Feb. 27th, 2017

brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[site community profile] dw_suggestions has a bunch of new suggestions for Dreamwidth improvements! It's a place to suggest things and respond to others' suggestions.

Years ago I suggested: "On the New Post and Edit pages, give the user the ability to browse freely licensed photos from Wikimedia Commons to insert into their posts." That got rejected but I think the basic idea's worth revisiting, revising, and submitting afresh. Feel free to take it up if that strikes your fancy!
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
Summary: Have 90 minutes, between now and April 3rd, to kindly critique less-English-fluent writers over the internet? I'd love your help.

I work with a lot of non-US-based younger people (often high school or college-aged) who contribute to the open source community over the Internet. Many of them volunteer as coders in the hopes of getting internships that will help them with their careers. The engineering education system in some of these countries, especially India, doesn't help students develop their written English skills very much; many of these students are at a disadvantage in these competitive internship application programs because their written English has poor grammar, phrasing, and punctuation. Every year I see tons of these engineering students applying for internships, and I can see how English issues in their bug reports, commit messages, code comments, application proposals, e-mails, and chat messages make it harder for them to get their ideas across.

Some kind, nonjudgmental help would go a long way for these volunteers. And it'd help level the playing field a bit.

I've successfully run little 90-minute online writing clinics via chat or collaborative document-editing platforms like Google Docs or EtherPad, where 3-4 participants bring short writing samples and I live-edit them and tell the students how to improve. They always get a lot out of it, and I can see the improvement in their writing afterwards. And when I've had time to edit their internship proposals in depth, it's helped them think better about what they actually aim to do.

Today, one of the open source projects I care a lot about, Zulip, got accepted as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code for the second year in a row. I've been contracting as a community coordinator for Zulip for about a year, and I love that it's a project where we nurture new contributors inclusively and have high standards of engineering rigor. (I profiled the maintainer, Tim Abbott, in this post about kind negative code review.) We have dozens of new contributors in our chat who want to work with us, and we'll be getting more between now and the April 3rd application deadline. We won't be able to accept all of them. But they'll all come away from the application process as better engineers, and I'd like for that to include better English skills that'll help them persuade, lead, get better jobs, and have better chances of succeeding as entrepreneurs.

So if you could spare 90 minutes sometime between now and April 3rd, and if you have a knack for proofreading in English and have a tolerable internet connection for web browser-based textual chat, let me know and I can probably set something up that suits your schedule. It's fine if you've never done this before and it's fine if you're not a programmer and don't know programming jargon. I'll set up the "room", and I'll be there and you can backchannel with me. You'll be helping one of the best open source communities I know, and you'll be helping make sure non-G7 voices in STEM get heard and listened to.

Leave a comment below telling me how to contact you and anything you know about your upcoming schedule, and I'll take it from there!

Edited to add: I've set this entry so people without Dreamwidth accounts are able to post comments, and so that only I will be able to see the comments (comments are screened), so you can put your contact info in there and it won't be public. And please feel free to pass this link on to other groups/people who are kind and collaboratively inclined, and repost/publicize it elsewhere!

Edited March 13th to add: I have received several offers of help -- thank you! -- and I'm getting back to everyone who's commented, albeit not always within a day or two. I'm open to more offers, but I might not be able to schedule you till April. And because of the number of offers of help I've gotten, I'm opening up the pool of learners a little bit -- I'm talking with the open source community managers at Mozilla and Wikimedia to let them know that their communities can take advantage of this opportunity, too. Thank you so much.

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