Open letter to the audience of the live opening keynote of phpday 2021 (June 8th 2021)

All of us at GrUSP feel that we need to publicly address what happened during the opening keynote and specifically references to nudity and some inappropriate jokes that made us feel uncomfortable and, most likely, caused a similar reaction in the audience members who were following the conference live. We reckon that those parts did not respect the values that are the very foundation of all of our activities. All of our events have a Code of Conduct, and we explicitly ask everyone involved (staff, speakers, sponsors, and attendees) to follow it. We work very hard to make sure that our events respect all the values we strongly believe in and we think that diversity and inclusivity are extremely important when organising conferences, not just simple add-ons.

Our objective has always been to make great events where nobody should ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe. We failed to achieve that and, as phpday organisers, we sincerely apologise to you and all of our fellow GrUSP members. Situations like this can be demoralising and a reason to avoid conferences. We understand that and that’s why we wanted to publicly address this and try to learn from it.

What did we do:

  • at the end of the opening keynote, we contacted the speaker, explaining what went wrong and why: he promptly replied, issuing a written public apology;
  • on the same day, during the closing remarks, we addressed the topic, apologised to the audience and read the apology from the speaker;
  • we edited the footage, cutting the parts we didn’t deem suitable, before publishing the full-conference videos that are already available to the conference attendees.

In the short-term future, we will:

  • publish a new form that can be used as main point of contact for CoC related issues, also allowing anonymous reporting, if so is desired;
  • improve the guidelines we already give to the speakers, possibly adding clearer examples of what can and can not be considered appropriate;
  • keep trusting our speakers and leave them the freedom to decide whether to pre-record or present live;
  • continue reviewing the pre-recorded material and give pre-emptive feedback to the speakers if necessary.

Again, we’re very sorry about what happened. Feel free to reach out with any suggestion or concern you might have. We will be more than happy to listen to you.

The GrUSP Team