Diversity on the governance teams


#49

(And if you weren’t looking for someone to blame, sorry, but that’s how most of your comments read to me. Though of course you had multiple useful points too, and I thank you for those)


#50

What should we have done? Delayed the release because we don’t have a woman moderator? The primary reason there are no women among the developers is that we were not particularly trying to do outreach before 1.0. We wanted a governance structure for 1.0, and that requires a moderation team.


#51

The day following, many are flying back home.

Also, it’s the weekend, and family should always take priority over any online community. Just wait till Monday.


#52

This in itself is a problem, too. We probably shouldn’t have done that. But it’s already happened, so we can’t change that; let’s fix it!


#53

They have worked tirelessly to get to 1.0 for months and months now. They are no doubt exhausted. It is also the weekend. I get that things move fast on the internet these days, but can we not jump to conclusions just because they have been slow to respond in the last couple of days?


#54

For anybody who is soliciting opinions/advice from members of an underrepresented group, please consider the following:

  • Queries of the form “What are your thoughts on [link to this thread]?” are not ok. Firstly, there’s a lot of content to read through here. Secondly, it places the responsibility on their shoulders to suggest improvement, which is what @skade was referring to earlier. That is passing the buck in a way that perpetuates the status quo while giving the appearance of effecting positive change. See this Model View Culture article for a more thorough explanation of the harm this does. (edit: I misrembered the content of the article; Ashe Dryden has a more relevant blog post about it instead).

  • Asking members of underrepresented groups if they are willing to share their experiences is good. This shifts the focus from “tell us what to do” to “tell us what has [not] worked previously”. The earlier posts by @carols10cents and @starkat99 are great because they provide data to help drive decisions. That being said, there is a lot of prior art out there; if you are soliciting these sorts of responses, focusing directly on experiences with this community will yield more goodwill and new information.

  • While requests for feedback on specific actions we want to take may seem constructive, given the prior paragraphs, this again shifts the responsibility onto the shoulders of the marginalized and requires them to perform labour for our benefit. Don’t do this unless the person you’re contacting has previously expressed willingness to provide said feedback.


Organizing Community Organization
#55

Thanks. I’ve been guilty of this; didn’t know that it could be harmful. Sorry about that.

I’ll try to read up on stuff later.


#56

@skade, your posts come off as highly aggressive, especially with respect to timing (for desired actions by both the moderation and core teams). While I am no moderator, I believe this is itself a violation of the code of conduct. It tends to cause discussions to get partially derailed by arguments over who is right, influencing each “side” to instinctively approach the issue from the standpoint of finding a flaw in the others’ statements, often within relatively minor sub-topics, rather than of working to find common ground and build a consensus. In this case, I believe issues regarding potential culpability in the core team should be tabled until said team (in its entirety) has a chance to respond to the claims; what should be done moving forward is hopefully overall a less contentious topic.


#58

FWIW as a moderator I don’t think it’s a violation. Aggression is generally unwanted (and if this were a technical discussion I might have asked them to calm down), but not a violation in itself. Aggression is generally coupled with other things which are a violation. Not here.

It’s also sometimes necessary. I think that some of their strong comments were very helpful and might not have been if not stated so forcefully. In a discussion in such matters, we can make an allowance to emotions running high. We won’t bend the code of conduct for it, but we shouldn’t try to moderate it to that extent either.

(I’d like to remind everyone to try to keep it polite regardless. If you can say it nicely, please do so! :smile: )

That being said, I think we should stop discussing specific people and focus on the main discussion :smiley: . I apologize for initiating that trend.


#59

Respectfully, while you might not agree with my course of discussion and tone, please make clearer on how you believe this is a violation. Please also note that I have taken care not to complain about people not present, just about entities.

I laid out clearly how the timing and miscommunication of the teams has been damaging and is an urgent topic to me.


#60

They have been fast and careless to announce things damaging to our efforts in Berlin. This is one of the reasons why I lobby for a quick withdrawal: to allow breathing time for all sides. I can fully understand their exhaustion, but as long as they want to keep this up, it is up.

Please note that I have been working overhours up to that date as well, including writing articles in news outlets, running Rust learners groups, running one of the parties and doing outreach for that. All next to my day job. I planned for a free weekend for me, maybe with some porting work of my libraries. And here I am.

It’s not like I’m just complaining from the sidelines.


#61

Respectfully as well, I believe the sections on being “kind and courteous” and avoiding “flaming” are applicable. I am just an observer, so to avoid having my comment continue the derailment it discusses, I will avoid making additional posts on this topic; feel free to disagree with my assessment, or contact me privately if you want to dispute the point.


#62

I tactfully refute both. It would be flaming if I picked a minor non-issue or would jump into other peoples discussions. This is the discussion I started. Unless you see the very act of writing down my feelings and opinions on this topic as flaming, I can’t see where it meets.

