What's the Opposite of Gatekeeping?

The topic of gatekeeping, especially in tech, seems to be getting increased attention recently. I'm not sure of the exact reason, but I think most of us can agree that the unproductive form of gatekeeping has gotten quite frustrating.

I'm calling out the unproductive form because a little bit of research indicates that a productive form of this actually exists. Whether it be to protect the worthiness of news, media, data, or to protect privacy, there seem to exist legitimate forms of gatekeeping—you can Google for more info around this on your own.

The point of writing this is to explore the unproductive form of gatekeeping, and what the opposite of that practice might be.

Unproductive Gatekeeping

Whether it's your level of experience, your job title, or the various skills you have learned and practice, there is no shortage of folks that will tell you why you are not really at the level you think you are at, or why you might never really reach such a level.

Some common threads around unproductive gatekeeping include:

Unproductive gatekeeping exists at all skill levels; it's a big fish, small fish cycle sometimes. I've been told before that I'm not a real web developer because I use tables versus CSS—this was after CSS had just come out, and I had not made the transition yet (dating myself here).

I was also once told that I'm not a real iOS developer because I was programming on a windows based machine versus an Intel-based Mac. Believe it or not, when the original iOS SDK was introduced, there was a PC toolchain that allowed us to make iOS apps, at least before Apple walled it off (dating myself again).

It's easy to identify and focus on unproductive gatekeeping because it's prevalent and so damn frustrating, but what of concentrating on the opposite of unproductive gatekeeping—by pondering this, I'm not referring to "productive" gatekeeping. My question is, what is anti-gatekeeping?

I think the answer is stewardship.


There are a lot of definitions for stewardship on the interwebs—do the Google search. I've done my investigation and have distilled a definition to the following:

I like these definitions; they feel right!

What Stewardship Might Look Like

Let's take the definitions above and imagine what stewardship (anti-gatekeeping) might look like out in the real world: