One of the response’s I got to from the call for writers for the Practical Open Source Software Exploration textbook was an offer of an excellent content source, Terry Hancock’s book Achieving Impossible Things With Free Culture and Commons-Based Enterprise. This is a great example of a longer work that the Practical OSS Exploration textbook and The Open Source Way handbook are standing on the shoulders of.
One of the articles that comprise the book’s source is “Ten easy ways to attract women to your free software project“. Actually, as Terry points out in the article introduction, nine of the ten ways are clearly useful for making your project more friendly for anyone and especially women. That means implementing Terry’s ideas covers double — egalitarian attractiveness of the project while adding to the solution of the serious gender imbalance problem in free and open source software (FOSS).
There is a lot that makes this article great. One part is the quality and quantity of research and supporting evidence. I found the explanations of the different ways to support women instead of just men in a project to be very compelling. I suppose some people might find it hard reading all of that, especially if it is the first time they have faced up to how easily a mono-culture arises when it is just men involved.
In reading over the points, I was very pleased that I see initiatives in the Fedora Project to address nearly all of the points there. As the author points out, these ideas have been floating around. I see projects such as Fedora have implemented them in a semi-haphazard fashion, partially because we haven’t had a guide. I’m excited to have a chance to extrapolate these points in to The Open Source Way, as well as the Practical OSS Exploration textbook.
My only complaint about the article is the word “easy” in the title — I suspect that fell from the modern style of doing lists of how-to items as articles and blog posts. I’m not sure that all of the items are easy, in fact I think changing an existing project to use a mailing list instead of a web forum would be a huge challenge. My solution is to find ways to bring the forum up to the importance level of mailing lists, somehow.