Building community beyond events

The recent discussion around reimagining online events has raised some challenges in bringing WordCamps online and has suggested some really interesting alternatives for WordPress community organisers to try out. This kind of discussion is not unique to the WordPress community — groups all over the world have been struggling to adapt their in-person events to an online platform.

The WordPress community must keep iterating on effective ways to share valuable content that will help people learn to use and contribute to WordPress.

Moving beyond synchronous events

Since the day this team was formed, events have been our primary tool to grow the WordPress community, helping people learn to use and contribute to WordPress. Events can be an effective way to work toward that goal, because learning in a shared space, with like-minded people, can foster a feeling of belonging which helps people stick with WordPress even when things get rough. 

However, building community through events brings limitations. If someone can’t attend our events, due to geography, schedules, or other barriers, then they are left out. We approach this challenge by trying to foster community in as many places and events in as many times and locations as possible (Whew!). Thousands of people contribute to this amazing effort.

Online events greatly reduce how geography limits the reach of our events (yay!), but the limitation of synchronous events remains. If someone can’t attend the hangout or Zoom at 6pm, then they’re mostly out of luck.  Also, our organising work is less efficient than it could be, with multiple speakers/organisers sharing content about the same subjects in different locations all over the globe. 

Currently, if someone wants to learn more about WordPress from WordPress, they have a few options:

  1. Read some documentation.
  2. Find a local meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area. or WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more., and hope the topic that they want to learn shows up in the schedule.
  3. Watch WordPress.tv or YouTube and hope that they understand the presentation on the topic (if there is one). 

What if there was another way?

Proposal: Recorded workshops + synchronous discussion groups

The most efficient way to reach the largest number of people and help them learn how to use and contribute to WordPress, is with recorded workshops that can be viewed whenever someone has the time and interest. Recorded talks or workshops make learning available to everyone in the world, no matter what timezone they’re in, what schedule they follow, or when they discover an interest. 

But as we all know, synchronous discussions are incredibly powerful. They facilitate connection, mutual learning, exchange of ideas, and personal development. 

What if we blended those two elements into a program that provides the flexibility of online content, with the value and sense of community that comes with learning together?

We could publish workshops in a central location (on wordpress.org, for better visibility and reach) and then invite learners to join live discussion groups that cater to different timezones. This “flipped classroom” model allows people to learn at their convenience, and then come together for additional development. 

The workshops could be put together by people who would otherwise be speaking at WordCamps, and we could even use existing content from WordPress.TV or talks that are being given at online meetups. There is also potential for longer courses, composed of multiple workshops, and a group that meets repeatedly over time. 

Once the discussion group or workshop is complete, the discussion group leader could recommend that the learners check out their local community groups for more WordPress learning and camaraderie. 

This approach has the potential to grow WordPress as a platform, and support our mission of helping people learn to use and contribute to WordPress, in an exciting new way. 

Feedback

If you agree that this idea is exciting, or if you have a question or suggestion, please leave a comment on this post! Here are some specific questions to get you started:

  1. Have you seen a workshop in the past year that you’d recommend to be included in a first iteration of this program?
  2. What topics would be important to include in an initial offering of workshops?
  3. Are you interested in helping to develop content for a program like this, or reviewing proposed content for accuracy? 
  4. Would you be interested in leading a discussion group for a workshop, or training discussion group leaders?

Diverse Speaker Workshops Report – July 2020

The Diverse Speaker Training group (#WPDiversity) normally trains WordPress meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area. organizers how to hold their own Diverse Speaker workshop in order to increase how many speaker applications they get from people from marginalized and underrepresented groups.

During the pandemic, the team is delivering the workshop to the global WordPress community online ourselves.

Each month, we are reporting at the tag #DiverseSpeakerWorkshopsReports how these workshops are going.

July 2020

July’s events consisted of a three-part workshop, one hour each day, three days in a row.

Number who attended: 20
From number of cities: 18
From number of countries: 12 (Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Serbia, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States)

Number who attended all 3 sessions: 3
Number who attended 2 sessions: 6

Increase in public speaking confidence after taking a workshop: 10%

Testimonials

“Before I took this workshop, I was unable to determine the best topic for my talk. Thanks to this session, I am able to tailor my talk to a WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. audience. I would recommend this workshop to anyone who is for/looking to achieve a successful talk at WordCamp.”
– Waddell “Dell” Fields, Web Developer, Author, Speaker, Trainer and Personal Coach

“LOVED the #WPDiversity Workshop! It really inspired me to bring this type of content to the WordPress Mexico community and bring more diverse groups into speaking at our Meetups and WordCamps. ¡Muchas gracias!”
– Maryl Gonzalez – Co-Founder / Lead UXUX UX is an acronym for User Experience - the way the user uses the UI. Think ‘what they are doing’ and less about how they do it./UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing. Designer | Scrum/Agile PM – The App Chefs

August workshops and beyond

Love this? Come attend a workshop series!

