Communication and Community Skills Learning Group


One of the early potential tag lines brought up in attempts to define what ForkTogether might be about was the phrase 'community over code.' If community is a goal, there are a number of questions we may need to ask ourselves. Questions like: How do we we build and maintain healthy communities? How do we make sure we treat all community members with respect? How do we work to eliminate prejudice in our communities? How do we develop skills to ethically solve disputes, or prevent unnecessary disputes from occurring? Who do we picture as the 'default' member of our community when we design features or develop strategies for moderation, and how might that influence who our decisions might include or exclude? How can we center and understand the needs of marginalised community members? The 'Communication and Community Skills Learning Group' was suggested in an attempt to help address these questions.

Role of the Communication and Community Skills Learning Group

Possible roles for this group include resource collection & dissemination, interfacing with specialists & experts, and potentially aiding in providing training in group or individual settings. In some ways this group cross-pollinates with the roles of interpersonal mediation and community management, because the skills of mediators & managers are of course highly relevant to clear & ethical communication. Hopefully though its role will be upstream, to help us educate ourselves so that fewer situations escalate to requiring mediation & management is smoother.

This wiki page is intended, at least for now, to be a tentative hub for gathering ideas and resources that can help educate community members, particularly developers and administrators, about issues relating to the skills we need to understand other members of our community and deal with each other fairly, clearly and compassionately.

Some of the preliminary interests of the Communication and Community Skills Learning Group include

  • Racial bias training
  • Gender Bias training
  • LGBTQA+ bias training
  • Disability bias training
  • Age bias training
  • Communication skills training

Resource Collections and Notes

Racial Bias Resources

“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”

Angela Davis

Each of these quotations is a snippet from a linked article or other resource intended to help our white community members reflect on how racism and the attendant ignorance of its forms and consequences embedded in their assumptions, behaviours and decisions – especially in the case of developers and administrators – impacts the experience of people of colour online.

I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" and "Some Notes for Facilitators" by Peggy McIntosh

These privileges and the white fragility that results prevent us from listening to or comprehending the perspectives of people of color and bridging cross-racial divides. The antidote to white fragility is on-going and life-long, and includes sustained engagement, humility, and education.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism and the full paper White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

the system of white supremacy does not care about your intentions, it does not care if you do or do not hold hatred for people of color in your heart—it only cares that you participate in the system.

So You Want To Fight White Supremacy by Ijeoma Oluo

Most good White folks aren’t willing to admit their own racism or take responsibility when they engage in racist actions—even when they do explicitly racist things. Instead, good, non-racist White people go to a training, probably cry and talk about how their racist actions impacted them personally and even how they will take the lesson to develop into more racially sensitive allies. [...] In my entire life, I’ve never actually seen a good, non-racist White person do something racist and truly accept responsibility for it.

This Is What Being a Non-Racist White Person Really Looks Like by ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson

Gender Bias Resources

LGBTQA+ Bias Resources

Disability bias Resources

Age Bias Resources

Communication Skills Resources

We want to be perceived as quick witted and always prepared with a snappy comeback to any question or comment. The problem with all of this is that we are missing so much vital and crucial information.

The Art of Active Listening by Glenna Fulks

This section includes resources that detail models for thinking about and practicing commnication. Some are meant to be applied tactically in the moment, some are more holistic, intended to provoke broader reflection on the goals of communication and what methods might be used to best achieve them.

Transactional Analysis (or TA as it is often called) is an interpersonal relations approach developed during the 1960s by Dr Eric Berne. It is underpinned by the philosophy that:

* people can change;

* we all have a right to be in the world and be accepted.

Transactional Analysis – Part I (The Masks We Wear) by Claire Newton

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a process of connecting with people in a way that allows everyone’s needs to be met through empathizing with the universal needs we all share. It is a way of relating to ourselves and others out of an awareness of feelings and needs rather than judgments, labels, punishment, guilt or shame.

Speaking From The Heart – An Introduction to Nonviolent Communication by Doro Kiley