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I Violated a Code of Conduct


Written: 28 Oct 2020 by Jeremy Howard

Abstract: NumFOCUS chanced on I violated their Code of Behavior (CoC) at JupyterCon ensuing from my speak turned into once no longer “form”, ensuing from I acknowledged Joel Grus turned into once “hideous” in relation to his conception that Jupyter Notebook is no longer a correct tool building ambiance. Joel (who I severely admire, and withhold in suggestions an asset to the suggestions science neighborhood) turned into once no longer all for NumFOCUS’s action, turned into once no longer told about it, and did now not increase it. NumFOCUS did now not apply their very maintain enforcement course of and violated their very maintain CoC, left me inserting for over every week no longer even shining what I turned into once accused of, and did now not give me an opportunity to create enter sooner than concluding their investigation. I in most cases told their committee that my emotional resilience turned into once low for the time being attributable to clinical disorders, which they laughed about and no longer successfully-known, as I attempted (unsuccessfully) to withhold support tears. The technique has left me shattered, and I won’t be in a discipline to bag any speaking requests for the foreseeable future. I increase the thoughtful enforcement of Code of Conducts to tackle sexist, racist, and harassing habits, but that’s no longer what came about in this case.


In my fresh JupyterCon keynote, “I Fancy Jupyter Notebooks” (re-recording offered at the backside of this post, need to you’re drawn to seeing it for yourself), I sought to offer a rebuttal to Joel Grus’ highly influential JupyterCon presentation “I Don’t Fancy Notebooks”. Joel claimed in his speak that Jupyter is a wretched different for tool building and instructing, and I claimed in my speak that it’s a correct different. The NumFOCUS committee chanced on me guilty of violating their code of conduct for having no longer been “form” in my difference with Joel, and for “insulting” him. The advise reasons given were that:

  • I acknowledged that Joel Grus turned into once “hideous”
  • I historic about a of his slides (successfully attributed) and a hasty clip from in actual fact one of his videos to present why I believed he turned into once hideous
  • That I made “a negative reference” to his prior speak
  • I turned into once also told that “as a keynote speaker” I’d “be held to a greater long-established than others” (even though this turned into once no longer communicated to me earlier than my speak, nor what that greater long-established is)

Code of Conducts in most cases is a critical machine, when thoughtfully created and thoughtfully enforced, to tackle sexism, racism, and harassment, all of which accept as true with been issues at tech conferences. Given the vary disorders within the tech trade, it’s vital that we continue the work of creating conferences more inclusive, in particular to those from marginalized backgrounds. Having a code of conduct with advise suggestions against violent threats, unwelcome sexual consideration, repeated harassment, sexually advise photographs, and varied hideous habits is the first step against addressing and stopping those behaviors. The JupyterCon code offers the next examples of unacceptable habits, none of which are in any admire a equivalent to what I did (i.e. asserting that somebody turned into once hideous on a technical subject, and explaining how and why):

  • Violent threats or violent language directed against one more person
  • Discriminatory jokes and language
  • Posting sexually advise or violent cloth
  • Posting (or threatening to post) varied other people’s personally identifying files (“doxing”)
  • Personal insults, especially those using racist or sexist terms
  • Unwelcome sexual consideration
  • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above habits
  • Repeated harassment of others. In long-established, if any individual asks you to quit, then quit

My trip with the NumFOCUS code of conduct raises about a key disorders:

  • The CoC enforcement course of fervent conflicting & altering files, no opportunity for me to give enter, the stress of a prolonged wait of unknown length with out a facts about what I turned into once accused of or what would happen subsequent, and the committee members violated their very maintain CoC within the course of the technique
  • There were two entirely varied Codes of Behavior with varied necessities linked in varied locations
  • I turned into once held to a special, undocumented and uncommunicated long-established
  • The existence of, or itsy-bitsy print about, the CoC were no longer communicated earlier than confirmation of the engagement
  • CoC consultants imply avoiding necessities of politeness or varied kinds of “accurate” habits, but need to point of curiosity on a advise checklist of unacceptable behaviors. The JupyterCon CoC, on the different hand, is kind of entirely a checklist of “accurate” behaviors (equivalent to “Be welcoming”, “Be thoughtful”, and “Be qualified”) which would be vaguely defined
  • CoC consultants imply using a CoC that specializes in a checklist of unacceptable behaviors. Each the codes linked to JupyterCon accept as true with the kind of link, and no longer in actual fact some of the unacceptable habits examples are in any manner linked or discontinuance to what came about in this case. However NumFOCUS on the different hand chanced on me in violation.

