UPDATE 2021:This article really rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and I get it. I've also heard that it has been used as evidence that certain conferences do not need Code of Conduct statements. That was never my intention. I hope, as you read this today, you notice my comments about "Donald Trump-type racist views" (8 months before he was elected), and after witnessing the BLM protests, police brutality, and the terrorist attack on the Capital Building, you might understand a little more where I was coming from. We have been living in parallel worlds and, depending on who you are (read: those that don't have the complexion for protection), no document or powers of authority will ever get in the way of the entitled, elitist, extremist, supremecist, aka horrible people. I start 2021 the same way I end this original writing, by saying we need to do better people.
I have to be honest and say that I totally don't get the trend around Code of Conduct declarations for tech conferences. Apparently, tech conferences need to declare a safe place for all attendees. People are serious about this, refusing to attend or speak at a conference unless there is an established Code of Conduct. I get it, some horrible things have happened in the past I absolutely agree that we should feel free from harassment when we attend these events, or in life. Period.
WTF, people? These are tech conferences! We are smartest people on Earth! Are you telling me we don't know how to act in public? We don't already know that we are not allowed to harass women, or support Donald Trump-type racist views? How are so enlightened and forward thinking, but lack so much common sense and respect. Did functional programmers miss this part of elementary school?
You want to know who doesn't have/ need a Code of Conduct? Accessibility conferences. I just spent the last week at the 31st Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, affectionally known as CSUN 2016. This is my third year attending, and I have never been so proud to be around such caring, respectable, helpful, and compassionate people. We don't need a Code of Conduct because we have an empathy for humans, it's what we do.
Everywhere you look, people are helping other people. Holding elevator doors so that guide dog's tails don't get caught. Assisting people find seats, maneuvering crowds of people. Amazing kindness and patience. It's like nothing here.
The most beautiful moment was watching people with disabilities participate in karaoke the other night, complete with sign language interpreters for deaf people. We laughed, we sang, we danced, we embarrassed ourselves. Nobody felt unsafe, and this was with alcohol involved!
Do we need to make CS students attend anti-harassment training like professional sports? Do we need PSA's before anime movies and video games?
Code of Conduct declarations for tech conferences are so bogus to me. I don't think these people are worried about getting kicked out without a refund. The small little link at the bottom of your conference site is not helping anyone or preventing anything. Damage is done.
We need to do better, people...