[kde-community] FOSDEM Organisation

Carl Symons carlsymons at gmail.com
Sat Dec 6 16:36:35 GMT 2014

On 12/05/2014 09:11 PM, Valorie Zimmerman wrote:
> On Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 5:21 PM, John Layt <jlayt at kde.org> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> Just a heads-up that I will not be attending FOSDEM next year and will
>> not be assisting in any way with preparations for FOSDEM or providing
>> any hardware. This is the result of the FOSDEM organisers refusing to
>> institute a proper Code of Conduct for attendees or to take any other
>> steps in addressing the dreadful gender ratio of speakers on their
>> program or attending the conference itself. I have attempted to
>> discuss these issues with them and found their attitude and beliefs
>> completely unacceptable to me. As such I cannot give them any form of
>> support, and sadly that means not helping the KDE community at this
>> event anymore.
>> John.
> Ouch, I was not aware that FOSDEM has no CoC. That is really bad. Do
> we have any connections to the organizers where we can make them aware
> that this is *important*?
> I for one would never want to attend a conf. with no CoC. There have
> been far too many incidents of harassment, assault and other nastiness
> to ignore. It is up to us individually and up to us as the KDE
> community to stand up for minority communities, and extend the hand of
> friendship to all.
> I know FOSDEM is happening soon, but it is not too late to take some
> action on our part, and not too late for them to add a link to a
> decent CoC on their website, at the very least.
> Thank you John for raising the issue on the list. I wish I had known earlier.
> Valorie

I have been in contact with FOSDEM organizers. I worked closely with one 
of them earlier this year. She writes...
"Not that I am personally against a code of coduct, but being a FOSDEM
attendee for the last 3 years, I don't feel that FOSDEM is not
welcoming to women, or that it discriminates in any way.

I might be biased since I am one of FOSDEM organizers, but I truly
think that FOSDEM is the foss event with less, if any, discrimination..."

There's more about the situation that should be taken into account 
before there is a KDE UPRISING.

At least some of the FOSDEM organizers believe that it's important. They 
have a social conduct policy. It's published in the front of the program 
brochure. Apparently John doesn't think that it is proper (whatever that 

"Social conduct policy

   The FOSDEM organisers were surprised to hear that
   harassment is a common problem at open source conferences
   around the world. While we have no evidence of antisocial
   behaviour ever having been a problem at FOSDEM, we would
   like to remind everyone that harassment of any kind will
   not be tolerated.  Please report any concerns to a FOSDEM
   staff member (yellow shirts), or contact our coordinator
   Wynke on (telephone number)"
from the 2014 conference in plain view 

Some policies spell out detailed definitions of harassment and harassing 
behaviors, discussions of social structures of domination. How much 
effect does that detail and philosophizing have? IMO not much. A Code of 
Conduct encyclopedia is not likely to change dominating, churlish, 
harassing mindsets.

What makes a practical difference is that the FOSDEM social conduct 
policy is clearly, though generally stated, published and given to 
attendees. Further, it includes a complaint resolution structure.

I don't have enough information to address John's claims about the 
FOSDEM organizers refusing to address a lopsided gender ratio. 
Presumably someone who feels strongly about the issue could join the 
organizing team and do something about it.

The quick, friendly response I got from my acquaintance and one other 
person on the FOSDEM organizing team was quite different than what John 


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