A Code of Conduct for the Go Community

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Proposal: A Code of Conduct for the Go community

Author: Andrew Gerrand [email protected]

Last updated: 30 October 2015

Please send all comments or questions directly to [email protected]

(This is a departure from the typical proposal process, since discussions Around Codes of Conduct tend to devolve quickly. By restricting the discussion Of this proposal to 1:1 conversations between myself and members of the Community, I hope to better hear everyone’s specific concerns without generating unnecessary noise.)


This proposal provides a Code of Conduct for the Go community. The code is to be enforced in all project-operated spaces (the GitHub project, mailing lists, IRC, etc). Other Go-related spaces (forums, events, etc) are encouraged to adopt the code as well.


Since Go’s release nearly 6 years ago, a sizable community has grown around the language. The golang-nuts mailing list has more than 17k members and receives thousands of posts each month, and there are many major Go conferences each year with thousands of attendees.

For a community of this scale to survive and prosper, it needs guidelines to encourage productive and positive experiences, and to effectively deal with negative experiences.

The community must also grow to survive. An explicit goal of this proposal is to promote cultural diversity within our community and make it more welcoming and inclusive.


A Code of Conduct document is added to the “go” repository as /doc/conduct.html, visible on the web at golang.org/conduct (as with golang.org/security). The document is linked prominently from official Go spaces (such as the golang-nuts mailing list).

The document text is as follows.

About the Code of Conduct Why have one?

Online communities include people from many different backgrounds. The first goal of the Code of Conduct (CoC) is to specify a baseline of common courtesy so that people with different social mores and communication styles can communicate with each other effectively, productively, and respectfully.

Another goal of the CoC is to make our community welcoming to people from different backgrounds. Diversity is critical to the project; for Go to become a success, it needs contributors and users from all backgrounds. (See Go, Open Source, Community.)

To be explicit: the Go contributors are committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, religion, or similar personal characteristic.

Where does it apply?

The Code of Conduct applies generally. If you participate in or contribute to the Go ecosystem in any way, you should observe the Code of Conduct.

Explicit enforcement of the Code of Conduct can only practically apply to the official forums operated by the Go project (the official Go GitHub projects, Go project code reviews, the #go-nuts IRC channel, the /r/golang sub-reddit, and the various golang-* mailing lists operated on Google Groups).

Other Go groups (such as conferences, meetups, and other unofficial forums) are encouraged to use this Code of Conduct as well.

Furthermore, if your conduct outside the Go community is against our values (below), it may affect your ability to participate within our community.

Gopher values

This section states the values to which Go enthusiasts (“Gophers”) should aspire, and the kinds of behaviors that are not acceptable in our community.

Be friendly and welcoming Be patient Remember that people have varying communication styles, and that not everyone speaks English fluently. Be respectful In particular, respect differences of opinion. Be charitable Interpret the arguments of others in good faith, do not seek to disagree. When we do disagree, try to understand why. Be thoughtful Productive communication requires effort. Think about how your words will be interpreted. Remember that sometimes it is best to refrain from commenting entirely. Avoid destructive behavior, for example: Snarking (pithy, unproductive, sniping comments) Derailing (try to stay on topic; if you want to talk about something else, start a new conversation) Unconstructive criticism (don't merely decry the current state of affairs; offer suggestions as to how things may be improved) Insulting, demeaning, hateful, oppressive, exclusionary, or otherwise hurtful remarks. Romantic or sexual commentary, remarks, or questions. Harassment (either in public or private; if someone asks you to stop speaking to/at them, you must stop immediately) Flirting with offensive or sensitive issues, particularly if they're off-topic; this all too often leads to unnecessary conflict. “Microaggressions,” the small, subtle, often subconscious actions that marginalize people in oppressed groups. Don't just aim to be technically unimpeachable, aim to be your best self. If someone takes issue with something you said or did, resist the urge to be defensive. Just stop doing what it was they complained about and apologize. Enforcement

The official Go forums (as described in the “Where does it apply” section above) are not free speech venues. They are for structured conversation about Go.

If you wish to conduct yourself in a way that goes against the values stated in the previous section, you will be asked to stop. If you do not stop, you will be removed from our community spaces.

The forum moderators are volunteers that are free to act with their own discretion. Moderators are held to a higher standard than other community members. If a moderator creates an inappropriate situation, they should expect less leeway than others, and should expect to be removed for their position if they cannot adhere to the code.

Complaints about moderator actions must be dealt with in private (use the reporting process below).

Reporting issues

The Code of Conduct Working Group are a group of people that represent the Go community. They are responsible for handling code-related issues. They are:

Aditya Mukerjee [email protected] Andrew Gerrand [email protected] Dave Cheney [email protected] Jason Buberel [email protected] Peggy Li [email protected] Sarah Adams [email protected] Steve Francia [email protected] Verónica López [email protected]

(Membership changes to the Community Working Group can be proposed via the Go Change Proposal Process.)

If you encounter a Code of Conduct-related issue, you should report it to the Code of Conduct Working Group using the process described below. Do not post about the issue publicly or try to rally sentiment against a particular individual or group.

