Discussion: How could we improve the WordPress Community Summit?

tl;dr: Let’s brainstorm on how we can change the Community Summit event format to keep the benefits and reduce the pain points!

History and Background

The first WordPress Community Summit was organized in 2012, guided by the idea that face-to-face interactions in a safe space amongst a small number of contributors can help resolve conflicts that are deadlocked.

The stated purpose of the event was to

  • Build bridges between the people making WordPress (via the contributor groups) and the people doing the best and most influential work built on top of it
  • Open channels of communication between project leaders, volunteers, and professionals in the community
  • Learn more about each others’ goals, challenges, and ways we can help each other
  • Share best practices
  • Have some social time and get to know each other better

The event has always been invitation-only, to keep the discussion groups small enough that everyone could interact and participate. The smallest summit had around 200 attendees; the largest was around 350 attendees. Most of our community summits have included a travel assistance program to ensure that no invited contributor was unable to attend for financial reasons.

Results and Challenges

We’ve had 4 community summits, which have resulted in some really positive outcomes, including:

  • identification of shared goals and/or struggles
  • productive cross-team discussions
  • conflict resolutions (due to face-to-face interaction or “safe space” conversations? both? hard to tell)
  • stronger relationships between contributors who attended

Some of the pain points we’ve discovered include:

  • Invitation-only events are challenging — I’m tempted to say “excruciating” — for our community. The event is, by definition, not inclusive. Not being invited to a summit can be taken to mean, “I’m not important here,” which conflicts with the welcoming and egalitarian environment we value. When you organize an exclusive event like this, you are guaranteed to hurt a lot of feelings.
  • Selecting “the right people to invite” along with “the right topics to discuss” is very difficult. The method we’ve used most recently has been to ask contributor teams to identify the issues they need to discuss, which then defines the people who need to attend (to cut down on the “popularity contest” effect). But that means discussion topics are selected 3-6 months in advance, which can mean that difficult decisions are put on hold for longer than necessary.
  • We can’t depend on “fly everyone to the same place” as our primary way to make hard decisions or have productive conversations. For one thing, it’s really expensive (in cash money and in volunteer hours). It also sets artificial limits on how many brains we can focus on a problem or opportunity — only the people in the room can help with a problem that’s being addressed by a (relatively) small group of people.

Looking forward

Where do we go from here? Let’s get creative! I’d love your thoughts on this topic, especially on the following points:

  1. Is there anything missing from the above lists of benefits and pain points?
  2. Do you have suggestions of how WordPress can still enjoy the benefits of this kind of event, while eliminating or reducing the pain points?

To give the conversation some structure, let’s aim to close comments by March 15, 2019. #summit #discussion

WordPress meetup organizer newsletter: February 2019

Hello WordPress Meetup organizers!

Welcome to another meetup organizer newsletter full of news, information and inspiration for your local meetup.

Newsletter contents:

  • Annual Meetup Surveys close on 28 Feb
  • Event Format: Ask me Anything on WordPress
  • Diversity Outreach Speaker Training Workshops
  • Reminders

Annual Meetup Surveys close on 28 Feb

Last month we sent out our meetup member and organizer surveys.

Please help us improve our support of meetup organizers and member all over the world by taking 10 minutes to fill out the organizer survey! The survey will be up until the 28th of February 2019.

It would be helpful if organizers could also remind their members to respond to the surveys.

Event Format: Ask me Anything on WordPress

Some meetups are experimenting with new type of meetups format, where organizers and volunteers are hosting an open-office or help desk, where attendees can get to ask about their WordPress problems to experts.

Some examples are these meetups from communities in Karachi, Pakistan and Pune, India.

This is a great way for ensuring local WordPress users getting to meet and interact with local WordPress experts.

For more event formats that have worked well in other WordPress meetup groups, check out the meetup organizer handbook page on event formats!

To hear a round table discussion between other meetup organizers about popular topics at meetups, check out this video.

Diversity Outreach Speaker Training Workshops

The diversity outreach speaker training working group is asking for feedback from organizers who have run the diversity speaker training. Send an email to speaker-training@wordcamp.org to get the feedback questionnaire!

