Talk:Foundation/Local Chapters/United States/Code of Conduct Committee

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Thanks for reviewing the draft Code of Conduct and Process for Moderation! You can use this space to leave comments, questions, and other feedback about it. Please leave your name or OSM username so we know where comments are coming from.

Hello My name is Austin my OSM user name is itsamap!

I have a few questions about this line

"Remarks that CoC Committee members find inappropriate, whether listed in the Code of Conduct or not, are also not allowed. Moderators will first respond to such remarks with a warning."

Before jumping into the specific questions you’ve asked, a quick explanation: that line wasn’t intended to give the CoC blanket authority to police individuals’ actions; it was included as a safeguard against situations where something has happened that is very obviously inappropriate but might not be specifically spelled out in the draft CoC. We understand your concerns about this and the CoC members think it’s better to just remove the line you’ve referenced. If something truly egregious happens that somehow isn’t explicitly covered by the CoC then we will find a path to navigate through it. Glassman (talk) 18:57, 6 May 2020 (UTC)
Why not replace it with language like “actions that violate the spirit, but not the letter, of the CoC”? Then you still have flexibility, without writing a blank cheque? Rorym (talk) 07:09, 13 May 2020 (UTC)

1. What would a warning have to look like? What would have to be included in the warning? What time frame would the warning be given in? What time frame would the individual have to respond in? What channel would it be delivered through? What accountability would a moderator have for banning someone for something that's not in the CoC? Would the reason for banning be made public, and if so where? Also what would be included in any description?

A warning would be given, whenever possible, through the medium where the violation occurred, with the goal of reaching folks in a timely manner (e.g. If something happens over Slack, the CoC would reach out over Slack). In terms of timeframes, we’re aiming for reasonability - reaching out once the CoC has received a report and making sure the individual has a reasonable timeframe to respond, and potentially trying to make contact over other means (e.g. email) if we think they might not have seen our message. If a potential violation happened in private communications then the CoC would not publicly disclose the reason for banning. For example, if someone is being harassed by someone else, it’s not appropriate to share those details with the community as a whole. The reason for this is to make sure that potential victims are protected and can feel comfortable reporting things without being afraid that their names will be posted and that people will blame them for someone’s absence. If the potential violation happened in a public forum and the CoC takes action, then there could be situations where it is appropriate to explain what action was taken and why. The committee will make its best determination of what action to take and how to communicate it based on the situation and investigative findings. Glassman (talk) 18:57, 6 May 2020 (UTC)

2. Would the punishment have to be made on the basis of another rule. i.e. Sticking to the letter of the law but not the spirit of it. and if so would the referenced rule be revised in response and note be made of why so the community can be aware of why it was changed.

No, the actions of the committee will be based on its investigative findings. Rather than a prescriptive action, the committee will make its best determination of what action to take based on those findings. Glassman (talk) 18:57, 6 May 2020 (UTC)

3. Does "CoC Committee members" mean any one CoC member, or would there have to be a vote, or consensus among the entire committee?

The CoC committee prefers to use consensus as a decision-making approach for any decisions that could affect OSM community members. Any one member does not have the power to take any action. Glassman (talk) 18:57, 6 May 2020 (UTC)

4. If someone is punished for something that is not in the CoC, how would the duration or severity of the punishment also be decided? There is a list of possible responses but not what type of offence warrants what kind of response. Could the punishment also be something not listed in the CoC?

Same response as Question 2 above. Glassman (talk) 18:57, 6 May 2020 (UTC)

5. Would it only apply to offences made in OSMUS managed spaces, or anywhere? i.e. if a person says something that the CoC finds offensive in another place could a punishment be issued?

