Working With People Remotely Through Text

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Tor has some interesting organizational challenges in being a large distributed team in different cities and timezones. Text interface preference for a variety of reasons:

  • English is a second language for most of the team. Making reading easier than capturing realtime spoken comma.
  • Video is intrusive
  • Security
  • No need to clean up between meetings (I work from home)
  • Some folks have social needs that make video, in person or even voice quite difficult.

There is indeed some pain involved, but the mantra is: “it's about what works for the team”

Process

  • Meetings are 1hr!!!!
  • Lest people glaze over.
  • To keep things smooth they issue small “homework tasks” to be ready before the meeting. Status (“i did this last week, this is what im doing next week”) for example is prepared ahead of time, and copy pasted, to avoid delays.
  • IRC works well because people already use the channel to communicate, and async communications is easy.
  • Tasks get put up on a pad, and prioritized, classified and time boxed.
  • “Small, high priority”
  • Code review: they're working on it.

Bottlenecks

Right now there's some bottlenecking where single individuals need to review, but currently proposed practice is:

  • A doc is generated, people self assign to review based on subsystems.
  • I'm good to review this, if I review it we're good to go.
  • I can review this but a second set of eyes is good.
  • I'd like to be able to review this
  • Tools for tracking the above are still in review but the process is agreed on.

Onboarding :'its intimidating for newer participants. The meetings are open and the notes are published, but its a good practice to lurk for a bit at meetings while you familiarize yourself even before sending introductions (though the pacing varies on the personality).

Code of conduct is being built, so far things have been good, but people recognize the I!portance of taking the time to get it right.

Project Breakdown

The project is broken up into four teams:

  • Network
  • Interface
  • Data (website)
  • Community
  • And soon… user experience (across apps/sites/touch points)

There's currently an effort to map out how people become users, and there's an effort to talk about the whole e perience as a single, unified story. This is good for both funders and developers as they can see how all these efforts are part of a create,single story.


On trust

“Trust is built on attitude and contributions." Some valuable contributors work for large orgs, but want to contribute anonymously. Lots of folks meet and contribute to other communities/projects PATS/CCC

Sprints

Weekly checking meetings, monthly sprints. Unfinished issues roll over.


FINDOUTMORE @ toproject.com/contact