User: Password:
|
|
Subscribe / Log in / New account

The dark side of open source conferences

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 5:06 UTC (Thu) by gdt (subscriber, #6284)
Parent article: The dark side of open source conferences

As a sponsor of various FOSS events, this article is disturbing.

In future sponsorship agreements organisers can anticipate a clause which will lead to immediate stoppage of services and the return of all funds should instances of sexism, sexual harassment, display of sexualised imagery and other matters of discrimination be associated with events we sponsor.

As people may appreciate, we'll protect our reputation even if that causes havoc at the event and the financial collapse of its organising body. In short, we value people higher than software.


(Log in to post comments)

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 7:18 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

associated with and approved by (or even not objected to by) an event are very different things.

events can have things associated with them that are completely outside of the knowledge and approval of anyone running the event.

you are asking that the event organizers police the behavior of all attendees, no matter where in the city they go

now, given the current social climate, I don't expect that any events would reject your clause, but I think you would find invoking it more interesting to do than you think.

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 11:20 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

you are asking that the event organizers police the behavior of all attendees, no matter where in the city they go
If someone complains that a conference attendee attacked her, there should be consequences even if it happened outside the official conference limits in some after-hours thing. This isn't spy cameras in bedrooms, this is a deterrent on appalling behaviour.

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 23:13 UTC (Thu) by gdt (subscriber, #6284) [Link]

The aim is to focus event organisers on minimising the risk to their sponsor's reputation. Our reputation can be harmed by participants' behaviour outside the event venue, so we do want organisers' focus there too.

The terms aren't harsh. A harsh term would be for organisers to indemnify us against damage to us caused by the behaviour of their participants. Indemnification is a pretty standard contract term, and it is noticeable by its absence.

Invoking the clause is a no-brainer. Take the worst case -- do you think our reputation would suffer or be enhanced by being sued by conference organisers after we withdrew suddenly following an unseemly incident? Even in the unlikely event that we lost legally, we'd still win.

You've got to understand that this sort of behaviour is a sponsor's worst nightmare. We hand over some small amount of services or money, but our entire reputation is on the line.

Those outside business don't understand how important reputation is. Consider a business where you can work hard to get, say, a 10% growth in sales each year. That takes a huge amount of thought and money spent on product lines, sales staff, promotion and so on. Consider that a 10% hit to revenue from a "reputation incident" would be regarded as minor. That is, the least you can expect is to waste an entire year's effort by everyone in the business.

It's more than just reputation. Large sums of money are spent on what is basically the happiness of staff; for example, at least half of our leasing expenditure is spent on getting nice office space rather than the cheapest dump. Having spent all that money the last thing we need is for more than half of the staff to be disgruntled because we facilitated some outrageous behaviour.

Anyway, I've probably written enough so that you can see the view from another side of the fence.

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 19:03 UTC (Thu) by lutchann (✭ supporter ✭, #8872) [Link]

I doubt any conference would allow their sponsors recourse to funds due to an instance of poor behavior by an attendee. Perhaps you could simply require that each conference adopt and enforce a mutually-agreed-upon sexual harassment policy similar to what Val has proposed?

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 21:25 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

I some sponsors refused, I can see the headline now "$conference refuses to guarantee safety of female attendees"

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 2, 2010 23:35 UTC (Thu) by gdt (subscriber, #6284) [Link]

You are suggesting a contract where you pay in advance for a service but have no claw-back clause (or its bigger, scarier brother the indemnity clause)? That would be foolish.

If the organisers fight the application of the clause, well that's just another way of asking which party spent real money on lawyers during the sponsorship negotiations.

I don't care if a conference adopts a strategy which involves Val's suggestions or not. That's not the sort of detail you put in a contract. What goes in a contract is measurable outcomes. That doesn't preclude an event using Val's suggestions as a means for reaching those outcomes.

The dark side of open source conferences

Posted Dec 3, 2010 0:28 UTC (Fri) by lutchann (✭ supporter ✭, #8872) [Link]

No, I'm saying any conference willing to contractually guarantee good behavior of its attendees is foolish.

If you want to require that conference organizers vet presentations for offensive content, promptly eject attendees for inappropriate comments and behavior, and encourage women to participate, then that's fine. There's plenty of precedent for that.

If you want the ability to unilaterally terminate your obligations and recover previously-made payments because an attendee alleged that another attendee groped her in a pub at 1am, then you're going to run into some resistance, and rightly so.


Copyright © 2017, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds