It has been two weeks since I posted about the pr0n talk and at times I felt pretty tired of all the bickering; however, the quiet positive voices continued saying “stay positive,” “stand up and be counted” and “how about a community where women are valued for their ability to program and not by the thickness of their skin?”  Even DHH wonders how to get more women involved.

Some folks started talking about what could be done on the positive side.  This isn’t something the ever-so-logical crowd is doing by the numbers.  We aren’t focused on quantifying a result. If everyone does what they can, then it will make a difference. There’s no corporate leadership needed to consult or lobby.  The power of open source software is that anyone can decide to be a leader and create the community we want to be a part of.  Open source is not only about creating creating the core software.  It is about all of the stuff that goes with it: documentation, sample code, tools and plugins and the people who make everything happen.  How can we pull together and magnify efforts that the majority of folks are already doing?  Things like…

  • When we ran into a question using Cucumber and my colleague posted on the forum in the afternoon. By the time we started work the next day, a volunteer had answered the question and updated the docs!
  • In learning Ruby and Rails, I posted what I thought was a language question to the Ruby forum. It turned out to be a specific Rails unit testing question, but people were nice and gave detailed responses on the Ruby language syntax and one guy even researched the Rails question and answered it.  (Notably there were no snide comments that I posted on the wrong forum, just people who took the time to help me.)

The community really is great, but we want it to include a more diverse set of people, reflective of society as a whole.  We brainstormed some ideas and decided on what projects to start up based on there being someone willing to step up and take the lead.  Mike Gunderloy whipped up a webpage, with a logo by Bruce Williams. I’m sure that there are other folks with ideas or already on-going projects on how to create an inclusive and friendly Ruby on Rails community.    Here is a list of projects so far:

  • Workshops: Sarah Mei and I will be publishing our workshop materials and collecting links to resources for anyone who wants to start their own.  Have you taught Ruby on Rails and want to share tips or lesson plans? Do you want to help with the workshop in SF?  Have one where you live?
  • Teaching Ruby to Kids: I’m looking into teaching Ruby in middle school.  I’ll collect and post resources.  Send links, share your success (or failure) stories on the list or help with the website.
  • Current Blog Information Locator: Do you remember when you learned to look at the date on a blog post first and back track in your mind to the corresponding version of Rails to imagine if the blog post is relevant to your project? Elad Meidar has some ideas on a fix…. do you?
  • Online Mentoring Application: there are some many great folk in the community willing to help.  This app could match up beginners with experts.  Even an expert at one thing may be a beginner at another.
  • Courseware for Newcomers to Rails: Dana Jones and others are working on an outline.  If you have ideas about teaching beginners or have some writing skills, consider joinin the crew.
  • Code Reviews for Students: join Mike Gunerloy and others to help students learn best practtices.
  • Ruby Challenge: Marianna Kenesy has some neat ideas abour programming puzzles that might draw people in and help sharpen their skills.
  • Pro Bono Site Work for Non-Profits: Mike Breen is taking the lead to organize people into teams who will volunter to build applications for non-profits.

Join one of the intial projects or suggest your own project.  There’s a public mailing list and folks are working on a web site. What do you think? What are you doing or do you want to do to be a force of positive change?

4 thoughts on “the power of an open source community

  1. Rails Bridge is a great initiative. Making ruby , rails accessible for a lot of people is a great idea. Let me discuss the project with my team and see how we can contribute with the community.

    Kapil Bhatia
    New Delhi, India

  2. Pingback: links for 2009-05-05 « Amy G. Dala

  3. Your link under the rather LARGE logo is missing a d – just reads Otherwise it sounds great.

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