Interview with Svetlana Belkin

Elizabeth K. Joseph: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Svetlana Belkin: I am Svetlana Belkin, an active Ubuntu Member since July 2013, and I gained my Membership on February 6, 2014. This month will mark my first year of working in the Ubuntu Community.

I am not a developer, I cannot code to save my life!

I am a biology major with a focus on Cellular and Molecular Biology who uses Ubuntu because it and the FOSS world match how I think.

EKJ: What inspired you to get involved with the Ubuntu Community?

SB: An idea for a multi-player online game that is based on Mario Party but instead of mini-games, players use cards that are either attack, defense, or traps to get coins. The one with the most coins wins but everyone can keep the coins that they gained to shop for more cards and avatar items.

This was about one year ago, and I wanted to find someone who could help develop it. Since I am a woman, I joined Ubuntu Women to seek one out. But I quickly found out that it was a bad choice and I started to work on improving the Ubuntu Women Wiki to have it up-to-date. That’s what led me into doing other things within the Ubuntu Community.

EKJ: What are your roles within the Ubuntu community and what plans do you have for the future?

SB: My main role within the Ubuntu Community is to help newcomers to find their place in the Community and to network with women (Ubuntu Women) and scientists (Ubuntu Scientists) alike to improve the FOSS world.

I also help the Ubuntu Documentation team to keep the Ubuntu Community Help Wiki up-to-date.

My future plans are to train new leaders within the Community so they know how to lead.

EKJ: Have you hit any barriers with getting involved and what can you recommend to newcomers?

SB: Newcomers need to remember that they do not need to be a developer to get involved – that’s the barrier that I hit.

I would recommend to newcomers that they should not think that they need to be developers, and they should take these steps: they should start out small, join the team/project and its mailing-list, make sure to read all of the documentation for that project/team, and introduce themselves to the team via the mailing-lists. The best route – if they do not know what skills they have or what teams/projects to join – is to go to their Local Community and ask on the mailing list or their IRC channel.

EKJ: Is there anything you feel the Ubuntu project could improve on when it comes to new folks coming to the project?

SB: The main thing is the lack of Ubuntu Recruitment/Promo/Comms teams where the new folks can join and ask what teams/projects they can put their skills into. The other flavors have these teams but Ubuntu does not.

EKJ: What other things are you interested in outside of open source and Ubuntu?

SB: I make art from time to time, and play my favorite and the only Multi-User Dungeon, Armageddon MUD.

Originally posted by Elizabeth K. Joseph in Full Circle Magazine Issue #87 on July 25, 2014

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