This article was originally published on the Fedora Community Blog.
The Fedora Diversity FAD (a.k.a. Fedora Activity Day, or a sprint) took place during the weekend of DevConf, 27-29 January. The original planning for this FAD started in August 2016, after the Flock 2016 conference. At Flock, the Diversity Team held a panel with open discussion about diversity and inclusion efforts in Fedora. Based on the feedback received during and after the panel, it was a priority for us to continue working on the objectives we had established before Flock. For the FAD, a majority of the Fedora Diversity Team was present along with a few others.
- Amita Sharma (amsharma)
- Bhagyashree “Bee” Padalkar (bee2502)
- Brian Exelbierd (bex)
- Jona Azizaj (jonatoni)
- Justin W. Flory (jflory7)
- Maria “tatica” Leandro (tatica)
- Marina Zhurakhinskaya (marinaz)
- Radka Janek (rhea)
We made significant progress in accomplishing our larger objectives and to contribute to the Fedora Project mission and goals. The primary objectives we established for our FAD were completing plans for the demographic survey, building a campaign based on those results, and analyzing our Code of Conduct to find ways to better impact the community. This report covers each of these objectives, what we accomplished, and what we plan to do next.
Demographic survey / marketing campaign
The majority of our discussions and planning on Friday and Saturday were focused on establishing strategic goals for the demographic survey and crafting the questions. The wish for having a survey like this predates the Diversity Team back to some of the earliest tickets in the Fedora Council ticket tracker (see #1 and #16). The need for a demographic survey was established by the Diversity Team as well shortly after Flock. At Flock, there was expressed concern about little understanding for the diversity of our community. Fedora is a global community spanning all four corners of the world. It’s hard to understand the unique needs and wishes of our community if we don’t know they are there or what they think we could do better. The survey is the means to this end and how we best understand how our community is composed to make Fedora a more welcoming and inviting place for our global community of contributors.
The FAD enabled us to make significant progress on establishing the groundwork for the survey and move towards deploying a live version of the survey. One of the early outcomes of our discussion was postponing ideas about a marketing campaign until we had actual data and results to work with. This would make sure our efforts and focus on that would not be wasted. While the marketing campaign is a primary goal for our team, we decided it was best to double our efforts on the survey. As it turned out, this was a good decision with the amount of time we had, as the survey discussion and planning took the longest part of our time together.
Building the questions
Before the FAD, Maria, Bee, and Marina had compiled a list of questions starting in a mailing list thread. Many of the questions at the beginning were based on survey questions used in the FLOSS 2013 and Apache Software Foundation Committer Diversity surveys. We started our discussion about the objectives and problems we wanted to solve with this survey. We established these two points as our primary goals.
- Gather baseline demographics about the contributor community
- Determine contributor knowledge about project components that ease contribution
With these points in mind, we revisited the draft of questions prepared by Marina. We took an initial pass discussing the questions and weighing if this was something we needed to know and whether we saw a use for the answers based on our goals. The first pass took the longest amount of time, but it narrowed the questions significantly. After getting to a smaller number of questions with varied opinions, the questions were organized them into a spreadsheet where we weighted them by point values and narrowed it down to our final set. Our final draft of questions can be found in the Pagure ticket tracking this task. We are awaiting feedback from Fedora Legal before moving forward. Once we receive additional feedback, we plan to revisit the implementation questions about how and where to deploy the survey.
Noting the working process
One thing worth mentioning and explaining is how we narrowed the questions. We originally had a wide set of questions and were struggling with how to narrow them down. The methods we ended up using, suggested by Brian, were successful in us focusing on the purpose and goals we originally identified. The concern was on survey engagement and trying to guarantee survey completion. Too many questions or making it too long could result in people not finishing the survey. It is more valuable for us to have the most important data (even if it’s less) rather than have more questions but fewer responses.
In the beginning, we started with the set of questions curated by Maria, Bee, and Marina. It was over 50 questions with different motivations or objectives. Our first approach was going from top to bottom of all the questions. We discussed each one and tried to justify if it was worthwhile to include. Some questions were easy to remove, but others were more challenging. All of this initial discussion gave background to the questions in the later steps. This took up a significant amount of time and was possibly one of the more difficult parts of this process.
After the initial pass, Brian organized all of the questions into a spreadsheet and established a scale from 1 to 7. Of the remaining questions, we ranked them in this order:
- Category 1: Five questions
- Category 2: Five questions
- Category 3: Five questions
- Category 4: Five questions
- Category 5: Five questions
- Category 6: Five questions
- Category 7: Four questions
After all of the team members ranked the questions by order of preference, we tallied up the points for all of the questions. We ended up taking the top twenty-two questions, which can currently be found in the ticket. This method of going through the options we had forced us into making tough calls and choices on the things we felt were most important. It was powerfully effective for us to go through our options in this way, and it’s a method that could definitely be recycled for other purposes or even by other teams in Fedora.
Code of conduct
A code of conduct is a valuable part of an open source community. Its purpose is to set clear expectations about how the community interacts and behaves with each other. An effective code of conduct empowers contributors to be excellent to each other. This creates a welcoming and inclusive space.
Before we all gathered in Brno, we planned to analyze the Fedora code of conduct to understand its strengths and weaknesses. We also wanted to focus on its visibility and ensure that it is well-communicated. This includes new contributors when they first join the community and also current contributors. We published a post about the Fedora Code of Conduct to help raise awareness, but planned to cover this more during our FAD.