For more info, to let us know that you are running a speaker training workshop, and if you want to request training to run the workshop, please check out our page: https://tiny.cc/wpwomenspeak

This month’s featured speaker training case study: Kirsten in Vancouver, BC

Diverse public speaking changes lives and local communities. Kirsten took the speaker training workshop and spoke for the first time at WordCamp Vancouver. While there, she was spotted by a local agency and was hired as their first female developer. Kirsten quickly became the senior developer and team lead and is still in this role three years later. Recently she hired another female developer at her company!

“It had never occurred to me before that I had anything worthwhile to offer the WordPress community. Through the workshop, I saw that I had been underestimating my experience and perspective, and I became comfortable and confident about speaking on a topic I felt would be of interest to others.” – Kirsten

Reminders

  • On the community team we have Office Hours four times a week in the #community-events channel on Slack: Mondays & Wednesdays 22:00 UTC, Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:00 UTC.
  • There is a proposal to improve this newsletter with additional organizer tips and training. You can leave your feedback on this link.

That’s it for now — chat to you next time!

Your friends on the Community Team

make.wordpress.org/community

#meetup #newsletter

Community Team Slack Channels

In August last year, we had a discussion about renaming our channels in Slack to be easier to find (https://make.wordpress.org/community/2016/08/05/community-team-slack-channels/).

In that conversation, we eventually decided to rename the two existing channels and then monitor the need for additional channels after we were easier to find and clearly defined (https://make.wordpress.org/community/2016/08/05/community-team-slack-channels/#comment-22449).

During this week’s community chats, the conversation resurfaced (https://make.wordpress.org/community/2017/05/25/agenda-for-community-team-chat-june-1st/#comment-23583), so it’s time to look at what we have been doing and what we can do differently.

Share your thoughts in the comments on this. Here are some starting prompts!

  • What is your understanding of The Problem we’re solving?
  • Which Sub-teams (not a term we currently use) are most active?

#community-management #deputies

WordCamp PWA: Plugin proposal and designs

Planning is well underway to create a new look Progressive Web App (PWA) for WordCamp events. The PWA will make accessing and providing content on mobile devices much easier for attendees and organisers.

This builds on the work to create a PWA for previous WordCamp Europe (WCEU) events.

However, rather than developing a standalone PWA at a separate URL to the WordCamp site, as has been the case in the previous years, the plan is to create a layer of contextual information for Camp attendees that is served from and integrated with the WordCamp website, and which can be stored locally on the user’s devices for offline access.

WCEU Blog post on the PWA development

The PWA will present a better mobile experience, taking advantage of touch screen gestures, and will put the most relevant information “at the fingertips” of Camp attendees. The PWA will enhance a WordCamp website, and will allow users to bookmark the website to their device’s home screen for offline access.

This PWA functionality will initially be created as a plugin, displaying an additional visual ‘layer’ of content aimed specifically at attendees, in an ‘App like’ way over the main WordCamp website content. However, both online and offline users will have access to this same layer of content.

WordCamp PWA plugin design proposal v1 - PWA landing page displaying PWA controls over the main WordCamp website
WordCamp PWA plugin design proposal v1 – PWA landing page displaying PWA controls over the main WordCamp website

The plugin should be simple to set up and configure, so that – in the longer term – any WordCamp event can take advantage of its features.

This initiative is being led by the WordCamp Europe 2019 Organiser teams, with design prototyping by the WCEU Design team and development by the Attendee Services team. The Communications team is also actively guiding the design and development of the PWA.

The plan

  • The WordCamp PWA plugin will present an additional ‘layer’ of mobile friendly content over the main WordCamp website – inheriting the basic colours and fonts of the website. However, individual WordCamps should be able to customise the look of the PWA further using CSS overrides.
  • This PWA layer can be switched on/off from plugin settings within WordPress admin, so that it is only available for the duration of the Camp. When viewing the site on touch screen devices during the Camp, users will see the PWA layer appearing over the top of the WordCamp site.
  • The PWA controls will look very like a native smartphone App, and will be optimised for touch screen devices, employing swipe gestures.
  • On loading the website on touch screen devices, the user would be presented with a range of PWA control, docked to the foot of the screen, offering PWA menu options as icons around a large, central, ‘always visible’ circular button that will be used to open/close the PWA layer.
  • Using the power of PWA, the content of the App will be downloaded and stored offline on the user’s local device, and can be bookmarked on the user’s home screen to be accessed at any time, with or without an internet connection.
WordCamp PWA plugin design proposal v1 - Screen layouts
WordCamp PWA plugin design proposal v1 – Screen layouts

