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Welcome to the official blog of the community/outreach team for the WordPress open source project!

This team oversees official events, mentorship programs, diversity initiatives, contributor outreach, and other ways of growing our community.

If you love WordPress and want to help us do these things, join in!

Getting Involved

We use this blog for status reports, project announcements, and the occasional policy debate. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to comment on posts and join the discussion.

You can learn about our current activities on the Team Projects page. There projects are suitable for everyone from newcomers to WordPress community elders.

You can use our contact form to volunteer for one of our projects.

Communication

In addition to discussions on this blog, we have weekly IRC meetings Thursdays at 19:00 UTC in the #wordpress-getinvolved channel on irc.freenode.net (webchat) for real-time communication.

Each week is devoted to a specific area:
• 1st — Meetups/other local events
• 2nd — Mentorship, diversity
• 3rd — WordCamps/conferences
• 4th — Contributor recognition, .org sites
• (5th — Virtual party)

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  • Jen Mylo 6:48 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags:   

    Categories: Meetups ( 8 )

    Meetup.com Status Update 

    The quarterly roll-in is a little behind. For some reason we didn’t get confirmation of our payment until April 8 (about a week later than expected), and the person who does the roll-ins of existing groups hasn’t been in touch (normally that happens immediately upon payment of the quarterly bill). I contacted that person and the person who runs the chapter program yesterday expressing my nervousness about the timing, especially since a couple of the groups joining the program had expiring dues and were marked in red on the spreadsheet. I’ll do everything I can to make sure no group has $$ trouble because of this delay.

    There are 18 existing meetups waiting to be rolled in (some were from the last time who filled in the application so close to the end that they didn’t make it in that round). There are about half a dozen new meetup (no existing group) applications in process.

     
  • Jen Mylo 11:57 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: , orientations   

    Categories: Meetups ( 8 )

    Meetup Orientation Hangouts Schedule 

    We’ll try a few different topics and time slots over the next couple of weeks to see what works best.

    For organizers of existing groups who want to join the chapter account (or have questions because they’re not sure):

    • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 23:00 UTC (4pm Pacific, 7pm Eastern) Event page

    For people who want to start a new group on the chapter account:

    • Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 17:00 UTC (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern) Event page
     
  • Jen Mylo 5:53 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: community summit, contributor meetup, wcsf, wcsf2014   

    Categories: Events ( 4 )

    Putting More Community in WCSF 

    Back in December, I proposed that instead of trying to recreate the 2012 community summit event, we try something different, and combine it with the official annual conference, WordCamp San Francisco (WCSF), for a variety of reasons (rather than restate those reasons now, I suggest re-reading that post). For the most part, people seemed to like the idea (as seen in comments), but there were a few people who did not like the idea, citing various concerns, so I tabled the discussion rather than start a big debate right before the holidays. Un-tabling!

    The community summit in 2012 was an experiment on my part as to what an annual event could look like that centered on discussions rather than lectures (which fill the annual WCSF program). There were a lot of positive aspects to the event, in line with what was expected. However, there were some negative effects as well:

    • It was not intended to split the community into having to choose which annual event they attended, but that was an unexpected —and undesirable — outcome.
    • The invite-only-based-on-somewhat-subjective-factors and private nature of the event, while kind of awesome for those who were there and necessary given some of the contentious problems in the community at that time, was non-open and alienating to those who weren’t invited, the antithesis of the WordPress project’s stated values.  ← This one’s really, really important.
    • Quite a number of people who normally went to WCSF did not go after going to the summit due to the need to limit the number of trips they took.

    To that end, I’m proposing that instead of organizing another retreat-based, invite-only event at a separate time/place than the annual conference, we expand the annual conference to be more than just lectures. As I handed the WCSF planning mantle off to Andrea Middleton in 2012, I’ve been talking with her and Matt Mullenweg about how we could improve the WCSF event to incorporate some of the good things from the 2012 summit to make WCSF a true annual community event. Here’s the proposal:

    • Instead of doing a full contributor day at the Automattic office as we have in the past, do a contributor series in the downstairs room at Mission Bay on the 2nd programmed day (Sunday) while blogger-centric content is on stage upstairs (with a break for all to see Matt do SOTW).
    • Add an open source project community conversations day in addition to the lecture-driven days. Have a separate registration like with previous contributor days and use advance communication to make it clear this is aimed at professionals/contributors rather than casual users, but don’t use an application process with rejections. This could be either before or after the programmed days, though am leaning toward after.

    With these two changes, WCSF would be the same amount of time it has been for years — 3 days — but would have more interactivity built into those days for people involved with the project than we’ve had in the past.

