Diversity on the governance teams

I wrote this in the team announcement thread. Moving it to a new thread to keep the discussion from mixing up with other topics there:

As Jeanine Adkisson and others have pointed out on Twitter, the level of diversity on the teams is low: in particular there appear to be no women on any of the sub-teams. [...]

As a member of the moderation team, I really really think this must change. There are many reasons, but for the moderation team in particular I don't think we can be maximally effective at helping to uphold the Code of Conduct without a more diverse team. For example, gender bias and gendered harassment are a huge problem in online communities and open source. The moderation team is explictly supposed to fight sexism, racism, and other discrimination. We could see, anticipate, and respond to such issues much better if we had more than just male perspectives on the team.

I've contacted the other members of the moderation team, but as it's Friday night or Saturday morning in most of the world, it'll be a while before we have all had a chance to discuss it. For now, I have a few more personal thoughts that I want to write down before starting my weekend:

Looking beyond the teams, women and minorities are under-represented in the Rust project and broader community. This is not an excuse; it points to a bigger problem that we also need to solve. I'm not saying that we need to fix the bigger problem first. We can and should build a team now that can best serve the diverse community we want to welcome.

This means looking beyond the group of people who have been most active or visible in the past, and creating more opportunities for new people to come into the project to build its future. As @quantheory said in the other thread, our past can become self-perpetuating if we let it limit us.

I want the best possible moderation team for the Rust community, and I believe that means replacing a too-narrow process with a more inclusive one. This means we recognize the biases that left us where we are today, and find ways of acting that bypass those biases. This doesn't mean tokenism, or anything against the people who are on the team today. I personally would be happy to be replaced by someone picked from a larger pool of qualified candidates, and want to find the best way to make this happen.

I don't however want to succumb to the common problem of asking women, people of color, and other victims of discrimination to do disproportionate or unpaid work to fix problems they didn't create. I'm happy if people care enough to volunteer to help us, but I hope we can find sustainable ways of building our community without putting too much burden on too few people. If you have ideas about how to do this, please let me know.

Mozilla, as the major financial supporter of Rust, has a lot of power in choosing who it pays to work on Rust full-time. Therefore any bias in Mozilla's hiring and employment practices affects our community. Those of us who are Mozilla employees (including me) have the responsibility of identifying and fixing problems here.

Again, I am speaking only for myself, not for the moderation team or the Rust project or the Mozilla project.


I also really want Rust to have the most diverse and welcoming community possible. Two small building blocks: the code of conduct has existed for a long time exactly because it is a goal, and the moderation subteam is designed to help (e.g. ensuring that it is clear that everyone, even the core team, is covered by the community norms), and I’m fully in favour of actions that will improve it.

I think that we are welcoming now, but I only have an insider’s perspective, and just being “passively” welcoming is definitely not enough given the broader culture of IT/programming (that said, maybe the simpler explanation is that we aren’t welcoming, which is certainly an impression I got from reading some of the recent discussion on twitter). As @steveklabnik has said on /r/rust and HN, there has been little active community building effort while the language was unstable, but now that that bug has been fixed, active outreach is something I hope Rust can work on.

Anyway, I strongly support actions like this, and it is exactly one of the reasons subteams and especially the moderation team was introduced (and one of the myriad reasons diversity is awesome): more people means better solutions.


(Similarly speaking for myself, not on behalf of the mod team)

Agree with everything here. As I noted in the internal mod team thread, I was struggling to come up with more than 4 not-cis-man active members (that is, publicly not-cis-man, there may be people who have kept their gender private) of the Rust community, and this was when I included people who used to be active but aren’t anymore. That’s doubleplusungood.

Diversity on the mod team is very important, and I hope we can work towards a solution to that. Moderation involves empathy, and however perfect we may consider ourselves to be, it’s harder to empathize with people who have different experiences and expectations as you.

I welcome advice and opinions on this situation.


It probably goes without saying that I support instigating a serious effort to address this issue, but consider it said, regardless. I’ve studied and worked in physics, math, and CS, mostly in academic settings. Those fields are particularly known for having a skew toward men (which was present in many, but not all, of the groups I was in). Still, I cannot think of a team I’ve been on with a skew comparable to the Rust teams. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade on the day of the Rust release (in fact I’ve engaged in some celebratory drinking, though I hope not so much that any of this sounds untoward). I can’t help it ethically, because it’s just embarrassing that a group comprising half (actually a slight majority) of people has zero representation on the main teams.

