The story of Exercism is one of chaos, confusion, and surprising successes. The site started out as a workflow optimization tool intended to be used by 25 people, but within a short amount of time, thousands of people were using the site, and hundreds of people were contributing to it. This sounds wonderful, except that it wasn’t really clear who all of these people were, why they were there, or what they needed or wanted.
Katrina Owen thought she was solving technical problems, but the truly difficult problems weren’t about automated tests, continuous deployment, or architecture but rather inherently squishy questions about mentorship, motivation, and communication. Katrina illustrates the many ways in which things went wrong for Exercism because she didn’t treat people problems as first-class citizens and attempts to answer some, if not all, of the following questions:
This session is sponsored by GitHub.
Katrina Owen is an ecosystem engineer at GitHub. She accidentally became a developer while pursuing a degree in molecular biology. Katrina focuses on automation, workflow optimization, and refactoring, working primarily in Go and Ruby. She contributes to several open source projects and is the creator of exercism.io, a platform for code practice and programming mentorship.
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