Code of Conduct FAQ

This document is for explaining why and how some decisions were made regarding the SustainOSS code of conduct (CoC). An extra FAQ page is easier for us to update, as it does not require going through the entire review process for the CoC, and it makes it easier for us to explain some decisions without having to wrangle the wording to fit them into the CoC appropriately. Here’s an example of a similar document from Fedora.

Do you have questions about the CoC, or this document? Send them along to [email protected]. If you could specify that you want questions to be added to this document, we would appreciate it. Let’s build this together.

The Questions

When can I expect a response from the CoC committee?

Within three to five days. Committee members can elect a stand-in if they know they will be AFK or unable to respond quickly to issues.

When will you update the Code of Conduct, or check-in on how it is working?

Our goal is to do this initially every three months. There will be an opportunity for the community to weigh in on their experience.

Do you want comments on your CoC? When?

We would love comments! We accept them on a rolling basis. Send a note to [email protected].

Why did you make your own CoC? Why didn’t you use X instead?

We wanted to make a CoC that honoured our values, and we found many excellent examples of Codes of Conduct which we could have used. Ultimately, we decided to make our own CoC to work in both online and offline spaces. This decision was made by the rough consensus of the SustainOSS organising committee. We didn’t feel that any other CoC fit our needs perfectly.

Why isn’t there a “Do’s and Don’ts” section?

Our CoC was largely drafted by a single committee member, and this is largely an artefact of that original drafting. If you would like to make such a section, feel free to edit it appropriately and suggest a new version in a PR. However, it’s unclear if there would be any net benefit from this largely stylistic change.

How can I suggest changes to the Code of Conduct?

You can suggest changes by editing the original document and opening a pull request on GitHub. If you need help doing this, contact the organizers. These PRs will be addressed at our next CoC review. Note that trivial PRs may be merged by the organising committee before the review.

Why did it take so long to make this?

SustainOSS does not have any full-time paid staff, and our organising committee is entirely voluntary. Some members have been or continue to be paid for administrative duties (for example, Richard Littauer, mostly for running the podcasts). This means we are slow. As well, it is difficult to build structure which isn’t there for volunteer organisations. We thank you for being patient with us!

Can you explain the paragraph around “Take an empathetic approach to resolving disagreement?” I have a different view of what empathy means.

Yes. We intentionally put this in here because we want to showcase how we hope our community - including organisers - responds to conflict. Specifically, we’re using the word empathy to show that we want to be able to hold a space for others to share their viewpoints, and to foster a community where we take the other’s view instead of immediately judging and blaming others. We’re aware that ‘empathy’ is an emotion you can have, which means that it can only be noticed in others by their actions, and that asking another to feel an emotion is unrealistic. That is not the intent - the intent is that we make clear that in SustainOSS, our actions show that we are trying to understand the other person’s viewpoint.

We’ll come back to this paragraph in our next Code of Conduct review, currently planned for January 12th, 2023 at noon ET.

Where is your ladder of consequence? How will I know what actions require what response?

Our initial CoC does not have a Ladder of Consequence: here’s an example of one from the Contributor Covenant. For now, members of the committee will respond as they see fitting to incidents. One major drawback to not having a Ladder of Consequence is that this allows for unconscious bias on the part of the organisers, as they may respond differently to different members of the community. This is an exceptionally good reason for having a ladder. We will come back to this and debate adding one at our next CoC review. For now, trust on behalf of the organisers would be appreciated.

The Code of Conduct is long, and this FAQ is wordy. It’s hard for speakers of English as a second language! Can you make it shorter?

We tried. If you need help, we’re happy to try and find translators or to talk through any sections. If you believe you have a way to make it more concise, get in touch.

What is the translation process?

If you want to translate the document, please do so! We’ll add it here. We assume all translations are good until shown otherwise. If you would like to request a translation, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll see if we can find a translator for your language. If the amount of translations grows, we may end up using CrowdIn or some other tool to help manage translations.

Who is on the moderation team? How is it rotated?

Right now, the team is:

You can contact all of us by emailing: [email protected].

We’re permanently on the CoC committee for the moment. We’ll work on rotation at our next CoC overview.

Who is on the conflict resolution team? Do you have one?

The same people, at the moment. We’ll take a look at this post-launch and see if we can make this a more formal team. It may not make sense to have the same people on the same team. Any help on how to do this from community members would be appreciated!

Do I have recourse for decisions that negatively affect me?

We don’t have an explicit recourse process right now, but we expect that people will be able to talk to the committee members about their decisions. Ultimately, these decisions are final.

Do all SustainOSS working groups and satellite events need to use this Code of Conduct?

To use the SustainOSS brand, you must opt-in to the CoC, OR explain suitably to the moderating team why you want to use your own and how you will moderate your subcommunity effectively and what to do in case of CoC conflicts. You can contact all of us by emailing: [email protected].

When is the next SustainOSS conference?

This isn’t a general FAQ. However, our forum is now open again for questions like this!