    In addition, I would have us set up an extra 2 days for contributor teams to work together and talk about their goals, and to talk to other teams. Needless to say, this would be optional, but anyone deemed necessary to the team should be able to attend regardless of finances via the scholarship program. This brings us to 5 days. Both Andrea and Matt were amenable to this plan for WCSF this year — knowing that whatever we do this year we will learn from and iterate on in the future — so I’d like to address the concerns raised by Siobhan and others.

    • A week is too long, people will burn out. Yep, it’s a long time! We’re talking about 5 days, not 7, but even so, it is more than a weekend (though people just interested in the csummit-style conversations, not the contributor team working days, would still be at only 3 days like always). That said, I surveyed 2 dozen other open source project and industry conferences, and 5 days was actually pretty average. Events like OSCON and SXSW lasting 5 days is an overwhelming week, to be sure, but in this case, since our formats would be shaken up every day or two, and the contributor days are basically chill co-working time, I think it will be manageable. When we used to do core team meetups, those were always a week. Coming to a 2-3 day event for people flying from very far away is also exhausting, so either way there’ll be some people who are less comfortable based on length of event. For the record, I get overwhelmed at events myself. I try to fake it, but ask Matt the number of times I’ve texted him from an event citing anxiety, or been caught reading a book on kindle for iphone in an afterparty corner. I’m not exempt from the burnout concern, and take it seriously. Also, people can always retreat away from the events as needed to take care of themselves (as long as it’s to take care of themselves, and not just because they’re hung over. :) )
    • People coming in early will feel left out. Based on feedback, the idea would most likely be to do the unconference and contrib days after the regular Mission Bay event. No one would be turned away for the unconference, so that “not welcome” thing would not be an issue. For the contributor team days, by then we’d be getting to midweek, so it would be unlikely for a lot of extra people to still be hanging around town, but in any case, we can let each team decide who should be there for that.
    • San Francisco is expensive. Yes, it truly is. The cost of SF lodging is high, but when compared to flights + airport transfers for two separate events, in most cases it’s a wash. In any case, most of the people concerned have employers foot the bill or would be eligible for a travel scholarship. The travel scholarships worked really well at the summit, and while yes, Tybee was cheap and I got us some great discounts there, we have the money to cover SF travel for those who need it.
    • We can’t discuss issues with WordCamps/WCSF if it’s at WCSF because Andrea is the organizer. I think we can all be grownups, and I know that Andrea is always up for suggestions to make the program better.
    • Using Automattic’s space is a conflict of interest. I don’t know if we’d even stick with that space for everything (renting a place with multiple rooms might be better), but I disagree with this idea. The Automattic space is used for open events all the time, and again, we’re all grownups. If we do use the space I personally guarantee that freedom of speech re Automattic would be there, no one needs to censor themselves. The people that censor themselves about that stuff do it wherever Matt is (it even happened at the summit, frankly), the room is not the real issue.
    • Time Zone not EU-traveler friendly. Would I love it if the annual conference moved each year so the burden could be better distributed? Yes, and this could be a step toward that goal if it goes well. In the meantime, skewing US isn’t about ethnocentrism, it’s about numbers (majority) of contributors and businesses based in in the western hemisphere, and the 1-trip-vs-2-trips thing.
    • USA is not visa-friendly for some countries. This is definitely true. I’m ready to start working now with people who were rejected in the past, as well as with the consulate to try and get a couple of key people here. But there will undoubtedly still be a couple who don’t make it for one reason or another. This sucks, and we’d work as hard as we could to get people here who should be. Moving the annual conference in the future to a new place each year (a la Drupalcon) would address this if we can make it happen in the future, but so does having other big events like WC Europe, which wound up functioning last year as kind of a counterpart to the SF event.
    • Ignores the things team reps cited as summit must-haves at the post-wcsf dinner last year. Yep, some of them. I was one of the people who thought those things were must-haves, too (like a cozy location that enables random conversations, a size limit, etc), but when I sat down to think about the goals of the summit (and the overall project) and what was necessary vs what was enjoyable, I had a hard time justifying  the tradeoffs. Anyone can organize an offsite retreat for an invite-only group, but unless it is just for a specific level of contributors, I don’t think it’s appropriate for the project to do so because otherwise the criteria for inclusion would necessarily be at least somewhat subjective.

    At the very least, I think it is worth trying it this way; if it feels like there’s a still a big hole after the event, we can revisit. That said, this is what I think is right for the project, and where I think the energy should be focused right now re annual events. If someone else believes an invite-only retreat-style event is necessary for the project’s success, I wouldn’t stand in the way of someone else taking that on and pitching their ideas to Matt.

    We can discuss this proposal in the team chat today.

     
    • Andrea Middleton 6:17 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I am excited about dropping the invite-only aspect, as suggested in this proposal. I understand why we did it in 2012, but I’d rather not see become regular practice, as it conflicts so deeply with core project values.

