Submissions/From Mexico City to Montréal: The Code of Conduct and You/Notes

From Wikimania (please feel free to comment on possible amendments or future directions at )


From Mexico City to Montréal: The Code of Conduct and You
Day & time
Friday 14:00
Session link
Mattflaschen-WMF / Matthew Flaschen



  • Matt: code of conduct applies to Wikimedia technical community both online and in person events (e.g. hackathons)
  • Matt: Goal is to create more respectful and productive technical community. Set norms for people, learning from existing best practices from other communities. Ours is partly based on django/jquery/etc. No personal attacks, discrimination, unwanted photography, etc.
  • Matt: Previously we had friendly space policy, but only applied to in-person events. Also there is WP's civility policy.
  • Julian (WMDE): Bit complex to have all these different documents and policies esp for orientation / local communities. Lots of docs, don't know where to look or which to use
   Matt: CoC is broad so it covers all technical areas, but doesn't cover all the wikis
  • FloNight: do you see this as an intermediate step and that we should eventually try and have an overriding policy for all
  • Danny Horn: It took months and months of discussion (matt: 19!) do you have a sense of for other people who also want to do controversial things like that?
   Matt: Depends on community and their processes, we're not really an outlier. Be explicit about the process up front, considerations about WMF staff, and we brought in people in later on which meant we needed to re-discuss some stuff
   Moriel: not a lot of communities do it bottom up - they do it top down maybe with some consultation with users. Because we did it bottom up - it's community driven. for other communities it really depends on how they see themselves.
  • Lodewijk: Which topics are covered and which are not covered including those on the boundaries
  • Patrick E: need to find a nice spot in the middle - give good guidance, but don't list boundaries explicitly. That gives bad actors a thing to find that's not on the list and then say "oh it's not on the bad list". enwp has a few paragraphs while some communities have super long lists of everything that's not OK
   Moriel: that's why we needed a commitee. Doing it by rules doesn't work, it needs human judgement. CoC is meant to be a living document.
   Matt: [shows "Unacceptable behavior" on projector] this list is just examples so it can't be gamed, since there are other forms of harassment, that the CoC can still look into
  • FloNight: cultural differences in styles of communication, can lead to being percieved as someone is being harsh and the other person might think they're just being blunt/straightforward. is that mentioned in the document?
   Matt: it's not mentioned, but we do say that we want to be open to everyone, from all nationalities. the cultural context is why we want to have a CoC because saying "be respectful" or "common sense" are very different across cultures. By spelling some of it out we can increase clarity and specify common norms for the entire community.


Matt: friendly space policy has enforcement like warning and kick them out of event, but you can't do that online. you can ban them online, but need to judge based on severity, etc. This is based on Django's CoC. If an incident occurs, they can email CoC com or in person, they can go to event organizers who can take action and will report to CoC com later. 5 trusted people on com, one of them can take an immediate response by themselves (e.g. temporary ban), and the full committee can follow up later with a more permanent action Matt: Consequences: warning, temporarily ban, etc. Person sanctioned can appeal. Want it to be clear but not ineffective by taking too long Benoit: the CoC will apply on mw.o, it's a wiki. Groups of users support each other, what if that group convinces others that the CoC is not legit?

   Matt: unblocking people who were blocked by CoC com is a violation of the CoC

Danny: not sure how long CoC has been together, have cases that have come up so far, have they been handled well?

   Matt: no idea, I'm not on the commitee and everything is confidential (this is in the policy). Before comm was in practice we published aggregated statistics

[...]: If its a CoC that's supposed to apply to people? how can it be confidential?

   Matt: clarifies that the CoC is public. the cases themselves are not.
   Moriel: first CoC com is a year unlike 6 mo like other comms. This is new, we're not exactly sure what it'll be like. Don't want to replace the comm as soon as they get running. 

[...] it's really really long. Didn't see anything about gender in there. men/women have different ideas of what consittues harassment. Someone refused to report something that was harassment because afraid that commitee would take man's side

   Moriel: CoC is diverse in gender and also cultural diversity. gender is also mentioned in the CoC, and there was a lot of discussion when drafting, mentions of gender, race, minorities, etc.
   [...]: When will this be implemented everywhere? Why do the technical spaces get this policy and not the rest of us?
   Matt: there should be a harassement free experience for everyone, specific text about anti-discriminations, we have specific programs like Outreachy and we want to support those. If someone is afraid about reporting, we have very strong confidentiality policies

Future directions

Matt: let's talk about the future. few people have asked how to apply this to chapters. We already have friendly space policy which applies to all in-person events that is funded by foundation. you could apply the policy to your own events. CoC for tech spaces could be used for all tech events run by chapter. Gap left is the chapter's websites and wikis. TBD on who would do the enforcement Legoktm: Should chapters write their own policies or adopt the existing ones?

   Matt: for chapters, they should just adapt the friendly space policy and CoC for what you shouldn't do, even if it's enforced by a different group. 

Matt: I think every wiki should have an anti-harassment policy. Some have it, and it just needs to be stronger. Idea: every wiki to be launched, needs to have an anti-harrassment policy. [...]: Concerned. With human behavior there is a clique, if it's not diverse enough, if they are monitoring and implementing [a CoC/FSP] its easy to bully someone who might not be bad, but percieved as bad. Some behaviors that used to be bad are now considered quite normal

   FloNight: this need to be localized at some level for context and cultural perspective. I think your concern is legit about insular groups and unwelcoming. if goal is to make community more diverse then it might not happen. Need to have global values that set the policy, enforce it locally, and appeal somewhere else.
   Moriel: discussion between bottom up and top down. for chapters some of it has to come top down, and some of it should be "how can we adapt it to our community" but at some point something has to come from top
   Matt: there's an appeals process to deal with the issue of the commitee abusing their power

Lodewijk: we're talking about very small communities here. the big ones usually have something in place, maybe not up to their standards. small ones usually don't and it's a labor intensive process. This could be a service we provide - we give you a policy and help you implement it, have some time to experiement with it and fine tune it before implemtning any type of obligation.


(Not needed if they are already linked from the session's wiki page, as recommended.)


  • Matt: Every new wiki being launched must have an anti-harassement policy.
  • ...