Let me try to summarize the points that I feel I can present fairly. The Rust community is currently very homogenous. As a consequence, neither the core team (which existed before) nor the subteams/peers (which are new) are as diverse as everyone would like. Dissecting how that state came to be doesn’t seem to yield anything productive or helpful or pleasant, only get dangerously close to blame assignment and excuses. So let’s stop doing that.
This homogeneity has the tangible downside that some people of underrepresented groups have more reservations about joining our community, presumably based on bad experiences (own or reported) with very homogenous communities. If they would join, they’d probably find it very delightful, but they don’t because their heuristic filters us out. This filter is quite valid, or even if we’d think it wasn’t, we should still be concerned that we are missing out on potential community members.
Those who argue against the team announcement state that the above downside has measurably worsened since the announcement, presumably because the lack of diversity is now more visible. Let me repeat, nothing has changed about the demographics of the community at large, nor those of the biggest contributors (many of whom now hold a peer position, hence are more visible). It simply became more visible who the workhorses and great thinkers of the project are.
Since nobody here is a wizard, at least not one skilled in conjuring contributors and experience out of thin air, this will not change easily or quickly. This too bears repeating: All the outreach and community building (that everyone agrees to) can enable us to build a diverse team in the next, let’s say, few months. The exception being the moderation team, which does not require the Rust-specific expertise of other subteams.
One proposed alternative was to not announce teams at all, resp. disband them now and go back to the unofficial, undocumented structure that existed before. If I understand correctly, @skade has since mellowed and proposes a compromise that keeps the subteams but refines or shrinks their mission statements, but other participants are apparently still in favor of that? Anyway, the many disadvantages for lots of areas other than outreach have been discussed at length, including by me. It is unlikely to find acceptance but I don’t want to predict anything.
Here begins the part where I stop summarizing and start thinking out loud.
As I understand it, the problem with the team announcement is one of communication. The announcement and web presence of the team unintentionally sends an unfortunate message, or can be read as sending such a message. (As above, it doesn’t matter how valid these concerns are, they cost us community members.) That message is that Rust is, to quote a few ways to express it: “All white dudes”, “not diverse”, “a boy’s club”. Unfortunately, that is the truth. But it’s not the whole truth, thus misleading, and we can do better. If you want to, you can think of this as public relations rather than social justice.
So how can we do better? Obviously, the main thing is to fix the problem, that is, reach out and grow our community not only with the “default audience” but also, specifically, with groups that are currently underrepresented. Everyone can help with that, even though the leaders should (and I do imply responsibility here, not just my own wish) take part in this. But since this is established to not work overnight, what can be done while it’s in process?
Since this is a communication problem, I say: Communicate better. Once the inevitable “diversity initiative” is taking off, document it on the web site and announce it to the public. Do this well! Take the hints from the kind community members who have given do’s and don’t of outreach above, and not only apply them to the actions taken but also make clear in the press releases that it’s being done like that.
Even before that, emphasize what’s already great about the governance model, including on the team page. That Rust is developed by an open and inclusive community, that the team merely sets directions and breaks ties in votes, that team members are community members first and foremost, that the teams are not set in stone, that new teams can and will be formed, that membership on the team means more administrative work than any real power. Maybe put the moderation team first, or right below the core team. I feel like that is “cheating”, but whatever, it’s marketing, right?
As for the actual outreach and community building, I don’t feel comfortable asserting anything about it except that I’m in favor and if someone near me (Rhein-Main-Gebiet, Germany) wants to do such work I’ll see if I can help. I am not part of any Rust user group or any similar group from which a Rust user group could branch off. I also lack the time and the experience to creating one ex nihilo. I am stuck with armchairing about how to behave on the Internet.