Content

The PWA plugin will display a range of key content sections relevant to conference attenders. Each content section will animate open as a panel from the icon at the bottom of the screen. This will initially include the following screens (which relate from left to right to the icons in the image above):

  • Attendees: a full list of attenders with Gravatars, sorted alphabetically, with search field to look up attendees by name. For GDPR reasons, attendees should not be downloaded and stored offline on the local device – although this may be reviewed in the future in line with GDPR and privacy regulations and with any permissions requested during attendee sign-up.
  • Speakers: a full list of speakers with Gravatar, biog and links to relevant sessions, sorted alphabetically, with options to filter by schedule date/topic group and search field to look up speakers by name.
  • Schedule: a full schedule for the WordCamp, with a single column per schedule date, and option to filter by Track. Users will have the ability to ‘favourite’ sessions, and these preferences will be stored on the local device. Columns can be swiped left/right to view previous/next day, and the sessions should be filterable to show just the sessions which the user has marked as their ‘favourite’. Depending on when the schedule is viewed, the schedule list should visibly scroll/animate down to the current time/session, so users can see ‘at a glance’ what is ‘on now’.
  • Venue Map: one or more graphical floor plans of the venue, with the ability to swipe/pinch to resize and re-position the maps within the viewable area of the screen.
  • Announcements: a chronological listing of announcements for attendees during the WordCamp, filterable by type (that is, catering, sessions, social, and so on) and can be determined by the WordCamp organisers.

These five sections will be arranged as icons around a large central ‘Start’ button, docked to the bottom of the screen, to allow users to turn the PWA layer on/off. This circular arrangement would allow us to add additional buttons/sections at a later date, and have these icons ‘revolve’ around the main circular ‘Start’ button with swipe gestures.

The content for all the above sections is already present with the WordPress database for WordCamp sites, apart from ‘Announcements’, which will need a new Custom Post Type to be added, potentially with its own custom taxonomy (to allow users to filter different types of announcements). Venue Map images may also require the use of one or more custom fields for storage and display.

Tablet view proposals

Timeframe

The ambition is to pilot a version of the WordCamp PWA plugin at WordCamp London in April 2019, followed by a full launch at WordCamp Europe 2019 in Berlin in June 2019.


Questions

  • Would you use this PWA plugin for your WordCamp event?
  • Is the content detailed above the most useful for WordCamp attendees – is anything missing or unnecessary?
  • Is the design/UI proposed intuitive and accessible?
  • Any other feedback or observations?

#apps, #improving-wordcamp-org, #progressive-web-app, #pwa, #regional-wordcamps, #wordcamp, #wordcamp-sites, #wordcamps

2019 Deputy Program Goals

Community Deputies are a team of people all over the world who review WordCamp and Meetup applications, interview lead organizers, and generally keep things moving at WordCamp Central. We make sure that new and returning organizers are not overworking themselves, still are following the code of conduct, and generally are making positive contributions to the open source project.

Community Deputy Handbook

The Deputy Program and all of our committed deputies continue to be a valuable part of our team by keeping the wheels turning and making sure that we are up to date with processing applications, assisting community organisers, and generally making sure we don’t fall behind in our work.

In order to further the work of the Deputy Program and to ensure that it remains sustainable as time goes on, it would be helpful to put together a few goals and implement a few new ideas. These are designed to keep the program fresh, encourage deputy retention, increase deputy skills, and grow our deputy team.

So, first off, here are a few new program ideas that we can implement:

Deputy Mentors

Each deputy mentor would have a group of deputies assigned to them personally and it would be up to the mentor to assist and check-in with their mentees regularly. This would involve helping the deputies with the work they are doing, finding out how they’re enjoying it, making sure they are aware of the latest updates, and training them in additional deputy tasks.

