Anti-Harassment Policy and/or Code of Conduct/Community Standards?

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Rubin Abdi

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May 29, 2016, 10:27:48 PM5/29/16
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Serious question, asking if Toorcamp this year will have an Anti-Harassment Policy and/or Code of Conduct/Community Standards? Thanks.

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breedx

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May 29, 2016, 11:03:25 PM5/29/16
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1) No shitting in the power dome?

Dave Null

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May 30, 2016, 11:01:25 PM5/30/16
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Breedx,

Don't oppress me.

-noid
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free - Goethe
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breedx

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May 31, 2016, 1:49:44 AM5/31/16
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The true oppression comes when the hax0r plebs are forced to remain on the surface to endure the solar radiation and violent blasts of volcanic ash storms and assorted draculas while the digital elite are adjusting their monocles and shitting idly in the cool subterranean comfort of the power dome.  #honeypotgate2009

Pavel Kirkovsky

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May 31, 2016, 4:08:54 AM5/31/16
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I looked on both the Toorcon and Toorcamp pages but did not find any references to a Code of Conduct or anything similar.
Maybe David can clarify?


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Tim Huynh

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May 31, 2016, 11:49:01 AM5/31/16
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Inline image 2


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thanks,
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Dean Pierce

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May 31, 2016, 1:33:06 PM5/31/16
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Hi Rubin, I don't know you, so I'm going to assume your intentions are pure, but this has debate has actually be a huge point of (incredibly frustrating) contention in the hacker community for many many years now.  Of course we can all agree that the most conducive learning environments are places where people feel safe and comfortable.  The people in the hacker community, however, by their very nature are driven to over-analyze any set of rules, looking for any point in which rules can be bent or broken.  Anything more complex than the standard "Be Excellent to Each Other" is just added attack surface, debates over which have torn once great communities apart, often causing more harm than good.

I 100% understand that there are some communities in which "Be Excellent to Each Other" hasn't worked out too great, but this is where we must delegate trust to David, Tim, and the rest of the ToorCon crew with their stellar, nearly two decades of experience running cons, sometimes multiple cons per year.  Personally, I have complete faith in their ability to remove the non-excellent elements, while keeping intact the creativity, expressiveness, and mischievousness that defines us as a community.

   - DEAN

Amy Wilhelm

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May 31, 2016, 3:39:33 PM5/31/16
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I think if there's anything to be learned from the current national tantrum over nondiscrimination law (and historical ones), it's that people either flouncing over anti-oppressive policies (which harassment policies and nondiscrimination laws are both subtypes of) or trying to rules-lawyer them are really doing the community a favor in excising themselves or marking themselves as likely troublemakers, respectively. Which is better than finding out the hard way.

At any rate, regardless of the people involved or in charge and regardless of their trustworthiness or personal ability to distinguish what is and is not interpersonal excellence, it's often helpful to have something more concrete than a parable when, not if, someone decides to bring their version of "but who is my neighbor?" to a simple "be excellent to each other" or "don't be a dick" policy. Or to entirely preempt that.

Just my 2c.

And... party on, dudes.

- Amy

Pavel Kirkovsky

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May 31, 2016, 11:17:04 PM5/31/16
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On May 31, 2016, at 12:39 PM, Amy Wilhelm <netcru...@gmail.com> wrote:

At any rate, regardless of the people involved or in charge and regardless of their trustworthiness or personal ability to distinguish what is and is not interpersonal excellence, it's often helpful to have something more concrete than a parable when, not if, someone decides to bring their version of "but who is my neighbor?" to a simple "be excellent to each other" or "don't be a dick" policy. Or to entirely preempt that.

Agreed. I love the Bill & Ted movies consider “be excellent to each other” to be a positive sentiment we should all embrace, but it’s insufficient when it comes to dealing with actual problems involving real people. Someone else put it best: “If you think it’s obvious that you shouldn’t harass people at a conference, then you are not the person the policy is written for."

Open Source Bridge’s code of conduct quite thorough and licensed under Creative Commons (it could be used almost verbatim and implemented with minimal effort): http://opensourcebridge.org/about/code-of-conduct/

Ian Finder

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May 31, 2016, 11:31:02 PM5/31/16
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Maybe I'll be proven wrong, and maybe there are things in past years I didn't know about, but this whole line of discussion seems awful premature to me...
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Pavel Kirkovsky

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May 31, 2016, 11:51:24 PM5/31/16
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> On May 31, 2016, at 8:31 PM, Ian Finder <ian.f...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, and maybe there are things in past years I didn't know about, but this whole line of discussion seems awful premature to me...

OK, I’ll bite and state the obvious: it’s best to have such policies in place *before* harassment becomes a problem.

