Category Archives: Support the Ada Initiative

Anonymous donor gives $100,000 to support women in Linux

Today we are proud to announce a $100,000 donation to the Ada Initiative to support women in open technology and culture, on top of the $215,000 given by 1100 donors in our 2014 fundraising drive. The donor, a Linux kernel contributor who wishes to remain anonymous, is motivated by the continuing low proportion of women in the Linux kernel development community: currently around 1-5%, as compared to about 20% in closed source software development. Our donor believes that free and open source software like Linux should be more diverse and more open to underrepresented groups than closed source software, not less.

In response to this generous donation, the Ada Initiative pledges to teach 4 Ally Skills Workshops free of charge at Linux-related conferences in 2015, and give 100 hours of free consulting to Linux-related organizations working on making the community more welcoming.

Why focus on women in Linux?

The Linux project, now 23 years old, is one of the world’s best known and longest lived free and open source software projects, and continues to serve as a model to other projects. The culture of Linux kernel development strongly influences open source culture as a whole. People in all open source projects would benefit from a healthy, inclusive, and welcoming Linux kernel community.

Increasing the proportion of women in Linux to at least match that in proprietary software is a difficult task for many reasons, among them a culture of verbal and emotional abuse perpetuated by some leading Linux developers, including the Linux project leader, Linus Torvalds. This abuse affects people of all genders, as shown by Lennart Poettering’s description of the harassment and threats he experiences, but it is especially harmful to women given the additional barriers they face such as sexism, stereotype threat, sexual assault, and other gender-related discrimination. Solving the problems that contribute to the low percentage of women in Linux will also make the Linux community better for most people, regardless of their gender.

Many Linux community members already want a more productive and welcoming working environment, and are looking for specific, concrete ways they can help make that a reality. The Ally Skills Workshop teaches these people the skills to respond when they see sexist or abusive behavior, as well as how to prevent it from happening in the first place. In the workshop, people learn specific techniques for how to have more productive and useful discussions, how to implement codes of conduct that support good technical decision-making, how to avoid wasting time and energy on unproductive arguments, and how to improve listening skills and reduce defensiveness. All of these skills help create a more productive, creative, and rewarding working environment for the vast majority of Linux community members.

Progress for women in Linux

The good news for women in Linux is that, after 4 years of advocacy spearheaded by the Ada Initiative, all major Linux conferences now have strong, enforceable anti-harassment policies as of November 2014. These policies have significantly reduced the incidence of many kinds of in-person abuse at Linux conferences, including physical and sexual assault, pornography in presentations, and sexist jokes by keynote speakers. The next step is spreading this kind of cultural change from conferences to online interaction in the Linux community, as the Django, Python, and Rust communities have done so successfully in recent years.

To support the many Linux community members who have been working for a more humane working environment for many years, the Ada Initiative will teach 4 Ally Skills Workshops at Linux-related conferences in 2015, free of charge to attendees or the conference. These workshops will train up to 120 advocates to fight for major, systemic changes in the Linux development culture, using best practices from other open source communities that have successfully increased the participation of women. We will also reserve 100 staff hours to provide free consulting to Linux-related organizations working towards the goal of a less toxic, more productive Linux development culture. If you would like to host one of these workshops or consult with us, email us at

Our Ally Skills Workshops are in high demand by software companies, foundations, and conferences, and are often fully booked months in advance. We developed the workshop over 3 years, drawing on many years of experience in open tech/culture communities. We normally charge several thousand dollars to cover the costs of each workshop. This level of sustained advocacy for women in Linux is only possible thanks to this generous donation.

Change is possible

We understand that raising the percentage of women in Linux is a daunting task. The invitation-only Linux Kernel Developer’s Summit, the most important Linux developer conference in the world, has a single-digit percentage of women attendees. Influential leaders make and defend disgusting insults as part of the development process, make sexist comments in talks, and argue about the definition of rape on public Linux mailing lists.

