[Techtalk] [OT] HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux

Dave North dave at timocharis.com
Thu Aug 29 16:36:00 EST 2002

> [Val] explicitly asked permission to post it to techtalk
> because it's the busiest list and most likely to get a wide range of
> opinions.

Got it.

> Maintain the subject heading, though, please. It -is- technically
> off-topic for techtalk & I want the thread to remain easily deleteable.

Good plan. Got it.

First, I'd like to point out I think the howto is chock full o' good
stuff, and should serve its purpose. But I'll confine myself only to those
parts that, for one reason or another, I suspect might profit from a
little tweaking.
	I also prefer to address things a section at a time, to avoid
"chunking things together" too much and confusing the various main points.
	That said,

Section: Audience

"This document is intended mainly for the enlightened male Linux
enthusiast who would genuinely like to see more women involved in Linux
because both women and Linux would benefit from it."

Two words here are a bit challenging for us guys: "enlightened" and
"genuinely." This puts us to a test that, I suspect, few of us are
confident we pass. I even propose that, the more those shoes fit, the more
doubt we will have!
	I would also suggest it's a bit too confining anyway. I doubt --
other than the most cretinous -- there are many men who could not learn
from this document, and chasing them away before they get through the door
is, perhaps, not the road to broader readership (and, as yoda might put
it, enlightenment. But I use sawfish or just the console...)
	One might consider just deleting those two words and just let
folks go forth.

It goes on to say: "because both women and Linux would benefit" (the "from
it" is unnecessary but perhaps a nice stylistic grace note).
	Hey, a lot of guys are selfish or shy, and might be a bit more
encouraged if their benefit is served too! So I see little harm in being
inclusive with something like "women, Linux and even men would benefit."
Or just "everyone" (my favorite, but I'm just dull sometimes).
	Small point, perhaps subtle. But being inclusive might help.

"This HOWTO is definitely not intended to help male Linux geeks find
female Linux geeks to date."

With that in mind, I suggest that this sentence (from, admittedly, the
next section):

"Note: I would consider dating the man who wrote the above post. What a

...might strike some folks as being a bit inconsistent.

I would point out too, that the entire paragraph after "geeks to date" is
perhaps not serving a useful purpose _to the intended readership_. The
first sentence makes the point quite clearly; the rest merely confuses me
by raising the general issue of "motive" in a tricky way -- with many
strange permutations possible.

Besides, I'm not sure "motives" _are_ that important at this point. How
many of us started into things we now love because of "the wrong motive?"
Unfortunately, asking folks to inspect their motives -- at this point in
the work -- may turn away people whose ideas may actually be quite
different by the time they get to the end of the document. That could be a
bad thing.
	Which is not to say that such comments are inherently a Bad Idea.
Maybe, however, they're better placed later in the document, after
enlightenment has loaded.

I take back what I said earlier, now that I think about it. Even my most
cretinous brothers could learn from reading this HOWTO. Why tell them not


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