[Hacker-event-theory] HEDP #A: Support your people

Nick Farr nick at nickfarr.org
Tue Jan 21 17:58:32 CET 2014

(I'm assigning this one a letter because it should be a rule applicable
everywhere.  It should not have to be elucidated on its own, but given some
Hacker events at the last three I've been to, it apparently needs to be

There are times when organizers, volunteers or others who just support your
event will come under attack from external forces.  It may be everything
from an opportunistic blogger to an abusive speaker.

Anyone should be able to freely express their views on your event in a
civil and respectful manner.  Unfortunately, many hackers resort to abusive
tactics without much provocation at all.  In the name of preventing drama,
many people will allow attacks on organizers, volunteers, staff or others
to go unanswered.  At times, volunteers may attack organizers or vice versa.

Never tolerate abusiveness within your organization or from outside your
organization.  Teach everyone in your event to recognize the difference
between disagreements and hostility.  Encourage civil discussion of
disagreements, and swiftly react in ways that signal hostility as

Example: A popular speaker repeatedly abuses and makes unreasonable demands
of staff.  It sends a very powerful message to eject such a speaker if,
after repeated warnings, they do not respect the hard work and dedication
of your organization and volunteers.  The same goes for attendees.

Example: An organizer comes down on one side of a controversial decision.
The "losing" side goes on the attack, posting rants to the internal mailing
list, forwarding blog posts, sending death threats to the organizer, etc.
 The role of the orga and volunteers is to support their leadership, even
if they disagree with the decision.  Personal attacks should never be
acceptable, but there are times when emotions prevail and those trusted
with leadership often feel very lonely when making tough calls.  A properly
functioning HE knows when to rally around the leader to make sure they know
they have the support to continue working on what is almost always a
thankless job.

Nick Farr
+1 203 441-3277
D762E03B / N0FAR
Church Street Station / PO BOX 3471 / NY NY 10008-3471 / USA
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