Responsibilities of a Code of Conduct Responder

Almost every community and open source project has a Code of Conduct (CoC for short). And in case something comes up, there are people who act as a contact to keep things smooth and in order.

Table of contents

  1. What is a Code of Conduct
  2. Responsibilities of a Code of Conduct Responder
  3. Attending a workshop to get you started (by Otter Tech)
  4. My Experience as a CoC Responder

A year and a half ago, after I graduated from The Collab Lab, a program for junior developers, I was asked by the founders if I would be interested in becoming a Code of Conduct responder.

At the time, I didn't know what tasks I would face. But when I realized how important this position actually was, I was kind of proud of myself 😇 for being asked to take on this responsible task, because it meant that I was really trusted in how I interacted and communicated with other people. And that's actually not that easy to do.

They gave me the confidence that I could handle difficult situations and create a safe space within the community to ensure a welcoming environment.

Let's dive deeper into the responsibilities of a Code of Conduct Responder to get a better understanding 📑. The following insights come from my experience in The Collab Lab, but I'm sure that other communities' CoC Responders take a similar approach.

1. What is a Code of Conduct<a name="chapter-1"><a/>

A code of conduct is a set of rules that outlines the norms, rules and responsibilities or proper practices of an individual party or organization.

A code of conduct can be an important part of creating an inclusive culture, but is not a comprehensive solution on its own. An ethical culture is created by the leaders of the organization who express their ethics in their attitude and behavior.

Find CoC on the left panel Code Of Conduct

So when you join a community, such as Discord, you are often forced to accept the code of conduct before you join the community. It seems to be a matter of course to be friendly to each other, to support each other and to integrate.

Code of Conduct by Hacktoberfest

But what if someone starts a discussion? What if the discussion crosses the line and is no longer a discussion but an attack, or at least it feels like one? And suddenly you no longer feel comfortable in this group. What if someone clearly crosses the line?

Then it's time for CoC Responder to show up. If something happens, you can report it to the CoC responder, and if they do a good job, the incident is quickly forgotten. However, it would be even better to be proactive from the start to avoid any circumstances and to avoid heating up the ice.

Check out some code of conducts by know communities

  • Community Code of Conduct, Digital Ocean

2. Responsibilities of a Code of Conduct Responder<a name="chapter-2"><a/>

Regardless of whether someone reports an incident or you see something brewing beforehand, it's time for you to take control of the situation.

  • Get in touch with everyone affected by this particular incident
  • Remain patient and listen to what everyone has to say
  • Fill out a report about the incident and the solution to the problem
  • Think about how you can avoid such a situation in the future

I recommend reading following book "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life" by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD, which helps improving communication skills.

3. Attending a workshop to get you started (by Otter Tech)<a name="chapter-3"><a/>

The workshop was designed for people who enforce a Code of Conduct at an event or in an online community. The workshop taught me how to support people who report a potential Code of Conduct violation, how to evaluate a report, and how to effectively follow up with a person who has been reported.

Check out upcoming workshops directly on their website:

The workshop lasted 4 hours and we were given an introduction to incident reporting, how to create it, practical exercises on how to create a report yourself and how to deal with different types of conflicts.

I highly recommend this workshop as it provides insight into real-life incidents and a comprehensive understanding of how to manage conflict and make each community member's experience the best it can be.

4. My Experience as a CoC Responder<a name="chapter-4"><a/>

In my role as CoC Responder, I call each participant after 2-3 weeks in the current Cohort to check in on how everyone is doing and if everything is as they expected. I love these sessions because it allows me to get to know each member individually, share their experiences, and give them the space to open up and talk about whatever topic is on their mind.

The opportunity to talk to someone from the outside who is not active in the group and who acts as a mentor is crucial for members to be able to separate themselves and. These sessions are not only for them, but also for me and the community to grow and understand my responsibilities as a CoC responder even better and build a better community.

Throughout the cohort, I am available for further exchange and check in with each individual from time to time to make sure everything is still okay.

And in case you're wondering if I've ever been involved with an incident in one of the communities I serve: Yes, of course. And I think I handle it pretty well because of all the preparation and experience.