Monthly Archives: December 2011

Name fields and UI

The AdaCamp Melbourne application form began with two fields: Your Name and Your Email. Seems fair enough! An unanticipated problem a few people have had with the forms is that they have entered “Your Given Name” and “Your Surname” instead, presumably trained to do this by umpteen million sites that want data entered that way. This leaves us with no email for them.

I don’t think the solution is to go with the flow, it buys into Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names and the only thing it would get AdaCamp is the more-or-less correct alphabetising of the attendee list. (Only more-or-less correct: not only do given-surname name orderings vary among two-or-more-name cultures, so does the sort key, see eg Wikipedia’s manual instructing editors to sort Thai people by their given name.) But since we have no need to alphabetise the attendee list, it’s fine.

The best solution, I think, is to perform email address validation, which has its own problems (eg many validators use “is there a dot in the domain part?” which annoys the lucky people who have an email account at a top level domain no end) but gives us what we really need: a way to contact applicants!

An appeal for the Ada Initiative

When I was 15 I went on the web for the first time. A boy in my computing class went to Yahoo!, typed in “girls” and spent some time showing me porn.

Photograph of Mary Gardiner

I’ve programmed since I was a kid. I’ve loved the idea of open technology since I read a curious article in the 1990s about people all over the world, fixing complex bugs in an operating system that a university student had named after himself.

But every so often, I’m reminded how my Internet experience began. Women friends haven’t been safe on mailing lists, they haven’t been safe on Wikipedia’s talk pages, and they haven’t been safe at conferences. And even when they are safe, sometimes they’re lonely: estimates of women’s participation in open source run to about 2%, and as Wikipedia editors at 9%.

Thus, I’ve been a volunteer creating communities by and for women in open source since 2000. It’s been the equivalent of an unpaid part-time job for several of those years. But a year ago, Valerie Aurora became more ambitious, and proposed that since we were doing real work, we should do it as our real job. Together we created the Ada Initiative, a non-profit supporting women in open technology and culture. We rely on your support for our work:

Donate now!

Within a year we’ve organised our first AdaCamp, surveyed thousands of people about their perspective on women in open technology and culture, wrote and encouraged adoption of an anti-harassment policy by over 30 conferences and organizations in open tech/culture, and much more.

To continue our work in 2012, we need your help! Please donate to the Ada Initiative, and contribute to our planned work, including future AdaCamps, methodologically rigorous research into women in open source, and training for women contributors to open tech/culture projects and their allies.

Donate now: we can’t do it without you!

Interested in women in open tech and culture? AdaCamp Melbourne wants you!

My non-profit organisation, the Ada Initiative, wants to go full steam ahead into 2012, and we’re holding an AdaCamp event in Melbourne to kick off the year!

The Ada Initiative supports women in open technology and culture, ranging from open source to free culture to grassroots community organising to makerspaces to remix and fandom culture to open government initiatives and more. This stuff is powerful: it’s already shaping society and is going to continue to do so more and more. The Ada Initiative is focussed on supporting women in becoming an integral part of these communities.

AdaCamp will be a one day “unconference” (that is, it will have free-form sessions scheduled by participants) focussed on furthering women’s work in open technology and culture. It will be held on Saturday January 14 in Melbourne, some travel funding is available.

AdaCamp places are by invitation, if you’re interested in coming along please apply today. Applications close December 14. Hoping to meet some readers and ‘net friends there!