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Grants:IdeaLab/Program coordinator training for disruptive behavior at in-person events

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Program coordinator training for disruptive behavior at in-person events
When preparing for an event such as an edit-a-thon or meetup, it is important to know how to handle situations where participant behavior is disruptive. This idea will describe a plan on how to engage and handle instances of problematic behavior at in-person events funded by the WMF or its grant programs.
idea creator
I JethroBT (WMF)
this project needs...
project manager
community organizer
created on19:59, 11 March 2016 (UTC)

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

Currently, program leaders hosting in-person events have poor resources, guidance and training for dealing with harassment, disruption, and security issues at their events. Incidents can lead to stress and suboptimal outcomes for all involved when expectations and escalation procedures are unclear.

What is your solution?[edit]

Provide in-person or live-streamed training, and create clear guidelines and resources for program coordinators. The training will:

  • give guidance on applicable policies and procedures
  • provide best practices for working with venue staff and security
  • provide de-escalation techniques
  • describe proper reporting procedures

This IdeaLab proposes creating either in-person or live-streamed presentations that can be used by grantees holding events, editathon coordinators, GLAM professionals, and Wikimedians who plan on holding events in their area. As Wikimedia community events are managed by volunteers, event organizers depend on all attendees for help in maintaining the Friendly Space Policy. The responsibility of helping assure safety lies with all of us.

Below is a series of suggested proactive and reactive steps that can be considered by the attendees and the event staff team respectively, pursuant to this policy.[1] They are not intended to be a comprehensive checklist that covers every possible type of harassment one may encounter and the extent to which they are adhered to is at the discretion of the individual. Instead they are meant to be a list of best practices that can be considered by both attendees and volunteers of the event organising team, in their efforts to provide a safe space for Wikimedians. For this reason, failure to follow the below steps should not result in repercussions to the attendees or volunteers of the event organization team. Event organisers are strongly encouraged to refer to this document in advance of an event during its preparation.

Example approaches[edit]

Proactive steps
Advance preparation performed by the event organizing team can make a difference in how a harassment incident is handled on-site, during an event. In addition, the Friendly Spaces policy can prepare event coordinators and leaders in ways such as:
  1. Ensure that the event organisation team is adequately trained/informed in order to handle harassment incidents. The extent of training can take the form of a briefing session where coordinators are made aware of an appropriate protocol to follow should an incident occur.
  2. Establish a chain of command, an escalation protocol, and a designated single point of contact that will oversee incidents, if needed. The point of contact must know how to contact WMF officials or other authorities, as deemed necessary.
  3. Whenever possible, 2-person teams are allocated: one person will handle the incident report, while the other person will take over the handler’s usual responsibilities towards the event and the other attendees.
Reactive steps
If organizers are concerned about the conduct of an individual, or receive a complaint, they may take action appropriate to the situation. There are different ways an incident can be handled, depending on the nature of the incident. Even though the following suggestions form an escalating process in principle, the order of execution of the steps described is at the discretion of event organizers and subject to the nature of the incident. The examples presented may or may not be applicable to all incidents; this is intended as a guide to keep in mind in preparation of an event:
  1. Ensure that a witness is present through the proceedings, ideally a member of the event organisation team. It can also be a member of building staff/security or a trusted event attendee.
  2. Listen carefully and empathetically to the reporter’s account of the events. Get a good understanding of what has happened before taking further actions.
  3. For less severe incidents, a private warning to the reported individual may be warranted. This can be a gentle yet firm reminder of the Friendly Space policies, along with notice that said behaviour is not acceptable and may result in their expulsion from the Event, or further punitive actions, at their discretion.


  • Pilot a discussion-based or conversational training program
    • Consider having components that are consistent, but allow for flexibility in focus based on factors like that type of program, the experience of the event coordinators / program leaders, and the audience involved at the event.
  • Assess the perceived usefulness and effectiveness of the training materials in practice via surveying.
    • e.g. "After completing the training, do you feel more confident in handling problematic behavior at your events?"
    • e.g. "Were you able use the procedures for the training during your incident? Did they lead to a productive outcome?"

Get Involved[edit]

About the idea creator[edit]


  • Advisor PEarley (WMF) (talk) 22:33, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Advisor Will advise and help coordinate tasks with individuals interested in providing this kind of training to program facilitators. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 20:01, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I would like to help. Liridon (talk) 22:40, 31 May 2016 (UTC)


  • It is a sensitive part of the community for which we need to rise awareness. Liridon (talk) 18:00, 31 May 2016 (UTC)
  • I support this training. In the DC Wikimedia chapter, there has not been any problems but, it would be proactive to have the training. Geraldshields11 (talk) 21:34, 31 May 2016 (UTC)
  • I support this training, too. During in-person events it is likely to be victim of harassment because of lack of proper control. --Daniele Pugliesi (talk) 03:25, 3 June 2016 (UTC)
  • I haven't seen any problems to date, but training of this type is always helpful. Tokyogirl79 (talk) 06:24, 7 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Support. The new policy for events is a move in the right direction. —Neotarf (talk) 23:28, 9 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Support. I'm surprised it isn't already being done. Smallbones (talk) 01:49, 10 June 2016 (UTC)

Expand your idea[edit]

Would a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation help make your idea happen? You can expand this idea into a grant proposal.

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(launching July 1st)
  1. These steps and general solution were authored by Kalliope (WMF), with some initial editing by PEarley (WMF) and I JethroBT (WMF)