ITK Code of Conduct Enforcement Guidelines

Enforcing the Code of Conduct impacts our community today and for the future.

As a member of the ITK community, you are also a steward of the values described in this Code of Conduct. Not all problems need to be resolved via formal processes, and often a quick, friendly but clear word on an online forum or in person can help resolve a misunderstanding and de-escalate things.

However, sometimes these informal processes may be inadequate: they fail to work, there is urgency or risk to someone, nobody is intervening publicly and you do not feel comfortable speaking in public, etc. For these or other reasons, structured guidelines and follow-up may be necessary and here we provide the means for that.

Failure to observe this Code may be grounds for reprimand, probation, or temporary or permanent ban from the ITK spaces.

In order to make sure that the response to any incident, issue, violation or breach of this Code of Conduct issue is consistent and fair, all responses to reports of conduct violations will be managed by the ISC Code of Conduct Committee (“the Committee” hereafter). The Committee is currently composed by:

The ISC Officers will approve the members of this three person committee. One member will be designated chair of the group by the ISC Officers and will be responsible for all reports back to the ISC Officers.

When reviewing enforcement measures, the Code of Conduct Committee will keep the following values and guidelines in mind:

  • Act in a personal manner rather than impersonal. The Committee can engage the parties to understand the situation, while respecting the privacy and any necessary confidentiality of reporters. However, sometimes it is necessary to communicate with one or more individuals directly: the Committee’s goal is to improve the health of our community rather than only produce a formal decision.

  • Emphasize empathy for individuals rather than judging behavior, avoiding binary labels of “good” and “bad/evil”. Overt, clear-cut aggression and harassment exists and will be addressed unambiguously. But many scenarios that can prove challenging to resolve are those where normal disagreements devolve into inappropriate behavior from multiple parties. Understanding the full context and finding a path that re-engages all is hard, but ultimately the most productive for our community.

  • Help increase engagement in good discussion practice: try to identify where discussion may have broken down and provide actionable information, pointers and resources that can help enact positive change on these points.

  • Be mindful of the needs of new members: provide them with explicit support and consideration, with the aim of increasing participation from underrepresented groups in particular.

  • Individuals come from different cultural backgrounds and native languages. While lack of intent to harm is not an excuse, try to identify any honest misunderstandings caused by a non-native speaker and help them understand the issue and how to change. Complex discussion in a foreign language can be very intimidating, and we want to grow our diversity also across nationalities and cultures.

  • Our actions will reflect compassion for all individuals. We will seek to understand, to educate, and, as necessary, take action.

The Committee must agree on a resolution by consensus. If the group cannot reach consensus and deadlocks for over a week, the group will turn the matter over to the ISC Officers for resolution.

In this document, the term “the originator” refers to the person(s) that have violated this Code of Conduct and originated an incident; the term “the affected party(ies)” refers to the person(s) that have suffered the attack of “the originator” under the forms described in the Unacceptable Behavior section.


The ISC Code of Conduct Committee is responsible for clarifying the standards of acceptable behavior and they are expected to take appropriate and fair corrective action in response to any circumstances of unacceptable behavior.

For onsite or offsite ITK events (e.g. trainings, hackathons) where no Committee members may be present, an event organizer will act as their delegate. They will forward any reports to the Committee, as well as a summary of any action they may have taken during the event (see Event Incident Report).

The ISC Code of Conduct Committee has the right and responsibility to remove, edit, or reject project comments, commits, code, wiki edits, issues, and other contributions that are not aligned to this Code of Conduct, or to ban temporarily or permanently any contributor for other behaviors that they deem inappropriate, threatening, offensive, or harmful.

ISC Code of Conduct Committee members or ITK maintainers who do not follow or enforce the Code of Conduct in good faith may face temporary or permanent repercussions as determined by other members of the Committee.

If any Code of Conduct violation or breach report involves any members of the Committee, or if they feel they have a conflict of interest in handling it, then they will recuse themselves from considering your report. Alternatively, if for any reason you feel uncomfortable making a report to the committee, then you can contact any member of the Board of Directors.


