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Mark Smith's Journal

Work related musings of a geek.

Tech confidence vs. tech competence

[staff profile] mark

One of our volunteers, [personal profile] kaberett, published an article today.

It's a really great post that captures one of the things that I really think is crucial to Dreamwidth's success as a project (and business), and it's the idea that anybody can contribute, everybody is valuable, and yes -- mistakes can and do happen and it's OK.

To pull out a bit from the article that really resonates with me:

[I]nstead, we work towards fostering tech confidence, through creating a culture where babydevs know that senior devs have their backs; a culture where people feel able to ask questions of the broader community, in public as well as in private; a culture where people learn how to test and debug and Not Give Up; a culture where our co-founders own their mistakes, and do so publicly, so that nobody has to feel alone. When people get discouraged, we give them pep talks. We remind people that it's okay to learn visibly, instead of having to pretend to be entirely competent all of the time. Everyone can learn from the mistake that anyone makes – and mistakes are caught soon after they happen, so consequences can be minimised.

Yup. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Contributing to Dreamwidth isn't about how much you bring to the table when you get here. We don't care how much experience you have or what your resume says or if you even have one. The fact that you're here and that you want to contribute? That's all you need. The rest can be learned.

09.07.2013 11:21 am (UTC)

(no subject)

ninetydegrees: Drawing: a girl's face, with a yellow and green stripe over one eye (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] ninetydegrees
And, in what could be a paradox but really isn't, you guys also constantly reinforce the notion that volunteering is not a full-time, long-term commitment. It's ok to unassign, it's ok to leave and come back (or not! :), it's ok to do part of a big project, it's ok to pass things along to somebody else, it's ok not to learn all the things, and that's not 'giving up'. That's just being a volunteer. This has been incredibly helpful in making me want to learn and do things because I knew I could put into this exactly what I wanted to and it would be valued anyway.
09.07.2013 07:53 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Posted by [staff profile] denise
Absolutely! This isn't anyone's full time job (well, except a few of us...) and too many projects expect their contributors to essentially work a second shift of full time employment. That locks out a ton of people (people with disabilities, working parents, people with existing volunteer commitments, people with active social lives, that's just thirty seconds off the top of my head...) and narrows your contributor base to a very tiny range of people! That's no way to get a diverse set of contributions, voices, and experiences.

Everything somebody does to make DW better is a contribution, period, no matter how big or small. :)