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Charles

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Jun 1, 2016, 12:13:59 AM6/1/16
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Here is the "Unacceptable Behavior" list from that link. I do not feel
it is unreasonable to tell people not to do these things. Being
specific about unacceptable behavior is good - For example, when camping
it's easy to just say "respect your environment"- but far better to
clarify what might seem obvious or self-evident to an experienced
outdoor-ist, e.g., don't piss in the reservoir nor leave fires unattended.

And yes, history shows us that people do need to be reminded not do
these things, and it is ideal to have clear guidelines. Otherwise we
are potentially at the mercy of the sophists who would enjoy enjoy
debating the definition of "excellence" ad infinitum.

"""

Violence, threats of violence or violent language directed against
another person.
Sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise
discriminatory jokes and language.
Posting or displaying sexually explicit or violent material.
Posting or threatening to post other people’s personally identifying
information ("doxing").
Personal insults, particularly those related to gender, sexual
orientation, race, religion, or disability.
Inappropriate photography or recording.
Inappropriate physical contact. You should have someone’s consent
before touching them.
Unwelcome sexual attention. This includes, sexualized comments or
jokes; inappropriate touching, groping, and unwelcomed sexual advances.
Deliberate intimidation, stalking or following (online or in person).
Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior.
Sustained disruption of community events, including talks and
presentations.

"""


On 6/1/2016 12:49 PM, Ian Finder wrote:
> As an addendum- I would really like to believe that 500 people have it
> in themselves to be excellent to each other for 4 days of fun.
>
> And if one person is not being excellent, I would like to believe the
> remaining 499 can, one way or another, convince that person to be excellent.
>
> ToorCamp should be a safe, respectful, and fun environment for everyone-
> I don't think having a rigorous, written code of conduct will
> necessarily make it more of any of these things.
>
> If you see someone being not excellent, perhaps try and convince them
> of what they need to do to be excellent.
>
> If they're dead set on being a dick, I don't think written bylaws will
> stop them. I'd actually expect such a thing to egg them on.
>
> If there is really a persistent issue, bring it up with an organizer to
> assess. If health and safety are at risk, it becomes an issue for the
> authorities to deal with.
>
> I don't think a Creative Commons licensed wiki page will help much in
> the disheartening event such issues occur.
>
> But let's please not plan for a storm, lest we get one...
>
> - I
>
> On Tuesday, May 31, 2016, Ian Finder <ian.f...@gmail.com
> <mailto:ian.f...@gmail.com>> wrote:
>
> Maybe I'll be proven wrong, and maybe there are things in past years
> I didn't know about, but this whole line of discussion seems awful
> premature to me...
>
> On Tuesday, May 31, 2016, Pavel Kirkovsky <pa...@kirkovsky.com
> <https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/toorcamp/201998D7-5E36-4677-AFD5-4B73E46AB1D0%40kirkovsky.com?utm_medium=email&utm_source=footer>.
> For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.
>
>
>
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Amy Wilhelm

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Jun 1, 2016, 12:29:57 AM6/1/16
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On May 31, 2016, at 8:49 PM, Ian Finder <ian.f...@gmail.com> wrote:

If they're dead set on being a dick, I don't think written bylaws will stop them. I'd actually expect such a thing to egg them on.

I, again, believe they’d probably flounce or alternatively mark themselves as likely troublemakers, as I speculated earlier. I could be wrong. But my experience is that folks often like to announce their opposition to specific standards of behavior rather than start off by breaking them. 

If there is really a persistent issue, bring it up with an organizer to assess. If health and safety are at risk, it becomes an issue for the authorities to deal with.

Why don’t we save the organizers some trouble, and save their involvement for things at risk of escalating to a point of risking welfare of participants? Adjudicating is a pain in the ass - but it’s something made much easier if the basis for it is clear. And, meaning no disrespect to said organizers, it’s a lot easier to both have consistent standards and to enforce them at all if they’re on paper.

But let's please not plan for a storm, lest we get one…

You know, I wasn’t sold on this, but I find this line of reasoning compelling. It’s really uncomfortable for me to board a ship with life jackets and life boats. Could you let me know how you’re getting to Orcas Island? I may like to join you instead of tempting fate on the MV Yakima which is equipped to the unnecessarily risky standards promulgated by the Coast Guard.

3ric Johanson

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Jun 1, 2016, 1:04:50 AM6/1/16
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Rubin,

You've asked a great question, and i think it is a valid one to ask.  There have been (minor) issues in the past at toor* events, but nothing has yet triggered a community standard. 

It is great that we are discussing this, and i strongly suspect just by asking the good questions it may reach the people who need to think about this the most. 

