Development of a Behavioral Policy

The IGDORE Global Board has begun the work with developing a behavioral policy specifying what expectations we have on our researchers and staff members with regard to pro-social behaviors.

This thread is created with the primary purpose to invite everyone in the IGDORE community to share their thoughts and ideas on the matter. In addition will the Global Board keep you all updated in this thread on our own thoughts and discussions on the matter. Stay tuned and do join the discussions!

Deadline for input: December 23rd, 2019

UPDATE (January 2020): THESE DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE AND WE STILL WELCOME YOUR CONTRIBUTION.

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Thanks rebecca. Will think about this. :slight_smile:

Also, there is a spelling mistake in the medium announcement.

“… as these emails will be recieved by all board members.”

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Hi everyone. I’m new to the community, I am also here solely because I am astonished by the amount of integrity that Rebecca displayed during the Twitter “debate”.

Respect.

So maybe if IGDORE is planning to go down the social COC path, my thoughts:

  1. “Don’t break the law” rule should be sufficient for any CoC

  2. If you want to be very welcoming you could add “don’t be a dick” rule but enforcing this is hard.

  3. Anonymity of the reporter is a myth and should not be encouraged. If this would be possible in the real life -people would not have to testify on the stand. It may easily lead to abusing the system.

  4. The parties should talk to each other as the first measure to resolve the issues.

  5. Only if 4. fails IGDORE could step in to mediate the talks. This is basically to ensure that we can all coexist with each other what should be the ultimate goal.

  6. Any issues that break the law (with sufficient evidence) need to be reported to the authorities.

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Thank you for your kind words, and welcome to the forum @wolass! :wave:

i am going to use two instances of my own experience attending osm 2018 and 2019 to respond to this paragraph:

“The IGDORE Global Board has begun the work with developing a behavioral policy specifying what expectations we have on our researchers and staff members with regard to pro-social behaviors.

at the 2018 osm, i remember explicitly in one of the sessions, conversations halted to a stop when jon requested that others (beside him and i) chime in so as to prevent the discussion from being dominated by the most vocal people in the convo (e.g: jon and i).

i think that is a ‘systemic’ problem. some people are naturally not ‘vocal’ in face-to-face discussion sessions, but they are very vocal otherwise. a solution i can think of is using tools such as sli.do (https://www.sli.do/) during the discussion, with the help of the moderator.

i’ve seen sli.do and similar being used to a very good effect in many other events i attended, including those with hundreds of participants.

an innovation i wish i could explicitly see in something like sli.do is having the question asked through it being answered later, not necessarily real-time, among any of the event attendees.

also, i wish the written interaction is preserved, which can be made public or private depending on circumstances, especially for the benefit of non-participants.

for the 2019 osm, i and my wife experienced somewhat of a clique during the refreshment breaks. we actually sit around the clique for about 10 minutes, trying to join the informal conversation, but felt unwelcome and hence decide to skip the rest of the event.

i myself feel that this is natural occurrence. some people clicked, some people don’t. if you don’t like a clique, vote with your feet. but i wonder how does the rest of igdore people feel about this? should this even be considered as part of a ‘behavioral policy’?

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Wojciech - this seems like a very reasonable suggestion. One specific issues that I think could require further consideration is the issue of problems between people from different legal jurisdictions who are familiar with different laws (and also possibly have different social and cultural expectations).

This is particularly relevant in the case of an explicitly distributed organisation like IGDORE, where members residing in two different countries are likely to interact at an event in a third country, or online. In the case an issue at a physical event, then my understanding is that relevant law to consider would usually be that of the country where the event takes place. I do not know even know if there is a standard practice for selecting a legal jurisdiction for online interactions, although the terms-of-service for some platforms may specify this.

So my feeling is that a reference to ‘the law’ in a location dependent context in a CoC would be relatively vague in IGDOREs context. What do you think @wolass?

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I don’t know if I count as a member of the IGDORE community, other than as a well-wisher. I am also a cis, hetero, older (although not senior or powerful in academic terms) white male, so apply whatever level of discounting you think is appropriate to this comment. (I don’t even mind “OK boomer”.)