Next one is August 18-20, with practise sessions on August 25 & 27: https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/24/call-for-participants-diverse-speaker-workshops-july-august/

In September and November, we are going to be featuring intermediate public speaking topics for people of marginalized and underrepresented groups. October will be our usual beginner topics. Keep an eye out for these announcements at https://make.wordpress.org/community/tag/wpdiversityworkshops/.

#diversespeakerworkshopsreports

X-post: Update on learn.wordpress.org

X-comment from +make.wordpress.org/training: Comment on Update on learn.wordpress.org

Proposal: Managing discussion group signups

With the launch of a new series of workshops coming up rapidly, we need to find a way to manage the signup process for discussion groups. A manual process will not be ideal considering the volume of discussion groups we’re planning to see as a result of the workshops, but we don’t have a tool in use to manage signups in an automated fashion.

Proposed immediate solution to manage discussion group signups

Create a new WordPress group on Meetup.com named “Learn WordPress”  where we can post each discussion group as an individual event. This would allow us to work with a platform we’re already familiar with while allowing attendees to easily sign up for discussion groups. An additional benefit would be that the discussion groups would show up as events in the dashboard events widgetWidget A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page. WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress theme to the user. since Meetup.com events within the chapter program are already pulled into the system. It would also allow us to limit the number of attendees for each session to a size that is reasonable to hold a discussion (20?) and allow for a waitlist of attendees  who could either join the session if people cancel or be added to the next discussion group on the topic. 

We would use the Make Meetings plugin to show all of the upcoming discussion groups on the site and link each discussion to its corresponding event on meetup.com.

We would be able to implement this immediately.

Proposed eventual method to manage discussion group signups

Create a use case specific tool (perhaps using Camptix or a fork of it so it doesn’t have to be built from scratch) to have sign-ups happen on site. The greatest benefits of this would be that everything happens in one place with no need to send attendees away to a third party site for signups and information. 

We would be able to implement this eventually.

Other ideas discussed

While I landed on proposing MeetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area. for immediate use we also discussed scheduling and signup through Calendly and ScheduleOnce, but after reviewing each it seemed too unwieldy for our needs. I also chatted with some folx about use of CampTix but it’s only set up currently to allow one event per site. 

Questions or suggestions

  • Do you have any suggestions or input on the proposal for immediate use?
  • What do you think is a reasonable limit on the number of people per discussion group?
  • Do you have any suggestions or input on the proposal for eventual use?

We’re on a tight schedule to make this happen so I’d appreciate any feedback you have in regards to these ideas by Thursday, August 13, 2020.

#learn-wordpress, #proposal

Proposal: Workshop Submission and Review Process for Learn WordPress

Since we’ve been talking about moving beyond events when it comes to online WordPress content, and there’s an application form available for anyone who would like to assist with reviewing submitted workshops, this is a good time to discuss the submission and review process for workshops submitted to the Learn WordPress platform, which is intended to be hosted on learn.wordpress.org.

This process needs to be simple enough that it doesn’t discourage people from submitting their content, and open enough so that reviewers can collaborate on the process effectively. Here’s a proposal for how this could work:

Step 1: A presenter submits their workshop details in a custom form, which saves their details as a new post in the same post type that published workshops are stored in, but in draft status. This will sound familiar to WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. organisers as it’s exactly how WordCamp session submissions work.

Step 2: Reviewers are given a user role that permits them to edit posts in the workshop post type (possibly editor or a custom user role if necessary). They can log in to review the workshop and leave notes on it as needed. These notes can be viewed by other reviewers to facilitate collaboration in the process.

Step 3: For a workshop that is approved, the reviewer would then request any additional info from the presenter (likely using the support@wordcamp.org Help Scout instance for communication), and inform them that they should go ahead and record the workshop. This means that presenters don’t unnecessarily spend the time recording content that is not going to be used.

Step 4: The recorded workshop (hosted on WordPress.tv), along with any other missing info, is added to the post and it is scheduled to be published if it passes a final review of the content itself.

