FOCAL Code of Conduct

Discussion and announcements relating to unofficial Countdown competitions, held online or in real life. Observation, discussion, reflection, and other stuff ending in -ion.
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JackHurst
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FOCAL Code of Conduct

Post by JackHurst » Sun Aug 11, 2019 2:19 pm

I had a great time yesterday at my first FOCAL Countdown competition I've attended in Milton Keynes and would like to thank everybody involved in running it!

Based on my experience yesterday, and my research on https://focalcountdown.co.uk/ it appears that there is no code of conduct that participants have to acknowledge before signing up to and participating in an event. To be brutally frank I find this quite alarming and in my opinion it needs sorting ASAP!

Why do I think this?
When I sign up to a co event, I'm implicitly giving my consent to sit and interact with strangers at a table to play a board game for 30 minutes or so at a time, before I move on to sitting with even more strangers. I do not know those people prior to the event, so I cannot vouch for them or their behaviour. It's the duty of the event organisers to do this by enforcing a code of conduct. If an individual violates the code of conduct they get a ban and cannot come to future events. This make sure that events are a safe space where participants are protected from harassment and inappropriate behaviour. I am aware of several individuals who have attended these events in the past who are known to have harassed individuals and/or behaved inappropriately, and have indeed witnessed incidents before myself that I think are completely unacceptable at these events (I will not go into details here for reasons of privacy).

There is also the topic of allowing minors (under 18s) at events and the extra protective measures that need to be in place in order to protect them. Without something like this, if something were to happen to a child at one of these events, I believe the event organisers would be in a very tricky situation indeed! I claim no expertise in this field, but my common sense tells me that as a bare minimum, if an event will allow children then at least:
- There must be a committee member present with a valid DBS check/certificate
- All under 18s must be accompanied by a responsible adult
- All participants attending the event must sign a code of conduct, within which is a declaration that they are legally allowed to be at events with minors, and they have no history of offences that would be deemed inappropriate to have them present at an event with children
- If any of the above three conditions cannot be fulfilled then the event would not be suitable for minors, and they would not be able to attend


Reading Material
Other similar group events that do have a code of conduct:
Mind Sports Olympiad: https://msoworld.com/code-of-conduct-an ... nt-policy/
North American Scrabble: https://scrabbleplayers.org/w/Code_of_Conduct
I also use meetup.com to go to conferences and to find sports clubs. It is standard there for any club/organiser to provide a code of conduct to protect their members.

How and why you can sort out a code of conduct for events: https://medium.com/@mikebroberts/give-y ... 7143429e3a
Protecting young people at public events: https://www.huntingdonshire.gov.uk/medi ... actice.pdf


My motivation for making this post is to convince the FOCAL committee to produce an adequate code of conduct for these events in the future. I sincerely hope that this happens.

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Rhys Benjamin
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Re: FOCAL Code of Conduct

Post by Rhys Benjamin » Sun Aug 11, 2019 2:27 pm

"All participants attending the event must sign a code of conduct"

Would a better solution not be that signing up to the event constitutes a commitment to abide by it, rather than asking for signatures at the start of the day?
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Ronan M Higginson
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Re: FOCAL Code of Conduct

Post by Ronan M Higginson » Sun Aug 11, 2019 3:38 pm

This really isn't a bad idea.

Yes, I am under the age of 18 and have attended 2 FOCAL events and will be attending the MSO one on 25 August.

So far, I have seen no problem at either of my events. However, this doesn't mean that there's no need for a Code of Conduct. There are lots of other events arranged by FOCAL that I have not yet played at, and I do not know what to expect at them. So for people under the age of 18, a Code of Conduct is definitely a great idea.

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Re: FOCAL Code of Conduct

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:20 pm

Really?