I’d rather no longer accept as true with to jot down this post in any admire. Nonetheless I do know that of us will quiz about why my speak isn’t obtainable on the JupyterCon get 22 situation, so I felt that I need to present exactly what came about. Specifically, I turned into once concerned that if easiest partial files became obtainable, the anti-CoC crowd may perhaps perhaps per chance jump on this as an instance of issues with codes of conduct more in most cases, or may perhaps perhaps per chance point at this as section of “cancel custom” (a concept I vehemently disagree with, since what is understood as “cancellation” is on the whole accurate “coping with penalties”). Within the waste, I chanced on that being on the “varied aspect” of a code of conduct mission gave me additional insights into the technique, and that it’s vital that I need to share those insights to support the neighborhood in some unspecified time in the future.

Runt print

The rest of this post is a fairly detailed account of what came about, for people which would be .

My speak at JupyterCon

I recently gave a speak at JupyterCon. My companion Rachel gave a speak at JupyterCon about a years within the past, and had a graceful trip, and I’m a colossal fan of Jupyter, so I wanted to increase the mission. The convention historic to be organized by O’Reilly, who accept as true with repeatedly done a graceful job of conferences I’ve attended, but this year the convention turned into once in its keep handled by NumFOCUS.

For my speak, I made up my suggestions to point of curiosity on Jupyter as a literate and exploratory programming ambiance, using nbdev. One mission, on the different hand, is that two years earlier Joel Grus had given a colorful presentation called I Don’t Fancy Notebooks which had been so compelling that I in actuality accept as true with chanced on it nearly no longer doable to be in contact about programming in Jupyter with out being told “you would possibly want to to see this speak which explains why programming in Jupyter is a unpleasant concept”.

Joel opened and closed his presentation with some gentle-hearted digs at me, since I’d requested him sooner than time no longer to manufacture the kind of presentation. So I believed I’d murder two birds with one stone, and retract the chance to acknowledge without lengthen to him. No longer easiest turned into once his presentation colorful, but his slides were hilarious, so I made up my suggestions to without lengthen parody his speak by using (with stout credit score of course) about a of his slides without lengthen. That manner other people that hadn’t viewed his speak may perhaps perhaps both gain to relish the fabulous hiss material, and also realize accurate what I turned into once responding to. Shall we advise, here’s how Joel illustrated the mission of working cells within the merely uncover:

I confirmed that crawl, explaining that it’s Joel’s retract on the mission, and then adopted up with a crawl exhibiting how easy it in actuality is to bustle all cells in uncover:

Every crawl integrated a snippet from Joel’s title crawl, which, I defined, confirmed which slides were without lengthen taken from his presentation. I turned into once cautious to be certain I did now not modify any of his slides in any manner. When first introducing his presentation, I described Joel as “a colorful communicator, primarily comic, and hideous”. I didn’t fabricate any varied feedback about Joel (even though, for the myth, I accept as true with he’s excellent, and highly imply his e book.

The Code of Behavior violation detect

Every week later, I received an electronic mail telling me that two CoC experiences were filed in relation to my JupyterCon keynote presentation. I turned into once told that “The Code of Behavior Enforcement Team is meeting the next day to review the incident and need to be contacting you to expose you of the nature of the document and to treasure your perspective”.

The CoC wasn’t talked about in any admire till after I’d been invited to be in contact, had authorized, and had carried out the web registration. I had reviewed it at that point, and had been fairly at a loss for words. The electronic mail I received linked to a JupyterCon Code of Behavior, but that in turn didn’t provide grand detail about what is and isn’t OK, and that in turn linked to a special NumFOCUS Code of Behavior. A link turned into once also offered to document violations, which also linked to and named the NumFOCUS CoC.

