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The Open Book Collective (OBC) is a community-led and community-focused project. We value the involvement of everyone in our community, and to enable this we are committed to creating a friendly and respectful environment for our online platform and other operations. All participants in our platform, at our meetings, and in other communications are expected to show respect and courtesy to others.
The Open Book Collective is dedicated to providing a welcoming and supportive environment for all people, regardless of background or identity. We believe our community should be as diverse, inclusive, and accessible as possible. We want our community to be a positive, safe and healthy environment for anyone who joins and we pledge to make participation in our community a harassment-free experience for everyone. As such, we do not tolerate behaviour that is disrespectful or that excludes, intimidates, or causes discomfort to others. We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment based on characteristics that include, but are not limited to, gender identity, orientation, and expression, sexual orientation, visible or invisible disability, physical appearance, body size, citizenship, nationality, ethnic or social origin, pregnancy, familial status, veteran status, genetic information, religion or belief (or lack thereof), membership of a national minority, property, age, education, socio-economic status, technical choices, and experience level. We are committed to ensuring that this remains so, including by embracing this Code of Conduct and revisiting it for updates as needed. In short, to protect our values against those who damage or distort them, we pledge to act and interact in ways that contribute to an open, welcoming, diverse, inclusive community focused on the well-being of its members.
This Code of Conduct defines a minimum set of guidelines of expected and unacceptable behaviour.
To make clear what is expected, everyone participating in the Open Book Collective’s activities or using the Open Book Collective online platform is required to abide by the Code of Conduct. It applies equally to everyone who interacts with and contributes to the Collective and online platform without exceptions (e.g. we will make no exceptions based on standing, skills or accomplishments in Open Book Collective projects or projects closely connected to the Open Book Collective, such as COPIM and/or Thoth). This includes all members of the OBC Board of Stewards and Membership Committee, all OBC Custodians (Associate and Full), and all other users of the OBC platform and spaces including External Advisors. By participating in this community, participants accept to abide by the OBC’s Code of Conduct and accept the procedures by which any Code of Conduct incidents are resolved. This applies to all technical spaces, in- person and virtual events, as well as the following instances:
private, public and semi-public interactions
disagreements and expressions of solidarity across community members
issues of technical development
aspects of content contribution
cases of representing affiliates/communities with external partners
This Code of Conduct applies to all spaces managed by the OBC including, but not limited to, OBC email lists and online fora such as GitHub, Nextcloud, Mattermost, PubPub, Cryptpad, Big Blue Button, Edumeet, Zoom, Jitsi, MS Teams, Twitter, and any other fora created by the project team which the community uses for communication and exchange. In addition, violations of this code outside these spaces may affect a person's ability to participate within them. This Code of Conduct also applies when an individual is officially representing the OBC community in public spaces. Examples of representing our community include using an official e-mail address, posting via an official social media account, or acting as an appointed representative at an online or offline event.
By participating, participants and OBC members indicate their acceptance of the procedures by which the OBC resolves any Code of Conduct incidents, which may include storage and processing of their personal information.
Any form of behaviour to exclude, intimidate, or cause discomfort is a violation of the Code of Conduct. In order to foster a positive and professional learning environment we encourage examples of the following kinds of behaviours that contributes to a positive environment for our community in all platforms and events:
Use welcoming and inclusive language;
Be careful in the words that you choose;
Be friendly and patient;
Be respectful of different viewpoints, opinions, and experiences;
Show courtesy and respect towards other community members;
Demonstrate empathy and kindness towards other people;
Give and gracefully accept constructive criticism and feedback;
Accept responsibility and apologise to those affected by our mistakes, and learn from the
Focus on what is best not just for us as individuals, but for the overall community
In all OBC spaces and events, behaviour will be founded in respect, civility, collegiality, solidarity, and good citizenship. This applies to all contributors and participants in their interaction with all contributors and participants.
Your work will be used by other people, and you in turn will depend on the work of others. Any decision you take will affect users and colleagues, and you should take those consequences into account when making decisions. Remember that we're an international community, so you might not be communicating in someone else's primary language.
Not all of us will 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.
Members of the OBC community should be respectful when dealing with other members as well as with people outside the OBC community. In communicating with people, whether in online or offline OBC environments, we will treat each other with mutual respect.
Mutual respect includes following these practices:
• Practice empathy. Listen and try to understand what OBC members of different backgrounds want to tell you. Be ready to challenge and adapt your own understanding, expectations and behaviour as a OBC member.
