Invitation: help me test an idea for organizer skills development?

I apologize in advance for the short notice here! I am taking a vacation in August, but didn’t want to lose momentum on this idea.

I’m going to schedule a few times to try out this idea for an Organizer’s D&D / practice scenarios session

If you are interested, whether you are an experienced organizer, or someone considering trying to organize a group for the first time… please comment on this post with the time/day they could join!

  1. 2300 UTC on 2 August
  2. 2300 UTC on 3 August
  3. 1600 UTC on 4 August
  4. 1600 UTC on 6 August

This will be a video call, in which I will give the group challenging scenarios, and ask you to come up with ideas for solutions you would try.

My goal for these meetings will be to test whether this idea might help WordPress organizers feel more confident when organizing events or communities — anyone, no matter what experience level you have in organizing, is welcome to join.

I’ll follow up as soon as possible with those who requested to join at the most popular times, and share a video link. If you can’t make it next week, don’t worry! This is just a quick “test of concept,” and if it’s successful, I’ll invite more people to help plan out a way to make this available to more people with more time to plan. 🙂

#experiment, #meetups-2

In-person meetup events for vaccinated community members

Thank you to everyone who participated in the discussion of the proposal to allow fully-vaccinated people to hold in-person meetups, where local health authorities permit. I’ll summarize the concerns and opinions shared in the post, and then discuss a decision.

If you don’t want to read that far, here’s the tl;dr:

The WordPress community team is removing the barrier to organizing in-person meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. events for fully-vaccinated people, in places where vaccines are freely available. 

Discussion Summary

Some commenters mistakenly thought that local organizers would be collecting health care data from group members, and expressed concern. It was clarified that while the community team would encourage local organizers to set the expectation that only fully-vaccinated people should attend in-person meetup events, no organizer should request or collect information from members about their vaccination status. Meetup events for fully-vaccinated people would operate on the honor system. 

A question was raised around what should happen if organizers somehow discovered that someone who was not vaccinated, was attending in-person events intended for fully-vaccinated people. While it’s certainly possible that this will happen, I think it should be handled just like any other mismatch between expected behavior and actual behavior — with a private discussion to explain the expectation and a direct request that someone meet that expectation next time. Again, local organizers should not request or collect vaccination status information from members. 

Some people shared deep concerns that this would result in a “two-tier” meetup program, dividing local communities between the vaccinated (meeting in-person) and unvaccinated (meeting online). It was pointed out that as vaccination rollout continues, transmission risk will inevitably fall. The research seems to support this, showing that vaccination is effective in “preventing COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death.” (See also this example.)

Holding in-person meetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. for fully-vaccinated people would only be possible in local communities where vaccines are freely available to all. And when infection levels fall to a point that a local community would pass the safety checklist, then both vaccinated and unvaccinated people would be free to meet (with the appropriate precautions). So while I agree that it’s only a matter of time when fully-vaxxed-only meetups are a thing of the past, I do think it’s important to make that possible for our communities. If nothing else, it might encourage WordPress enthusiasts to get vaccinated as soon as they can! Organizers are welcome to include an online component to in-person gatherings if the event format and venue allow it. 

Some tenured community organizers shared their support for this idea, and at least one person shared that they would not yet be comfortable with organizing in-person events, even for fully-vaccinated people. I think it’ll be important to share with organizers that local communities can continue to meet online, or organize online event series, for the foreseeable future — if we ever go back to an expectation that WordPress meetup groups meet in-person only (and I doubt that we will), then I think that will happen a long time from now. 

Context

When COVID made it unsafe to meet in person, WordPress event programs responded more quickly than many public health authorities were able to. In fact, many governments didn’t provide safety recommendations until long after WordPress had asked local organizers to refrain from gathering people in-person. It’s not unusual for governments to move slowly in response to new crises, but luckily our organization is a little more nimble. 

As we all know, the world has spent more than a year responding to the pandemic, and vaccines continue to roll out globally. The WordPress global community teamGlobal Community Team A group of community organizers and contributors who collaborate on local events about WordPress — monthly WordPress meetups and/or annual conferences called WordCamps. must eventually return to our previous expectation that local organizers will simply follow local laws and public health guidelines. 

Many countries are still fighting a pitched battle against COVID, and not all of their governments are willing or able to set safe public health standards. For organizers in those countries, please know that the global WordPress community is concerned for your health and safety. You are welcome to continue to use the in-person safety checklist if it is helpful, even when all WordPress program-based limits on in-person gatherings are lifted globally. We trust our organizers to make wise choices, and hope to provide you all the tools you need to make those choices easier. 

Decision

This proposal is somewhat contentious, and one of the ways I serve the community team is to make potentially-unpopular decisions. I am comfortable doing so in this case, as enough tenured, active members of the community team seem to agree with this proposal. I realize there are some on the team who do not agree, and I hope that these guidelines are flexible enough that you are able to disagree and commit in this case.  

