Inessential weirdnesses in open source
From Monty Python references to Git to mailing lists, Sumana Harihareswara discusses the barriers that often slow down new users and contributors during outreach efforts and explores what's crucial and what to toss.
|Talk Title||Inessential weirdnesses in open source|
|Speakers||Sumana Harihareswara (Changeset Consulting)|
|Conference||O’Reilly Open Source Convention|
|Date||May 16-19, 2016|
From Monty Python references to Git to mailing lists, Sumana Harihareswara discusses the barriers that often slow down new users and contributors during outreach efforts and explores what’s crucial and what to toss. Sumana explains the phrase “inessential weirdness” (courtesy of Betsy Leondar-Wright) with examples describing what other groups routinely say or do that accidentally alienates new people. In getting rid of unnecessary barriers, we need to watch out for disrespectful oversimplification; it can be condescending, presumptuous, and paternalistic to reflexively avoid complex topics and nuance. Sumana outlines ways you can know if one of your “weirdnesses” is necessary and illustrates how your project can support both experts-only spaces (where jargon and in-group values are welcome) and mixed-experience spaces (where hospitality is emphasized and legitimate peripheral participation opportunities are available for learning). Sumana then explains how to mitigate the effects of an inessential weirdness in your outreach efforts. We need to build safe spaces with agreed-upon rules to help everyone feel comfortable saying “I don’t understand,” and we must regularly revisit and revise those rules. While teaching new learners, we should call things by their proper names while also collaborating among people with different perspectives to build a common language—and a common movement.