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Interview: Claire Corgnou

Claire Corgnou will give a talk about "Why the community should welcome Average Jane and Joe" at FOSDEM 2012.

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Hi, I'm Clarista, a member of the Mozilla Community, and the author of Bonjour Mozilla, a website that highlights all the contributions and the contributors throughout the world, and especially in the French-speaking community. And I'm an Average Jane ;-)

What will your talk be about, exactly?

I will present a talk about relations between "Mr and Mrs FLOSS" and the Average Jane and Joe... Those relations are not easy, there are a lot of misconceptions I will underline. So I will describe how I entered the Mozilla community and the difficulties I met, and then, I'll give some advice about how to attract "normal people" in the Free software community.

What do you hope to accomplish by giving this talk? What do you expect?

Through this talk, I want to convince "geeks" that they should make some efforts to welcome "normal people", because I'm sure that geeks need Average Jane or Joe to make better software. And I hope to be less alone at the end, finding other Average Jane and Joe to participate to FLOSS events ;-)

Which difficulties did you encounter while entering the Mozilla community and what made you persist?

It's true that it was quite hard to me to find a place: I thought that, as an Average Jane, I was useless to the community. Finally, I realized I could do a lot of things, precisely because I was an Average Jane: I could create new contributions. So I did the "Bonjour Mozilla", with a technical person who created the Website, and I began to give talks about feminism, and Mozilla in its globality. Because I'm an Average Jane, I find the simple words to explain, and I can reach more people! Now, I know I've found my place in the community. Thanks to all the people who welcomed me and helped me!

Average Jane or Joe is probably not a programmer and not well-versed in version control systems, IRC, mailing list etiquette, and so on, which are all overwhelming for outsiders. So which efforts can FLOSS communities make to make "normal people" feel more welcome?

That's what I'm thinking about. I think we should have a real debate about it, after my talk.

First of all, I think geeks should be careful to not depreciate or judge "normal people". And they have to leave their computer for a while ;-) and maybe to accept to respond to some strange questions, such as: "but, where do you find the money in FLOSS?".

Then, even if "version control systems, IRC, mailing list etiquette, and so on" is a part of FLOSS... It's not everything. You can catch the attention of normal people by talking about the FLOSS philosophy. If we're not technical, we can understand this fantastic philosophy, and feel concerned.

The most important thing is to be patient and to be good at explaining. So maybe, geeks should receive lessons of pedagogy :D

Which kinds of contributions are especially suitable for average Jane or Joe?

A lot! They can give talks about the philosophy, they can blog, they can help create documentation, they can participate in Q/A, they can organize events, speak about FLOSS to their friends, etcetera. And they can, of course, create their own contribution!

Have you enjoyed previous FOSDEM editions?

Especially the fries ;-)

Creative Commons License
This interview is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License.