My point is not to accuse the core team, Mozilla, or the community in general of any moral flaw (as a purely personal matter, the Prop 8+Eich affair really stung, but I don’t blame Mozilla as a whole, much less its other employees, for what a CEO wanted to spend his own money on). For one, I know that if you look at PL enthusiasts, especially ones who are, or feel, able to assume the risk of devoting significant time to a fledgling language, there’s definitely a societal bias that impacts who is likely to get involved. For another, I don’t think that focusing on blame is important unless there’s some particular bad behavior you want to expose and stop. For a third, I’ve had very good experiences in the Rust community, and I haven’t felt like the core team or other prominent members are dismissive or otherwise try to downplay issues of discrimination. In particular, the attitude toward the code of conduct recently, with people I’ve talked to, is one of the best out of the open source projects I’ve been a part of (admittedly a low bar). I’d certainly like to believe that there’s not a deep issue with sexism in the community. (I feel like I should knock on wood, since there might be some dramatic incident that I have never heard about somehow. But as a guy who’s somewhat sensitive to these things, my experience is very positive.)

All of that said, the Rust teams are still skewed beyond even the industry in general, and I agree that the fact that even the moderation subteam, which is especially tasked with dealing with issues such as sexism, contains only men is just dysfunctional. (I am very hesitant to talk about the racial composition of the subteams, because it’s even harder to determine than gender, by names or even pictures. But a mostly-white bias seems likely as well.)

I am grateful to Mozilla for sponsoring Rust at all, for their open source work in general (I really like Firefox, for all the dozens of nitpicking objections I could raise to certain decisions), and for things like Mozilla Science Lab, which I deeply feel is the sort of project that’s needed to advance real social justice internationally. But if this is the kind of skew that we see in hiring there, that’s a problem.

And regardless of how Mozilla affects the project, Rust could probably do with a bit of outreach. It’s difficult to tell when a project goes from “hobbyist project” to “trying to shake up a whole industry”, but we know which side this project is on now. And that means, in my view, not just trying to be that good and gain that influence, but acting the way that we think the top players should act. Which means, in an industry that’s perceived as being hostile to women, if we really want to be eglatarian, we need to clarify that this is a place where it’s important to us that they are welcome. I have some sympathy for the view that passive welcomeness “should” be enough, but it just isn’t, not in a situation where most STEM fields have shown somewhat consistent improvement in diversity, but software is stubbornly inertial.

Anyway, I’m a little bit of a political person, especially regarding sexual orientation and identity, but I’m still not normally politically outspoken. But yeah, this sort of thing is important. I was raised in a working-class family, with one non-white parent, and I’m bi, (and insert a lot of biographical details here), and honestly some combination of those things would have impeded me from working on Rust several years ago. It’s only when hard work and good fortune landed me a (mostly unrelated) good day job that I took the “risk” of expending a lot of time on open-source projects like this. So, I don’t want to generalize my experience too much, but I do want to emphasize that both treating “insiders” well and giving that impression to “outsiders” are both important.


I also very much want us to do better, diversity wise. I’m afraid I don’t have any great insight as to how to do so.

My note of caution: the governance teams reflect the community, this means that the diversity work we must do is with our whole community. It’s likely to be a long and slow path to increase participation and to encourage/mentor people to the level where they can participate in governance teams in a non-token way (moderation team might be an exception). Which is not to say we shouldn’t do it, but that it will be hard work and probably take longer than we’d like.


Agreed. There's no magic wand to suddenly make the community better; though. I think you agree with this but just to explicitly state it -- the efforts for diversity within the mod team are not tokenism; we will need a variety of experiences on the mod team as mentioned above.

Also, having a diverse mod team could be a first step in this direction for making the community better.

Hard work is Good, we've proven that we could do the technical hard work to get 1.0 up, now we should start taking on the social hard work of keeping it alive and clean. :slight_smile:

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I always hate losing a few words about myself, but I think I should give some context: I am co-organiser of Rust Berlin, coaching the group especially with an eye on diversity efforts. It’s the fourth usergroup I built from ground up. Before that, I was involved in the eurucamp conference for 3 years, building the conference to one that has ~50% speakers from groups we reach out to through CFP only. This wouldn’t have happened without a diverse team, seeing many issues I don’t see intuitively.

I only have these words for this: anger, disgust and embarrassment. And I don’t feel like there is any other way forward then to remove the team page and go back to the drawing board.

The amount of sugarcoating going on here is appaling. The level of diversity in the whole team structure is not low, it’s barely existing. It’s even below the numbers that the (paid) Rust core team had before. It’s below the standards that Mozilla propagates. “a bit of outreach” won’t help here. We’re a bunch of people that don’t need all this, thinking up comforting reasons on how the way it happened is all okay and unavoidable. There are none.