This process enables collaboration between reviewers and minimises any friction in the process.

Feedback

  1. Does this process sound open and collaborative enough for this kind of platform?
  2. Is there anything that you would change in the steps outlined above?

I have also added this as an issue on the Learn WordPress GitHub repository, so any relevant discussion and points from this post will be copied over there to update that proposal.

Community Team Chat Agenda | August 6 2020

Hello Team!

Our bi-monthly Community Team chat is happening this Thursday, 30 July 2020. Meeting times are detailed below. We use the same agenda for both meetings in order to include all time zones.

Asia-Pacific / EMEA friendly: Thursday, August 6, 2020, 11:00 UTC

Americas friendly: Thursday, Augsut 6, 2020, 20:00 UTC

Deputy/Mentor check-in

What have you been doing and how is it going?

P2P2 P2 or O2 is the term people use to refer to the Make WordPress blog. It can be found at https://make.wordpress.org/. posts needing review/feedback

  • Reimagining Online Events – Angela Jin – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/13/reimagining-online-events/
  • Meetup Organizer Newsletter: July 2020 – Hari Shanker – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/14/meetup-organizer-newsletter-july-2020/
  • Tuesday Trainings: Mentor Roundtable – Cami Kaos – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/14/tuesday-trainings-mentor-roundtable/
  • Supporting Black Voices in WordPress – Jillbinder – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/15/supporting-black-voices-in-wordpress/
  • Tuesday Trainings: Open-source and the GPL in Community Events – Naoko Takano – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/21/tuesday-trainings-open-source-and-the-gpl-in-community-events/
  • Moving forward with online events – Andrea Middleton – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/23/moving-forward-with-online-events/
  • In-person events in rest of year 2020 – Timi Wahalahti – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/27/in-person-events-in-rest-of-year-2020/
  • Tuesday Trainings: Supporting Meetup groups during the pandemic – Hari Shanker – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/28/tuesday-trainings-supporting-meetup-groups-during-the-pandemic/
  • Recap of Youth Event Working Group Checkin Chat – Sandy Edwards –https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/28/recap-of-the-youth-event-working-group-checkin-chat-friday-24-july-2020/
  • The Learn WordPress applications are here! -Cami Kaos – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/08/03/the-learn-wordpress-workshop-presenter-application-is-here/
    https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/08/04/the-learn-wordpress-workshop-reviewer-application-is-here/
    https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/08/05/the-learn-wordpress-discussion-leader-application-is-here/
  • Announcement: Flagship Events in 2021 – Hugh Lashbrooke – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/08/04/announcement-flagship-events-in-2021/
  • Tuesday Trainings: It’s not always easy to just say no. – Cami Kaos – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/08/04/tuesday-trainings-its-not-always-easy-to-just-say-no/
  • Proposal: Asking confirmation when registering for a free ticket – Timi Wahalahti – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/08/04/proposal-asking-confirmation-when-registering-for-a-free-ticket/

Highlighted P2 posts

  • Building community beyond events – Hugh Lashbrooke – https://make.wordpress.org/community/2020/07/23/building-community-beyond-events/

Please add any additional items to this agenda by commenting on this post as needed.

#deputy-chat, #meeting-agenda, #team-chat

The Learn WordPress discussion leader application is here!

After much brainstorming, reflection, and discussion we’ll be adding non-synchronous workshops to our inspirational and educational content in addition to the online meetups and events we’ve all grown accustomed to over the past several months. This exciting new effort is explained and discussed in greater detail in a recent post.

Later this month we’ll begin releasing new pre-recorded content aimed at educating and engaging both new and longterm WordPress users. While the content itself is sure to be fantastic, it’s just the starting point. Once the workshop content has been made available and community members and users have watched and learned from it, we will launch a discussion group, or series of discussion groups, to greater explore the content of each workshop.

Monday, I announced the application to submit Learn WordPress workshops. Yesterday, I announced the application to review submitted workshops. Today I’m excited to share with you the application to be a workshop discussion leader.

Continue reading

#applications, #learn-wordpress, #workshops

Proposal: Asking confirmation when registering for a free ticket

In a discussion on WordCamp.org Github repository @coreymckrill brought up an idea about asking a confirmation when an attendee registers for free WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. ticket.

The discussion started from mitigating the special accommodation request notice flood, especially with larger events, but soon shifted to the direction where it was realised that it might not be so inclusive to ask confirmation only from attendees ticking the special accommodation request box.

