An Open Tool to Fight Harassment

Squadbox | An Open Project Spotlight

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Kaitlin Mahar (@k__mahar) is a software engineer at MongoDB, and recent master’s in CS grad from MIT where she studied online harassment and building technical solutions for it. Kaitlin was selected to join our current round of Mozilla Open Leaders with their project Squadbox.

I interviewed Kaitlin to learn more about Squadbox and how you can help.

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What is Squadbox?

How did Squadbox start?

We developed a prototype of Squadbox, and when we received positive feedback on it from people who have experienced harassment, we were motivated to work on converting it to a reliable and secure tool that people actually use. Turning Squadbox into an open source project with the help of Open Leaders seemed like a great way to work toward that.

What are you most proud of accomplishing at MozFest?

What challenges have you faced working on this project?

Another challenge has been prioritizing striking a balance between working on making Squadbox an open project and actually building it. My excitement about getting the tool ready for real users made me want to actually do that, but ultimately it was more important to get Squadbox ready for contributors first — now we’re in a position to build a much better tool with the help of a larger community.

How has your project been impacted by Mozilla Open Leaders?

At the start of Open Leaders, our project was not very accessible to anyone who was interested in it. The code was living in a shared Git repository with another project, and it was unclear that we wanted to collaborate with other people. Now, our repository is way better — it’s clear what the project is, what we’re working on, and how people can get involved. We learned a ton in Open Leaders about how to best utilize GitHub to share that kind of information!

Overall, I think Open Leaders really helped us transition from a small research project to an open source project with a community.

How can others help you continue the work on Squadbox?

We’re looking for anyone who is passionate about this issue to help us build and improve Squadbox! We need programmers to help us code, designers to improve the interface and user experience, and people with experience and knowledge about online harassment and moderation to help guide our design choices, create resources for owners and moderators, etc.

If you’re interested in helping out in any way, we’d love to work with you! Our GitHub page is a good place to start getting an idea of our current tasks and priorities (repo, issues, our current milestone). Also please feel free to contact us at squadbox@mit.edu.

What meme or gif best represents your project?

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Mozilla Open Leaders offers mentorship and training on working open. Join a cohort of project leads fueling the Internet Health movement. Receive mentorship and training through the Mozilla community in this 14-week online program on working open. Apply today!

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Mozilla Open Leaders

Written by

A cohort of Open Leaders fueling the #internethealth movement through mentorship & training on working open. Work Open, Lead Open #WOLO mzl.la/openleaders

Read, Write, Participate

What Mozilla is thinking, building and doing about internet health.

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