Announcement: Enabling G Suite for WordCamp.org emails

Based on feedback from Community organizers, the WordPress Community team has decided to switch all city@wordcamp.org email accounts to G Suite. We plan to implement the switch a week from now, on Wednesday, August 26. All new WordCamps, along with all existing camps that from 2019 and 2020 that had at least made to pre-planning, will get a G Suite account.

Background

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. organizing teams have always been provided a city@wordcamp.org email address in order to look more official when contacting venues, sponsors, etc. Historically, we have created email forwarders for all camp organizers, and set up POP/IMAP access as well as cPanel based email accounts for some organizers upon request. However, the cPanel based webmail client we used was not very user-friendly and doesn’t work well when multiple people are using it. Organizers have found it challenging to track emails at a central location, and send outgoing emails from the city@wordcamp.org account. 

The WordPress foundation was approved for a G Suite for Non-profits account in April 2020, which we can use for the wordcamp.org domain. G Suite provides a host of tools (including Gmail, Drive and Docs, Google Meet, and YouTube) that WordCamps can use, along with a modern, user-friendly interface. We reached out to organizers to get some feedback on how they would like to use the WordCamp email accounts. The feedback we received was that our existing email service implementation had several shortcomings and made us realize that Community Members would benefit immensely from a G Suite account.

Hence the team has decided to implement G Suite for all WordCamp accounts, in August 2020.  

Features

Here is a comprehensive list of all the tools we have made available for WordCamp organizers, listed along with training docs for the respective tools.

  • Calendar: For scheduling events amongst WordCamp organizers.
  • Drive: You get 30 GB of Google Drive space for all your information.
  • Docs, Sheets, and Slides: You can use these tools to store your docs, create/manage spreadsheets, or even store talk slides. 
  • Gmail: For all your email needs. 
  • Groups for Business: For group communications. 
  • Google Meet: Organizers can use G Suite for video calls between your teams and online sessions. Through September 30, 2020, all G Suite customers can use advanced Meet features, like larger meetings (up to 250 participants), live streaming, and recording. Google Meet for G Suite non-profits only has the standard Google Meet features available for all Google accounts. The trial is available only for paid G Suite accounts.
  • Hangouts Chat: Basic chat features
  • Tasks: Task management for your organizing team
  • YouTube: You can live-stream your online events and host local Camp/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. videos.
  • Maps: Useful for in-person WordCamps to store location/map information and to create c custom maps. 
  • Keep: Helps you store notes.

Getting a G Suite Account for your WordCamp

  • All approved WordCamps from August 2020 will get a G Suite account automatically instead of a cPanel based email account. We can also set up a collaborative inbox for the organizing team upon request.
  • All WordCamps that are currently on the schedule, along with all WordCamps in 2020 that had made it to pre-planning as well as WordCamps that were successfully completed in 2019, will get a G Suite account. The email forwarders for these camps will continue to work, but organizers will lose access to cPanel email accounts (if they were using the same). Organizers of camps that had wrapped up in 2019, as well as camps that had made it at least to a pre-planning stage in 2020, will get a G Suite account. We will email organizers separately with G Suite credentials. 
  • Email addresses of all older camps (Camps that last had an event in 2018 or earlier) will be deactivated. Their email forwarders will also stop working. If any camp organizers from past years would like to keep their city@wordcamp.org email address in G Suite, they can email to support@wordcamp.org to request access for the same. We will consider this on a case-by-case basis. 

Implementation

WordCamp.org currently uses the built-in cPanel emailing feature. We plan to point the MX records of the WordCamp.org domain to G Suite on August 26, 2020 (Wednesday). DNSDNS DNS is an acronym for Domain Name System - how you assign a human readable address to a website’s exact numeric coded location (ie. wordpress.org uses the actual IP address 198.143.164.252). Propagation could take up to 48 hours. However, based on our tests, this should take only a few minutes. During this time, existing WordCamp organizers might face a short downtime for their emails during the migrationMigration Moving the code, database and media files for a website site from one server to another. Most typically done when changing hosting companies. process. 

FAQs

I’m the organizer of a 2020 camp. How do I get access to G Suite?
If you are the organizer of a 2020 camp, you will have received an email about this from us already, announcing the switch. We will follow up with you later this week with an email to your city@wordcamp.org email address, with credentials or instructions to reset your password for the G Suite address before we switch over to G Suite. Please follow the instructions to create a G Suite account. The email account will start working after we officially complete the migration on August 26, 2020 (Wednesday).

My WordCamp has wrapped up, but I’d like to get access to a G Suite account for valid reasons. How do I proceed?
We will provide G Suite access to all WordCamps from 2019 and 2020. We will email the credentials separately to you in your existing account before we make the switch to G Suite (ideally later this week), so that you can reset the password, log in, and access the G Suite account. Typically, we don’t revoke access to city@wordcamp.org email addresses once the Camp has concluded (until the next event). However, email access for the Camp’s email address is only enabled until the event concludes. So if the last edition of your camp was held in 2018 or earlier, we may not be able to create a G Suite account for you (unless you’re applying for a new event that has successfully completed its orientation). However, if you would like to gain access to your camp’s email address for legitimate reasons (for example, to follow-up on post-wrap-up tasks), you can reach out to us, and we’d be happy to provide you access to the G Suite account. Please note: This will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Will email forwarders configured originally for the camp during set up stop working?
Email forwarders for all the WordCamps that we will be providing a G Suite address for (WordCamps from 2019 and 2020), will keep working. Email forwarders for other camps (that had their last event held in 2018 or earlier) will stop working. 

I’d like to have a certain feature from G Suite for my Camp
We have only enabled limited G Suite features with the WordCamp G Suite account. However, if you feel that a specific feature would be useful for your camp, you can request it by emailing support@wordcamp.org.

WordPress is an open-source project. Is using a proprietary platform such as G Suite for such a project really a good idea?
The mission of WordPress is to decentralize the internet. In that sense, using the services of one company that is an internet major does seem counter-intuitive given that there are open-source alternatives that we can try out. 

The decision to use G Suite is motivated by pragmatism, and serves to minimize the amount of developer time we require to maintain our systems. YouTube has turned out to be the best way to live stream videos for online WordCamps. Having a G Suite account prevents the risk of using the WordCamp CentralWordCamp Central Website for all WordCamp activities globally. https://central.wordcamp.org includes a list of upcoming and past camp with links to each. YouTube account for live streaming, and allows organizers to embed live streams on WordCamp sites without turning on monetization. Additionally, in our research, we found out that most of the organizers were using either a Gmail account or a paid G Suite account, along with other features such as Google Docs and Drive. Hence, G Suite seems like the right fit for our requirements. 

Based on that background, using G Suite for email will also allow us to free up valuable developer time to work on higher-impact contributor tools.

I’m currently managing emails using a POP/IMAP client. How do I go ahead?
G Suite offers a better, more transparent method of connecting to POP/IMAP clients. Organizers will be able to create these connections on their own, rather than having to wait on WordCamp Central Deputies. 


Do you have any questions or concerns about the G Suite implementation? Do you have any suggestions on how best we can make use of G Suite? Is there anything about this announcement that is unclear? Let us know in the comments! 

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