Recurse Center

Code of conduct

last updated

Why have a code of conduct?

Our goal is to create the best community in the world for becoming a better programmer. We want you to be able to focus your full attention on becoming a better programmer at RC, both during your batch and as a member of our community. This is impossible to do if you are being harassed, stalked, or discriminated against.

Accordingly, all Recursers, as well as guests and visitors, are expected to show respect and courtesy to each other in all interactions, whether at RC, in our online community, or in other contexts.

To make sure that everyone has a common understanding of “show respect and courtesy to each other,” we have adopted the following code of conduct. The code of conduct is enforced by the RC faculty.

Unacceptable behavior

The following types of behavior are unacceptable at RC, both online and in-person, and constitute code of conduct violations.

Abusive behavior

  • Harassment—including offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion, as well as sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual or romantic attention.
  • Threats—threatening someone physically or verbally. For example, threatening to publicize sensitive information about someone’s personal life.

A clarifying note: we classify 'sharing sexual imagery' as Abusive Behavior -- behavior that leads to removal from RC -- for several reasons, though we do recognize that such imagery not always shared with the intent to abuse or harass. The first reason is that RC is a professional space and a workplace for the faculty, and we believe that people should not be exposed to sexual imagery without their consent in such spaces. We also have community members who are under 18, who cannot consent to viewing explicit imagery. If you aren't sure if something is appropriate to share in a presentation, at the hub, or on Zulip, you are welcome to check in with faculty first.

Unwelcoming behavior

  • Blatant -isms—saying things that are explicitly racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. For example, arguing that some people are less intelligent because of their gender, race or religion. Subtle -isms and small mistakes made in conversation are not code of conduct violations. However, repeating something after it has been pointed out to you that you broke a social rule, or antagonizing or arguing with someone who has pointed out your subtle -ism is considered unwelcoming behavior, and is not allowed at RC.
  • Maliciousness towards other Recursers—deliberately attempting to make others feel bad, name-calling, singling out others for derision or exclusion. For example, telling someone they’re not a real programmer or that they don’t belong at RC.
  • Being especially unpleasant—for example, if we’ve received reports from multiple Recursers or faculty of annoying, rude, or especially distracting behavior.
  • Bringing guests into the RC space—as per our guest policy, you may not bring non-Recurser guests into the space except in very specific contexts. Don't bring guests to Virtual RC events or share links to RC Zoom calls outside of RC, either. It’s important that everyone can trust that only other Recursers will be in the space—it allows people to speak freely, feel comfortable leaving their belongings unattended, and trust that everyone is being held to the expectations in this code of conduct. This is different from all the rest, but is nevertheless a code of conduct violation.

Behavior that jeopardizes RC's existence

  • Entering parts of 397 Bridge Street other than the 4th or 5th floor, including the roof—This one is even more different than all the rest, but still something we have to take very seriously. If Recursers trespass on the roof or other floors, if someone is hurt, or if there's damage to the building, this opens us up to consequences ranging from us having to move out of our space to legal action being brought against us. The costs of either of these outcomes would jeopardize the existence of RC and very likely cause us to go out of business.

While RC is a professional community, it's also a community of friends. We ask you to be aware of the fact that conversations that may be appropriate within the context of a specific friendship or relationship with another Recurser may be inappropriate in the RC space or in a group conversation with Recursers you don't know well.


Recursers are held to the standards outlined in this code of conduct when interacting in the physical RC space, at RC-run events, and online on RC’s internal tools like Virtual RC, Zulip, Community, the Wiki, and Issue Tracker.

In addition, the RC community and experience often extends outside those spaces—Recursers go on walks together to get lunch near the space, attend meetups or conferences as a group, and communicate on social media. Abusive or unwelcoming behavior between Recursers still has a profound impact on individuals and on the community when it happens beyond our walls or online spaces.

RC faculty will use our discretion when deciding whether to enforce this code of conduct and potentially remove someone from the RC community after reports of such behavior happening outside of RC, taking into account the impact on the individual Recursers involved as well as the impact on the community at large.

When in doubt, please report unacceptable behavior to us. If someone’s behavior outside of RC makes you feel unsafe at RC, that is absolutely relevant and actionable for us.


We’ve categorized unacceptable behavior into abuse, unwelcoming behavior, and behavior that jeopardizes RC's existence in the section above.

If we witness or receive a report about abusive behavior, we will contact the perpetrator to have a conversation with them and verify what has transpired, and they will be removed from the RC community. Their, Community, and Zulip accounts will be deactivated, and they will not be welcome in the physical RC space or at RC events.

If we witness or receive a report about unwelcoming behavior or behavior that jeopardizes RC's existence, we will contact the Recurser involved to explain why their behavior was unacceptable, and warn them that a second code of conduct violation will result in us removing them from the RC community.

