non-programmers are an important part of open source projects. non-programmer contributions are valid and useful and not second tier or otherwise less valuable.

it's easy to say programmers are the only value-add when you're fortunate enough to have enough non-programmers that you can take them for granted.

if you take away the feature requests, translations, and general chatter - many OSS projects would have never been more than flawed, narrow use case tech demos.


*Hospital gets new patient information software* "Gee I wish the programmers had talked to some nurses and doctors instead of just other programmers"
*School gets new student assessment software* "Gee I wish the programmers had talked to some teachers and students instead of just other programmers"
*Construction company gets new materials tracking software* "Gee I wish the programmers had talked to some installers and estimators etc"

Just a trend I've noticed

@SallyStrange @scarly the company I used to work for were *awful* in a great many ways, but I have respect for the fact their business (patient records) got off the ground by having no idea what they were doing, going to pitches with clinicians, and asking them what the software should do, and making something that did that.

Asking questions of people? Finding out their needs? Listening to them? Geez what a bunch of pinko pansies


@SallyStrange @swift
Sometimes, in a hospital, things even smelled funny.
It was awful.

@SallyStrange I had to bite my tongue the other day at a consultant misquoting Henry Ford in order to justify not listening to his sales team about what gets sales...

@SallyStrange @swift What next, they'll want human readable documentation that walks them through how to set things up and use them in a reasonable way?


I've been trying to help a project as of late that desperately needs a few bugs fixed, but is missing documentation on the bulk of its features. Really frustrating that the main dev basically uses that as a sales tool to sell his videos on how to use it, rather than just write usable docs.

@bikecurious @SallyStrange another excellent example of how profit motive drives innovation /s

@SallyStrange @scarly I’m overly amused by this because my spouse’s job literally is talking to nurses and doctors about how the patient management system should work and then turning that into specs for the programmers

Mind you, this is the first job she’s ever had where they really genuinely get the value of having someone do that

See, it only took 30 something years for computer science to heal from its purge of the feminine

@zwol @scarly
*cue Narrator saying, "Computer science had not at that point fully healed from its purge of the feminine"

@SallyStrange @zwol tbh, it's interesting

my field is accounting, and i have found that the accounting field has a frightening number of women in it that would have gone into computer science if comp sci hadn't been mortally toxic

one of my favorite bosses began her career as a computer programmer using punch cards to do fancy mathematics; the field chased her away with the extreme shift towards male dominance

@scarly @SallyStrange yeah I've TAed for undergraduate compsci courses several times and I do my best to be as welcoming to everyone as possible but it feels like trying to boil the ocean

and I stopped recommending computer industry careers to _anyone_ a couple years back

@SallyStrange @zwol hahaha, i wouldn't say that it's there yet. not while i still have programmers at my job talking down to me and ignoring my very obvious requests for a year only to come back later and (fail to) claim the idea as their own.

@SallyStrange @scarly in corporate settings this is as much a disconnect between management and workers as anything else. Imagine if nurses/teachers/estimators got to choose the tools they work with.
But instead somebody divorced from the actual work gets bamboozled by salesmen.

Imagine socialism, where workers like nurses and installers do get to choose which tools they use? And the people who build those software tools have the autonomy and resources (including access to specialists from other fields) to build them well, you mean? I do, frequently! 😊

@SallyStrange @scarly I've been calling this FEBE.

For Engineers, By Engineers™

@polychrome @SallyStrange bwahaha, i understand that reference. this is pure witticism tbh

tho, i def wouldn't be buying that shirt XD

@SallyStrange @scarly

or "wish the project managers had scheduled in proper requirements gathering & testing"

I've seen this pattern, too, but the vendor does talk to "users".

The problem usually is management only includes itself as "users" and so it starts early on as crap.


also, a lot of that institutional software is proprietary "value add" (eg, rent seeking), and FOSS only enters in as a foundation on which the vendor is a free rider. You can be sure they "value" non-programmers, because that's how they get paid (sales, marketing, support, licensing, etc).


Too often, "interviewing stakeholders" is limited to interviewing administrators and one time rather than iterative

@SallyStrange @scarly

"Like, talk to real people? Please, we do HARD jobs with COMPUTERS! We're puzzle masters! We can figure out everything all other jobs need without talking to people who *use* the software. As if!" -- tech

@SallyStrange @scarly years ago I used to do tech support for some payroll software. when I asked management to send me to payroll school (like the CSR's did), they were very confused.

Learning how the software was used made a *huge* difference in the quality of support I was able to give.

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