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Graeme Cole
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Re: FOCAL Code of Conduct

Post by Graeme Cole » Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:11 pm

Rhys Benjamin wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 2:27 pm
"All participants attending the event must sign a code of conduct"

Would a better solution not be that signing up to the event constitutes a commitment to abide by it, rather than asking for signatures at the start of the day?
Yes, I agree. If applying a code of conduct to events is as easy as putting a statement somewhere on the website saying something like "by attending an event you agree to abide by the code of conduct", and also including a similar statement in the announcement post for each event, then I don't see any good reason not to have one, especially if other similar gatherings such as MSO have them.

Event organisers already have the right to ban people from their events for any lawful reason they like, so the fact that someone hasn't physically signed the code of conduct shouldn't prevent organisers from taking that action against people who break it.
Gavin Chipper wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:20 pm
Really?
By this I'm assuming you think some kind of written code of conduct would either be unnecessary or ineffective. If you're implying it's unnecessary, I suspect that more harassment goes on at and around events than you or I are aware of. By the nature of harassment and inappropriate behaviour, not all of us get to hear about all of it - it's not like it all gets publicly announced along with the scores and standings of the event.

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Re: FOCAL Code of Conduct

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:43 pm

Graeme Cole wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:11 pm
Rhys Benjamin wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 2:27 pm
"All participants attending the event must sign a code of conduct"

Would a better solution not be that signing up to the event constitutes a commitment to abide by it, rather than asking for signatures at the start of the day?
Yes, I agree. If applying a code of conduct to events is as easy as putting a statement somewhere on the website saying something like "by attending an event you agree to abide by the code of conduct", and also including a similar statement in the announcement post for each event, then I don't see any good reason not to have one, especially if other similar gatherings such as MSO have them.

Event organisers already have the right to ban people from their events for any lawful reason they like, so the fact that someone hasn't physically signed the code of conduct shouldn't prevent organisers from taking that action against people who break it.
Yes. Getting everyone to sign something does seem a little drastic.
Gavin Chipper wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:20 pm
Really?
By this I'm assuming you think some kind of written code of conduct would either be unnecessary or ineffective. If you're implying it's unnecessary, I suspect that more harassment goes on at and around events than you or I are aware of. By the nature of harassment and inappropriate behaviour, not all of us get to hear about all of it - it's not like it all gets publicly announced along with the scores and standings of the event.
I suppose the point is that quite often we find ourselves in a position where we have to interact with strangers, and we don't have to sign a code of conduct every time we do this. I didn't have to sign one last time I went into Tesco's and interacted with the checkout person. I didn't have to sign one the other day when I told someone where the nearest dog poo bin was. It might be that in Tesco's there's a sign somewhere saying that certain behaviours towards the staff won't be tolerated, but most people don't notice these, and it's unlikely to actually affect behaviour.

Certain behaviours are illegal anyway and would be covered by the law. The rest is largely obvious. Getting people to sign something at the start of each CO-event would be too much hassle. Having something on the website might clarify matters, but most people probably won't read it, and as you say "Event organisers already have the right to ban people from their events for any lawful reason they like", so not having a code of conduct shouldn't prevent organisers from taking that action against people who behave in a terrible manner.

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Re: FOCAL Code of Conduct

Post by Zarte Siempre » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:14 pm

If I have to add additional admin to my preparation for every event to accommodate under 18s, I'll just impose a blanket ban on them, frankly. Not worth my time or effort given the infrequency with which they attend.

Re: harassment however, I'd be in favour of an implied contract. Though how you'd enforce it... tricky.
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Fiona T
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Re: FOCAL Code of Conduct

Post by Fiona T » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:47 am

Graeme Cole wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:11 pm
If you're implying it's unnecessary, I suspect that more harassment goes on at and around events than you or I are aware of.
I think having a tickbox code of conduct is a good idea - mainly to protect the organisers.

However "around" events is a tricky one. The organisers organise the event (and possibly the dinner) - if people misbehave outside the event at a different venue (e.g the pub) then that's not really part of the event, and is probably the most likely place for any such transgression.

re: minors - the easiest thing is to ensure they're accompanied by a responsible adult.

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Matt Morrison
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Re: FOCAL Code of Conduct

Post by Matt Morrison » Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:57 am

CO means CO.

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