles would not be automatically rejected, but instead authors would be required to change the title if the talks were accepted.
- Within a group of attendees, there was a bunch of initially friendly banter that had continued over an extended period of time both externally and during PyCon AU in which one attendee became the subject of multiple running jokes. During PyCon AU this escalated beyond normal banter to the point where this person was made to feel uncomfortable and excluded. The conduct team talked to the identified people and several people who observed parts of the behaviour and issued warnings to three people that the negative behaviour should cease. All involved were well intentioned and unaware of the effect they were having on their friend, they all responded well to feedback and follow up enquiries indicated the situation was amicably resolved.
- The conduct team received a report that some attendees had found that the conference venue coffee machine was in a locked or closed state and were attempting to unlock it using the manual found online. The reports did not specify which attendees had participated, which made it difficult to follow up individually. Volunteers and organisers were informed to discourage this activity if it came to their attention again. Additional reminders not to interfere with the conference infrastructure were repeated at conference opening on subsequent days.
- After the conference videos were published online, a speaker received an email with comments on their appearance and unprofessional invitations of a romantic and sexual nature. With an unrecognised email and only a first name, the conduct team was unable to determine conclusively if the sender was a conference attendee or not. The sender was informed over email that this behaviour was unacceptable.
Additionally, an anonymous report was received that did not reference any behaviour or experience which related to the code of conduct or wellbeing of attendees. A request for further clarification was never answered and no further action was taken.
We’re grateful to those who reported possible Code of Conduct violations to us, and encourage any attendee who experienced harassment at our conference, witnessed someone else being harassed, or has any questions to email the Code of Conduct response team.