Contributor Interviews – Daniela "Trash" (now Dax)

user-interviews

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #1

Every week (supposedly), we’ll be posting an interview with one of our many beloved contributors here on Meta. This week:

Daniela @Trash @Dax

Please state your name & location, and tell us a bit about yourself

  • Name: Daniela Bogazzi (and yes, in spite of my username I’m female :rofl:)

  • Location: Salerno, Italy

Well, at the moment I am looking for work (Editor’s note: Daniela just got hired as a Technical Advocate for Discourse! :tada: ) , so I spend a lot of time searching for a new one. I devote the rest of my time

  • to my community where we are developing a new torrent client from the scratch,
  • to my forum where I am the only administrator and where I have to coordinate the various teams in their work and help new users who have problems with our existing softwares (emule mod for Windows, Linux and Mac),
  • and because I’m not a developer I’m learning at least the basic web languages (Html and CSS), then who knows?
  • with my partner, who is a developer

How did you first find out about Discourse?

I met Discourse when we were looking for another platform to migrate our community (we used V-bulletin for 10 years, but the founder of our project was tired of all the bugs of that platform). We tested a couple of platforms before deciding to go to Discourse, one was Diaspora, the other I did not even remember. We installed Discourse in November 2013, we tested it for a week, then we finally closed the old forum and opened the current one to the public.

What are you using Discourse for?

Our is a public forum focused on P2P technology. Since the official emule did not work with the Fastweb isp because of the private IP assignment to the users, our founder, 15 years ago, decided to develop a custom mod that worked only within the Fastweb network. In a short time we have become the most used mod in Italy, and today many users testify of having signed a contract with Fastweb only to use eMule AdunanzA. As I said above we use Discourse to coordinate groups in our work, to help users, and even to give news or comment on articles about the world of technology, politics, economics, and everything they want to discuss.
Discourse gives me all the right tools to do what we do.

How did you get so involved in the Meta community?

I’m so involved with Discourse initially to learn how our forum worked, what functions were there, what could be changed and what could not be done (at that time I was a member of the team, I was neither moderator nor administrator). Then I started asking our founder to add a function, edit a button, change a layout, and so on, because I had seen similar things in other forums here on Meta. After a month our founder promoted me moderator and said “well, now make all the changes you want”. After six months I was an administrator together with my founder. At that time I started to go even further with Meta to learn the administrative functions, to see if there were any reported issues before updating our forum, checking what functions had been added, what plugins were released that could serve us etc… When I felt a little safer than my knowledge about Discourse, I started interacting on the forum not only to ask for support but also to give it (sometimes even giving wrong or inaccurate suggestions :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:). When unfortunately our founder got sick, he had to leave our community and charged me to handle everything. At that point I became an even more active here on Meta, practically Discourse has become my second community I frequent every day.

What compels you to contribute to Discourse?

Compels??? I like to help who has problems if I can do it and I like to contribute to the community with my (few) knowledge when I can. Here I learned a lot, I return what I learned to others.

Tell us about a non-Discourse community that you’re involved in!

Well, I’ve been living in Salerno for about 2 years, many of my current friends are passionate about Dungeons and Dragons since they were 12 or 13 years old. Since my boyfriend is from the company, they have convinced me to play.

What to say? Become a Balor demon for 7 rounds, to save my party from a Japanese Oni and 200 samurai who want to kill you, have no price :smile: (at least until next week, when the master - university professor of medieval philosophy with a lot of fantasy - decides which curse I will have :disappointed:).

Occasionally I also play with League of Legends with other friends, just for fun. We are a quiet team and we do not like discussing with other players for a game.

What kind of significance does the open source movement have to you?

I think it’s great to create open source projects, even ours are open source.
Personally, I believe open source philosophy is one of the most important resources to help new developers to evaluate and increase their skills and to learn new languages. I like when a developer, a web designer, or even a translator adhere to an open source project, because they do it mostly for passion. And it also helps them expand their portfolio.

For example, the latest public version of our project was developed by an 18-year-old boy (at the time) along with our founder. The one currently in development has 4 developers, 1 is a well-established professional who works for a multinational company, 1 has just graduated from computer engineering, 1 is a neo-graduate, 1 is a very good developer but has decided to do another job orientated to bio-engineering and develop programs only for passion … All of these different people joined together because of an open source project!

What has been the greatest challenge in learning about Discourse and its community?

Well, for a non-technical user like me, it was to understand the structure of Discourse itself. What does docker mean? What do all the services that go after discourse (postgres, redis, etc.)? What is a rails c console? And a SQL query what can do? It took time to understand how everything works and I’m still learning.

At first, I thought I could break anything I was touching… the first time I put my hand on the css/html window I inadvertently deleted a stylesheet that had written my boss and I had a day of total panic :scream: … then I searched in all forum to find the staff action log and reset the stylesheet lost.
At the moment the only difficulty I have is to understand well how api and webhooks work.

Any ideas on how to improve the Meta community?

We encourage respondents to speak candidly on this topic. Even if no sensitive information was discussed, answers will always be presented in a short list.

  • Lack of topics/documentation targeted at new users. Clearer FAQ for recurring questions like server requirements.
  • More exhaustive explanations for Discourse’s main features.

Any advice to future contributors?

Nothing in particular, just read a lot and learn from the documentation already written by others before them, ask for explanations if they do not understand something, do not get angry when a user does not follow your explanations, help when it’s possible even on the least important things, never give up the knowledge of other users (and then explain point to point a solution to a problem, because even if the user you are responding to is a skilled user maybe the user who will read the same topic later is only a basic user), the usual thing in short…


Contributor Interviews – David Taylor
#2

Yay, welcome to both my worlds!


