In recent years, a small but vocal minority in tech has begun using technical
events as a platform to make political statements about the acceptability of
views held by speakers and attendees, even when those speakers and attendees do
not bring their views into technical events. This is achieved by using social
media to pressure event organizers into banning a targeted individual in
response to something the person has said in an unrelated community.
While we support the right of free association, we also strongly support
civility in a pluralistic society. We think that civility in a pluralistic
society requires that individuals coexist in professional contexts regardless of
differences in ideology.
Beyond our desire for civil society, the primary mission of FIOL, and many other
professional organizations, is not social justice. Our mission is to advance the
software engineering industry. Many other organizations exist to advance
particular social agendas, and we encourage people working for social change to
contribute to such organizations.
The LambdaConf Controversy
Our current views on this issue emerged from an incident in early 2016.
In April 2016, FIOL’s own LambdaConf event was attacked for refusing to ban a
speaker with unpopular political views, whose anonymized proposal had been
accepted by a blind committee. Activists attempted to shut down the conference
by pressuring speakers and sponsors to withdraw, organizing protest petitions,
and otherwise working behind the scenes to harm attendance.
Until the LambdaConf controversy, most conferences attacked for similar reasons
were either destroyed (due to insufficient funds) or they caved to demands
made on social media. LambdaConf staunchly refused to alter its position and was
prepared to accept any consequences of this decision.
With the help of Status 451 (a free speech advocacy
blog), a fundraiser was launched to support LambdaConf. LambdaConf ended up
raising $40,000 with this campaign. Dozens of speakers volunteered to take the
place of those who backed out, and new sponsors came in to help cover the costs
for the event.
Thanks to all the support, the conference sold out beyond capacity, the event
was a tremendous success, and FIOL ended up more financially secure than ever
A Fateful Alliance
After successfully weathering the LambdaConf controversy, we at FIOL decided
that we would use our experience to support other organizations who wish to
take a stand in refusing to impose ideological purity tests on speakers and
The result of this effort is FATE.
Statement of Purpose
The Fantasyland Alliance of Technical Events (FATE) is an alliance composed of
technical conferences and events that wish to promote professional research and
education, without regard for the religious, political, and personal beliefs and
attitudes of participants, and regardless of pressure from media. Alliance
members are required to foster professional environments that are free of
discrimination, harassment, stereotyping, and denigration.
The alliance provides members a variety of benefits, including recommendations
for robust speaker and sponsor selection processes, assistance for weathering a
social mob, and access to a network of backup speakers.
Application and Agreement
Upon submitting an
application to join FATE,
we will carefully review your application. We will reject applications for
events that do not conform to the principles embodied by FCOP, or that appear to have been submitted in bad faith.
You do not have to use Fantasyland Institute of Learning Code of
Professionalism (FCOP), but if you have your own Code of Conduct, we will need
to review it carefully as part of your application.
agreement (NDA) that protects the information that we provide you with.
We will provide templates that can be used during attendee signup, speaker
selection, and sponsor signing to help ensure everyone planning to participate
in your event will respect your desire for professional civility.
We will provide a list of sponsors known to back out of conferences for
political reasons to assist organizers in choosing stable sponsors.
We will coordinate and launch an independent fundraiser in the event of an
attack on your event due to the unrelated views of one of your participants.
We will assemble alliance members to promote and contribute to the fundraiser.
We will coordinate with other members of FATE to send speakers, promote
fundraisers, and so forth, in the event that you are attacked.
Members must commit to providing a safe environment that is welcoming to all
people, and which actively protects against discrimination, harassment,
stereotyping, and shaming.
Members may not screen, ban, or otherwise discriminate against participants
based on religious, political, or other views, or the expression thereof in
separate, unrelated communities. They are welcome to prevent the expression of
such views inside their communities for the duration of their events.
Members must assist with speaker backfill, sponsor referral, issuing a
statement, and fundraiser promotion in the event of an attack on a fellow
Members may not withdraw as a result of media pressure. To enforce this, there
is a 60 day cool-off period after a media event, during which withdrawal from
FATE is not allowed.
The withdrawal process itself takes 60 days to complete.