“kind and courteous” is - in that I agree - a thing to be discussed, but the clause shouldn’t be used to police disagreements, but general initial interactions. Not all disagreements are of the kind sort, sadly :(. I picked my tone with great care and I rarely pick that one and I am incredibly sad that I felt the need to.


#63

As I said before, I consider this very announcement from friday a violation of the code of conduct.

I don’t see how it does. There is noting in the announcement that harasses, demeans, or fails to provide a safe and welcoming environment for anyone.

It would be preferable for their to be a greater diversity on the various Rust teams. This is an unfortunate situation, and at least three people on the moderation team and one on the core team have written in this thread to agree that the situation is unfortunate and discuss what to do about it.

But I don’t think that appointing teams that have been selected from the pool of people available based on their existing involvement and desire to participate could be seen as a violation of the code of conduct. It is unfortunate that there are so few women and under-represented minorities involved in the project, and that needs to be fixed, but the governance structure for the project also needed to be expanded. The previous core team, which was the only governance structure in place prior to this change, was being spread too thin to be able to effectively handle both the technical decisions in a number of areas as well as community moderation issues. Expanding to several subteams, including a dedicated moderation subteam, has been a step forward; there are more steps forward to make, but I don’t think that this has been a step backwards.

I thought the core team is just for technical things? One or the other.

The core team is responsible for setting the overall direction and tone of the project, making cross-cutting decisions that affect several subteam areas, and forming new subteams as necessary. So yes, forming a new subteam for the purpose of community building would be something for the core team to handle.

Here again: I’d like to shortcut the discussion with you. We have different opinions and ideas here. Fair enough. The core team itself has damaged my projects. I’d like to hear their plan on healing that.

You seem to expect the core team to be able to fix this problem in an instant, or at least come up with a proposed fix, during the weekend after a major release. I think that that’s a bit unreasonable. Remember, for a large portion of the team, this is their day job; they need time off, time to be with their families. Demanding that a problem is immediately addressed on the weekend after a big release is a bit unreasonable.

And I don’t think it’s something that can be solved so simply. The selection of people on the subteams has been made based on current involvement and desire of the existing community. I have not heard that anyone who is both qualified and interested has been passed over. Expanding the reach of the community will take some dedicated, hard work. While the current lack of diversity on the various teams is unfortunate, it is fairly reflective of the current community; building up that community cannot be done overnight.

I think that demanding immediately dismantling the new subteams until the problem is solved would do more harm than good; the composition of the governance body has only been made more diverse in the introduction of the subteams, not less. Previously, there was only the core team, now with the sub-teams there is greater diversity of people involved in the project governance, even if it is still not enough.

I cannot think of any other immediate action that would help; that seems to be the only one you have suggested. If there were volunteers to join the teams, who were qualified and trusted, then appointing some new members may help, but I have not heard of any who are available at the moment.

Rather, to be more constructive, I think we should discuss what needs to happen to improve the situation in general, to improve the diversity of the pool of candidates to choose from.

There have been several good suggestions already; reaching out to organizations that already focus on these issues is a good one. What else can we in the broader community do? As a member of the community who is not on any of the core teams, what can I do to help make the community more welcoming, more encouraging, and get more participation from under-represented groups?

So far, I have started by giving a talk at the Rust Boston meetup that was targeted for complete beginners. I hope that introductions from the ground up may be helpful for people who are interested but haven’t yet made the plunge on their own; of course, there’s only so much that can be covered in a single talk, so I hope to be able to do more introductory talks on specific areas as well. I’m also thinking of doing a talk on contributing to Rust, how to make your first pull request, to make it easier for people to get more involved in the community. But none of that is specific outreach to underrepresented groups, just trying to lower the barrier to entry in general.

Since you seem to have some good experience with this, I’d love to hear what else would help to bring more people in. I’ve read your slides, but would love some more details on some of the examples, such as the"Active Outreach" bullet point.

I think that one of the other suggestions in this thread, creating a dedicated community building team, would be a good one. From what I’ve seen, the community building effort so far has been focused on providing forums, like IRC, Discourse, the technical governance of the project, and promotional materials shared on various social media like Twitter and news aggregators like Reddit and Hacker News. Other community building efforts have been local and organic, but not particularly tied to the core project. Right now, there is no part of the governance structure dedicated to supporting outreach efforts, teaching, meetups, and the like. I think that maybe adding a community subteam would help indicate that this is an important area of focus, and give a chance for those efforts to feel like an integral part of the project rather than separate, isolated, local efforts.

