DjangoCon Europe 2023 – Code of Conduct transparency report

We’re happy to share we received no reports of potential code of conduct issues at this year’s DjangoCon Europe!

It was a very uneventful conference for the code of conduct team, but we’re nonetheless sharing our usual transparency report.

Publishing this report is a part of our Code of Conduct process, which informs our work before, during, and after the conference. The report itself provides information about general team tasks, as well as incidents we handled.

The code of conduct and our team

The DjangoCon Europe Code of Conduct (CoC) and the workings of the team are directly taken from past events. For this year, there were four people on the team:

  • Sage Abdullah
  • Sarah Abderemane
  • Thibaud Colas
  • Tom Carrick

Our group handled everything CoC-related for the conference, with support from the organisers and other volunteers where needed. All CoC reports are handled solely by the team, with an important policy that all decisions are made as a group whenever possible. We were all available in person at the conference though with slightly different schedules, and also monitored online conversations before and after the conference.

It’s worth mentioning the team is fully separate from the Django Software Foundation’s Code of Conduct Committee, which handles violations with Django’s Code of Conduct. This separate code of conduct applies to all DSF events, including DjangoCon Europe.

Before the conference

Our team had two major tasks before the conference.

Preparing for the event

This generally meant doing anything we could ahead of the actual conference so our team could work as well as possible during the event:

  • Getting up to speed with general Code of Conduct team practices
  • Making sure we are familiar with moderation features across the different online platforms.
  • Confirming availability so we know we will have some presence throughout the whole conference, in person as well as online (Discord).

The ways to report code of conduct issues for our teams were set up on our behalf by other organisers: our team email address, and a ticketing system for moderation and code of conduct issues in Discord.

We also reached out to the DSF Code of Conduct Committee as part of their support for event organizers. They advise sharing attendee and speaker details with the committee ahead of the event, but we decided against it as it seemed too problematic to do so while complying with personal data protection and privacy laws in the UK.

Reviewing talks from speakers

All speakers were required to submit a draft version of their slides, ideally in the week before the conference, as far complete as possible. The CoC team went through the slides during the last few days before the conference, with all 34 talks and workshops reviewed. Compared to previous years, we decided from the get-go to only have one CoC team member review each set of slides. This is a very time-consuming task and in past years (across 80+ talks) we had no occurrence of disagreement between team members on slides review.

Of all 34 talks and workshops we reviewed, we didn’t request any changes from speakers.

Our highlights from this process are:

  • This review still feels very important even if there is nothing to flag.
  • The question we get the most from speakers is whether swearing is ok – yes, you have a licence to swear, if you think you can do so in a way that remains professional, and kind and considerate to others.
  • Meme review takes time. No joke – though it wasn’t the case this year, it’s a very common occurrence for speakers to use culturally-insensitive references without realising.

At the last minute, we also attempted to review lighting talks in addition to main talks and workshops, but only reviewed 4 out of a total of 34 lightning talks. This was due to a lack of process on our side – 4 talks reviewed is still better than 0 from past years, but we will have to consider investing more time into this if we want to review all lighting talks in the future. A practical way in which this was harder than we thought is usage of Discord: a lot of our attendees signed up with pseudonymous accounts, while we needed real names to know who to reach out to for lightning talk reviews.

During the conference

Plain and simple, there were no incidents reported during the conference! Everyone involved played a part in fostering an excellent atmosphere throughout. The conference code of conduct was featured prominently, which helped set clear expectations for everyone.

Everyone was equally excellent during the two-day sprint at the end of the conference. We forgot to bring our printed code of conduct reference to the sprints – so there’s at least that potential improvement for future events.

After the conference

With the conference over, with no incidents reported during the event, our team’s remit was to:

  • Keep an eye out for any report sent to us after the conference.
  • Draft a report to Django’s own Code of Conduct Committee records.
  • Publish this transparency report.

One of our members additionally reached out to the Django CoC Committee again to raise the issue of compliance with data protection and privacy laws (the UK GDPR in particular).

Our takeaways for future events

With no incidents to report (yay!), the best we can do is to share our main takeaways for future event organisers to learn from:

  • A good team makes hard work feel easy. We had excellent team dynamics, and excellent support from organisers and other volunteers.
  • Discord is great but we need people’s names. For future events, we’d recommend finding the best way to keep track of who is who, in a way that makes sense with Discord’s use of the same account across community servers with varying expectations of anonymity. We hear Server Profiles are the way.
  • Compliance with data protection and privacy laws is no joke. DjangoCon Europe handles personal details of hundreds of people, and we need to make sure we do so in a way that respects local law. This requires familiarity with said laws, and a bit of work to assess our processes.

About this report

Even without any incidents to report on, we still believe publishing this report is a good way to show why our CoC is important, and how it is enforced in practice, in line with the transparency guidelines from Django’s CoC committee. We hope that by publishing this, we will encourage people to report incidents in the future, and that other conferences can learn from our mistakes and our successes.

We welcome any feedback, and we would like to thank the DjangoCon Europe community – attendees, speakers, sponsors, and organisers alike – for working with us.

We thank the organisers of DjangoCon Europe 2021 and 2022 for their transparency reports, which we followed as a template for this year’s report.

The DjangoCon Europe 2023 Code of Conduct team,

Sage Abdullah, Sarah Abderemane, Thibaud Colas, Tom Carrick