Source: Maitria

We are coming together, in everything we do, with an intent to care for ourselves and one another. We want to nurture an empathetic culture. This "code of conduct" is the structure for our work together, the foundation. To us, a code of conduct is an affirmation that we are responsible, together, for maintaining this culture, and it's a clear statement that we will take action to protect it, including limiting who we invite into (and exclude from) our spaces.

Is this really necessary?

Sometimes things go wrong, at gatherings, in chat, in open source discussions. This code of conduct is an effort to prevent people being hurt, and to talk about what might happen if someone is hurt.

The first rule of Shape My Work spaces is consent

No one at any events associated with Shape My Work may speak to, touch, stare at, follow, or otherwise engage someone without their consent. Making jokes within earshot of someone you know (or even think) is upset by them is a violation of consent. Acting as though someone's gender is other than what they say it is is also a violation of consent. Doing things that people feel shitty about is often a violation of consent. Doing them more than once is even more likely a violation of consent.

But if I have to have consent, how do I ever start a conversation?

Some folks have asked this, so here's some clarification.

We make guesses or assessments of consent (willingness, welcome, invitation) all the time. Then we stay open to signs that the consent isn't there. A friendly smile might indicate consent to start a conversation. It might not. We learn that in the interaction. We are open to making mistakes, and learning from them. Sometimes we ask directly. The more we learn to be empathetic and see other people, the more we're able to talk about consent.

For example, many of us have started asking. "Are you a hugger?" instead of assuming it's okay. On the other hand, if I don't see any signs to the contrary, I'll assume it's okay with someone at a conference if I say "Hi" or "Excuse me, would you like to..."


If you don't want to, for example, be in a conversation, maybe you can say so, or maybe it's hard. Maybe you give some other indication that you don't want to engage. On the one hand, if it's hard to say so, maybe Shape My Work spaces would be a place to practice saying what's real for you. Saying "no thanks", etc. On the other hand, if your indications aren't being heard, and this isn't a time when you're interested in being more direct, you can also ask for help from other folks. "They aren't taking the hint. Will you help?"

The other first rule of Shape My Work spaces is no shaming

Shaming is hard to define. So we don't define it, we listen to each other. We work to learn how our behavior affects others. Here are some areas you may get the opportunity to learn about.

  • No racism
  • No geekier-than-thou
  • No sexism
  • No harassing people nursing babies
  • No ableism
  • No being mean to kids
  • No homophobia
  • No fatphobia or body shaming
  • No (pro- or anti-) religious shaming

When someone's hurting

When someone's hurting, there is a problem. We don't recognize the idea "overreacting". There is hurting, and there is empathy.

Empathy is our preference

When something's happened and someone is hurting, our first choice is to work through it. If an attendee's actions result in someone feeling unsafe, the staff will take the situation seriously.

But empathy isn't the only option

Sometimes, one or both parties are either uninterested or unable to work through the problem. Sometimes, to do so might take more time and energy than we have. Of course it's okay to not understand why something is hurtful, as long as you approach it with care and curiosity. Repeating hurtful behavior is not allowed, and that will result in removal from the Shape My Work spaces.

If, in the view of the staff, someone is not able to participate in a way that supports the culture we want to create, that person may be ejected from the space (whether in person or online) without refund (in the case of a conference or other paid activity) or compensation.

What to do if you experience something you aren't okay with

  • You have the option of inviting the person involved into conversation.
  • If you want to, you may ask for staff support for this conversation.
  • If you don't want to, or if they don't want to speak with you, you can get an organizer to help you.

Contributing to a culture of empathy

If someone "calls you out", hear the feedback. Listen for their experience, the feelings coming up. Consider how those emotions feel to you; notice what you have in common. Accept that something you did brought those feelings up for that person. Doesn't mean that you are bad, or you were "wrong" ‐ it means that you notice what happened, and accept it. Receive the feedback, and whatever clarifications they're happy to provide, and then in private, mull them over. Ask friends questions, and decide for yourself what resonates with you and what doesn't, and what actions you want to take in response. Your values and your growth belong to you, and no one else.

If you see something that seems off or scary, ask how folks are doing, or grab a staff member for help. We will not blow you off. We will be grateful.

One final note

Spaces maintained by Shape My Work do not belong to the public. They belong to Shape My Work. Much like a grocery store or a library or a mosque, it's public in one sense, but in a very important sense, it's private.

Shape My Work has very specific values. (See ?What We're About.)

We are interested in geek joy, mindfulness and human connection, and the opportunity for every person to blossom. Because of this, you can expect the maintainers of Shape My Work projects to be active in promoting this culture.

If you don't want those things, or you want to seek them in some other way, we are completely okay with that. And, if you don't want those things, we invite you to go, in peace, to places that exist for the things you do want.