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DIF’s Updated Code of Conduct

Setting a tone for inclusive collaboration

· 3 min read

[This code of conduct was a collective and volunteer effort, and we would like to thank in particular Shireen Mitchell, Karyl Fowler, and Kaliya Young for their contributions.]


An important part of supporting a community where people are coming from all over the world and from a variety of backgrounds is putting in place a code of conduct that provides a baseline understanding about what is ok and what is not. The purpose of DIF’s Code of Conduct is to create an open, healthy and productive culture where members and the community can build and grow together.

During the DIF Virtual Face-to-Face Meeting in June of 2020, this Code of Conduct was reviewed:

In lieu of an executive summary, we would here like to offer a few highlights:

1.) Community Advocates

One of the innovations in the code of conduct is the creation of a role we call community advocates. Each of these is a community member who takes seriously their power and responsibility as facilitator. We are working to provide formal training to support these advocates and give them a firm foundation on what to listen for and how to speak to conflicts. If you are part of the community and would like to volunteer as a community advocate, please let us know.

In particular, these advocates can diffuse, mitigate, and failing both, escalate conflicts. See in particular the expanded dispute escalation section of the code:

Dispute Escalation and Incident Resolution Mechanisms

We are all here to contribute value and reap the benefits of community collaboration. While it is natural to have disagreements and find situations uncomfortable, DIF believes that resolving any issues should take place within the community via open communication.

DIF has within it a group of members who have some training and skills in supporting healthy conflict resolution that can be volunteer community advocates.

If something does happen, open communication and shared, cross community healing is a must. The community should get better as a whole.

2.) Diversity front-of-mind

Informed by a substantial corpus of experiences throughout the broader identity technology community where perspectives from marginalized groups were actively or unwittingly excluded, we felt our code of conduct needed to be explicit about the most nefarious and effective tool of silencing: scope management. To this end, we put into our code of conduct the following definitive statement:

Diversity is never definitively out-of-scope or foreclosed as irrelevant to more urgent business.

3.) Proactive inclusivity

Here are some more important excerpts from the code of conduct that cover our statement on inclusivity and diversity

Inclusive: We work together to resolve conflict, assume good intentions, and do our best to act in an empathetic fashion. We may all experience some frustration from time to time, but we do not allow frustration to turn into a personal attack. A community where people feel uncomfortable, threatened, or unheard/dismissed (explicitly or implicitly) is not a productive one. We should be respectful when dealing with other community members as well as with people outside our community, contributing to an atmosphere of inclusion. DIF takes seriously the maintenance of substantive inclusion in which any member feels empowered to contribute; if any do not feel the group’s chairs are doing enough to create this atmosphere, they may go elsewhere in DIF for help achieving this change.

Diverse: DIF welcomes and encourages participation by everyone. We are committed to being a community that everyone feels good about joining. Although we may not be able to satisfy everyone, we will always work to treat everyone fairly. No matter how you identify yourself or how others perceive you: we welcome you. Though no list can hope to be comprehensive, we explicitly honour diversity in age, culture, ethnicity, genotype, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, neurotype, phenotype, political beliefs, profession, race, religion, dis/ability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, subculture and technical ability. Diversity of perspective, identity and experience should be considered a positive contribution. Diversity and empathetic, pro-actively inclusive ways of stewarding cooperation is an ongoing commitment, not a one-time gesture; DIF’s Steering Committee and Working Group Chairs and Editors concretely support ongoing training or cooperative learning between leaders of working groups, mailing lists, and other venues.

A living, open-source document

You can read the full code of conduct here, or if you would like to suggest edits or open issues, you can do so on github here. As Balázs mentions in the video, the code of conduct is licensed for being “forked” and adapted anywhere it can be helpful, and we look forward to contribution and discussion as it continues to evolve.

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