To Sir, with Love: How To Get More Women Involved in Open Source
Subject:   Encouraging none code contributions
Date:   2007-09-29 02:51:16
From:   fauigerzigerk
Selena, I think it is problematic to ask for non-code contributions to be valued more to support women. These contributions are considered less important because they really ARE less important. Open source is about writing code, first and foremost.

I strongly believe that for women to play a bigger part in IT (which we all want), they have to be encouraged to take on the hard core, high value, high reputation roles.

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  • Encouraging none code contributions
    2007-09-29 10:30:49  the_osg [View]

    Many of these "less important" roles are difficult to get out of. One idea that I had at a previous job was to write documentation for 75% of my time and learn to test 25% of my time. At the time, the idea was shot down and I have not attempted to try again. Going forward, I will just do it with the risk of low productivity for a couple of weeks or months. Sometimes, a person just has to risk not asking for permission. Personal growth is worth that risk of loosing a job.
    • Encouraging none code contributions
      2007-09-29 10:33:15  the_osg [View]

  • Carla Schroder photo Encouraging none code contributions
    2007-09-30 12:01:34  Carla Schroder | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

    Right, because undocumented code is so valuable and useful.

    In other words, no, I don't believe that "Open source is about writing code, first and foremost." Software development is more than just writing code. It's planning, testing, debugging, getting feedback from users, improving and maintaining it. Graphical apps need good artwork. Games need great artwork, music, and sound effects.

    Amateurs dash off first drafts and then move on, leaving someone else to clean up the mess. Professionals recognize that good programming is a complex discipline with a lot of important inter-dependent roles.

    OTOH, I do agree that encouraging more people to try programming is a good thing. I'm just not real crazy about this whole goofy hero-worship of coders.
  • Selena Deckelmann photo Encouraging non-code contributions
    2007-10-01 08:18:27  Selena Deckelmann | [View]

    I agree that women:

    have to be encouraged to take on the hard core, high value, high reputation roles.

    Howeer, over the lifetime of a project, non-code contributions become very important. PostgreSQL, for example, has a very strict policy about including documentation with patches. In a presentation about how to contribute, Josh Berkus listed 50 ways, only five of which were code.

    I think the perspective on what constitutes an open source project has shifted (some might say "matured" :) in the last ten years from "just the code" to the whole lifecycle of design, documentation, implementation and support.