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The Carpentries Code of Conduct


Teaching: 15 min
Exercises: 10 min
  • How was The Carpentries Code of Conduct developed?

  • What are the core tenets of The Carpentries Code of Conduct?

  • Explain how The Carpentries Code of Conduct was developed, and has changed over the years

  • Identify the main elements of The Carpentries Code of Conduct

In this section, we will dive into The Carpentries Code of Conduct, provide historical context on its development, and discuss the elements that make a meaningful and effective Code of Conduct.

A Brief History

The First Carpentries Code of Conduct

Before the 2018 mergers, Data Carpentry, Software Carpentry and Library Carpentry were operating as standalone lesson programs, each with its own staff, steering committee and advisory group. Being the oldest lesson program of the three, Software Carpentry was already subscribed to a Code of Conduct from early on. In 2016, Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry staff collaborated on the first version of a joint Code of Conduct and published it on the two lesson websites. As The Carpentries Associate Director, Erin Becker, explains in this August 2016 blog post, community members then had the opportunity to apply to be part of the very first joint Code of Conduct advocacy and enforcement subcommittee.

Revisions Over The Years

This set a good precedent early on for a community-involved revision process around The Carpentries Code of Conduct in subsequent years. Here are a few notable revision points since the first Policy Committee was set up to enforce the joint Code of Conduct in 2016:

  1. November 2016: updates made to address limitations in enforcing The Carpentries Code of Conduct and adjudicating reported Code of Conduct violations. This was done by clarifying the CoC and formalising a committee for handling CoC incidents in The Carpentries.
  2. September 2018: following the Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry merger to form The Carpentries, in consultation with Otter Tech’s Sage Sharpe, revisions were made, primarily to (i) reinforce that Code of Conduct enforcement evaluates the outcome of one’s behaviour, rather than the intent in carrying out a given action; and to rename the Policy subcommittee to CoCc.
  3. January 2019: A four-member Task Force updated Incident Reporting Guidelines, Incident Response Procedure, and the Enforcement Manual in The Carpentries Code of Conduct; and invited community members to comment on changes before making official updates to the main Code of Conduct at the end of February 2019.
  4. July - October 2019: A Task Force was recruited to come up with recommendations on how to address Code of Conduct incidents that take place in non-Carpentries spaces and fall outside the mandate of our CoCc, but involve members of our community. Community members were then invited to share relevant experiences, and recommendations were published in September 2019.

Recommendations 2 and 3 catalysed the creation of this Code of Conduct training as part of the Carpentries Community Facilitators Program to onboard Code of Conduct facilitators to serve as counselors and bridge the gap between incidents occurring and being reported for resolution by the CoCc.

Key Elements of The Carpentries Code of Conduct

Taking an in-depth look into The Carpentries Code of Conduct, it is designed to

  1. provide incoming community members with the opportunity to audit our community norms and values against their own so they can determine if joining our community and its activities is a good fit.
  2. guide community members and partners of the organisation on how to conduct themselves, broadly, by listing examples of expected and acceptable behaviours.

    Part 2.1 Expected behaviour

    All participants in our events and communications are expected to show respect and courtesy to others. All interactions should be professional regardless of platform: either online or in-person. In order to foster a positive and professional learning environment we encourage the following kinds of behaviours in all Carpentries events and platforms:

    • Use welcoming and inclusive language
    • Be respectful of different viewpoints and experiences
    • Gracefully accept constructive criticism
    • Focus on what is best for the community
    • Show courtesy and respect towards other community members
  3. remove ambiguity around our community norms and lines of responsibility by providing clarity on what constitutes unacceptable behaviour, and how to flag these for the CoCc to address,

    Part 2.2 Unacceptable behaviour

    Examples of unacceptable behaviour by participants at any Carpentries event/platform include:

    • written or verbal comments which have the effect of excluding people on the basis of membership of any specific group
    • causing someone to fear for their safety; such as through stalking, following, or intimidation
    • violent threats or language directed against another person
    • the display of sexual or violent images
    • unwelcome sexual attention
    • nonconsensual or unwelcome physical contact
    • sustained disruption of talks, events or communications
    • insults or put-downs
    • sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, or exclusionary jokes
    • excessive swearing
    • incitement to violence, suicide, or self-harm
    • continuing to initiate interaction (including photography or recording) with someone after being asked to stop
    • publication of private communication without consent

    Part 2.3 Consequences of Unacceptable behaviour

    Participants who are asked to stop any inappropriate behaviour are expected to comply immediately. This applies to any Carpentries events and platforms, either online or in-person. If a participant engages in behaviour that violates this Code of Conduct, the organisers may warn the offender, ask them to leave the event or platform (without refund), or engage The Carpentries CoCc to investigate the Code of Conduct violation and impose appropriate sanctions

  4. offer clear remedial and resolution pathways where individuals’ experiences in the community do not match agreed-on expectations coming into the community. The Carpentries goal is to make our community more inclusive and diverse, and it is important that our intention and promise (to make everyone feel that they belong regardless of their background, ethnicity, skill level, gender, career stage, or beliefs) matches the observations and experiences that individual community members have.

    Detailed CoC Guidelines

TL;DR - The Value of Summary

Our Code of Conduct governs all activities and convenings in The Carpentries, whether online or in-person. In practice, this means that at the start of any workshop, community call, CarpentryCon or CarpentryConnect conference session, we make sure to draw attention to the Code of Conduct and state summarily what is in it.

The Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR) section of our Code of Conduct is designed to ensure anyone needing to quickly talk about our Code of Conduct knows what to highlight. It is also designed to always be the first agenda item in any session, right up there with individual introductions.

The TL;DR helps to set everyone in a collaborative environment up for success - expected behaviour is communicated at the start of any activity, and reporting pathways are shared with everyone.

Key Points

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