MADSA Code of Conduct

MADSA Code of Conduct


We want to create an organization that has the freest flow of ideas in order to harness the collective intelligence and enthusiasm of the group. While we care deeply about the moral implications of injustice, injustice also makes it harder to communicate and work together. Valuable voices and ideas are lost.

We believe difference isn’t something to be tolerated, it’s something to be cultivated, celebrated and elevated. In evolutionary terms, it’s creating new traits to adapt to the environment. If we’re able to design the connective tissue well, we can allow for more difference to exist in the same space than would otherwise be possible. This lets the collective be more adaptable and creative.


In that light, there are some necessary conditions for this:

  1. Safe to assemble (physically and digitally)
  2. Safe to speak
  3. Safe to dissent
  4. More signal than noise
  5. Ability to assemble (accessibility)


This code of conduct applies to MADSA spaces, events, platforms, and group work, and when speaking on behalf of MADSA.

Safe to Assemble

People need to be able to physically and emotionally safe to be present with other people. We work on the principle that individuals have the ultimate right to decide how others interact with their bodies. Consent is everything.


  • Please ask before touching anyone at our events. It’s easy, and the worst thing that happens is someone says no! That includes hugging – you might not know that it makes some people uncomfortable, but it does, so please ask first.
  • Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior and speech.
  • Exercise due care in choosing when to use explicit violent or sexual imagery. If your purpose in doing so is not obvious, help us understand. Include content and trigger warnings to the best of your ability.
  • See something say something. If you see someone being harassed ask if they would like you to intercede. Please report such incidents to the grievance committee using the contact form on our website. Keeping records allows us to see patterns of behavior even if you don’t wish us to do anything for that incident.  


  • Harmful or prejudicial verbal or written comments related to gender, sexual orientation, transness, physical appearance, body size, technical choices, lack of technical knowledge, ability, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion (or lack thereof), age and other personal conditions and choices.
  • Non-consensual photography or recording.
  • Deliberate intimidation, stalking or following.
  • Non-consensual physical contact (remember consent can be withdrawn at any time).
  • Unwelcome sexual attention. This includes anything that can be considered sexual harassment or assault. (more info)
  • Publish the private information, such as a physical or electronic address, of members and allies without explicit permission.
  • Don’t touch people’s mobility devices, or other assistive equipment without their consent. If someone asks you to stop a certain behavior, cease immediately.

Safe to Speak

People won’t engage if they don’t think they will be treated respectfully and their ideas valued.


  • Participate in an authentic and active way. In doing so, you contribute to the health and longevity of this community.
  • Exercise consideration and respect in your speech and actions. Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree.
  • Attempt collaboration before conflict. If you disagree, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.
  • Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior and speech. Criticize ideas, not people.
  • Respect individuals’ identities. Use the names and pronouns people give you, and share your own on name tags and digital profiles. (more info) Refrain from challenging a marginalized person’s race, sexuality, disability, etc.


  • Trolling, i.e. sustained disruption of conversations, talks or other events.
  • Name-calling.
  • Ad hominem attacks.
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content.
  • Knee-jerk contradiction.

Safe to Dissent

We don’t need an organization of yes people who don’t speak up when they think we’re heading in the wrong direction. Dissent is valuable.


  • Make space for dissent. Specifically ask for negative feedback.
  • Try to understand the sources of dissent, even if you disagree. Ask questions for clarification that express genuine interest in hearing the answer.


  • Tone policing. People are permitted to express emotion or anger at their oppression to the best of their ability. Ask a moderator to step in if it violates this code of conduct. (more info)
  • You’re not entitled to a response when someone disagrees with you. It may feel like a verbal drive-by when someone challenges your ideas, but no one is required to interact with anyone they don’t wish to.
  • Reducing someone to their political or philosophical stances. Engage, don’t attack.

More Signal than Noise

We don’t want to stop the flow of speech, but staying on topic and true to the purpose of a space helps us accomplish great things.


  • Think through the needs of the group before speaking or posting. Ask yourself, “Does this need to be said?” “Does this need to be said here?” “Does this need to be said by me?” “Does this need to be said now?”
  • One person, One account. Creating multiple accounts unfairly amplifies your message and enables abuse. The same is true of sharing accounts.
  • Read up on and join existing threads of conversation before starting a new one with what you want to say. Use threading where available.


  • Don’t post spam or otherwise vandalize our digital spaces. Show respect.
  • Using our spaces to promote your external agenda without asking.
  • Repeating your message in multiple places. Pick a proper place and invite people there to discuss with you.
  • Using your emotional state to judge if everyone should see what you’re saying. Reserve shared channels for responses that contribute to the group, not just to satisfy your emotional needs. Reach out on private channels to process if needed.

Ability to Assemble

Build spaces and events that as many people are able to participate in as possible.


  • Accommodate physical differences. When choosing your mode of communication or the venue for an event, take time to imagine how people of varying physical ability might interact with it.
  • Consider technological familiarity. Are the platforms you’re choosing to use within the technical capacity of those who wish to participate? Find ways to bring them in or reassess.
  • Check academic privilege. Check in to be sure that people understand your terminology.
  • Ask basic questions if you aren’t following a conversation – we are an educational space where it is safe to ask basic questions about topics we take up.
  • When presenting speak slowly, describe the content of slides, and refrain from using flashing/blinking videos or animations.
  • If a conversation is being facilitated by a sign language interpreter or translator, maintain focus on the individual, not their interpreter.
  • Have compassion for unexpected emotional responses and erratic behavior if they aren’t overly disruptive.
  • Invite families to events and encourage the attendance of children. Have plans to provide child care at events if the parents wish or if a child is having trouble staying engaged.  
  • If you feel comfortable doing so, provide the space to join. Many people feel awkward about joining existing conversations with people they don’t know. If you see someone off on their own, consider asking them to join your conversation or meal table. When congregating in small groups where you’re open to additional participants, leave a gap in the circle to allow others to approach and participate.


  • Yelling at people. If your method of communicating is causing distress in the other person, stop and check in with them. People have differing levels of ability or willingness to engage in conflict.
  • Correcting people’s manner of speaking. The goal is understanding each other, not being each other’s language teachers.
  • Service animals are working. Do not pet, address, or otherwise distract them from their duties.
  • Avoid blocking direct sight of your lips while speaking. Many people read lips to aid in their comprehension.



This Code of Conduct is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.