Regional WordCamps discussion summary and proposal

This post summarizes the discussion of what expectations we should set for Regional WordCamps, and then proposes an “alpha version” of expectations that we can react to, discuss, and refine into a final version, which we’ll hopefully be ready to publish by the end of August.

See the original post and read the comments in full here.

Click here to go straight to the proposed expectations. 🙂 The goal here is to express clearly what the goal for the event type is, what we’ll be looking for when considering applications to organize regional WordCamps, and also what we’re going to ask of organizing teams.

Feel free to share your thoughts about whether something strikes you as too difficult or lax, as well as if you think this misses something people should know before they apply to organize a Regional WordCamp.

Let’s leave this discussion open through August 16, and set a goal to have the “release date” on August 23.

(A note about timing: this proposed schedule is much less aggressive than what I had set on the original post. I think the goal of a one-week discussion of these issues, during what is for many vacation season, was too short. Also, I definitely underestimated the time it would take me to summarize comments and post this. 🙂 So mea culpa, and also let’s try a slower round.)

Summary of comments:

Overall most people agreed with the goals for a Regional WordCamp. Some people disagreed with the expectation that there should be local communities already organized before a Regional WordCamp should be considered. Marko commented that we should stay with city-based WordCamps, and not expand the program beyond WordCamp US and WordCamp Europe.

A number of people advocated a “less rules, more trust of local organizers” approach in general, with one heartfelt request that expectations be applied equally across the board. I shared my thoughts on the benefits of clear expectations as a tool for inclusion.

In the question of A) how we define a region, most people agreed that this needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. There was support for a variety of region sizes.

About what B) level of community involvement to expect:

1. Minimum number of events/meetups in the region?

Most people agreed that there should be some number, but they weren’t sure what it should be and they thought it should depend on the size of a region.

2. Expected level of activity in the local communities?

Most people who addressed this, did so with an “it depends.” 🙂 Taco shared the opinion that Regional Camps shouldn’t have to move around from city to city.

Regarding Regional WordCamp C) oversight and support:

Jenny B disagreed that there should be any difference in “standards” for organizers of regional camps vs city-based camps. Aditya and Jon said they thought regional camp organizers should be held to higher standards.

1. Should organizers take the deputy training course?

Most people thought that was a good idea, with some suggestion that we focus on the “Values of the WordPress Project” portion of the course.

2. Should all members of the organizing team be experienced WordCamp organizers?

Most people didn’t think everyone on the team needed to have WordCamp organizing experience.

3. Should regional camps have an experienced mentor?

Resounding support for this idea.

4. Should regional camp organizers make a monthly report on this blog?

Opinions were almost split on this one, with most people agreeing with the idea, and some folks saying it would put too much of a burden on the organizing team.

Other issues that weren’t already raised:

There was a lot of concern about Regional WordCamps absorbing sponsorship funds in a way that would damage city-based WordCamps (Randy, Michele, and Aditya commented on this.) Taco suggested we use “WordConf” for this kind of event to avoid confusion. Alex suggested we should look into travel assistance for organizers for this kind of event.

Regional WordCamp expectations, alpha version

Content Note: I’m breaking this up into sections to make it easier to parse for discussion. In the eventual handbook document for this program, I’d expect a slightly more casual (but still clear) structure.

Definition: A Regional WordCamp is a special kind of WordCamp that represents the WordPress communities in a geographical area larger than one city/metro area.

Goal: The goal of a Regional WordCamp is to celebrate, represent, and grow local WordPress communities in the affected region. A primary goal for the WordPress Global Community Team is to help support a WordPress meetup group and annual WordCamp in as many cities as possible in the world. Regional WordCamps work toward that goal by connecting people who weren’t already active in their local WordPress community and/or inspiring attendees to start communities in their hometowns.

Expectations for successful applicants:  To celebrate the local community in your region, there has to be some level of local community established already. Before applying to organize a regional WordCamp, there should be at least three but possibly more cities in your region with a local group that meets monthly, and that have have hosted at least one WordCamp. The larger your region (in geography and population), the more established communities we’ll expect.

The organizing team for a regional WordCamp should include experienced event organizers that represent all of the established WordPress communities in the region.

If more than one of the WordCamps in the region suffered financial shortfalls or had difficulties meeting expectations for transparency or inclusion, would-be organizers might be asked to address those issues before moving forward with a regional WordCamp in that region.

Once you’re approved for pre-planning, we’ll ask for all the other stuff we ask WordCamp organizers to do, plus:

  • the lead organizer of the event to take the introductory section of the Community Deputy training course.
  • for you and your team to be good examples of the values of the WordPress project at work. Inclusion and transparency should be your bywords from start to finish.
  • that at least three people on your organizing team have served on another WordCamp organizing team.
  • that you work with an experienced community deputy, who will help you model our best practices and meet the event goals.
  • that a member of your team or your mentor post a regular update (at least every other month) on the progress of your event planning to make.wordpress.org/community.

Fair warning: this is a new program, and our team is still figuring out how these kinds of events will fit within the broader context of our existing network of meetups and WordCamps. Due to staffing or resource constraints, the team may decide to limit the number of regional WordCamps that we approve per year, to better serve the global community. This set of expectations will definitely change over time.

Comment below!

As mentioned above, feel free to share your thoughts in a comment on this post. 🙂

Let’s leave this discussion open through August 16, and set a goal to have the “release date” on August 23.