First of all I want to say thanks for hosting me on your blog and letting me write this guest post!
I am Florian Müller from Germany, working as a Sysadmin at a small tech collective. I have been a KDE user for years, but I am quite new to the KDE community. This years Akademy was my first and I am looking forward to dive in deeper and contribute more to KDE.
I had a really good time at Akademy in Milano, got to know so many cool people and learned a lot about the KDE community and KDE in general. Thanks a lot to everyone organizing this unique event! I am sure it won't be the last time I'll attend Akademy.
I want to share some things I noticed about discussion culture, please feel free to criticize/discuss/comment, so maybe we can work out some guidelines for that in the future.
First of all some words about discussion culture in general. Because all people are different, we need technics to allow everyone to participate in group discussions. When people are not that confident in general, they tend to not raise their voices in bigger groups, also if they have opponent opinions to the main stream. So in order to have a greater culmination of creativity and ideas, we need to create an atmosphere to make it easier for everyone to participate.
One thing would be the setup of the room the discussion will be held in. Do you want to have a central speaker in the front leading the discussion or do you want to setup the chairs and tables in a circle so everyone is on the same level. Sometimes there are mostly lecture halls available, so time to plan in advance and ask for a different room has to be taken in accountance. The advantage of a circle is that everybody is able to see everyone else. We can also think about forming smaller discussion groups when possible and a topic can be split up into smaller parts.
Another point you can think about is how you organize the turn keeping. One could appoint a person who only deals with turn keeping. We could alternate the job of turn keeping from one discussion to the next. At the beginning of the discussion we should make it transparent on how turn keeping will work. For example we could have a rule that people who want to say something the first time, move to the top of the speakers list to make sure that rare voices will be heard. We could also have a speakers list alternated by gender. There could be a maximum time for speakers so that single people don’t dominate the whole discussion by simply talking others out.
There are many other aspect we can think about when we want to make group discussions more inclusive. With this post, I just wanted to get the discussion started, so we can improve on that in the future.
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