      I’m in favor of this proposal; looking forward to discussing in team chat. :)

    • Valent Mustamin 6:46 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Is there any chance you can provide a visa letter of invitation? It’s not a requirement, but i believe it can help smooth the way, especially about the specific plan regarding visiting

      • Jen Mylo 6:54 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Yes, we’ve always provided visa letters to those who have asked. Note that being a recognized contributor with an active profile on wordpress.org seems to carry weight when they evaluate the letters. Those that have been rejected have not had activity on wordpress.org profiles, so it looked like they weren’t really part of the project. Talk to @andreamiddleton about how to enter/update the past WC Indonesia information so it will show up there.

        • Andrey "Rarst" Savchenko 7:13 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          This based on? First time I hear profiles mentioned as relevant, neither I was asked anything about it in my interview back then.

          • Jen Mylo 7:22 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            Talking to the consulate about two other people. Being able to show involvement in the project vs it being a tourism trip. I don’t think that came up with you because you already had so many reasons based on your location and situation not to be granted a visa that it didn’t come down to that.

            Bigger issues that the US consulate looks for are:

            • Being employed by a company that looks legit, and that company having a professional looking website (it can be your own company, but have a legit looking website)
            • Not sounding nervous or “looking shifty” (direct quote)
            • Keep the story straight — don’t answer questions differently when re-asked
            • Being married or engaged, or having family where you live is a plus (any deep connections to local people)
            • Owning property is a plus
            • Coming from a country that doesn’t have a history of visa holders jumping the visa to illegally emigrate

            Given the situation in Ukraine right now, I don’t know if any visas are being granted, it’s something we can look into.

            • Andrey "Rarst" Savchenko 7:26 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink

              Not even trying this year. Don’t have that “many” reasons, not working for a company and not married was all it took. :\

            • Jen Mylo 7:30 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink

              I will plan on reaching out to the consulate next week to see which countries are current hot-buttons and what we can do as a project to get our contributors here.

        • valentmustamin 12:54 am on April 18, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Just realised that I haven’t got a single activity on my profile page. My bad. I will update it very soon. Thanks. This should help

    • Joseph Karr O'Connor 7:19 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thanks very much for working through the issues and doing a great job of communicating with us. Those of us who are self-funding need to keep costs to a minimum so I appreciate that you are taking this into account. Getting to know other team members is essential for me so an extra 2 days to talk to other teams seems very good. I like where you are going with this.

      • Jen Mylo 7:23 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Any contributor who is paying for their own trip (rather than being employed by a WP-based company) should definitely apply for a travel scholarship when we get that far, no matter what the final format of the event. We’ll want to make sure you can attend.

    • Chris Lema 7:47 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great amount of communication on the topic. I look forward to hearing more details.

    • Jen Mylo 8:20 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

    • Jen Mylo 9:20 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I have to reach out to embassies by country (rather one central office). I’ll start doing so, to see if there are things we can do to help improve the chances of visas being granted for contributors. So far, I will be reaching out to embassies in:

      • Russia
      • Ukraine
      • India
      • Indonesia

      I’m not sure which countries people will need help with, so if you think you might have trouble getting a visa, please leave a reply on this comment and note your country so I can add it to my list.

  • Jen Mylo 5:13 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags:   

    Team chat agenda for today, WordCamp/conferences-focused meeting.

    • WCSF/contributor meetup

    @andreamiddleton: What else do you want on the agenda for today? Does anyone else have things related to WordCamps/conferences to discuss with the team?

     
    • Andrea Middleton 5:55 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      My other items are:

      • the roadmap to accessible WordCamp websites
      • testing a 6-week WordCamp mentorship program

      And anything else that people want to talk over. :)

      • Andy McIlwain 6:05 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Our site for WordCamp Toronto 2014 just went live today, so the accessibility topic is definitely top-of-mind right now. :)

        I’m also curious about privacy policy and cookie policy, and whether those items need to be addressed on WordCamp sites to comply with various regional laws, especially in light of the additional information being collected via CampTix.

    • Jen Mylo 6:41 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I have another item, which is how we should keep track of non-WP conferences that are relevant to our community. Would like to work with Rebecca on this, but don’t think she will be at this meeting. Others might have some thoughts, though.

  • Jen Mylo 10:00 pm on April 16, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: ,   

    Categories: Mentorship Programs ( 10 )

    GSoC Update — De-duplication Period 

    We are now in the de-duplication period of the GSoC application process. This means we’ve submitted to Google our choices for which students we’d like to work with over the summer, as have the other 189 mentoring organizations, and now we’re in the process of figuring out which students should work where, in cases where a student was accepted by more than one project. We are not allowed to say anything about whom we’ve chosen until Google announces the accepted students, as the de-duprication period often shakes up those lists.

