The Community Expectations working group had its kickoff…

The Community Expectations working group had its kickoff chat today (irc log). In attendance were Mika Eptein (@ipstenu), Aaron Jorbin, Siobhan McKeown, Tracy Levesque, George Stephanis, Brooke Dukes, Carrie Dils, Kronda Adair, and me (@jenmylo). Cátia Kitahara is also on the team but couldn’t make the meeting.

The plan:

  • Carrie and Brooke and Aaron are on the front line, reviewing similar policies from other open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. orgs and seeing if there’s good stuff that we can reuse (if licensed appropriately, of course) or be inspired by. They will be dropping the chunks they think would be good to use or reference into a doc by Tuesday, 10/29/13.
  • I will drop a headings outline into the doc, also by Tuesday.
  • On Wednesday, 10/30/13, the “write new content” group will step up and start creating sections as needed. This includes Aaron, Mika, George, with Jen and Siobhan as needed (who’ll also be editing all the pieces together as they’re added). Complete this portion by Tuesday, 11/5/13. The rest of the group will drop in and comment as time allows in this period.
  • Regroup to review what we have so far, and plan how to proceed to finish draft for community review.

A note on creating this working group:
There were some comments on the thread that announced this project that indicated some discomfort at the idea that I wanted this working group to be diverse itself. Without getting into who’s male/female/gay/straight/disabled/etc, I want to make it clear that no one was added to this group based on some sort of diversity quota rather than merit.

As it happens, the process for creating a diverse group is pretty similar to creating a diverse speaker roster for a WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more., so I thought I’d share the process I used.

First, I started with the people who volunteered on the post by the time we got started. This is the same as choosing from speaker applications. You check them out and if they look good you say yes. Really very easy on the organizer, not hard work. As it happened, those people were all people known to me, and have all either written or presented on a topic related to appropriate behavior in our community, diversity, etc. on their own, so that made it easy to say yes to all of them. No one who explicitly said, “I want to help with this,” in the comments by the time we started the group was excluded.

Within these volunteers there was some diversity in sexual orientation, family makeup, religion, politics, length of time in WP community, etc, but it appeared to be all white women* from the U.S., so I wanted to broaden the perspective of the group by including some more people of different backgrounds (with a cap at 10 for logistical purposes). That meant I needed to reach out and make an effort to see if there were any qualified people that could round out the team that maybe hadn’t seen the post or had not felt comfortable volunteering.

This is the step that tends to freak people out. For WC organizers, it’s a lot of work, and if they don’t know a lot of people who are qualified then it turns into a choice-based-on-demographics, which is obviously not good for anyone. I’m lucky enough to be familiar with a lot of talented people in our community from many regions, levels of involvement, areas of expertise, etc. so that wasn’t a problem here. Everyone I reached out to met the same professional WP standards as the original volunteers, as well as having spoken or written somewhere about these issues already (including the 2 white dudes with beards 🙂 ).

In the end, our group of course could be still more diverse, but within the limited number of people we do have there is a pretty broad variety of viewpoints and experiences to draw on in our drafting process, which is the goal. Not to prioritize one demographic group over another, but to be sure that more viewpoints are included in the process and have a voice.

*Remember you can’t tell much from a gravatarGravatar Is an acronym for Globally Recognized Avatar. It is the avatar system managed by, and used within the WordPress software. Someone who looks white may be biracial, someone who looks male may be female or vice versa (remember how we all thought Mika was a man for years because of her Frank Sinatra-eque hat gravatar?), and there are all sorts of other diversity components that have nothing to do with what your face looks like, so we have to remember not to make assumptions.

#community-expectations, #community-management, #diversity, #meeting-notes