At the same time, we offer these signs of hope: as free and open sources software conferences adopted anti-harassment policies, the number of publicly reported sexist incidents dropped, from 4 incidents per year at FLOSS conferences in 2009 and 2010, to 3 per year in 2011 – 2013, and 1 in 2014 (so far). Women and genderqueer people participating in the Outreach Program for Women contributed over 1092 patches to the Linux kernel, and were the top contributors by patch count to the 3.11, 3.12, 3.13, and 3.14 kernels. The Python software community radically increased the percentage of women attending PyCon from less than 10% in 2011 to about 33% in 2014, and the percentage of women speakers went from 1% in 2010 to 33% in 2014. Change is possible; let’s get to work!

Thank you again to our anonymous $100,000 donor, and to our major individual donors from previous years: Sumana Harihareswara and Leonard Richardson, who donated $21,000 in 2012-2013, and Jesse Ruderman, who donated $5120 in 2011. Because of you, and all of our donors in the last four years, the open source software community is more diverse and welcoming than ever before – and it will keep getting better. Thank you!

T-shirts are here – literally! Donate by Dec. 6 for holiday delivery

F-word Feminism shirts, laid out by sizes

Very feminist. Much shirt.

Back in October, we promised t-shirts with our “Not Afraid to Say the F-word: Feminism” logo. They’ve arrived, hot off the presses, and the first t-shirts have already been shipped!

If you want to get one of your own, just donate $256 (or $20 monthly) or more to support women in open tech/culture before January 1, 2015.

Donate now

We’re so excited about these t-shirts, we’re extending the order deadline to get holiday delivery in the U.S.—you now have until December 6th to donate, and we’ll get you a shirt in time for the holidays!

Someone with pink hair wearing a "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism!" shirt

A quick selfie in the very first shirt! CC BY-SA Nóirín Plunkett

International donors will get shirts too (at no extra cost), but we can’t make any promises about when they’ll arrive. These t-shirts will only be available until the end of the year, so don’t miss them!

The t-shirts are plain charcoal with white printing and made by District Clothing, who are committed to conducting business in a socially responsible manner. Fitted shirts are available up to a chest measurement of 53″, and straight cut shirts are available up to a chest measurement of 55″.

2014 is winding up as an amazing year for the Ada Initiative, and thanks to your support, we’re looking forward to doing even more next year. We made these fun t-shirts to thank you, so one last time: Thank you!

Donate now

T-shirts are here! "Not Afraid to Say the F-Word: Feminism"

Gray/black shirt with "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism" printed in white

Shirt color will be heathered charcoal

As we promised, we are offering a new thank-you gift: t-shirts with our “Not Afraid to Say the F-word: Feminism” logo! To get your “F-word” t-shirt, just donate $256 or more to support women in open tech/culture before January 1, 2015.

Donate now

People who donate before Nov 30th can get their shirts delivered to U.S. addresses by Dec. 24th, in time for the holidays! International donors can get shirts too (no extra cost), but we can’t make any promises about when they’ll arrive. These t-shirts will only be available until the end of the year, so don’t miss them!

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Happy AdaCampers!
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

The t-shirts are heathered charcoal with white printing and made by District Clothing, who are committed to conducting business in a socially responsible manner. Fitted shirts are available up to a chest measurement of 53″, and straight cut shirts are available up to a chest measurement of 55″.

2014 is winding up as an amazing year for the Ada Initiative. We’re holding AdaCamps on three continents (two of them for the first time). We’ve taught the Ally Skills Workshop to more than two hundred people, and trained more than a dozen others to bring it to their own communities. We’ve increased the number of conferences and communities covered by our anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct, and continued to provide free consulting to companies and organizations on implementing these policies in their communities and responding to incidents when they happen.

Thanks to your incredible support during our 2014 fundraising drive, we’re looking forward to doing even more next year! More AdaCamps, more Ally Skills Workshops, more Impostor Syndrome training, and more anti-harassment work, all made possible by your support. We made these fun t-shirts to thank you, so one last time: Thank you!

Donate now

You did it! Thank you, and what's next for you and the Ada Initiative!

80 women cheering and wearing many different colors, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

You did it! Over 1100 donors gave over $206,000 to our 2014 fundraising drive. We reached our original goal of $150,000 with 3 days to go, and then you gave another $56,000!!!

