GOSH Community Forum

[Day 2] Making GOSH accessible for newbies


We discussed how to make it easier to engage newcomers. The conversation revolved mainly around the website and forum. We decided to start by mapping the labels already configured, see what needs to be changed, and mockup a landing page that drives users to whatever information they are looking for.


by Felipe

We ended up not having time to prototype anything, but later decided to set up a working group to reorganize the websites and see how to curate contents. One idea is to raise funds for part-time content editors who make sure things are easy to find and follow a set of standards.


Intro round

@juli - convenor. Argentina, Bs Aires. Joined GOSH last year. 2nd year. Worried because feels GOSH is not friendly if someone wnats to join. Lots of information in DIY channels. Not easy to grab. Open but not accessible, Accessible for some people but not for others.

Analia - Argentina, Bs Aires. Weiba foundation. Came acrross GOSH on social media. Interested to learn from past experience and understand how people who are there can take the sense because feels there is a barrier and wants to figure out how to break.

Diego La Plata Argentina. Into tech. First GOSH, is here because of Juli.

Andre Brazilian lived in Germany and now UK. Third GOSH. Learning processs. Wants to see what applies from this idea to get newbies to other settings.

Jeff, Public Lab. One of my roles is managing newcomers. Something he things very deeply and overlaps with GOSH. From USA, Provenance.

Justin comes from Benin. First GOSH. Meeting people was surprised, never heard about it before. Find new ways to make people work.

Felipe - note taker. Brazil, free/open culture/tech/science 15 years.

Juli uses GitHub a lot. Good for some things but not others. Is interested in environmental sensors. Talking to other goshers - why not make a portal - earth, water, soil. Who in gosh works with these, contacts. Before reaching the forum, where it’s not so easy. Also, forum mixes technical and communities, etc. Interested in one particular audience - social movements working with environmental issues.

Jeff: Public Lab has thematic pages, would be happy to host as a GOSH partner.

Juli: how do we deal with a lot of info.

Jeff: 6 month program to make content more accessible.

Juli: which is the core idea?

Jeff: intended audience/group of people with environmental issues - not technologists.

Juli: Would like that a google search “measure soil quality” led to GOSH. We should be doing translations, also.

Diego what’s the idea? Improving access to all info? Or a particular part to invite newcomers? They ovetrlap, but focus is different. In my projects I want to invite people to participate in several citizen science projects. But also invite people to develop something to those people in particular. Also spread word about what we are doing. The worst website in the world. In the end I don’t know what I want to know.

Andre: Juli gave concrete example, but that applies also to other subcommunties of GOSH. We could start with that and then replicate to rest. We could focus today in this and then show.

Juli we have clear commmunities. Microscpoe, environmental…

Andre one thing already present on the forum are tags. 2018/sessions. Could have same thing for environmental issues. A landing page with a list of tags [Felipe: and big search box like google]. Suggestion yesterday: “collaborators wanted”. I could go there and see if I can collaborate.

Analia: for social people - in Argentina many are working in social issues. GOSH could be a solution. Or we want only people worling on science?

Juli: my main motivation, I study environmental sciences. The scientists complain about social scientists, who complain about technical people. GOSH is one of those places to overcome that. We have lots of tech people here. They are in GOSH, so they’re not completely blind to these other issues. Why don’t we onboard more social people? How do we engage the social side of researchers, social movements who have a curiosity with tech but don’t know where to start.

Analia: people need to find us. Google keywords. We in AR had a blog, but each post was concentrated information so people can find you.

Juli: people do find us. In our hacklab we had many sessions. There was this anthropologist that came to GOSH website and can’t understant anything. She can’t access it.

Diego: I’m from Computer Science. What is the idea of social field for IT. I’m surprised with things like a friend sociologist talking about things: “my dream is to have AI as a device”. Her idea of AI is another. Start matching the languages - conceptualization - a manner to biohackers whose social thinking is another thing. I’m surprised how people call things another way.

Justin: if you search GOSH in google. If you go to the forum. The first result is not that. Maybe we have a landing page that points to forum, projects.

Analia: with the content, Google keywords. [Felipe notes: SEO].

Julieta: openhardware.science. Refactor. Maybe work in the structure. What is useful info to display? If you link to GitHub, same thing.

Jeff: althought the mission of GOSH and Public Lab are different, we’re also a place where people can post things. It’s actually similar - we want to make sure people can access in publiclab. We’re doing the design work in public - all debates are on an annotated page. If those discussions or designs are useful to other people we raise money to do them. You can use those ideas. Noticed duality - it’s common to emphasize that technologies are things, but don’t we want to emphasize people? Gap between tech and social sciences. Primary feature: Q&A section. Tech people tend to make declarative statements. Experts in general do that. For newcomers it’s useful to ask things as questions. We often ask people - instead of posting what they think is true, post as questions. Makes it easier to communicate across expertises. Techs should be listening more to people with needs. Not the assumption that you know the whole problem. But someone new can bring a perspective that is critical.

Juli: GitHub map is not enough. There’s no way we can ask GOSHers for descriptions.

Analia: small team of data curators - 6 persons. Ask someone who works in water, etc.

Andre: wikipedia page about GOSH.

Juli: Mozilla GitBooks. Open leaders book.

Diego: Wikipedia is seen by millions of people.

Andre: don’t need to be a single document. You don’t have to start gathering people to write.

Juli: we have a wiki in our hacklab.

Jeff: two PhD ideas. Markdown was conceived as a way for people to format rich text. It’s extremely popular between technical people. I use it all the time - but it has failed in original mission. Tech people are the ones who use it. Also: Wikis are institutionally conceived as a democratic space, but they are not inviting.

