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Greg McVerry

Challenges in Open Source Blogging Communities

2 min read

As open source communities we need to keep each other energized and engaged.Many people contribute on volunteer time. Squeezing in opportunities to code around children and career.

Committment takes love and energy. We allowed a narrative of the loner coder pushing commits from a dark basement to define us for far too long. Let us redefine what open source communities look like in more inclusive terms. Let's build in supports for each other.

Blogging can provide this cathartic release for open source contributors. Yet, how do you we harness a digital hug, encourage friendly games, or allow for creative venting without putting undue pressure on an already busy day?

Use the blogs to uplift the community through fun. Make them simple. Design relevant task.

Blogging Challenges

You can add weekly, daily, or monthly challenges to your community or classroom. These challenges have existed since the dawn of the web. Both open pedagogy classes and open source communities have used have effectively used challenges to keep members engaged.

In this began with a daily shoot with a challenge to post a photo everyday. We ee similar types of games in social media streams all the times, but when playing along from a blog you can rest assure that contributing to your project doesn't mean social media silos get to suck up all of your data. They now have the infamous daily create bank that randomly tweets out a challenge every day.

In the community,  set a goal of having someone release gifts of code or content that is openly licensed well-documented and useful for others throughout the month of December in 2018.

Challenges You Can Try:

  • Six-word memoir-Post your reasons you open source in six words.
  • Daily quote (stay away from picture quotes to allow for inclusion..better yetteach accessibility rules first)
  • Hardest/Latest/First thing you learned
  • First/Latest/Most proud contributions
  • Daily photo challenges
  • 150 words a day/week/month
  • Parent challenge-Share memories or rants of open source work and parenting

You have to create a community around yoru code. Do not expect contributors to stick around pushing commits without the contaigon of fun.

To help try and provide a communal release in your open source community try blogging challenges.


Greg McVerry

Culture and Priviledge in Open Source Blogging

3 min read

Having a straight white male explain a utopian vision of blogging and open source is not new.

While I believe in the values of open pedagogy as much as I do in open source I recognize that I come from blogging from a place of priviledge and open source communities needs to recognize similar barriers people may face when calling everyone to blog

Who is Everyone?

Creative Commons likes to point out that over 1.4 billion peince of content get shared on 9 million websites but Maha Bali remids us that

  • From which countries?
  • In which languages?
  • On which topics?
  • By which authors (e.g. more privileged, male, etc?)
  • How often is CC licensed work remixed, translated, reused? Is tracking this something we care about?

Creative Commons Then & Now: Egypt Perspective

Maha then goes on to describe how people whose work has been misappropriated, either literally or culturally may not want to work openly.

It is important for open source communites that encorage blogging to stres that while open source contributions maintain community licenses no one tells you how to license your own work.

Who's Utopia?

Not everone will agree that they should adopt your version of open. Audrey Watters writes:

As a woman who writes online about technology, I have grown far too tired of “permission-less-ness.” Because “open” doesn’t just mean using my work for free without asking. It actually often means demanding I do more work – justify my decisions, respond to accusations, and constantly rethink how and where I want to be and am able to be and work on the Internet.

So I’ve been thinking a lot, as I said, about “permissions” and “openness.” I have increasingly come to wonder if “permission-less-ness” as many in “open” movements have theorized this, is built on some unexamined exploitation and extraction of labor – on invisible work, on unvalued work. Whose digital utopia does “openness” represent?

Invisible Labor and Digital Utopias

Cultural differences also influence your views of a digital open utopia. How we view ownership and learning is not uniform around the world.

Open Source communities need to plan for these cultural differences and encourage multilingual blogging. An English only web is not an open web.

Historical Inequity

We also need to recognize that beyond the literacy gaps caused by centuries of racism and hate other systemic forms of inequity may influence the attitudes people take up towards blogging. Take imposter syndrome (which research shows actually effects men more but they suffer silently...beasuse you know..toxic masculinity) which society assigns more to women. Decades and centures in the work place of being castigated as "not smart enough" or "too emotional" can lead to not believing in yourself as a blogger.

The same can happen with a need for perfection. Those who identiofy as male get socialized into risk taking and competetion and young girls engineered more for perfection. If you wait for every word of perfection on a blog you will never hit publish.

Open Source communites need to provide scaffold for bloggers from underrepresented people and cultures. Blogging begets blogging and not only will this strategy support your mmebers but you will attract others as well.

Happy blogging.


