Episode 107

Caroline Sinders on building healthy OSS Communities


February 4th, 2022

37 mins 32 secs

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Special Guest

About this Episode


Caroline Sinders


Richard Littauer | Eriol Fox | Ben Nickolls

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source for the long haul. Today, we are very excited to have as our guest, Caroline Sinders, who is the Founder of Convocation Design + Research. She’s also a critical designer, researcher, and artist, and a lot of the work she does is on online gender-based violence, as well as community health and toxicity. She has a lot of expertise looking at what Codes of Conduct mean, how to have safe communities, and how to understand how to code together better. Caroline details her journey and how she got into this line of work, and how she understands the boundaries of communities, what she observes in the open source communities, and how platforms influence communities. Also, she tells us about a great toolkit she read and some great resources you can check out if you’re new to dealing with Code of Conduct. Go ahead and download this episode to learn more!

[00:02:44] Caroline explains how she started getting into this line of work.

[00:07:08] As an ethnographer, we find out how Caroline understands the boundaries of communities and how she looks at them as building spaces of shared values.

[00:13:17] Eriol wants to know things that Caroline sees happening in the spaces she observes, especially within open source communities, and why she thinks this happens in these communities.

[00:19:18] Ben wonders how Caroline feels about the influence that a platform has on communities, appreciation, and values of skill sets within that community.

[00:23:34] Eriol wonders if Caroline has encountered any communities that are very resistant to code of conduct being implemented. Also, Caroline talks about an interesting toolkit she read called, Toolkit for Cooperative, Collective, & Collaborative Cultural Work.

[00:31:36] Caroline shares some great resources that are worth checking out if you’re new to dealing with Code of Conduct.

[00:33:29] Find out where to follow Caroline on the web.


[00:22:54] “ I think we’re stuck in a place where community worth for a community member is how many lines of code you’ve written and maybe not how many successful events have you run, how many facilitation trainings have you gone through, how any harassment teams have you helped serve spun up a guide, and those are the skills we need.”

[00:25:18] “Community doesn’t mean friendship.”

[00:25:21] “Just because you’re a small group of people that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to have a problem, it just means you haven’t had one yet.”


  • [00:34:45] Eriol’s spotlight is a talk by Kiran-Rin Oliver: Community Repositories- Why You Need One Your Open Source Project.
  • [00:35:25] Ben’s spotlight is a project called OpenAstroTech.
  • [00:36:04] Richard’s spotlight is Christmas Bird Counts.
  • [00:36:41] Caroline’s spotlights are the Toolkit for Cooperative, Collective, & Collaborative Cultural Work, and a shout out to her friends for celebrating their 10th Anniversary of pie hard, where they ate pie and watched Die Hard during the holiday season.



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