Dev Rel requires explicit ethical and social guidelines

Dev Rel Bill of Rights, Article 6


Developer Relations is one of the most strategically important roles for any company that wants to build a successful technology platform. We’re working with the community to create a Dev Rel Bill of Rights. In this article we explore article 6: Explicit ethical and social guidelines.


Developer Relations can only succeed if it’s carried out with a mind to the social impacts that technology is having on society, and explicit guidelines help ensure that responsibility is fulfilled.

As the practice matures, it’s important to be sure that Dev Rel is not just achieving its goals, but that it has the right goals. Doing so means acknowledging that technology and platforms are not neutral, but instead conform to the values of the people who create those platforms and advocate for them.

To that end, every Dev Rel team or community should create a set of guidelines for its ethical standards, its social practices, and its community goals. These guidelines should be specific enough to enable effective, consistent enforcement that will build trust over time. Organizations or companies that have a Dev Rel function must dedicate enough time and resources to developing both these guidelines and an enforcement process that makes them meaningful.

Dev Rel doesn’t just educate or lead developer culture — it can shape it, too. Well-defined rules of engagement are just as important a tool for Dev Rel as any technology or software.

Questions to ask:

  • Can everyone on a Dev Rel team and in the community see a clear, visible list of ethical guidelines, and weigh in on changes or revisions to those guidelines?
  • Does the community or organization behind the Dev Rel effort have an explicit, defined process for enforcing the guidelines or holding community members accountable for transgressions against them?
  • Are new initiatives and efforts validated against these guidelines before they’re launched, to ensure conformance with the community’s ethical intentions?

Read the original Dev Rel Bill of Rights and discover the other articles in this series. And check out Glitch for Platforms, where we’re building the first set of business analytics tools for Dev Rel professionals.