Assume good faith and engage in constructive discussion. Your contributions should improve the quality of the project or community. Provide and receive feedback kindly and in good faith. Criticism should be delivered in a sensitive and constructive manner.
Respect the way that community members name and describe
themselves. People may use specific terms to describe themselves. As a sign of respect, use these terms when communicating with or about these people, where linguistically or technically feasible. Examples include:
Ethnic groups may use a specific name to describe themselves, rather than the name historically used by others;
People may have names that use letters, sounds, or words from their language which may be unfamiliar to you;
People who identify with a certain sexual orientation or gender identity may use distinct names, or pronouns;
People having a particular physical or mental disability may use particular terms to describe themselves
Welcome everyone. During in-person meetings, we will be welcoming to everyone and we will be mindful and respectful of each others’ preferences, boundaries, sensibilities, traditions, and requirements.
This includes but is not limited to:
Mentorship and coaching. Helping newcomers to find their way and acquire essential skills.
Looking out for fellow community members. Lending them a hand when they need support, and speaking up for them when they are treated in a way that falls short of expected behaviour as per the Code of Conduct.
Recognising and credit the work done by fellow members. Thanking them for their help and work. Appreciating their efforts and give credit where it is due.
We are a community of professionals, and we conduct ourselves professionally. Be kind and respectful to others. Do not insult or put down other participants. Public or private harassment and other types of exclusionary behaviour are not acceptable.
Examples of unacceptable behaviour include, but are not limited to:
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 other forms of intimidation;
Non-consensual or unwelcome physical contact;
Sustained disruption of talks, events, or communications;
Incitement to violence, suicide, or self-harm;
Insults or put downs;
Violent threats or language directed against another person;
Discriminatory jokes and language (e.g., sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, or exclusionary jokes);
Posting sexually explicit or violent material;
Trolling, insulting, or derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks;
Publishing (or threatening to publish) other people's personally identifying information, such as physical or digital information without reasonable project or work-specific relevancy ("doxing");
Continuing to initiate interaction (including photography or recording) with someone after being asked to stop;
Repeated public or private harassment (further details see below) of others. In general, if someone asks you to stop, then stop;
Publication of private communication without consent;
Personal insults, especially those using racist or sexist terms;
Unwelcome sexual attention;
The use of sexualised language or imagery, sexual attention, or sexual advances of any kind;
Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behaviour.
Disagreements, both social and technical, happen all the time. It is important that we resolve disagreements and differing views constructively. Remember that we are different. The strength of the OBC comes from its varied community, inclusive of people from a wide range of backgrounds . Different people have different perspectives on issues. Being unable to understand why someone holds a viewpoint does not mean that they are wrong. Don’t forget that it is human to err, and blaming each other does not get us anywhere. Instead, focus on collectively helping to resolve issues and learning from mistakes.
This includes any behaviour intended primarily to intimidate, outrage, or upset a person, or any behaviour where this would reasonably be considered the most likely main outcome. Behaviour can be considered harassment if it is beyond what a reasonable person would be expected to tolerate in a global, intercultural environment. Harassment often takes the form of emotional abuse, especially towards people who are in a vulnerable position, and may include contacting workplaces or friends and family members in an effort to intimidate or embarrass someone. In some cases, behaviour that would not rise to the level of harassment in a single case can become harassment through repetition.
Harassment includes but is not limited to:
Insults. This includes name calling, using slurs or stereotypes, and any attacks based on personal characteristics. Insults may refer to perceived characteristics like intelligence, appearance, ethnicity, race, religion (or lack thereof), culture, caste, sexual orientation, gender, sex, disability, age, nationality, political affiliation, or other identity characteristics. In some cases, repeated mockery, sarcasm, or aggression constitute insults collectively, even if individual statements would not;
Sexual harassment. Sexual attention or advances of any kind towards others where the person knows or reasonably should know that the attention is unwelcome or in situations where consent cannot be communicated;
Threats. Explicitly or implicitly suggesting the possibility of physical violence, unfair embarrassment, unfair and unjustified reputational harm, or intimidation by suggesting gratuitous legal action to win an argument or force someone to behave the way you want;
Encouraging harm to others. This includes encouraging someone else to commit self- harm or suicide as well as encouraging someone to conduct violent attacks on a third party;
Disclosure of personal data (Doxing). Sharing other contributors' private information, such as name, place of employment, physical or email address without their explicit consent either in OBC spaces elsewhere, or sharing information concerning their OBC activity outside the Collective spaces;
Hounding. Following a person across the Collective space(s) and repeatedly critiquing their contributions mainly with the intent to upset or discourage them;
Trolling. Deliberately disrupting conversations or posting in bad-faith to intentionally provoke.