I turned into once concerned that I had done one thing that may perhaps perhaps additionally be viewed as a violation, and looked ahead to hearing about the nature of the document and having an opportunity to share my perspective. I turned into once heartened that JupyterCon documented that they apply the NumFOCUS Enforcement Manual. I turned into once also heartened that the handbook has a share “Talk with the Reported Person about the Incident” which says they’ll “Let the reported person expose any individual on the CoC response team their aspect of the myth; the actual individual that receives their aspect of the myth need to be ready to bring it at the response team meeting”. I turned into once also cheerful to peep that grand of the handbook and code of conduct adopted the advice (and even historic some wording from) the excessive of us at the Ada Initiative, who’re extremely thoughtful about the contrivance to make and apply codes of conduct.

One mission is that the JupyterCon CoC is in accordance with Django’s, which has very long-established guidelines equivalent to “Be welcoming” and “Be thoughtful”, that may perhaps perhaps additionally be taken by varied other people in varied methods. The NumFOCUS code is diagram clearer, with a advise checklist of “Unacceptable behaviors”, even though that checklist entails “Other unethical or unprofessional conduct”, which is difficult, since “unprofessional” will also be capture-all gate-protecting mechanism for regardless of those within the “occupation” deem to be against their particular norms, and which those birth air the in-neighborhood (treasure me) can’t be fairly be expected to understand.

These forms of disorders are discussed in an fabulous presentation from Valerie Aurora, who explains that “a code of conduct need to relish” “behaviors which many of us mutter are acceptable but are unacceptable for your neighborhood”, and that “While you judge to accept as true with to checklist correct behaviors or list the neighborhood good of habits, fabricate it in a separate myth”, and in particular “Accumulate no longer require politeness or varied kinds of ‘accurate’ habits”. Pretty grand all of the JupyterCon code of conduct is a checklist of kinds of ‘accurate’ habits (e.g. “be qualified”, “be welcoming”, “be respectful”, and many others.) Whereas broader and more subjective values, equivalent to “be form”, will also be critical as section of a convention’s values, it’s less determined if and even how they need to be enforced by job of a code of conduct.

Total, I felt very careworn out, but hopeful that this may perhaps perhaps be resolved rapidly.

The calls

The promised name came about the next day. Nonetheless, the advisor told me that they would possibly no longer be informing me of the nature of the document at that point, and would no longer be attempting to procure to treasure my perspective at that point. I requested why the change of plans. The advisor defined that that they had had a committee meeting and had determined to help till that they had spoken to the two journalists.

I turned into once alarmed. The advisor may perhaps perhaps no longer even commit to a time once they would possibly gain support to me, or expose me what may perhaps perhaps be occurring subsequent. I told them that I believed that telling any individual that that they had a violation document, but then no longer asserting what it’s, or when or whether or no longer they may perhaps well be in a discipline to create their aspect of the myth, or providing any time frame for any subsequent step turned into once cruel. I told them that my emotional resilience turned into once no longer excessive, since I’ve been coping with out a longer easy family successfully being disorders, and that I hoped they would possibly withhold in suggestions altering their means for various other people in some unspecified time in the future, so that they wouldn’t accept as true with to condominium an birth-ended and obscure charge treasure I did.

The advisor defined that I had “made no longer lower than two other people primarily feel unhappy”. I told them that I primarily didn’t mutter that turned into once shapely. We shouldn’t be held accountable for various other people’s feelings. As a proponent of Nonviolent Communication I imagine that we need to share how we primarily feel in response to the words or deeds of others, but must not ever blame others for these feelings. Furthermore, if it’s a requirement that talks fabricate other people primarily feel overjoyed, that must be clearly communicated and documented (NumFOCUS did neither).

The subsequent name did now not happen for one more week (I had made myself obtainable to meet any time). I turned into once severely shocked to read that the purpose of the name may perhaps perhaps be to “discuss the outcomes of our investigation”. I could perhaps perhaps no longer realize how they’ll accept as true with carried out their investigation and accept as true with outcomes, with none enter from me. On the different hand, I agreed to the name; I figured that every person I wished to manufacture turned into once dial in, hear the outcomes, and I turned into once done.