The Code of Conduct (CoC) applies to OSM US managed spaces. If the offense was made on another platform, for example, Twitter, the best course of action is to use the tools provided by the platform to report or block the individual. However, if an offense was made in a @OpenStreetMapUS Twitter thread, a violation can be reported and the Code of Conduct Committee we can investigate and remove any offensive comments and posts from visitors.  If the offense occurred on spaces managed by the OSM Foundation, the report should be made to either the moderator, event coordinator, or even the Foundation Board. (OSMF does not have a Code of Conduct.). If you feel that there is an extreme circumstance that merits special consideration, then reach out to the CoC Committee to discuss anyway. Glassman (talk) 18:57, 6 May 2020 (UTC)
“then reach out to the CoC Committee to discuss anyway”, hang on, the current version says: “We will not act on complaints covering ... Edits within the OpenStreetMap database, other OpenStreetMap-related communication channels or events, or the conduct of individuals affiliated with OpenStreetMap US outside of the specified spaces”. So the CoC Committee is committing, up-front, to _not_ do anything. So why should someone contact you?
The GeekFeminism original version also says “will not act”, whereas the Diversity/MailingList/CodeOfConduct says “reserve the right not to act”. May I suggest that if you make a committement to “not act” that you stick to that, or change it to “we reserve the right not to act”. Rorym (talk) 11:28, 9 May 2020 (UTC)
Great point. We can revise the CoC language to get rid of ambiguity or contradictions. Something along the lines of, "We will not act on ... complaints regarding the conduct of individuals affiliated with OpenStreetMap US outside of the specified spaces, except under truly exceptional circumstances (such as a criminal conviction for predatory behavior)". That example may be overly specific, but hopefully it clarifies what we mean by "exceptional", for those who are concerned about committee overreach. Emilyeros (talk) 23:29, 12 May 2020 (UTC)

Actions outside the listed spaces not covered by the CoC?

I have a question about: “We will not act on complaints covering ... the conduct of individuals affiliated with OpenStreetMap US outside of the specified spaces”. For example, let's assume I went evil. My twitter account isn't covered by the “where this code applies”. If I were to harass, and abuse, an OSM (or OSMUS) person on twitter, that wouldn't be covered by the CoC? That's how I read what you've written. Is that what you meant? I read the current version as “So long as you play nice on the OSMUS Slack (etc.), you cannot be kicked out of the OSMUS slack, regardless of what you do on the rest of the internet”. I think that's hella problematic. (Or unclearly written) FTR I mod the diversity-talk@ mailing list, and the mastodon instance, and I reserve the right to ban you from either for behaviour outside the list/instance or wider public internet/life. Obviously, the OSMUS CoC mod team cannot ban someone from twitter for violating the OSMUS CoC, but they can ban someone from the OSMUS spaces (e.g. this slack) for actions on twitter. Is that really what yous mean? Rorym (talk) 14:15, 10 April 2020 (UTC)

Same answer as in Question 5 above. Glassman (talk) 18:57, 6 May 2020 (UTC)
Yes that does answer my question. Although the context I'm thinking about is broader. i.e. local meetups or even non OSM related spaces.
To add more context, I'm around some people and we insult each other (Sometimes we even mean it). It's just how we communicate and I know I'm not unique in that aspect. I don't bring that into OSM spaces or most other spaces in my life. My point in staying that is, if a CoC member doesn't like or finds offence something that someone says in other places can they punish someone for it? I brought it up in conjunction with the line stating you can be punished for something that's not in the CoC because if someone on the CoC does not like you for any reason, according to this they could revoke your access to OSMUS spaces including SoTMUS which could put someone out of a good chunk of money.
I understand the possible need for a rule like this. If you have someone who follows the letter of the law but is obviously trolling, you would want the flexibility to be able to deal with that. But it also could be used to ban anyone for any reason. The other rules would be redundant, Yeah you could be punished for violating them but also any other reason. It means you will have to curry favor with CoC members. Loosing SoTM tickets might not be a huge deal if you have plenty of money but if you don't have much extra money you would really have to make sure your on there good side!
Again I can see the need for a rule like this but in my mind there should be a high bar for using it, with accountability on the part of the CoC and OSMUS for using it, to minimize the chance of abuse.
Robert Bell Perhaps you misunderstand, I am not answering your question, I am asking a new question myself. I am not a member of the OSMUS CoC Committee, so I cannot speak for them. BTW. If you use : you can indent replies, making it easier to read. You can also add ~~~~ to sign your message, so people know who's writing what. Rorym (talk) 11:58, 11 April 2020 (UTC)
(I am not on the OSM US CoC Committee, so I do not know how they would answer your question) I am very familiar with CoCs, and social justice issues. Perhaps I can address your concerns. If you'd like to take it private, and ask embarassing, or offensive, questions you can email me
“if a CoC member doesn't like or finds offence something ... does not like you for any reason ... to ban anyone for any reason” You seem to think that everything is subjective, that there are no rules. That this CoC can be weilded “for any reason”. I don't think that's true at all. This is a common, false, claim against CoCs, caused by people misunderstanding what a CoC says.
I don't think this CoC says it, but CoCs I enforce would allow you jokingly insult friends. Just not homophobic/etc insults. “I don't care if you say fuck, I care if you say bitch. Learn to tell the difference” is a nice way to put it. I don't use the term “take offense”, I care about harm (I like this blog post: I Don’t Care If You’re Offended) “Offense” is based on what a person thinks, based on how they feel. But “harm” has a standard. It's an external thing that can be judged by other people. So CoCs are not arbitrary, they do not allow someone to be banned “for no reason”
Rorym (talk) 12:21, 11 April 2020 (UTC)
I think we’ve addressed this above. The intent of the CoC is to ensure that there are reasonable standards of behavior so that individuals can feel comfortable participating in OSM US, knowing that they are protected from harassment and other behaviors. We understand that it’s also important that community members feel that the process is intended to be fair and trustworthy. That’s why we’ve aimed to build checks and balances into the process where possible: striving for committee consensus for decision-making and offering the option to appeal to the OSM US board (any board members who are also CoC committee members would recuse themselves from these appeals). Glassman (talk) 18:57, 6 May 2020 (UTC)

