Grants:TPS/Paulproteus/Open Source Bridge 2013/Report

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Event name: Open Source Bridge

Description of your participation:

I gave two talks and participated in a panel.

  • Quantitative Community Management (estimated 25-30 attendees)
  • Train the Trainers (estimated 15 attendees)
  • Diversity in open source: What's changed in 2012 and 2013 (panel) (estimated I don't know 100 attendees?)

During the Quantitative Community Management talk, I shed light on issues with past Wikimedia surveys and how recent research has improved them. I also shared issues with surveys I had run, and how we had improved upon them. The Quantitative Community Management talk inspired forty minutes of lively discussion, after the talk, on a variety of free software community management issues. One topic, with two Wikimedia volunteers and a Dreamwidth staff member participating, was how and when to ask people to leave communities. During a birds of a feather session later during the conference, I was able to discuss what I had learned with Jen Mylo of WordPress and Sarah Sharp of the Linux kernel and Intel. We are still planning precisely how to apply the lessons, but we came up with a possible plan for WordPress at least.

In Train the Trainers, Sarah Sharp and a variety of others attended. We discussed a number of issues, and taught attendees how to (among other things) copy and paste from the Windows command prompt, which is a skill that is required by many attendees of open source outreach events but which volunteer staffers often do not know, perhaps because they began their tech careers on non-Windows platforms. Beyond the technical nitty-gritty, we discussed the specific curriculum for Open Source Comes to Campus events, and ran a workshop to teach people how to do a better job of making sure attendees at an event are being helped. In this, I learned one helpful piece of advice from Jen Mylo, which was to show a screenshot on the projector of what success looks like. This helps attendees know with great clarity if they are on the right track, and it clarifies for teaching assistants when to reach out to an attendee.

In the panel, we discussed a variety of efforts that were improving gender diversity in open source. Sumana Harihareswara, the Engineering Community Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, discussed the ever-improving gender diversity of Google Summer of Code in recent years. A wide array of discussion took place, and it was a pleasure to be a part of it. As part of explaining my motivation, I remarked toward the end, "Open source isn't diverse until all people can contribute and use the software," which earned a tweet from fellow panelist Ashe Dryden and eight retweets.

Beyond what I had planned, I had the honor of attending two outstanding talks by Wikimedians. Noopur Raval illuminated a variety of topics that can be summarized as "queering the encyclopedia" in "Failure and Wikipedia." Sucheta Ghoshal presented "We, the people," which shed light on issues that computer science students face in institutions like Netaji Subhash Engineering College. The talked focused primarily on the methods and motivations of instruction, and I was able to translate some of the India-specific language and terminology for Larissa Shapiro of Mozilla, who was also attending the talk. The audience had a very lively question-and-answer session in which we learned a great deal more about India's free software scene, with substantial contributions from Alolita Sharma of WMF.

What lessons were learned that could help others in similar events?

I would like to spend time shortly to refactor the Train the Trainers talk by publishing just the interactive exercise, teaching trainers how to ask questions from attendees that are not asking questions. Given the audience's interest in learning how to copy and paste within Windows' command prompt, it seems likely that we could extract that out as well.

The meta-lesson here is that converting slides and in-talk discussion points into web documents that can be easily consumed and discussed and edited after the event would be a great boon.

In Train the Trainers, I learned that the 1h45m format was tough for teaching the attendees our specific curriculum. In the future, if I were to repeat this talk, I would ask attendees to read our material and ask questions, so that they can focus on curriculum elements that interest them the most.

What impact did your participation have on the Wikimedia Mission goals of Increased Reach, Increased Quality, Increased Credibility, Increased and Diversified Participation?

The highest-impact result of the event was the final preparation of a teachers' guide for Open Source Comes to Campus events, available here: .

For Wikimedians who wish to clone the Open Source Comes to Campus format, the information on how to do is now fully available.

A talk I gave showcased how to better measure increased reach and increased and diversified participation, which will be available recorded in video through the conference, and whose slides are available here:

Through the Foundation's support, Sarah Sharp, Jen Mylo, others, and I began to formulate plans to measure our specific communities.

The event also offered me a chance to catch up with Sumana, which led to fruitful discussion of an OpenHatch Google Summer of Code project, "Greenhouse," which can help better-measure Wikimedians' involvement in the software side of the projects.

I am also able to carry the message of Wikimedia's outreach and diversity efforts, ranging from Sumana's contributions to the panel to the two talks I attended, to other conferences and individuals.

Detail of expenditures: I have submitted documentation to the email address provided. Additionally, for clarity and history, they are: USD 227.79 for round-trip coach class airfare from SFO to PDX, with no reimbursement requested for lodging or other costs.

Amount underspent/left-over (please specify currency): 0.