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

Code of Conduct Facilitation in The Carpentries


Teaching: 15 min
Exercises: 5 min
  • What necessitated the introduction of Code of the Conduct facilitators role in The Carpentries?

  • How will Code of Conduct facilitators work with the Code of Conduct committee in The Carpentries?

  • Examine community feedback and activities that have informed the formulation of the Code of Conduct facilitators role in The Carpentries

  • Understand the positioning of Code of Conduct facilitators as the bridge between community interactions and the Code of Conduct committee

A big thank you to our 2020-2021 Code of Conduct Incident Response chair, Malvika Sharan and 2018-2020 Code of Conduct chair Karin Lageson for their significant contributions that have shaped this section of the resource.

Before this, (i) we mapped the journey from creation of community norms, values and participation guidelines to writing Codes of Conduct as a community expands its scope and grows in size; (ii) we looked at the history of our community’s Code of Conduct and timeline of key revisions; (iii) we then dissected The Carpentries Code of Conduct and understood the value of the TL;DR section.

In this section, we will discuss:

The idea of the Code of Conduct facilitators is not new for Open Communities like The Carpentries. In the existing Code of Conduct documents we recommend our community members to move from being a bystander to being a Code of Conduct facilitator (see: incident response guidelines). Every new Instructor learns about the Code of Conduct, its importance in their events, and how to assist others in reporting an incident to the CoCc. The recommendation to designate a Code of Conduct facilitator at different community spaces and events is a step further in establishing a more welcoming space for our community members and empowering them by creating an accessible reporting mechanism in different community spaces. It will particularly create a secure space for members who face social disadvantages, or those who have experienced harassment or traumatic incidents in the past.

The Code of Conduct facilitators are the trusted volunteers or leads of the events. Designating the Code of Conduct facilitator at different community spaces and events will improve the effectiveness of the Code of Conduct by fulfilling the following duties at an event:

Community Input on The Role of a Code of Conduct Facilitator

Here are three community discussions from different sessions in 2019 that have played a significant role in the creation of this Code of Conduct Facilitator role as part of the Community Facilitators Program in The Carpentries.

Community Input 1: Discussion held at the Instructor Training event at UKZN Durban, South Africa between 18 to 20 March 2019.

We asked our workshop participants about what possible incidents of a Code of Conduct violation they might face in their workshops/events, and how Code of Conduct facilitators can help address them (see: a summary of their notes).

Main concerns raised were around the possible occurrences of the misconduct or offensive behaviours from a participant or trainer towards other participants or trainers, sexual harassments, and unawareness of the mechanisms to report and address misconduct. These situations can be addressed by creating an accessible mechanism for incident reporting, supplemented by the designation of the Code of Conduct facilitators. It was particularly pointed out that the participants will feel more comfortable to attend a Carpentries event knowing that they have enough support in place.

Community Input 2: Discussion held at the Carpentries Trainers meeting on 18 April 2019 We brought the same discussion to our trainers guided by the set of questions below:

  1. Who is eligible to become a Code of Conduct facilitator?
  2. What information would they need to take this role?
  3. What are the main responsibilities of the Code of Conduct facilitators?
  4. Who gets affected by the designation of a Code of Conduct facilitator?
  5. how can we incorporate their designation in our existing protocol for event/workshop organisation and training.

Community Input 3: Task force Recommendations 2 and 3 on how to deal with incidents outside of The Carpentries spaces and activities prescribed by a Task Force in September 2019.

Recommendation 2: Volunteer Code of Conduct Facilitators

This task force has determined that neither the Carpentries Staff, CoCc, nor the Executive Council is exclusively responsible for monitoring and/or proactively responding to dialogue in Carpentries spaces (in-person or online), or non-Carpentries spaces where Carpentries community members are active. Our recommendation is for the CoCc, Regional Coordinators, and Instructor Trainers to encourage and empower community members to share any incidents or concerns to an ombudsperson or the CoCc. Additionally, we recommend making the button to report a Code of Conduct violation more prominent on the Carpentries website.

If the community feels it is important to have active monitoring on Carpentries channels, we recommend recruiting volunteer Code of Conduct facilitators for online spaces (GitHub, Slack, TopicBox) and CarpentryCon/CarpentryConnect. Code of Conduct facilitators could share potentially negative behaviours or otherwise certify that the community is functioning as expected. Anything reported to and mediated through the CoCc would adhere to the Code of Conduct Incident Response Procedure and Reporting Guidelines for transparency and consistency. Additionally, facilitators could identify themselves in workshops, but would not be required in workshops.

We recommend leaving the CoCc as an enforcement mechanism, and creating a community Code of Conduct facilitator program. This will serve as an added layer of support before something is reported to the CoCc. The program could be developed and supported by the Instructor Development Committee. The following are characteristics that could be included in the program:

  • Anonymous form to send facilitators if a community member wants to talk about a potential incident.
  • Consistent online material to train community members to be facilitators at workshops.
  • Peer mediation training and other opportunities.

RATIONALE: Only one of the 12 anonymous feedback responses received during our three week feedback collection period was shared with the CoCc. We want to make it clear that the CoCc wants to hear all kinds of incidents, regardless of severity. Additionally, we acknowledge the feedback of community members who are uncomfortable with expanding the scope of the CoCc’s mandate. We also want the community to enjoy basic procedural transparency - for example sharing the outcome and findings of any investigation, and inviting subsequent discussions.