Thanks for the invitation, I will E-Mail you. I would like to get more of your perspective on CoC's. For the record, I'm not against CoC's as a concept, I'm not against all the CoC's out there and I'm not against all parts of this proposed CoC. People being able to work unencumbered is essential to them doing work and accomplishing our mission of mapping the world and giving it away for free. And not being harassed is a huge part of that. But I am against this line in this CoC that does empower the committee to wield it for any reason. There is an appeal's process that involves you going through the same committee that punished you in the first place. Without adding accountability for the committee, or just removing the line entirely, I see this being able to be abused easily. Someone could go to the committee and say something to the effect of "I will do "x" for you if you ban this person" and as it written now they could do that without having to be accountable or transparent about it. In my option, there should be a burned on the CoC for using this line as a protection against abuse. Of course no system is abuse proof, but I think this line should be changed or removed. The purpose of the questions I asked (not only the number 5 were talking about now), are to get answers on how this would be used. I want to understand and trust how the process works. This is not a new or small community that handles no money. OSMUS does things out in the open. But if someone is punished according to a rule that's in a committee members head, and not in the CoC that's not a open thing. So in my option, if we are going to keep the line we should bring as much openness as we can to it. Sorry for my poor mark down skills I will try to improve this moving forward. My OSM username is itsamap! My name is Austin Bell (Robert is my first name, I'll change that later in my profile settings)

The appeal process is not with the same CoC committee. It is with the OSM US board. If there are board members who are also on the CoC committee, then they would recuse themselves from any appeals discussions and decision-making. Taking action on a CoC violation complaint also requires consensus amongst CoC members, making it difficult for one individual member to drive the response to a complaint. Being part of the CoC committee is a volunteer commitment that members have made in good faith. Glassman (talk) 18:57, 6 May 2020 (UTC)

Would criticising racist/oppressive behaviour/etc be against the CoC?

The current version includes the excellent Geek Feminism CoC, but “Scope and Limitations” doesn't include ”We will not act on complaints covering ... criticizing racist, sexist, cissexist, or otherwise oppressive behavior or assumptions”. Is there any reason why you dropped that? I'm interested in CoCs, and I'm curious if that section is problematic, or flawed. It's included in the Diversity/MailingList/CodeOfConduct (etc.). I want to know if I've made a mistake! Rorym (talk)

Yes, the CoC is quite long and we were trying to be thorough while also keeping it to a manageable length for folks to read. We didn’t include the part about not acting on complaints about criticizing racism, etc, because criticizing racism doesn’t violate the CoC in the first place (as long as it is done in a civil manner such that it doesn’t violate other parts of the CoC). The Geek Feminism CoC was a fantastic resource and we didn’t find that line to be problematic or flawed. For them, it may be a useful reinforcement of their values. For us, we decided that it was redundant and cut it for the sake of brevity. emilyeros (talk 21:36, 11 May 2020 (UTC))

FYI, other projects claiming you will handle their CoC issues

This isn't your responsibility, but you should be aware that other projects are claiming the OSMUS CoC committee will handle their CoC issues. In Feb 2020, iD CoC complaints were directed to you. Given your clear definition of what space is, and isn't covered, (and “the iD Github repo” clearly falling outside that); it might be useful for the OSMUS CoC Committee to talk to other projects to prevent this misunderstanding. Rorym (talk) 09:24, 12 May 2020 (UTC)

Thanks for that info! I'll bring it up with the committee and we'll reach out to other projects like that. Emilyeros (talk) 23:21, 12 May 2020 (UTC)