One other factor that should be considered is Mozilla’s hiring and management practices. As the main sponsor of the project, employer of the majority of the core team, and one of the only places that currently employs people full-time to work on Rust, how Mozilla decides on candidates to hire, and how it manages its employees and retains existing employees, has a strong impact on the makeup of the project. For better or worse, it’s a lot easier to be a top contributor, and thus eligible for the leadership teams, if you are paid to do so full time. I am not at Mozilla, and so I don’t know much about the hiring process and candidates, but some issues that tend to be endemic to both Silicon Valley culture and open source projects can skew the selection process in favor of young white men. Considering existing contribution to an open source project as a large factor can mean that only those who have the time to spend on projects outside of their job are able to be considered, as well as skewing it in favor of people who already feel comfortable in the community and making unsolicited contributions. And a high-pressure, work all hours at the expense of your life mindset that sometimes affects Silicon Valley culture (and the tech industry in general) can also further marginalize people who have families and lives outside of their job (and @skade, please do recall this when demanding immediate action on a weekend). I know that there have been some core contributors to Rust who are no longer involved in part due to the pressure involved; hopefully a more sustainable pace and level of pressure can be sustained, especially now that 1.0 is out. This is not something that the broader community can help with, nor anything that can be fixed immediately; and perhaps these issues have been addressed, I am not at Mozilla. But I think they should be kept in mind.

I’m hoping that this message has come off as constructively as possible. I think that this is a big issue that needs to be addressed, but I think it needs to be addressed thoughtfully and with patience.


Brainstorming: community subteam
#64

I didn’t call for immediate action on a weekend, but for availability after a major announcement. That alone would have been a good reason not to announce things on a Friday evening that are bound to lead to disagreement.

Imagine deploying on a Friday evening and telling your users that they have to wait until Monday because of that. That wouldn’t fly.

Sadly, by its plea for constructiveness, it comes off as demeaning other efforts as not being just that.

I’ll remind you again that I have given the issue much thought, that I do take action in that regard and I do have patience - but that has an end at some point. And that point being where core becomes harmful to this action.

Stopping to tone down those with a rightful reason for anger is the first actually a part of good outreach efforts. Give me something to work with, instead of pleas for prolonging further. Anger can be a very constructive thing.

I’m not interested in suggestions, I’m interested in activity. And that activity starts by an acknowledgement of damage done.

Mind @jdm’s post: asking me for fixes for damage inflicted on my efforts is also bad. I’m happy to talk about any other ways of action, I proposed a quick fix so that everyone can sleep at night. It’s not my job to suggest further.

Currently, I’m the only one with an actionable proposal on the table.

Weak suggestions of future efforts don’t help.

In my opinion you are misappropriating the term diverse here. We’re not talking about structure, but people.

Have you considered specifically targeting marginalized groups? Contact any of the many outreach groups and try to encourage them getting into that talk.

Basically: read up on things, even if the wiki is called “geek feminism” and invest time speaking to specific groups. Advertise your diversity if you manage have get any. Train people.

I agree on that, but then, it’s the damage already done by them which must be complained about for them to take that into account. The best people to oppose these practices are the ones hired by Mozilla.


#65

Anger can be a very constructive thing.

But it very often isn’t. Fire can also be a useful tool, but people who aren’t careful using it end up hurting those nearby and accomplishing nothing.

The tech feminism scene has enough anger already. It’s not helping the cause and it’s causing extreme burnout among people like me and Steve who try to help, get zero credit (of course we’d be mocked if we admitted to needing any), and as a bonus also get much worse from the “other side”. I’m not saying we deserve medals, but this problem has been on our radar for a very long time (have you heard of Graydon and Tim?), it has been the subject of many discussions as well as concrete actions taken, and most of that had no effect except pissing off people in every direction. That’s not in any way an argument that we should stop trying. But maybe it means your anger is counterproductive in this case. You already have our attention, but you’re acting like we still don’t give a shit and never did. That is a massive slap in the face.

By the way, many pages on the Geek Feminism wiki are truly terrible. We need a plurality of feminist thought where substantive debates are tolerated. Not social-media-based bullying to conform to a naive worldview that actively reinforces patriarchy. And please don’t lecture me now on how men are clueless about gender and need to shut up. I’ve heard it all before. That’s a weak heuristic, not an ironclad rule. I have put in the effort to “educate myself” and the result is that people with a simplistic understanding of the same issues yell at me for having more nuanced views, while arranging the terms of debate to put themselves beyond criticism. (I’m not straight or gender-conforming either, and I have significant mental health issues that come into play here – but I’m still a “privileged person” and our mental health is just a matter of “comfort” in social activist circles.)

I deeply resent that you are trying to drag this community I love down into the gutter of scorched-earth identity politics.

This is a painful and personal topic for me and I hope it is abundantly clear that these are my personal views, not those of Mozilla or the Rust project. I’m not on the core team, or the moderation team, or any other Rust team, and I don’t want to be, and I ruffled a lot of feathers by insisting that the moderation team should even exist. I stopped contributing to rust-lang/rust largely as a result, so don’t think that I hold them blameless.


