very helpful lioness

Video/Slides from Women in Open Source talk at Open Web Vancouver 09

Wed, 07/08/2009 - 16:26 -- webchick

With huge thanks to Sarah Cruise from dyke it, here's the video and slides for the Women in Open Source talk at Open Web Vancouver 2009 a month or so ago.

Slides (16 MB PDF)
Download Video (195 MB FLV)
Partial transcript (please update!)

If you've seen the old version of that talk, the content is fairly similar, but some additional tweaking, so it might be worth checking out. Like always, there's a new horror story (and of course this debacle happened the very next day *sigh*), and at the end there is a new section called "Myth Busters" that's an attempt to shatter misconceptions that a lot of would-be open source contributors have that make them think they're not "good enough" to participate. (I know, because I was one of those myself for about a decade.) The discussion at the end is also pretty fun, esp. for the Drupal crowd. ;)

I wanted to sincerely thank the organizers of Open Web Vancouver (esp. Malcolm Van Deist and Jeff Griffiths) for having me. The conference was absolutely awesome: a wonderful mix of technology, important social and political issues, and genuinely interesting people to talk to.

It was also great to re-connect with old Drupal friends. Made me all nostalgic for my very first Drupalcon back in 2006 that completely changed my life. :') Aw!! Thanks too for all the great recommendations that have come in for "Operation: Show Marci How Awesome Vancouver Is." 18 days to go... DUN DUN DUNNNN... Keep those suggestions coming if you have them. :)


As a brand spanking new user to Drupal, I can surely understand why women are hesitant to jump in, I've seen some condescending answers to questions on the forums, which I have been reading for a week for some answers....but......you have inspired me to press on, I know Drupal is the way to kick up my design business...not much it doesn't offer, if I can just figure out how to do it....my first suggestion? Make the forums much easier to search.....I can't even figure out where to post a suggestion like that :(

Submitted by webchick on

A good place to start might be finding out if there's a local user group for your city or region. This gives you the chance to meet other Drupal folks in "real life" where communication is often much easier and questions can be answered faster. It's also just kind of nice to be around people who know what "Drupal" means. ;)

There are also other groups on groups.drupal.org around specific areas, such as Design For Drupal or Drupalchix (for us ladies) that might be worth checking out. Additionally, there's a lot of chatter that happens in the #drupal (for coding/development-related questions) and #drupal-support (for 'how do i..?' questions) IRC channels on irc.freenode.net, which is great to take part in to get to know the community a bit more.

For searching forums, don't forget that along the right-hand side of the page there are blocks that let you filter/sort the results, and those can often help you find what you need as long as your keywords are good. If not, Google with "site:drupal.org" in the query is also a possibility.

If you have specific feature requests about Drupal.org, you can post them to the Drupal.org webmasters issue queue. But just a warning that "make search not suck" is not going to be viewed very favourably as a feature request. ;) Try and be specific: what did you search for? what were you hoping to find when you did? what did you find instead? what makes you think the search is working incorrectly? how would it work better? etc.

Also, since you are new to the Drupal community, It would be especially helpful for you to create issues in the Documentation issue queue that outlines some of the questions you were unable to find in the existing documentation, including where you tried looking for it, what search terms you were using to find it, etc. You can even edit pages directly if they are unclear, and are highly encouraged to do so! A big reason that the existing documentation doesn't make sense to new people is it wasn't written by new people; it was written by experienced people who are trying to remember what things tripped them up when they were new. So having more new users involved in documentation is huge!

As for the attitude in the forums, I have seen that too from time to time. But bear in mind that there are an abysmally low number of people helping with forum support compared to people asking questions, and the few people who are answering questions are doing so for free out of their own volunteer time. So sometimes tempers can run a little short, especially if there's a situation where the poster is asking questions that can be found by searching, or their questions don't contain enough details. There are also people from quite a few different cultures, who have varying degrees of what they consider "polite." What appears brusque and rude to North Americans can be perfectly acceptable in European culture, for example.

My suggestion there would be to spend your time while you wait for your own questions to be answered, answering other people's questions on the forums and IRC. Sounds unintuitive, I know. You might feel like you don't know enough to answer anyone's questions. But here's the thing -- if you can get Drupal installed, you already know more than someone else. So make a game of it. See if you can find a question you know the answer to. If not, try and find a question you could possibly figure out with a little trial and error. This will have a number of positive consequences:

  1. By answering other peoples' questions, you'll rapidly becomes much more adept at Drupal because you'll cement in the knowledge you already know, and expose yourself to new knowledge that you didn't already know.
  2. Your name will start to stick out from the crowd as one of that 0.05% who is helping the project. This means that someone is far more likely to answer your questions, and be much happier about it when they do.
  3. You help make the Drupal.org forums a nicer place. That'll make more people hang out there, some of which may be able to answer your questions! :)
  4. If your business is related to Drupal, or you do freelancer work, being a constant knowledgeable and helpful presence in the forums is a great method for sending clients your way.

So don't give up. :) The Drupal community really is a great place to be. It just can take a bit to kind of find your way.

And don't forget! Drupalcon Paris is coming up soon! :) A great chance to network and ramp up your knowledge of Drupal very, very fast. If it's within your means to go, I'd highly recommend it!

Hope that helps!

We were totally stoked to have you, and hopefully I'll have time to catch up when you're out here next. =) East Van rules!

That being said, I think a lot of people hammered that video, it doesn't work for me, looks like the divshare account is maxxed.

Submitted by webchick on

I went ahead and mirrored a copy here, so you should see it now if you click on the full post. Sorry about the inconvenience!

Is the video available for download anywhere? I just inadvertently closed the tab in the middle, and the Flash player provided doesn't seem to allow me to seek back to the point where I left off.

Submitted by webchick on

Thanks, Matt. I added a download link in the parent post now.

Submitted by Adele (not verified) on

Thank you for making this presentation available online, and thank you for all that you are doing. Very, very inspirational.

Thanks for this talk. It's not so easy to have a life in technology world, especially in open source. I'm not a programmer. I just organize the ateliers du libre in Montreal to help users of free software since 2 years, once a month. Lately, I was just tired. I didn't do it last month. And I wasn't sure to do it next month. I'm a woman and I am a user, I always wanted to be autonomous, especially in technology. I'm just really curious, I don't accept the social category "woman". But, there is some discrimination from women for me too, not just from men.
Well, so thanks for the rehabilitation of the large notion of woman.
Excuse for my mistakes, english is not my mother tongue. And good luck in Vancouver.

Submitted by TimG (not verified) on

Just came across your presentation. Just wanted to say thanks for putting this together and giving this talk! Awesome awesome!

Thank you!