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Diversity is the extent to which members of the IndieWeb community, including event attendees and speakers, contributors, participants in chat, wiki editors, and self-identified IndieWeb website owners, are representative of a wide range of human attributes including, but not limited to, race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, able-bodiedness, education, socioeconomic status, political leaning, national origin, etc.

A group's diversity can be measured by its ability to sustain participation among members who fall on very different points on the spectrum within a single attribute, and also by sustaining variations among many different attributes at once.

Tech sector shortcomings

"Improving diversity" has become a major topic among technology companies as a response to numerous studies linking high-diversity groups to being more willing to express unique opinions, broadening the pool of knowledge, and positive business outcomes. Unfortunately, Google's diversity report, along with data from other Silicon Valley companies, shows that the tech industry still has a long way to go.

Within Indie Web Camp

The lack of diversity among tech companies reflects a larger systemic pattern of ignorance, inattentiveness, and/or exclusion with regard to minority groups in STEM fields, and Indie Web Camp isn't immune to those forces:

So, who else is coming to @indiewebcamp Brighton? There’s currently an embarrassing all-white-male list of “creators” http://indiewebcamp.com/2014/UK/Guest_List#Creators[1]

Besides societal forces, there may be other factors that hinder the adoption of Indie Web Camp principles among marginalized groups:

  • "Owning your data", or at the very least owning a domain name, involves a monetary cost that is a very real barrier to entry. In addition, domain name registrants are required to provide their name and contact information on publicly-available WHOIS requests. Groups who require careful privacy measures because of their marginalized status are hit especially hard by this.
  • "Build tools for yourself" presupposes a programming and development education that most minority populations have never been exposed to. In essence, they are being asked to contribute their diverse life experience and also be able to build the medium on which to express themselves. Pre-built solutions like WordPress and Known will be much more attractive.
  • "Plurality of projects" may be attractive to developer-centric groups that understand the differences in implementations, but the number of choices will be overwhelming for the uninitiated. Rather than simply listing the available projects, a table listing supported features and gotchas for each project would allow people to choose a solution based on their skill-level and needs.

Improving diversity

  • Encourage existing minorities within the group to take more active / visible roles. Visible minority members are a strong indicator that the group is "safe".

So I looked for something which looked like “me”, or described “me”, but I just found it to be about a diff community. [2]

i would NEVER even consider going to a conference like that TBH b/c when i look at that photo i'm like, ahhh, a place where i'm not safe. [3]

  • Expand options for virtual participation at conferences. There are enough barriers without adding geography into the mix.
  • Go to the groups you're seeking and ask for help. Programs like the Focus Conference and 300 Seconds will point you in the right direction, or even contacting women's colleges and historically black universities.
  • Identify IndieWebCamp features that are useful to marginalized communities and are being undermined or ignored on silos. Embrace your off-beat culture, find groups that would benefit from it, and invite them to try it.
  • Get advice from people that run successful inclusive unconferences and BarCamps. Vanessa Gennarelli wrote an excellent primer on the subject.
  • Offer mentorship to people who want to start a website for the first time. Make it as easy and un-intimidating as possible to ask for help. Potentially list a pool of volunteer mentors who are easy to contact on the getting started page, or call out "office hours" that are a good time to ask for help in chat (to some extent already done by listing the busy hours, but perhaps making the prompt to ask for help explicit).
  • Host standalone "intro" events / "starter" workshops explicitly for newcomers to the IndieWeb, underserved groups, and non-coders / less technical folks. Specifically address specific points of concern, like privacy, security, and harassment.

Suggestions from a chat discussion

  1. commit to prioritizing diversity and inclusion and put it in your principles.
  2. articulate how Indieweb technology solves specific needs for underserved groups - and build support and tutorials to make it very easy to get aboard. @anomalily has great points about the zine aspect; Jacky Alciné brought up poet
  3. have some very straightforward instructions about how to set up an Indieweb site using Wordpress (the current instructions on the wiki focus on “generation 2 and 3” users) and Tumblr (NOT starting with “set up your own domain”, because that’s a barrier to many people)
  4. redesign the website.
  5. outreach focused on *listening* to what people from marginalized communities want, rather than on the current perceived selling points
  6. make it clear what people can do to defend against harassment
  7. invest the effort yourselves instead of expecting the people advocating for diversity to make it
  8. be willing to adapt workflows when they are barriers to diversity
  9. especially for leaders, remember that people will model your behavior. When they see you investing effort in diversity instead of asking others to (and thanking people for bringing instead of asking for more work), they’ll do the same - helping to change cultural aspects that are known barriers to diversity.


See Also