From the Inside Out: How Self-Talk Affects Your Community

Short Form


Identifying and discouraging negative self-talk is a simple thing, but it can have a huge impact on your community in a positive way. It increases self-confidence, improves morale, and generally results in happier, more productive community participants. This, in turn, will make you happy.


Negative self-talk is a pervasive, invasive, and unproductive way of thinking. It can trigger a cascade of things, from abandoned patches (“I am not smart/talented/good enough to figure this out”), to withdrawl from the community (“I screwed this up and everyone knows and hates me”), to general discouragement (“I suck, and have nothing valuable to contribute here”).

In this talk, I’ll discuss the various methods Dreamwidth and other organizations use to handle negative self-talk, and the best way to deploy those techniques. I will also discuss things to keep an eye out for in your community that may be at the root of this type of self-talk, and processes you can go through to eliminate them. Finally, there will be a quick overview of impostor syndrome, and the role it plays here.

Speaking experience

I presented at YAPC::NA and Open Source Bridge last year, and have many years of speaking experience stemming from participation in the SCA. I will be presenting this talk at YAPC::NA 2014 on Monday.


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    Kat Toomajian

    Dreamwidth Studios, LLC


    Kat heads up the Dreamwidth Support team, and specializes in user/developer interaction. In her spare time, Kat enjoys recreating history with the Society for Creative Anachronism, being a total loss claims rep for an insurance company, napping, and playing “where did you stash mommy’s socks?” with her ferrets, Hermes and Isaac.


      • Title: Hacking In-Group Bias for Fun and Profit
      • Track: Culture
      • Room: B302/303
      • Time: 1:302:15pm
      • Excerpt:

        Our lives and social interactions are governed by sociology and psychology. As geeks, we strive to understand how the technology around us works, and we strive to find ways to make it better. Society is basically one big, complex piece of technology, and, like all technology, it is hackable. This talk will explain how you can do that.

      • Speakers: Kat Toomajian
      • Title: Keeping your culture afloat through a tidal wave of interest ~~\o/~~
      • Track: Culture
      • Room: B204
      • Time: 3:454:30pm
      • Excerpt:

        During the height of interest to the project, there were often several new people arriving in the channel per day. That may not sound like a lot, but everyone had questions and would be interested in different things; it could take a twenty minute conversation or so with someone who knew a lot about the project in order to properly greet, inform, and orient new people. The founders didn’t have a few spare hours around the clock to personally devote to making sure that each new arrival was welcomed, felt welcomed, had their questions answered, and had their willingness to contribute channeled into something which needed the help and suited their skills. There was a lot about this that we could have automated or dumped into a higher-latency format like email. The first time someone proposed automating the welcoming dance it was like they’d slapped me in the face. The personal touch bit was crucial, and automating it would have struck all the wrong notes. The project was supposed to be for people, by people, and showing that we’re human and we’re committed to keeping it small and personal was crucial to keeping the culture intact.

      • Speakers: Azure Lunatic, Kat Toomajian