Recommendation 3: Ombudspersons

This task force is aware that The Carpentries makes use of an Ombudsperson, however, we recommend socialising, training and empowering more people to act as counselors (ombudspersons) for community members who might want to discuss potential incidents before reporting them to the CoCc. These ombudspersons can complement Code of Conduct facilitators. The ombudspersons will not be part of the CoCc that rules on reported cases. At least one ombudsperson group should be external to the Carpentries community. We also recommend that the Carpentries identify a conflict resolution expert to hire on retainer to help resolve issues in cases of mediation, restorative justice, etc.

RATIONALE: Only one of the 12 anonymous feedback responses received during our three week feedback collection period dealt with an incident that was shared with the CoCc. It could thus be argued that there might be many unreported incidents that simply go unnoticed. The objective of the Code of Conduct, and the mandate of the CoCc as its enforcer, should be not only to enforce punishments for violations, but to provide a safe space where everyone can share her/his perceived abuse. Filtering of incidents in light of Code of Conduct guidelines would then identify which incidents constitute violations of the Code of Conduct. To this end the ombudspersons, external to the CoCc, would: favor sharing incidents by separating hearing and counseling (ombudsperson) versus evaluation and enforcement ( CoCc); and provide a filtering stage that would prevent overloading the CoCc.

The Mandate of Code of Conduct Facilitators

Who is eligible to become a Code of Conduct facilitator?

This is a volunteer role recommended by the CoCc and incident-response Task Force which can be assumed by any trusted member from the organising team of any event in The Carpentries space - from workshops to community calls and CarpentryCon / CarpentryConnect sessions. They can be a program coordinator or co-chairs on an event’s organising committee, a Carpentries discussion host, workshop instructor or helper.

The Code of Conduct facilitators, like every community participant, must familiarise themselves with the Code of Conduct, the incident response, and incident reporting guidelines. They are expected to undergo the Code of Conduct Facilitators Program before they serve as a designated facilitator role. This training is conducted by The Capentries team and CoCc, who will provide all information to the Code of Conduct facilitators to carry out their work. The Code of Conduct facilitators’ training is offered every 8 weeks, which is open to the interested members from The Carpentries community. The trained facilitators can choose to be listed on The Carpentries website in a dedicated page so that they can be contacted by the future organisers to take on the Code of Conduct facilitators role for their workshops or events.

What are the main responsibilities of the Code of Conduct facilitators?

In practice, in all community spaces, Code of Conduct Facilitators serve as an added layer of support to report incidents to the CoCc (CoCc). Code of Conduct Facilitators actively monitor online spaces during the event and are the in-person point of contact to provide support and guidance to report potential breaches of the Code of Conduct to the CoCc. To efficiently serve as a bridge with the CoCc, Code of Conduct facilitators:

Secondary Role of Code of Conduct Facilitators as Event Buddies

In community events, as proposed in the CarpentryConnect Planning Kit, CoC facilitators may also assume the role of event buddies. While not mandatory, this is a good way to build trust long before the need to carry out Code of Conduct facilitation duties ever arises.

Attending events can be nerve wracking for some people. Event buddies serve as

How do facilitators get assigned in various community activities?

  1. Event organisers and program coordinators: The event organisers will be responsible to designate Code of Conduct facilitators in their event. The program coordinators will be introducing this recommendation in their workflow. They will provide all the information and resources necessary for the Code of Conduct facilitators to carry out their tasks.
  2. Community members: The designation of Code of Conduct facilitators will positively affect our community members by creating a more welcoming space for them. They will be aware of the people who they can reach out to for the necessary support if any emergency or non-emergency incident occurs.

Code of Conduct facilitators will not only make our participants’ feel secure in the Carpentries event but will assist the work of the Code of Conduct committee in managing Code of Conduct related incidents. In order to implement this effectively, you are encouraged to share your questions and suggestions on this topic by emailing the CoCc.

Who designates the Code of Conduct facilitators?

Here are a few suggestions for how we can approach the issue of designating Code of Conduct facilitators:

  1. Instructor Training: This information should be introduced in the training material so that the new instructors are informed about this role and encouraged to sign up for Code of Conduct facilitation training so that they can help workshop organisers in designating a Code of Conduct facilitator for their workshops, or double up in this role if need be.
  2. Workshops: When someone requests a workshop, they will be asked to specify in the request form who the designated Code of Conduct facilitator(s) will be for their workshop. The main organiser can be encouraged to look for a workshop helper who can take this role at their event, and where none is available, any of the workshop instructors who have been trained as Code of Conduct facilitators can take on this role.
  3. Bigger events: CarpentryCon and CarpentryConnect Task Forces can be directly contacted by the CoCc to make sure that Code of Conduct facilitators for their events have been designated.
  4. Online meetings: The hosts of an online event should either request a trained Code of Conduct facilitator prior to the event to take on the role of the Code of Conduct facilitator or act as a Code of Conduct facilitator themselves if they are trained. In both cases, they should inform their participants at the beginning of the event that The Carpentries Code of Conduct applies to the event, what the recommended and unacceptable behaviors for their meeting are, and who is the designated facilitator for the meeting.

In the case that the organizers of an event cannot find any trained Code of Conduct facilitators to assume the role in their event, they will prominently share the CoC information and communicate how their attendees can report incidents that occur.

An email to will be seen by all of the CoCc. If you are uncomfortable reporting to the CoCc, incidents can also be reported to Cam Macdonell, the designated ombudsman for The Carpentries, at

Key Points

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