Mapzen's Code of Conduct Policy

Mapzen will only sponsor events with a strong code of conduct in place. Open source mapping is for everybody!

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Every day at Mapzen we strive to build a healthier mapping ecosystem by ensuring it is diverse, sustainable, and accessible to all. One of the ways we do this is by sponsoring events in the geo and open source space. We know that these events are vital to our community, and many of us here have benefited tremendously from attending them. In 2014 alone, we were able to sponsor events like State of the Map US, State of the Map 2014 (international), and FOSS4G 2014. In addition, we made a major donation to Code for America to enable them to help governments open more geospatial data. We know that these sponsorships have real-world impact and have had a chance to see that first hand. Events like State of the Map and FOSS4G allow people in the community to make connections, learn about and present new technologies, and most importantly, meet in person.

Starting in 2015, Mapzen will only sponsor events with a strong code of conduct in place. We believe that codes of conduct are essential to ensuring that tech events are safe, diverse, and accessible places for all attendees, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, or skill level. Sadly, the open source space isn’t nearly as diverse as it could be. Something that is both a cause and effect of this is that sometimes tech events are hostile and unwelcoming to underrepresented groups, such as women or people with disabilities. We firmly believe that the mapping space should be as diverse as the world we’re mapping, and we will only lend our name (and funds) to events that share that belief.

Codes of conduct aren’t about limiting anyone’s fun, or paying lip service to diversity, but instead they establish a clear, shared understanding of what behavior is unacceptable, and how violations will be addressed. They are an important signal to attendees that organizers care about everyone’s experience, and will take seriously any reports of inappropriate behavior. Codes of conduct are certainly not the only thing needed to ensure a diverse and accessible event, but they are a step in the right direction. PyCon is a great example of a conference blazing the trail for inclusive tech events by going far beyond simply implementing a code of conduct.

We are following in the footsteps of companies we admire, like Heroku, by making this commitment public and by setting a clear understanding of what makes for a strong code of conduct. Our policy is strongly influenced by Heroku’s, which you can see here.

Mapzen will only sponsor events with a code of conduct in place that meets the following criteria:

  • Provides an outline of behavior that is considered unacceptable
  • Provides a system for reporting unacceptable behavior to event staff
  • Makes clear the consequences for any behavior deemed unacceptable by the event staff

We encourage event organizers to look into the many resources available for writing strong codes of conduct. In particular, we are impressed by the work of The Ada Initiative, and find their recommendations well thought out and approachable. We also encourage other companies to make similar commitments in public, so that event organizers know that this is something that is important to all of us.

If you are organizing an event and would like to know more about what it means to implement a strong code of conduct, we recommend you start here. We also recommend that you take a look at these code of conduct templates from the Geek Feminism Wiki (used by PyCon) and Stumptown Syndicate (used by Maptime).

Kathleen Danielson is a Developer Advocate at Mapzen, and an advisor to The Ada Initiative.