Project 1 - rOpenSci's Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct Committee

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in Community 100DaysToOffload rOpenSci

June 28, 2024

A heart in a computer screens build it with ceros and ones.

Picture of Alexander Sinn at Unsplash

A healthy community is centered on the values and norms shared by its members. The code of conduct explicitly expresses your community’s core values and norms and also shows your commitment to creating a friendly and safe environment for all people. 

In Argentina, we have these rules and norms at all levels of education, and they are called coexistence rules (normas de convivencia). The Code of Conduct can be thought of as these rules for communities of practice. 

The most important part of a COC is that it is enforced. Generally, a group called the CoC Committee is in charge of that task.

The CoC in rOpenSci

In rOpenSci there is a CoC that is updated annually if necessary, based on feedback from the community and learning from the committee.  An annual update and transparency report is made detailing the incidents reported and how they were resolved.

The Committee is composed of three people. The Community Manager is part of the committee. The other two people are someone independent from the community and someone from the staff of rOpenSci. Every year, people are consulted to decide whether they want to continue being part of the committee. If they do, the mandate is renewed for one more year. The Community Manager will look for replacements if they do not wish to renew.

When someone on the committee changes, there is an onboarding meeting for the new person and an offboarding meeting for the person leaving the committee. The onboarding and offboarding include changing access to the resources and tools necessary for the committee work, especially detailed information about previous incidents since privacy is a key component of the process.

There is also an infrastructure in place for the operation of the committee:

  • Mail group with committee members to discuss issues privately.
  • Incident report form with an automated system to notify the committee of the report.
  • Committee email where the community can report or contact the committee.
  • GitHub repository with all CoC versions and internal documents, e.g., report templates and emails.
  • Calendar with fixed task dates, such as when to publish the transparency report.

My work in the CoC

My onboarding included a chat with one of the current members, who explained the committee’s processes for enforcing the CoC and provided me with access to the resources and tools I needed.  

In my particular case, we had to recreate and reconfigure part of the infrastructure because resources were in the accounts of the previous Community Manager. For example, I had to re-generate the incident report form and automate Zapier to get the information to the committee when someone filled out the form. Due to this change, I also updated the internal guide to detail the offboarding of the person who owns the infrastructure.

My second task was to update the CoC text with more detail and examples of Online environments and make the first Spanish translation of the text, publishing it on the web.

I also proposed a template for an incident summary based on the useR!2021’s CoC group experience. The committee approved the template, which started to be used in the incident reports, and the committee’s internal operation guide was updated.

Incident summary template

• Description of the incident: a short description of the incident. • Unacceptable behavior: list the unacceptable behavior, if any • Community space: where this happens • Actions: which action the CoC take to solve the situation • Observations: any information that helps to understand the incident and the actions taken.

After this start, the work in the committee was to monitor the reported incidents, discuss and resolve them, find people to serve on the committee and, write the draft annual update and transparency reports, and make sure the whole committee reviews them before posting them on the web. Here are the blog posts with the reports for 2022 and 2023:

Being part of a code of conduct committee is a big responsibility; training is necessary to fulfill the role properly. These open resources, including a book on how to respond to code of conduct reports, have been very helpful in preparing me. 

The privacy of the people involved is a critical component of getting things right, just as transparency in the incident resolution process is critical to maintaining the trust of the community.

For this tool to fulfill its purpose, the CoC must exist and be enforced. It is also important to keep it up to date in its areas of application. In the case of rOpenSci, the CoC applies to all spaces and activities of the community, and it is one of the tools that make the community so diverse and friendly.

I am very grateful to the people with whom I have shared this role in the rOpenSci CoC committee; I have learned a lot from them: Mark Padgham, Kara Woo, Megan Carter y Natalia Morandeira.

Useful resources

List of some of the resources mentioned in the post:

Posted on:
June 28, 2024
5 minute read, 879 words
Community 100DaysToOffload rOpenSci
Community 100DaysToOffload rOpenSci
See Also:
Proyecto 2 - Las Estrellas del Universo R
Project 2 - The Stars of R-Universe
El Codigo de Conducta en rOpenSci