Michael Schwern has withdrawn as a speaker from YAPC::NA 2013 because he does not believe that the conference organizers will enforce the conference’s published Code of Conduct. This is based in part on a discussion (fight? spat? brawl?) that happened on the irc.perl.org #yapc IRC channel recently. The transcript of said discussion is probably worth reading before going further. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Okay, now that you read that particular piece of unpleasantness, I’ll offer my take on this mess. People have asked me about this because I’ve been a vocal advocate of having a Code of Conduct. I still stand by my earlier position that I will not attend a conference without one.
So what’s going on here? My reading of the IRC transcript is that everyone involved acted pretty badly. Capnleela’s tone was completely unhelpful. Giving summary orders to volunteers is just going to piss people off, and lo and behold, it sure did. How about opening with something like this …
Hey, toddr, I’m really concerned about having game night near this Bikini Sports Bar. That place seems really creepy and inappropriate for a YAPC. Is the venue you’re looking at part of the same building? Will people coming to game night have to see a big sign for Austin’s “breastaurant”?
Apeiron missed a great opportunity to take the higher ground and try to defuse a situation. Instead, he responded to obnioxiousness with more obnoxiousness. This is made worse by the fact that he’s an IRC op, so he has a position of power. With great power … blah blah blah. How about something like this …
Hi, capnleela, I understand you’re upset, and I get that this is a tense issue. However, I feel like you’re giving orders rather than asking for a discussion, and that’s a bit off-putting. Maybe you could rephrase things differently and just state your concerns first?
Kyriel should have been kicked from the channel pretty much immediately. She was trolling and doing everything in her power to make a tense situation worse. I have no alternate wording for kyriel.
That all said, capnleela’s concern about the game night venue was legitimate, but apparently misplaced, since from what I can tell, the issue had already been resolved by the time this IRC fight broke out.
But does any of this rise to the level of a CoC-violating offense? Maybe, maybe not. Not all arguments, even heated ones, are CoC violations. Should the CoC be enforced on the #yapc channel a few weeks before the conference? Well, I wish everyone on IRC would be nicer all the time, and IRC is often a cesspool of nastiness, but the #yapc channel is not really an official part of the conference, and it’s not controlled by the YAPC::NA admins. What about TPF’s role in this? They don’t run the channel either, so I don’t see what they can do.
Will the CoC be enforced this year? Here’s an IRc exchange I had with Todd Rinaldo, one of this year’s YAPC::NA organizers, on the topic:
(20:46:04) autarch: toddr: I assume you do intend to enforce the CoC at the conference
(20:46:19) autarch: and I see the problems with asking for it to be enforced on #yapc
outside the conference time frame
(20:46:35) toddr: I have no problem enforcing it at the conference.
I’m satisfied that the conference organizers take the CoC seriously and intend to enforce it at the conference.
Personally, I think the community has made good progress over the past two years towards adopting and living up to higher standards of behavior. The past three YAPCs have had clear, well-written Codes of Conduct. I also see people stepping up and moderating flame wars on the IRC channels more often. I submitted a patch to the YAPC Code of Conduct repo for next year’s YAPC to add a report handling procedure for YAPC staff which I hope to see published along with the CoC next year.
I still think we can do better, but social change requires incremental progress, and we’ll never satisfy everyone, me included.