Should Your Project Have a Code of Conduct for Contributors? Yes

The topic of inclusiveness and conduct in regards to the maker, hacker, and tech community in general is complex to say the least. Not only is there the real-life side of workforce discrimination, there is also the fact that much of this community lives in the digital world, where our real selves are hidden behind internet personae. It’s the perfect breeding ground for crude behavior. As someone who watches and documents what is happening in the community, I’ve discussed community conduct a few times. In 2010, Gareth Branwyn enacted a policy for our comments on Makezine.com, and you’ve likely seen similar comment policies on other sites.

What about projects though? Contributions and contributors are not free from abhorrent behavior. By enacting a code of conduct for your project, you can take a small step toward making the community more inclusive. I discovered Contributor Covenant while looking at Adafruit’s CircuitPython project. The idea is that when you choose to join with a project, you agree to a covenant that you will behave in a way that reflects the values of the project.

Here is the latest version of the Contributor Covenant, which you can choose to include in your project:

Our Pledge

In the interest of fostering an open and welcoming environment, we, as contributors and maintainers, pledge to making participation in our project and our community a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of age, body size, disability, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, level of experience, nationality, personal appearance, race, religion, or sexual identity and orientation.

Our Standards

Examples of behavior that contributes to creating a positive environment include:

  • Using welcoming and inclusive language
  • Being respectful of differing viewpoints and experiences
  • Gracefully accepting constructive criticism
  • Focusing on what is best for the community
  • Showing empathy towards other community members

Examples of unacceptable behavior by participants include:

  • The use of sexualized language or imagery and unwelcome sexual attention or advances
  • Trolling, insulting/derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks
  • Public or private harassment
  • Publishing others’ private information, such as a physical or electronic address, without explicit permission
  • Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a professional setting

Our Responsibilities

Project maintainers are responsible for clarifying the standards of acceptable behavior and are expected to take appropriate and fair corrective action in response to any instances of unacceptable behavior.

Project maintainers have the right and responsibility to remove, edit, or reject comments, commits, code, wiki edits, issues, and other contributions that are not aligned to this Code of Conduct, or to ban, temporarily or permanently, any contributor for other behaviors that they deem inappropriate, threatening, offensive, or harmful.

Scope

This Code of Conduct applies both within project spaces and in public spaces when an individual is representing the project or its community. Examples of representing a project or community include using an official project e-mail address, posting via an official social media account, or acting as an appointed representative at an online or offline event. Representation of a project may be further defined and clarified by project maintainers.

Enforcement

Instances of abusive, harassing, or otherwise unacceptable behavior may be reported by contacting the project team at [INSERT EMAIL ADDRESS]. All complaints will be reviewed and investigated and will result in a response that is deemed necessary and appropriate to the circumstances. The project team is obligated to maintain confidentiality with regard to the reporter of an incident. Further details of specific enforcement policies may be posted separately.

Project maintainers who do not follow or enforce the Code of Conduct in good faith may face temporary or permanent repercussions as determined by other members of the project’s leadership.

Attribution

This Code of Conduct is adapted from the Contributor Covenant, version 1.4, available at http://contributor-covenant.org/version/1/4.

Of course, simply plopping a few words about conduct into your project won’t solve the world’s problems and inequalities. However, including this, and being willing to enforce it, will be a step toward making the world a better place. As you can see, there’s nothing here that’s insanely out of the scope. It just asks people to behave like pleasant human beings towards one another.

A code of conduct on projects is an important step. You may not choose to adopt this specific one, but please consider how your contributors will conduct themselves as you create your foundations.

Featured photo by Sergii / Adobe Stock

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