Voluntary, informal mediation is a tool at our disposal. In contexts such as when two or more parties have all escalated to the point of inappropriate behavior, it may be useful to facilitate a mediation process. This is only an example: the Committee can consider mediation in any case, mindful that the process is meant to be strictly voluntary and no party can be pressured to participate. If the Committee suggests mediation, it should:

  • Find a candidate who can serve as a mediator.

  • Obtain the agreement of the reporter(s). The reporter(s) have complete freedom to decline the mediation idea, or to propose an alternate mediator.

  • Obtain the agreement of the reported person(s).

  • Settle on the mediator: while parties can propose a different mediator than the suggested candidate, only if common agreement is reached on all terms can the process move forward.

  • Establish a timeline for mediation to complete, ideally within two weeks.

Report Handling

Upon reception of an incident report, the Committee (or a Committee member) will contact the reporter personally to confirm receipt. This reply must be sent within 24 hours, or the next business day, and the group should strive to respond much quicker than that.

We know that it is painfully common for Internet communication to start at or devolve into obvious and flagrant abuse. We will deal quickly with clear and severe breaches like personal threats, violent, sexist or racist language.

When the Committee (or a Committee member) receives a report, they will first determine whether the report is about a clear and severe breach (see Incident Reporting Resolution & Code of Conduct Enforcement).

The Committee will then review the incident and determine, to the best of their ability:

  • What happened.

  • Whether the incident constitutes a Code of Conduct violation.

  • Who is/are the originator(s).

  • Who are the affected party(ies).

  • Whether this is an ongoing situation, and there is a threat to anyone’s physical safety.

  • Required response.

This information will be collected in writing, and whenever possible the Committee’s deliberations will be recorded and retained (i.e. chat transcripts, email discussions, recorded conference calls, summaries of voice conversations, etc.).

If a report does not contain enough information, the Committee will try to all relevant data before acting. The Committee is empowered to act on the ISC Officers’ behalf in contacting any individuals involved to get a more complete account of events.

When a member of the Code of Conduct Committee becomes aware of a clear and severe breach that requires immediate actions to be taken in addition to the regular report handling process, they will do the following:

  • Immediately disconnect the originator from all ITK communication channels.

  • Reply to the reporter that their report has been received and that the originator has been disconnected.

  • In every case, the Committee should make a reasonable effort to contact the originator, and tell them specifically how their language or actions qualify as a clear and severe breach. The Committee should also say that, if the originator believes this is unfair or they want to be reconnected to ITK, they have the right to ask for a review (see Addressing Grievances).

  • The Committee will formally review and sign off on all cases where this mechanism has been applied to make sure it is not being used to control ordinary heated disagreement.

It is important to retain an archive of all activities of this Committee to ensure consistency in behavior and provide institutional memory for the project. To assist in this, the default channel of discussion for this Committee will be a private mailing list including current members of the Committee, as well as members of the ISC Office upon justified request. If the Committee finds the need to use off-list communications (e.g. phone calls for early/rapid response), it should in all cases summarize these back to the list so there’s a good record of the process.

The Code of Conduct Committee should aim to have a resolution agreed upon within one week in case mediation does not become necessary. In the event that a resolution cannot be determined in that time, the Committee will respond to the reporter(s) with an update and projected timeline for resolution.

All reports will be kept confidential. In some cases we may determine that a public statement will need to be made. If that’s the case, the identities of all affected parties and reporters will remain confidential unless those individuals instruct us otherwise.

Incident Reporting Resolution and Code of Conduct Enforcement

All complaints will be reviewed and investigated and will result in a response that is deemed necessary and appropriate to the circumstances.

In addition to conducting any investigation, they can provide a range of resources, from a private consultation to other community resources. They will involve other colleagues, including legal counsel, only as needed to appropriately address each situation.