This month alone has made a real difference for women in open technology and culture. Not only will your generous donations help fund our 2014-2015 plans including four AdaCamp unconferences for women, the launch of Impostor Syndrome training as a standalone class, and dozens of Ally Skills Workshops, as a direct result of your generous gifts, we are:

Good fundraising is also good activism, and this drive was no exception! Functional programmers banded together not only to raise money but to call on the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) to better publicize their anti-harassment policies. Liz Henry called on hackerspaces to list their anti-harassment policies on the hackerspaces wiki, or adopt a policy if they didn’t have one. Several companies and organizations contacted the Ada Initiative to book Ally Skills Workshops or to ask for free consulting on implementing anti-harassment policies.

A woman wearing a fedora with a "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism" sticker on it

Which f-word is that?

Good fundraising is also FUN! As a result of this fundraiser, librarians practically have a costume ball going on at an upcoming conference, and they have a new cat-themed skin for open source library catalogue system Koha. Functional programmers threatened to post a video of themselves singing filk songs. Feminists everywhere took selfies while wearing silly hats. As supporter Ryan Kennedy put it on Twitter, “thanks to @adainitiative for working with me to put together a fundraising campaign for them. A+…would fundraise again.

“F-word: Feminism” sticker available for one more week

Black and white sticker with text reading "Not afraid to say the F-WORD"

Over 1000 donors have proved that they aren’t afraid to say the F-word: FEMINISM! As a thank you, we’re making our “Not afraid to say the F-word” stickers available to donors who donate before October 15th, 2014. “Not afraid to say the F-word” t-shirts won’t be available till later in the year, but stay in touch to get the first announcement when they are ready!

Donate now

Staying involved

A woman explains while a man listens

Ally Skills Workshop discussion

Donating is just one way to support women in open technology and culture. Check out our list of ways people can help in their everyday lives. Corporations interested in the open technology and culture space can get involved in several ways as well. Consider booking an Ally Skills Workshop at your workplace or conference. If you are a feminist woman in open tech/culture, you can apply to attend our 2015 AdaCamps when we announce registration opening. And you can keep up to date with the Ada Initiative’s work, AdaCamp and other event announcements, scholarships, calls to action, and similar ways to be part of the movement for change by keeping in touch with us.

Thanks and appreciation

An extraordinary coalition of individuals, communities, and corporations helped make our next year of work possible. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who donated their time, social capital, or money.

We are very happy that fundraising was such a positive experience for so many of our supporters. It was an uplifting, encouraging experience for us as well, thanks in large part to the many advisors and support staff who were part of making our next year’s work possible.

Guido van Rossum wearing "Python is for girls" shirt

Guido van Rossum wearing “Python is for girls” shirt

Thank you to our interviewees and guest writers this month, and your astounding (even — or especially — to us) accounts of how the Ada Initiative has affected your life and work: Ellen Spertus, N. K. Jemisin, Mary Robinette Kowal, Guido van Rossum, Rachel Chalmers, Kronda Adair, Stephanie Zvan, Amelia Greenhall, PZ Myers, Sue Gardner, Netha Hussain and Sumana Harihareswara.

An additional thank you to N. K. Jemisin for donating copies of her novel The Killing Moon and Mary Robinette Kowal for donating copies of her novel Valour and Vanity as donor thank you gifts. Don’t forget: a set of hardcover copies Mary’s series The Glamourist Histories together with a signed manuscript of the upcoming fifth book Of Noble Family, is being auctioned by Con or Bust right now to raise money for fans of color to attend SFF conventions!

Thank you community fundraisers!

Two smiling women, one wearing a silly tiara

CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Each of these campaigns has, as well as supporting the Ada Initiative’s important work, made critical and concrete steps to improve their community for women.

If we left you or your community out of this list, thank you and we’re sorry!! This fundraiser was so much bigger than we expected and we’re sure we lost track of something. Please contact us immediately and we’d be thrilled to add you to this list.

