Non-technical GNOMEysJune 6, 2006 10:08 am gnome, guadec, marketing
There has been some debate recently on how the project can attract more people outside of the male geek group. Shaun McCance made the point that non-technical posts in general are typically under-represented in GNOME.
[…] filling [non-technical] roles often means bringing in people who haven’t “come up through the project.” These folks who are new to the Mozilla project need to be accepted by the development community in order to be effective. Status as a Mozilla Corporation employee isn’t enough.
If one’s skillset is something other than code, then proving oneself through understanding the intricacies of our code is at best inefficient and probably a blocker for many people. So the challenges are to find mechanisms for people in non-code roles to demonstrate they share the values of the Mozilla project and can make contributions that people want to support.
Integrating non-engineering contributors takes a lot of trust and feeling our way gently. Those people joining us in non-engineering roles must trust that the technical contributors will give them a fair chance to participate, add value, become respected and gain influence and leadership. The engineering community must trust that these people who may be new to the Mozilla community and don’t have deep technical expertise are worth listening to and giving a fair shake.
In other words: Be excellent to each other.
But more than that, we need to start recognising when there is a skills deficiency in the project, and actively recruit people with those skills, drawing them the map of how the project works, and helping them become great contributors. There are a number of examples of non-technical people coming into the project and making an impact – Quim Gil, John Williams, Telsa Gwynne – but there are probably more examples of people who passed close by, felt the water, and went on their merry way without ever engaging, or being engaged by, the GNOME community.
So during the marketing BOF at GUADEC this year, I would like to focus on this – how can we make non-technical people interested in marketing GNOME feel like their work makes a difference.
Marketing is not just promotion – real marketing is a two-way dialog between the project and the market, with us saying what we do and why, and the market telling us how we can do better, or what they need that we’re not doing. And GNOME marketers will feel like a part of the project from the moment where something we do changes the project for the better.