In 2015, we turned off YouTube comments on all our talk videos by default. This year, we forgot to take that step. When the videos of the 2016 conference talks started being posted to YouTube, we had an influx of wonderful, positive, complimentary comments that made us proud of our community, so we decided not to limit comments on videos.
This was a mistake.
On Friday, August 19, we were notified by one of our speakers that several people had posted harassing comments on the video of their talk.
We apologize to this speaker for not moderating comments from the very beginning. It’s our responsibility as organizers to ensure the safety and well-being of all our speakers, even after the conference is over. We failed to do that, and we’re sorry.
What actions we took
By Monday, August 22, we had taken the following actions:
- Contacted the speaker to thank them for letting us know, apologize for creating circumstances that allowed this to happen, and let them know what we planned to do
- Reported all abusive comments to YouTube
- Initiated internal discussion about comments that were borderline, and reported the ones that we decided violated the Code of Conduct
- Removed the ability to comment further on all talk videos (Later in the weekend we re-enabled the ability to comment, but all comments are now moderated and must be approved by an organizer.)
- Reviewed comments on all other videos (no other video had received harassing comments at that time)
- Prepared a Code of Conduct report for the Django Software Foundation
We can confirm that the abusive comments no longer appear on that video.
We don’t know the identities of the people who commented, and we don’t know if they are members of the Django community. We took screenshots of the comments and commenters and have reported them to the DSF.
What we’re doing to prevent this happening again
In the future, comments on all DjangoCon US conference talk videos will be moderated from the beginning, and speakers will be asked whether they would like us to disable comments on their talk videos entirely. Members of the Code of Conduct team and other conference organizers will have access and be able to monitor and approve comments. Harassing or abusive comments, or comments that otherwise violate the Code of Conduct, will not be approved.
People who moderate YouTube comments will be trained in what to look for when moderating comments. For example, hate speech, abusive comments, and insults are violations of the Code of Conduct and are not acceptable. Comments that simply disagree with the speaker in a civil manner are acceptable.
We will also make it clear that the DjangoCon US Code of Conduct applies to all online spaces, including YouTube comments. Again, we don’t know if these commenters attended the conference or are members of the Django community, but we want to be sure that members of our community know that the official DjangoCon US YouTube channel, and conference talk videos from DjangoCon US posted by other users, are covered by the Code of Conduct.
A final note
At DjangoCon US, we want to create warm and welcoming spaces where people can learn new skills, be exposed to groundbreaking technology, have important conversations, meet developers from all over the world, and be exposed to new and challenging ideas. For those goals to be successful, we need to ensure that DjangoCon US is a safe place for people to express those ideas and have those conversations. We deeply regret that our actions caused harm to this speaker.