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Re: [Debconf-discuss] Code of Conduct violations handling process

On Wed, Sep 03, 2014 at 12:29:36PM +0100, Ian Jackson wrote:
> I think more guidance for the teams involved would be helpful.  The
> Debconf and Debian CoC statements are too difficult to amend.  The DC
> and Debian teams should develop a process document which those
> responsible would use to guide their actions.

> That document should:

>  * Give some examples of behaviours with in each case the appropriate
>    response.  This will greatly assist the decisionmaking team.

Has the decisionmaking team indicated that they have any difficulty making
decisions in the absence of such a guide?

I think this recommendation is motivated by a disagreement with the outcome
of the complaint you raised because they did not side with you, and not out
of any genuine sympathy for their supposed plight.

>  * Say who is responsible for dealing with complaints about bad
>    behaviour occurring at (or associated with) Debian conferences and
>    meetings.

  "Complaints can be made to the organizers by contacting the registration
  desk or emailing antiharassment@debian.org.  All complaints made to event
  organizers will remain confidential and be taken seriously.  The complaint
  will be treated appropriately and with discretion."

This doesn't seem ambiguous to me?

In the particular incident prompting this thread, I understand that you sent
a mail to antiharassment@debian.org; and that you subsequently followed up
with a member of the antiharassment team in person, who told you that they
did not consider the incident at hand a CoC violation and did not intend to
take any further action against an individual who was no longer at the
conference.  It's possible that you were unaware that the person in question
was a member of the anti-harassment team, and that you were approaching them
in their capacity as a member of the DebConf team?  See "Anti-harassment" on
<https://www.debian.org/intro/organization#support> for reference.

It's also possible that, as a matter of course, we should ensure that the
antiharassment team responds timely in writing to all complaints, even if
there is an out-of-band follow-up.

>    It seems to me that a conference raises different issues to the
>    mostly online interactions in the rest of the project.  The nature
>    of violations is likely to be different; the evidential basis is
>    going to be different; and the required timescale for a response is
>    much shorter.

>    ISTM therefore that CoC complaints about behaviour at (or
>    associated with) a Debian event such as a conference should be
>    dealt with by the conference team (or a subteam of the conference
>    team).

This is a reasonable requirement.  It would certainly need to be a subteam,
not the team as a whole; if we want responses to such issues that are both
timely and measured, the very last thing you want to do is pile the
responsibility on top of the general heap of conference-related duties.

However, I'm not sure how this proposal differs from what we already have. 
The folks behind the antiharassment@debian.org address are there precisely
because they've volunteered to be responsible for handling such matters at
conferences (not on the lists... if there are problems on the lists, the
listmasters already have the authority to take action).  And two of the
three members of that team were physically present at the conference and
were most certainly part of the on-the-ground conference team this year.

>  * State that decisions on the appropriate response to a violation
>    should be made without involvement of the DPL or the press team,
>    and should be without fear or favour (whether towards complainant
>    or accused).

It is obviously incorrect for a CoC violation to be referred to either the
DPL or the press team.

However, in the case at hand, the antiharassment team *did not agree* that a
CoC violation had occurred; and AIUI they referred the matter to the DPL on
the grounds that you were requesting a specific remedy that was entirely out
of scope for the antiharassment team.

Perhaps the point is that the antiharassment team should never make such
referrals, but instead leave it to the complainant to determine whether they
wish to pursue other remedies via Debian's political channels?  That seems a
reasonable principle, in keeping with the overall expectation of

>  * Outline our approach to violations by guest speakers, or other
>    parties who attend the conference (or associated events) only
>    briefly, where it is not possible to eject the violator (nor to
>    threaten to, in order to extract an apology and promise of better
>    behaviour).

To what end?

The stated purpose of the CoC is to ensure that our conference is a safe
space for all members of the Debian community.  In what way would a change
in approach to dealing with a violation after the fact, where the offender
is no longer at the conference, further that goal?

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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