1. Notifies participants of unacceptable Behaviors within the context of social norms.
  2. Signals sincerity and intention to address Behaviors that harm, exclude and otherwise make participation difficult (if not impossible) for many.
  3. Validation what incidents are reportable, should there be self-doubt on behalf of a reporter.

The Mozilla Community Participation Guidelines are example of a strong statement against Behaviors that exclude diverse people and perspectives:

The following Behaviors are considered to be unacceptable under these guidelines.

  • Violence and Threats of Violence are not acceptable - online or offline. This includes incitement of violence toward any individual, including encouraging a person to commit self-harm. This also includes posting or threatening to post other people’s personally identifying information (“doxxing”) online.
  • Personal Attacks Conflicts will inevitably arise, but frustration should never turn into a personal attack. It is not okay to insult, demean or belittle others. Attacking someone for their opinions, beliefs and ideas is not acceptable. It is important to speak directly when we disagree and when we think we need to improve, but such discussions must be conducted respectfully and professionally, remaining focused on the issue at hand.
  • Derogatory Language Hurtful or harmful language related to: Background, Family status, Gender, Gender identity or expression, Marital status, Sex, Sexual orientation, Native language, Age, Ability, Race and/or ethnicity, National origin, Socioeconomic status, Religion, Geographic location.
  • Unwelcome Sexual Attention or Physical Contact Unwelcome sexual attention or unwelcome physical contact is not acceptable. This includes sexualized comments, jokes or imagery in interactions, communications or presentation materials, as well as inappropriate touching, groping, or sexual advances. This includes touching a person without permission, including sensitive areas such as their hair, pregnant stomach, mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc) or tattoos. This also includes physically blocking or intimidating another person. Physical contact or simulated physical contact (such as emojis like “kiss”) without affirmative consent is not acceptable. This includes sharing or distribution of sexualized images or text.
  • Disruptive Behavior Sustained disruption of events, forums, or meetings, including talks and presentations, will not be tolerated.
  • Influencing Disruptive Behavior We will treat influencing or leading such activities the same way we treat the activities themselves, and thus the same consequences apply.

Other examples of unacceptable behavior by participants may include:

  • The use of sexualized language or imagery and unwelcome sexual attention or advances.
  • Trolling, insulting/derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks.
  • Public or private harassment.
  • Publishing others’ private information, such as a physical or electronic address, without explicit permission
  • Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a professional setting[^7].


  • The words “harassment”, “abuse”, and “professional” or “professionalism” should be supported by details or definitions.
  • Prohibited or harassing behaviors reflect situations that Behaviors occurred in the past in open source projects and community spaces.

NOTE Many policies prohibit sexual language, imagery, and Behavior as unprofessional, irrelevant, and harassing. For some communities (from digital archivists to sex workers) there may be sexual content or discussions that are relevant in that space. An alternative to a blanket prohibition could be one that specifies a distinction between relevant and abusive uses.


  • The code of conduct should not punish anyone for not being polite enough or communicating in an unpleasant tone without considering the circumstances.
  • The way people communicate can be judged by its impact and how it reflects the power relationships of the people involved.

Red flags

  • People who have experienced abuse or harassment should not be prohibited from telling other people about it. Community members should not have to go against the code of conduct to take action.
  • “Reverse racism” or “reverse sexism” as an unacceptable Behavior. These kinds of discrimination depend on an imbalance of power, so “racism against white people” isn’t a meaningful concern. Some policies[^8] may state that claims of “reverse -isms” will not be acted on and this is fine, especially if there’s a link to a definition so community members can understand the difference.

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