Dec 26, 2016

What it's like to work as a developer at BBC News

The BBC is a pretty large organisation. Today it employs around 20,000 people (actually around 35,000 when you include part-time and fixed-term contract employees) across a huge number of divisions. The BBC Careers website typically has over 100 vacancies posted on any given day. Before I joined the BBC, I found the sheer scale of it a bit intimidating. Usually I can get an idea of what it’s like to work for a company by reading their job advertisements and their engineering blogs, but with the BBC I was almost completely clueless. In this post I hope to shed some light on what it’s like to work as a developer or tester for BBC News.

Just a small disclaimer first: from an engineering perspective, the BBC is not like most other companies — it’s more like dozens of smaller companies, each with their own engineering department, working towards a common goal. News, Sport, Programmes, iPlayer, Radio… As digital products, these are all built mostly independently of each other. I work for BBC News, so a lot of what I’ve written may not apply outside of BBC News.

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Mar 28, 2016

How can we fix open source culture?

The recent kerfuffle around the NPM #unpublishgate and the Greenkeeper bot impersonation has got me thinking about the open source community and its culture.

Sometimes the open source community feels like a wonderful, cooperative, welcoming place. There have been times when maintaining an open source project has given me an enormous sense of satisfaction and well-being. On the best days, complete strangers offer valuable feedback and even actively contribute to my projects.

On the worst days I feel drained, unappreciated, and even abused. Stephan describes this more concisely than I could right at the bottom of Your “just” considered harmful:

The reactions to the npm #unpublishgate showed me once more just how far spread entitled and toxic behaviour is in our community. This has to change and being silent or accepting won’t help.

This is the part of the open source culture that we need to fix. Entitled and toxic are not words that I associate with welcoming and inclusive communities. Yet they are completely apt descriptions of behaviour which is common within the open source community.

I don’t have any solutions to offer. I’m merely venting some frustrations which have been building up for quite some time. But we need to fix this. I don’t want to see this toxic behaviour cause another friend, colleague, or community member to suffer.

How can we fix open source culture?

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