Developing a community code of conduct for Australasia Preserves

Written by Rachel Tropea and Jaye Weatherburn


Australasia Preserves is an active digital preservation community of practice, nurturing a community of learners, teachers, researchers, managers, and practitioners from a variety of professional and personal backgrounds and skill levels.

To ensure that everyone feels welcome to join, to participate, and to contribute to the Australasia Preserves community of practice, we have developed a code of conduct for the online forum.

We shared this draft with the Australasia Preserves community during November 2018, and incorporated feedback and comments to make this a collaborative and inclusive code.

Rachel Tropea and Jaye Weatherburn, November 2018.

Code of Conduct for Australasia Preserves

We are using this Code of Conduct template for the Australasia Preserves online forum. By taking part in this forum you agree to uphold this Code of Conduct and Anti-harassment Policy.

Australasia Preserves is a grassroots community of practice focussed on digital preservation in the Australasian region dedicated to providing a harassment-free learning environment and community for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion.

We are a diverse community from a wide range of social, cultural, and professional backgrounds. To ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and enriching experience, we ask that you bring a spirit of respect and friendly inquiry to all your interactions.

All communication should be appropriate for a professional audience. Do not insult or put down other community members. Sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate.

Our community has a range of skills and experiences, and we do not assume a level of technical or theoretical knowledge. Digital preservation is complex, emerging and always in flux. Listen and support others to learn.

In the event that someone’s conduct is causing offence or distress, Australasia Preserves has an Anti-harassment Policy (below).

Thank you for helping make this a welcoming, friendly community for all.

Anti-harassment Policy

We do not tolerate harassment in any form. Communications that are abusive, trolling, disrespectful, or discriminatory in any way are not tolerated.

Australasia Preserves members take responsibility for protecting each other from harassing behaviour if they witness it occurring and for stepping in to enforce the social guidelines if they notice lapses. If another community member comes to any of one us with a report of harassment or inappropriate behaviour, we will believe them and take that report seriously. All reports of harassment will be received without judgment or bias and will be held in confidence.

Threatening or taking action against someone for invoking this policy or for participating in any related investigation will be considered a violation of this policy.

If a participant is being harassed, notices that someone else is being harassed, or has any other concerns, they should contact someone they trust from the Australasia Preserves community, as soon as they are comfortable doing so.

Participants asked to stop any harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately. Any Australasia Preserves member can issue a warning to a participant that their behaviour violates the community’s anti-harassment policy.

If further action is required, the organisers will take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender, or in extreme cases, expelling or banning them from Australasia Preserves events and forums.

Note: Organisers of events and online activities for the Australasia Preserves community of practice may use this template or chose to develop or use their own code of conduct to ensure professional and collegiate behaviour.

Social Guidelines

(repurposed for Australasia Preserves from the Recurse Social Rules)

How do the Social Guidelines work?

Social Guidelines aim to help create a friendly and welcoming environment for all involved in the Australasia Preserves community of practice. The social guidelines are lightweight. These are things that everyone does and breaking one doesn’t make you a bad person. These guidelines aim to help make this community a pleasant environment where you are free to be yourself, and tackle things outside your comfort zone.

The Social Guidelines


Alice: I just installed Linux on my computer!

Bob: It’s actually called GNU/Linux.

A well-actually is when you correct someone about something that’s not relevant to the conversation or tangential to what they’re trying to say. They’re bad because they aren’t helpful, break the flow of conversation, and focus attention on the person making the well actually.

Feigning surprise

Dan: What’s the command line?

Carol: Wait, you’ve never used the command line?

Feigned surprise is when you act surprised when someone doesn’t know something. Responding with surprise in this situation makes people feel bad for not knowing things and less likely to ask questions in the future, which makes it harder for them to learn.

Backseat driving

Bob: What’s the name of the string copy function?

Alice: Strncpy.

Eve: (from across the room) You should use strlcpy. It’s safer.

Backseat driving is when you lob advice from across the room without joining a conversation. Because you haven’t been participating in the conversation, it’s easy to miss something important and give advice that’s not actually helpful. If you overhear a conversation where you could be helpful, the best thing to do is to ask to join.

Subtle -isms

Steve: Windows is hard to use.

Bob: No way. Windows is so easy to use that even my grandad can use it.

Subtle -isms are subtle expressions of racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia and other kinds of bias and prejudice. They are small things that make others feel unwelcome, things that we all sometimes do by mistake. This includes things like boxing out the only woman at the whiteboard during a discussion or assuming someone isn’t a programmer because of their race or gender. Subtle -isms are baked into society in ways that can make them hard to recognise. And not everyone experiences subtle -isms in the same way, so it’s good to be mindful of this.

Playing devil’s advocate
This technique can be seen in different ways. For example, for educators it can be seen to be a valuable and powerful way of teaching and learning, but for others it can be seen as an intellectual exercise that can be disruptive and unproductive. If choosing to use this technique suggestions from the community include being sure to clearly state that you are playing devil’s advocate in order to generate fruitful and educational conversations.


Sources and further reading

Below is a list of sources that we consulted while developing the first draft of this Code of Conduct. Thanks to the CC-zero licence of many of the groups, we were able to use and adapt their words to suit our environment and culture. We accessed these online resources in November 2018.

Geek Feminism:

Open Knowledge Foundation Australia:



Python Mentors:


Do Better at Conference Diversity:

Social rules:

A Code of Conduct is not enough:

The ethics of working in digital preservation:

SpeakUp! Community Code of Conduct: see

PASIG 2019, Code of Conduct:

National LGBTI Health Alliance, Health Information Sheet, ‘Inclusive Language Guide: Respecting People of Intersex, trans and gender diverse experience’, see,%20Trans%20and%20Gender%20Diversity_0.pdf).

Australian Network on Disability: ’Inclusive Language’, see