The WordPress community team is not expecting or requiring local organizers to organize in-person events for fully-vaccinated people — we’re simply removing the barrier to doing so. That barrier is removed only under certain conditions, though, so I want to communicate those clearly. 

If:

  1. local public health authorities say people can gather in person, AND
  2. your region passes the in-person safety checklist, THEN
  3. go ahead and hold in-person events, following local health guidelines!

ALSO… If:

  1. local public health authorities say people can gather in person, AND
  2. your region doesn’t pass the in-person safety checklist, BUT
  3. vaccines are available for anyone who wants one in your region, THEN

Local community organizers can (if they want to) plan in-person meetup events for fully-vaccinated people, following local health guidelines! 

Here’s a visualization of those conditions, in case it helps:

This decision tree visualization indicates that if local public health authorities permit in-person gatherings, and the region passes the in-person safety checklist, then groups can organize in-person meetups for anyone. If the region does not pass the in-person safety checklist, but vaccines are freely available to all, then the group can organize in-person meetups for fully vaccinated people. If there is limited vaccine access in a region that does not pass the in-person safety checklist, the group should organize online meetups for now.

Important:

  • No organizer should request or collect information from members about their vaccination status.
  • Additional safety measures that go beyond local health guidelines are OK! Organizers should consider meeting outside, asking attendees to wear masks, or limiting attendance of indoor events. 
  • Online meetup events can continue for the foreseeable future.
  • Keep in mind that we are still learning about the effectiveness of vaccines for people with weakened immune systems or against new variants of the virus. If there are meetup group members who feel uncomfortable going to in-person meetups but want to continue attending events, organizers can encourage and help people host online events.

Next Steps and Feedback

I’ll add the new guidance to all the appropriate places in the meetup organizer’s handbook, and write a summarized version of this decision for the next meetup newsletter. If you have questions, concerns, or feedback… please share them in a comment on this post! 

Thanks to @rmarks, @angelasjin, @kdrewien, @kcristiano, @hlashbrooke, @tacoverdo, @harishanker, @evarlese, @_dorsvenabili, and Megan Rose for their feedback on this post!

#meetups

Proposal: adding vaccination status to the in-person meetup safety checklist

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the in-person event safety checklist and associated resources! These have been hugely helpful in assisting local organizers to plan for these events where possible, while making sure they plan safe WordPress events.

When we created that checklist, COVID-19 vaccine rollout was still in very early stages, and the checklist did not account for vaccines. Vaccination efforts are still being rolled out across the world and many people do not have access to vaccines yet, but progress has reached a point where it seems wise to start incorporating it into the checklist, where possible.

Proposal:

The team proposes to apply the following guideline to the in-person event safety checklist for WordPress chapter meetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook.:

In places that don’t currently pass the checklist (or during time periods that a place doesn’t pass)…

but COVID vaccines are freely available…

if local public health authorities say it’s acceptable for fully-vaccinated people to gather in person

then those people should be able to meet in person, through their local WordPress meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. group.

If this were added to the meetup guidelines, it would mean that in places that do not meet the safety expectations in the checklist, in-person events should be organized for fully-vaccinated people only, at this stage. That being said, it isn’t practical (and, in some places, legal) to ask organizers to check the vaccination status of individuals. Therefore, I suggest we ask groups to use the honor system, trusting that people will only attend these events if they have been vaccinated.

Organizers would need to clearly explain to attendees that they should only attend if they are willing to accept the risk that — despite the intent of the meetup — someone might attend who is not fully vaccinated. If someone is not comfortable attending in-person meetups with this level of risk, then they should keep attending online meetups until conditions change. 

Local organisers could try inexpensive ways to live-stream their events, or otherwise incorporate an online component. Local organizers should invite community members to keep holding online meetups, as an alternative to in-person meetups.

Discuss!

It would be great to get some feedback on this idea, specifically in the following areas:

  1. Do you think it’s reasonable to allow fully-vaccinated people to hold in-person WordPress meetups, where allowed by public health authorities?
  2. Do you think the proposal as outlined will be effective? Why or why not?
  3. If this proposal were to move ahead, should we request that organizers take any additional safety measures for in-person meetings of fully-vaccinated people (ie, holding those meetings outside, or providing masks and hand-sanitizer, limiting attendance)? 
  4. What could the Community Team do to assist with easy and/or inexpensive live-streaming of meetup events?

Let’s keep discussion open for two weeks. I’ll close comments on May 27!

Thank you to @hlashbrooke, @rmarks, @angelasjin, @harishanker, @jenniferswisher, and @kcristiano for their insight and feedback on this proposal!

Proposal: 2021 Global Community Sponsorship program

As promised, here is a proposal for a pared-down Global Community Sponsorship program for this year.

