Code of Conduct - v0.2 #
Please read and commit to the following Code of Conduct before engaging in any community discussions or other forms of participation in any Bonfire space: in other words, please commit to act and interact in ways that contribute to an open, welcoming, diverse, inclusive, healthy, and sustainable community. Being a community means we support each others’ emotional and intellectual needs so that we can sustainably engage in discussion and collaborative work.
Is there an emergency? go straight to REPORT AN ISSUE.
1. Let's be excellent to each other #
Let's treat everyone with respect. Participate while acknowledging that we all deserve to be here — and each of us has the right to enjoy our experience without fear of harassment, discrimination, or condescension, whether blatant, or via micro-aggressions or subtle negativity.
Let's endeavour to treat our fellow community participants with respect and dignity:
We welcome people of all backgrounds and identities.
We're friendly and patient, treating each other with empathy and gratitude.
We respect each others' privacy.
- We take into account each others' needs as individuals, and as a community.
- We foster inclusive dialogue by sharing ideas, asking clarifying questions, and responding to others' ideas.
- We respect that others have differing opinions, viewpoints, and experiences.
Not everyone has read the same books or had the same experiences. Our journeys are unique and varied. Compassion births patience.
We won't all agree all the time, but disagreement is no excuse for poor behaviour and poor manners. We might all experience some frustration now and then, but we cannot allow that frustration to turn into a personal attack. It’s important to remember that a community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not a productive one.
- We try to understand why we disagree:
Disagreements, both social and technical, happen all the time. It is important that we resolve disagreements and differing views constructively. Let's remember that we’re different. The strength of our community comes from its diversity, people from a wide range of backgrounds. Different people have different perspectives on issues. Being unable to understand why someone holds a viewpoint doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. Don’t forget that it is human to err and blaming each other doesn’t get us anywhere. Instead, focus on helping to resolve issues and learning from mistakes.
- We can each determine our level of involvement.
We can say no to any requests, such as not participating in a discussion, and set clear limits on the obligations we make, and renegotiate agreements that are no longer working for us, or revoke consent at any time.
- We're considerate about how we communicate, and carefully choose our words.
Remember that we’re a world-wide community, so we might not be communicating in someone else’s primary language, who see things the way we do, or come from the same background. By staying considerate, we can help to navigate complex issues. We conduct ourselves civilly, with kindness, and don't insult or put down other participants.
- Let's have conversations based on what was actually said.
Often our translations of people’s ideas is far from the actual message they were sharing. Let's engage with people based on their actual words and not what we assume those words meant. If we are unsure, we ask for clarification.
- Let's give and gracefully accept constructive feedback, and expect and accept discomfort.
We honour that we have all been indoctrinated into systems of oppression that we must all unlearn. Unlearning is challenging; thus, we do not expect neat, tidy resolutions. We will not “fix” the world’s ills on a social media thread but we will get closer if we are willing to be uncomfortable.
- Let's assume the best about one another and attempt cooperation before conflict.
We start from the assumption that people’s experiences are REAL. We also acknowledge that our experiences are often shared, but not always. We ask to learn MORE about other people’s truths, rather than erasing them. It is exceptionally painful to be dismissed, called a liar or accused of making up your experiences. We start from the assumption that we are all doing our best in any given moment with the tools we have.
- We take breaks for self-care.
Community dialogues can often be challenging and triggering. We may be discussing issues that have caused great trauma in the world — and often, great trauma in our own lives. Some dialogues may bring up painful memories, old wounds, present hurts and current resentments. Facilitating such dialogue depends on our wellness. We premium SELF-CARE as a tool of radical self-love! We do what we need to do to navigate our mental, emotional and physical well-being, such as stopping conversations to focus on ourself and come back when we are re-centred.
- We have space to make mistakes, take responsibility, learn and change.
2. Diversity statement #
Everyone who chooses to follow these guidelines is welcome and encouraged to participate. Although we will fail at times, we seek to treat everyone both as fairly and equally as possible.
Protected characteristics #
Although this list cannot be exhaustive, we explicitly honour diversity in:
- educational background or experience;
- social and economic class;
- mental, physical, or technical ability;
- profession, occupation, or speciality;
- language, culture, regional/national origin, or migratory status;
- gender identity, expression or presentation;
- neuro(a)typicality or neuro-diversity;
- race, ethnicity, caste, or colour;
- sexual orientation;
- appearance or body size;
- political or religious beliefs (or lack thereof);
- a person’s lifestyle choices (including those related to food, health, parenting, drugs, and employment).