The experiences

One the name, I turned into once shocked to search out myself coping with four other people. The earlier name had been with accurate one, and all correct now being so severely outnumbered made me primarily feel very intimidated. One of many representatives began by telling me exactly what the finding turned into once. The journalists claimed, and the committee agreed, that there had indeed been a code of conduct violation, namely in failing to be “form to others” and in “insulting others”.

I turned into once alarmed. I accept as true with Joel is gargantuan, and I do know for a indisputable truth that he doesn’t suggestions being called “hideous” (since the name I checked with him). I most absolutely did now not insult him. I acknowledged that I accept as true with his means to coding is sub-optimum, and namely that it can help from using Jupyter. I confirmed a clip of him reside coding to present that. I chanced on it surprising that section of the findings of the committee may perhaps perhaps be a hiss as to why I confirmed a advise crawl, especially infected about they never even requested. I in actuality accept as true with out a want to discredit Joel, and I don’t mutter that my peep that his coding setup is sub-optimum need to be regarded as a puny on his persona.

Would possibly presumably it’s argued that I turned into once no longer “form”. I mutter it can. I did a parody. In many methods, this is form – it reveals that (and I explicitly acknowledged this) that I accept as true with his presentation is colorful and highly influential, to the extent that I place aside in a well-known quantity of time finding out it and working with the jokes and structure as very most practical as I could perhaps perhaps. On the varied hand, I did indeed advise he’s hideous, and tried to indicate the errors he made by pointing them out without lengthen on his slides; I don’t mutter that’s unkind, but apparently NumFOCUS committee disagrees. For my share, I don’t mutter it will also be argued I turned into once insulting him. It’s fairly you can per chance be in a discipline to imagine to debate any individual and advise they’re hideous, with out claiming they’re a foul person or asserting mean issues about their person. The JupyterCon CoC even mentions this: “After we disagree, try to treasure why. Disagreements, both social and technical, happen the whole time and Jupyter is no exception”.

There is a colossal disparity between the examples which would be offered on the Jupyter and NumFOCUS codes when compared with what I turned into once being charged with. Right here’s the checklist from NumFOCUS of “unacceptable behaviors”:

  • The utilize of sexualized language or imagery
  • Excessive profanity (please steer clear of curse words; other people vary severely in their sensitivity to swearing)
  • Posting sexually advise or violent cloth
  • Violent or intimidating threats or language directed against one more person
  • Injurious bodily contact and/or unwelcome sexual consideration or sexual feedback
  • Sexist, racist, or otherwise discriminatory jokes and language
  • Trolling or insulting and derogatory feedback
  • Written or verbal feedback which accept as true with the enact of rather than other people on the premise of membership in a advise neighborhood, together with level of trip, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, neurotype, personal look, physique dimension, speed, ethnicity, age, religion, or nationality
  • Public or inner most harassment
  • Sharing inner most hiss material, equivalent to emails sent privately or non-publicly, or reveal message history, with out the sender’s consent
  • Persevering with to galvanize interaction (equivalent to images, recording, messaging, or dialog) with any individual after being requested to quit
  • Sustained disruption of talks, events, or communications, equivalent to heckling of a speaker
  • Publishing (or threatening to post) varied other people’s personally identifying files (“doxing”), equivalent to bodily or electronic addresses, with out advise permission
  • Other unethical or unprofessional conduct
  • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behaviors

Additionally they provide this samples of influence review on their enforcement e-book:

These are behaviors that I strongly agree need to be stopped, and the neighborhood need to unite to stand at the support of this. However these are no longer the behaviors that the NumFOCUS committee centered on in this case, or within the sections of the CoC that I turned into once chanced on to accept as true with violated.

I in actuality accept as true with out a concept what came about here – why every other people determined to make utilize of a code that turned into once, apparently, written to offer protection to other people from sexism, violence, racism, and intimidation, in this form. I do know that I’ve made many enemies this year with my advocacy of universal masking, and accept as true with had to condominium fixed harassment and even death threats in consequence. I’ve also received a quantity of abuse over fresh years from some attributable to my makes an try to democratize AI, from other individuals who accept as true with felt their privileged positions threatened.

What now?

