This is the enforcement manual followed by Software and Data Carpentry’s (“the Carpentries”) Policy subcommittee. It’s used when we respond to an issue to make sure we’re consistent and fair. It should be considered an internal document, but we’re publishing it publicly in the interests of transparency. Enforcement of the Code of Conduct should be respectful and not include any harassing behaviors.
The Policy Subcommittee
All responses to reports of conduct violations will be managed by a Policy Subcommittee (“the committee”). The Carpentry steering committees will jointly establish this committee, comprised of at least three members. One member will be designated chair of the group and will be responsible for all reports back to the steering committees. The steering committees will review membership on an annual basis.
How the committee will respond to reports
When a report is sent to the committee they will immediately reply to the report to confirm receipt. This reply must be sent within 24 hours, and the committee should strive to respond much more quickly than that. See the reporting guidelines for details of what reports should contain. If a report doesn’t contain enough information, the committee will attempt to obtain all relevant data before acting. The committee is empowered to act on the behalf of the Carpentries in contacting any individuals involved to get a more complete account of events. The committee is also empowered to act if any of its members become aware of ongoing behaviour that, taken as a whole over a long time period, is disrupting or harassing. Such behaviour might not be “over the line” in any single incident, and thus may not generate a report.
Urgent Situations: Acting Unilaterally
If the incident involves physical danger, or involves a threat to anyone’s safety (e.g. threats of violence), any member of the committee may – and should – act unilaterally to protect safety. This can include contacting law enforcement (or other local personnel) and speaking on behalf of the Carpentries. If the act is ongoing, any committee member may act immediately, before reaching consensus, to diffuse the situation. In ongoing situations, any member may at their discretion employ any of the tools available to the committee, including bans and blocks. In situations where an individual committee member acts unilaterally, they must inform the other committee members as soon as possible, and report their actions to the committee for review within 24 hours.
Upon receiving a report of an incident, the committee, or at least three members, will review the incident and determine, to the best of their ability:
- whether this is an ongoing situation
- whether there is a threat to anyone’s physical safety
- what happened
- whether this event constitutes a code of conduct violation
- who, if anyone, was the bad actor
This information will be collected in writing, and whenever possible the committee’s deliberations will be recorded and retained (i.e. email discussions, recorded voice conversations, etc). These records will be made available to the Carpentry steering committees and executive staff.
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.
The committee must agree on a resolution by consensus of all members investigating the report in question. If the committee cannot reach consensus and deadlocks for over a week, they will turn the matter over to the appropriate steering committee for resolution.
Possible responses may include:
- Taking no further action (if we determine no violation occurred).
- A private reprimand from the committee to the individual(s) involved. In this case, the committee chair will deliver that reprimand to the individual(s) over email, cc’ing the group.
- A public announcement of an incident, ideally in the same venue that the violation occurred (i.e. on the listserv for a listserv violation; GitHub for a GitHub violation, etc.). The committee may choose to publish this message elsewhere for posterity.
- An imposed vacation (i.e. asking someone to “take a week off” from a listserv or the Carpentries’ GitHub repos). The committee chair will communicate this “vacation” to the individual(s). They’ll be asked to take this vacation voluntarily, but if they don’t agree then a temporary ban may be imposed to enforce this vacation.
- A permanent or temporary ban from some or all Carpentry spaces (listservs, GitHub, in-person events including workshops, etc). The committee will maintain records of all such bans so that they may be reviewed in the future, extended to new Carpentry communication forums, or otherwise maintained.
- Assistance to the complainant with a report to other bodies, for example, institutional offices or appropriate law enforcement agencies.
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.
Finally the committee will make a report to the appropriate Carpentry steering committee, as well as the Carpentry directorship in the event of an ongoing resolution, such as a ban.
The Policy committee will never publicly discuss the details of the issue; all public statements will be made by the appropriate Carpentry steering committee.
At the end of every quarter, the Steering Committees will publish an aggregated count of the incidents the Policy Subcommittee dealt with, indicating how many reports it received, how many incidents it investigated independently, how many times it acted unilaterally, and for each of these which under part of the Code of Conduct the incident was classified.
Conflicts of Interest
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.
This document is adapted from guidelines written by the Django Project, which was itself based on the Ada Initiative template and the PyCon 2013 Procedure for Handling Harassment Incidents. Contributors to this document: Adam Obeng, Aleksandra Pawlik, Bill Mills, Carol Willing, Erin Becker, Hilmar Lapp, Kara Woo, Karin Lagesen, Pauline Barmby, Sheila Miguez, Simon Waldman, Tracy Teal.
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