Online communities like FOSS projects lack most of the social cues around communication that humans normally have; whether in person, on the phone, or even in traditional letter writing. On the internet, people from anywhere in the world or any culture can join your project. How do you ensure that the different social expectations of online participants in your community don’t derail the effective work of your project?
Having a written code of conduct, prominently displayed where participants will see it, is a key way to ensure that social behavior expectations are shared across participants. Much like commercial companies work to manage consumer expectations of their brand, your project’s leadership can make the work more efficient by clearly adopting, enforcing, and showing a consistent style of social conduct in your online space.
Curious if which projects have a strong CoC, or where the CoC for a specific project or foundation was derived from? Read our curated list of major FOSS project CoCs. Most projects copy or modify a one of a small set of widely used core CoCs, and you can see which core codes get used in what projects.
The activities and interactions in online communities work differently than in person events. Most open source conferences have their own Code of Conduct or Anti-Harassment policy that deals with conference issues, especially the details of how to report problems and safety issues inherent in face to face situations. Some of these are included in the list of FOSS project CoCs where known.
Interested in working on diversity and inclusion efforts in your open source projects? Here’s a simple list of CoC resources, and then head over to Open Source Diversity for a set of jumping-off points to more resources, helpful communities, and programs.