Abuse occurs when someone in a real or perceived position of power, privilege, or influence engages in disrespectful, cruel, and/or violent behaviour towards other people. In OBC environments, it may take the form of verbal or psychological abuse and may overlap with harassment. This includes:
Abuse of office by functionaries, officials and staff. The use of authority, knowledge, or resources at the disposal of designated functionaries, to intimidate or threaten others;
Abuse of seniority and connections. Using one's position and reputation to intimidate others. We expect people with significant experience and connections in the movement to behave with special care because hostile comments from them may carry an unintended backlash. People with community authority have a particular privilege to be viewed as reliable and should not abuse this privilege to attack others who disagree with them;
Psychological manipulation. Maliciously causing someone to doubt their own perceptions, senses, or understanding with the objective to win an argument, or force someone to behave the way you want.
The OBC Code of Conduct Committee is responsible for enforcing the Code of Conduct. It can be contacted by emailing the Chair (email@example.com) or the current members (see below).
All reports will be reviewed by the Code of Conduct Committee according to our Enforcement Guidelines (see below) and will be kept confidential. A report guarantees review, but not necessarily that an action will be taken.
If you are attending a physical OBC meeting or event, or participating via our online platform or an on online events or communication channels and believe someone is in physical danger, please ask the meeting host or another community member to contact the appropriate emergency responders (police, crisis hotline, etc.). Prior to an OBC in-person meeting or event or virtual meeting or event, organisers should determine emergency contact numbers and local procedures.
If you believe someone violated the Code of Conduct during an OBC event or in an OBC online space, we ask that you report it. If you are not sure if the incident happened in an OBC governed space, we ask that you still report the incident. You are encouraged to submit your report by emailing Judith Fathallah, the current Chair of the Code of Conduct committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Chair will follow the usual enforcement process with the other committee members, but will exclude the member(s) that the report concerns from any discussion or decision making. If your report concerns the current Chair of the committee, please send your report to any of the other CoC Committee members, currently
Joe Deville (email@example.com)
Francesca Corazza (firstname.lastname@example.org)
who will follow the usual enforcement process with the other committee members, but will exclude the Chair. You are welcome to report an incident anonymously. If you would like someone to follow-up with you about the progress of your incident report however, you would need to provide contact information.
All reports will be kept confidential with details shared only with the Code of Conduct committee members. In the case that a CoC committee member is involved in a report, the member will be asked to recuse themselves from ongoing conversations, and they will not have access to reports after the enforcement decision has been made. Resolution action may also include removal of that member from the CoC committee.
Some incidents happen in one-on-one interactions, and though details are anonymised, the reported person may be able to guess who made the report. If you have concerns about retaliation or your personal safety, please note those concerns in your report. You are still encouraged to report the incident so that we can support you while keeping our community members safe. In some cases, we can compile several anonymised reports into a pattern of behaviour, and take action on that pattern.
The Code of Conduct committee may determine that a public statement should be made about the incident and/or the action taken. If that is the case, the identities of all reporters and reportees will remain confidential unless those individuals instruct the CoC committee otherwise.
In your report please include:
Your contact info (optional — so we can get in touch with you if we need to follow up);
Names (real, nicknames, or pseudonyms) of any individuals involved. If there were other witnesses besides you, please try to include them as well;
When and where the incident occurred. Please be as specific as possible;
Your account of what occurred. If there is a publicly available record (e.g. a mailing list archive) please include a link to that record;
Any extra context you believe existed for the incident;
If you believe this incident is ongoing;
Any other information you believe we should have.
Following Up with Reporter(s): Once a report is received from the email address provided above, the Code of Conduct committee will handle the review and follow up according to the procedures in the Enforcement Guidelines (see below). You will receive an email from the CoC Committee acknowledging receipt within 24 working hours.
The Committee will meet as soon as possible to review the incident and determine:
Whether this event constitutes a Code of Conduct violation;
Who the bad actor was;
Whether this is an isolated incident, an ongoing situation, or if there is a threat to anyone's physical safety.
