[Wikimedia-l] About the concentration of resources in SF (it was: "Communication plans for community engagement"

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Sun Jul 28 07:31:42 UTC 2013

On Sat, Jul 27, 2013 at 8:41 PM, Craig Franklin
<cfranklin at halonetwork.net> wrote:
> For the benefit of chapters that are interested in this space, can you
> offer any examples of projects that are of an appropriate size and type for
> a chapter to take on?

It's a great question, Craig. One idea that I think is worth kicking
around is how we can partner together in increasing diversity in our
developer, design & product community while working on important

One of the programs I'm most excited about is our involvement in
Outreach Program for Women (huge kudos to Sumana Harihareswara and
Quim Gil for making this happen):

OPW is similar to Google Summer of Code, in that participants receive
a stipend for their work, but it is specifically targeted at bringing
women into the open source / free software community, is not limited
purely to development, and is sponsored by participating

The reason I bring it up in this context is that I think seeing
Wikimedia chapters engage in similar efforts to bring women, as well
as other underrepresented groups, into our engineering/design/product
community would align very well with our shared interest in increasing
diversity. We already have mentorship models for GSOC and OPW which
ensure that people participating in these programs can actually get
their code reviewed, and that both candidates and ideas are vetted.

You can read more about our GSOC and OPW processes here:

Our OPW interns and our GSOC students are working on pretty important
problems. For example, math and RTL support for VisualEditor are being
developed by GSOC students. This is no accident and a lot of
coordination work was done upfront to ensure we get solid project
submissions that relate to our most important problems.

So, how could this work for a Wikimedia chapter? Perhaps as a new
diversity outreach program run by the chapter, inspired by OPW? Or
perhaps integrated with OPW, if GNOME Foundation is open to it? Or a
completely different approach, e.g. learning from Etsy's efforts to
increase diversity by partnering with Hacker School? [1] I don't know
- but I think it's worth experimenting with.

I do think it's something a small org could pull off, because a lot of
it is about communication/coordination more than about managing a
complex cross-disciplinary engineering effort. And it's perhaps a good
way for a chapter, too, to get familiar with some of the intricacies
and complexity of doing engineering work in our context without
committing yet to building out a full-on tech department.

The important part is that we connect people new to our ecosystem with
capable mentors/reviewers -- whether those are experienced volunteers,
employed by WMF, or employed by a chapter that's already doing
engineering work like WMDE. Without that mentorship support, it
doesn't work.


[1] http://firstround.com/article/How-Etsy-Grew-their-Number-of-Female-Engineers-by-500-in-One-Year
Erik Möller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

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