Greg McVerry

How to Create the Best Blog Posts in Open Source Communites

2 min read

Press Publish. Done.

The best blog post is a published blog post. Period. Putting yourself out there as a blogger in your  open source community helps everyone.

Blogging Skills

Features of a successful blog post

  • Have a point, keep it organized, supported through the use of hyperlinks and multimedia materials (video, sound, images)
  • A clear, unified voice appropriate for intended community. Current contributors? Future contributors the public?
  • A title that links clearly to the content of the post
  • Use headers to keep it organized
  • Define key terms
  • Avoid jargon
  • Avoid idioms and dated pop cultural references for international audiences

 Features of a successful blog

  • Short, concise posts that use multimedia materials (video, images) to make a point
  • Effective use of hyperlinks to support ideas, to direct readers to relevant, interesting posts, and to strengthen open source network
  • A clear, unified voice that continues to grow and develop over time

Qualities of a skilled blogger

 Ability to publish. 95% of required skills

 The other fiver percent.

  •  Ability to quickly synthesize and articulate ideas
  • An awareness of a wide range of blogging techniques and of how these various techniques reach different target audiences effectively or ineffectively
  • Reading with mouse in hand: Engaging with (online and offline) materials as potential material for blogposts
  • Willingness to serve as an intelligent filter for a wide public audience
  • Engagement with the wider open soource community, including reply posts and webmentions

Modified from on successful blogposts, successful blogs, and skilled bloggers by Jacob McWilliams

Greg McVerry

Seven Strategies for Blogging in Open Source Communities

2 min read

Everyone hears bloggers beomaon writing block. Yet no great ailement spreads that saps writing ability. No virus takes away verbs and no bacteria takes down a blogger.

Writer's block emerges not from some mental state or illness but from a lack of strategies to get started. Open source community members may not want to blog simply out of fear of answering the question, "What do I blog about?"

The best blog post is a published blog post.

Just encourage this value in your community. Make it a meme, an emoji, a mantra. Get the community blogging and if they need help offer one of these ideas.

  1. Learn Something- No one comes to open source saying, "Gee I want to find a project where I can contribute code." They have a goal and something to learn. Documenting this journey provides endless content for open source bloggers. Simplay answering the question, "I want to learn X" so I will try Y" provides enough content for a post.
  2. Teach Something- Documentation != tutorial. Have you tried to use open source documents to learn? Not for the faint of heart. Check out the Apache documentation I stumbled across when trying to learn to abit of regex to write a redirect, or tell my server to point old links on my blog to the new url of my blog. Write a tutorial. Help the next contrbutor.
  3. Backstage Blog- Slightly different than a tutorial go more in depth into  a reflection your decision making process when building an app, coding, or running an event. Tell us what worked, what didn't, next steps, or what you will do differently next time.
  4. Behind the Scenes-If you work at a company contributing to open source or building open source tools share some office shennanigans. Community members love this stuff.
  5. Plan Your Future-Share your goals and upcoming events.
  6. Share the Past- Post pictures and reflections from events or major community changes.
  7. Celebrate the Community- Higlight other community members. the h/t goes a long way in terms of recruitment and retention.


Greg McVerry

Four Types of Open Source Blogs

1 min read

News Blogs

Open Sourc comminities use blogs to share news and information mainly with existing contributors and members. These blogs often contain upcoming events, reflections on prior events, provide updates on code, and other information that supports the network connections.


Mirror Blogs

Mirror blogs focus on an open source contrinutoprs reflections on their own thinking. A blogger documents how their thinking abouta topic got influenced and changed over time.


Showcase Blogs

This type of blog is used to showcase community members, code, art projects, podcasts, and writing.


Release  Blogs

Similar to traditional press release but often the most shared posts. These blogs just contain change logs written with greater prose than those captures in a GitHub repo

This list adapted from (Zawilinski, 2009)

Greg McVerry

Building Open Source Source Communities Through Blogging

3 min read

Open source does not mean working open. Open source refers to a small sliver of our work and refers to the license we assign to content we create.

Working openly builds open source conent but places an emphasis on learning out loud, reflecting on growth and sharing our triumphs.

When we work openly we build better open source software and open source comunities. In fcat five key benefits should drive every open source community to encourage members to blog.

Share your Story

Truth and reflection sell. In fact never sit through any seminar on SEO or social media (trutfhully skip all things SEO) that does not begin with this mantra. Good content is all that matters.

Every open source community has a mission. Never keep quiet about your mission and values.