If the act is ongoing, or involves a threat to anyone’s physical safety (e.g. threats of violence), any Committee member (or the designated delegate) may and should act immediately (before reaching consensus) to protect the safety of those involved. This can include contacting law enforcement (or other local personnel). This means the Committee may delay an “official” response until we believe that the situation has ended and that everyone is physically safe.

Committee members (or designated delegates) present at these incidents must report these incidents to the Committee for review within 24 hours (see Event Incident Report).

Once the Committee has a complete account of the events in the light of the report review, they will make a decision as to how to response. Responses may include:

  • Taking no further action

    • if we determine no violations have occurred.

    • if the matter has been resolved publicly while the Committee was considering responses.

  • Coordinating voluntary mediation: if all involved parties agree, the Committee may facilitate a mediation process as detailed above.

  • Remind publicly, and point out that some behavior/actions/language have been judged inappropriate and why in the current context, or can be hurtful to some people, requesting the community to self-adjust.

  • A private reprimand from the Committee to the individual(s) involved. In this case, the Chair will deliver that reprimand to the individual(s) over email, cc’ing the Committee.

  • A public reprimand. In this case, the Committee Chair will deliver that reprimand in the same venue that the violation occurred, within the limits of practicality (e.g. the original ITK discussion forum for an email/posting violation; for a chat room discussion where the person/context may be gone, other means of reaching the message to the community will be required). The Committee may choose to publish this message elsewhere for documentation purposes.

  • A request for a public or private apology, assuming the reporter agrees to this idea: they may at their discretion refuse further contact with the originator. The Chair will deliver this request. The Committee may, if it chooses, attach “strings” to this request: for example, the Committee may ask a originator to apologize in order to retain one’s membership in the community.

  • A “mutually agreed upon hiatus” where the Committee asks the individual to temporarily refrain from community participation. If the individual chooses not to take a temporary break voluntarily, the Committee may issue a “mandatory cooling off period”.

  • A temporary or permanent ban from some or all ITK spaces (discussion forums, code repositories, etc.). The Committee will maintain records of all such bans so that they may be reviewed in the future or otherwise maintained.

  • Ask to leave the ITK event (if the event is ongoing, e.g. training, hackathon) where the code violation has taken place with no refund (if applicable), depending on the circumstances.

Participants asked to stop unacceptable behavior are expected to comply immediately. If an individual engages in unacceptable behavior, or has been issued a warning three times, the Committee may take any action they deem appropriate, up to and including a permanent ban from the ITK community without warning.

The Committee reserves the right to exclude any participant found to be engaging in harassing behavior from participating in any future ITK events, trainings, hackathons or other inperson activities and ancillary events and forums.

Intentional efforts to exclude people (except as part of a consequence of the guidelines or other official action) from ITK activities are not acceptable and will be dealt with appropriately.

In addition, any participants who abuse the reporting process will be considered to be in violation of these guidelines and subject to the same consequences. False reporting, especially to retaliate or exclude, will not be accepted or tolerated.

Once a resolution is agreed upon, but before it is enacted, the Committee (or a member of the Committee) will contact the original reporter to let them know what action (if any) the Committee will be taking. The Committee will take into account feedback from the reporter on the appropriateness of our response, but the Committee reserves the right to act on it.

Finally, the Committee will make a report on the situation to the ISC Officers (as well as the ITK maintainers in the event of an ongoing resolution, such as a ban), including the following information:

  • Information about the ITK communication channel or event where the Code incident occurred.

  • The statement of what occurred, including a publicly available record (e.g. audiovisual material), if any.

  • The Committee review: whether the incident event constituted a Code of Conduct violation, the originator, the affected party(ies), whether there was a threat to anyone’s physical safety, and the agreed response or measures taken to stop the violation and repair the honor of the affected party(ies).

The Officers may choose to disclose a public report of the incident.

The Committee will protect the identity of the reporter, an treat the contents of incident reports as confidential (unless the reporter agrees otherwise by providing their personal data). The Committee will never publicly discuss the issue; all public statements will be made by the chair of the Code of Conduct Committee or the ISC Officers.