Improved Deputy Documentation

The deputy handbook is great, but some of the most basic information is quite well hidden. This is partly a shortcoming of the handbook structure all across the Make network, but we can definitely improve things to give more high-level summaries of significant areas.

Improved Training Processes

Our current training process takes the form of an online course – this works well for disseminating information and making sure that new deputies have all the information they need. The issue is that it takes a long time to go through the answers submitted by each new deputy to make sure they understood everything correctly. It feels like the best way to improve the deputy training course is to edit all the quizzes to be multiple choice questions (so that they can be graded automatically and a 100% pass is required to move on to the next one), but then have a single quiz at the end that includes a number of long-form questions that require longer answers. This means that grading the course would only require manually doing it for a single quiz for each deputy – this would drastically cut down the time it would take to check these answers.

Editing the quizzes to achieve this will be a bit of work here, but it will be worthwhile in the long run. At the end of the training, deputies will be assigned to a mentor who will have their final orientation call and help them remain connected to the program.

Active Deputy Recruitment

This would involve actively approaching people to become deputies (WordCamp lead organisers being a good starting point of course). We can do this on Slack and this P2, but also in person at WordCamps and meetup events.


If we follow through on these items effectively, we will have more deputies, retain individual deputies for longer, and provide everyone with increasing responsibility to work on more impactful tasks. All of which will work towards the goal of giving deputies a greater sense of belonging within the Community Team.

In addition to those items, here are four measurable goals that we can work towards for the end of Q2 2019. These will all be made possible by working on the four items outlined above:

  • 35 active deputies (we currently have 21)
  • 10 deputy mentors
  • 50% of deputies actively running meetup orientations
  • 25% of deputies actively working with WordCamps (including vetting and orientations)

So what do you think? Do you like the ideas outlined above? Have any others worth adding? Do the stated goals seem realistic and attainable?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

#deputies

Community Team Chat Agenda | Thursday, 21 February 2019

Hello Team!

Our bi-monthly Community Team chat is happening this Thursday, 21 January 2019. 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, February 21, 2019, 11:00 UTC

Americas friendly: Thursday, February 21, 2019, 20:00 UTC

Deputy check-in

What have you been doing and how is it going?

P2 posts needing review/feedback

Highlighted P2 posts

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

Paid Freelance Contributors: The idea of the Wapuu Program

Andrea wrote a excellent post on Five for the Future.
There’s stated that is would be nice that 5% of your time goes to WordPress contribution. The proposed outcome is a pledge; and mostly from own employees.
But it even stated -reading between the lines- that companies can sponsor non-employees (freelance volunteers) too.
But there’s no written idea how to connect both parties. The proposal just mentioned that freelancers can ‘ask’ companies to sponsor them.

I would like to see this way better then ‘just asking’.
So, here’s my personal idea on that.

But first:

Five for the future (5FTF) is not working for everyone

5FTF is an amazing concept and is fine scalable for big companies.
For every 20 employees, that’s 1 contributor.
On the level of a freelancer or one-person company: that’s 2 hours per week.
2 hours / week is okay for regular contributions;
But things moving so fast in the last years that it’s hard to cope up with all the news.
Since some freelancers have a real passion for it, they harm themselves because two hours is way to less for them. For them 2 hours/week is a joke. Imagine: what can you seriously do well in 2 hours per week? Including project management, meaning following feedback and input.

There’s one important sad aspect we need to tackle strongly: we need to end those stories: ‘OMG, i lost 30% income this year because of contribution. I got myself caught in the flow’. These things happen, really.
We need to support those people.
Five for the future is absolutely not working for these passionate freelance volunteers.

The uprise of Company Contributors

I love it that companies donate their employees to work half/full time to WordPress.
We’ve seen a rise of those kind of volunteers in the last years, let’s call them ‘company contributors’.
And sure, more help from that corner is absolutely welcome.

But there’s also a shadow over this kind of company contribution which fade out the lights of freelance contributors. Company contributors controls the tempo, WordCamps trips paid by company and ‘company contributors’ are mostly always there when decisions are made.
In an unsubconciscous way this raises the workload for the freelance volunteers. Just an example: everyone can agree that it was almost a half time job just to follow up Core Slack in the Gutenberg times.
In the result of all that, some freelance contributors nowadays are feeling under rewarded, frustrated, unwanted, unappreciated and outvoted in the decision phases.

