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Mastodon is one of the most successful software solutions to the decentralized, federated social network called the Fediverse. Sp3r4z’s stats has some interesting numbers about it: there are 3,173 active Mastodon instances summing up 1,510,563 accounts1. Using the motto “Social networking, back in your hands”, Eugen Rochko presents Mastodon as “a platform that is community-owned and ad-free”2, that “aims to be a safer and more humane place”3. However, looking closely, the absence of encouragement to participate in Mastodon’s development in all promotional material produced, even though it’s becoming a famous free and open source software project, reveals an elephant in the room: a history of refusal to work open, and the idea that Mastodon isn’t a community-driven project that welcomes contributions – it is, in fact, considered to be a personal project by its creator.
It’s no secret I am a fairly new member of the Wikimedia movement. As you can see here, I only started contributing on September 11, 2017, encouraged by Outreachy’s application process. Since then, I made a total of 2,254 edits including translations, daily notes about my internship and production of small videos to illustrate my Translation quick guide. I was completely immersed in one single aspect of the movement—technical translations on MediaWiki.
“You’ve written “Sometimes it feels like this is a task beyond my limits.” That’s a feeling on exploration tasks: the more you scratch the surface, the more you have to handle. Sharing that feeling with coworkers or your manager is important, because they can help you to prioritize and focus on what is important.” — My mentor Benoît, on my February 12 notes
I’ve been feeling this immense amount of grief lately.
Note: this text is more of a vent than anything else. I still intend to write more seriously about my perception of the changes provoked by commercial social networks, but not today.
“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth.” — Chamath Palihapitiya, former Facebook executive
I would really like to start this text by talking about how I have not had a Facebook profile for years, but we all know this is not true.
Painting of Saint Jerome, patron saint of translators, by Caravaggio. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)
To be honest, before becoming an Outreachy intern at the Wikimedia Foundation, I had never thought about many of the technical aspects of Wikimedia projects. Obviously the work isn’t completed with miracles and magic, but the full complexity and importance of all the work done behind the scenes did not occur to me until I got involved with one of the most important aspects of a free software project: documentation.
Before we go any further and talk about my strategies to bring more attention to technical translation in Wikimedia projects, I need to touch on a subject that most likely affects every human being: the fear of failure. As I wrote on January 2 in my daily notes, a few days ago I was filled with apprehension and uneasiness as I began to feel the burden of my responsibility as an Outreachy intern and to question how much room for failure I have.
For a long time, hearing the word “work” would cause me to panic. How would be my routine? Would my employer be capable of understand and provide the accommodations I need to execute my duties? Would I be capable of working or having attractive qualifications to be hired?
My experiences with (in)accessibility in my student life filled me with fear of the labor market. I only had access to assistive technologies in the beginning of my adulthood, in higher education, although my visual impairements are congenital.
As I mentioned in my last post — My journey to Outreachy, or How I learned to stop worrying and start contributing —, I am one of the 42 people selected to work with FOSS projects as an Outreachy intern between December 2017 and March 2018. Since I already talked about my story and my application process, it’s time to write further about the foundation of my project (Translation outreach: User guides on MediaWiki.
It was May of this year when, while I was reading some local news, I saw an announcement about the 5º Encontro Nacional de Mulheres na Tecnologia. The chance of meeting people with similar passions and experiences it’s always reassuring, so I immediately searched for more information. When I looked over its schedule, a Lighting Talk caught my attention: “Programa Outreachy: receba para estudar e trabalhar em projetos de software livre” (“Outreachy: get paid for studying and working on FOSS projects”) by Ana Rute Mendes, a former Outreachy intern at Mozilla.