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Re: DW

Hi again everybody :)

On 11/08/2005, at 4:29 PM, Helen Faulkner wrote:

I believe that most of us would agree that some things that D-W is doing are working better than other things. The formation and continuation of this particular community is a fascinating and ongoing process, and there always seems to be more to learn and more decisions to take and more work to do for it.

Yes, it's a big and ongoing effort, but very much worthwhile, I think. :)

I also believe that there is nobody here (except for the occasional troll) who
intends to insult other members of this community.

Yes, that's what I thought. <puzzled> It's certainly not my thing.

Erinn, I _have_ tried to bring up some of these issues, but the
response is so vehement, and ignores so much of what I said in the
original email, assumes so much of what I definitely _haven't_ said,
that I am not game to keep trying with the topic.

Clytie I am confused and worried by this. I think that I am pretty closely in touch with the DW community. Certainly I read all of the list email, though I'm not watching the IRC channel 24/7. The only contentious issue that I remember you being involved in discussing was the question of whether it is a good thing or a bad thing to have a separate debian-women-i18n list. In that thread, I don't remember you actually explaining what you think the problems are with the way Debian Women is operating. Maybe you could try again to explain what issues you would like to see discussed by the DW community? This would be the first
step to resolving whatever problems you are experiencing.

I started trying to do that by explaining why we needed a separate group for D-W translators. However, every small thing I tried to introduce in those posts brought such a negative reaction, and confused me so badly by most of the negative reactions not even addressing what I'd said, that I never got anywhere with it. I was stuck restating what I'd said the first time ... and still getting nowhere. :(

A reaction like yours above would have been wonderful. :)

I had a small group, some of them not feeling confident about posting on the main list, and we had a lot of specialized stuff to discuss. It made sense to me to combine the specialized aspect with mentoring the less-confident people. It beats me why it _was_ a contentious issue. It never seemed to me that the people who responded, and I, were talking about the same things. :(

I have encouraged new people to post here, and I've been disappointed with the response to those posts. Does anyone say, "Welcome to Debian- Women, X! Great to see you here. I can see that Y is important to you, and I'm sure there will be someone here with the expertise you need, or who can refer you to it. ;)"

This is not superfluous, it's the stuff of which growth is made. People need to feel welcome, valued and that others are willing to listen and to understand. I have never encountered such difficulty trying to get a simple point across as I did in that "contentious issue", yet this is the place where I would have expected _more_ understanding and willingness to be flexible, not less.

If people think there are problems with the Debian Women project, or even things that we could be doing better, we would certainly like to hear about them. You can write to the list or raise things on IRC, and anyone is welcome to email me
privately if you don't wish to discuss something in public.

I can't do real-time communication. :( I'd really like to be able to use iRC, but I don't process in that phase.

However, for any person here, regardless of background, I believe the
response should be:

I hear what you're saying (I've taken enough time to read it and try to
understand it: if not, I ask polite questions)
I am willing to let you explain it
I will give you room to learn and grow

I think this is really important, if we want to attract new people
here, and encourage them to take risks and branch out.

Certainly I agree with this, and I think this is the sort of thing we commonly see on this mailing list. We are (nearly always - I can't help the trolls!)
polite, we certainly welcome people regardless of their level of
experience/expertise and we are certainly interested in discussing issues that
people raise.

I think there are definitely people here who do that. However, it's not what always happens (excluding trolls). Sometimes, the majority of posts are in a distant or abrupt tone, certainly not inviting people to comment or contribute. Your tone here is warm, personal and encouraring, exactly what we need. We need more of it.

I don't have the resources to go back through all the responses to my attempts to form a mentor sub-group, but I don't recall _one_ which encouraged me. People need encouraging: the less confident they are, the more encouragement they need. That requires ongoing positive effort. I've pasted in below some suggestions I've just made on gnome- women, and I hope they will be received in the spirit in which they are made: positive, trying to help.

Let's look at what we are doing to encourage new members, people
lurking, who may not have enough confidence to take part here. Why is
this? What can we do to encourage them? How would they like us to
respond? Do they feel welcome here, safe to express opinion, and to
make occasional mistakes, or not to have the same level of experience
and knowledge as others?

It is always difficult to find out what people think who are not confident enough (yet) to participate in a community. Maybe some of those who have recently started posting to this list could comment on Clytie's questions here? (Or better still, some of you who have never before posted to the list!)