The State of the Word mentioned with delight that WordPress is a “10 billion business”.
That’s 10,000,000,000 dollars. Yes, i wanted to write that down… brain explosion here…

Personally, i don’t mind that anyone does great business with WordPress. Absolutely not. And i’m not naive saying most of us just want to make a good living too.
But there’s this overall feeling that wealth is not spread equally and this causes unappreciation.

I think it’s time to open a discussion and brake down the taboo of paying freelance WordPress contributors.
I’m not saying we’ll open up the gates for everyone to get paid.
If you’re deep into the WordPress Community you’ll know exactly the type of volunteers we mean.

The importance of the Freelance Contributor.

Whatever companies do that are contributing to WordPress, there’s always that perceptual shadow of contributing for their own interest and agenda.

Would it be otherwise when there are more freelance contributors in the public picture?
Does that brings in more neutrality in the general mindset of the community?

Besides the perception factor, a lot of company contributors are mostly dedicated to a few teams like Core, Community and Documentation. But WordPress is more, right.

The voice of a freelance volunteer is also honest and neutral, not attached by any company standpoints.

All of this brings in the importance of the ‘Freelance Contributor’.
Bring back the sense of ‘power to the community’.
Yes, i call it ‘the sense’, cause i’m not not naive.
But i hope we can stick that foot back in the door and support these people.

The WordPress Foundation can’t help us financially

I understand that the Foundation can’t budget for this.
And that it’s important to stay neutral.
But i’m hoping that there’s a place on wordpress.org for some kind of job board.

Introducing the ‘Wapuu’ Contributor Program

The Wapuu Contributor Program allows companies to pay a WordPress contributor that is not employed by them or another WordPress-related company.
It’s just an idea to use the name Wapuu; the mascotte of WordPress. Cause there’s no better mascotte then a contributor. Now, a Wapuu is just a sticker. Why not use it for better? In Marketing terms: participating companies can use this naming to promote their paid contributors; saying: we have 3 Wapuu’s; meaning we pay 3 people to contribute to WordPress via the program. We can create a recognizeable badge for this to use on companies websites.

So far, the marketing suggestions. What about the practical suggestions?
I would suggest this program for a particular group of volunteers, like

  • Independant one person company or freelancer
  • Minimum 8h to 16h / week contribution
  • 2 years WordPress Contribution experience
  • Known in the WordPress community
  • The volunteer must clearly describe his contribution
  • All financial agreements between volunteer and company
  • Paid in money, not license – products or services

If we do this program, we must raise the bar high enough.
This is not an open job board for everyone: a high minimum experience and contribution time is wanted.

Practical approach
Under conditional terms, we can add extra fields to a WordPress user profile where they can fill in the information: task description, contribution categorie (team) and duration. That’s all, practical (money) stuff is handled between both parties.

Then we need an overview -Job Board- page with some filters like: country, team

For example: a German host can sponsor a German volunteer who is doing 8h per week fixing support tickets. Which means, the German host can forward their clients to the WordPress forum. Same can go for documentation.

First things first
The questions is also: are companies willing to participate in this program?
Maybe we can launch a quaestionaire first?

What about volunteers still working for free?
I’m pretty sure that both types of volunteers (being paid + free) can work together.
Heck, i would be super proud on someone independant being rewarded for all the hard and passionate work.
Cause there’s a big difference between the two: free is begin totally free, a paid volunteer has obligations.

Some people will be against this idea by mentioning this is way to commercial for them. I agree.
But what is commercialization? In the end, we need to make sure everyone is doing fine AND the work is being done right, (faster) and good. Of course it can be done for free; but someone is paying the price anyway.

Some people will be against this idea by mentioning that volunteers are free to chose, free to plan and to do what they want. That’s absolutely true. I agree.

But some volunteers are so passionate – even more passionate then some company contributors- that they will take their obligations anyway, and so seriously that they lose income. They lose their quality of life on our backs.
We must support that fire, support that independance.