And of course, we thank all of our more than 1100 donors, including the more than 700 who gave us permission to share their names:

A. Jesse Jiryu Davis
Aaron Levin / Weird Canada
Aaron M
Aaron Miller
Adam C. Foltzer
Adam Glasgall
Adam Lee
Adrienne Roehrich
Alan McConchie
Alejandro Cabrera
AlephCloud Systems
Alice Boxhall
Alicia Gibb
Alina Banerjee
Alison Cichowlas
Alison Hitchens
Allison Granted
allison morris
Allyson J. Bennett
Amy F. Bocko
Amy Hendrix
Amy Kautzman
Anders Pearson
André Arko
Andre M. Bach
Andrea Horbinski
Andrea Snyder
Andreas Dilger
Andrew Berger
Andrew Ducker
Andrew Garrett
Andrew Janke
Andrew Sutherland
Andromeda Yelton
Andy Adams-Moran
Andy Isaacson
Andy Shuping
Anil Madhavapeddy
Anjanette Young
Ann Marie The Nurse
Annalee Flower Horne
Anne Jefferson
Anthony Karosas
Antonio D’souza
Ari Blenkhorn
Aria Stewart
Art Gillespie
Ayla Stein
B. Albritton
Barnaby Walters
Beau Gunderson
Ben Blum
Ben Chapman
Ben Finney
Ben Hughes
Ben Hughes
Benjamin B
Benjamin Treynor Sloss
Bernard Yu
Bess Sadler
Beth Warner
Bethany Lister
Bill Dueber
Bill Landis
Blaine Cook
Bo Brinkman
Bobbi Fox
Brad F
Brenda Moon
Brendan Long
Brent Yorgey
Brian Nisbet
Britta Gustafson
Bruce Cran
Bruce Cran
Bruce Lechat
Bruce Washburn
Bryan Horstmann-Allen
Camille Baldock
Candy Schwartz
Carlo Angiuli
Carol Willing
Casey G.
Catalin D Voinescu
Catherine Cronin
Cathy Aster
Cecily Walker
Chad Nelson
Charles Hawkins
Charles Hooper
Charles Miller
Chelsea D
Cheng H. Lee
Choo Khor
Chris Adams
Chris Bourg
Chris Ford
Chris Heisel
Chris Jones
Chris Martens
Chris Mulligan
Chris Petrilli
Chris Strauber
Christina McClendon
Christina Schulman
Christine Spang
Chung-chieh Shan
Cidney Hamilton
Cindy Alvarez
Colin Barrett
Colin Gourlay
Colin Whittaker
Collective Idea
Colleen Penrowley
Coral Sheldon-Hess
Corey “cmr” Richardson
Cory-Ann Joseph
Courtney C. Mumma, Artefactual Systems, Inc.
CV Harquail,
Cynthia Taylor
Dale Askey
Damien Sullivan
Dan Cohen
Dan Doel
Dan Hicks
Dan Karran
Dan Licata
Dan Peebles
Dan Scott
Dan V
Dana Hunter
Dana McFarland
Daniel Bergey
Daniel Fennelly
Daniel Miller
Daniel Patterson
Daniel Ross
Daniel Schauenberg
Daniel Watkins
Darwin Harmless
Dave & Claudia
Dave Forgac
Dave McAllister
David & Katie Reid
David Adamec
David Comay
David D
David Glick
David Smith
David Van Horn
Deb Budding
Decklin Foster
Declan Fleming
Derek Merleaux
Derek Willis
Desert Librarian
Dethe Elza
Devin Crain
Diana V
Diane Pittman
Diane Shaw
Donald King
Dorelle Rabinowitz
Dorothea Salo
Doug Philips
Dr Kate Devlin
Dr Michael J Maresca
Dylan Thurston
Ed Summers
Eduardo Ariño de la Rubia
Edward Kmett
Edwina Mead
Elaine Tindill_Rohr
Elisabeth A. Lloyd
Elizabeth McCarty
Elizabeth Skene
Ellen Spertus
Emily Finke
Eni Mustafaraj
Eric Grosse
Eric Harney
Eric Jay Daza
Eric Nakagawa
Eric Phetteplace
Eric Rasmussen
Eric Sandeen
Eric Sipple
Erin M. Evans
Erin White
Esmé Cowles
Evan Silberman
Fabio Natali
Felicity Kusinitz
Filip Salomonsson
Flavio (flaper87) Percoco
Florent Becker
Frances Hocutt
Francis Kayiwa
Fredrik Larsson
Gail Swanson
Galen Charlton
Garrett D’Amore
Garrett Rooney
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Gina White
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Gonéri Le Bouder
Gordon Barber
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Greg Smith
Gregg Cooke
Gregory Marton
Gretchen Gueguen
Gretchen S.
Gunnlaugur Þór Briem
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HappyNat – Free Thought Blogs
Harry Percival