The committee is empowered to act on the OBC's behalf in contacting any individuals involved to get a more complete account of events. If this is determined to be an ongoing incident or a threat to physical safety, the working groups' immediate priority will be to protect everyone involved. This means we may delay an "official" response until we believe that the situation has ended and that everyone is physically safe.
Once the Committee has a complete account of the events they will make a decision as to how to respond. The committee should aim to have a resolution agreed upon within one week. In the event that a resolution can't be determined in that time, the committee will respond to the reporter(s) with an update and projected timeline for resolution. Once the committee has determined their final action, they will contact the original reporter to let them know what action (if any) they will be taking. They will take into account feedback from the reporter on the appropriateness of their response, but they don't guarantee they will act on it.
This information will be collected in writing, and whenever possible or appropriate the committee's deliberations will be recorded and retained (i.e. email discussions, recorded voice conversations, etc.).
Participants who are asked to stop any inappropriate behaviour are expected to comply immediately. This applies to any OBC 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, or engage OBC’s Code of Conduct Committee to investigate the Code of Conduct violation and impose appropriate sanctions.
All OBC community members should feel empowered to enforce the Code of Conduct. Ideally, we would all be able to defuse an incident. In practice, we have varying comfort with situations depending on our current experience and the environment. Below are ways that you can be supportive and steps that you can take during or after an incident.
If you can, move from being a bystander to being a Code of Conduct first responder. If you see something inappropriate happening, speak up. If you don’t feel comfortable intervening, but feel someone should, please submit a report in person to a workshop host or instructor or via the email address provided above to the Code of Conduct committee.
Depending on the severity and/or details of the incident, an immediate response may be required. If an incident involves physical danger or involves a threat to anyone’s safety (e.g. threats of violence), any member of the community may – and should – act immediately to protect the safety of others. This can include contacting emergency or crisis resources.
Assess whether you need a first-responder (law enforcement, etc.) to immediately respond to the incident. If so, ask the reporter to stay with you and dial the appropriate emergency response number;
If there is any general threat to participants and/or the safety of anyone attending an OBC event, contact the emergency response number established;
If individuals are physically safe, contact law enforcement or security only at the reporter’s request;
Follow any local guidelines for handling incidents, including if you have a legal reporting role;
Individuals reported often get upset, defensive, or deny the report. Allow them to give any additional details about the incident. However, remember:
It does not matter if they did not intend to hurt anyone; their behaviour still impacted participants negatively;
It is not your job to reassure or forgive them;
Do not allow the reported person to make an apology to the reporter or impacted person.
Often an apology centres the reported person’s feelings and not the person who was impacted. You may accept their apology and offer to pass it on, but you’re not required to if you think it would negatively impact the reporter.
All responses to reports of conduct violations will be managed by the OBC Code of Conduct Committee. This section outlines the Incident Response Procedure and Enforcement Guidelines followed by the OBC Code of Conduct Committee once an incident report is received by emailing the committee (see below). These guidelines are used when the Committee reviews and resolves incidents to ensure consistency, transparency, and fairness.
The committee must agree on a resolution by the majority of all members investigating the incident in question. If the committee cannot reach a majority decision and deadlocks for over one week, they will turn the matter over to the OBC Board of Stewards for resolution.
What follows are examples of possible resolutions to an incident report. This list is not comprehensive, and the OBC Code of Conduct Committee reserves the right to take any action it deems necessary to resolve an incident. Possible resolutions to an incident include:
Taking no further action, if the Code of Conduct committee determined there was no breach in the Code of Conduct;
A private verbal reprimand from the committee/a committee member to the individual(s) involved. This conversation may happen in person, over video conference call, or by phone. The committee/a committee member will write a short report of the conversation to be shared with the reportee for verification purposes and then shared with the Committee and maintained on record in a private CoC Committee folder on the OBC Nextcloud;
A private emailed reprimand from the committee or a committee member to the individual(s) involved providing clarity around the nature of the violation and an explanation of why the behaviour was inappropriate. The committee/a committee member will deliver a reprimand to the individual(s) over email, cc’ing the Code ofConduct Committee;
A public announcement of an incident. In this case, a committee member will deliver that reprimand ideally in the same venue that the violation occurred (e.g., on Mattermost for a Mattermost violation). The Committee may choose to publish this message elsewhere for posterity;
An imposed suspension (i.e., asking someone to “take a week off” from OBC meetings and communication channels). The Committee/a committee member will communicate this suspension to the reportee. The suspension includes no interaction with the people involved, including unsolicited interaction with those enforcing the Code of Conduct, for a specified period of time. The reportee will be asked to take this suspension voluntarily, but
if they do not agree, then a temporary ban may be imposed to enforce this suspension.
