Dec. 11th, 2014

tim: Solid black square (black)
In September 2014, I publicly named a person who had harassed me and one other colleague when I worked at Mozilla. To substantiate my assertion, I publicly posted emails from the harasser that my colleague had forwarded to me at the time. (I'm being deliberately vague in order to avoid drawing further unwanted attention to the other victim of this particular harassment incident. I have removed these emails from my web site, but, of course, the more details I give in this post, the easier it is for curious people to put the pieces together.)

I'm not sorry that I named the harasser, but in doing so, it was not necessary for me to post the emails; I merely could have said so, and it's likely that my credibility would not have been questioned. And even if it had been questioned, that wouldn't really have mattered.

Not long after this, the other members of the anti-abuse team, of which I was a member from its inception, asked me to temporarily step down from the team while they investigated a complaint that had been made against me. I agreed to step down temporarily. The other members of the anti-abuse team have determined that my publicizing of the emails violated the Geek Feminism Code of Conduct, specifically the sentence that defines harassment to include "Publication of non-harassing private communication". As such, I am stepping down from the anti-abuse team permanently.

I recognize that my actions have made some people feel unsafe speaking online in my presence and that they have damaged those people's trust in me. Since I am a part of the community, that means that my actions have harmed the community. I can't explain away what I did or justify why people should trust me again; I recognize that that is up to them, and will come with time if at all. I'm sorry for the harm that I did to a community that I value very much.

I posted the emails without talking it over with my former colleague because I believed at the time that (due to an unrelated issue) they did not wish to communicate with me. However, that's not an excuse; I could have sought the advice of trusted friends or simply not posted them. I acted hastily because I believed that the harasser was continuing to pose a threat and that people are safer when more information is out in the open. But it was wrong for me to make that decision unilaterally. My former colleague still works at Mozilla and has to interact with the harasser at work, whereas I don't; as well, while the harassment was directed at both of us, the emails that I offered as evidence were sent only to my former colleague. Thus, by disclosing the emails, I exposed my former colleague to a disproportionate share of the risk involved in this action (as well, without their consent). I regret doing that, because I could have avoided it by disclosing enough information to help people protect themselves from harassment without exposing my former colleague to further harassment. So I'm also sorry for making that hasty decision and for any harm it caused to my former colleague.

It's easy to assume that you understand the contents of a code of conduct that you helped draft without fully internalizing it, and that's what I did. However, going forward, I commit to upholding the code of conduct.

I'm closing comments on this post; if you have anything you want to discuss, please direct it to my email address ( ) and/or to the Geek Feminism anti-abuse team.


tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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