Tuesday, February 16, 2010

PloneChix: Hot and Not

Instead of boring you with a lengthy explanation of our official purpose, I'd like to address what makes PloneChix exciting and unique and then tackle some misconceptions about what people think PloneChix represents. As a followup post, I'd like to invite all PloneChix members to explain why PloneChix exists for them. There will be more meaning and inspiration from their stories than reading an tedious political statement.

What is so hot about PloneChix? PloneChix is ...
  • ... a no flame zone. That means no RTFMs, no stupid questions, no negative feedback, and no smack talk. This is the most important aspect of who we are. Women in technology, especially open source, are more likely to withdraw from a community because of actions/comments/answers perceived as harsh.   By making a special effort to make a no flame zone, we are encouraging people to ask for help and giving them helpful, thorough, honest answers by any means possible. Who knows, maybe all this kindness will be contagious. 
  • ... a place to be heard. Speak up, let us help you, stick around Plone for a little bit longer and we think you'll like what you see.
  • ... a place to ask non-technical questions (although we like technical too). For example: What is the job situation in the bay area for Plone integrators? Does company X have a supportive female developer community? What can I do to market myself better as an integrator/developer/documenter? 
  • ... an open and supportive learning environment. This is the perfect arena to tell a story and get honest feedback. Did you blow that interview because you underrepresented yourself or did you really not have enough experience? Let's talk about it. It's a place to get advice from women with different experiences and backgrounds.
  • ... an opportunity to tackle that project with a group instead of doing it on your own. We have just started working on defining our projects for this year. Why not add yours? If you have wanted to commit to the core for a while but just didn't want to tackle such a huge project on your own or want some help, we'll make sure to hook you up with a veteran who will show you the ropes.
  • ... a place to network. PloneChix is here to share and encourage each other to write that first book or give a talk at that conference. In my opinion, visibility is the #1 issue with women in the Plone community. Be visible, be heard, and get your name out there. There are lots of special opportunities for women in technology, and if we don't take advantage of them women in other communities will (i.e. Ruby women are fierce). Posting job opportunities, calls for papers/talks, scholarships, et al is highly encouraged.
Hot indeed. There are already some strange rumors about PloneChix that have surfaced that I'd like to take a moment to address. PloneChix is NOT...
  • ... a group of man-hating femi-nazis. In fact it would be way easier to justify if we were. However, we do have a tendency to focus on the needs of women and womens issues in the Plone, python, and Open Source Software (OSS) communities.
  • ... a derogatory name. It's an homage to LinuxChix, one of the finest female-friendly OSS movements to this day. There are many other groups that pay tribute to the original, including DevChix, DrupalChix and CodeChix, just to name a few. The word "Chix" has become synonymous with female fronted groups that discourage friendly fire (no RTFMs) and encourage low barrier to entry.
  • ... a "women only" club. Anyone is welcome as long as they are supportive of the cause and contribute positively back to it and/or the Plone community.
  • ... a support group for complaining or flaming, especially about other members of the community. PloneChix is a place for positive feedback, encouragement, and help. We are about positive change, not negative reinforcement.
  • ... looking for 50:50 male to female ratio just for the sake of having a 50:50 male to female ratio. On the contrary, we are all interested in seeing the entire Plone community grow and thrive in the way that Kirrily Roberts* describes.
  • ... a replacement for the mailing list, irc, or other more formal means of communication about Plone. It is an additional communication channel lead by like-minded individuals. It is also a place to talk about careers, meetups, projects, or even just to brag about a new project in a friendly, open environment. 
This is the part of the post where I start practicing what I've been preaching. Girls, boys, aliens, machines: how does this make you feel? Hint: I was shooting for all warm and tingly inside.

If you are interested in participating, male or female, check out our wiki, which has all the information you need to get started.

* Please read this post 50 times. Take a nap. Then 50 more. Then we'll talk.

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