(and being Ranted at)

Each session takes the form of a 10-15 minute rant, followed by 15-20 minutes of discussion.

Participation is to be on the basis of the Chatham House Rule and will be clearly stated before the ranting begins:

“When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”.

  • Participants will be asked not to record sessions or share images, quotes, or attributions on social media during or after the session as this may breach the rule. Participate with those in the room at the time and respect the agreement as it allows people “to speak as individuals, express views that might not be of their organization, and therefore it encourages free discussion”
  • Seeking the approval of individuals to go “on the record” about statements later, is however, an option; as might the organisers sharing an edited anonymised transcript with the approval of the participants after the session. The sharing of information on social media, or otherwise, after the session is acceptable provided there is no attribution of who stated it or who else was participating in the discussion.

Giving the session:

  • Rant FOR something, not just against something. Be constructive. It’s okay to criticize things, but your goal should be to make suggestions about some actions - preferably somewhat controversial ones in an entertaining manner that will lead to good discussion.
  • Get to the point. You haven’t got long so assume the audience knows what you’re talking about. They’ll soon let you know if they don’t.
  • Explain why you care - not just for yourself but for other people, be they developers or users or society in general. Anger and frustration can be constructive, so long as it comes from caring.
  • Be clear and direct. Be passionate. Get angry if you want, but remain coherent and concise. Passion is good.
  • Reference real world examples. Refer to companies and organisations but don’t ‘name and shame’ individuals. Don’t be defamatory.
  • Expect people to disagree with you. Be prepared to argue your position but don’t take it as a personal attack. Don’t be insulted or insulting.
  • The Moderators’ decision is final. If they step in to stop an argument, ask you to refrain from taking a particular line, or warn you for breaching the Code of Conduct, respect their view. The moderators are people too, with a difficult job to do.
  • Enjoy yourself

As an attendee at the session:

  • See all of the above, and…
  • Ask open, non-leading questions to clarify your understanding and the Ranter’s - help them, help yourself
  • Make respectful suggestions and/or provide additional or alternative perspectives and evidence
  • If things go quiet, consider the “devil’s advocate” role - but only when it goes quiet, not before. Let those who might have real objections speak first.

General guidance for all participants:

  • Ask for and address people by name where possible (say, “hi, X”) - be personable and personal
  • Introduce yourself before asking a question or making a statement
  • Speak for yourself, not for other people. Use the personal pronoun not the abstract third person: say “I think…”, “I feel…”, “In my experience…”; rather than, “It’s thought..”, “That makes X feel…”, “Developers say…”
  • Be patient with people who are struggling to express themselves for whatever reason. We’re here to construct and deconstruct arguments, not to criticise speech patterns and grammar.
  • Actively listen - try to avoid thinking about your response before they’ve finished their point.
  • It’s okay to say, “give me a minute” if you need to think, and if someone says it to you let them think - not everyone can argue on their feet at speed. A little silence can be good, try not to fill it.
  • Address the argument, don’t attack the person
  • Don’t try to win this is not a competition. Listen, think, make constructive points. In this context: if you win, everyone loses.
  • Not every conversation will lead to agreement. It is okay to agree to disagree or walk away if the conversation isn’t proving fruitful
  • People are individuals. Don’t assume anyone represents a group by what they say, how they look, or who you think they are

Feedback is welcomed. Please email thoughts or suggestions to organisers@ffstechconf.org