Give your Meetup a Code of Conduct

And request one if you’re not an organizer

Codes of conduct (CoC’s) are now commonplace in tech conferences. They are a useful way to let all organizers and attendees know what is acceptable behavior within a conference, how to inform appropriate people if the CoC is being breached, and what the implications are of such a breach.

One significant benefit to CoC’s is that they increase safety for those folk from under-represented groups who might be at heightened risk of harassment. Whenever I’ve talked to people from such groups about codes of conduct they have always had positive opinions about the existence of such policies.

While CoC’s are common at conferences, and in some online communities like large open source projects, I haven’t seen them too often at meetup groups. I think this is a situation that can be improved, and the gains we’ve had by using CoC’s in conferences can be spread to meetups.

I’ve recently created CoC’s for the two meetup groups I help organize, and I encourage the organizers of other tech meetups to do similarly. It doesn’t take too long to create a CoC, and if you’re committed to the well-being of your community then you shouldn’t find the ongoing championing and supporting of your CoC too onerous either. I also recommend that if you’re an attendee of a meetup, that you request that your organizers create a CoC for the event & community if one does not exist. Feel free to link them to this article.

Here are the key parts to a CoC as I see them:

  • An overview of the group’s values regarding harassment
  • Details of the type of conduct that is required of all members of the group
  • Implications for a breach of the CoC
  • Contact details of all people who can help in the event that someone wishes to report a breach of the CoC, or has concerns in general regarding conduct.

There are, of course, nuances and areas that can make one CoC better than another (like having several contacts, from various representations) but these above points are the main ones to consider. And of course it goes without saying that a CoC needs to be enforced should a breach be noted, otherwise it loses its value entirely.

It would be great if Meetup.com could help with setting up CoC’s, in much the same way that Github helps with picking an open-source license, but until then I refer you to some examples below.