Creating a directory of trainers

We regularly get requests of trainers for OpenRefine workshops, to be given on various areas of the tool, for specific audiences.

Would it be worth maintaining a directory of trainers to help with that? I could imagine the following fields:

  • Name
  • Languages mastered
  • Location (as vague as wished)
  • Any areas of OpenRefine they are specialists of (such as: working with RDF, regular expressions, Wikidata uploads…)
  • Whether they are interested in getting contacted about doing more training (they might be already at capacity or only able to do workshops within a particular institution, but still enjoy being recognized for the training work they have done)
  • How to contact them (link to a website, social media, email address…)

Anything else?

To me, the benefit of offering such a registry would be:

  • to help people find the right facilitator for an event
  • to recognize the work that trainers do, by making their initiatives more visible and formally getting them on the OpenRefine team (potentially by including this role in our governance too)

Do you think this would be useful? It could simply be a table on our website, in Markdown or another format, or an online spreadsheet…

I'd intuitively make it opt-in only, i.e. let people add themselves to the table and not add them behind their back. We could initially ask the Carpentries to see if they'd be willing to contact people who have done OpenRefine trainings (assuming they have such a list) to encourage them to add themselves.

I think this would be useful. It also tells me we have more work to do to make OpenRefine easier to use and intuitive.

My two cents - if we are going to track trainers, we should also consider tracking the folks making the requests for trainers. If we don't want to do both of those things, having interested parties post in this forum when they are looking for trainers seems appropriate to me.

I'm saying this because even though Open Refine is an open source, mainly volunteer project, it doesn't feel appropriate to ask volunteers to publicly share their personal information in perpetuity for what may be the benefit of commercial businesses looking for volunteer labor. Call me a cynic! :slight_smile:

Antonin thanks for starting this thread.

As part of the community handbook, I also identified the need for a trainer directory.

I am including the conversation with @thadguidry in the comments of the [draft handbook] (OpenRefine Playbook Sandbox - Martin Magdinier - Google Docs), where we discussed how we can use discourse badges to create a directory. Here are the main points we covered:

  • Each trainer can manage their profile page by adding as much or as little information as they would like.
  • The badge system can be used to quickly identify trainer contributors on the forum. We can also extend this system to recognize other types of contributions.
  • We can customize the list of fields in discourse as described here Create and configure custom user fields - admins - Discourse Meta, and create a custom user list from this page.

I suggest adding two new fields to the proposed list.

  • A community field can be included so that users can indicate which community they work more closely with, such as journalists, GLAM, Wikimedia, researchers (part of the carpentries for example), or others.
  • A availability field can be added where users can indicate their availability as volunteers, contractors or only through their institution (or not available at all)."

@ej2432 thanks a lot for your thoughts!

I would definitely not want it to feel like "volunteers are asked to publicly share their personal information", so I am worried that I did not formulate the initiative the right way.

Primarily, my goal is to offer publicity space for those who want to make their training work visible (again, it would be entirely opt-in). Just like those boards listing people available to do freelance development around a project, really. (Running a training event can often be a paid job.) Perhaps there could be changes in the wording of this directory that can make it sound more like that?

If the forum works well enough for people looking for trainers to ask and find available people, then that's great, but in my experience so far it did require quite a bit of behind the scenes work to look out for a trainer and point them to the thread. I have done that myself a couple times and it did feel like quite some work, which I can only do in a fairly biased way: I just ask my friends, essentially! I have no good overview of who is active in that space and is willing to do more.

I had a closer look at what the Carpentries do and it's pretty much exactly what I'd like to have for OpenRefine:

They also have a map version of it. I think having a sense of which areas of the tool they are familiar with (or the community they work with, as Martin puts it) would be a bonus, as it would make it easier to find the right people for an event.

I support the public directory for trainers. Many people are uncomfortable making a public announcement and would prefer to reach out to potential trainers directly.

I have two questions to make this happen.

  1. How should we publish and maintain it? Should we use a discourse profile, create a page on our website, or use another platform?

  2. Do we want to validate the qualifications of the trainers we list? The directory from the Carpentries is just the tip of the iceberg, as they have a comprehensive champion and trainer program to support it.

I wouldn't rely in discourse badges to list trainers, because it wouldn't make them very findable in my opinion.

About validating qualifications, that's a good question. We could potentially list whether they are Carpentries instructors or have followed the Commons train-the-trainers program (and add similar qualifications as we discover them).

I also wonder about OpenRefine training opportunities provided by companies, such as:

Intuitively those would also be in scope, but I am not sure if/how to screen their quality.
There is also the question of whether those should be listed for free on our website, or if that should be conditioned to a sponsorship of some kind.

Regarding the directory list, my understanding is that we will have a link from the website (or other relevant pages) pointing to the trainer directory. The directory can be an HTML page built with Docusaurus, a custom link to a discourse user view, a discourse badge, or something else.

Regarding discourse, this is what the default badge page looks like. It can be a quick easy way to get started, even if it is missing a lot of details. Using custom fields, we can also create a more granular user list, as mentioned previously.

I like your approach to qualifying trainers for the directory. I think that listing someone without their consent is not appropriate. Instead, we can invite trainers to opt in and enroll in the directory.

I had a closer look at what the Carpentries do and it's pretty much exactly what I'd like to have for OpenRefine:

Given that they already have this covered they focus principally/solely on training, unlike OpenRefine, would it make sense to just direct people to their trainer directory? Less duplication, less work.


I would love to do that, but do you find their directory useful to find an OpenRefine trainer for an event? I wouldn't know where to start! There are many different Carpentry lessons, there is no indication if a given trainer can teach an OpenRefine one. Apparently they used to track if people which Carpentry (Software, Data, Library) instructors were certified in, but not anymore.

The Software Carpentry does not have an OpenRefine lesson, only the Data and Library Carpentries do - and even then, not every workshop from those Carpentries will feature an OpenRefine lesson, so I wouldn't assume that all instructors from those Carpentries are super keen to teach OpenRefine per se…

That's mostly guesswork from me (and from this private discussion with Katrin Leinweber which is conveniently public). Maybe @ostephens has more insights.