Code of Conduct

The purpose of the IAOA is to promote interdisciplinary research and collaboration on applied ontology. We achieve this purpose by creating a community where people with interest in applied ontology can meet, exchange ideas and best practices, find collaboration partners, and learn from each other.  Thus, the IAOA is committed to providing a welcoming experience for all, free of harassment and discrimination. The association strives for an atmosphere of constructive engagement, including equitable and respectful treatment of participants across personal and professional differences.

This code of conduct applies to all spaces organized by the IAOA, both online and offline, including but not limited to mailing lists, websites, and events (e.g., conferences, workshops, summer schools). Anyone who violates this code of conduct may be sanctioned or expelled from these spaces at the discretion of the IAOA Executive Council.

Unacceptable Behaviors

The following behaviors are unacceptable:

  • In general, anything designed to disrupt participation or to make the environment hostile for certain participants, individually or as a group, or with the clear impact of so disrupting or making the environment hostile
  • In general, anything designed to undermine, or with the clear impact of undermining, the ability of an IAOA space to support the association’s mission
  • Comments or other actions that demean an individual or group on the basis of personal characteristics such as  (but not limited to) race, ancestry or national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, age, or religion
  • Exclusion of an individual or group of people based on such personal characteristics
  • Personal attacks, including in response to professional disagreement
  • Sustained disruption of talks or other activity
  • Unwanted personal contact
  • Unwanted sexual attention
  • Sharing others’ personal information without permission
  • Violent or threatening behavior
  • Acts of coercion, retaliation, or intimidation (successful or unsuccessful), including in order to influence the outcome of a decision or disagreement
  • Violations of research integrity (e.g., fabrication, falsification and plagiarism)
  • Advocating for, encouraging, or directing any of the above behaviour

In contrast, the following are explicitly acceptable and expected:

  • Professional disagreement, including passionate disagreement
  • Communication of boundaries
  • Criticism

Such behaviors are not violations of this code of conduct unless they involve harassment or other unacceptable behaviors such as those described above.

Reporting and Report Handling

If you believe someone is violating this code of conduct, we ask that you report it to the Conduct Officer by email to The recipient of mail to this address is the Conduct Officer (and Deputy Conduct Officer, if the latter is appointed). The Conduct Officer will receive the report and arrange for its review by the Executive Council. If the report involves a member of the Executive Council, that individual will be excluded from the review.

The current Conduct Officer and any Deputies are appointed by the Executive Council and are listed by name among the administrative committees on the IAOA website. If a report involves the Conduct Officer or Deputy, they will mandatorily recuse themselves from handling the report. However, if this avenue is not viable in the specific case (e.g., if it would keep you from reporting for fear of reprisal), you may make a report directly to any member(s) of the Executive Council who are not involved.

We may contact you for further information. All reports are treated as confidentially as possible, consistent with the need to investigate and address the incident or concern.

Consequences and Enforcement

Reports are mandatorily brought to the Executive Council for review and determination of consequences. The Council may then take the actions it deems appropriate. Potential consequences include warnings, temporary or permanent ban from a specific space or all IAOA spaces, reduction in access or privileges, and temporary or permanent expulsion from the association. This list is not exhaustive; the Executive Council has the authority to take other actions based on case specifics.

Relationship to Spaces Sponsored but not Organized by the IAOA

The IAOA may sponsor spaces we do not organize or control. The conduct expectations set forth in this code of conduct still hold; the IAOA expects that the spaces we sponsor are characterized by similar values of professionalism and respectful, equitable engagement. However, we may be limited in our ability to investigate reports of unacceptable conduct in spaces we do not organize. Similarly, the IAOA generally does not have the authority to enforce consequences within those spaces or to limit access to them.

In general, we encourage you to report unacceptable conduct in a sponsored space to the organizers of that space or through the mechanisms they provide. Secondarily, or as a fall-back, you may also make a report to the IAOA, understanding that our powers of investigation and enforcement may be more limited. We may contact you to clarify whether your report is intended to be informative only or to request particular actions. If we receive such a report involving an individual who is subject to consequences within its powers, the Executive Council has the authority to review the report and decide on such consequences. If the report involves individuals not so subject, the Executive Council will determine what action, if any, it can and should take to encourage appropriate resolution.


This code of conduct includes elements adapted from:

[1] Contributor Covenant, version 2.1

[2] Semantic Web Science Association Code of Conduct

[3] Geek Feminism Community Anti-harrassment Policy (archived)

And further informed by:

[4] HOWTO design a code of conduct for your community;  the Ada Initiative

[5] Code of conduct evaluations (archived); GeeK Feminism