[OpenStack Foundation] [Women-of-openstack] [OpenStack][Women of OpenStack] Kick-off Meeting Info

Jeremy Stanley fungi at yuggoth.org
Thu Sep 3 20:07:40 UTC 2015

On 2015-09-03 11:57:19 -0700 (-0700), APlimpton wrote:
> Using a phone/VoIP call was not because the group "would rather
> have conference calls because they're disinclined to learn how to
> conduct meetings the way the rest of OpenStack does". For one
> OpenStack conducts meetings in many ways including IRC,
> face-to-face, over Etherpad and using voice/VoIP calls.

For the most part, non-IRC meetings (aside from ~quarterly in-person
get-togethers at the Design Summit and some mid-cycle sprints) have
mostly catered to the business sector of our community. First and
foremost, OpenStack is a community around free and open software and
so its primary modes of communication are in plaintext (mailing
lists and IRC), a long-standing tradition evolved through decades of
trial and error within our predecessor communities who determined
that these were far and above the most broadly accessible and
consumable channels through which to interact.

> In particular using the phrases "disinclined to learn" and "it
> wasn't a substantial hurdle after all." comes across poorly.

My sincerest apologies, I simply wanted to underscore that the
biggest hurdle I've seen for newcomers is a fear of new tools. The
world of free software is culturally dissimilar to most
corporate/business settings and the tools and protocols its
inhabitants have adopted are by necessity not what outsiders may be
used to for other sorts of interaction. OpenStack is a little
unusual in that the number of new recruits from purely corporate
cultures is higher than for a typical free project, and so we have
to work even harder to introduce them to our seemingly alien tools,
expectations and ideals to avoid fragmentation and loss of communal

> One of the points of this group is to identify what are the
> barriers women face and how can we help. Women brought up concerns
> about IRC as being a barrier from a technical and group
> interaction standpoint. We are evaluating the best options to
> address those concerns.

I'd be thrilled to work out ways we can make IRC and mailing lists
more welcoming and usable for everyone. I worry that a push to
alternative tools and communication channels will only serve to
alienate already marginalized groups within our community, further
dividing us.

> for IRC to have parity with other chatting clients or to be useful
> in the way we (OpenStack) uses it requires 3+ additional systems
> be installed or understood (bouncer/proxy, cloak, etherpad,
> eavesdrop etc).

Sure for day-to-day communication either a bouncer/proxy or some
dedicated connection for the machine where your IRC client is
running is helpful though not especially required. When it comes to
holding weekly meetings on the other hand, that's almost immaterial.

Cloaks are also not necessary (I don't use one for example) but are
also not software, you just need to request a "cloak" for your
account from the IRC network administrators if you want to maintain
some level of anonymity. To put this in perspective, we don't
anonymize the origins of messages to our mailing lists either, and
the information contained in the SMTP headers distributed to all
subscribers is equally as identifying of the message author (if not
more so).

It's not clear what you're implying with etherpad and eavesdrop, as
those are merely Web sites our community maintains. Etherpad is
(infrequently in my experience) used as a side-channel for
collaborative editing during some IRC meetings but more often simply
referred to just as any other Web page. Eavesdrop only comes into
play when you're referring someone to logs of a past meeting or of a
discussion which took place in some other logged channel, or to a
copy of the calendar for all our scheduled meetings, and is again
just a page with information on it. While these are of course added
conveniences, neither is integral to actually holding a meeting in

> It's painful to setup and use, creating a complexity that is often
> best handled with in-person help. It would be great to have your
> and the other Project Infrastructure team members experience and
> help getting interested newbies ramped up and comfortable with the
> OpenStack tools.

Community and Project Infrastructure is led by a (always growing but
still) very small group of individuals and while we're happy to
provide pointers and assistance, the sort of one-on-one training
you're describing already exists:


If not identical, it's close (perhaps a superset) of what it sounds
like you've envisioned. We should first see what can be done to
increase availability of that program and, if needed, vary the
content and timetable to suit your particular audience.
Jeremy Stanley

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