[Osmf-talk] May 2017 use of Code Of Conduct (CoC) for Membership control in HOT US Inc internal governance

Blake Girardot bgirardot at gmail.com
Wed Dec 6 12:11:35 UTC 2017

Hi Martin,

As the person who created the original draft of the process for HOT, I
can speak to a few of these things. Please remember that HOT's overall
process emphasizes first and foremost just trying to kindly work
things out informally and not file formal "code of conduct complaints"
as a first resort. Formal complaints are always a last resort

Also, I and most others in HOT would have been happy to let a simple
set of list moderators just enforce some guidelines, but several folks
loudly complained this was unfair and that HOT needed a formal process
and that is what lead to its original creation and its revised process
you looked at.

1. The complaint handling procedures are detailed and involved because
they reflect a few years of complaints about the lack concrete,
transparent process for taking care of code of conduct complaints.
When I drafted them I tried to take all of that feedback into account,
which leads to these seemingly overly complicated documents. Kind of a
catch in the system, the more "rules lawyering" (best to internet
search the term in you are not familiar with it) people engage in, the
more the rules are developed to try and be as clear as possible. That
is what led to trying to be as specific as possible. I can not say if
that is a good thing or a bad thing, as the new process has never been

2. The part of the process you highlight specifically, how the
committee to review complaints is created, I think could be improved.
My priority was to keep the board out of it as much as possible and
leave it totally to the community, specifically a subset of the
community so the process was achievable. I am fine with a board of
directors, which is elected by the membership of course, to select a
committee, but I do understand some folks have concerns about that.

Again, at the risk of being overly complicated, I originally suggested
and still think a good process for selecting who reviews a complaint
if it comes to that (and we need a formal process for a review), is as

Create a pool of people who volunteer to review complaints, this is
open to any and all members of the community. They have to agree to
dedicate some time, hours, to spend on the task should they be asked,
to keep any complaints confidential and they have to agree to set
aside any previous issues or notions they have and just try to fairly
apply common sense to look at the community participation guidelines
and issues in the complaint and see if those guidelines have been
crossed. If they have a conflict of interest because of their
relationship to anyone involved, if they feel they might not be able
to be impartial, they should recuse themselves. I trust everyone in
the community to be honest in these items.

When someone files a complaint, 5 people are randomly selected from the pool.

This means no one ever knows who will hear a complaint when they file
one as the pool can include anyone and I think this would address the
concerns about top down control issues as the board really plays no
role unless a board member is randomly selected.

You can see what was finally adopted at HOT is kind of an evolution of
what I originally proposed, I voted for its adoption because I felt it
was an improvement over the process we had previously.

The reason it flips over to the Board to decide if the selected group
does not decide in 15 days is because we felt that someone making a
complaint and someone who had a complaint made against them both were
entitled to a swift decision and there had to be some way to ensure
that happened. If the community group idea failed to work, then there
still had to be some way to get the issue resolved as quickly as
possible. I am not sure there is any other option for that, somehow
you have to make sure the issues get resolved.


On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 2:02 PM, Martin Koppenhoefer
<dieterdreist at gmail.com> wrote:
> 2017-12-03 3:54 GMT+01:00, Blake Girardot <bgirardot at gmail.com>:
>> There is, as far as I know, no current group of volunteers to review
>> CoC complaints at HOT at the moment as there has been no need, but
>> someone can please correct me if I am wrong, since leaving the board I
>> do not read the meeting minutes often enough :)
> This makes the whole procedure a bit moot in my eyes. If there isn't a
> standing group for handling complaints, it means it will be created ad
> hoc when needed, and the composition will likely be such as deemed
> advantageous by the people in power.
> I've looked a bit into the currently documented procedures of HOT.
> https://www.hotosm.org/hot_code_of_conduct#complainthandling
> links to document on an external server:
> https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xb-SPADtSbgwl6mAgglHMPHpknt-E7lKRoIcSbW431A/edit
> According to this, the Membership Committee (MC) is (besides other):
> 1. selected by the board at the beginning of a new term
> 2. consisting of 2 board members and 5 other voting members
> 3. will exist until it is replaced by the Board
> 4. a subset of the MC (1 board, 2 other members) will decide on cases
> (Case Committee)
> if the MC doesn't evaluate a complaint within 15 days, it will be
> automatically passed to the board.
> In case "where one of the above listed individuals acts unilaterally,
> they must report their actions to the MC, Board and Executive Director
> for review within 24 hours."
> ---
> While Code of Conduct are usually very generic, the actual effects
> result mostly from how they are applied, who decides on the cases, how
> the committee is selected, which are the means of appeal, etc.
> Reading the HOT procedures, it seems the Board being involved in a CoC
> complaint was not on the author's priority list.
> Cheers,
> Martin

Blake Girardot
OSM Wiki - https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/User:Bgirardot
HOTOSM Member - https://hotosm.org/users/blake_girardot
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