Hearing that there has been little active community effort feels like a proper kick in the groin - the Rust Berlin group has always put diversity efforts first and foremost, investing a lot of work. This has already led to multiple changes in the group, e.g. regularly changing the days of the week to better accommodate for people doing care work. Our party yesterday was attended by ~10% attendees of outreach groups that we do active outreach for. We consider that number low. I firmly believe that this kind of active outreach is the reason that we had the biggest self-organised party outside of Mozilla.

It’s another piece of sugarcoating to say that diversity work is somewhat of lesser importance while the project is not finished yet: that’s basically saying that minority groups are not interested in geeking out on an unfinished project from time to time - nothing could be further from the truth. We have a lot of attendees that appreciated that chance as much as we all did.

There’s a reason that work hasn’t happened: It just wasn’t seriously on the agenda of core pre 1.0. It’s also not that the community doesn’t have people not interested or experienced in that kind of work - quite the contrary, growing the team in that direction would have been possible. But none of them were approached. And that’s another kind of outreach problem: people that do active diversity work always have projects. They need to be convinced to run them for you.

I am also angry that none of the core team, especially those with direct contact to us and knowing that we care, didn’t give any ahead notice of this happening. So, while I was giving a short lightning talk about how I don’t want this community to turn into another case of “let’s get the technology right first”, the core team basically announces just that. I have to consider that a disaster and an embarrassment. It makes it hard to argue for Rust being a chance for a better community then e.g. Ruby (which is my base community) in any way. The fact that my mentioned inspirations for the community are all not active community members anymore is also problematic.

Even if you don’t agree that diversity is an important topic, it is a topic of a hot debate in our industry currently and yesterdays announcement was a huge blunder, burning a lot of community good will - there was a lot of interest from the diversity crowd on how Rust will turn out in that regard, an this just cost us a lot of community standing. And that is a crowd that draws in people very effectively and is a blessing in community building currently. The fact that the announcement lost no word about this issue also communicates that Rust core doesn’t care. The recipients will take note. It doesn’t get better by people being on that roster that should be perfectly aware of those dynamics.

It isn’t even that this was unavoidable. It isn’t a secret who builds the compiler and who moderates the boards. But it wasn’t set in structure before the official announcement. Changing an announced roster is much harder to do then just not announcing it. Suddenly, people have an official role, removals need to be explained and additions explained. The structure is much more rigid, making it even harder for people of the missing groups to enter. We built ourselves a structural problem. The formation of those teams was intransparent and hard to track even for those that read /r/rust or {users,internals}.rust-lang.org daily.

No one would have noticed if the team announcement hadn’t happened yesterday. The simplest course in this whole mess - just avoid, fix, release later - wouldn’t have been internally satisfying, but would have avoided a relationship desaster. “Sorry, team not 1.0 yet” would be quite good as a team page. Instead, it has been chosen to have everything ready on May 15th at all cost.

This may feel to many of you like just communicating the same thing differently and yes, that’s a huge part of it. We humans communicate and the way we communicate is important. And we just hit the wrong note very hard.

Which brings me to my last point. I think the posting of this team roster itself is a violation of the spirit of our CoC. The moderation team is calling itself defunct. Who accepts a position on a defunct team? I cannot, as an active community member, accept it. I can only ask anyone that takes the CoC seriously to ask for removal from the team page or lobby for reverting the team decision and go back to the drawing board. It is broken and shouldn’t be released. The team roster is actively harmful to any future diversity efforts and immediately invalidates any argument based on our community values. Let’s cut our losses, meet again in half a year and see what we can fix in the meantime.

To anyone asking for insights on how to do outreach work effective and better: you can reach out to many active people in outreach projects just by sending a mail and ask for tips. Many of them are very pragmatic and will give you suggestions about what works for them. They won’t do the work for you unless you give them a very good reason, but they will help you do yours.


I was attending that very talk yesterday and I felt inspired by the idea of a community that has diversity in mind right from the start. This felt like a community that I would like to participate in.

Reading this team announcement was really disappointing and I can only agree with what @skade already said. This needs no be fixed before everyone just gets used to it being a male-only team.

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I may be naive here. I have no notable experience with community building, outreach, or moderation. From what I do know, I agree that more diversity would be great and ought to be worked towards. With that out of the way, I don't think this criticism (@skade's) on the team makeup/announcement is entirely fair.

Since nobody alleges that qualified community members have been snubbed or discriminated against, I can only assume that the lack of, say, women on the moderation team is solely because there are no candidates for that job in that demographic. Of course this should be corrected. However: while it is being corrected, how should governance proceed? The previous "paid core team, nothing more" model is less than ideal even in several technical aspects, completely ignoring all social aspects. And being transparent about how the project is organized is important even if that way is currently not ideal.

