Diversity: continuous improvement

My experience as moderator of multiple discourse forums is that there’s not all that much to moderate, when you just have a small user base. There’s some suspicious bot account signups to watch out for. Usually a gmail email with a generic name and number e.g. mary538@gmail.com and a username often different e.g. @sandra135. Then an IP lookup that leads to India… and you can probably kick the user out of the forum. Akismet will mostly make you aware of these. Sporadically you get bots generating posts, and these can be quite ‘good’ i.e. they use the threads context to formulate sentences. You might confuse them for non-native English speakers. If you leave their posts they will edit them later, and add in a link to a suspicious site.

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This diversity topic just inspired me to write a post on SocialHub (and a related toot):

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4 posts were split to a new topic: Diversity in the languages / translations

Sent a mail today to E. P. who is working in the Free Software field. We had many passionate discussions about diversity in the past years and I invited her to brainstorm how to improve diversity during the fedeproxy monthly meeting.

Update: she kindly replied that she does not feel she can usefully contribute because the project is too technical and that she is not fluent enough in English.

What about sending this toot?

The #fedeproxy #forge federation project needs #diversity, from the start!

Are you willing to step in? Do you know someone interested? Please reply or join our first meeting Fedeproxy updates, April 2021 to brainstorm ideas :bulb:

Boost appreciated.

It’s too short delay for tomorrow. I’ll try this instead:

The #fedeproxy #forge federation project needs #diversity, from the start. Do you want to join?

Boost appreciated.

Small nitpick… Diversity is a hot topic around the world. Many orgs that weren’t diverse are now having it as a “need”. It is a bit like ‘diversity-washing’ and gets criticism. I would avoid “we need diversity” in communication. Instead Diversity is one your core values from the start. The project will become naturally diverse by the message it espouses. You may use that in future communication: “Diversity is our core value, and we need your input to help foster it”, something like that.

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Thanks for the useful advice, I’ll keep it in mind going forward. There has been no pushback so far because of that poor choice of words :sweat: I’ve seen my share of “diversity-washing”. And “free-software-washing”. And … They all have one characteristic in common: people involve don’t actually think about the topic, except for advertisement purpose. And they do not spend time on the topic.

Regarding diversity, I intend to continuously work on improving it or maintaining it. I hope other people involved in fedeproxy also care about diversity on a regular basis. But even if none else does, I’ll keep at it.

This is a horizontal community and there is no higher authority to dictate what should be done by who. Only how they should be done, i.e. within the boundaries set by the code of conduct. As a consequence, there cannot be a spokesperson since noone has authority to say we regarding fedeproxy. There only are people who act for the project in their name and can say I will or talk about the fedeproxy project, not in the name of the fedeproxy project.

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3 posts were split to a new topic: Diversity & User Research

2 posts were split to a new topic: Diversity and Skills

4 posts were merged into an existing topic: Diversity and Skills

From the slides of Time For Disrupting The Status Quo: Diversity In Open Source Software, actionable items:

  • :question: Create and support safe spaces for women I’m not sure how to approach that. My intuition is that it would make sense for such a space to exist outside of the fedeproxy project, for instance a category in a forum dedicated to a designated minority. But maybe creating a space minorities in this forum would also be inviting?
  • :white_check_mark: Create and Enforce customized Codes of Conduct
  • :clock1: Highlight the profiles of successful women the fedeproxy project is too young for that to be actionable, but it will be in the future.
  • :question: Facilitate mentoring and networking opportunities although I can imagine things, I’m pretty sure I don’t fully understand what it entails.
  • :white_check_mark: Engage women in OSS governance: the radical horizontality of fedeproxy solves this. There is no governance (but it is built in a way that also solves the tyranny of structurelessness).

A post was split to a new topic: Speak up about what is in place to foster diversity

To: vandana@utk.edu
Subject: Bootstraping a diverse community in a new Free Software project


A software forge federation[0] project starts this month and your advice on how to best bootstrap a diverse community would be much appreciated. I listened to your webinar published a few days and it was inspiring, thank you for taking the time. That motivated me to browse your web site[1] and followup on your invitation to get in touch.

The fedeproxy community is unique in how it relates to horizontality: it is not incorporated, there is no spokesperson and no hierarchy. Reason why I speak using the first person and undertake actions towards improving diversity on my own. Other people involved in fedeproxy, who also care about diversity, have different approaches and actions.

So far what I do is quite simple:

  • I ask for advice on how to maintain diversity with people around me or online
  • Whenever I need to reach out to someone for whatever reason (at the moment it’s User Research mostly), I explicitly look for people who belong to minorities usually under represented in IT. It takes longer because, by definition, they are rare
  • Every day I work on fedeproxy I act to improve diversity and publicly record my action (I work 50% on fedeproxy so it’s not daily)

Do you have any advice for me and other people involved in fedeproxy? What could we do better?

To be more precise, since you already provided actionable advice in your slides, I’m primary worried that what I do is not good enough. Although I think I’m doing the right thing, the lack of feedback worries me. It could be that nothing is wrong with the approach and it just takes time (which make the iterative approach you suggest particularly challenging). Connecting with a small percentage of the population is a long process. Or it could be that I’m doing something that, instead of being welcoming, repels minorities.


[0] https://fedeproxy.eu
[1] https://sis.utk.edu/vandana/