The strongest tool we have is community and self policing behavior.   Enough good eggs come to toor events that self policing behavior is rather possible.

If that fails, we start kicking people off the island.  Easy! 

Cheers,
3

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Rubin Abdi

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Jun 1, 2016, 1:44:18 AM6/1/16
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Hi all, thanks for contributing your opinions an suggestions to the thread.

First off I'd appreciate seeing an official response from someone part of Toorcamp regarding my original question.

Right after I sent the first email in this thread I had a number of people email me off list thanking me for bringing up this question. If there are others who also want to see something like a code of conduct, or community guidelines, or an anti-harassment policy, maybe it's worth while to not play the card of "let's wait till it's a problem". When it's become a problem it's too late.

Not having a code of conduct is like saying, "we don't need a security audit, because our company has a culture of security." Bad things are already happening in our hacker communities, it's just that they might not be visible to everyone.

Additionally having someone on #toorcamp threaten to harass me then state that it was simply a joke isn't great. Joke or not, if you're waiting for problems to surface before seeing the need for drafting up such guidelines, I think you've just literally hit that point.

If Toorcamp would like to show its respects to all kinds of people, wants to support diversity by fostering inclusiveness, it should work towards some sort of guidelines for the community to adhere to in order to provide folks with something to gauge if they could possible feel comfortable participating with the event.

Still tooting the "be excellent" horn? I'm a founding member of Noisebridge who helped push our be excellent motto in the early days, and I can tell you right now that it doesn't mean shit without our anti-harassment policy. If you want further reading regarding that...


Thanks for reading.


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3ric Johanson

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Jun 1, 2016, 1:54:51 AM6/1/16
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*sigh*.  This isn't noisebridge.

Astrid Smith

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Jun 1, 2016, 1:59:49 AM6/1/16
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That's correct!  We're trying to sponsor an environment where people feel comfortable sleeping.  An explicit enumeration of expectations is even more important.
 
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mitch altman

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Jun 1, 2016, 2:03:41 AM6/1/16
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Come on folks.  What's the big deal?  A simple statement that certain conducts are not OK is incredibly helpful for lots of people.  It's very inviting.  As we all know, we don't live in an ideal world.  If we did, a CoC (and discussion about one) would be totally unnecessary.  That this discussion is taking place at all shows that we are not in an ideal world.  So, why not give a simple statement that explicitly states that all are welcome who mutually respectful?

It was super painful and difficult, and took a loooooon time, but we came up with a Code of Conduct I really like a lot.  We're using it again for The Eleventh HOPE.  Please check it out, and use it if you like.  There's a "Code of Conduct" tab on our main page:
http://hope.net/

Best,
Mitch.





------------------

chris baumbauer

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Jun 1, 2016, 7:09:56 AM6/1/16
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Stupid question, but why does there need to be a code of conduct for bad behavior that wouldn't be okay in the real world to begin with? In addition, what would codifing such things do that speaking to one of the organizers or security goons won't accomplish if things get out of hand?

There is an adage that everyone should have grown up with: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Otherwise you and the people around you will have a less than ideal time, and that would not be awesome.

cab

David Huerta

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Jun 1, 2016, 10:40:51 AM6/1/16
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On Wednesday, June 1, 2016, chris baumbauer <cab...@gmail.com> wrote:

Stupid question, but why does there need to be a code of conduct for bad behavior that wouldn't be okay in the real world to begin with? In addition, what would codifing such things do that speaking to one of the organizers or security goons won't accomplish if things get out of hand?

There is an adage that everyone should have grown up with: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Otherwise you and the people around you will have a less than ideal time, and that would not be awesome.


Should have, yes. Actually have: not always.

The CoC we have at NYC Resistor took a few drafts over several weeks before it was finally published. Let's give the Toor folks some time to come up with theirs.
 

cab

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Dean Pierce

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Jun 1, 2016, 11:04:21 AM6/1/16
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Most of us on this list are quite aware of the Noisebridge dramalanche
that came from their failure to properly implement "Be Excellent to
Each Other". As it turns out though, many organizations have operated
very well under that simplified code of conduct. Toorcon is a shining
example of a community which has operated for 17 years without the
need of an overly complex code of conduct. Maybe, just maybe, the
problem with Noisebridge was less about the code of conduct, and more
about their reporting and leadership structure.

It seems kind of ridiculous that the Noisebridge drama is still trying
to percolate its way though the rest of the tech scene so many years
later. For many years the Infosec scene has almost unanimously
rejected the need for complex codes of conduct for exactly all the
reasons listed above, and no one is going to change anyone's mind by
trolling a mailing list today.

