I don’t think so but I am interested in other views…
There has been a lot written and tweeted in the past week or so about the fallout from PyCon which has spiraled out of control. Terribly. It led to PyCon revising its code of conduct for participants and subsequently, a number of people have contacted us to suggest that we have a code of conduct too. I feel for all of the individuals who have been caught up in the mess.
It matters to me that people can feel they can come to our conference and feel comfortable participating. A lot. Here’s why.
Last year at Business of Software, some people took offense at some of the remarks that one of the speakers made (I believe the details are unimportant for the purposes of this post). What is important is that some people were made to feel uncomfortable. As a conference and event organiser this is a failure on my part. Watch the video if you want to know why this is so important to me personally – but short cut – I want my children to feel comfortable going into the software industry if that is what they choose to do. I believe we all do.
It was interesting that one person who had been the most enthusiastic supporters of the speaker in question on the day, decided to change their attitude when they smelt a possible fight in the offing. One in particular deleted their enthusiastic tweets from the day before and tried to start a campaign of some sort against the speaker, the conference, the attendees, I’m not even sure quite what. I don’t believe this represented the views of almost anyone else involved. It was extraordinary to me to see how quickly negative sentiment would travel via Twitter and what an extraordinarily bad medium twitter was for nuanced conversations.
It matters to me that we are a welcoming and inclusive community because Business of Software is a special group of people that care. We don’t run the event to maximise the profit we make, we run it to make money but more importantly, to make a difference to the community we serve. This year in fact, despite selling out last year, we are making the event smaller to maintain the intimate feel that we have built so carefully over the years. The Business of Software Conference is my home for the few days it is on and our delegates are paying guests in that home. I think people instinctively know how to behave in someone’s home and I trust people to understand that and behave accordingly.
I don’t ask people to agree to a code of conduct when they come to my house for dinner. If someone offends someone else at a dinner party I am holding, I would have a quiet word with that person. They would probably be mortified to know what they had said or done had caused offense and they are likely to modify their behaviour in the future.
The Business of Software Conference is a small event for people who care about building long term, sustainable software businesses. The people who attend are overwhelmingly lovely, thoughtful people. I have made many wonderful friends through putting it on. The content and discussions at the conference mean that the people who come have generally self-selected to be of a certain type. It is one reason we want to keep the event small. It is also the reason that I don’t think we need a code of conduct. I genuinely believe that people are good and don;t need to be told how to behave.
What do you think?
P.S. I would also welcome thoughts, in the comments or via email, if you have any ideas that can help us make the programme more welcoming to anyone if they care about our core philosophy of wanting to help people grow long term, sustainable software businesses.
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