And there’s no single bloody reason we shouldn’t support them, certainly in this 10 billion market…

And in fact: for most people this even has nothing to do with money. It’s about getting the opportunity to be able to work on something they want to improve, no matter what.
Even if this means losing themself doing it for free.
That kind of destructive behaviour needs to be stopped, right now in 2019.

Happy 2019 everyone!

Proposal: New content in the meetup organizer newsletter

We did a great job of sending consistent monthly newsletters to meetup organizers in 2018 — great job to @psykro @hlashbrooke @adityakane and everyone else who drafted and sent newsletters last year!

This year, I was thinking it could be cool to broaden the scope of our monthly newsletters. I have two ideas, and would love you to share additional ideas in a comment on this post!

Organizer Tips & Training

First, I think it would be cool to include some “intermediate-level” training content to the newsletter. Community organizers get an orientation when they join our program, and can access our handbooks whenever… but we still don’t have any active “continuing education” opportunities to help organizers grow their skills.

Some intermediate-level topics that come to my mind include:

  • advantages to organizing simple events that are easy to replicate
  • recruiting volunteers through imperfection and transparency
  • communication tips for avoiding conflict in your community
  • organizing tasks that offer a gentle, accessible path to leadership
  • tips for welcoming newcomers to the group
  • responding to suggestions and criticism
  • tips for recruiting new speakers
  • responding to people offering to speak, especially when their proposal isn’t interesting
  • different ways to handle all-group communication

Here’s how I’m envisioning the execution of this idea:

  1. At the beginning of every month, we publish a little summary of some pre-existing knowledge on a topic like the ones above. The article should include a call for suggestions or feedback, so that other community organizers can share their thoughts or experiences in this area. Hopefully this provides a chance to connect with other WordPress community organizers!
  2. Mid-month, the person writing the newsletter includes a summary of the discussion-so-far in the newsletter text, and encourages organizers to check out the whole thread on make/community.
  3. At the end of the month, we gather all the suggestions and ideas into a handbook page. If we can do this consistently, we’ll have at least 10 more pages of useful handbook content by the end of this year! Wow!

If it proves too challenging to add the accumulated content to the handbook every month, that could be a nice, no-expertise-required task for new contributors at a contributor day.

Contributor Team Spotlight

Many people, WordPress community organizers included, don’t know much about all the other contributor teams that do cool stuff to help WordPress flourish. To address this, we could do a monthly Contributor Team Spotlight, with a little information about the goals of the team, when they meet in Slack, links to their team blog and handbook, and how you can get involved if you want to help.

This might be a little harder to pull together, as it requires some cross-team outreach, but maybe someone here will feel passionate about this idea? 😉

Execution would be pretty simple, just post a paragraph with all that information on the monthly “Anything to add to the newsletter this month?” post.

Feedback?

  1. Does this seem like a good idea?
  2. Are there any other organizer tips or intermediate-level topics you would like to see us discuss/add?
  3. What teams could we most easily spotlight in the newsletter?
  4. Is there any other content you think we should add to the monthly newsletter?

Leave your ideas, concerns, and any other feedback in a comment on this post!

Improving the Meetup organizer application form

During the last Meetup vetting sprint, Francina brought up that the Meetup organizer application form might need some changes. In many of the applications received, the information given is quite limited and deputies need to ask more information before any vetting can be done.

Need to ask more information from applicants, makes the vetting process take more time and adds a extra work to deputies. As well it does for the same from applicants perspective. All and all, this causes unwanted time-to-time backlog and slower resolution time for applications. By improving the Meetup organizer application form, we can hopefully make vetting a bit more streamlined, shorten the time that applications are in queue and introduce new meetups to chapter program faster.

Current meetup form can be found here.

Please share your thoughts how the Meetup organizer application form could be improved. Is there some questions you need to ask almost every time while vetting new application? What kind of information is lacking from applications? What additional information would help you to make the decision or make you feel more comfortable while doing it?

Share your ideas and thoughts by Saturday, February 9, 2019.

Weekly Updates

Hello to all our Deputies, WordCamp organizers, Meetup wranglers, and WordPress Community builders! You were probably hard at work this weekend. Tell us what you got accomplished in our #weekly-update!

Have you run into a roadblock with the stuff you’re working on? Head over to #community-events or #community-team in Slack and ask for help!