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Organizational Changes for Dat and Code for Science & Society

Last week, a statement was made about abusive, coercive, and controlling behavior by Max Ogden, a core Dat team member and Executive Director of Code for Science & Society (CSS, the non-profit that sponsors Dat). Max has published an independent personal statement about his actions. Max has resigned from all leadership positions. His public community involvement and access to project communication channels will be restricted while we evaluate his long-term involvement in the project. We decided on these actions through discussions with the CSS board (from which Max recused himself), the Dat community, and external advisors.

The Code for Science & Society board has also conducted an independent inquiry, we've posted it at codeforscience.org.

Immediate Actions:

  • Max has stepped down from leadership of Dat project.
  • Max has agreed to remove himself from public Dat communication including IRC, Github, and Twitter for three months, with reinstatement pending evaluation by Dat community leaders and external advisors.
  • Max has resigned as Executive Director of CSS. Danielle Robinson, PhD and Joe Hand will share the Executive Director role for 3 months, with oversight from the CSS board.
  • Max will step down from the CSS board and has recused himself from conversations on his position.

Moving forward:

  • Max’s future involvement in the project will be evaluated through monthly evaluation by Dat’s community leaders. These leaders may call on external advisors during this process.
  • To preserve continuity, Max will contribute to the documentation of existing modules, hand-off ownership of existing repositories, and ensure any other relevant information is documented.
  • Mathias Buus, Dat lead developer, will take on a Technical Advisor role at CSS.
  • Max will complete ongoing work with the Dat in the Lab project, under the supervision of interim CSS co-Executive Director Danielle Robinson, who is the Partnerships Director on that project.
  • In partnership with external and community advisors, we will re-evaluate Max’s involvement in Dat and CSS after a year, contingent on demonstrating continued commitment to the Dat project Code of Conduct.

Danielle Robinson, PhD, Director of Partnerships at CSS, and Joe Hand, Director of Operations at CSS, will act as interim co-Executive Directors for three months while we establish a governance structure for Dat and formalize the organizational structure of CSS with the goal of sustainability for both Dat and CSS. Danielle and Joe have both been involved with Dat for over a year and each bring unique expertise in organizational and community strategy that will help the Dat community come forward. You can read more about Danielle and Joe on the Dat Team page. We are addressing this issue transparently as a community to continue fostering a welcoming and effective project.

We want to ensure everyone in our community is comfortable and safe. We want to know when community members feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Abusive behavior causes serious harm to others and is not acceptable in our community. In line with our values, we will be open and honest about how our team is working through this process.

Next Steps for Dat Governance #

This experience has pushed us to fast-track development of our team and project governance. We also identified an urgent issue: our project never instituted a project-level Code of Conduct. We’ve drafted a Code of Conduct, it is open for public comment on Github. Through this experience we hope to grow a more inclusive and introspective community while prioritizing our Code of Conduct.

In accordance with our goals as a project, we want to ensure work can continue without reliance on any single individual. We are building something to last a long time and our structure will reflect that. During the next three months we will develop governance structure for Dat, alongside CSS, in line with those goals. We will be transparent about this process and will develop governance for Dat in collaboration with our community.

Our Approach to Personal Accountability #

Where possible, we want to encourage growth and accountability. Max has demonstrated a willingness to address the issues that lead to this situation, and to make a commitment to personal growth. We want to support him in that endeavor. However, we have to make sure he understands his responsibilities and that his behaviour will not negatively impact our community or others in the future. To do this we will put in place accountability practices for this process and future events (to be included in our Code of Conduct).

We will continue to use this framework in situations involving a community member implicated in abusive or harmful behavior, even if this happens outside of the sphere of Dat community activity. If you have concerns of questions about this process, please reach out to us. You can DM Danielle Robinson (@daniellecrobins, dcrobins - IRC), Joe Hand (@joeahand, jhand - IRC), or email both of us (community@datproject.org). We want to ensure our community members are comfortable continuing to engage.

Feedback & Questions #

Please get in touch if you have feedback or questions (community@datproject.org - sent to Danielle and Joe). In addition to contacting the Code for Science & Society and Dat team directly, you can send comments or questions to the Beaker Browser team (Paul Frazee: pfrazee@gmail.com, Tara Vancil: tbvanc@gmail.com) who can give your feedback anonymously to the CSS and Dat team.

Thanks to the Waldo Jaquith and Kristen Ratan (Code for Science & Society Board), Mathias Buus (Dat lead developer) and Karissa McKelvey (Datbase lead developer), Tara Vancil and Paul Frazee (Beaker Browser), Kaitlin Thaney (Wikimedia and Dat advisory board), Rik Smith-Una (ScienceFair and Dat advisory board), Nokome Bentley (Stencila), Aurelia Moser, and other external advisors for support, feedback, and advice.

(Post updated on 22 December to include complete list of actions taken)