Artist @slshaart
Pronouns he/him
Location Ireland
GitHub gdude2002
Twitter @gdude2003

Gareth Coles

Modern problems require modern solutions

I'm a passionate community manager and software developer, with a focus on accessibility and minority safety. With over fifteen years of experience in both areas — and through immersing myself in LGBT culture — I have a good understanding of the issues that affect people, why it's important to support and vouch for vulnerable people, and how to support those that need it.

Experience

Community Management

I specialise in managing and moderating development- and gaming-related spaces, especially those in the incredibly diverse (but sometimes problematic) Minecraft community. I believe that moderation and policy work always requires a broad understanding of any given community sphere, and no community exists in a bubble — a defensive and proactive moderation approach is key and has, in my experience, always produced far safer community spaces.

Defensive moderation is an emerging field right now — pioneers of this approach take an investigative and preventative approach to moderation issues, providing excellent first-line support to deal with issues as they arise, whilst monitoring the wider community sphere to preempt future issues and prevent problematic individuals from interacting with vulnerable users, where possible.

Like any emerging field, experimentation and a proper learning process is necessary for things to improve going forward. I've always been a believer in personal responsibility here, and individuals working in moderation — or indeed, working to protect vulnerable people in any way — should always strive towards self-improvement. We all make mistakes, but we must learn from them!

In the Minecraft sphere specifically, I also collaborate with many communities that I'm not directly involved with, providing them with consultations on their policy work and moderation issues, as well as maintaining intel on known problematic individuals to aid other communities (which are vetted in advance) to better avoid problems before they appear.

Software Development

My primary programming language is Kotlin, and I have experience with Bash, Batch, Clojure, Groovy, Java, JavaScript, Lua, PHP, Python, Ruby and TypeScript. Much of my software development experience involves supporting my community management work — this means I'm familiar with chat automation work (such as Discord bots), database work, Linux systems administration, software API design and Web technologies (on both the backend and frontend). I'm also relatively familiar with Minecraft modding and plugin development, and writing "glue" code to make things work together.

While I enjoy software development for its own sake, much of my work revolves around helping other people. My projects include Discord bot frameworks and bespoke Discord bots, both of which are fantastic ways to contribute to the running of communities and projects that I'm not directly part of.

I also have plenty of experience with maintaining Git repositories, making use of build systems and writing useful documentation — both for end users and for other developers.

Other Fields

In my line of work, there's an awful lot of crossover with other fields - especially when you're working as part of a voluntary organisation. This has given me lots of experience in all kinds of different types of work, including:

  • Creation of basic vector-based artwork
  • Creative, journalistic and technical writing
  • Document creation and processing
  • Project management at all levels
  • Social media management
  • Systems management, including backups and server administration

In closing...

I have been incredibly lucky to work in this field, to meet so many amazing people and learn about their stories. Community management is a wide field, but it's ultimately all about the people in the community spaces you manage — a community without people is a very sad state indeed, and the needs of the community must be prioritised over everything else.

Communities that have lost sight of where their users need them to be are unfortunately quite common, and often devolve into hateful bigotry and sometimes even violence. The safety of minority groups must always take priority over the comfort of the privileged — and as a white, cis man living in Western society, it's my responsibility to make sure that happens in every space that I can.