Sowing the Seeds of Diversity

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Building and maintaining a healthy, successful open source community.

Transcript of Sowing the Seeds of Diversity

  • 1. Sowing the Seeds of DiversityBuilding healthy, sustainable software communities.

2. Your SpeakerMark Smith, co-founder of Dreamwidth Studioshttp://www.dreamwidth.orgBy day, the Operations Lead for Bump Technologieshttp://bu.mpTechnical jack of all trades with a focus on webtechnology stacks 3. Problem StatementHomogeneity holds us back: the sameinputs lead to the same outputs.Diversity increases creative innovation andcreates a healthier environment. 4. Caveat!This talk focuses mainly on gender and skill diversityThere are many, many, many kinds of diversityFeedback and help is very welcome! 5. Dreamwidth StudiosForked from the LiveJournal codebase in 2008130+ unique contributors (credited on patches)70% of contributors identify as female50% of contributors are new to Perl or programmingentirely 6. Dreamwidth Studios 7. Our SecretPeople are the priority.Code is just the product. 8. Typical Open Source ProjectsExpects you to know what youre doing when you arrivePatches rejected if theyre not relatively perfectLack of supporting/educational infrastructureNo explicit cultural standardsLittle willingness to deal with toxic contributors 9. The Call for Status QuoThis community has accomplished incredible thingsThe typical organization is clearly successful atproducing softwareIf all you care about is software, you might be temptedto say good enough...but is it really? 10. The Other 90%From the speakers point of view...Realize: people are really, really different!Dont have the advantages of the majority (arent root)Arent typically encouraged to explore, and oftenactively or passively discouragedAlso...not everybody drinks beer! 11. Cultural BaggageStereotypes are often harmful and work against ourpurposesThese ideas are also wrong: race, gender, etc. havevery little impact on what a person is capable ofMuch of the secret is just to provide a framework tofight the baggageThis is a common theme among groups not wellrepresented here 12. People First PhilosophyKudos, you are already a step ahead by being here!Build up the people of your projectPay the short-term costs for long-term gainMake trade-offs that consider more than just codevelocityCreate a virtuous self-reinforcing circle 13. One Persons TakeThis is the kind of reason why DW has a huge crowd ofpeople working on it, [...] who dont at all come from thetraditional Open Source / hobby programmer roots.I dont think I could bring myself to [contribute] in anenvironment where the [...] atmosphere is friendly butcompetitive; obviously I cant compete with people whohave 25 years more experience than I do. 14. Positive CultureRespect, respect, respectBuild a culture of acceptance and encouragementEverybody is allowed to make mistakes and be forgivenConsider explicit: Diversity Statement, CommunityGuidelines, etc.Culture has to be embodied from the top 15. Culture in PracticeValue all contributions, small to largeBugs are just bugsCheering/encouragement squad (impostor syndrome!)Patch review timelinessReject patches with helpful commentaryNo should always be accompanied with why 16. Negative CultureIt is important to deal with problemsToxic people who are strong contributors still have badEV!Remember the earlier point about forgivenessBe consistent and open in handling problemsHot-button topics 17. Then What?Change takes time, and nobody will be perfectovernightTalk to groups like the Ada Initiative (,get help, respect the advice!Start becoming known for your culture, write about itBe ready to welcome and help newcomersTake a look at OpenHatch ( 18. PitfallsThinking of this as being politically correctIf I do what he says, Ill have a dozen womenvolunteering next week!This is not one size fits all, every project is unique 19. Parting ThoughtsDo something, be involved, careThere is help availableStart with something smallBe patient: Rome, etc. 20. Sowing the Seeds of DiversityMark Smith // mark@dreamwidth.orgSlides will be linked from Twitter @xb95 and @dreamwidth.