Code of Conduct

Everyone participating in Personal Democracy Forum is expected to abide by the following code of conduct. This includes all conference attendees, speakers, staff and volunteers.

Personal Democracy Forum is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion (or lack thereof). We will enforce this code during the event.

PDF is:

  • A community of people committed to advancing the public good that is focused on the intersection of technology with politics, government and civic life.
  • A safe, diverse, and welcome environment for all, that is committed to including and valuing people and communities that have been historically marginalized.
  • A forum for open-minded and tolerant discussion that encompasses different political viewpoints and strives to find common interests in strengthening democracy and civic engagement, across the political spectrum.

PDF Participants Are Expected To:

  • Treat all attendees, speakers, volunteers, and staff members with respect.
  • Commit to civility:

We expect that participants will treat each other with civility, and do their best to “agree to disagree” about partisan issues during the event. Dissent and friendly debate are encouraged, but if someone insists on haranguing others to the detriment of civil dialogue, we may take any action we deem appropriate, from warning the offender to immediately expelling them with no refund.

  • Respect differing political viewpoints:

We are dedicated to making sure that people with different political viewpoints feel comfortable while attending the conference. This is a trans-partisan event that encourages dialogue across political divides, and thus you may hear people express viewpoints on issues that are different from yours. Regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum, everyone should feel comfortable participating at PDF.

  • Accept diversity:

PDF welcomes all gender identities, races, sexualities, body types, economic backgrounds, abilities, immigration statuses, religious beliefs and overall ways of human being.

  • Maintain a professional attitude:

This is a gathering of professionals and all are expected to show up and treat each other with a commensurate level of decorum.

The PDF Leadership and Community Does Not Tolerate Unacceptable Behavior:

We do not tolerate demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior and speech. The following behaviors are considered harassment and are unacceptable within our community:

  • Sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, classist, or otherwise discriminatory jokes and language.
  • Personal insults, particularly those related to gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, class, immigrant status, or disability.
  • Posting or displaying gratuitously sexually explicit or violent material.
  • Defying an attendee’s wishes with regards to privacy, including posting or threatening to post other people’s personally identifying information (“doxxing”).
  • Stalking, following, harassing photography or recording.
  • Inappropriate physical contact.  Always secure someone’s consent before touching them.
  • Unwelcome sexual attention. This includes, sexualized comments or jokes; inappropriate touching, groping, and unwelcome sexual advances.
  • Deliberate intimidation, stalking or following (online, or in person).
  • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior.
  • Sustained disruption of events, including talks and presentations.
  • Violence, threats of violence or violent language directed against another person.

Exception: Discussion or images related to sex, pornography, discriminatory language, or similar is welcome if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • It is necessary to the topic of discussion,
  • It is presented in a respectful manner,
  • Attendees are respectfully given ample warning and opportunity to leave beforehand.

This exception specifically does not allow use of gratuitous sexual images as attention-getting devices or unnecessary examples.

How to Report a Code of Conduct Violation:

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact Andrew Rasiej, Micah Sifry, or Danielle Tomson immediately. If you are unable to reach one of them easily, you may also go to the Help Table and ask a PDF staffer to assist you in contacting them. If you can’t or don’t wish to speak in person, or prefer to talk privately or communicate electronically to a third party, contact Sherry Hakimi of genEquality at [email protected]. You may also submit an anonymous (if you desire) report at All reports will be handled in the strictest confidence.

What Will Happen in the Case of a Violation:

  • Participants asked by staff or a fellow participant to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.
  • If a participant engages in any of the aforementioned behavior and it is reported, PDF staff may take any action we deem appropriate, from warning the offender, to immediately expelling the offender with no refund, to banning them from future attendance.

We are committed to these values, and we expect that everyone at PDF will join us in affirming their commitment as well. At the opening of the conference we will ask attendees to read this code together and sign copies, to affirm their commitment to abide by it.

[This code was originally developed in 2016 in consultation with our longtime colleague Deanna Zandt, drawing on the XOXO Festival Code of Conduct as well. It has been updated in preparation for PDF 2018.]