[tc][forum] Summary for "community outreach when cultures, time zones, and languages differ" session

Julia Kreger juliaashleykreger at gmail.com
Mon Dec 10 23:57:26 UTC 2018

Leading up to the Summit a number of us in the TC discussed how to improve
outreach and thus communications outside of what we would consider our
normal circles.

The focus was how to better enable asynchronous communication. How do we
share context? Ultimately we are talking about bridge building.

The discussion went in many directions and we kind of started out
discussing items that make our preferred communication methods a bit
difficult. Thierry really focused us back to reality pointing out that "the
earth is round".  As the community has recognized before, time zones are
absolutely a thing and that we shouldn't try and force people to be up at 3
AM to attend a meeting every week.

As this discussion went on, a number of note worthy ideas began to surface.

* Teams should likely reconsider meeting times periodically. Some teams
have found success with alternating, but other teams have found that few
attend the second time slot.
* That it is easier to form a group of people in a specific time zone as
they bring their established culture and don't have to integrate into
another culture which is easier for them. The down side of this is that
this leads to those people focusing on that specific project.
* IRC is "super-addictive".
** The real time value of IRC is recognized, however on-boarding people
into it can sometimes be a time consuming effort for some projects.
** Many, the TC included, have been trying to push more deep discussions to
the mailing list or having someone summarize the outcome of conversations
to the mailing list.
** IRC communication is often viewed as "too fast" of a discussion if your
not a native speaker of the language being used in IRC. By the time you or
software translates a statement, the discussion has moved on.
* No matter what we do, there are two styles of communication that we need
to be mindful of both asynchronous and synchronous communication.
** Some communities, such as the Linux kernel, have adopted fully
asynchronous communication to handle the fact that the world is round.
** Projects have a tendency to use any communication method available.
*** Some projects use etherpads for short term status on items, where
others focus on its use for thought process preservation.
*** Some projects try to drive such thought processes to an IRC discussion
and then that often ends up as a discussion in gerrit.

A point was eventually raised that meetings can still be useful, standing
issues aside, as long as context is known in advance. The advance context
does allow a team to determine in advance if a meeting is even required.

Todo's and what can be done!

* Simple reminders have apparently helped some meeting moderators keep
people in attendance.
* We reached consensus to encourage moderators to provide context in
advance of meetings. This is in order to assist everyone to be more
informed and hopefully shorten the exercise of trying to understand the
issue as opposed to understand others impressions and reaching consensus.
** We also reached consensus that moderators should cancel a meeting if
there is nothing on the agenda.
* We want to encourage outreach messaging. This is not just the
sub-communities making themselves known to the larger community, but
raising awareness of "what is going on" or "what is new?" either in a
project or portion of the community. Ultimately this falls into the
category of "we do not know, what we do not know" and as such it is upon
all of us to attempt to better communicate where we see gaps.

As for specific action items, after re-reading the notes, I think that is
up to us as a community to determine our next steps. We recorded no action
items so I think further discussion may be needed. Perhaps all

The etherpad can be found at

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