Harry Ray
Heather & Joe Ryan
Heinrich Kruger
Helen Halbert
Holly Haines
Holly M
Honza Král
Hoop Somuah
In support of badgersdaughter
Ina Roy-Faderman, M.D.
India Amos
Ines Sombra
Irene Burgess
Iris Vander Pluym
J. Ian Johnson
Jack Moffitt
Jackie Dooley
Jackie Kazil
Jaclyn Bedoya
Jacob Berg
Jake Holland
James Gary
James Turnbull
Jamie Hannaford
janet carleton
Janet D. Stemwedel
Janie Hermann
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Jason Casden
Jason Denen
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Jed Davis
Jeff Moyer
jen smith
Jen Weintraub
Jen Young
Jen-Mei Wu
Jenn Riley
Jenni Snyder
Jennifer Hickey
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Jennifer Vinopal
Jenny G
Jenny Martin
Jeremy P
Jerome Saint-Clair
Jesse Ruderman
Jesús A. Rodríguez
Jez Humble
Jill Emery
Jim DelRosso
JK Scheinberg
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Joshua Zucker
Julia Elman
Julian Cohen
Julie C. Swierczek
Julie Kane
Julie Pagano
Julio O.
Justin Bailey
Justin Holguin
Justine Lam
Kaeti Hinck
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Kate Clancy
Kate Losse
Kate Tsoukalas
Kathleen Danielson
Kathleen Quinton
Kathryn Killebrew
Kathy Lussier
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Kees Cook
Kelly Hills & Nicholas Evans
Kelly Shaw
Ken Keiter
Kendra Albert
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Keri Cascio
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Kevin Reiss
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Kevin Stranack
Kim Rottman
Kit La Touche
Konstantin Ryabitsev
Krzysztof Sakrejda
Kshitij Sobti
Kyle Marsh
L Dalton
Larissa Shapiro
Lars Hupel
Laura Baalman
Laurel Narizny
Lawrence Rosenwald
Lee Yan Quan
Len Sorensen
Leslie Birch @Zengirl2
Levent Erkok
Liang Bo Wang
Lillie Chilen
Lim Bun Chun
Lin Clark
Lincoln Loop
Linda Li
Lindsey Austinson
Linnea and Jake
Lisa Snider
Livia Labate
Liz Fong-Jones
Logan Cox
Logan Narcomey
Lucas Bradstreet
Lukas Blakk
Lyle Troxell
Lyn Turbak
Lynn Root
M Popov
M Wallace
Maik Hoepfel
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Manuel Chakravarty
Marc Epard
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Matt (2)
Matt Collins
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Matt Shipman
Matthew Garrett
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Matthias Urlichs
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Maureen Brian
Maureen Carruthers
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Max Martin
Max Schoening
Max Whitney
maximum entropy
May Yan
Meagan E
Meagan Waller
Meg Ecclestone
Mel Chua
Mele Sax-Barnett
Merlijn van Deen
Merlin Havlik
Merrilee Proffitt
Michael Creel
Michael Greenberg
Michael JasonSmith
Michael Marineau
Michael Perry
Michael R. Crusoe
Micheal Beatty
Michele & Joel Zinn
Michele Baldessari
Michi Trota
Mika Kaplan, PE
Mike and Yu
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Mike Perez
Mike Robinson
Mike Shema
Mike Taffe
Miriam Krause
Mitchell Baker
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Monette Richards
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OSM-er (one of the many)
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Patrick Thomson
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Paula, Mother of Ada
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Seth Reeder
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Simon Wistow
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Zulah and Carlos

