Community Management Transition for rOpenSci. A Message from Stefanie Butland

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I’m writing to share news that I’m moving on from my position as rOpenSci’s Community Manager. Friday, January 14th is my last day. Being rOpenSci’s first Community Manager has been my dream job. You have all given me such joy over the past 5.5 years. I love collaborating to create new things, so it’s time for me to step away and take some time to explore what might come next.

I have always been driven to share knowledge, connect people, and help them recognize the value they bring to a project. Not surprisingly, themes in my work with rOpenSci have been true to my “personal brand”.

The value of welcome. This one resonates with a lot of people. I’m proud of the ways in which I’ve embedded the value of welcome: in our Slack #welcome channel (thanks to R-Ladies for the inspiration); pre-unconf questionnaires and chats with new community members; and the unconf ice breaker that got people opening up about their perceptions of where they fit in the broader R community. I tried to put the heart and soul of rOpenSci (and some of mine too) in the rOpenSci Community Contributing Guide so that anyone can find where they fit. rOpenSci has a reputation as a welcoming community that is trusted by many. Living the value of welcome has given other people and organizations the freedom to embrace it too.

Getting people attention for their work. Contributing to rOpenSci activities is optional. When people participate in software peer review or share their use case for a package, for example, they’re “going the extra mile”. That is critical but less visible work, so I found ways to leverage rOpenSci’s large and influential audience to get these folks more attention. These days, more than half of all blog posts are by community members telling their own stories. My favorite will always be this joyful piece of detective work: When Standards Go Wild – Software Review for a Manuscript. It started with reading a tweet and led to a post co-created with a PhD researcher / package developer, their supervisor, a manuscript reviewer, the handling editor, and a journal staff person. Now it’s out there so others can see what is possible.

Exposing knowledge and fostering an appreciation of community engagement. All along, I’ve tried to expose how and why I’ve done things and sometimes advised others about adapting them for their own communities. Thus, the many blog posts linked above and in our archive. Community Calls have been a great low-barrier way to connect people with rOpenSci and each other. They have been intentionally set up (again borrowing from other organizations) to ease people into feeling like the invited speakers are there to inform the discussion, but that everyone has expertise and questions worth sharing. It was a thrill to see more than 160 people join a call about data repositories, but it was perhaps the call with only 15 people attending – Involving Multilingual Communities – that had the biggest impact. Over time and consistent efforts of the Latin American R community and our software peer review team, this ultimately led to rOpenSci’s first Spanish-language software peer review.

A community engagement fellowship early in my tenure had a huge influence on my work and has led to ongoing collaborations between rOpenSci and the Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement. These include the work that led to my useR! 2021 talk “rOpenSci’s Model for Managing a Federated Open Source Software Community” (slides, video), creating the CSCCE Community Profile of rOpenSci, and a new community champions program (linked below).

🙏 Thank you

Thank you for making this novice R user feel like I’m part of your community.

I’ve been fortunate to join an organization and team that was community-focused from its start. Everything I created or accomplished was gleaned from or influenced by the ideas and work of the rOpenSci founders, staff, advisors, and community members. The thing that will last is the relationships we all have now, whether we connected only through an emoji-response to a Slack message (I notice these!), developed professional connections, or lasting friendships.

This may be your dream job!

Keep an eye out for a job posting in February! rOpenSci is in an exciting phase in its evolution, from developing R packages, to helping people create their own by developing standards, guides, technical infrastructure, and scaffolded access to a community of peers. With new funding to empower community leaders from historically excluded groups, and the opportunity to work with a lovely community-minded team, this is someone’s new dream job. Email [email protected] if you think you might be interested.

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