Below I just want to go over some recent topics within the diversity initiative.
Respectful Review Comments
Thanks to the work of Sebastiaan Stok we now have a guide on how to write respectful review comments. The aim of this guide is to give hints on how to not discourage contributors during the review process. It’s quite normal for issue tickets and pull requests to require some adjustments or even just further explanations. Especially for newcomers, this process can feel quite harsh. With this guide, we want to help make this process a positive learning experience for everyone involved.
Another area the diversity initiative identified is the creation of a mentorship program to help bring in more people of underrepresented groups into our community. Kevin Dunglas has taken on this issue which resulted in a paid scholarship to work on API platform. We hope that we will see more such initiatives. RGSoC is a great project, which as you can see has grown beyond “just” Ruby on Rails. Another similar initiative is Outreachy. Powercoders in turn is focusing on enabling refugees. So best talk to the people in charge of sponsorship budgets at your company to try and get funds allocated to initiatives like these. Outreachy for example will begin to seek new sponsors in August. Speaking of which, Daniel Gomes is looking into organizing a training event for local university students in parallel to SymfonyCon Lisbon.
Code of conduct and enforcement process
That being said, bringing new people into the community requires that we also ensure that we are truly welcoming. As such we are still very much committed to the idea of adding a code of conduct to Symfony. However, a code of conduct is of little help if there is no process in place to enforce it in case of violations. Therefore Tobias, Michelle, Egidijus and I have been working on a set of PRs to cover these topics, which are currently under discussion. Especially the enforcement topic still has some ongoing discussions that need to be resolved. At the same time, the real world example overview aims to show people why this issue is so important to address. Furthermore, we are looking into how GDPR will affect all of this, specifically the topic of record keeping and collecting consent.
Context and Slack discussions
We also had some intense debates on the Symfony slack about cursing, edgy jokes and more specifically the word “context”. Cursing in a chat channel when something goes wrong might seem innocent since it’s not directed at a specific person. Similarly making an edgy joke with someone you know intimately might also seem like a non-issue.
However, in a chat where literally thousands of people come and go, message scroll through. Each of us comes with their own “context” of what we deem appropriate, how much of the previous discussions we have read and whom we know in the chat. As such assuming all participants fully know the “context” in which a specific message was written is quite dangerous and can quickly create an environment where only a certain “in-group” might feel comfortable.
So the kind of talk that might be ok in an in-person discussion among close friends is not appropriate in a Slack channel. Now the occasional slip of the word is not going to derail the entire atmosphere. Furthermore just like in many cases when different cultures meet, one might not even be aware that certain sentences or phrases are considered inappropriate by some. When being informed in such cases, just listen, apologize, learn and move on. No need to draw red lines into the ground or become defensive. In the same sense if you do see someone using inappropriate language, simply point out that action (potentially also via a DM), no need to attack the person’s character. In fact I must say I very much appreciate the willingness of several community members to adjust their behavior already!
New slack channels
Speaking of slack we have two new channels, one is called #thankyou and the other is called #victory. The purpose of the channels is to show appreciation to fellow people in the community and the other to celebrate personal achievements. The ultimate goal is to create positive energy and at the same time keep up with cool stuff happening in the community.
One last initiative I want to mention has recently been taken over by Maximilian relates to networking Symfony with initiatives that aim to improve the representation of specific groups. Please add any such initiatives to the ticket. This could for example become a great resource for conference organizers.
So to conclude, while I wish we would have already managed to adopt a code of conduct and many more things, I realize that it helps nobody to rush this. However, I am really thrilled with how many topics have already been proposed and picked up and are being worked on actively! Also, the willingness to listen and learn, especially on the above noted “Slack – context” discussion, has really been encouraging to see. Speaking of slack we now have over 60 people in the #diversity channel which is becoming a great resource for anyone interested in this topic. We obviously still have a long path ahead but with this much commitment, we will be able to realize the vision of the diversity initiative.