Because free tickets don’t have money transaction that verifies the purchase and registration, our online WordCamp registrations are more open for different kind of abuses. For example, a bot registering with unwanted link as their website that will appear on attendees page, or someone doing a blackhat SEO tricks.

Adding a step of confirmation would prevent the abuse to some extent and as well work as a reminder for the attendee that they are really enrolling for an event that some team has organised with lots of love towards it.

Only after the attendee would have clicked the link directing to page that does the confirmation, their information would be shown on public attendees list.

How about ticket quantities? When attendee registers, ticket would be reserved and removed from the available pool. If confirmation page isn’t visited within 12 hours after registration, the reservation will expire, reserved ticket returns to available pool and attendee is marked with “Cancelled” or “Timeout” status.

Any thoughts? Concerns? Please share those and your opinion about wheter we should ask confirmation when registering for a free ticket or not before 2020-08-20.

#online-events, #confirmation, #registration, #tickets

Tuesday Trainings: It’s not always easy to just say no.

As Community Team deputies and mentors, sometimes we find ourselves in the position of needing to say “No.” It’s just a little word. In English, it’s exactly two letters. It’s so easy, it’s the first real word many children learn to say. But sometimes, it can be overwhelmingly difficult to say. 

Today, we’ll focus on three types of “No” that we often come across in our daily work.

  • When someone is asking for our assistance or additional volunteer efforts.
  • When an organizer or volunteer is asking to do something that doesn’t fit within the expectations of our program.
  • When we’re rejecting an applicant (to speak, organize, volunteer).

Of course, there are many other reasons for us to say “No,” but these are the instances I want to focus on today.

“I don’t know, but let’s find out”

Before we dive into the big NO of it all, I do want to take a moment to remind you that if you don’t KNOW the answer, “No” shouldn’t be your go to. If you’re uncertain, please understand that you’re not expected to know everything. You just need to know when to ask for more help. When that happens to me, I like to say, “I don’t know, but let’s find out.”

Then I turn to my best resources, my fellow deputies, and community members. For you, that may be asking in the #community-team channel in the Making WordPress SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/., sending an email to support@wordcamp.org, or asking a friend who is also working on the project. 

Don’t simply say “No” just because you have the power to. But when you need to say “No”…

Saying “No” to doing more

As volunteers in this program, we ask a lot of you. In addition to the work that brought you into the WordPress project in the first place, you may find yourself volunteering, speaking, organizing, mentoring, working as a deputy, leading a working group, or even leading a whole team of volunteers. And it seems like the more you do, the more is asked of you. The more dependable and hardworking you are, the more people will ask. 

It’s important for us all to know our limit. To know when we should stop. And to know when we should decline additional commitments. This is the one that is most challenging for me personally. But I’ve learned my lesson. When I know I’m doing enough, saying “Yes” to more work will lead to burnout.

If you have enough (or too much on your plate) the best way to say “No” to more work is to be transparent about it. Tell the requester that you won’t be able to do the job the way it deserves to be done. Here, saying “No” saves you from being overworked, and it saves the requester the frustration of having the task done by someone who isn’t fully available. 

If you want to help in a smaller way, and you have the bandwidth to do so, you might try:

  • Suggesting another individual you think would do the job well.
  • If you’ll have time available in the future, let them know when that will be.
  • Offer assistance that DOES fit into your schedule, but make your boundaries clear.

Saying “No” to something that doesn’t fit within expectations

As mentors and deputies, you hold a lot of knowledge about the way the program runs, and the expectations and guidelines that have developed over the years. But even more importantly, sometimes you have insight into why we have these expectations and guidelines in place. 

While we’re currently doing a lot of experimentation in the WordPress events program, it’s perhaps harder than ever to say no. With all the new things organizers are trying out, considering the health and safety of our community and the financial stability of the program, as well as remaining consistent with the values of the project, there’s still a lot to say “No” to. 

If an organizer or deputy wants to do something that you know doesn’t match the program’s expectations, you need to say “No”, and often there is no easy way to do it. But here are some things that can help you prepare to deny a request.

  • Do some research. Has this request been denied in the past? If so you can share that information.
  • Be transparent. Don’t say “No” without sharing the expectation or guideline that led you not to approve something or someone.
  • Understand the values behind the expectation. Is it a fun, but unnecessary expense? Share that we run the events program to focus on lean budgets that benefit attendees with education and collaboration. 
  • Be prepared with backup. You don’t have to do it alone. It’s always reasonable to get a second opinion and ask that person to be there to say “No” with you.