A permanent or temporary ban from some or all OBC spaces (platform, meetings, other
events, communication channels, etc.) The CoC committee will maintain records of all such bans so that they may be reviewed in the future, extended to new communication forums, or otherwise maintained.
A request for a public or private apology. A committee member will deliver this request. The committee may, if it chooses, attach "strings" to this request: for example, the committee may ask a violator to apologise in order to retain their membership on a mailing list.
Requiring that the reportee avoid any interaction with, and physical proximity to, another person for the remainder of the OBC event;
Ending a contribution that violates the Code of Conduct early;
Not allowing a speaker who violated the Code of Conduct to give (further) contributions at
OBC meetings and/or events now or in the future;
Requiring that the reportee not volunteer for positions in future OBC events and/or
meetings either indefinitely or for a certain time period determined by the Committee;
Requiring that the reportee refund any travel grant funding they received;
Requiring that the reportee immediately leave a meeting/event and not return;
Immediately ending any volunteer responsibilities and privileges the reportee holds.
Once a resolution is agreed upon, but before it is enacted, the committee will contact the original reporter and any other affected parties and explain the proposed resolution. The committee will ask if this resolution is acceptable, and must note feedback for the record. However, the committee is not required to act on this feedback.
When following up with the reportee, the CoC Committee representatives will:
Explain that an incident was reported that involves the reportee; In this explanation, the focus will be on the impact of their behaviour, not their intent;
Reiterate the Code of Conduct and that their behaviour was deemed inappropriate;
Provide concrete examples of how they can improve their behaviour;
Give them the opportunity to state their view of the incident;
Remind them of the consequences of their behaviour, or future consequences if the
behaviour is repeated;
Explain the possible resolutions that may be enforced should the Committee determine there is a breach.
Finally, the Committee will make a report for the Board of Stewards in the event of an ongoing resolution, such as a termed suspension or ban. In case the incident or report involves a current member of the Board of Stewards, the committee will provide the report only to the other Board members.
Any individual(s) involved in a Code of Conduct report handled by CoC committee has the right to appeal a decision made by the committee. An appeal can be made directly to the Committee members or to the Chair by sending an email with the subject line Code of Conduct Incident Appeal. Appeals can be requested up to 30 days after a resolution has been determined.
The email should include documentation related to the incident to support the appeal. The said documentation may include, but does not have to be limited to:
Information from the reportee justifying the reasoning for the appeal;
Letters of support from community members;
Statements from other individuals involved in the incident to support the appeal.
The CoC committee will submit a report to the OBC Board of Stewards in the event of an ongoing resolution, such as a termed suspension or ban.
At the end of every year, the Board of Stewards will publish an aggregated count of the incidents the Code of Conduct Committee has reviewed, indicating how many reports it received, how many incidents it investigated independently, how many times it acted unilaterally, and, for each of these, under which part of the Code of Conduct the incident was classified.
In the event of any conflict of interest (a committee member, their family member, or someone with whom the committee member has a close academic or employment relationship is involved in a complaint), the committee member must immediately notify the other members and recuse themselves if necessary.
In the case that a CoC member is involved in a report, the member will be asked to recuse themselves from ongoing conversations, and they will not have access to reports after the enforcement decision has been made. Resolution action may also include removal of that member from the Code of Conduct committee.
This CoC was first published on 26/08/2022. Subsequent edits will be documented in this section.
This document is adapted from the COPIM project Code of Conduct, which was itself adapted from guidelines written by
Contributor Covenant: https://www.contributor-covenant.org
The Carpentries CoC
Django Project: https://www.djangoproject.com/conduct/ which was itself based on the Ada Initiative template and the PyCon 2013 Procedure for Handling Harassment Incidents.
The Speak Up! project:
We further consulted:
Geek Feminism: Overview and comparison of different codes of conduct within open source projects: https://geekfeminism.wikia.org/wiki/Code_of_conduct_evaluations
Open Source Guide: https://opensource.guide/code-of-conduct/
Ada Initiative: https://adainitiative.org/2014/02/18/howto-design-a-code-of-conduct-for-your-community/
Contributors to the initial document are Janneke Adema, Eileen Joy, Samuel Moore, Tobias Steiner, Lidia Uziel, and Judith Fathallah.
A download option for this document is available on the top right of this page.
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