Campaigning for a .NET Foundation Board Seat

Please excuse me for interrupting the normally educational and generally technical .NET content for a short announcement!

I’m running for a seat on the board of directors of the .NET Foundation!!!

It feels a bit mad even as I type that sentence and I won’t lie and it cranks my impostor syndrome up to level 10!

What is the .NET Foundation?

The .NET Foundation is an independent and non-profit organisation which supports the .NET community and .NET open source projects. They’ve been doing great work to help popular .NET open source projects by providing legal, financial and governance support. They help foster an open and inclusive community by supporting events run by meetup groups around the world.

The .NET Foundation ‘About’ page provides more specific details of the work they do.

Running for a seat on the Board of Directors

I love the .NET community and I enjoy participating whenever and wherever I can. I see this opportunity to campaign for a board seat as a way to extend my engagement even further. Honestly, I have no prior experience of sitting in a board-level position, but having read the .NET Foundation election site, I don’t believe such experience is the primary aspect here. The .NET Foundation is looking for a diverse board that can bring different experiences and views to the running and direction of the foundation.

Again, being entirely honest, I did not initially consider this as something I would apply for. After a few conversations and a little personal reflection, I realised that my enthusiasm and perspective warranted me putting my name forward. Now that I have, I’m really excited to be a part of this process and to share my ideas with people.

I’ll go into a little more detail below but if you want the short TL;DR version of this post, I recommend you watch my short (less than 2 minutes) campaign video where I hopefully convey my primary ideas and reason for running.

Why Am I Campaigning?

I’m campaigning because ultimately I want to play a part in helping to shape the future of the .NET ecosystem and help to strengthen and expand our community. It’s a really exciting time for .NET in general as .NET Core continues to improve. The general impression I get from attending conferences, speaking to people and from social media is that people are excited by the changes and the accelerated pace of the improvements.

I have a couple of specific areas that I’m very keen to work on if elected to the board…

Meetup Support

I founded a .NET meetup in Brighton called .NET South East in 2017 because I wanted to help grow a strong local community of .NET developers. I’ve written about my motivations in the past so I won’t repeat those here. As a first-time meetup organiser, I reached out for some advice and support of the other .NET meetup groups which was very forthcoming and helpful. Since then, I’ve had other members of the community coming to me for advice on starting an event in their own area.

This experience has made me realise that as a community we can do more to help encourage and support the formation of new meetups and this is something I would greatly relish helping to drive. A position on the board would allow me to influence this more directly and hopefully direct some resources to meetup development programs. I believe there’s heaps of potential in this area and I have various ideas that I’d like to take forward.

In my view, in-person meetups are hugely important in developing a strong community and making connections for people beyond the social media bubble. At .NET South East, I’ve made many new friends and learned a lot from talking to people at the pre-event drinks. I see this as very much an extension of the hallway-track at conferences. This is a chance to have meaningful conversations, form networks and have discussions that personally help me learn and improve my skills.

I’d like to work with the other .NET Foundation members to try to build a more diverse community as it’s evident from the meetups and conferences that I attend that we’re a long way off from diversity. I believe that by establishing more meetups which support and encourage diversity we can encourage more voices into our community. Forming friendships and building strong networks of like-minded individuals is a really important aspect which will help everyone feel included. We should be doing more to embrace developers from all backgrounds and genders. Honestly, I have no quick fix for the diversity problem and there are people far more experienced than me in that area. I believe that with a diverse and strong board of directors, with many perspectives and different life experiences, we can focus on potential solutions.

Documentation Support

Ughh! Documentation; how boring! Documentation is not often an area that developers find exciting, I know. We like to build things, solve puzzles and move onto the next exciting tech. But documentation is hugely important as people begin working with a new feature, technology or library.

As a frequent blogger, I enjoy writing and the process of making technical information more accessible and inclusive. I’ve also contributed articles and ideas to the official Microsoft ASP.NET documentation which is now open source. I’ve been hugely impressed by the work the docs teams have done to improve the quality and usefulness of the documentation for .NET and ASP.NET Core. In my opinion, they are achieving a good balance of technical information as well as practical examples and samples.

They’ve also grown a community of open source contributions after making the documentation process public. The community is able to get involved by raising issues for areas of limited documentation, questioning the existing content and significantly, contributing improvements and even translations. The tooling and processes are quite slick and it’s great to be able to participate so easily.

I’d like to see how we can extend this approach into the other open source projects supported by the .NET Foundation. Many of those projects have documentation already, and much of it is very good. That said, I’ve worked with developers who are struggling to use open source libraries and sometimes the documentation is not as accessible for less experienced developers. My vision is that as a community, we can work together to develop a richer documentation ecosystem around these projects and apply some consistency in style and accessibility. I firmly believe that this is an important area that will encourage more developers to take advantage of and contribute to open source projects. It’s important that all developers can understand the correct use cases for each project and how best to apply them alone and in combination with one another.

This extends to improving the general awareness of the various libraries and which problems they best address. It seems to me that there is scope for the .NET foundation to adopt some of the tooling and processes from the Microsoft docs team so that we can help strengthen the consistency of the documentation and ensure it’s simple for others to offer their ideas and to contribute improvements. I intend to meet with some of the docs team members while at Microsoft HQ in Redmond for MVP Summit in just over a weeks time to discuss this further.

Wrapping Up

In my campaign statement, campaign video (above) and this post I’ve stated two areas which I regard as strong elements where my experience and perspective make me a solid candidate for the .NET Foundation board. I’d be honoured to be voted in to represent my perspective and to share my views. I’d relish the opportunity to work with the board and .NET Foundation members on my vision and to play a greater role in our amazing community.

If you agree with my ideas, share my vision and want to support me, I’d really appreciate your vote in the upcoming election. All members of the .NET Foundation have a vote so please do review the candidates and make sure you get involved. Equally, if you have ideas to share, consider putting yourself into the mix by running as a candidate. The more voices and ideas the better!

You can find more information about the process of voting which will occur in a few weeks from the date of this post at the .NET Foundation Election site. If you’re not a member of the .NET Foundation I do really want to urge you to sign up. All that is required to be approved is an example of a small open source .NET contribution. That may be input into a .NET Foundation project (issues or pull requests) and even things like contributing to the docs repositories by writing content or even correcting spelling errors! By joining, you support the .NET Foundation and our community.

Steve Gordon

Steve Gordon is a Microsoft MVP, Pluralsight author, senior developer and community lead based in Brighton. He works for Madgex developing and supporting their data products built using .NET Core technologies. Steve is passionate about community and all things .NET related, having worked with ASP.NET for over 15 years. Steve is currently developing cloud-native services, using .NET Core, ASP.NET Core and Docker. He enjoys sharing his knowledge through his blog, in videos and by presenting at user groups and conferences. Steve is excited to be a part of the .NET community and founded .NET South East, a .NET Meetup group based in Brighton. He enjoys contributing to and maintaining OSS projects, most actively helping save lives with open source software and the Humanitarian Toolbox (www.htbox.org). You can find Steve online at his blog www.stevejgordon.co.uk and on Twitter as @stevejgordon