We already have the final word for this year's code of conduct, passed
down to us by our glorious leadership (Tim). There's nothing to
discuss anymore. If you don't like it, you can spend the next week
compiling a list of instances where Code of Conduct has helped more
than it hurt, and we discuss it like civilized people in the woods
over a warm cup of hot cocoa.

- DEAN
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Amy Wilhelm

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Jun 1, 2016, 11:46:11 AM6/1/16
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I mean, there doesn't. I don't think anyone expects a code of conduct
to spell out no murder, no theft, no arson. Though, technically, we
*did* just have an exceedingly civil conversation about what
constitutes arson for this particular ToorCamp.

As far as what might be okay in the real world... from the Open Source
Bridge CoC Pavel linked, one of the things enumerated as unacceptable:

> Sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise discriminatory jokes and language.

Okay, a few things, but one of the bullet points. I don't think this
is controversial (and if you find it controversial, you're the reason
cons need a code of conduct, hope that helps), but these aren't
necessarily things that wouldn't be okay in the real world to begin
with. I mean, they're not to me or around me or in a workplace
(speaking of places that prove the importance of codes of conduct...)
but in general these describe common behavior (and common political
positions (fuck I-1515)).

Having a code of conduct means marginalized people can trust you when
you say they're welcome at your event.

On Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 4:09 AM, chris baumbauer <cab...@gmail.com> wrote:
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Tim Huynh

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Jun 1, 2016, 12:05:40 PM6/1/16
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Hey everybody, 
thanks for your input and patience. We're working on something that is a little more comprehensive, but it's going to take a little time and we have a few things on our plate right now. Please expect something by opening remarks next week. 

thanks,
Tim


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Pavel Kirkovsky

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Jun 1, 2016, 1:11:47 PM6/1/16
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Thanks, Tim! Your (and the whole TC team's) effort on this is much appreciated.

-Pavel


Sent from my Радио-86РК

Rubin Abdi

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Jun 1, 2016, 1:36:24 PM6/1/16
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Thank you Tim. Really appreciate hearing a response. If there's something you all could post before the event actually starts that would be excellent.


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Cory

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Jun 1, 2016, 2:11:30 PM6/1/16
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It's true that most of the ideas proposed here for a code of conduct are not controversial.  However, it's clear that just having one *IS* controversial.

We should definitely continue with a civil discussion on the matter whether it be on this list, in the chat room, or at the camp itself.  However, it doesn't seem reasonable to expect Tim and David to reconsider and revise their long standing view on this less than a week before the event when they are no-doubt incredibly busy.  Especially since deciding to adopt or reject the proposed changes is likely to alienate a group of people either way.  I know it's supposed to support inclusiveness, but I can't imagine there's anyone waiting in the wings this close to the event who isn't going to buy a ticket until these changes are made.

If we can have a calm, civil, and rational discussion that results in terms mutually agreeable to the vast majority of us, it's highly likely they'll decide to adopt those terms for future events.

Should we schedule a discussion about this for next week on-site?

Jinna Lei

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Jun 1, 2016, 4:16:31 PM6/1/16
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Thanks for that articulate and comprehensive response. The pushback to having a code of conduct / anti-harassment policy is both baffling and worrying.

mark burdett

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Jun 1, 2016, 5:31:52 PM6/1/16
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Hi all, I wanted to say thanks folks for pushing on this! I'd echo what
others have eloquently stated: clear standards, and process for what to
do when something isn't right, is a critical first step to making a
space safe, inclusive and inviting.

I hope everyone agrees this is what ToorCamp wants to be, after all the
tagline is /the/ American hacker camp, which sets a high bar for
inclusion - two whole continents :)

Promoting the camp's commitment to these goals is essential to getting
all the folks who /should/ be involved in ToorCamp (as speakers,
participants, workshop leaders, volunteers etc.) thru the gate in the
first place.

--mark B.

On 06/01/2016 10:36 AM, Rubin Abdi wrote:
> Thank you Tim. Really appreciate hearing a response. If there's
> something you all could post before the event actually starts that would
> be excellent.
>
> On 1 June 2016 at 10:11, Pavel Kirkovsky <pa...@kirkovsky.com
> <mailto:pa...@kirkovsky.com>> wrote:
>
> Thanks, Tim! Your (and the whole TC team's) effort on this is much
> appreciated.
>
> -Pavel
>
>
> Sent from my Радио-86РК
>
> On Jun 1, 2016, at 9:05 AM, Tim Huynh <t...@huynh.co
>> <mailto:toorcamp%2Bunsu...@googlegroups.com>.
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>> Tim
>>
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3ric Johanson

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Jun 1, 2016, 5:58:40 PM6/1/16
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This is the last time I'm going to post on this thread.