A comprehensive code of conduct is important to set the tone for interactions among contributors. This helps promote a global perspective and create a welcoming community. The code of conduct drives the belief that contributors should always be excellent to each other. This builds the community as a united, global team. It was valuable for us to deliver on our proposed impact for the Fedora community through our discussions and planning.
Seeking positive engagement
After we arrived in Brno, we started to have discussions about this and what some our actions would be. The tone of our conversation switched from looking at it from a disciplinary point of view to an enabling point of view. A code of conduct isn’t the only part of how to empower contributors to be excellent. To this end, we asked ourselves these questions.
- What kind of behaviors does the Fedora code of conduct encourage?
- How are we able to reward positive interactions that show this behavior?
While we spent time looking at the code of conduct, the main focus was how to promote the behavior the code of conduct encourages. The biggest idea that came from this discussion was Fedora Appreciation Week. It is a subtle yet positive way for people to be excellent to each other by saying “thanks!” and raising awareness for the work that people put into Fedora.
Fedora Appreciation Week
This discussion mostly occurred on parts of Saturday and the Sunday of DevConf. This idea was originally suggested on the CommOps Pagure. It was not an original part of our pre-planning, but it became a pivotal point in the context of how to encourage the positive behavior the code of conduct suggests. One of the first changes to the original suggestion was making it into an entire week instead of a day, so we have the most flexibility for planning the event and giving ample time for contributors to participate.
Afterwards, we started to look at systems used in other places to use as case studies. We examined the Red Hat appreciation system and the Happiness Packets project. These examples helped to understand the benefit of co-workers or other community members encouraging each other. The Happiness Packets website puts it simply: “The feeling that you made a difference, that your work matters and has value, and that the people you work with are happy to work with you, is an awesome feeling.” Taking the time to understand the background and motivations behind these systems helped us determine the background and motivations for Fedora Appreciation Week. We divided our plans into short-term and long-term criteria.
The long-term discussion mostly focused on how we could make it easier for people to thank each other with Fedora web services. We started our focus with the existing platform of Fedora Badges. One idea was giving all Fedora contributors the ability to award a special type of badge to other contributors a fixed number of times in a release cycle. Each special badge would fit into one of the Four Foundations of Fedora (Freedom, Friends, Features, First). Each one would have guided criteria to consider when awarding the badge to someone else. The effect of doing is to strengthen our commitment to our Four Foundations and to thank contributors who are committed to any of the four areas.
As one example, imagine someone working on a new feature or exciting change for an upcoming Fedora release. They have invested a lot of time and energy into developing this change. Another contributor who noticed this could give them a “Features” badge to thank them for their commitment to driving Fedora forward. Another example might be when one contributor sends thoughtful words to another, thanking them for their time or for everything they do. That person might give the first person a “Friends” badge for being kind and considerate to them.
We also discussed the idea of tying the accumulation of these badges into a physical reward, such as a special t-shirt or sticker sent via the mail. We ran out of time to discuss this idea further.
We started by trying to establish the general timeline for planning Fedora Appreciation Week. Initially, we want start defining guidelines and creating promotional materials to use and spread leading up to the week. This would include things like giving examples of the different ways contributors can give thanks and also to work on articles or posts.
The month before the appreciation week would focus on general awareness. This would include a Community Blog article and a post to the Fedora announce list. The week before the first day would include a Fedora Magazine article explaining what’s happening and also to provide a way for users or people outside of the contributor community to participate.
Methods to give thanks included thanking in IRC (either thoughtful messages or with karma cookies), writing messages on a public wall or forum, and sending personal notes to individual contributors. Methods we could use to measure this impact included but was not limited to were karma cookies, mailing list traffic, or wiki page edits.
For the short-term focus, more discussion is needed to develop the ideas for running Fedora Appreciation Week in 2017.
Tying it together
The first-ever Diversity FAD was a great opportunity to spend significant amounts of time looking at how we can build more inclusive environments for Fedora contributors and how to tackle other issues like understanding who makes up the Fedora community. Our team was able to use this valuable time to work on these issues more personally and intently than IRC or mailing lists can provide.
Special thanks and our gratitude go to the Fedora Council for supporting our work with the Fedora Project budget and enabling us to be gather and work on these tasks. To all of us, this also showed that Fedora leadership is committed to supporting these initiatives and helping make diversity and inclusion an important part of the Fedora community. Additionally, we’d also like to thank Brian Exelbierd for participating in the FAD even though his attendance wasn’t originally planned—we were lucky to have him with us and to steal his time from other DevConf activities happening during the weekend!
We’re looking forward to next plan talks and/or workshops at Flock 2017 this year.
Come say hello!
The Fedora Diversity Team mostly consists of a few active, core members. But we are always looking for more people to get involved and participate! Every contribution is significant and it helps to have numerous people from different backgrounds following along with our discussions, so they can speak up and add their voice when they feel it’s important.
There are multiple ways you can get in touch with the Diversity Team. We have a mailing list you can subscribe to and you can follow our discussions. We have an IRC channel on freenode (
#fedora-diversity). You . We meet once every other week on Wednesdays at 12:00 UTC in #fedora-meeting on free
- Mailing list: Subscribe to follow our discussions
- IRC channel: Say hello in
#fedora-diversityon freenode (you can join with a web client if you don’t have an IRC client)
- Weekly meeting: Meet every other week on Wednesdays (12:00 UTC) in
- Pagure tickets: See some of the current tasks we’re working on and what needs doing
Come say hello and introduce yourself—we’d love to hear what you have to say!
Heterogeneous group icon by Magicon from the Noun Project