Why We Froze the SustainOSS Discourse Forum, and what’s next

We, the SustainOSS Organizers, froze the Sustain Discourse Forum because we realized and collectively acknowledged that we were failing to hold an online space that aligns with our own vision for the sustainable, safe, and inclusive open communities we want to belong to and to support.

In order to avoid any further harm or toxicity, we pressed pause.

Reflecting on how we got here

When SustainOSS started out as a one-time, in-person event in 2017, we had no idea what the future might hold. The first event resonated strongly with many who participated, and we step by step moved to make SustainOSS a recurring annual event, and a year-round community.

We were genuinely excited to see SustainOSS take off, but we were not resourced to address the needs and responsibilities associated with a growing, passionate and globally diverse community.

We published a Code of Conduct (CoC) at the outset, but it was written in event-specific terms. As activity grew on the Forum, we realized we needed both a more general and comprehensive CoC as well as a more robust conflict resolution and reporting framework, as conflicts arose and harmful statements were made in our online space.

In trying to address community health issues and finalize a new CoC, we lived out some of the sustainability challenges that we founded SustainOSS to address. We are a super-majority volunteer organizing team, all holding other full-time and part-time non-SustainOSS jobs. Earnest efforts to push the CoC process forward moved slowly over the past year, and failed to resolve in a timely fashion or produce the needed outputs.

We paused the forum so we could get a CoC in place with input and buy-in from the SustainOSS community, in alignment with our values, and in parallel make sure we have the roles and the people in place to make it successful in addressing community health.

We acknowledge our shortcomings as an organizing team, and deeply apologize to those who have experienced harm, unpleasant interactions or toxicity in our spaces.

Where we want to go from here

We plan to keep the forum paused until we have established an updated CoC and associated procedures that support and reinforce the safe, inclusive and sustainable space we want to hold.

We want to do this in collaboration with the SustainOSS community.

As a next step, we’ll host a community meeting on Tuesday 15 February at 17:00 UTC to review a draft of the updated CoC and invite feedback on both the document as well as our plan for taking it live and making it effective.

For those who are not able to join at that particular time, we’ll gladly schedule additional sessions or talk one-on-one.

We want this to be a Code of Conduct that is collectively owned and held, and we welcome and encourage input and contributions from anyone who has experience, perspectives and insights to share.

In parallel with moving the CoC forward, we will work to address recent toxic incidents on the forum, and do everything we can to avoid recurrences.

We realize it would be ideal if folks could respond directly to this post and share thoughts, feedback, questions, ideas and concerns, but we are not confident some of the same toxicity would not surface.

We welcome you to share your input by emailing hello@sustainoss.org. We’ll summarize what we hear and echo that back out to inform the process.

We are grateful for the many brilliant, inspiring and passionate people who make up our community, and we look forward to realizing a healthier and more sustainable SustainOSS with all of you.

Hello friends,

We hope to see many of you at our Sustain CoC Community Session tomorrow, 15 February 2022, from 17:00-18:00 UTC.

To join the meeting, you can use this Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85474831586?pwd=RjM2LytMTFdSWmJjcjQzc1cwQVMvZz09

Meeting ID: 854 7483 1586
Passcode: 987051
One tap mobile
+13462487799,85474831586#,*987051# US (Houston)
+16699006833,85474831586#,*987051# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location:
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
Meeting ID: 854 7483 1586
Passcode: 987051
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kzWCLGZcg

And here is a the draft of the CoC we’ll be discussing during the session:

That link is view-only for the same reasons the Discourse Forum is currently frozen, to preclude any additional harmful comments before our updated CoC is published.

We plan to enable commenting and suggestions during the meeting, and will explain that process more completely at the top of the call.

If you are joining tomorrow, we humbly request that you strive to arrive on time, so that we can start from a common point and make the most of our time together.


the SustainOSS Organizers

Hello everyone.

We now have a stable, draft Code of Conduct. You can view it here: SustainOSS - Code of Conduct Draft - Google Docs. Thank you so much to all of you who helped us fashion this!

This document is currently in view-only mode. Sustain Community Members are encouraged to request commenting capabilities and help us transform this document into the CoC that represents our collective intent for a healthy sustainable community. Please request comment access by emailing richard@sustainoss.org.

In requesting commenting access, you are agreeing to abide by the draft Code of Conduct, for the duration of the commenting period. If you feel that you cannot abide by it in order to comment on it, let me know by email.

If you have any questions regarding the Code of Conduct process, please contact us at coc@sustainoss.org or by emailing richard@sustainoss.org.

The commenting period will last until next Friday, end of day GMT time. Moderators will be watching the thread during work days, but are unlikely to respond quickly during British and American sleep hours, and weekends.

We now have a new Code of Conduct which applies to this forum and all of our spaces. You can take a look at it, here: Code of Conduct | A Space for Open Source Sustainers. A FAQ document for it is here.

Thank you all so much for your patience during this lock-out, and your efforts helping us build this new CoC! This is so exciting. I’m overjoyed by all of your help to help us build and maintain this space, and I say this unironically, sustainably.

Locking thread for now.