#66

Had you actually had read the slides I posted, I refer to both Tim and Graydon. Yes, I heard of them. Yes, I read all they wrote. Steve gets credit from me in spades and it’s very painful to me that this happens around him. I wanted to keep his name out of this.

I haven’t lectured you in any way and I don’t intend to. I got asked for advice person to person. If you have better advice, please post it.

I don’t do this and I am as much an active member of the community as you are.

I appreciate your actions, please appreciate mine.

I don’t know what you want to achieve with this post. It reads like you are assuming that I am some community newcomer coming trying to just push an agenda. Or you just want to put me back into my place. I really don’t know.


#67

The team did respond in the original Twitter thread, and there have been people in both the core and moderation teams responding in this thread.

I understand that you don’t think the response has been sufficient, but I really don’t know what possible response their could be in such short time short of simply pulling the announcement of the subteams, and as I described, I think that would a step back, not forwards.

I agree, deploying on a Friday can lead to these sorts of problems.

Of course, I think that part of the issue is that no one anticipated this announcement would be controversial. And I don’t think that any of the individual choices are controversial either, it’s only the aggregate result that gives you pause.

I apologize, that is the opposite impression that I had meant to give. I can now see how it would read that way, but my intent was only to discuss my post and that all criticisms I had given were intended to be constructive in spirit.

Perhaps in certain circumstances, but in other circumstances it can be quite corrosive.

Sorry, I’m not trying to ask you to solve the problem yourself, but just trying to get ideas for what would help. Having more than one available path forward can help to find something that works for everyone.

I just want to make sure I understand you. The suggestion you have is to roll back the change, moving from a structure with a core team and subteams back to one with just the core team, and go back to the drawing board on the subteams?

I am talking about people as well.

The core team has not changed from before the announcement to after. It has 8 people, who by my count consist of eight men, seven from the US and one from Australia, with no under-represented minorities as far as I can discern (apologies if I have mischaracterized anyone’s gender identity, nationality, or ethnicity).

With the addition of the subteams, the leadership structure now includes people from Germany, Austria, Poland, Russia, Romania, and India. I would say that that is a substantial increase in diversity from seven people from the US and one from Australia.

Now, that doesn’t mean there isn’t further to go, one of the biggest omissions being any women on the team, but I don’t see how reverting the decision and thus reducing diversity on the team, and then having to wait for outreach efforts and community building to help find sufficient candidates to join the governance team would help.

Well, that talk already happened at the 1.0 release party/meetup. But I do hope to be able to do more; there’s only so much ground you can cover in a one-hour long talk, there’s much more to teach.

I have found a few local groups for teaching women in software development; I have not found any for any other under-represented groups. Most of the groups for women appear to be focused on web development, and are only open to women, so I don’t know if they would be interested in having me give a talk, but I will reach out to see, or to see if they’d be interested in advertising future Rust Boston meetups to their membership.


#68

The team felt like mentioning my group as an explicit example for diversity work. This was the first time the team spoke to us in any team capacity. Do you see my point about neglect there?

I appreciate that sentiment. What is your opinion on a concrete way forward? What time frames does it have? What is the commitment? When do you consider it successful or failed?

That pretty much sums up the problem. It hasn’t been seen as a problem. A joint announcement instead of a link on twitter would have fixed a lot of things.

My current suggestions is to move back on commitment of to the teams and make them clearly temporary with explicit goals.

Why haven’t you considered that before the party? That would have been the moment for a show of force. We’re far to focused on “and now we finish this milestone and then we finally do the outreach work”.

We did most of our outreach through Rails Girls. Ask those groups to propagate your invitation and put it into their channels. Make sure you get good standing with those groups and they will reflect you message. Also: yes, they only focus on web, but maybe not everyone is interested in web after a while? The Berlin clojure community for example is run by a Rails Girls training group. (Which makes local Clojurists rants about Ruby very funny)


Organizing Community Organization
#69

It would probably be useful @skade, if you could describe in what way the team announcement was directly damaging your efforts. That might allow others in this thread understand in what way the team announcement was undermining diversity efforts.

I’m not sure that it has been quite clear that this was your suggestion, but it certainly sounds reasonable to me personally. Is this something that the Rust team could work with? Could you express, @skade, how this would help repair the damage to your and possibly others’ efforts?

I must say that I’m a bit surprised that if this has come up in internal discussions (i.e. lack of diversity) that no-one suggested to Mozilla to pay for a member to work on diversity. When you want to conquer the world you surely need some diplomats?

That member might have been able to avert the disaster that the team announcement was. Basically all women coders that I follow on twitter have gagged on the all-male teams.