How I made a tidepool: Implementing the Friendly Space Policy for Wikimedia Foundation technical events

smiling woman

Sumana Harihareswara
CC-BY Guillaume Paumier

This is a guest post by Sumana Harihareswara, a writer, programmer, Wikipedian, editor, community manager, fan, and member of the Ada Initiative board of directors.

Back when I worked at the Wikimedia Foundation, I used the Ada Initiative’s anti-harassment policy as a template and turned it into the Friendly Space Policy covering tech events run by WMF. I offer you this case study because I think reading about the social and logistical work involved might be inspiring and edifying, and to ask you to please donate to the Ada Initiative today.

Donate now

Wikimedia hackathon in Berlin, 2012, by Guillaume Paumier (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons I was working for Wikimedia Foundation for ~8 months before I broached the topic of a conference anti-harassment policy with the higher-ups – my boss & my boss’s boss, both of whom liked the idea and backed me 100%. (I did not actually ask HR, although in retrospect I could have.) My bosses both knew that Not So Great things happen at conferences and they saw why I wanted this. They said they’d have my back if I got any flak.

So I borrowed the Ada Initiative’s policy and modified it a little for our needs, and placed my draft on a subpage of my user page on our wiki. Then I briefly announced it to the mailing list where my open source community, MediaWiki, talks. I specifically framed this as not a big deal and something that lots of conferences were doing, and said I wanted to get it in place in time for the hackathon later that month. Approximately everyone in our dev community said “sure” or “could this be even broader?” or “this is a great idea”, as you can see in that thread and in the wiki page’s history and the talk page.

Sumana with two other women running Wikimedia hackathon in Berlin, 2012, by Yves Tennevin [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons I usually telecommuted to WMF, but I happened to be in San Francisco in preparation for the hackathon, and was able to speak to colleagues in person. My colleague Dana Isokawa pointed out that the phrasing “Anti-harassment policy” was offputting. I agreed with her that I’d prefer something more positive, and I asked some colleagues for suggestions on renaming it. My colleague Heather Walls suggested “Friendly Space Policy”. In a pre-hackathon prep meeting, I mentioned the new policy and asked whether people liked the name “Friendly Space Policy,” and everyone liked it.

Sumana teaching a Git workshop at Wikimedia hackathon in Amsterdam, 2013, by Sebastiaan ter Burg from Utrecht, The Netherlands (Wikimedia Hackathon 2013, Amsterdam) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons So I made it an official Policy; I announced it to our developer community and I put it on

This might have been the end of it. But a day later, I saw a question from one community member on the more general community-wide mailing list that includes other Wikimedia contributors (editors/uploaders/etc.). That person, who had seen but not commented on the discussion on the wiki or on the developers’ list, wanted to slow down adoption and proposed some red tape: a requirement that this policy be passed by a resolution of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees (so, basically, the ultimate authority on the topic).

Wikimedia hackathon in Amsterdam in 2013, by User:Multichill (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
But approximately everyone on the community-wide list also thought the policy was fine — both volunteers and paid WMF staffers. For instance, one colleague said:

“If a policy makes good sense, we clearly need it, and feedback about the text is mostly positive, then we should adopt it. Rejecting a good idea because of process wonkery is stupid.

Sumana is not declaring that she gets to force arbitrary rules on everyone whenever she wants. She is solving a problem for us.”

My boss’s boss also defended the policy, as did a member of the Board of Trustees.

“Perhaps you misread the width of this policy. Staff can and generally do set policies affecting WMF-run processes and events.”

I didn’t even have to respond on-list since all these other guys (yes, nearly all or all guys) did my work for me.

Sumana and other Wikimedians enjoying a canal ride during the Amsterdam 2013 hackathon, by Andy Mabbett (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons I was so happy to receive deep and wide support, and to help strengthen the legitimacy of this particular kind of governance decision: consensus, including volunteers, led by a particular WMF staffer. And, even though I had only proposed it for a particularly limited set of events (Wikimedia-sponsored face-to-face technical events), the idea spread to other affiliated organizations (such as Wikimedia UK) and offline events (Wikimania, our flagship conference — thank you, Sarah Stierch, for your work on that!). And the next year, a volunteer led a session at Wikimania to discuss a potential online Friendly Space Policy:

“Explore what elements are essential for you in such a policy and what we can do collectively to adopt such a policy for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia websites.”

