Jump to content

Learning patterns/Safe space policy

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
A learning pattern forevent
Safe space policy
problemSome people do not feel welcome at events because of previously having a hostile encounter at a similar event.
solutionPrior to the event create a safe space policy that indicates that harassment will not be tolerated and the event will be an open and welcoming place where people can express themselves.
created onNovember 14, 2013

What problem does this solve?

At Wikimedia events, people can encounter uncomfortable situations or harassment that causes them to feel unwelcome, disrespected, or violated. The individuals involved might avoid similar events or limit their participation. The sponsor of the event might have people complaining about their events and might not sponsor the event in the future.

Without full participation from a diverse cross-section of people who are encouraged to attend, the event will not accomplish it goals and be successful, and providing a safe space policy can provide ease of mind, safety and security to participants and program leaders.

What is the solution?

Draft a friendly space policy that describes the expectations of conduct for participants in your project or event. Advertise the policy ahead of your event through email, wikis, social media and other event materials before the event. Announce and describe the policy at the beginning of the event (or make it publicly visible on the project if online), and provide participants with mechanisms for asking questions about the policy.

Make it clear what participants should do, and what resources are available to them in various situations: if they feel that the policy has been violated, if they feel personally harassed or threatened, or if they have a negative interaction. Set up contact information in case the policy gets violated, and make sure a policy-specific volunteer support group is trained and on hand if needed.

General considerations

  • In public event venues (and on public wikis) where individuals from outside the community of participants may be present, safe space policies can be difficult to implement and enforce.[1]
  • If you are especially concerned about unfriendly interactions or unsafe situations at your event or in your project, you may find it helpful to ask participants to explicitly agree to or pledge to follow the policy, verbally or in writing. While not legally binding or enforceable, these agreements may help people keep the importance of friendly spaces in mind while they participate.
  • Use of color-coded lanyards for conference attendees to wear, based on whether or not they feel comfortable being photographed, can contribute to a safe space (green = always OK; yellow = please ask; red = never OK, don’t ask).[2]
  • For workshops or conferences that include opportunities for discussion from participants it can be necessary to explicitly state the rules, and periodically remind participants of those rules, in order to prevent any one person or people from dominating the discussion.[3]


  • Conferences, workshops and meetups
  • Wikimedia projects and other online collaboration spaces


See also


  1. "We discovered that parts of our conference venue were used frequently by employees of the company that owned the space. People often walked through the area, which reduced our goal of creating a safe space for discussion." AdaCamp DC 2012
  2. AdaCamp 2014
  3. Gender-gap admin training