(Régis Hanol) #3

Must be a hell of a game! :crossed_swords:


(Sam) #4

Great interview @Trash! Thanks for all you do around here. :slight_smile:


(Angus McLeod) #5

I would add that @Trash is the MVP of plugin feedback :slight_smile:

+1.

Pretty much everything is explained somewhere, but good explanations can sometimes be hard to find, even if you’ve been here for a while.

If you ever need help with something technical let me know. You’ve helped me a bunch in the past.

There are more women here than I realised. Which is great.

I completely understand why people don’t want to make an issue of their gender. However at the same time, tech-focused communities always feel inherently ‘male’. You just assume that everyone is male (and probably white, or Indian, or Chinese). It would be great if we could shift that perception. I think (in fact I know) that some people avoid getting involved in online tech-focused communities because they feel they are ‘boys clubs’.

If there were a better way of representing diversity, which made people feel comfortable and without being too ‘cute’ or ‘preachy’ about it, I think it would make communities feel even more accessible. So that people from different backgrounds / genders / ethnicities could feel like “hey there are folks just like me here too”.

Of course meta is already an inclusive community and far from the worst examples of communities with a diversity issue. In fact it’s one of the most diverse and inclusive tech-focused communities I’ve come across. But ‘Discourse’ as the leading community platform, could have an approach that incrementally improves this issue (technical or non-technical).


Addressing gender balance in online communities
(Jeff Wong) #6

If I recall, Trash has been helping since before I joined the community - She’s anything BUT!

Nice interview!


(Daniela) #7

Sorry the delay in the answers, I’m here!

For me these were the most amazing days of the last few years.

On the same day, within a few hours:

  • my developer team has decided to release the first alpha version of our software to the patrons in preview (were months that the release was postponed) :smile:
  • my mom called me asking me to go to her (it’s 900 km away) because she had such pains (arthritis) she could not get out of bed. My mother is like a General of the Army, she never complained even when she broke the finger of a hand and she was strong as a tiger, so I was very concerned about it. We organized the car trip for the next day. :fearful:
  • in the meantime I had to finish the banner for the publication of the alpha and organize the team for my absence (who should deal with the topics on the alpha, who contact in case of problems on the forum, on the site, for the chat, leave the directions about the work to be done). :exploding_head:
  • I finish all the jobs, I finish preparing the suitcases, I go to late dinner (about 11pm) before going to sleep, checking the topics on Meta as usual … I see a PM of Sam who asks me if I was interested in collaborating with Discourse so I replied, literally “of course, if I could help somehow I did it with pleasure”…
  • In the middle of the night (2 AM) I get a Jeff mail with the details of the collaboration … it was at this point that I understood what they meant by “collaboration” :scream:
  • the rest of the night: omg lol 47d74e3f4cc02882536233092dd4a97fd78e4c75 gasp
  • the next day’s journey: happy driving for 9 hours
  • the following days: my mom started a new cure that seems to work, no more pain and walk every day to make her commissions despite the cold in Milan, yesterday was my birthday and I met my relatives who were escaping from Venezuela and moved here in Italy the day before…

I’m happy!

Thanks @HAWK!

As I expected, now the master is transforming my character into a half demon that is often controlled by another demon and his legion… :roll_eyes: …master does not forgive

Thanks to you @Yuun!

Exactly, on Meta you find all the info you need, the problem is that new users may have difficulty to understand (or often do not know) what terms should look for. Or even if a discussion, perhaps open two years ago, is still valid or not.
I think we can do better to introduce new users (known as admin and mod) to the Discourse functions and features.

Sure, thanks for the offer!

Even in my community, users outside the team do not know that I’m actually a woman.
At the beginning I used my real name as a username (in chat) but I learned soon that, given the same amount of information, users tend to follow much more tips given by male helper than female. It’s a bit frustrating.
When users follow your tips, they often feel entitled to contact you privately and ask for information about your life that they would never ask to male users (How old are you? Where do you live? Do you give me your facebook contact? are the least annoying ones, but I get even worse messages ) …which is extremely frustrating.
Since these types of inappropriate messages annoyed me a lot (actually they made me angry, especially when they became insistent) I realized that using a neutral username was the ideal solution.
Since then (years ago) I have always adopted this solution.
PMs have dropped considerably, undesirable ones are now very few, even by women (stupid people have no gender, imho).

I totally agree.
In the end what does the gender, race, or religion of a person matter when discussing technology and software (and many other things)?

+1000
Discourse in this sense is on another planet compared to many other sites related to technology.
I think that much is due to the attitude of the team and superusers towards the users. If there are any criticisms are always about the (technological) choices made by the user, never to the person.
On other forums I have often read replies that instead of being helpful were only made to blame the user for a mistake or condescending because “the user is female” (subtext = “she does not know and does not understand technology”).
Discourse has done a lot by putting the subject’s focus on the discussion, not the person who opens it.

I think we started to be more assiduous here on Meta more or less at the same time.


(Nate Mamman) #10

Funny thing, despite being a nonwhite male, I still tend to be a bit surprised when I discover that there are other PoC (neither Indian nor Chinese) in what ever group I happen to be. This is not in anyway due to some form of arrogance but simply because for a long time I was the only such one in most of the groups I was in.

Lovely interview @Trash. The username and avatar caught my attention when I first joined.

I find it fascinating that people tend to be bigger assholes online than in real life. I do not understand it. I tend to save my assholerry for face to face interactions. :grin: Seriously, though, I have been told I am a lot more abrupt, less patient, and more distant in real life than I am online (I also think so too) so I’ve always found it hard to understand when they say people tend to be a lot less nice when they are online because they can’t see one another. I believe we are making excuses for them. I think it is simply that those people are not really nice people in real life, and are just too cowardly to let everybody around them see that.