This lesson is in the early stages of development (Alpha version)

Code of Conduct Facilitation


Teaching: 20 min
Exercises: 10 min
  • What is covered under the Code of Conduct Facilitation module of the Community Facilitators Program?

  • Describe why the Code of Conduct Facilitator module was created.

  • Identify content and resources made available to Code of Conduct facilitators during onboarding and over the course of their cohort work.

  • Identify additional sections that may be necessary to add to the feedback facilitators module.

This module was co-created by Serah Njambi Rono, Director of Community Development and Engagement at The Carpentries and Code of Conduct Committee members Malvika Sharan and Karin Lagesen in Q1 2O21. This current version is the result of extensive feedback from The Carpentries Core Team. This Code of Conduct facilitation module contains the following sections:

Why this Code of Conduct module exists

There are two very broad categorisations for the way discussions around new community activities start: (i) as a response measure to community questions, suggestions or probing based on their experiences as part of the community, (ii) as a proactive measure, led by The Carpentries Core Team, based on strategic goals and decisions, or as a measure to ensure the continued growth and sustainability of our community.

In July 2019, we determined it necessary to recruit community members to constitute a task force with the goal of engaging our global community, and offering recommendation on incidents falling outside the Code of Conduct Committee mandate, including incidents that may have occurred outside of Carpentries spaces, incidents that happen within Carpentries spaces that are not reported, or where people would like to share information or get feedback, rather than formally report an incident. Samantha Ahern, Christopher Felker and Luca Di Stasio served on this Task Force and Karen Cranston and Kari L. Jordan were the Code of Conduct Committee and Carpentries Core Team liaisons respectively.

After a round of community input, the incident-response Task Force published a set of recommendations on guidelines, approaches, support structures or policies that could be developed to respond to incidents that happen outside the mandate of the Carpentries Code of Conduct Committee. Two out of the six recommendations pointed at the need for empowering more community members to facilitate some Code of Conduct processes in our community spaces as our community continues to grow, more specifically:

  1. As Code of Conduct facilitators trained and prepared to
  2. share any incidents or concerns to an ombudsperson, directly with the Code of Conduct Committee, and
  3. actively monitor of online Carpentries channels, and representatives in community calls, local, regional and global Carpentries events
  4. as counselors trained and prepared to guide community members who might want to discuss potential incidents before reporting them to the Code of Conduct Committee, in addition to facilitating the reporting process

We are pleased to share that the Code of Conduct module in The Carpentries Community Facilitators Program is designed to prepare community members to step in and serve as a bridge between our community and the Code of Conduct Committee (CoCc), and with a scope that covers the two recommendations above. Community members trained to serve in this role will be called Carpentries Code of Conduct Facilitators.

Why the need to bridge the gap between facilitators and CoCc

More often than not, we hear of incidents that arise that require the attention of the CoCc, but which go unreported for various reasons, key among them being

  1. A question of trust of the reporting, the handling process and the community this happened in when an incident affects someone new to the community,
  2. An uncertainty either
  3. about the gravity of a situation or one’s experience and whether it warrants reporting, either gauged against other experiences or informal discussion with others or
  4. the environment in which an incident occurs, especially in community events or spaces created as a cross-community effort
  5. a lack of confidence as a bystander around stepping up to diffuse a situation without the right tools or know-how, and with a fear that it might make things worse

Other contributing reasons include:

  1. unfamiliarity with the policies and complaint mechanisms,
  2. fear of negative repercussions,
  3. the social stigma attached to victims or not perceiving offence serious enough to make formal complaints, and/or
  4. a lack of awareness about community members designated to take CoC reports. In some cases, if aware, they may still worry about the emotional toll associated with reporting and following up about an incident.

Expanding the scope of the role for our CoCc

Code of Conduct Committee (CoCc) members are a group of volunteers from the community who have been trained to handle CoC reports and have gained further experience through handling incidents as a group. Up until this point, you may notice that the CoCc has had little to no interaction with our global community outside the scope of investigating, addressing and resolving conflict; and interactions that affect our collaboration-driven ethos and impact our interactions negatively. The CoCc has proactively engaged the community in Code of Conduct policy development and maintenance, but formal opportunities for the CoCc to mentor and guide others in The Carpentries have been missing. The work of the CoCc is non-trivial - in fact, because conflict can make or break a community, we view the work of the CoCc as core to the continuity and sustainability of our community. We also think it is important to cultivate positive interactions between the CoCc and our global community. Having the CoCc lead the onboarding and oversight of Code of Conduct facilitators in The Carpentries will help make this possible.

How Code of Conduct facilitation will be carried out in The Carpentries

Going forward, the Code of Conduct facilitation module will be open to as many as are interested in stepping up and facilitating Code of Conduct processes in the community. The training sessions will span two hours at a time, and will be carried out every 8 weeks. The CoCc will be leaders and owners of the Code of Conduct facilitation process, and will be the official mentors for all Code of Conduct facilitators in The Carpentries.

In summary, while maintaining the role of the Code of Conduct Committee (CoCc) as a Code of Conduct enforcement body, going forwards in The Carpentries, Code of Conduct Facilitators will be actively available to the community as a trusted and neutral point of counsel on Code of Conduct-related matters, monitor Carpentries online spaces and physical meetings and escalate Code of Conduct incidents for the attention of the CoCc or otherwise certify that the community is functioning as expected.

A big thank you to our CoCc chair Malvika Sharan who, in 2019, prepared detailed suggestions about how a future Code of Conduct Facilitators Program could operate. Our Code of Conduct training resources build on these suggestions.

Key Points

  • First key point. Brief Answer to questions. (FIXME)