That would be terrific! Please do post in and share what is important to you, how the list could meet your needs, help you feel more comfortable to express your opinions and ask for help. If anyone bites you, we'll have them treated for rabies. ;)

With goodwill and caring,

from Clytie (vi-VN, Vietnamese free-software translation team / nhóm Việt hóa phần mềm tự do)
The Gnome-Women post:

From talking to other women translators and developers, mostly new ones, who don't feel they have the confidence to take on "mainstream" groups, I think our group needs:

1. to be welcoming: make a point of welcoming new people, show an interest in their background, invite them to share about what they do and what they want to achieve

Post: Welcome, X, to the Gnome Women list! It's great to see you posting here for the first time. So you're working in Y? That must be interesting, bearing in mind the Z situation. We'd be interested to hear what it's been like for you, as a woman in that field.

As for your question about AA, there are several options you could usefully investigate... (etc.)

2. to be tolerant: we all make mistakes. If someone is unclear, makes a mistake or hasn't looked at the usual information, be polite and helpful, give them good examples and encourage them to follow effective models of practice.


New poster: I dont knnow where find group to tryanslate (language X)

Response: Welcome to the Gnome-Women list! Gnome has a vibrant and welcoming translation community. Please look at the main translation project page (Y). I notice on the teams page (Z) that there isn't a team for your language yet, but you can contact (ZZ) and ask about forming a team. Please tell him/her you're a member of Gnome-Women, and please keep asking questions here: we help each other. :)

as opposed to:


I'm happy to do that for translators, but I think it helps any new enquirer, so perhaps other Gnome Women could volunteer to be focal people for different Gnome areas.

New people don't _want_ to look silly or ignorant: most of the time people are doing their best under the circumstances. Cut them some slack.


Poster X advertizes her company on the group.

Response: We're really interested to hear about your company, but this list isn't the place to advertize. Please have a look (here). We'd really like to hear about what it's like for women workers at your company: what has it been like for you?

This may all be obvious, but somehow it doesn't happen. :(

3. Read emails carefully. It sounds crazy to have to say that, but so often I've seen new posters put off by having their questions ignored, and being confused and upset by suddenly receiving responses about something else. If we're not entirely sure what someone means, we can ask polite questions:

Poster: I can't find gnomewomen page

Respone: Hi, X. Good to hear from you. Which Gnome Women page are you looking for? (Of course, they're all equally wonderful. ;) ) What information are you looking for?

as opposed to:


These types of responses take more time, but I think it's worth doing one post like that, than sending in several that aren't welcoming and helpful.

Everyone has their own style, but welcoming and helpful should be part of it in a group like this, IMHO.

4. Celebrate achievement.


Package X is gnomewomen member Y's first package. It's in testing.

Post: Our new Gnome Woman package maintainer, Y, has her first package in testing now! It can be a long trail, but worth it in the end. Keep all your non-keyboarding fingers crossed for this possibly nervous package. (How would _you_ feel if you were in testing? ;) )

Y, how has it been getting your package to this stage? What have been the high points and low points, so far? I had awful problems with A, but B was pretty easy, considering C. D helped me a lot with that.


Post: We want to hear what you're doing this month. Do you have anything you really want to get out of the way in (month)? Let's put up a page of current projects, and highlight milestones. In my case, I want to get Y done. I need to start (here), and do (this) first, but I think I can get (this) done by (then). My best resource is (this), and in time management I focus on (that). How about you?

This is a way to help spread good models of practice, reinforce skills.

Post: Gnome Woman X popped up on our IRC channel for the first time last night, Y time. Good to see you there! We had a very useful chat about Z, in between bad jokes about AA. Is there anyone here who would like to chat on the channel, but doesn't know where to begin? We've got an IRC primer (here), but please ask questions on the list, too. We all had to start at the beginning once. ;)


5. Keep it cool.

Post: (non-welcoming, abrupt, not reading the original etc.)

Response: Z, I know you can help X with her question: (question restated). We need to remember that different people have different levels of expertise. Where do you think she should start in addressing (question restated)?

Then the original poster isn't confused by wondering if she's expressed herself properly, and can keep hoping to get some actual help.

Managing poster behaviour is _not_ easy, but if there are a core group of Gnome Women consistently being welcoming and helpful, I think the occasional less-accepting post will be bearable for new and less confident people. They're looking at the majority behaviour, and thinking, "Can I do this? Can I take the risk that Z will talk like that to me? But X and Y are always helpful, I can ask, and at a pinch I might be able to email one of them. It feels like an accepting place."

6. Invite people to join the list. My i18n coordinator for Debian invited me to join the D-W list, which I didn't even know existed, and I really appreciated the invitation. Let's target one or two invitations each month per Gnome Women, and see whom we find.

That's just a few ideas, anyway. I hope they are useful. :)

from Clytie (vi-VN, Vietnamese free-software translation team / nhóm Việt hóa phần mềm tự do)

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