In summary, while maintaining the role of the Code of Conduct Committee (CoCc) as a Code of Conduct enforcement body, in the near future, Code of Conduct Facilitators will be trained and actively available to the community as a trusted and neutral point of counsel on Code of Conduct-related matters, monitor Carpentries online spaces and physical meetings and escalate Code of Conduct incidents for the attention of the CoCc or otherwise certify that the community is functioning as expected.
In September 2020, we introduced the Carpentries Community Facilitators Program, a new initiative in The Carpentries that seeks to create new pathways for active involvement in everyday community activities by more community members. We put out a call for, and onboarded our inaugural cohort of feedback facilitators shortly after.
Today, we are pleased to share the first version of the Code of Conduct facilitation module with you. This module was co-created by Serah Njambi Rono and Code of Conduct Committee members Malvika Sharan and Karin Lagesen in Q1 2O21. This current version is the result of extensive feedback from The Carpentries Core Team.
Why this Code of Conduct facilitation module exists
There are two very broad categorisations for the way discussions around new community activities start: (i) as a response measure to community questions, suggestions or probing based on their experiences as part of the community, (ii) as a proactive measure, led by The Carpentries Core Team, based on strategic goals and decisions, or as a measure to ensure the continued growth and sustainability of our community.
In July 2019, we determined it necessary to recruit community members to constitute a task force with the goal of engaging our global community, and offering recommendation on incidents falling outside the Code of Conduct Committee mandate, including incidents that may have occurred outside of Carpentries spaces, incidents that happen within Carpentries spaces that are not reported, or where people would like to share information or get feedback, rather than formally report an incident. Samantha Ahern, Christopher Felker and Luca Di Stasio served on this Task Force and Karen Cranston and Kari L. Jordan were the Code of Conduct Committee and Carpentries Core Team liaisons respectively.
After a round of community input, the incident-response Task Force published a set of recommendations on guidelines, approaches, support structures or policies that could be developed to respond to incidents that happen outside the mandate of the Carpentries Code of Conduct Committee. Two out of the six recommendations pointed at the need for empowering more community members to facilitate some Code of Conduct processes in our community spaces as our community continues to grow, more specifically:
- As Code of Conduct facilitators trained and prepared to
- share any incidents or concerns to an ombudsperson, directly with the Code of Conduct Committee, and
- actively monitor of online Carpentries channels, and representatives in community calls, local, regional and global Carpentries events
- as counselors trained and prepared to guide community members who might want to discuss potential incidents before reporting them to the Code of Conduct Committee, in addition to facilitating the reporting process
We are pleased to share that the Code of Conduct module in The Carpentries Community Facilitators Program is designed to prepare community members to step in and serve as a bridge between our community and the Code of Conduct Committee (CoCc), and with a scope that covers the two recommendations above. Community members trained to serve in this role will be called Carpentries Code of Conduct Facilitators.
Why the need to bridge the gap between facilitators and CoCc
More often than not, we hear of incidents that arise that require the attention of the CoCc, but which go unreported for various reasons, key among them being
- A question of trust of the reporting, the handling process and the community this happened in when an incident affects someone new to the community,
- An uncertainty either
- about the gravity of a situation or one’s experience and whether it warrants reporting, either gauged against other experiences or informal discussion with others or
- the environment in which an incident occurs, especially in community events or spaces created as a cross-community effort
- a lack of confidence as a bystander around stepping up to diffuse a situation without the right tools or know-how, and with a fear that it might make things worse
Other contributing reasons include:
- unfamiliarity with the policies and complaint mechanisms,
- fear of negative repercussions,
- the social stigma attached to victims or not perceiving offence serious enough to make formal complaints, and/or
- a lack of awareness about community members designated to take CoC reports. In some cases, if aware, they may still worry about the emotional toll asSociated with reporting and following up about an incident.
Expanding the scope of CoC facilitation role for our CoCc
Code of Conduct Committee (CoCc) members are a group of volunteers from the community who have been trained to handle CoC reports and have gained further experience through handling incidents as a group. Up until this point, you may notice that the CoCc has had little to no interaction with our global community outside the scope of investigating, addressing and resolving conflict; and interactions that affect our collaboration-driven ethos and impact our interactions negatively. The CoCc has proactively engaged the community in Code of Conduct policy development and maintenance, but formal opportunities for the CoCc to mentor and guide others in The Carpentries have been missing. The work of the CoCc is non-trivial - in fact, because conflict can make or break a community, we view the work of the CoCc as core to the continuity and sustainability of our community. We also think it is important to cultivate positive interactions between the CoCc and our global community. Having the CoCc lead the onboarding and oversight of Code of Conduct facilitators in The Carpentries will help make this possible.
How Code of Conduct facilitation will be carried out in The Carpentries
In the coming days, Code of Conduct facilitation training will be available to as many as are interested in stepping up and facilitating Code of Conduct processes in the community. We envision that the facilitation training sessions will span two- three hours at a time, and will be carried out every 8 weeks. The Code of Conduct Committee will be leaders and owners of the Code of Conduct facilitation process, and will be the official mentors for all Code of Conduct facilitators in The Carpentries.
We need your input
At this juncture, we invite you to read and comment on the Code of Conduct facilitation module. It contains the following sections:
- Theory of codes of conduct
- The Carpentries Code of Conduct - a deepdive
- How Code of Conduct facilitation will work in The Carpentries
- Code of conduct facilitation scenarios
- Information about how Code of Conduct facilitators will interact
- Information about the Code of Conduct facilitators onboarding schedule
You are welcome to ask questions or initiate conversations around the module by opening an issue on GitHub or emailing the Community Development Team. Your input will help us get the resource ready for Code of Conduct facilitators trainings in the near future.