Friendly space policies
Friendly space policies (often called "safe space policies" or "anti-harassment policies") are one important way to help prevent harassment at conferences and events. These types of policies set expectations for behavior and support increased participant diversity. They also give conference organizers guidelines on how to handle harassment quickly, with the minimum amount of disruption for the event.
All Wikimedia Foundation grantees are required to have a friendly space policy for their in-person events.
We understand that this type of policy may need to be edited to fit different cultural contexts so we are not requiring the use of one specific policy. Below are a number of examples that grantees are free to use directly, translate, or remix as appropriate.
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- Wikimedia Foundation Friendly Space Policy (en)
- Wikimedia Foundation Friendly Space Policy (es)
- Wikimedia UK participation policy
- Wikimedia DC safe space policy
- Geek Feminism Wiki Anti-Harassment Policy
- FOSDEM Code of Conduct[N 1]
- This code of conduct received a fair amount of criticisms for proponents of other code of conducts. As such, it's perhaps less suitable as a sample.
We are all responsible for maintaining safe spaces at Wikimedia community events. Grantees organize events of all sizes. The planning and protocols around implementing Friendly Space policies will be different for the different events we fund. Below is a list of best practices to help event organizers and attendees in their efforts to provide a safe space for participants. The steps outlined below do not cover every possible type of harassment and how they are followed is up to the organizing team. Failure to follow these best practices will not result in repercussions to the grantee, attendees, or volunteers of the event organization team (EOT). However, the EOT is strongly encouraged to refer to this document when planning an event.
Basic guidelines for implementing a Friendly Space Policy
- Post the Friendly Space Policy on the event page before the event begins and link to it in all event communications.
- Designate two people from the EOT to respond to Friendly Space violations. The points of contact must know how to contact local emergency services, Wikimedia Foundation officials or other authorities, as necessary. Brief them on the guidelines below.
- During the opening of the event, remind participants of the Friendly Space Policy and their commitment to follow it. Point out the event organizers designated to respond to Friendly Space complaints.
- Make sure EOT members are easy to recognize, for example through special badges, so that they can be easily located.
- If there is a threat to safety, call security or police immediately.
- Make sure there are two event organizers present and move to a private space where the participant feels safe and comfortable. Supporting the victim is very important.
- Ask for a verbal (and written as well) account of what happened. This should be kept as confidential as possible.
- If it is a verbal report, write down the details you received as soon as possible.
- Try to collect this information: Identity of person causing the problem, behavior in violation of the policy, approximate time of the behavior, circumstances surrounding the incident, other people involved in the incident.
Dealing with complaints
- Offer the person a chance to decide if any further action is taken: "Ok, this sounds like a breach of our friendly space policy. If you are ok with it, I am going to convene a meeting of a small group of people and figure out what our response will be."
- Assure the participant that you have heard their complaint and will take action within 24hrs (for less severe complaints). You do not need to commit to what that action will be.
- For less severe incidents, a private warning to the reported individual may be warranted. This can be a gentle but firm reminder of the Friendly Space policy, along with notice that their behavior is not acceptable and may result in their removal from the event, or further actions.
- Individuals with a pattern of harassing behavior, or who threaten to harass individuals or disrupt an event, may be politely yet explicitly directed by the event staff to remove themselves from the event.
- If the reported or witnessed incident is severe (threat of harm, violent assault, sexual assault), immediately contact local emergency services and accompany the participant to the hospital if needed. Notify chain of command, and alert the Wikimedia Foundation about the incident. This could be through a telephone number supplied for the designated Wikimedia Foundation Trust and Safety (T&S) team member, if one is attending the event. Alternatively, email email@example.com with all available information to alert the SuSa team member on call.
Concerns regarding the implementation of Friendly Space policies should be raised with the organizers of the event first. Wikimedia Foundation Staff, including the grantmaking team and SuSa, are happy to offer advice in advance of an event or after an incident has occurred.
Guidelines for attendees
- Think. Personal boundaries can get crossed just because of differences in personality. Some people are more or less aggressive and may define their personal boundaries differently. What is offensive in one culture, may not be in another. Know your limits and be prepared to make your boundaries clear and to respect the boundaries of others.
- Know who to turn to. Identify event organizing team members before the event.
If you feel harassed:
- Communicate. A behavior perceived as harassing may not always be intentional, even when boundaries are clearly established. You can let the other person know that you feel harassed. Direct approach may not always be possible. However, making the other person aware that their behavior is making you feel uncomfortable can be all that’s needed for that behavior to stop.
- Reach out. You do not have to deal with an issue alone. If you are not able to handle an incident on your own, seek out a friend or an EOT member for assistance. Clearly explain what happened, providing all necessary details in good faith. This will help them assess the situation and take appropriate actions.
If you notice that someone else is being harassed:
- Offer your support. Sometimes you may be able to help resolve an issue by stepping in. If you feel comfortable, you may do that. You are, however, under no obligation to get involved. Do keep in mind that sometimes the person trying to help, ends up being harassed themselves. Make sure that you are first in a safe position yourself, before you can assist somebody else.
- Report the issue. See if you can find a member of the EOT to bring the issue to their attention and seek their assistance. You can also offer your support by helping the victim report their experience through the appropriate/available channels.
If you have any other concerns, please contact a member of event staff immediately.