Saying “No” to an applicant

Based on the feedback I get from speaker applicants throughout the program, this may be the one that’s hardest for many of our organizers and community members. Saying “No” to someone who WANTS to speak, volunteer, or help in some way.

I don’t think any of us want to disappoint others in our community, so it can be really emotionally challenging to send out rejection emails, or have those tough rejection conversations. When we sign up to help the community, we don’t sign up to intentionally hurt people by rejecting them.

Year after year, I see organizers procrastinate on sending out speaker rejections until it’s too late. Year after year, I have community members reach out to me to find out if I know when an event will notify their speakers. Or to tell me on the evening of an event that they applied, but were never accepted or rejected. 

It’s true that every once in a while someone was accidentally skipped over, or an email went to spam. But most of the time it’s that the speaker team just “forgot” or didn’t know how to say “No” kindly, so they just never got around to doing it. 

The truth of the matter is, that no matter how bad it may feel to be rejected, never hearing back is even worse. I’ve heard people express that it felt like they didn’t matter enough to be notified, that they thought the organizing team wasn’t doing their job, that they felt like they were being strung along. I’ve heard from people who weren’t notified that they went ahead and built a whole presentation for an event just in case the team was behind. 

In this case, more than any other, not saying “No”, not sending a timely rejection to that applicant to speak, organize, or volunteer is unkind. It can cause worry, anxiety, hard feelings, and a lot of wasted time.

Here’s what you should keep in mind when saying no to an applicant:

  • Saying “No” is a kindness, do so promptly.
  • Don’t be wishy-washy, be assertive and polite.
  • Reject them privately.
  • Offer them the option to ask questions.
  • Only encourage them to apply again if you mean it. 

Wrapping up

For most of us saying “No” isn’t fun. We don’t wake up in the morning excited to reject individuals and crush dreams, but it is a necessity, and avoiding it when it is inevitable or being unclear makes things worse. Remember, be kind by sharing honestly.

Do you have any good tips on how to make saying “No” easier? Any questions? Please share them in the comments!

#tuesdaytrainings

The Learn WordPress workshop reviewer application is here!

After much brainstorming, reflection, and discussion we’ll be adding non-synchronous workshops to our inspirational and educational content in addition to the online meetups and events we’ve all grown accustomed to over the past several months. This exciting new effort is explained and discussed in greater detail in a recent post.

Later this month we’ll begin releasing new pre-recorded content aimed at educating and engaging both new and longterm WordPress users. While the content itself is sure to be fantastic, it’s just the starting point. Once the workshop content has been made available and community members and users have watched and learned from it, we will launch a discussion group, or series of discussion groups, to greater explore the content of each workshop.

Yesterday I announced the application to submit Learn WordPress workshops. Today I’m excited to share with you the application to be a workshop reviewer.

Workshop reviewers will review applications for workshops in their area of expertise and in the language(s) in which they’re fluent and make recommendations on whether the workshops should be created and shared in the Learn WordPress project.

Continue reading

#community-team, #workshops

Announcement: Flagship Events in 2021

With the continued progression of COVID-19, there are serious concerns regarding the safety of our community at flagship WordPress events in 2021. 

Flagship events (i.e. large, regional WordCamps that attract an international audience) bring together people from all corners of the world, so until infection rates are effectively mitigated and/or a vaccine is widely available, these large scale events that typically host more than 1,000 individuals could become “super-spreader” events if a single infected person attends. 

The Community Team has already made recommendations for in-person events for the remainder of 2020. At this time, it seems prudent to take the following precautionary measures with our largest in-person events for 2021.

New Flagship Events

Applications for new flagship events (or regional events that cover multiple regions or countries) will not be accepted for all of 2021.

Existing Flagship Events

If any current flagship would like to host events in 2021, they will need to be online. This applies to WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. Europe (already announced), WordCamp US, WordCamp Asia, and WordCamp Centroamérica. As online events continue to evolve to reflect community needs, the Community Team strongly encourages these flagship organising teams to be creative in their approach.

Please know that, at the heart of these recommendations, is a desire to protect everyone in the community, their families, and everyone we all may come in contact with. Although we grieve the loss of in-person events, we can still make a difference by supporting and protecting the members of the community. The continued health and safety of WordPress users, attendees, contributors, organisers, and volunteers is of utmost importance here.