We will not tolerate discrimination based on any of the protected characteristics above.
3. We stand together #
We do not have to suffer in silence, or see others harassed without feeling like we have no course of action. While harassment cannot be tolerated, there's a whole range of behaviours or ways people communicate that aren't harassment, and we are empowered to politely engage when we or others are mistreated, by describing our perceptions.
Identifying issues #
- It can be good to take time to process experiences if we feel confused, overwhelmed or agitated.
- Note uncertainties and possible misunderstandings in our interactions, including cultural differences.
- Distinguish people's actions from our feelings about them. They're both important, but they're different.
- Distinguish disagreement from personal hostility. We're allowed to disagree, dissent and discuss.
Setting boundaries #
If we feel able and safe to, we may want to directly discuss our concerns with the person. It helps to start by assuming positive intent - the person making us feel uncomfortable may not be aware of what they are doing, and politely bringing their behaviour to their attention is encouraged. Here's a suggested structure:
- I read/noticed... an observation, free of judgement
- I feel... emotions, rather than a projection or thought
- Because I need/value/care about... needs, boundaries, shared values, or specific community guidelines
- Would you be willing to... specific request
It can also be helpful to:
- Start by identifying our feelings and needs.
- Make offers or requests.
- Develop points of agreement to facilitate progress.
- Negotiate plans to treat conflict in a mutually satisfactory way.
- Follow up later to discuss progress.
If we are uncomfortable about how a conversation is proceeding, we should bring it to the attention of moderators, as they are not present in all discussions. There's power in numbers, so we should do so even if someone else may have done so already - when multiple people share how they feel, it has a unique way of changing the conversation. Refer to the section on reporting issues.
4. Harassment #
We are intolerant of intolerance, harassment, exploitation and domination. This includes, but is not limited to:
Offensive or unwelcome comments related to one's background or identity.
Name calling, insensitive sarcasm and general unkindness.
Sustained disruption of discussion (e.g. sealioning or Gish gallop).
- Let's have discussions in good faith, keeping to the arguments being discussed and arguing methodically, and when appropriate, with citations. The object of a discussion is to understand the topic better, not to win the discussion. Discussions are an opportunity for all parties to learn; this process is best served in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
- “Devil’s advocate”: Let's argue from a position which represents our beliefs and experiences, and not with strawman positions which we do not hold or which are not representative of our experience and community.
Exercising or promoting domination, hierarchy or exploitation.
Abuse of power relations, for example, role as an admin or moderator; privileged access or control over infrastructure or tools; technical knowledge or skills; privilege, ability or seniority, etc.
Deliberate misgendering or mislabelling. This includes deadnaming or persistently using a pronoun that does not correctly reflect a person’s gender identity. We address people by their name/pronouns when provided, and otherwise don't make assumptions and use their username or handle.
Deliberate intimidation or bullying.
Violence, incitement or threats of violence (both physical and psychological) towards another participant, including encouraging someone to engage in self-harm.
Pattern of inappropriate social contact, such as assuming inappropriate levels of intimacy with others.
Continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease.
Inciting others to target an individual (also known as “dogpiling”);
Physical contact and simulated physical contact (eg, textual descriptions like “kiss” or “backrub”) without consent or after a request to stop.
Unwelcome sexual attention, including gratuitous or off-topic sexual images or behaviour.
Stalking or following. This includes virtual following (locating someone in other web spaces in order to continue unwelcome contact).
Non-consensual photography or recording, including logging online activity for harassment purposes (or reading logs one has access to), doxxing, screenshotting without permission or to carry out acts of aggression or trolling.
Deliberate “outing” of any aspect of a person’s identity without their consent (except when necessary to protect from intentional abuse).
Sharing of non-harassing private communication (not including conversation that leads into harassing statements) or participants’ private personal information.
Advertising or repeatedly promoting for-profit companies or proprietary products or services, whether or not the company is involved. This does not include personal or commons-based projects (such as open source communities), cooperatives or non-profits.
Sharing NSFW or otherwise risky content without a content warning (use common sense).
Threatening the physical, legal or ethical integrity of the community or shared infrastructure with malicious software or behaviour (spamming, DDoS, posting illegal content, etc).