Toorcamp and toorcon related events have been safe places for years
and years. This is in part because they are really actually somewhat
exclusive events, because toor* events self select for nice people.

Where other events struggle is when they spend time and money to grow
beyond their local network; with these explosive growing pains, it
tends to require things such as code of conducts and more security and
policies. We do not have 20,000 people camping with us.

Many years ago we all laughed at the price list for replacing a
doorframe or bed from defcon; that grew out of growth. Our largest
conflict these days are over pets and firepits. We are very very far
away from having the critical mass which would require us to spend
lots of energy on things like Anti-Harassment Policies. I'm not saying
they are bad to have - - at all - - they are a requirement for large
events. This is a small private event, guessing 90% of the folks
there are repeat customers.

I have a huge amount of faith in the toorcamp folks to put on a good
event. Part of what makes this this event special and cool is because
it is small and private and not full of harassment.

Pestering the toorcamp organizers into spending energy on this when
they could be spending their energy on more pressing issues seems
really misguided. I'm sure one of these years a toor-wide policy will
get published. And we will all be just fine both before and after
that happens.

Cheers
-3ric
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Pavel Kirkovsky

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Jun 1, 2016, 6:56:34 PM6/1/16
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On Jun 1, 2016, at 2:58 PM, 3ric Johanson <ericjo...@gmail.com> wrote:


Toorcamp and toorcon related events have been safe places for years
and years.

Safe for whom? Do you speak for literally everyone who has ever attended or wished to attend?

"WORKSFORME WONTFIX" is not a compelling argument, especially coming from a someone who is statistically unlikely to be the target of harassment.


This is in part because they are really actually somewhat
exclusive events, because toor* events self select for nice people.

"Nice" is highly subjective and prone to various biases. Many people who engage in harassment don't consider that what they're doing is wrong, which is a huge part of why a Code of Conduct is needed.
(An extreme example of this effect: http://www.newsweek.com/campus-rapists-and-semantics-297463)

See also: "nice guys"


Where other events struggle is when they spend time and money to grow
beyond their local network; with these explosive growing pains, it
tends to require things such as code of conducts and more security and
policies.

Establishing a Code of Conduct is a core task of event organization, much like renting a space or acquiring a first aid kit.


We do not have 20,000 people camping with us.

That's completely irrelevant. Did you personally vet every single attendee? Can you personally vouch for the behavior of every single attendee and be responsible for any consequences?


We are very very far
away from having the critical mass which would require us to spend
lots of energy on things like Anti-Harassment Policies.

Very little energy is required. Code of Conduct templates are readily available and licensed freely, as I demonstrated in my earlier email. It's trivial to post something on a website.

The rest basically boils down to adhering to the guidelines, taking reports  of harassment seriously, and taking action to correct problems -- core aspects of running ANY event.

Or do you mean the energy spent replying to people who keep insisting that there's no need for a CoC despite numerous requests to implement one? We're definitely spending a lot of energy pulverizing that dead horse.


I'm not saying
they are bad to have  - - at all - - they are a requirement for large
events.

All formal events should have a Code of Conduct regardless of size. In fact, it's best to establish such policies early on.


Part of what makes this this event special and cool is because
it is small and private and not full of harassment.

"I don't see a problem and therefore it doesn't exist" isn't a compelling argument.


Pestering the toorcamp organizers into spending energy on this when
they could be spending their energy on more pressing issues seems
really misguided.

There were multiple polite requests and a polite response indicating it's being worked on. Asked and answered.

The only people engaging in pestering are the ones continuing to crow about how a CoC is unnecessary despite the fact that the discussion is basically over. 

-P

Sent from my Радио-86РК

Danne Stayskal

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Jun 2, 2016, 8:09:24 PM6/2/16
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The conduct expectations my art collective uses at events like this has served as a good baseline for us:


Feel free to copy and/or adapt as much or as little as you'd like. Much of this came from a similar code some of us wrote for the Flux hackerspace in PDX a few years ago, FWIW.

—Danne

Josh D

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Jun 4, 2016, 11:31:13 PM6/4/16
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Forgive me for the "me too" post but I think this is an important discussion. I'm not of any authority on the subject but I did attend the '09 and '12 camps, so I'm aware of how the camp runs.