After they told me of the experiences and their finding that I had violated the code of conduct, they requested if I had anything to advise. I told them I didn’t. I’d easiest mentally ready myself for what they acknowledged the name turned into once about: to expose me of the findings. I told them I didn’t mutter it’d be that critical, since they’d already carried out their investigation and made their findings. I didn’t accept as true with a emotional resilience to preserve in a dialogue, and I told them that. One person then chuckled in response, and as I struggled to withhold support tears he began talking at some dimension about how the next section is for me to support them mediate on subsequent steps.

I had already told the committee that I wasn’t in a discipline to accept as true with a dialogue. One of many NumFOCUS “unacceptable behaviors” is: “Persevering with to galvanize interaction (equivalent to images, recording, messaging, or dialog) with any individual after being requested to quit.” Since he turned into once ignoring my search files from, I interrupted him, repeated that I couldn’t raise on, and terminated the name. I primarily didn’t primarily feel treasure having a committee of other people I didn’t know see me sobbing.

I’m an honest, self-funded researcher. I don’t accept as true with a authorized team, a comms team, or colleagues to increase me. I’m a uncommon form of converse at conferences, which are mainly populated by other people from mountainous companies, successfully-funded universities, and sizzling startups.

Apparently almost definitely the NumFOCUS policy accurate is no longer designed to withhold in suggestions the rights and psychological successfully being of other people which would be accused. Their policy says “As rapidly as you can per chance be in a discipline to imagine, let the reported person know that there may perhaps be a complaint about them (sooner than the response team meeting)”, and that in approaching the accused, they need to advise ‘This habits isn’t acceptable for our tournament/meetup’, they in most cases need to “Emphasize the final result/influence of the habits and that it will cease/quit”. In temporary, many aspects of the myth, together with this one, judge guilt, and fabricate no longer indicate any consideration for the accused. The aptitude for misuse and weaponization of the kind of code is of snarl.

I’ve tried to manufacture myself obtainable for public speaking events when I’m able to, in uncover to increase the neighborhood. Nonetheless, the aptitude fee is too gargantuan, and there may perhaps be no such thing as a proper upside for me personally, so I don’t place aside a query to to be accepting invites in some unspecified time in the future, no longer lower than no longer for fairly a while. I will of course whole those commitments I’ve already made.

I turned into once no longer in a discipline to condominium the NumFOCUS CoC course of. Even even though I’m no longer within the good discipline for the time being to tackle one thing treasure that, I’m grand than many. For one thing, I’m a white, cis, straight male, and I in actuality accept as true with had some success in my lifestyles which has helped my self-self belief. I’m also financially honest, and fabricate no longer want the approval or increase of the influential NumFOCUS organization. Many people, coping with the an identical scenario, may perhaps perhaps additionally successfully primarily feel compelled to affiliate with the technique, despite the indisputable truth that it’s an emotional burden they are no longer successfully in a discipline to condominium. Many individuals who fabricate no longer help from the privilege I in actuality accept as true with may perhaps perhaps additionally no longer even realize they’ve the facility to advise “no”. It turned into once assumed by the committee that I’d accept as true with the psychological toughness to be in a position to face, by job of video, four other people I didn’t know, as they told me of my “violations” and demanded I support them mediate on subsequent steps. Limiting NumFOCUS convention audio system to easiest those ready and in a discipline to tackle the kind of scenario may perhaps perhaps additionally severely limit the vary of NumFOCUS conferences. NumFOCUS recently “screwed up badly” and has a quantity of work to manufacture to toughen vary in its neighborhood. Bettering its Code of Behavior and enforcement course of to meet the ideals of kindness, fairness, admire, and consideration that it demands of others, may perhaps perhaps additionally support in this route.

I don’t want this scenario to quit my work from being obtainable, so I’ve created a brand new honest recording of the controversy, using the actual identical slides and cloth. Nonetheless I didn’t utilize a script for either speak, so the wording won’t be an identical. The video is below. The PowerPoint slides are here.

PS: To the many visitors I in actuality accept as true with at NumFOCUS, and folks all for the many tasks I utilize and treasure at NumFOCUS: this isn’t about you. You are all nonetheless accurate as excellent as ever, and I very grand hope that my experiences alongside with your Code of Behavior committee won’t in any manner enact our relationship.

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