5. Non-harassment #
Our community prioritises marginalised people’s safety over privileged people’s comfort. Moderators reserve the right not to act on complaints regarding:
- ‘Reverse’ -isms, including ‘reverse racism,’ ‘reverse sexism,’ and ‘cisphobia.’ or critiques of racist, sexist, cissexist, or otherwise oppressive behaviors or assumptions.
The reason these terms are problematic is because they are too easily used as a political weapon to claim parity between the suffering of the majority demographic and that of marginalised peoples without taking into account structural ‘isms’, which the majority demographic do not experience.
Reasonable communication of boundaries, such as “leave me alone”, “go away” or “I’m not discussing this with you”
Refusals from one party to explain or debate another. Everyone has the right to end their involvement in a conversation without explanation or debating why.
Communicating in a ‘tone’ one doesn’t find congenial.
6. Reporting issues #
All reports will be handled with discretion, and all people involved will be treated with respect.
If you experience or witness harassment or unacceptable behaviour — or have any other concerns — please use the flagging feature where available, or tag moderator(s) in the thread to bring it to their attention. You can also report it by directly contacting moderator(s), instance admin(s), and/or directly sending a message to the email address on the project homepage. If the person you are reporting is on a moderation or admin team, they must recuse themselves from handling the incident.
In addition to the points specified in the Setting Boundaries section, please include in your report:
- Urgency (e.g. is somebody in danger?) and whether the incident is ongoing
- Names (usernames/handles and/or real names) of any individuals involved
- Links and/or screenshots to the relevant conversation or content
- Any additional information or context that may be helpful
In order to protect moderators from abuse and burnout, they reserve the right to reject any report believed to have been made in bad faith. Reports intended to silence legitimate criticism may be deleted without response.
Moderators will not name harassment victims without their affirmative consent, and will respect confidentiality requests for the purpose of protecting victims of abuse. At their discretion, they may publicly name a person about whom they've received harassment complaints, or privately warn third parties about them, if they believe that doing so will increase the safety of the community or the general public.
First and foremost, these guidelines make it clear that it is necessary for communities to self-regulate. This means that asking people to follow community guidelines is not itself a violation of the spirit or intent of our community. It is important to make this clear, because trolls often attempt to put this into question. Subsequently the following agreements bind this document:
- All participants of the community are expected to abide by behavioural norms.
- It is okay to draw boundaries against those who are impeding a space’s community guidelines.
- All communities should be able to create and enforce guidelines.
In the case that individuals do not adhere to the community guidelines, community members and moderators should be empowered to engage in the following tactics:
- Protect the victim(s) and implement measures needed to ensure their safety.
- Confront the individuals involved. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to stop immediately.
- Talk with people involved or who witnessed the issue.
- Remove, edit, or block posts, comments, commits, wiki edits, issues, and other contributions, contributors or communities that do not align with this Code of Conduct, and communicate reasons for those decisions when and where appropriate.
- Enlist support of other community moderators (power in numbers)
- Call out individuals to stop or change specific behaviour(s), privately and/or publicly.
- Start by assuming good intent (i.e. that the person was just careless or had not realised). The moderator(s) will check that they understand why it is considered harassment or otherwise inappropriate. If they do not understand why, but they wish to understand, they will receive an explanation if the moderator(s) have the time, or they will be pointed in the direction of more information.
Whenever a participant has made a mistake, we expect them to take responsibility for it. If someone has been harmed or offended, it is our responsibility to listen carefully and respectfully, and do our best to right the wrong. If there is a need for education, the person causing offense can ask for more information. They will either be given an explanation or be referred to links and educative content if available. If relevant content is not yet available, or if nobody in the community has the ability or willingness to help, they may need to do their own research.
- The individuals may be given a chance to apologise to the person(s) they targeted, or make other reparations as appropriate, within a specified time frame.
- If an understanding and positive outcome cannot be reached, one of these steps may be taken, temporarily or permanently:
- Suspension of participation privileges.
- Removal from the specific space (block the person from one group, but not all spaces).
- Removal from the community (all spaces).
With this, we have a clear expectation about what we consider to be a reasonable understanding to approach potential conflict, and to quickly settle those disputes peacefully.
Wrapping up #
This code of conduct applies to all Bonfire spaces, including interactions, discussions and other content, both online or offline. Some spaces may have additional rules in place, which will be made clearly available to participants. Participants are responsible for knowing and abiding by these rules.