I think having a general code of conduct is a great idea. If things have gone great in previous years and no-one had any issues, then I think a code of conduct will simply mirror the exemplary conduct of the previous camp's attendees. Toorcamp has been great in the past for me, I haven't personally had any issues, but I think that's no reason for me to believe a code of conduct is unnecessary. Previous replies implied that in the past there has indeed been some issues, as is inevitable in any large group situation. At the least, having a simple rule-set like this sets a strong precedent for excellent behavior. If everything is not perfect, it gives mediators a tool to reference. In the context of an attendee being reminded of these rules, the attendee will have a concrete definition of acceptable behavior which they can compare to their own actions. It doesn't mean this person is "good" or "bad". If an individual feels unsafe, they too will have a definition of acceptable behavior, and can feel confident about asking for help from organizers. I think especially, the attitude that things have been good (for me) and therefore never will be bad, adds uncertainty and discourages individuals from coming forward with issues they might be having, as they might be perceived as "too sensitive" or maybe worry that they'll ruin someone's illusion of egalitarian utopia.

It's easy to assume that having a bunch of generally decent, technically skilled people together without any rules creates a sort of utopia, but let's be honest. Even if we're all decent people, I think it does a disservice to everyone to assume that everyone attending has absolutely nothing to learn or keep in mind in the context of interacting with other people. I know I sure have in the past, and still do in many ways. We're a big group of friends, acquaintances, and strangers all here to learn and have fun. What better environment than this to also become more aware of and expand our knowledge in the area of positive, productive group interaction. We could even get intellectual about it and call it emotional intelligence and group intelligence. In reality we're just talking about a simple list which we can assume the great majority will already abide by. What's there to lose?

M K

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Jun 7, 2016, 4:16:12 AM6/7/16
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Additionally, codes of conduct are very useful for risk mitigation, both for the organizers and the attendees.

~mj

Dean Pierce

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Jun 7, 2016, 11:00:06 AM6/7/16
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> Additionally, codes of conduct are very useful for risk mitigation, both for the organizers and the attendees.

See, I keep hearing that, and I don't even disbelieve it, but is there any empirical evidence?  I really would like to hear stories from people who used a complex Code of Conduct to squelch drama in a way that would have not been possible with a simplified code of conduct and a little common sense.

I was a founding member of the BrainSilo hackerspace, and executive director for many years, and I have been a key organizer, and am current president of BSides Portland, so this isn't even a theoretical question for me.  In my experience, it was never about the rules on the wall, but more about how the leadership interacted with the community.  More specifically, it was how comfortable the community was talking with the leadership about awkward things, like the weird dude sleeping on the couch.  Does the leadership give a shit?  If yes, things will be fine, if no, then no number of rules is going to save you.

The last thing I want to do is bring Portland drama into the Toorcon community, but I think there are lessons to be learned here.  Opinions are my own from my single perspective, and don't necessarily represent anyone else's from any previous organization that I've been a part of.

First off, I'm sure there are many reasons Flux was founded, but I'm pretty sure one of the key motivators was BrainSilo's refusal to get involved with the Code of Conduct drama, and related issues around early BrainSilo leadership.  While BrainSilo stuck with "Be Excellent to Each Other", Flux was founded with a much more complex code of conduct, as mentioned earlier in this thread.  The Code of Conduct, as well as the verbiage in the mission statement made it clear that Flux was founded as a safe space for female and LGBT community members, which is great.  Unfortunately, what wasn't clear, was if anyone else was welcome.  In my opinion, the language, while well intentioned, ended up being more exclusionary than welcoming.  I have to say though, I hung out at Flux quite a few times, and every time I did, I felt welcome, and it really did provide a great atmosphere.

Now we over at BrainSilo also had a good number of female and LGBT members, as well as anarchists, and more conservative, survivalist types.  We were a very diverse group of people, racially, culturally, politically, economically, and most of the time, we all got along great.  We were all united there for our love of tech, and getting shit done in fun and creative ways.  Issues like gender politics, while important issues of our day, were simply irrelevant to the projects that we were working on, so those issues just didn't come up.  We had a "No Drama" sign on the wall that I think was actually quite effective.  People more interested in starting drama rather than working on creative projects were asked to leave.

Flux didn't last too long.  There are probably many reasons why Flux shut down.  In my outside opinion, the most prominent one was that the rent was too damn high.  However, I do think that their insistence on a membership base that came from a very narrow part of the political spectrum contributed to their inability to keep membership up.  I have also heard that there was a significant amount of political infighting, which I believe is a symptom of an overly complex rule set and leadership structure.

I really think it all comes down to leadership style.  When I'm in charge, I appreciate the flexibility and simplicity of "Be Excellent to Each Other", and in the smaller organizations I've helped run, it has been more than sufficient.  Of course I wouldn't go down to the bay area and dictate that my leadership style would work at Noisebridge, because I haven't really been involved in that community.  Likewise, I wouldn't dictate my philosophies on the Toorcon organization, which again, has been running things quite smoothly for 17 years.  Whatever David and Tim come up with, I'm sure it will only augment their leadership style, and strengthen the organization.

