Report a Problem

We have a code of conduct, which is one of several things we’ve put in place to help ensure that our conference is a lively, professional event where everyone can learn from each other and feel comfortable. If you are a conference staffer or volunteer, and somebody reports a violation of our code of conduct to you, you must respond in a way that honors our commitment to promoting a professional environment. Here are the steps to take:

  • Take seriously the person reporting the incident, even if you think the incident is minor. Just treat it factually.
  • Ask the reporter to write down as many of the following details as possible. If they can’t or won’t write it out, you can take notes:
  • The name of the person who has created a problem (i.e, the person who has harassed somebody else).
  • The approximate time the incident happened (especially if it’s different from the time you’re getting the report.
  • A brief account of the incident and where it happened.
  • Get the contact info for the person reporting the problem, if they’re willing to share it.
  • Contact our executive producer Heather McGough immediately and share the details with her: [email protected] or 415.857.2479. She will work with our conference hosts to respond appropriately and quickly to anyone involved in the incident.
  • We are not looking to hide bad behavior, but we do want to respect everyone’s privacy, so please share the info only with Heather.

Here are some guidelines on what not to do when somebody reports a problem to you:

  • Do not invite them to withdraw the complaint or mention that withdrawal is OK. This suggests that you want them to do so, and could be considered coercive. Instead, say: “If you’re OK with pursuing the complaint, I’m going to contact the conference staff.” This suggests that you are by default pursuing it. 
  • Do not ask for their advice on how to deal with the complaint. This is a staff responsibility.
  • Do not offer them input into penalties. This is also a staff responsibility.

If the person reporting the incident is very shaken, do the following:

  • Offer them a private place to sit.
  • Ask, “Is there a friend or trusted person you’d like to be with you?” (If so, arrange for someone to fetch this person.)
  • Ask, “How can I help?”

If you report an incident to Heather, she’ll meet right away with the conference hosts to determine:

  • What happened
  • What we’re going to do about it
  • Who is doing those things
  • When they are doing them
  • Whether a public message about the incident is important or useful

Many of the ideas for this response procedure were inspired by PyCon’s similar document.