Linux Australia has announced plans to introduce a conference code of conduct following a controversial keynote presentation at linux.conf.au (LCA) in January.
A number of conference attendees complained about futurist Mark Pesce’s use of sexual images in his presentation, in breach of LCA’s anti-harassment policy.
Linux Australia president John Ferlito said last week that it would establish an official code of conduct before accepting registrations for next year’s conference in Ballarat, Victoria.
The code of conduct would bring together elements of LCA’s terms and conditions and anti-harassment policy.
Ferlito said council members had been working on the code for several months and were consulting with the Ada Initiative, a non-profit organisation for women in technology.
“After the keynote there was a lot of discussion around the existing policy, some positive and some negative,” Ferlito said.
“As with any process or document, we feel that it can be improved … we believe that by calling it a Code of Conduct it is more positive and hopefully more likely to be read and taken on board by all attendees.
“Our aim is to have something to present to the community for discussion within the next few weeks.”
Ferlito explained that conference attendees might not bother to read anti-harassment policies without realising “behaviour which is innocuous in one situation can be harassment in another”.
He hoped that last year’s controversy would not affect registrations for LCA 2012, noting that organisers were working towards “making sure this type of incident does not occur”.
Besides the annual linux.conf.au, Linux Australia’s code of conduct would also apply to its other conferences, including Pycon AU and Drupal Down Under.
Its introduction came as US media company O’Reilly announced plans to implement a code of conduct for its technical conferences, following allegations of sexual harassment.
OSBridge introduced a similar policy in June and PyCon US organisers planned to enforce a code of conduct at its Californian event next March.
“We are pleased to see that having an anti-harrassment policy or Code of Conduct is becoming accepted practice for Open Source conferences,” Ferlito said.
“Our goal is to help people realise that some of their actions can make a conference an uncomfortable environment for others, and to ensure that everyone has as safe and enjoyable a conference as possible.”
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