A blog builds open source communities.

Recruitment and Retention

When you tell your story you attract other people who first want to listen, maybe tell a friend or better yet get involved. So much energy in open source community gets spent on thinking about how do we track contribution? How do we get more people involved in open source? Anyone know any designers?

Platform after platform gets built by community after community without realizing the web provided all the tools we need for recruitment and retention. Blogging begets blogging.

You also get metrics on contributions that go beyond the core commit. We know  other layers of the onion [1] surrond  core community members that contribute most of the code. Event planners, bug filers, and even the feature request as an issue crowd all support

The contributions nontechnical members make support the community as a whole and drawing in contributors, both those take push code or content, requires blogging.

Keep it DRY

Most commit messages are awful. Usually commiters leave a brief word or two and fail to capture changes in the code base let alone the decisions behind choices.

In many open source communities we often fall down repeated rabbit holes. When core committers also blog we reduce the risk of "repeating yourself" over and over again.

When someone may ask about a decision a blog post, which in open source communities averages 11 times the median length of a commit message will not only explain more to our members but it helps sustain our collective mission.

Build a Better Web

 No one gets into open source to save moeny....Well if they do they won't be around long. We choose open because we know it leads to a better web and a better web leads to a better world.

Blogging can make it all happen. Every time you encourage a community member to capture their journey with open source you help build a better web making it more enjoyable and inclusive for all.

Have Fun

Most importantly blog because you enjoy open source. You may not enjoy writing. Even the best bloggers struggle with crafting words just as you struggle with code. Always boils down to text structure. Some  languages are simply more declarative than others.

Let blogging declare you. Let it parse your history as an open source community. The average blog post in open source communities is only 150 words. And who says you have to use word? Photo blogs or video blogs (vlogs) can provide avenues of intention any day.

150 words, one picture, or two minutes of audio or video. You can do this. Your community can do this. Simply set a goal. Could be every day, once a week, before every pull request or commit. You decide. Just have fun.

Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry

You don't need blockchain in a community you need people #mb #el30

2 min read

 In @downes el30 class we discussed community and much of the week revolved around "how do decentralized networks arrive at trust" we talked a ton of blockchain. isn't an engineering problem it is a human problem. Blocks don't build communities people do.

Stephen laid out three paths to trust through blockchain

  • Proof of Work - any entity can add a block to the chain by performing a complex mathematical calculation and including the result of this calculation in the block. Reliability is ensured by the cost of introducing falsehoods into the chain.


  • Proof of Authority - only entities who are authorized may add blocks to the chain (where the identity of these entities is secured, say, by digital signatures). Reliability is ensured by the reliability of the authority, and the impossibility of any non-authorities to add blocks to the chain.


  • Proof of Stake - entities can mine or validate block transactions according to how many coins they hold. Reliability is ensured by the existing stake entities hold in the blockchain.

I believe this to too expensive and fruitless endeavors. Communities online take shaping and grooming.Time and we will not be able to engineer our way out of the problems the web currently has.

Greg McVerry

Brief Lesson Plan for #Pack22 Wolf Scouts Tonight

1 min read

Wolves just finished a unit in school on adding coins so I figured we would work on the coin advancement tonight.

First we will go over the parts of a coin and do a coin rub.

Then we are going to play a game of tic tac toe where scouts add and subtract coins but the US coin pictures will be replaced with alien emojis.

The first person in a pair to answer correctly gets to put a coin in a tic tac toe board.

 The groups will be given a strip of alien emojis as their "coins". They will have to create a number system not based on ten and assign values to their coins. Finally, each group will write a funny word problem for the other groups to solve.

Of course, I always reserve the right to make this into some kind of relay race, call a coin move X steps...or something... if the kids get squirrely, but it's wet and doubt I will call the audible.   


Greg McVerry

Conservative, sexist, mysoginistic, and homphopbic Outrage in @brianfloods article saying conservative aren't outraged by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

1 min read

Many of these sexist comments are posted by people on @foxnews as recognized leaders of the discussion board.

Question @brianfloods Do you think @foxnews needs a better defintion of who qualifies as a leader on yoru discussion board?

This Fox News Leader compared AOC to "few hellions" back in college

The Fiox News Leaders thinks AOC is only good at pole dancing

This fix news leaders hates "beta males" in video

These fox news leaders blame her "big ole titties" (spelled wrong to fool filters) and want her in a bikini....

There are so many more examples from Fox News Leaders.