Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The failure of the ruby community - and what we can do about it

Sam Peters holds up a dark mirror in which our community reflects more poorly than I'd have hoped to see.

Her post on ruby meetups and the developer community is particularly worth a read for those of us happily ensconced inside that echo chamber.

Some representative quotes:

"[at ruby meetups] people who knew one another would connect, catch up, and spend the time excitedly discussing the latest news. To one another. Exclusively."
"Upon my attendance [at ROROSyd] I was immediately struck by the small, tight groups of people scattered across the venue – something that felt quite intimidating as a new learner"
"My more unorthodox theory implies that this community is merely an illusion"

The words "scathing indictment" spring to mind.

Clearly this is not the kind of community that we want.

As a mob, we can be pretty intimidating - and we need to work on better outreach and inclusiveness at our meetups.

I remember the earliest days of the rails community in Sydney. I remember when everybody was a beginner, and we came together to share our solutions to the hard problems we faced, to welcome newbies and help each other grow into skilled rubyists.

One particular observation of hers at rubyconf gives an example of what we can do better:

" I also experienced a bit of community on a personal level too – one particular lunch time, a pair of developers invited me to their table with no pretence or expectation. It resulted in a rather pleasant lunch, and opened my eyes a little. I felt a little more welcome."

In other words - it doesn't take much.

If there are people at your local meetup looking new and alone, go over and say hi. Ask them about their experience in ruby, invite them to sit at your table. Just start the conversation and include them.

I'm personally hoping to help break down that barrier-to-entry with Ruby Women - to provide at lest one extra avenue into the scene via a smaller, more beginner-friendly meetup and more open network of friend

The full article is well worth a read and some careful self-reflection. We should take note and work hard to build something better.


Anonymous said...

It speaks volumes that the community are already reflecting on themselves in this way - this criticism makes me rather hopeful that this won't be something that occurs for long.
Indeed - that sort of "lets fix this" attitude will be part of the solution itself - Once it becomes clear anyone can make a helpful suggestion - I'm sure more people will speak up.

Taryn East said...

Agreed. When I spoke with Steve (at RORO) about it - he said the community had already been talking about what RORO was about. So this was just one more look into it.

Likewise, I spoke a lot with the RailsGirls crew at rubyconf - who have also been pondering what happens after a person has done RailsGirls. Which led into a discussion on newbies in general.

So it's definitely on the table right now. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.