Draft Code of Conduct for Meetups (Write The Docs PDX)



Based on some discussion in the related Slack channel, a few of us have been talking about codes of conduct. I’ve looked at several, and they’re all based on conferences. Well, a meetup is not a conference. Furthermore, most codes of conduct IMO qualify as “walls of text”.

Eric suggested something simple, based on the “Short Version” of the main Write The Docs code of conduct, and I have edited it here.

I invite your comments. (My tentative plan is to show this at our Tuesday Sept 8 Write The Docs PDX Meetup, before posting it on the Write The Docs PDX Meetup site.)


The Write the Docs PDX Meetup Group is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of meetup participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any meetup venue, including talks. Meetup participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the event and/or meetup group without a refund at the discretion of the Write The Docs PDX Meetup organizers.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a meetup / event organizer immediately.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer, and this code of conduct has not been vetted by anyone with legal training (at least as far as I know)


Thanks for doing this, Mike. I think this can serve as a template for other WtD groups too. If making an unambiguous declaration about the kind of community we want to be isn’t in the spirit of Write the Docs, well, then I don’t know what is.

One thing I’d like to add: if you’re organizing a meet up and you use this template, be sure to include your organizer(s)'s contact information, if you haven’t shared it elsewhere. Sometimes it’s not easy to approach an organizer in person, so providing an alternative, like email, is good idea.

Not being in the PDX area, I’d love to hear about what feedback you receive (if any) after your upcoming meetup.


Thanks Dan. For contact info, I think I’m going to include (maybe embed) a link to the PM function of the Meetup group. We’ll see how it goes on Tuesday

If anyone here has legal training, I would appreciate advice on this subject.


Just to play the opposite side of the coin, is this such a problem at meetups? I read the code of conduct for the conference prior to attending last May and based on its content, I thought I was going to a wild west shootout where any number of hostile characters might show up.

My actual experience was that everyone was civil and polite and no one brought up my age (I was a little concerned going in that I’d the the only one in attendance with a significant amount of gray in his hair) or anything else about me.

Has there been a history of harassment and abuse at WTD conferences and meetups?


Hi tripwire45,

I don’t know the answer to your question. All I know is that I personally know of no such complaints within the WTD community. Then why a Code of Conduct? There’s a general push in the “industry” for such.

I like the idea of helping ensure a safe environment. That’s why I’ve put out my draft CoC.

I know I’m concerned about doing this without legal vetting. And when I ask the question about such, the answer I’m getting is that nobody else (with one possibly big name exception) is getting legal vetting either. As far as I know, among everyone who is saying (in essence) “don’t worry”, there are 0 people with legal training. That bothers me, a lot.

I’m overloaded. I know I would like others to help with the Write The Docs PDX Meetup group, that I’m just one person, and that I have little extra bandwidth. And I’m definitely feeling the (is this the right term?) “peer pressure”.


Hi :smile:

Sadly (or luckily, I guess) I can’t help with the legal part but you mentioned that you exclusively found conference-focused CoCs so far. Perhaps the Berlin Code of Conduct offers some additional inspiration :smile:


It is very much on the explicit side and aimed also at meetups. It also mentions what should be done if you’re potentially incorrectly accused of violating the CoC, albeit not going into much detail here.


@tripwire45 I’m curious what made you think that having a Code of Conduct meant that the venue wasn’t a safe space? We try to set the tone of being inclusive and open to everyone (in the opening address, as well as communication), but perhaps we are also scaring some folks away!

Is there something we could be doing to make sure that we message this to make it more obvious that we don’t expect incidents, but are setting the tone of behavior that is expected at the event?


@mikejang I’m curious why you are so uneasy about the legal issues around Code of Conducts? Is there anything that you have read that having a Code of Conduct would increase liability in any way? Are you worried that having a policy in place and not following it would increase liability? I think that having a specific response document is actually more important than having the Code of Conduct in the first place.

Our response policy is sent to all volunteers, and you should also look into having something similar: http://www.writethedocs.org/code-of-conduct-response/

I know that Pycon has specific lawyers on staff, and other events like OSCON, and they have adopted Codes of Conduct. Do you need a specific legal review for you to feel safe having one? Specifically, I feel more legally exposed without a CofC, rather than with one, so I’m curious why you feel more legally exposed with one.


I’ve followed up on Twitter as well asking some of the event folks I know:



First, to reiterate, I do plan to put the code of conduct that I stated into place.

Eric, thanks so much for your twitter question on the subject. I’ve asked separately, and I’m encouraged by this response by the head of OSI, ref https://twitter.com/webmink/status/640104108066795520

If/when I have time, I’d like to follow up with Simon’s suggestion on that, I think on the following OSI working group: http://wiki.opensource.org/bin/Projects/TLDR+Legal

I’d be more appreciative if someone else were to take the ball on that – potential benefits

  1. A code of conduct that has been vetted legally
  2. A code of conduct that is (potentially) endorsed by the OSI
  3. A standard code of conduct that events, usergroups and meetups could potentially link to / drop into place.

(Having read several CoC’s, it feels to me like everyone is “reinventing the wheel”; my guess is that can lead to legal holes based on conflicts between CoCs. IMO, we need a legally vetted standard CoC, thus my analogy to licensing, and why I tweeted my question to OSI and FSF.)

Thanks for your link to the volunteer CoC response policy, I’ll definitely consider it.


I’d never seen such a detailed code of conduct for any meeting I’ve attended in the past. Frankly, it caught me by surprise and I wondered if, like disclaimer statements we find on many products, the code was based on some past experience.