    As each organization contacts other organizations and the students in question and choices are made, organizations that “lose” a student get to choose another to fill the slot. This can lead to a new duplication, which is why nothing gets announced until there are no remaining duplications. This process will last until Friday, April 18th, when the final de-duplication meeting will happen in IRC at #gsoc at 19:00 UTC.

    Based on the outcome of that meeting, the official student list will be announced by Google on Monday, April 21, and at that point the community bonding period begins. If we don’t have any duplication issues, we’ll be accepting six GSoC students this year, but the final number won’t be set until that last de-duplication. When Google announces, we’ll announce our student/mentor matchups on our own team blogs as well.

     
    • Jen Mylo 6:37 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Update! We had one student also selected by another organization. We spoke with the student and the organization, and the student preferred to work with us. Score! Then that organization chose another student to fill the slot that had just become empty on their roster, and amazingly the student they chose was someone we had also selected. This time the student preferred to work with the other organization. At this point we have no duplications, and should be set to mentor 5 students this year.

  • Jen Mylo 6:57 pm on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags:   

    Categories: Official Websites ( 2 )

    Profiles 

    You may have notices that the new profile design has slowly started making it’s way onto the live servers. Please note that it’s getting on there a little at a time, so please don’t start creating trac tickets to fix things, since chances are the thing you’re reporting just hasn’t been deployed yet. We’ll do a big public announcement when we’ve got the full design in place and a solid v1 backend working properly. Thanks!

     
  • Jen Mylo 6:44 pm on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: ,   

    Categories: Meetups ( 8 )

    New Team Member! Chase Livingston from South Carolina (@chaselivingston) will be starting to help out with meetup administration as well. Trained him on processes like I did with @andymci a couple of weeks back, and will likely have have him focus on reaching out to existing groups in between-roll in periods.

    Note: We are smack in the middle of the quarterly roll-in period for existing meetup.com groups, so I’m working through all the outstanding requests to join the chapter program. To that end, I’m going to start a series of meetup organizer hangouts similar to the ones being done around WordCamps. Will start out with a split between existing groups who want to join the chapter account and people who want to start a new group from scratch, since the orientations are so different. Once we get those started, I’m hoping we can standardize a few other topics (esp as tied to the mentorship stuff @andymci is working on), and where applicable, have some that work for both WC and meetup organizers (how to find a venue, budgets and running money through foundation, etc).

    We’ll use the WordPress google+ account for these, and I’ll post details on this blog later today with dates and times.

     
  • Jen Mylo 4:54 pm on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
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    Team chat today, topic mentorship/diversity. Hopefully Tracy can give us a recap of the diversity mixer at Philly Tech Week that we sponsored!

    Additional topics for today:

    • GSoC update
    • In-house mentorships (no progress to report I think?)
    • Speaker training workshops (general and for women)
    • Diversity Metrics
     
  • Andrea Middleton 10:38 pm on April 3, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: ,   

    Categories: WordCamps ( 24 )

    WordCamp organizer hangouts FTW! 

    I’m really enjoying the WordCamp hangouts we’ve been having lately! Today’s WordCamp organizer’s orientation and this budget hangout were really fun, to name a few. If you are able to actually participate on video rather than just watch the stream, I encourage you to do so; we all benefit from more perspectives and questions.

    This month, in addition to our two organizer orientations, we have scheduled some additional single-subject hangouts, including two events focused on speaker recruitment and wrangling and two events focused on running the money through the Foundation, all happening next week:

    What other subjects would be beneficial for WordCamp organizers to discuss on a round table-style hangout? We have a few ideas (WordCamp organizing team dynamics, WordCamp.org tools and tips, veteran WordCamp organizer horror stories), but would love to incorporate your suggestions.

     
    • andreamiddleton 12:11 am on April 4, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I just added the WordCamp.org tools and tips hangout as well:

    • Siobhan 5:37 am on April 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      How about:

      • working with sponsors
      • something around swag or doing other nice things for attendees
      • video recording and live streaming
    • Jen Mylo 9:23 pm on April 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Suggestion: Call it Orientation instead of Hangout in the titles, and post them to wordpress.tv in addition to the autoshare with youtube.

      Twice a week for the same topic seems like pretty high frequency. Is that something you expect to continue, or is it just for now to do a practice and then a recording? Seems like once a month per topic would be more than enough moving forward?

    • Andrea Middleton 7:55 pm on April 10, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      The twice a week model is just for the first two hangouts. The first being limited to 10 and not streamed, so the presenter (not always me anymore, yay!) can assess how to tighten up the agenda before facilitating the streamed/recorded hangouts. My goal is to have one of each hangout per 1-2 months, except for the orientations and make those twice a month, so we capture both time zones.

  • Jen Mylo 3:27 pm on April 3, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags:   

    Categories: Meetups ( 8 )

    Team chat today, topic is meetups. If you’d like a meetup-specific topic on the agenda, please leave a comment on this post.

     
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