Words Matter: Promoting inclusion in documentation to build better user experiences

Open source technology is better, faster, and more creative because of the diverse perspectives and experiences that are represented in its communities. If open source is truly meant to be inclusive and a place where anyone can participate, it must be welcoming to all.

If any person or groups of people feel unwelcome because of the language being used in a community, code or documentation, then the words should change. We can choose words that are precise, not dependent on metaphors, and convey messages without negative connotations.

We will discuss the process of auditing our own work - our code, documentation and content - and identifying potentially divisive language. We will also talk about methods to standardize replacements and collaborate with writers and developers to carry out these changes in a sustainable way.

Working to eradicate problematic language from our open source code and documentation is just one action in a larger effort of diversity and inclusion. For open source to continue to be the best way to create better solutions faster, we must break down any barrier that could potentially inhibit participation and make the documentation and development process more inclusive for all.

Learning Outcomes:

  • an increased prioritization on better, more precise word choice in your products that does not inflict harm on your communities
  • an outline of the process of auditing your work (code, documentation, and content) to identify potentially divisive language
Eliane Pereira Josip Vilicic
Session Format