Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy): So, how was Outreachy for me?

Overall, I loved it. Sure, there were annoying bits, but there are always annoying bits no matter what the job is.

Good things

There were lots of good things!

First, I had the best mentor. It helps that I already knew her, and that she offered to be my mentor when she suggested Outreachy to me. She’s been unfailingly helpful and kind, and very supportive.

At the very start, she offered me the choice of working on small scale existing UX tickets in Fedora, or doing a full-fledged project. The former would have been easier, in some ways, but not nearly as useful for progressing my career. The former would probably have been easier, if less useful, for her as well.

Second, the fedora-hubs team is a good group of people. Welcoming, helpful, and unfailingly polite. I may have only been there for a few months, but I will miss them.

Fedora people as a whole were similarly helpful; I had nothing to offer my interviewees and participants but my goodwill, and everyone I asked was happy to help out when they were able.

Third, the task was an interesting one. I think at this point I’d probably describe Fedora Hubs as a whole as an interface that consolidates and filters information about and from many different places so that an individual can find what’s important or interesting to them within Fedora. I probably need to throw something about making it easier for new Fedora users to get involved, although it’s hard to say if that’s Hubs as a whole or specific to the Regional Hubs that I was working on. Or both! Probably both.

I’d say the overarching goal for Regional Hubs was to encourage and support community within Fedora. Some of the problems that we were trying to solve were as simple — but not easy — as helping new users more easily get involved with the Fedora community, encouraging in-person social interaction to help people become and remain connected, and helping people find each other and events. Some of these we knew were problems ahead of time (like new users getting and staying involved), and some came up during the interviews (finding people and events).

As some of you likely saw while reading along, locations are hard. This made for a very interesting discussion to figure out how we wanted to handle that, and there are still aspects of it that I suspect need more attention. However, if we want people to be able to find people and events near them, locations are also really important.

I most enjoyed the discussions in which we were exploring the bounds of what we needed to know or do. This included brainstorming in general, the aforementioned complications around locations, and the conversation around the feasibility of the mockups in which we touched on how Hubs might suggest new regional hubs.

Neutral things

I didn’t really get a chance to learn more about visual design and how to translate from a mockup to a higher fidelity design. This was as much about available time as the difficulty of explaining it. I do have an example of the before and after versions of this for one of my mockups, and Mo has sent a screencap of creating mockups in inkscape. Hopefully these will be useful!

I didn’t finish creating the CSS for the high fidelity visual design that Mo had already created. I got stuck on translating from table to div, and needed to focus my attention elsewhere.

Less good things

First, I really don’t like working remotely. I like people, and having people around is good for me. I also like being able to talk to people about what I’m working on and have them already have the context and knowledge to have productive conversations. This is still possible remotely, but there’s something missing from it in that context.

Second, and relatedly, I feel like remote usability tests and interviews are not as good. They do the job, for sure, but I feel like I missed out on stuff by not being _there_ with the participants. This is likely not helped by the connection to some of the locations participants were in being slow or intermittent.

Unfortunately, I was not able to do any local, in-person usability tests due to snow and other troubles.

This may actually be showing my bias from having done psychology graduate work: all our participants were in-person.

Third, transcription of interviews and usability tests are _annoying_ and really time and brain-power consuming. I knew this already, from my work with video and audio of people’s interactions with robots and with each other.

On the plus side, interviews and usability tests have less content to deal with, since I don’t need to identify and describe every gesture and every word spoken. Nor do I need to parse through 32 different recordings to try to find and appropriately label the right data to plug into statistical software to find patterns.

Fourth, Git and github and pagure have a higher learning curve than I’d like. This is not helped by the need for ssh keys in all sorts of places. I still wish it were possible to put my public key in _one_ place and have all the tools needed in Hubs work use it. A lack of communication between tools is a very common problem in all sorts of industries, and not just around ssh keys.

Fifth, having my internship include Xmas and New Years early on meant that I was rather less productive than I’d have liked around then. I needed a fair bit of guidance at a time when people weren’t around. Annoying, but not awful.

In summary

Good program, A+++!

Seriously, I’m glad Outreachy exists in both a theoretical ‘getting more diversity into open source’ sense, and in a practical ‘this was fabulously useful to me’ sense.

I do wish I could see this project through to fruition. But alas, that is not how Outreachy — and many other internships — works.

Now, to put this project into and otherwise update my portfolio!

(As a reminder to myself and others: the ‘story’ that people talk about when creating portfolios is a combination of providing context for the photos and graphics and screenshots you include, and showing what you have done vs what others did, what you were trying to accomplish, and your thinking about it.)

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Original article title: Suzanne Hillman (Outreachy): So, how was Outreachy for me?.
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