Codes of Conduct define acceptable behavior across conferences and online platforms. How can their creation involve and expand participation in the community, and what lessons can we learn from them? Specifically, how might successful models from the open source movement be models for mitigating harassment, which creates barriers to participation and diversity? 

In our 2020 report for the Ford Foundation and Sloan Foundation’s inaugural Critical Digital Infrastructure grant, we created an oral history of the Code of Conduct for the JS Confs Javascript conferences. Conference organizers from this community created an industry standard for diversity and inclusion. Their work centered feminist practices within the creation and content of their codes of conduct. 

Our report drew from on-site research and interviews with 41 participants of the JS Confs from Mexico, India, Colombia, Hungary, Germany, the United States, Korea, Japan, and other locations. The report spotlights best practices from open source communities that focus on respect, inclusion and equity. 

We defined strengths of the JS Confs model, such as the role of codes of conduct in establishing and scaling norms. We found that these norms contribute to a spirit of inclusion and mentorship between participants. 

The work also reported challenges within the community and made recommendations to resolve them. These challenges include knowledge loss, practical implementation, and a lack of formal training among conference organizers. Recommendations included expanding the sharing and communication of best practices between organizers, such as creating resources (and spaces to collect those resources) focused on community health. Specifically, such resources — and organizational priorities — should include clear guidelines to responding to harassment and toxicity within communities.
You can read the one pager or the full report. Check out our report findings mentioned in this article on sex tech and codes of conduct, this article on Wikpedia’s new code of conductthis podcast and this podcast.