Re: [Hyperledger Architecture WG] [Hyperledger Performance and Scale WG] [Hyperledger Identity WG] [Hyperledger TSC] How can we improve diversity in the Hyperledger technical community?

Bob Summerwill <bob@...>

Hey David,

As I work through my mailbox I realized that I had still never replied to this mail of yours and just wanted to commend you.

These are some deep observations!

Are there now recurring meetings on community health?

On Wed, Oct 31, 2018 at 12:52 PM David Boswell <dboswell@...> wrote:
I've been looking into the topic of diversity in open source communities and wanted to share some interesting articles and a specific proposal for something our community can do.

To start, here are some important points made by three different articles:

* The basic structure of open, meritocratic and welcoming communities puts more hurdles in place for some people than others.  There's a great article that looks at how the essay 'The Tyranny of Structurelessness', an article about power structures in the feminist movement, applies to open source communities.  I think the most important line in that article is: “First, we need to recognize that while we all strive to be meritocratic when engaging and involving people we are often predisposed to those who act, talk and think like us.”

* Building on that point, open source projects are biased in favor of contributors who show up with an itch to scratch (they already have a thing in mind they want to do).  Sumana Harihareswara has a great article that points out that not everyone has an itch to scratch when they come to a community and we are sending the message that those people aren't real contributors.  But just like people have different learning styles, if we want to have a more diverse group of contributors we need to recognize that there are different contribution styles as well -- otherwise we keep limiting our contributions to the subset of people who participate in the one way we've promoted as 'the right way to contribute'.

* So we need to put new structures in place for new contributors that don't have an itch to scratch the moment they show up in the community.  Many people are interested in Hyperledger and want to get involved but don't know what to do.  We can match those new people with contribution opportunities and with existing contributors to help them.  And data shows that matching people with mentors does increase diversity -- see this recent Economist article that compares effectiveness of different diversity policies.

The proposal then is to create a formal mentoring program in the community where existing contributors share their knowledge with new contributors and connect them with tasks that the projects need help with that fit their interests and skills.  And there are models out there for how to do this in an open source community.  Mozilla had a mentoring effort that scaled to a large size by having a small group of mentors level up a group of people who then mentored others who then leveled up more people.  The attached image of their mentoring structure shows how this scales up quickly.



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