FF: workshop of wikis - not only a question of UX. People should feel entitled to edit others’ posts.

Diego: wikis are only tools for communities. The most difficult is working together as a community. At the beginning when I heard about GOSH, I didn’t feel I fit in this community. I’m not a hardware maker. Then after I applied, I had to introduce myself. I couldn’t propose anything. Even if I have the tools and understand it’s a community, I didn’t feel part of it. The meetings are one of the most sucessuful tools to build community - then forum, wiki, website are only tools to improve. In CS we always try to create tools for problems that don’t exist. It’s not the wiki itsef, but the community behind it.

Jeff: PL is a wiki. I am committed to wikis. Althought the conception is great, once we take the conception and design a system to embody ideals, we take some of our own identity into the system that are more than tools. Wiki comes from a comunity that feels entitled. I don’t think that’s fundamental to wikis. I want wikis to evolve in a way so that they do invite, I think they can. In the implementation of wikis there are assumptions of who’s invited, entitled, etc.

Juli: not only the case for newcomers like Diego. People like the Latin-american group don’t use the forum. It’s easier to drop an email. We’re commited, doing things all the time.

FF: why? feeling exposed?

Analia: culture of use, people already interact. OTOH, that leads to problems - nobody knows what’s going on.

Andre: maybe we could send topics via email to GOSH Forum.

Diego: have you asked the community why? Maybe the community has to evolve.

Juli: the forum is super active, but a lot of people don’t use it.

Andre: we don’t know if the case for LaTam is the same for Africa OSH. If we ask as Diego suggests, we can find whether that’s particular to one community. Why people don’t feel comfortable to post in public

Diego: 5% of editors are substantially active in wikipedia.

Justin: Information can be more accessible depending on discipline.

Juli: I’m very extrovert. But I was fearful of being judged. There are people I admire, very skilled. We have to overcome that. Enforcing the code of conduct online.

Andre: is it infringed online?

Juli: not very clear

Jeff: in PL we’ve been very enthusiastic about extending a verbal welcome. When someone posts for the first time, we try to say hello to people. We have a bot to remind with emoji. It sets the tone of friendliness. Even if people are aware it’s a bot, it sets the tone.

FF discourse has discobot

Analia: for email notifications - can I choose what conversations I want or not? I’m receiving a lot of things I don’t want.

Juli: we must show people how to use discourse. There’s a lot of color in this community. The websites are so cold.

Diego: How can we help you? Let’s propose something.

FF Who takes care of the website?

Juli: Jenny and Rafael Pezzi take care of it.

Analia: we have tools already. how to make them better?

Juli: I have acces to the website.

Vivi [GOSH newcomer, joined the session later] Forum is not easy to find what I want. I wanted to find the topics of workshops, schedule. Finally I found the picture. Seems disorganized. But people seem active, discussing.

Analia: before coming here I couldn’t find the info - printed people who were coming, searched them on the internet and tried to match with workshops.

Andre: maybe we can start a mockup landing page - glossary, lists tags already present. Have links directly to those sessions. I’m insterested in statistics.

Diego: an idea - most information in the forum are generated around GOSH meetings. Maybe documentation shold be documented in the forum. Rules.

Juli forum has categories. 2018/sessions. But there’s no label.

Analia: you have mapped the LatAm goshers? Can we take advantage of that to start?

Vivi: how about search engine?

Juli: should we make tags mandatory?

Jeff: PL is not mandatory to tag, but a popup asks later. Or alert people

Juli: how to organize? Labels, asking community…

Analia: can we ask people to tag themselves?

Andre: to ask people to tag things, we should be aware that being too open may lead to even more confusion… we should first see the ones that already exist.

Felipe: any collective website needs to have “gardeners” to organize contents that are published by the community.

Juli: we can start mapping tags that exist and organize things around that. A suggestion of our proposed structure.

Vivi: we should have the same standards of classifications. Admins should sit together to discuss. How to make GOSH more accessible to newbies.

Felipe: There is probably a group of editors set up by default on discourse.

Juli: forum is a good quickstart we can accomplish and from there expand.

Diego: we want the particular community of farmers to participate in the forum. We’re developing semantic tagging solutions in combination with human-generated tags.

Juli: we can find some time these days. Maybe saturday.

1 Like

Great notes, thanks to the documenter. +1 for the idea of a google search for “Measure soil quality” leads to GOSH. It would be a fantastic help in the effort to make Open Science more widely known and accessible.


It was noticed in the Community Report that those were great notes from this session, but the Summary is a little bit short. Does anyone that attended this session is up to adding more content to the summary? @efeefe, @jarancio, @jeff, @amchagas, @JustinAhinon, @annasera, @Analia, @magic.towers?

Thank you!

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Hi Leo!

I can try to add to the summary from what @efeefe wrote:


We discussed how to make it easier to engage newcomers. All GOSHers in the session had experienced some kind of difficulty when sharing the available digital materials to people from outside the community. We acknowledged the diversity of projects makes it difficult to present it to others.

Main problems we detect are:

a) Forum: has a lot of information but organized in a way that isn’t easy to understand. Can improve with better label organization, instructions, friendly welcome messages.

b) Website: it’s not easy to understand what GOSH is from the website, or to find the projects. Something more visual can help.

We decided that we can start by mapping the labels already configured in the forum, see what needs to be changed, and mockup a landing page that drives users to whatever information they are looking for.

Hope that works! Thanks :slight_smile:

1 Like

Nice! I have updated it on the Community Report.

Thank you!

1 Like