  - DEAN


On Jun 7, 2016 1:16 AM, "M K" <forge...@gmail.com> wrote:
Additionally, codes of conduct are very useful for risk mitigation, both for the organizers and the attendees.

~mj

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Jac Fitzgerald

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Jun 7, 2016, 5:58:48 PM6/7/16
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I've never met any of the leadership, and I shouldn't have to be their friend to figure out whether it would be worth reporting some dude who 'accidentally' gropes people whenever alcohol is served or if they would just say 'nah, he's coooooool, nobody ever complained about him before and we go way back!' Ways I could tell if they give a shit include seeing a code of conduct.  

More generally, refusing to codify rules and expectations always favors the inner circle - it pushes the work of understanding community norms onto new people and makes it riskier for them to join, especially if they aren't walking in with a shared cultural context (for your BrainSilo example - does 'being openly gay' count as starting drama? What about having a male appearance and using the female bathroom? What about dating a more established member of the group and then breaking up? Would I get kicked out for asking? Would that depend on who I asked? Do people have to just turn up and see if they're treated poorly to figure out what that means? Why would they risk that?).It allows people to (perhaps unconsciously!) selectively forgive 'preferred' members of the group or be more harsh on unknown members without scrutiny because there are no explicit standards to compare treatment, and likely no records either. It means that decisions on difficult topics are made in the instant without necessarily having the time to think 'how will this action affect the next person in this situation' or 'how does this reflect our values?'. It means that when the leadership isn't there someone else is acting on their behalf thinking  'I think I know what they would do' and you don't get to find out until later if they were right. 
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M K

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Jun 7, 2016, 6:06:45 PM6/7/16
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Mitigation as in -- a piece of defensive evidence organizers can use if there is an incident, and a means of communicating expectations to attendees.

"complex Code of Conduct"-- A Code of Conduct doesn't have to be complex. A wall poster doesn't cut it.

"squelch drama"-- It's not about drama. It's about people having an acknowledgment that behaviors that could harm/injure them won't be accepted or tolerated by the organization.

"Does the leadership give a shit?  If yes, things will be fine, if no, then no number of rules is going to save you."-- Yes, of course as with any code of conduct/ethical code/law they have to be monitored, enforced, communicated, and reinforced by leadership and culture. You can't do that if you don't have some kind of standard in place to begin with.

Otherwise, why bother with laws at all?

"Issues like gender politics, while important issues of our day, were simply irrelevant to the projects that we were working on, so those issues just didn't come up." Sincere congratulations. Not everyone or every group is so lucky.

~m

Rubin Abdi

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Jun 7, 2016, 6:47:07 PM6/7/16
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On 7 June 2016 at 08:00, Dean Pierce <pier...@gmail.com> wrote:
Issues like gender politics, while important issues of our day, were simply irrelevant to the projects that we were working on, so those issues just didn't come up.

Congratulations on your white cis penis.

Jason Scott

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Jun 7, 2016, 7:00:59 PM6/7/16
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"We were a very diverse group of people, racially, culturally, politically, economically, and most of the time, we all got along great.  We were all united there for our love of tech, and getting shit done in fun and creative ways.  Issues like gender politics, while important issues of our day, were simply irrelevant to the projects that we were working on, so those issues just didn't come up.  We had a "No Drama" sign on the wall that I think was actually quite effective."

There is no sadder duet than one member saying "It was great how it all just worked and nothing like you're describing happened" and a second, much quieter voice saying "Nobody noticed when it did."

Dean Pierce

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Jun 7, 2016, 7:20:49 PM6/7/16
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Those are definitely fair points.  I do see utility in having something to let complete outsiders know the difference between an ecstacy fueled rave and a children's petting zoo.  We were all new once.  My first year at DEFCON I didn't know anyone and had no idea what to expect.

  - DEAN

Dean Pierce

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Jun 7, 2016, 7:26:00 PM6/7/16
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Trolling mailing lists and trying to start fights is not very excellent behavior, and disrespectful gender shaming like that would definitely get you forcibly removed from any organization that I've ever had a leadership role in.

  - DEAN

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Pavel Kirkovsky

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Jun 7, 2016, 7:26:47 PM6/7/16
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On Jun 7, 2016, at 8:00 AM, Dean Pierce <pier...@gmail.com> wrote:

 I really would like to hear stories from people who used a complex Code of Conduct to squelch drama in a way that would have not been possible with a simplified code of conduct and a little common sense

What does “drama” mean in this context?
Codes of conduct are about serious issues such as assault, sexual harassment, bigotry, etc. The fact that you insist on trivializing these serious issues as “drama” speaks volumes about your thought process and level of concern.

one of the key motivators was BrainSilo’s refusal to get involved with the Code of Conduct drama,

OK, and what does “drama” mean in *this* context?


