| July 15–17, 2020

Code of Conduct

Just as the Elm compiler helps us focus on writing our best code, this Code of Conduct encourages people to be our best and most inclusive as a community.

Harassment at events and in online communities is unfortunately common. Creating an official policy aims to improve this by making it clear that harassment of anyone for any reason is not acceptable within our events and community. This policy may prevent harassment by clearly defining expectations for behavior, aims to provide reassurance, and encourages people who have had bad experiences at other events to participate in this one.

The Quick Version

elm-conf is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference-related activity, including talks, workshops, parties, Twitter, and other online media. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference without a refund at the discretion of the conference organizers.

The Detailed Version

elm-conf is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone. We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form.

This Code of Conduct applies to all elm-conf spaces, including Zoom, Slack, GitHub, Discourse, and any social media channels used by conference participants to communicate with each other. Anyone who violates this Code of Conduct may be sanctioned or expelled from these spaces at the discretion of the Response Team.

Some elm-conf spaces may have additional rules in place, which will be made clearly available to participants. Participants are responsible for knowing and abiding by these rules.

Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

Harassment includes:

  • Offensive comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, body size, age, race, or religion.
  • Unwelcome comments regarding a person’s lifestyle choices and practices, including those related to food, health, parenting, drugs, and employment.
  • Deliberate misgendering or use of ‘dead’ or rejected names.
  • Gratuitous or off-topic sexual images or behavior in spaces where they’re not appropriate.
  • Physical contact and simulated physical contact (eg, textual descriptions like “hug” or “backrub”) without consent or after a request to stop.
  • Threats of violence.
  • Incitement of violence towards any individual, including encouraging a person to commit suicide or to engage in self-harm.
  • Deliberate intimidation.
  • Stalking or following.
  • Harassing photography or recording, including logging online activity for harassment purposes.
  • Sustained disruption of discussion.
  • Unwelcome sexual attention.
  • Pattern of inappropriate social contact, such as requesting/assuming inappropriate levels of intimacy with others
  • Continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease.
  • Deliberate “outing” of any aspect of a person’s identity without their consent except as necessary to protect vulnerable people from intentional abuse.
  • Publication of non-harassing private communication.

The elm-conf organizing team reserves the right not to act on complaints regarding:

  • ‘Reverse’ -isms, including ‘reverse racism,’ ‘reverse sexism,’ and ‘cisphobia’
  • Reasonable communication of boundaries, such as “leave me alone,” “go away,” or “I’m not discussing this with you.”
  • Communicating in a ‘tone’ you don’t find congenial
  • Criticizing racist, sexist, cissexist, or otherwise oppressive behavior or assumptions


Enforcement of the Code of Conduct is essential. If there is no enforcement, then the Code of Conduct becomes a feel-good document without value. Individuals should feel empowered to call out violations publicly or privately. The elm-conf oranizing team is available to help moderate, address concerns, and solve violations.

Contact information for the elm-conf organizing team, who will support in enforcing the inclusive values of our community, will be made available. A channel for submitting anonymous reports will also be made available for those who do not feel comfortable personally reaching out.

In the event of an incident that needs to be addressed, we prioritize marginalized people’s safety over privileged people’s comfort, and our enforcement strategy seeks to center impact over intention in addressing any harm done and restoring a sense of safety and justice.

Social Rules

In addition to having a Code of Conduct as an anti-harassment policy, we have a small set of social rules we follow. These rules are intended to be lightweight, and to make more explicit certain social norms that are normally implicit.

Remember that what may seem obvious to you may not yet be for someone else

It's possible to forget that what may seem to be common knowledge for us may not be for others. Often, this surfaces in communication as an expression of surprise. This applies to both technical things ("What?! I can't believe you don't know what the stack is!") and non-technical things ("You don't know who RMS is?!"). Feigning surprise has absolutely no social or educational benefit: When people feign surprise, it's usually to make them feel better about themselves and others feel worse. And even when that's not the intention, it's almost always the effect. People feeling comfortable saying "I don't know" and "I don't understand" are key to holding an event where learning and growth can happen.

Approach conversations with a "yes, and..."

"Yes, and..." is a theatre improv technique to build on each other's ideas; we all benefit when we create together. Approaching conversations with a "yes, and..." encourages you to actively listening and to build with your fellow conversation participants, not just looking for ways to inject yourself for the sake of offering a counterpoint (which often surfaces with the expression "well, actually...").

Use inclusive language and examples

Our unique experiences in the world can often shape how we speak and the examples we use. However, sometimes the same kinds of language can get used over and over, revealing biases that can make others feel unwelcome. An example of this is saying "It's so easy my grandmother could do it", which can be exclusionary to people who are older, women, and/or caregivers. Bias, especially the kind that's so deeply ingrained that it becomes unconscious, can slip out even when we mean no offense. If this happens, use the opportunity to better the community. A mistake is a chance to learn and/or teach.


This Code of Conduct is based on and influenced by several other community policies including Conf Code of Conduct, Geek Feminism, Ashe Dryden, DevFest WI, Recurse Center, and Digital Ocean.