Lydia Pintscher and Lila Tretikov at the Wikimedia hackathon in Zurich, 2014, by Ludovic P (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons So perhaps someday, all Wikipedia editors and other Wikimedia contributors will enjoy a safer environment, online as well as offline! I feel warm and joyous that the discussion I launched had, and is having, ripple effects. I felt like I took a gamble, and I looked back to see why it worked. A few reasons:

  • The Ada Initiative’s template. I cannot imagine writing something that good from scratch. Having that template to customize for our needs made this gamble possible at all.
  • I started the discussion in January 2012; I had joined Wikimedia Foundation (part-time) in March 2011. So I had already built up a bunch of community cred and social capital.
  • In early 2012, open source citizens saw more and more reports of hostile behavior at conferences; people saw the need for a policy.
  • I added “or preferred Creative Commons license” to the big list of attributes (gender, disability, etc.), which gave the document a touch of Wikimedia-specific wit right at the start of the policy.
  • Sumana teaching a workshop participant at the Wikimedia hackathon in Amsterdam, 2013, by Sebastiaan ter Burg from Utrecht, The Netherlands (Wikimedia Hackathon 2013) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons I balanced decisiveness and leadership with openness to others’ ideas.
  • Honestly, I narrowly focused the policy to an area where my opinion carried weight and I held some legitimate authority (both earned and given), phrased my announcement nonchalantly and confidently, and ran the consensus process pretty transparently. I believe it was hard to disagree without looking like a jerk. ;-)

(If you can privately talk with decisionmakers who have have top-down authority to implement a code of conduct, then you can use another unfortunate tool: point to past incidents that feel close, because they happened to your org or to ones like it.)

Indic Wikimedians gathering at Wikimania, 9 August 2013 in Hong Kong, by Subhashish Panigrahi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons By implementing our Friendly Space Policy, I created what I think of as a tidepool:

“…places where certain people can sort of rest and vent and collaborate, and ask the questions they feel afraid of asking in public, so they can gain the strength and confidence to go further out, into the invite-only spaces or the very public spaces….spaces where everybody coming in agrees to follow the same rules so it’s a place where you feel safer — these are like tidepools, places where certain kinds of people and certain kinds of behavior can be nurtured and grown so that it’s ready to go out into the wider ocean.”

With the help of the Ada Initiative’s policy adoption resources, you can make a place like that too — and if you feel that you don’t have top-down authority, perhaps that no one in your community does, then take heart from my story. If you have a few allies, you don’t have to change the ocean. You can make a tidepool, and that’s a start.

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Netha Hussain: “My dream came true! AdaCamp is coming to Bangalore!”

A woman wearing a shawl standing in front of tropical vegetation

Medical student, Wikipedian and AdaCamper Netha Hussain, CC BY-SA Netha Hussain

On the final day of our 2014 fundraising campaign, we interview our amazing long-time volunteer and soon to be three-time AdaCamp alumna, Netha Hussain! Netha is a Wikipedian, writer, and medical student, living in the state of Kerala, India. She attended AdaCamp DC in 2012 on an international travel scholarship from Google. She described her experience this way: “Yes, AdaCamp literally changed my life.” Now, two years later, she is helping the Ada Initiative bring AdaCamp to Bangalore!

AdaCamp Bangalore will be the first ever AdaCamp in Asia, and we hope it will be as transformational for others as it was for Netha! We talked to Netha about her initial experiences at AdaCamp and her hopes for AdaCamp Bangalore. To support future AdaCamps, donate now and help us continue to scale up our work!

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Ada Initiative: How has AdaCamp changed your life?

Two women smiling, one with a t-shirt that reads "I edit Wikipedia" and one wearing an Ada Initiative button

Wikimedians at AdaCamp DC
CC BY-SA Adam Novak

Netha: AdaCamp changed my life by giving me opportunities to network with the right people to begin new projects on Wikimedia. I attended AdaCamp in 2012 when I was exploring ideas which I would not have managed to execute on my own. While at AdaCamp, I got to meet many wonderful people who were thinking along the same lines as I was.

Tell us about AdaCamp Bangalore. What are you most excited about? What are your hopes for the event? What new possibilities do you see in holding an AdaCamp in Bangalore?

