Lets all build hat racks

Posted by Katie McLaughlin on March 16, 2015

This article is the accompaniment for Hat Racks, SydPHP March 2015 Lightning Talks

We have a lot of ways to show how much code we contribute. There are many and varied reports and visualisations from Github and Bitbucket that show just how much code you commit. There are also many incentives - for example, Docker will give you a tip of a small amount of cryptocurrency for every commit merged into their master branch.

But what about our non-code commits? There’s no easy way for us to show all the things we do outside of an IDE, like testing, mentoring, discussing, attending meetups, doing talks, etc

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting two amazing women at Linux Conf Australia 2015, in Auckland. Leslie Hawthron and Deb Nicholson are both now working together on the same advisory board, and spoke about it over coffee at the conference. Deb mentioned that her involvement was great, because it was a “place to hang your hat”. Leslie took this idea and ran with it, and created the Let’s All Build Hat Racks movement slash experiment.

The concept is really simple. Think of someone who has done something that isn’t code. Be it mentoring, helping out at meetups, anything. Make a short list of the things they have helped with and send it to them.

That’s it. It’s that easy.

What makes #LABHR really shine, though, is the added steps. Instead of just sending this list to them, create it as a LinkedIn recommendation. This will make the hatrackee list their non-code achievements as Experience or a Volunteer role in order for the recommendation to be attributed to it. It’s not just women who sometimes underrepresent themselves and don’t share all the things they’ve done. I wanted to give a hatrack to a good friend of mine for all the work they’ve done with conference organisation, but their LinkedIn profile is completely bare of any mention of the fact they organised an entire conference!

Not only should you give them the recommendation on LinkedIn, you should also tweet about it using the #LABHR hashtag. That gives it more visibility, and can encourage others to get involved in thanking people as well.

The last step is something that Leslie is really keen on, and that’s to give a hatrack to someone that’s not like you - if you’re a project organiser, give it to a test or a documentation person. Someone who is not normally someone you’d think of, but gives a lot of time and doesn’t get a lot of attention for it.

Since this experiment began, Leslie has received word of a dozen official documented and shared LinkedIn recommendations created directly by this movement. And my own Hat Rack for the amazing Jack Skinner is one of them. Jack has organised so many events, including SydPHP, Meetups Mixer, and has helped out and attended dozens more. A lot of his work goes unappreciated, and that’s why I recommended his work on LinkedIn.

If you want to find out more, go to Leslie’s blog that started it all, and let’s all build hat racks.