So what, exactly, is the alternative? Form subteams but keep them under the wraps? Stick with the previous model, which changes nothing about the lack of diversity and is worse in many other aspects? How on earth does that help? The current community demographics are such that diverse teams can't be formed. Simply being silent about that (by not forming teams or not making them public) doesn't change that, doesn't help with it, and does harm in other ways. I don't really buy that this is a problem:

This could happen but I have faith that the people involved are capable of letting in fresh blood. Before promotion to a peer/moderator is even on the table, one would have to stand out as a "regular" community member anyway, for which the barrier of entry does not change at all. And when one stands out, "they're great" is plenty justification to add them. Conversely, many volunteers (including in other communities I'm following, like LLVM) are very sensible about making space when they can no longer put in the time and energy to fill a leadership position.

Communication is a good point, however. There is pro-diversity agreement here, including among the current leadership. This should be communicated, in addition to all the action that should and will be taken, to alleviate the concerns that the diversity situation will remain as it is.


Hm, I don't think Rust core team had better diversity before. Could you elaborate?

That seems wrong. CoC is about building environment, I think the issue here is that teams are more of communication infrastructure. You can't quickly promote a suitable person into core team, and the issue with forming teams seems inherently technical.

I don't think anyone's trying to blame it on anything; we don't really care what caused it, as long as we can fix it.

Meh, language. Many people (including me) have a habit of avoiding strong language and not talking in absolutes unless they know the full details. I think it's unfair to call Matt out on using language like that.

I don't think anyone said that? True, the Rust community didn't focus on diversity before 1.0; but the Rust community wasn't focusing on much community related things in the first place.

Either way, I agree that it was wrong not to address this issue earlier, but we can address it now (and let's not waste time assigning blame).

I am also angry that none of the core team, especially those with direct contact to us and knowing that we care, didn't give any ahead notice of this happening.

Note that it was known well in advance that teams were being formed. However, you're right, the composition of the teams wasn't known -- I didn't know the composition of the teams other than the mod teams until yesterday. And I should have noticed that the mod team wasn't diverse; but I didn't; and that's my fault.

But I've not happy about this situation at all, anyway, and I agree that this should have been noticed beforehand.

Instead, it has been chosen to have everything ready on May 15th at all cost.

It hadn't actually, it was thought of as a nice thing to have, that's all. If objections had been raised internally it could easily have been delayed. Sadly, they weren't, and that's a problem, but it's untrue to say that our current situation is due to a push for releasing teams on 1.0.

Which brings me to my last point. I think the posting of this team roster itself is a violation of the spirit of our CoC. The moderation team is calling itself defunct.

No we haven't. The mod team has yet to say what they think of the matter. Some of us have expressed discontent as a personal opinion. Some members have yet to respond on the internal thread.

I think dismantling the teams would be equally harmful. Not having such a structure has caused large problems in the past too, and these problems will only get worse as time passes.

To anyone asking for insights on how to do outreach work effective and better: you can reach out to many active people in outreach projects just by sending a mail and ask for tips.

We're already planning on doing this internally and have some people in mind; but any contacts would be appreciated!


This is mostly the problem as I see it.

Agreed. The new subteams aren't perfect, but it's better than what we had before.

We're already internally discussing this, fwiw.

Yes, agreed. This is partly why this internals post is so important -- while we haven't figured out how to handle this situation yet (indeed, most of the mod team and core team hasn't yet woken up or had time to reply; and I think the core team isn't )

I don't think it is either, but FWIW I feel that strong, constructive opinions like this one really help a discussion proceed and I'm thankful to @skade for putting out the issues in a more stark manner.

Thanks for being open about having no experience, so I'll try to explain why that post is written the way it is.

Yes, my criticism here is tough and I thought long and hard about writing this and in that way - especially as I consider some of the people on those teams close friends. I decided to hold them on their communicated standards.

Let's throw in the basic question of community management: "Who's not here? And Why?". Why don't we have woman to pick for the moderation team? Is there anything we could have done? When assessing a community with no previous community knowledge, they look at the outward communication first.

While you and me, from inside experience of the community, feel like it is a warm and cosy place with nice people, those on the outside cannot rely on such experience.

Yes, not forming committed teams is an option. Many projects work like that.

What is a "regular community member"? What if someone wants to join the community on a moderator role? It's not unusual that new moderators go from "fresh person" to moderator status in a short matter of months. It is not even unusual for people to join communities just for moderation. So if the current communicated team setup is a blunder (and a violation of the CoC), it should not be communicated. Also note that I haven't called for any of these people to not fill their roles.

