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Re: Updating stats, thinking about what to do



* Helen Faulkner <helen@debian.org> [2011:04:20 21:06 +1000]: 
> When I was more involved in Debian Women (and, in fact, in Debian), I had the
> opinion that keeping Debian Women "moving" as a community was crucial to attract
> and hold the attention of people who might become involved as contributers to
> Debian in the future.  To that end there was quite a lot of effort put in (by a
> small number of people including me), in those early months, to making sure that
> there was always stuff going on on the mailing list and on the irc channel.

I think another part of it is that back then, all of us early Debian Women
really felt like we were doing something revolutionary, had a real fire in our
bellies, and were very determined to make sure that all of our detractors were
proven wrong, and that we were successful and showed that our "experiment"
would work. I feel like we did prove that, because there was a very marked and
rapid improvement in the number of women. And the way we did it was by doing
fuckloads of outreach, making sure there were tons of projects for new women to
work on, and spending a LOT of time trying to teach & learn from each other.
Working on Debian with other women was a really new and exciting thing for most
of us, and we bonded over it. Now it sort of feels like "oh, women in Debian?
yeah, that's the norm."

And now you have some of us in the old guard who are maybe gatekeeping things
-- not on purpose, but maybe newer people feel like they don't want to step on
our toes? Like things are too entrenched and they need permission?

Because seriously, y'all can do whatever you want. If you want to update the
website, go for it. If you want to start blogging, go for it. My experience
says that eventually people will join in, but you are always going to have to
have some tireless leaders who aren't too easily demotivated. I think Helen and
I burned out within about a year, but a year was sufficient "full dedication"
time to make a big difference.

And if there's anything I specifically am blocking on or that you think I can
help with, let me know, so I can give people more access and control. DW was my
baby for a long time and I want to encourage people to keep it going since I
have also mostly moved on.

> One of the symptoms of the changing nature of Debian Women is, I think, that
> sometimes there are days at a time with no discussion on the lists, and hours or
> days at a time with no activity on the irc channel (as far as I can tell - I'm
> not on irc much these days anyway). I think this means that people who might be
> interested in becoming involved look elsewhere for a community that is more
> active, and there are plenty of those online.

People are really into the microblogging thing. This is not a fad I have
managed to understand or internalize, but my sense is that people like it for
reasons they like IRC -- immediate feedback, disjoint conversation -- so maybe
if there are lots of Debian Women participating on identi.ca or wherever, we
could have some kind of IRC bot that mentions on IRC whenever someone has
mentioned some relevant tag (like #debianwomen?) And then presumably people
will be denting or tweeting things that are relevant topics to us, and people
can see it on IRC and talk about it. Is that a stupid idea?  Someone who's
better are social media-ing should run with it if it's not.

> I don't think this is anyone's fault. It is something that can happen with
> volunteer-based communities, and even those women who are very active in Debian
> may not have much time available for Debian Women.  I do think that the
> situation might be improved if a small number of people are willing to put in a
> great deal of time and effort into facilitating the DW community - that is how
> things got going in the first place.

Totally agree. We need leaders and friction and things that incite people to
have opinions and want to fight for something.
 
(I snipped out the rest of the mail, but I agree with Helen 100%.)

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