Revisiting the Word ‘Recognition’ in #FOSS and the Dream of Open Credentials

I think a lot about ways we can better surface Participation as real-world offering for professional and personal development.

And this tweet from Laura  triggered all kinds of thinking.

Most thinking was reminiscent at first. 

Working on open projects teaches relevant skills, helps establish mentorship relationships and surfaces hidden strengths and talents. It’s my own story.

And then reflective..

The reason we’ve struggled to make participation a universally recognized opportunity for credential building, is our confusion over the term ‘recognition’. In Open Source we use this term to mean of similar, yet entirely different meanings:

* Gratitude (“hey thanks for that !”)

* You’re making progress (“great work, keep going! “)

* Appreciation (“we value you”)

* You completed or finished something (congratulations you did it!)

In my opinion, many experiments with badges for FOSS participation have actually compounded the problem: If I am issued a badge I didn’t request( and I have many of these) , or don’t value ( I have many of these too) we’re using the process as a prod and not as a genuine acknowledgement of accomplishment.  That’s OK, gamification is OK – but it’s not credential building in the real-world sense, we need to separate these two ‘use cases’ to move forward with open credentials. 

And I kept thinking…

The Drupal community already does a good job at helping people surface real-world credentials.  Drupal.org member profiles expose contribution and community leadership, while  business profiles  demonstrate (and advertise) their commitment through project sponsorship, and contribution.  Drupal also has this fantastic series of project ladders which I’ve always thought would be a great way to experiment with badges, designing connected learning experiences through participation.  Drupal ladders definitely inspired my own work with around a ‘Participation Standard‘ , and I wonder how projects can work together a bit more on defining a standard for  ‘Distributed Recognition’ even between projects like Mozilla, Drupal and Fedora.  

And the relentless thinking continued…

I then posed the question in our Discourse — asking what ‘Open Credentials’ could look like for Participation at Mozilla . And there are some great responses so far, including solutions like Makerbase and   reminder of of how hard it current is to be ‘seen’ in the Mozilla community, and thus how important this topic actually is.

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And the thinking will continue, hopefully as a growing group ….

What I do know is that we have to stop using the word recognition as the catch all, and that there is huge opportunity to build Open Credentials through Participation and leadership framework might be a way to test what that looks like.

If you have opinions – would love to have you join our discussion thread!

image by jingleslenobel CC by-NC-ND 2.0

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