While at AdaCamp 2012, I expressed interest in bringing AdaCamp to India. Two years later, my dream came true! I am very excited that many South Asian women will benefit from AdaCamp. I am also excited about learning new perspectives and best practices in working with women in open tech from an Indian context, a unique takeaway which only AdaCamp can offer. I hope to see new projects shaping up and women’s communities getting more active in South Asia as a result of this camp.

How did you first become involved with the Ada Initiative and what is most important to you about this work?

I first got involved with the Ada Initiative when I received an invitation to participate in AdaCamp DC with a full scholarship. AdaCamp DC had many participants from Wikimedia, the organization I volunteer with. It would not have been possible to develop a lasting partnership with these people without the AdaCamp experience because of cultural communication problems involving communicating solely online.

How has your experience in medical school changed as a result of your involvement with the Ada Initiative?


AdaCamp sticker

After AdaCamp, I became more sensitive about privacy and medical ethics, which are integral for any medical practitioner. I gained contacts with participants who were working in the healthcare sector elsewhere in the world and learned about their work culture. The fun thing is that the kids at the pediatrics ward loved the Ada Initiative stickers I took back home after AdaCamp. :-)

What is the best thing about AdaCamp?

Two women smiling

AdaCampers in Portland CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

The “unconference” format! I thoroughly enjoyed that I could propose any number of sessions of my choice. The knowledge that I am welcome at any of the parallel unconference sessions and that my perspectives are valued by the attendees is an incredible feeling!

We are grateful for Netha’s vision, commitment and support in bringing AdaCamp to Bangalore! Because of our strong commitment to keeping AdaCamp accessible to all, the Ada Initiative loses money with each AdaCamp that we hold – corporate sponsorships are harder to get for many small AdaCamps around the world, but more we reach the women who need it most that way. Donate now to the Ada Initiative and help us continue to grow the reach of AdaCamp!

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New stretch goal: T-shirts with "Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism" logo!

A black t shirt with the text "Not afraid to say the F-word: feminism"

Wow!!! We had to scramble to put together a new stretch goal after our first stretch goal was met in less than 36 hours! Here’s what we came up with for a $200,000 stretch goal:

T-shirts. Specifically, feminist t-shirts. Specifically, feminist t-shirts with the words “Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism” using the design from our new sticker on a black background, in a wide range of straight and fitted sizes to fit a variety of body types.

If we reach our $200,000 stretch goal by Wednesday midnight Pacific time, we will offer these t-shirts as thank-you gifts for donations on our web site later this year in time for December gift-giving. We’re not sure what level of donation the t-shirt will be a reward for yet (grumble grumble complicated IRS donation rules) but we do know we will offer them retroactively to people who donated $1024 or more in 2014. If that excites you, donate now (and get matching F-word stickers to tide you over):

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80 women cheering and wearing many different colors, CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Happy AdaCampers!
CC BY-SA Jenna Saint Martin Photo

Raising $200,000 will let us scale up our programs to meet the existing demand for them. All three AdaCamps this year sold out weeks early, we’re booked with Ally Skills Workshops through to January, and we expect our first standalone Impostor Syndrome Training classes to sell out too!

We’re already operating at maximum capacity, so to run enough AdaCamps and training classes for everyone who wants them, we’ll need to hire and train more staff. Raising $200,000 will let the Ada Initiative expand to meet the demand for our programs – and give us the time to design and make the very best feminist propaganda possible (like this t-shirt).

Smiling woman

Amelia Greenhall, designer and feminist activist

We will work with the designer of this logo, Amelia Greenhall, to tweak the final design a bit, so the final shirts may not look exactly like this. In particular, we are (perhaps over-optimistically) trying to figure out how to make a shirt that works for breastfeeding, and we generally avoid putting design elements across the breasts. As usual, we will follow the guidelines for feminist t-shirts as laid out on the Geek Feminism wiki and publicized by Alex “Skud” Bayley – highly recommended reading if your organization or conference makes t-shirts! But it will be a black t-shirt with these words and design elements, and we can’t wait to try one on!

Help the Ada Initiative expand – and maybe your wardrobe as well! Donate now:

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Sticker reading "Not afraid to say the F-WORD: FEMINISM" on a colorful laptop skin