Mail [email protected] fill in [TODO(adg): anonymous web form] Your mail will reach the Go Code of Conduct Working Group. Reports are confidential within the working group. Note that if you choose to remain anonymous then you cannot be notified of the outcome of your report. You may contact a member of the group directly if you do not feel comfortable contacting the group as a whole. (You may receive a delayed response in this case.) If your report concerns a member of the working group they will be recused from working group discussions of the report. The working group will strive to handle reports with sensitivity, to protect the privacy of the involved parties, and to avoid conflicts of interest. You will receive a response within 24-48 hours (likely sooner). The group will meet to review the incident and determine what happened. With the permission of person reporting the incident, the group may reach out to other community members for more context. The group will reach a decision as to how to act. These include: Nothing. A request for a private or public apology. A private reprimand from the working group to the individual(s) involved. A public reprimand. An imposed vacation (for instance, asking someone to "take a week off" from a mailing list or IRC). A permanent or temporary ban from some or all Go spaces (mailing lists, IRC, etc.) The group will reach out to the original reporter to let them know the decision. Appeals to the decision may be made to the working group, or to any of its members directly. Summary (tl;dr) Treat everyone with respect and kindness Be mindful of how your words may be interpreted Don’t be destructive or antagonistic If you have an issue, please mail [email protected] Rationale

Do we need a Code of Conduct?Some community members have argued that people should be trusted to do the right thing, or simply ignored when they do not. To address the former: there are varying definitions of the “right thing”; a Code of Conduct specifies what that means. To address the latter: if we allow negative forms of communication to flourish, we will be left only with people who enjoy that kind of communication.

Why write our own?There are many existing Codes of Conduct to choose from, so we could have saved some time by simply re-using an existing one. This document does draw heavily on existing documents such as the Rust and Django Codes of Conduct, but it includes some original material too. I opted for this approach to specifically address the needs of the Go community as I understand them.

Examples of CoC issues and their resolutions

These fictional examples show how community members and the working group might use the Code of Conduct’s guidelines to resolve a variety of issues. In each case, the goal of the intervention is to raise the level of discourse and to make people feel welcome in our community spaces.

Rude and unwelcoming behavior:

J and S are emailing back and forth on a golang-nuts thread. D enters the conversation and proposes an alternative solution. J and S ignore D and continue their discussion. D re-articulates their point in a different way. J responds to D by asking them to "butt out". S emails J privately, noting that J's reaction was uncalled-for, and suggests that J apologize to D. J replies that they have nothing to apologize for. S reports the incident to the CoC Working Group. T, a member of the working group, contacts J and S separately to get details on the incident. T asks J to apologize for being unwelcoming and exclusive, and notifies S that this action was taken. J acknowledges their mistake and apologizes to D. The issue is resolved.

A classic troll:

Q repeatedly posts about a particular issue, raising the issue on unrelated threads, as well as starting many redundant threads. The forum moderators warn Q to stop, as derailing threads and spamming are against the CoC. Q refuses and becomes belligerent, making insulting remarks about the moderators and other members of the community. The moderators ban Q from the forum, and post a message explaining this. The issue is resolved.

Condescending behavior:

M posts a message to /r/golang describing the approach they're planning to take for wrapping http.HandlerFunc and asking for feedback. P replies to the message "Why don’t you just do it the obvious way?" with an explanation of an alternate approach. = N, a bystander to this exchange, replies “That may have been obvious to you, but you shouldn’t assume that it’s obvious to just anyone.” P replies “Well I guess you’re an idiot too, then.” Q, a moderator, observes this interaction and sends a message to P to tell them their behavior is unacceptable. P insists there is nothing wrong with their behavior. Q bans P, and posts to the original thread “I have banned P because their behavior was unacceptable. Sorry for the trouble.” The issue is resolved.

Two examples of “microaggressions”:

J is a regular poster to the golang-nuts mailing list. On one thread, they make the comment “Go’s type system is so simple even my grandma could understand it.” Another poster points out that the comment goes against the code of conduct, since it marginalises women and the elderly by implying that something need be simple for an old woman to understand it. J says “Fair point. Sorry for saying that.”

The issue is resolved.

K has typically female name and posts to a mailing list to announce a Go-to-Forth compiler they wrote.

N replies “It’s impressive to see a woman doing such great work. Nice job!” K writes to the CoC Working Group to say “I felt really deflated for my work to be seen as impressive just because I’m a woman. Can you say something to N for me?” T, a member of the working group, reaches out to N to explain how their words affected K. Recognizing the hurt N has caused, N sends an email to K to apologise. The issue is resolved. Compatibility

Some people feel stifled by the general concept of a Code of Conduct. Others may find explicit efforts to improve diversity in our community unpalatable for various reasons. While a major goal of this proposal is to make the community more inclusive, this does by definition exclude people that cannot abide by the goals and principles of the code. I see this as a regrettable but necessary and inescapable design tradeoff. The implementation of the code may cause us to lose a few people, but we stand to gain much more.


I (Andrew Gerrand) will submit the Code of Conduct text to the main Go repository, so that it is available at the URL https://golang.org/conduct. I will also set up the [email protected] address and the anonymous web form.

Then I will link the document prominently from these places:

README.mdand CONTRIBUTING.mdfiles in the official Go repositories. The golang-nuts and golang-dev mailing list welcome messages. The #go-nuts IRC channel topic. The /r/golang subreddit sidebar.

I will work with the existing moderators of these spaces to implement the Code of Conduct in those spaces, recruiting additional moderators where necessary.

Operators of unofficial Go events and forums are encouraged to adopt this Code of Conduct, so that our community members enjoy a consistent experience across venues.

Open issues

The Working Group does not yet include anyone from Asia, Europe, or Africa. In particular, Europe and China are home to a large swath of Go users, so it would be valuable to include some people from those areas in the working group.