Pro-diversity arguments from non-diverse groups are easily negated. And that's the very core of the issue.

You cannot put up a CoC on the wall, talk about diversity as an important and then put those things in the freezer because there is a release date to meet. People will turn that against you - rightfully to some point, even. And I prefer those people to be community members.

In addition to that, it doesn't help diversity work to throw a spanner into the wheel into projects that are already running while complaining about no one running them.

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Any plans for reaching out to interesting parties for this? I'd also like to point out that there is a #rust-community IRC channel opened for just such issues?

I decided to avoid names, so: no.

Unless I'm missing someone there is one female developer in the top 50 and she worked temporarily on Rust when she was an intern at Mozilla. Did I miss anyone? At least a basic scan over the contributors does not indicate that someone left because of a bad experience with the development team. (I really hope this is the case)

This will probably devolve into a blame-game if done in public.

I actually did propose this as an option (for a specific person, which turned out to be something that won't work for a different reason, but we could apply this to other people too). I did mention internally that it might be nice to have a moderator who isn't actively involved in discussions; adds to the impartiality.

I think this thread is an example that we are not putting diversity in the freezer.

Plans, yes. As mentioned before many people have yet to say something on the matter internally (I'm reluctant to move forward on this until the mod and core teams have decided how to do so; I'd rather not unilaterally do anything). I mentioned some people who would be interested though.

I'm keeping the internal discussion private because in public it might again downspiral into a blame game and in general unconstructive blathering; and it's easier to discuss people in a frank manner in private. Public discussion on this issue can happen here of course, and if you want to invite some of the interested parties here to say their bit go ahead!

I have already pinged some people I know or know of on Twitter to post their opinions here.

I'll vouch for that statement. While I don't know of the existence of a core team at the time, there has been at least one full time employee working for Rust in the past.

There's more. I'd rather not elaborate either since privacy and blah blah.

First of all: thanks for the reply and the weighted answer. :heart:

That wasn't what I'm saying. We're comforting - no more, no less. Let's throw away the pillows and sit on the hard rocks.

Yes, language. I'm pretty picky in that regard, especially through my own moderation experience and I do admit that I'm angry. I'd like to avoid this turning into a moving the goalpost thing. This are bad. That's the thing we are working with. No problem with Matt personally.

Not to my reading, I considered Rust very good on the community side up until now. That's why we reached 1/4th of the meetup attendees of Go with an unreleased, experimental language.

Seeing core members reiterate that it hasn't been a focus and will be done later is exactly the point I feel let down by.

It was also wrong to not include those that already did.

For you, it might be an unhappy situation. For someone already doing active work in that regard, it destroys much work for me. This includes losing potential team members for my user group team.

So that's the first blunder of the team on the diversity side: not seeing the problem coming and hitting the hard brake.

I agree that I may overinterpret things, but "I don't think we can be maximally effective" is just saying that: we may have issues we cannot cover.

I don't think that dismantling is a problem. Breaking up the team because they are not up to self-imposed standard is a valid option, acting as a gap that needs to be filled.

Well, get in touch. My email can be found everywhere.

In any case: @callbackwoman, @adainitiative, @cczona and all the people that complained are starters and will forward you. Please note that you will have to be sensitive about ignoring that issue up until now and they will make sure you own up to that.

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But this was pretty publicly known is what I'm saying. Rust was very minimally focused on community before this. There's nothing new here.

Could you expand on this? I don't see what you mean here. As far as the internal discussion goes; it's just started. As far as this public discussion goes, it was shared on the initial twitter thread iirc.

Please don't think of the core/mod teams as one entity with all-encompassing knowledge. At the moment it's mostly just me and Matt and some core team members actively pushing here. The issue was just raised today morning (in my timezone). We both pinged the people who we felt would be interested, but we don't know that many off the top of our heads. You may have been involved in diversity work and core team members may have been familiar with it, but I/Matt weren't.


It's a valid option, sure, but not one we are planning to take; though we haven't really planned anything concrete yet (the nature of async communications yada yada timezones yada)

Will keep that in mind.

I'd prefer if the core team took the initiative here in these discussions -- we've gotten a positive response from them; and I have faith in them that they'll handle it correctly. I myself have not been involved in core Rust things until recently, and I don't have much active experience with promoting diversity, so I'm happy to be involved but reluctant to take the initiative in case I make mistakes or misrepresent the situation due to lack of knowledge.

If the core team can't or won't do this (seriously doubt that this will be the case), I don't mind stepping up.

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