We are participants in a decentralised software ecosystem and various online discussion and collaboration spaces, but we also aim to be a community. A community is different than a “forum” or a “debate hall”, it means we support each others' emotional and intellectual needs so that we can sustainably engage in discussion and collaborative work, and foster respect, diversity, inclusion, wellbeing and learning.
This community is made up of disparate online collections of people committed to exploring and building a p2p ecosystem with the awareness and sensitivity of intersectionality. This requires us to have challenging conversations about privilege, power, history, culture, inequality, pain, injustice, trauma, and the influence of hegemonic ideas, institutions and practices. Our goal is to have these dialogues and debates from a place of compassion that honours our shared humanity. We recognise this may require us to level up our conversational skills, both as individuals and as a collective. Hence the spirit of learning together must try to describe this process in detail. We believe this kind of work is transformative, and any learning here will initiate similar changes in the other communities we participate in.
This code of conduct is long. We realise that it may take a good few minutes over a cup of [insert favourite beverage here], to read through these guidelines. If we think about how difficult conversations can be online, we might consider the following points:
- In the ‘flesh’ world of in-person conversation, we have centuries of methods that we have developed that enable people to attempt to communicate and act appropriately when situations break down.
- Online and social media platforms are often more like a social wilderness by default, setting people up to fail. See the classic Tyranny of Structurelessness about the perils of insufficient social structures.
- Minimal intervention works best when there are realistic means (structures, processes) for setting boundaries or making consent-based decisions and resolving conflicts in a horizontal way. Cyber bullying is real, and we often have no real idea how conversations are affecting individuals, so it seems better to err on the side of spelling things out “more” rather than “less” as there is a lot to be aware of when addressing difficult topics.
- Most likely it will be encouraging in some way, or a chance to learn something new, as they have arisen out of a lot of care and extensive practice and learnings from various online communities.
- Admins and moderators are often unpaid roles. They can be very exhausting and it is much better if the role of keeping a strong community culture is shared more widely by everyone. So we need to be empowered to facilitate each other, and these guidelines are a learning process about how to have conversations online.
This code of conduct outlines our expectations for participants within our shared spaces, as well as steps for reporting unacceptable behaviour.
Expectations are neither rights nor privileges, but rather shared aims and intentions based on research that have evolved from the collective work of dozens of communities trying to find effective rules for communities to run by.
These expectations include the idea that anyone who violates this code of conduct may face restrictions, including temporary or permanent banning from community spaces.
Any investment in learning NVC is an investment in better relationships in our life. NVC can help diffuse conflicts, by getting to what is underneath them.
There are two aspects to NVC - one is the deeper attitude (spirit) behind it and the other aspect is the technique. If the technique is applied without the deeper attitude behind it, it can be used as a weapon, like any technique used in bad faith.
There are four practical components to the technique. Remember that It is a practice. Most of us are not trained to think in these ways. Each component requires practice. It is really useful to know and understand the philosophy behind each one.
If you're not familiar with it, you can start with this introduction to NVC. You can go further with this article about NVC in the context of code reviews.
Please note: NVC IS NOT A PANACEA. There are times in life when you would not have time to use it and it would not be appropriate.
Communication is not easy
- it is hard in real life
- it is harder online when conflicts occur
- it is harder still when we are dealing with conflicts on difficult topics
- it is even harder at a time when these topics are showing up everywhere.. it can wear you down - and everyone involved.
We’re not saying this to get everyone down. We are saying this to honour how well we do, in fact, considering all these challenges, most of the time. We don’t always get it right. But the point is to learn together, gradually. And sometimes we are pushed to accelerate our learning because of events that lead to fractioning, frictions, conflicts and group forking.
Trolling and bad-faith tactics #
We live in an age of tactical online aggression. With regard to social engineering, we take extra exception to the following tactics and practices: Dogpiling, Camping, misdirection, gish gallop, “Angry Jack Syndrome”, baiting (reductio ad X), suppressing power level, crowd cover, crypto/redpilling, and “silent identity attacks.”
We want to promote our community's literacies with regard to identifying and combatting disruption tactics. See for example:
Attribution & Acknowledgements #
We acknowledge the many communities and projects that established code of conducts, which inspired this one, particularly:
- The authors of Designing Care and Commoning into a Code of Conduct, who put a lot of care into their community guidelines, which were in large part copied for this document.
- Geek Feminism's Community Policy
- Enspiral's handbook
- Sunbeam.city cooperative
- Contributor Covenant