44CON was born out of a private event that Adrian and I used to occasionally get involved in organising. It was a close-knit group of people featuring deeply opinionated and often spectacularly drunk people who somehow mostly got along.
As 44CON grew, more people outside that group attended. The new people didn’t know about our overton window. These people paid good money for a good time, but were new to our community and we hadn’t provided guidance on what was acceptable behaviour, or how we handle concerns.
An event with talks about exploiting human and computer trust relationships tends towards some attendees holding unusual views about acceptable behaviour. To make things easier for everyone, we introduced Wheaton’s Law. For those that don’t know, it’s fairly easy to take on board:
“Don’t be a dick.”
For a long time “Don’t be a dick” was the only rule we had. Every year we’d review it, and every year it would stay.
We have had people breach the rule. We’ve had and investigated complaints. We stand by Wheaton’s law as it’s stood by us. What we haven’t done is properly track complaint resolution, and we hadn’t told people how to raise concerns. That’s why we’ve launched our House Rules. They’re not going to be perfect, but it’s a start.
The House Rules are simply an expansion of Wheaton’s Law. They set expectations, a reporting process and circumstances under which we’ll eject someone, along with a reminder that the laws of England and Wales may not match your own at home.
We’ve integrated feedback from event organisers up and down the country, and we’re fully open to suggestions on how to improve them for next year. To be clear, there’s no change in our expectations from previous years, only in how we communicate them.
If you’re coming to 44CON you’ll see the house rules in your brochure or you can read them now. Please take a moment to read them, as they apply to everyone. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, use the email address on the House rules page before the event, or follow the procedure to report a concern once you’re there.
We want everyone to have a good time, regardless of preferred text editor, open source licensing beliefs or i/o port configuration. We hope you’ll join us and keep making 44CON a great place for everyone.