Are you planning a conference?

Then you need this book, How to Respond to Code of Conduct Reports, by Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner. It’s free! My first thought was that wouldn’t this deserve a short pamphlet, at best? But no — it’s incredibly thorough, explaining all the hows and whys of codes of conduct, giving examples and showing the advantages, and also why you’re going to get screwed if you don’t implement one. Since it’s free and comprehensive, you have no excuse for ignoring it…and if you do ignore it, it just means you’re going to have a poorly managed conference.

It also has links to other resources, like this article, No more rock stars: how to stop abuse in tech communities. Oy, but that one resonates. Not just for tech communities, but atheist/skeptical communities — we have a plague of “rock stars” who suck resources and may also draw valuable attention to events and movements, until ultimately and seemingly invariably, they turn into black holes of bad PR. Read it before you start inviting speakers.


  1. consciousness razor says

    If you’re like the vast majority of the atheist/skeptical community, who are not conference organizers — isn’t that just another type of “rock star” thought-leader? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? — then it’s not so clear what there is for you to do. If you thought that telling the record companies how to behave would change the music industry, so that it’s not all about rock stars, then I don’t know, maybe it’s worth a shot…. But that hasn’t worked in the music world; if anything, it’s only gotten worse over the years, not for lack of criticism. On paper, it may seem very reasonable, but the trouble is that the record companies can thrive without listening to your protests or following your advice. To me, it seems like a whole lot of idle talk about what somebody else should have been doing, rather than figuring out what I should do then actually doing it.

  2. James Hammond says

    Nice find, PZ! This conference organizer is currently gearing up for 2019 policy review and speaker selection, and is always looking for more tested ideas on CoC policy and enforcement. I don’t like learning the hard way. Thank you!


  3. DanDare says

    Consciousness Razor the OP was all about “if you are organising a conference”. Feels like you missed that bit.

  4. says

    Consciousness Razor,
    I help organize monthly/weekly events rather than conferences, but it’s more people stepping up to do what needs to be done to keep things going than “rock stars”. I’d be quite happy to let others do the work.