Summary: Have 90 minutes, between now and April 3rd, to kindly critique less-English-fluent writers over the internet? I'd love your help.
I work with a lot of non-US-based younger people (often high school or college-aged) who contribute to the open source community over the Internet. Many of them volunteer as coders in the hopes of getting internships that will help them with their careers. The engineering education system in some of these countries, especially India, doesn't help students develop their written English skills very much; many of these students are at a disadvantage in these competitive internship application programs because their written English has poor grammar, phrasing, and punctuation. Every year I see tons of these engineering students applying for internships, and I can see how English issues in their bug reports, commit messages, code comments, application proposals, e-mails, and chat messages make it harder for them to get their ideas across.
Some kind, nonjudgmental help would go a long way for these volunteers. And it'd help level the playing field a bit.
I've successfully run little 90-minute online writing clinics via chat or collaborative document-editing platforms like Google Docs or EtherPad
, where 3-4 participants bring short writing samples and I live-edit them and tell the students how to improve. They always get a lot out of it, and I can see the improvement in their writing afterwards. And when I've had time to edit their internship proposals in depth, it's helped them think better about what they actually aim to do.
Today, one of the open source projects I care a lot about, Zulip
, got accepted as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code
for the second year in a row. I've been contracting as a community coordinator for Zulip for about a year, and I love that it's a project where we nurture new contributors inclusively and
have high standards of engineering rigor. (I profiled the maintainer, Tim Abbott, in this post about kind negative code review
.) We have dozens of new contributors in our chat
who want to work with us, and we'll be getting more between now and the April 3rd application deadline. We won't be able to accept all of them. But they'll all come away from the application process as better engineers, and I'd like for that to include better English skills that'll help them persuade, lead, get better jobs, and have better chances of succeeding as entrepreneurs.
So if you could spare 90 minutes sometime between now and April 3rd, and if you have a knack for proofreading in English and have a tolerable internet connection for web browser-based textual chat, let me know and I can probably set something up that suits your schedule. It's fine if you've never done this before and it's fine if you're not a programmer and don't know programming jargon. I'll set up the "room", and I'll be there and you can backchannel with me. You'll be helping one of the best open source communities I know, and you'll be helping make sure non-G7 voices in STEM get heard and listened to.
Leave a comment below telling me how to contact you and anything you know about your upcoming schedule, and I'll take it from there!