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A personal letter to the CHI community

One of our general chairs has written a personal letter exhorting the CHI community to handle discussions and complaints in a more constructive way – to choose CHIndness:

“It is great that people in CHI are prepared to raise concerns and issues. As an always-learning-growing community, we need to hear these concerns to make CHI events better. But it is how those concerns and issues are being raised that I think we really need to stop and reflect on. What is happening now, especially via social media, is negative, hurtful, and unproductive and often drowns the attempts at providing constructive feedback or community efforts to make the conference better. My hope is that we can find different ways of raising issues, engaging in discussions and effecting change that are respectful, kinder, more compassionate, and more solution-focussed.”

The key messages are:

  • There is no ‘CHI’, there is you and me. We are CHI.
  • The CHI conference event (and SIGCHI in general) only happens because of an enormous amount of volunteer effort, done willingly and with great care by your colleagues.
  • We are a learning community always trying to improve and constructive feedback is an important part of this.
  • The tone of current feedback and discussions on social media can be perceived as negative, hurtful, and counter-productive, with real health and well-being impacts for people involved.
  • We can engage in in a much more productive and care-ful way, and grow a kinder community culture.
  • Some basic strategies proposed towards this:
    • STOP, THINK before posting it on social media.
      • What is your real intention?
      • Is social media the best avenue for this?
      • Do you have all information to make the judgement you are making?
      • What assumptions are you making?
      • Is there a way of framing the issue orienting to solutions or exploring positive alternatives?
    • Before focusing on a complaint, come up with three positive things (that are getting better or things that are working well or similar).
    • Take just as much time and effort, if not more, to say thank you, to show appreciation, being specific, being personal, being generous.
    • We can be the culture change needed to make that happen.

We encourage you to read the full letter and to share it with your colleagues. And for you to help by choosing CHIndness!