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I participate on an effort and risk for reward basis. If the reward for putting up with the toxicity, gatekeeping, racism, misogyny, condescension, just general nastiness, and self-importance of certain parts of a community on top of the technical or social effort a task should actually require is worthwhile on the balance, I'll contribute time and effort. This is not specific to Perl, TPF, p5p, or Open Source projects generally. It's a rule for staying sane and relatively happy in life. There are so many causes and only so many days in a lifetime.

People tend to put their effort where:

  • it has maximum impact for the effort
  • it is appreciated
  • they feel safe and welcome
  • the barrier to contribute is reasonably low (which may still be relatively high in a technical setting, but should not be artificially raised)
  • people do not raise nonsensical opposition to the contribution and gain traction doing so
  • people's bodily safety, livelihood, and mental wellness do not come under threat for trying to contribute to the community
  • contributions are judged on their merits
  • people are held responsible for their antisocial actions (threats, sexism, homophobic rants, transphobic acts, inappropriate physical contact, assault, harassment, racism, etc), even if they produce good technical work
  • how and where to make a useful contribution is made abundantly clear

When there are failures, some people will leave a community entirely. With a camel as a mascot, we should be mindful of final straws. Others will keep using a technology, but they will sequester into smaller tribes and keep the community as a whole at arm's length. They'll still participate, but less deeply and less often. There's a tipping point for every interaction and every social or technical contribution. The bigger the reward, the higher that tipping point can be and still have the contribution happen. Yet the higher the tipping point, the less often contributions will happen and all the low-hanging fruit is left to people willing to endure the most abuse.

This can turn into a very unpleasant spiral. Eventually this leaves those people participating the most tired. They tend to gatekeep even more because others have accepted the cues that they're generally not welcome. The people doing most of the work most trust and most welcome contributions from people in the trenches everyday, which reinforces the cues that "outside" contributions are less welcome. So the core teams become more isolated and those on the periphery, who are part of the community but are forced to question if they are seen as outsiders entirely, tend to retract further from the community. Eventually people find a home that feels like home.

Over the years I've seen TPF and the larger Perl community fail at times on every single list item. Work has gone into improving most of them at one time or another, some of them repeatedly. However, these are all important all the time. It's good the questions are being asked. Hopefully the unpleasant but true answers are taken at face value. Often such criticism is thrown out by organizations as simply bitterness. Well, maybe some is, but not all of it. And when enough people are bitter, perhaps one should wonder why and what's common across interactions with all of those people.

In reply to Re: Perl/Raku community involvement survey by mr_mischief
in thread Perl/Raku community involvement survey by jdporter

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