This is the protocol that the faculty will use to respond to reports of code of conduct violations.


If you see a violation of our code of conduct, please report it to the RC faculty.

Why should I report?

  • You are responsible for making RC a safe and comfortable space for everyone. Everyone in our community shares this responsibility. RC faculty are not around the RC space or at RC events all the time, so we cannot enforce the code of conduct without your help.
  • The consequences for the RC community of not reporting bad behavior outweigh the consequences for one person of reporting it. We sometimes hear “I don’t want X person to meet consequences because I told someone about their bad behavior.” Consider the impact on everyone else at RC of letting their behavior continue unchecked.
  • RC only works as a community because of shared trust between Recursers. Reporting code of conduct violations helps us identify when this trust is broken, to prevent that from happening in the future.

Where and how to report

Please report all code of conduct violations using our reporting form. If you would rather discuss the matter in person with a faculty member, book office hours with one of us on the calendar, or email us to schedule a time to talk.

In your report, please include:

  • Your name—this is incredibly helpful for us to be able to follow up with you, and ask questions to better understand the situation. The form allows you to report anonymously. Please only use this option if you really need to, and know that we might not be able to take action without knowing who you are. In any case, provide an email address so we can correspond with you about the report. The third-party reporting tool we’re using anonymizes communication, so we never see the email address you provide if you chose to submit anonymously.
  • A detailed description of what happened
    • If the violation happened online, please link to or send us the relevant text.
    • If the violation happened in person, please detail what exactly the other person said or did. In order to take action, we need to know the concrete actions that someone took.
  • Where and when the incident happened
  • Any other relevant context. Do you have examples of a pattern of similar behavior from this person before? Do you have a relationship with this person outside of RC?
  • If/how you’ve already responded—this lets us know the current state of the situation.


We will keep all reports confidential, except if we've discussed with you and agreed otherwise. When we discuss incidents with people who are reported, we will anonymize details as much as we can to protect reporter privacy.

However, some incidents happen in one-on-one interactions, and even if the details are anonymized, the reported person may be able to guess who made the report. If you have concerns about retaliation or your personal safety, and do not want us to share the details of your report with anyone (including the perpetrator) please let us know explicitly in your report. Unfortunately, in that situation we will not be able to take any action.

In some cases we may decide to share an update about a major incident with Recursers currently at RC, or with the entire RC community. If that's the case, the identities of all victims and reporters will remain confidential unless those individuals instruct us otherwise.

Social rules

In addition to having a code of conduct, we have four lightweight social rules. The social rules are different and separate from the code of conduct. They help us create a better learning environment by giving names to counterproductive behavior and acting as a release valve so that frustration doesn't build up over time. We expect people to unintentionally break the social rules from time to time. Doing this doesn't make you a bad person or a bad Recurser. When this happens, it's not a big deal. Just apologize and move on.

The enforcement provisions in this code of conduct do not apply to the social rules. We definitely won't give you a strong warning or expel you from the RC community just for breaking a social rule.

If you have any questions about any part of the code of conduct or social rules, please reach out to any RC faculty member.

How we developed the code of conduct

We arrived at these policies by a combination of:

  • Listening to feedback and suggestions we've heard from Recursers over many years, both in person and in exit surveys
  • Reading the codes of conduct of other organizations we find to be thoughtful
  • Considering how we've handled instances of unacceptable behavior in the past

Other things that don’t fit in to the code of conduct

When to seek help immediately

Instead of filling out a code of conduct violation report, please contact law enforcement (call 911) directly to report criminal activity (e.g. physical assault, sexual assault, theft), or to report a dangerous physical situation (e.g. fire, serious injury, fear that someone will hurt themselves or someone else).

Contact an RC faculty member by phone if there are urgent problems with the space (e.g. if the space is flooding).

Sleeping in the space

Sleeping in the space is not allowed. You may take a quick nap at RC, but do not sleep here overnight—this puts RC at risk legally. Please reach out to the RC faculty in person or over email if you notice someone sleeping in the space, or if you or someone else at RC needs help finding housing.

Getting help

If you or someone else at RC is struggling and needs help, don’t hesitate to reach out to the RC faculty in person or over email. We also maintain a list of mental health resources that might be helpful to Recursers.


The RC code of conduct is available under the terms of the CC0 license.

Parts of it are based on the !!Con Code of Conduct, the PyCon 2013 Code of Conduct, and the example conference anti-harassment policy on the Geek Feminism Wiki, created by the Ada Initiative and other volunteers.

The !!Con Code of Conduct and the Geek Feminism conference anti-harassment policy are available under the terms of the CC0 license. The PyCon 2013 Code of Conduct is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.