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Software Carpentry Subcommittee & Task Force Program

One of the greatest things about Software Carpentry is the huge diversity of people and ideas that have come together to make this project what it is: a worldwide collaboration of folks working together to build software skills. Your contributions to the community have made Software Carpentry a huge success - but we can go even further. To meet the needs of the growing global community, the 2016 Steering Committee is creating the opportunity for you to make Software Carpentry what your community needs it to be, via our Subcommittee & Task Force Program.

Do you have an idea for an activity or service that would make Software Carpentry even more awesome to participate in for its instructors or students? Is there a project, tool or document that would benefit you and your community? If so, we want you to submit a proposal for a Subcommittee or Task Force; here’s how:

Subcommittee or Task Force?

The first thing to decide is whether you’d like to propose a Subcommittee or a Task Force. Subcommittees pursue ongoing activities, services or tasks that enrich the community. For example, the Mentorship Committee hosted Instructor debriefings every couple of weeks in 2015 to help instructors talk about their experiences and connect with each other. Task Forces get together to tackle a specific, one-time goal, like hosting an event, producing a document, or studying a question relevant to the community. For example, a few people got together in late 2015 to plan and deliver our first ever Instructor and Helper Retreat.

Draft a Plan

The Steering Committee wants you to be successful! And that means getting started with a really clear plan of what you want to achieve. Please draft a proposal that addresses the following:

  • What are the specific goals you want to achieve?
  • What steps will you take to achieve those goals?
  • What is your general timeline?
  • How will you periodically measure your progress and success?
  • What community members (if any) will to help you achieve your goals?

Remember, a modest budget will be available, approved on an item-by-item basis by the Steering Committee, to help you realize the goals of your Subcommittee or Task Force, so don’t forget to factor that into your plan.

Submit a Request

The Steering Committee can’t wait to hear about your ideas and support you as you make them a reality. Once you have a draft of a plan that addresses the points above (even rough notes are totally fine!), let us know by submitting an issue or pull request.

By Pull Request

Pick an appropriate name (e.g. “Mentoring”) and slug (e.g. “mentoring”). Setup a directory documenting your Subcommittee:

$ cp -rp subcommittees/template subcommittee/SLUG

or Task Force:

$ cp -rp subcommittees/template TaskForces/YEAR-SLUG

Read over your new and adapt it to your project. You should replace or remove all instances of FIXME, and replace NAME and SLUG with your chosen identifiers. Feel free to make other changes as you see fit to describe your plan. Commit your request and create a pull request here.

By Issue

If working up a pull request sounds too complicated, create an issue with your proposal. We can help you take it from there.

Proposal Review, Revision, and Approval

The Steering Committee will provide feedback to help you refine your plan, connect with others members who might like to assist, and work with you over the long term to achieve your goals. At this point, we will determine who will be the SCF liaison that will facilitate communication between your group and the Steering Committee. The criteria that the Steering Committee will be looking for and working with you to infuse into your proposal are:

  • Is there a concrete, measurable goal? We will be looking for specific goals, like “organize an event to do X” or “maintain a database to let us measure Y”.
  • Is the proposed timeline appropriate? We’ll be looking for some realistic estimate of what needs to be done and how long it will take. A timeline with milestones is something that can be revisited and reevaluated throughout the year as the project progress, so it is useful even if it happens to change over the lifetime of the project.
  • Is there a reasonable prediction of the resources and support the project needs to succeed? We’d like you to anticipate as many expenses and other needs as possible up front. For example, will you need a private GitHub repo, a license for a software tool, or space on the Software Carpentry website? These items should be mentioned in your proposal.
  • Have you recruited enough participants to help carry out the work? While you may be able to execute the project, we request that a minimum of two people are willing to support the project, with one person serving as the chair. If you or the Steering Committee believe more people are needed to support the effort, we can assist in recruiting sufficient community support. We are keen to see you have enough people-power to succeed, while keeping things focused enough that everyone gets a chance to be actively involved.
  • Does the proposal articulate how this project will advance Software Carpentry’s mission? Does it complement existing efforts? We want to make sure people with similar ideas are working together, and that every volunteer’s time is used well; the Steering Committee will help orient you and your team within the broader community of projects and volunteers, and make sure you have a great fit before getting started.

Once your plan is polished and agreed on by you and the Steering Committee, it’s time to launch and celebrate! You and your team will be in charge of executing on the plan you came up with in your proposal, but your Steering Committee liaison will always be there to help advise and coordinate your work within the larger Software Carpentry community.