The International Society for Artificial Life brings together people with a variety of intellectual and personal backgrounds and aims to be a safe and welcoming space for everyone. This goal can only be met when everyone conducts themselves in a manner that is supportive and welcoming.
This Code of Conduct applies to all ISAL members, editors and reviewers for the Artificial Life Journal during their interactions, and all online, in-person, or other communication. All ISAL members should remember that their conduct on any platform could have an impact on the public perception of ISAL.
Although professional behavior is expected and encouraged, this should not be used as a reason to shut down speech or discredit ideas just because they are expressed in a way that diverges from common academic standards. For example, in verbal discussions at a conference event, ideas may be expressed in a way that is interpreted as emotional, or that do not conform to usual academic grammar. Rather than criticize the way such ideas are expressed (“academic tone-policing“), we should listen and respond to the content of the ideas, with an attitude of encouraging dialogue, welcoming new members to the community, and exploring ideas together. As another example, minor spelling or grammatical mistakes in written communication should not be used as a reason to reject the ideas in the writing, so long as the content of the ideas is clearly expressed. ISAL recognizes that academic tone-policing upholds racist and sexist structures in academic settings, and ISAL encourages people to voice their scholarship and their concerns authentically.
Participants should be aware of the power dynamics between each other and recognize that unequal power dynamics often increase the effect of words and behaviors. For example, a senior scholar should be especially aware of how criticism of the work of a junior scholar may affect that junior scholar’s experience in an interaction. ISAL rejects the idea that it should be necessary to have a ‘thick skin’ to be a scholar.
Specific positive and negative behaviors are detailed below.
- Showing professional courtesy and compassionate patience toward others
- Being respectful of differing opinions, viewpoints, and experiences
- Giving and gracefully accepting constructive feedback
- Taking responsibility for our mistakes and any impact on others, and learning from the experience
- Disagreements about scholarship are a normal and healthy part of scholarly discourse. Civil and constructive criticism of someone’s work for a perceived methodological flaw or a misinterpretation of results is appropriate, but care should be taken to avoid behaviors detailed under “Unacceptable Behaviors”.
- Q&A sections at a conference are a chance for the audience to engage more deeply with the presented work through questions. Audience participation during a Q&A should be:
- A chance to ask for clarification or elaboration on a concept touched upon in the presentation, and/or
- Questions related to the presenter’s future goals or expansions upon the project, and/or
- A question that allows both the audience member and presenter to equally engage as a member of a conversation about the work
- Violence and combative behavior, including shouting and making threats both online and in-person
- Comments and actions meant to cause feelings of exclusion based on a person’s identity or affiliation with a particular group, scholarly area, or institutional affiliation
- Treating someone in a condescending manner or with the implied assumption of incompetence
- Audience participation during a Q&A that is hostile, condescending, or rude to the presenter, such that instead of opening a two-way dialogue, the presenter must defend their work to the audience member.
- Sexist, sexualized, racist, or otherwise violent examples when unnecessary to the point being made and without a content warning (examples include computer vision example “Lenna”, Diamonds Were a Girl’s Best Friend plot, race-based mortality data without context)
- Over-interpreting ALife results to support common discriminatory assumptions
- Harassment as detailed in the Anti-Harassment policy for ISAL conferences (https://alife.org/isal-conference-anti-harrassment-policy/)
- Denigrating the researcher or presenter, or denigrating their work (scholarly critique is allowed and encouraged; questioning the value of their work is not)
- Interrupting presenters or those asking questions to prevent them from speaking (unless required by the moderator/chair to keep the session on schedule)
Violations of the Code of Conduct or related concerns can be either submitted via the ISAL Community DEI Form (optionally anonymous) (https://forms.gle/36YGa2iCPYzRBgT2A) or emailed directly to a member of the ISAL DEI committee (https://alife.org/dei-committee/). The form responses are sent directly to ISAL DEI Chair and Vice Chair who will bring the violation concern to the ISAL DEI committee and ISAL Board of Directors. The Code of Conduct is ultimately enforced by the ISAL Board of Directors
Consequences for violating the code of conduct will focus on 1) preventing further harm to the community, 2) education, and 3) recognition that we all make mistakes. They will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the ISAL Board of Directors as appropriate to the individual situation but may include:
- Informing the individual of how their actions have negatively impacted the ISAL community
- Removal from ISAL mailing lists (temporary or permanent)
- Blocking on social media (temporary or permanent)
- Banning from serving on the Board of Directors (temporary or permanent)
- Banning from ISAL events (temporary or permanent)
- Banning from publishing in ISAL venues (temporary or permanent)
If you are suspended, you will be afforded the opportunity to appeal your suspension to ISAL’s Board of Directors. You must submit an appeal letter that includes 1) the reason(s) for your suspension, 2) what steps you have taken during your suspension to remediate the behavior, and 3) why you should be readmitted into ISAL. You should submit this letter to the ISAL secretary.