I pretty much agree with Wojciech here. Rather than “don’t be a dick” I would propose adding a condition of attendance along the lines of “the management of IGDORE reserves the right to exclude anyone from any or all of its activities for any reason whatsoever at its absolute discretion”. That might sound draconian and potentially arbitrary, but “fair” CoCs are incredibly hard to get right (cf. Gavin’s point, you basically have to invent a complete parallel legal system, which is hard, especially if the organisation is registered in country A and the conference is taking place in country B) and the opportunity cost is enormous.

Also, I think that attempts to regulate the behaviour of intelligent adults via codes of conduct — whether this is framed as “preventing harassment” or “encouraging pro-social behaviour” — is, on balance, likely to lead to more harm than good. For every active harasser (and they are, I think, really not very numerous), there are many people who may well worry that they are going to be reported to the CoC committee for some minor transgression. I’m thinking of a case at a recent conference that I attended, where a senior person had a CoC complaint made against him for offering a contradictory opinion in a discussion, because one of the participants in the discussion claimed this made them feel unsafe. This was handled sensibly by the committee, but the person who was reported now feels unwelcome and I am aware of several people who will not be attending the same conference in future because they fear the reputational damage of a spurious accusation of this kind (“Oh, X? Wasn’t there a code of conduct complaint about him recently? It all got hushed up, I heard, but there’s no smoke without fire.”)

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Thanks for these comments @surya

My experience is that a CoC is usually designed to explicitly deter bad behaviours rather than specifically encouraging good behaviours. But this is a bit variable, looking at the CoC for two adjacent organisations: OpenCon’s only really mentions unacceptable behaviour, while OpenScienceMooc CoC includes comments about both positive and negative behaviours. As @wolass pointed out previously, the baseline for defining bad behaviour is basically breaking the law (although one can try to have higher standards) but I think its hard to say what is a widely accepted baseline for defining good behaviour to promote. Although we can all probably recognize both good and bad behaviours when we see them. :slight_smile:

My personal view is that the situations you mentioned (fair discussion participation and inclusive social interactions) are probably better encouraged by good event management practices than in a CoC. sli.do seems like a good tool (although I haven’t used it personally), and mixers at the start of a conference usually help people get to know each other. It is certainly possible to encourage good pro-social norms as well, such as by asking discussion moderators to request questions from quieter participants (which it sounds like @jon_tennant did there), and asking the organizing staff/senior attendees to approach and talk to people who aren’t part of a conversation group during breaks. Although the event managers need to explicitly inform people about these the first few times, after a while it becomes part of the culture and people will just start generally being more inclusive (or it doesn’t stick, and probably should be dropped or reconsidered).

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Thanks gavin. I would like to point out my discovery that the recent un open science event has a code of conduct similar to opencon.

I did not read in detail but at first glance they looked remarkably similar.

https://www.un.org/en/content/codeofconduct/

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Indeed very similar to OpenCon’s list of unacceptable (sexual) behaviours. I did however like how UN had structured the CoC document: purpose, applicability, complaint process. It’s a bit more transparent than e.g. OpenCon’s or SIPS’ CoC.

Today I came across a Swedish article from 2017 that ends with these sentences (translated from Swedish):

Yes, you can put your foot down.

As the University of Chicago wrote in a letter to newly admitted students about what is expected of everyone on campus: debate that follows rules of the game, discussion and even disagreement. “Sometimes you may even feel challenged and uncomfortable”.

The letter continues:

“Because we support academic freedom, we do not use ‘trigger warnings’, we do not cancel lectures by invited speakers with controversial views, and we do not accept ‘safe zones’ where you can pull away from ideas and perspectives you do not like.”

I found this very refreshing. Perhaps something like that could be included in an IGDORE behavioral policy?

Anyone knows if Uni of Chicago still practices this? Anyone knows of other unis in North America or elsewhere with a similar explicit approach to viewpoint diversity?

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Would love to know more. :slight_smile:

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