You’re going to fail no matter what. Make your damn choice.

So, this ate my morning:

Storify my conversation on Twitter.

Tl;dr, Having a harassment policy is a basic first step. IMPLEMENTING it is going to be harder.

Conventions are fan-run, volunteer things. We have the problems of a conference AND the problems of a family. We are not trained detectives, or judges, or victim advocates, or forensic investigators. (Most of us.)

Do banning policies work? What is the goal? Life-bans inhibit reporting, we KNOW this. No bans leave harassers free to continue. Partial bans force conventions to be parole boards.

Here’s the takeaway, and I truly want you all to take this into your hearts:

Every convention EVER from here on out will piss people off with their harassment policies and enforcement.


We have to decide which way we want to fail.

Do we want to allow probable harassers in our conventions, and defend everyone’s right to presumed innocence and evidentiary rules?

Do we want to blacklist and ban people on hearsay and rumor, and protect abused victims at all costs?

Do we want to strike a middle ground of calm reasonableness, and offend everyone on every side through milquetoast half-measures?

Take your pick.

No, I mean it. Choose how you are going to proceed and fucking proceed.

Someone will rake you across the coals no matter WHAT you do. So pick a damn position.


6 Responses

  1. I am reminded of a game we played back in Gifted & Talented. It was ‘park management’, in which you tried to keep a deer population controlled. If it grew to a certain size you were required to make a decision about hunting. Either way, you got letters. Get too many letters, you got turfed out of office. You hoped the weather never gave the deer too much to eat, boy howdy.

    The moral we learned: do whatever you can to avoid the hunting question coming up.

    The moral we were supposed to get: managing controversial resources is hard, eh?

    As any volunteer-run organization, you WILL piss people off, and people WILL demand your head on a plate. And they WILL get it if you stick around long enough. A rotating-chair at least spreads the ire a bit.

  2. I wonder if a good intermediary consequence between “meaningless scolding” and “ban for life” could be to require accused offenders to take some kind of obnoxious little “sensitivity training” course in order to attend the next con. That would both punish (embarrassment and expense) and kneecap any subsequent defenses of, “Wah, I didn’t know that was harrassment; I was just kidding around.” A reoffense after that should get a ban.

  3. Thank you for writing this; it is an excellent reminder to all of us who do con work that yes, there is no simple right answer here.

  4. Good post, Sigrid.

  5. @Cameron: What’s an “accused offender”? One or other word is redundant,.

  6. Could you please clarify one thing for me — how do life bans inhibit reporting?

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