Issues like gender politics, while important issues of our day, were simply irrelevant to the projects that we were working on, so those issues just didn’t come up. We had a "No Drama" sign on the wall that I think was actually quite effective.  People more interested in starting drama rather than working on creative projects were asked to leave.

Need I remind you that one of the founders of Brainsilo (Marlin Pohlman) is literally a convicted serial rapist? And that another founder of Brainsilo vehemently defended him on the Brainsilo mailing list, insisting that it was inappropriate to bring up Marlin in the context of sexual harassment issues at the space because the trial was ongoing and he could still be proven innocent?
Marlin is serving a 6-year prison sentence and your “No Drama” sign means fuck-all.



When I’m in charge, I appreciate the flexibility and simplicity of "Be Excellent to Each Other", and in the smaller organizations I've helped run, it has been more than sufficient.

Sufficient for whom? For people who look and think and act like you, who believe that issues don’t exist because you haven’t seen any.

I thought you were better than this, Dean.




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Dean Pierce

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Jun 7, 2016, 7:51:23 PM6/7/16
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Absolutely, Marlin was a fuckup, but I think I saw him at BrainSilo
maybe a handful of times total, and every time I saw him he was on his
best behavior. He was a friend of Loki (who founded the space) and
helped in the early years by donating more than his share of
membership fees to help pay the rent. The reason why you, Pavel, were
frequently shut down by Loki is that you kept interjecting "you're
wrong because Marlin" into every thread, much as you did to this
thread. In reality, he never posed any threat to anyone at the space,
and everyone there was just as shocked and disgusted by his actions as
anyone.

- DEAN
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Kenny

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Jun 7, 2016, 8:22:08 PM6/7/16
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While Rubin's response was offensively crafted, I have to agree with at
least some of the sentiment. Specifically, a statement which reads
closely to "it didn't come up," or "it never happened" is a powerful way
to shut down anyone who would step up and address a scary issue.
Consider "I didn't see or hear about" instead. But then, if you did
actually hear about issues, I duno, that sort of puts you in a strange
communication position. I guess you forgot?

I recommend further discussion about policy happen at camp. I'm looking
forward to hearing what our fearless leaders put together and how that
will impact the openness of future Toor* events. Lets save the list for
last minute coordination efforts. Further discussion about the
not-so-shining example of BrainSilo probably doesn't belong on this list
at all.

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Jason Scott

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Jun 20, 2016, 11:12:06 AM6/20/16
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So, did action ever come of this, or was it quietly placed on the shelf until next year?

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Rob Flickenger

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Jun 20, 2016, 11:44:04 AM6/20/16
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If I recall correctly, Geo announced at the close that the Hope code of conduct would be adopted, s/hope/toorcamp/gi.

This one perhaps?

https://hope.net/codeofconduct.html

--Rob

Tim Huynh

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Jun 20, 2016, 11:53:53 AM6/20/16
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ToorCon: Information Security Conference
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Rubin Abdi

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Jun 20, 2016, 9:23:49 PM6/20/16
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On 20 June 2016 at 08:12, Jason Scott <ja...@textfiles.com> wrote:
So, did action ever come of this, or was it quietly placed on the shelf until next year?

Sadly I didn't attend the keynotes as I was too busy chasing after a deer that was intent on getting into my bag of food. I observed the new CoC wiki page a day or two later. I'm really glad that Toorcamp has adopted HOPE's CoC and will hopefully refine it over the years to better suit the community here, and to provide awareness to its attendees about it. Part of being a hacker is knowledge share on how particular tools works, and providing open mind when help is asked for. Thank you Tim, Geo, and everyone else who contributed to make this happen.

Some notes:
- A number of people came up to me during the event and thanked me for starting this conversation.
- A larger number of people came up to me to say how audacious the majority of push back on this thread sounded to such a positive thing, especially in light of recent events.
- Not a single person approached me to debate this subject, which I found pretty surprising.
- I received a few accounts of people being over heard elsewhere in camp mocking myself or the simple request this thread started off as, which I didn't find surprising.
- I had an enlighteningly sad conversation with a new friend during the first night while sitting on the hillside near the volleyball court overlooking most of the cabins, speculating how the combination of number of attendees, gender mix balance, consumption of substances, length of event, meant that most likely at least one person was probably going to get forced into a sexual situation they did not consent into and will keep quite about it afterwards. Considering much of the discussion in this thread, I feel like it would be a hard sell to anyone after they've read it to feel safe coming forward with their issues, especially before adopting a CoC.

Thanks.

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Jason Scott

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Jun 20, 2016, 10:11:26 PM6/20/16
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An excellent first step. Thanks for moving forward on it.

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