Until now, we've limited our discussion to lessons which can be applie to nearly any free software community. LinuxChix is different from most such communities in one obvious way: we're an organization primarily dedicated to helping women. In this section, we'll discuss some of the problems that come with that focus.
Women's groups get more than the average amount of harassment, trolls, and cracking attempts. We start by making nearly all of our mailing lists members-post-only, which also cuts down on spam. Our IRC server is a frequent target of script kiddies with nothing better to do. Fortunately, with our international membership, someone with IRC ops is nearly always awake and around to ban troublemakers from the server. Our very reason for existence is often called into question by both men and women; we have addressed this problem by writing FAQs8 and HOWTOs9and posting testimonials from people who were glad to find LinuxChix.
More subtly, we find that it's easy to accidentally subvert the founding goal of LinuxChix, encouraging women in Linux. For example, our mailing list for technical discussion is frequently overwhelmed by posts from men, both asking and answering questions. Some of them have no interest in women in Linux at all and are only here to get help with their homework assignments or job duties. More commonly, they are genuinely trying to be helpful and don't realize that by dominating discussion and rushing to be the first to answer a question, they are discouraging the women on the list from participating. Every so often, we have to remind the members of this list that its primary purpose is helping women in Linux, which includes allowing women to both ask and answer technical questions in a female-dominated environment.
We have a constant struggle between our desire to be inclusive and nurturing and our desire to focus on women in computing. If we helped everyone who was interested in Linux get started, our volunteers would immediately burn out, so we have to focus on helping women - and turn down many requests for help from men. Many women like the idea of a group explicitly dedicated to helping women in Linux and enjoy being part of a community in which women are the majority, yet feel uncomfortable with any method of creating and maintaining a female-dominated community. In order to make LinuxChix work, we need both ``bad cops'' who argue for and enforce the focus on women, and ``good cops'' who keep us inclusive and welcoming. This results in a lot of arguments and heated discussion and a few people who leave the community, but in the end our primary rule of ``Be helpful, be polite'' helps keep the community together in spite of strong differences of opinion.