This is coming later than intended (we were aiming for January), due to the uncertainty about when in-person conferences will return to WordPress community programs. Also slightly unusual, this proposal is the work of a small group: me, @kcristiano, @courtneypk, with help crunching the numbers from @harmonyromo. When I wrote last year that we’d be making a public call for working group volunteers on a 2021 global sponsorship program, I did not realize that the pandemic’s effect on our team and programs would be so powerful, and last this long. Given the givens, it seemed expedient to simply ask the people who’ve been administrating the program the longest, to draft a 2021 version for community feedback.

This year, we propose offering one package only, available on a quarterly basis. A quarterly offering should help make us nimble, if our path to global in-person events accelerates in ways we don’t currently expect. Offering one single package should make this easier to administrate, which is extra-important right now, as volunteer engagement is (for perfectly understandable reasons) so low.

The one new benefit we’re able to offer this year, is acknowledgement on the meetup.com pages of all WordPress chapter groups. Meetup.com has offered to make this happen for us, once per year for up to 6 sponsors. Therefore, this benefit will only be available to the first 6 qualifying sponsors that inscribe by 26 March 2021, and only those that commit to at least two quarters of sponsorship. Inscription will be opened early to companies that have been sponsors of this program in the past.

EDIT: This version of the program does NOT include direct 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. sponsorship. Unless something changes drastically, WordCamp sponsorship in 2021 will be handled on an “a la carte” basis.


2021 Global Sponsorship benefit package proposal

Cost: USD $10,000/quarter; sponsor limit 6 (due to meetup.com constraints)
  1. Your company’s logo, with a link back to the company landing page of your choice, on all WordPress chapter meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. group pages (as of Jan 2021: 454,482 Members, 745 groups, 109 countries). Available to inscribers by 26 March, who will commit to at least two quarters of sponsorship. 
  2. Acknowledgement in all WordCamp “ticket purchase successful” pages (39,000 in 2020; projected 19,000 in 2021).
  3. Acknowledgement on 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. home page (over 400k annual views).
  4. Acknowledgment in one program-wide email to all 454,607 members of a WordPress chapter account meetup/user group.
  5. Acknowledgment on sponsor page on WordCamp Central (8,698 views in the past 365 days).
  6. Monthly email with spreadsheet of WordCamps in planning and on the schedule
  7. “Featured” acknowledgment on all monthly meetup organizer newsletters (received by 2,800+ WordPress community leaders every month).
  8. Opportunity to list discounts or free resources that meetup and WordCamp organizers can use for new user workshops, charity hackathons, etc., on the official WordCamp Organizer handbook page for use at community events. This page will be promoted through the Meetup Organizer newsletter, received by 2,800+ WordPress community leaders monthly.

Feedback

Please share any feedback, questions, or concerns you have about this proposal, no later than 26 February 2021. We hope to finalize the program details by 5 March 2021, and activate the program no later than the end of March.

#global-sponsors, #global-sponsorship

X-post: Update on learn.wordpress.org

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

Moving forward with online events

Thanks to everyone who participated in the discussion about reimagining online events last week! It’s inspiring to see so many people willing to embrace the opportunity that this global crisis brings, and diving in to find better ways for the Community Team to succeed at our mission. 

Discussion summary

Some of the ideas shared included: WordPress video watch/discussion parties, panels, workshops, trainings, language-specific events, topic or vertical based events, television program or news formats, events for underrepresented groups, online contributor days or contributor team events, social events, and Q&As.

There was general consensus on the question of length, with a suggested limit of 2-3 hours per day, as well as support for not using the term “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.” to describe our online events any longer. We think these are both smart moves, though of course we’ll need to figure out what to do about naming the events currently being organized. But that’s probably another post. 

Our foundational mission and nonessential expenses

It’s important to respond to uncertainty or change from a point of stability, so we want to highlight that the mission of the Community Team is to help people learn to use and contribute to WordPress. We further this mission by connecting WordPress enthusiasts and inspiring people to do more with WordPress.

As WordPress community organizers, all of our work should support this mission. When we’re considering whether to spend money on something, we make wiser decisions when we consider whether that expense is necessary to achieve the mission. 

As we move away from all-day online events, there is less need to pay professional vendors to help produce our content. Considering the program’s financial situation, it seems wise to end programmatic support for online AV vendor expenses. 

WordCamps with a date on the schedule or under budget review, that planned their events with the understanding that they’d be working with a professional vendor should be able to go forward as planned. Those that have not yet reached the budget stage, and have no signed contracts with vendors, should pause and reconsider whether they really, really need a professional AV vendor to effectively share content with an online audience. 

If it’s necessary to hire a professional vendor for an online event component that furthers the mission, then opening a call for sponsor(s) is the best way to cover that cost. 

Likewise, we have paused plans to spend money on sending swag, T-shirts, or other typical WordCamp collateral.  It’s important to change our frame of reference for what’s necessary to make online events, away from the WordCamp model. Just because we did things a certain way for WordCamps, doesn’t mean it’s a high priority for online events.

Sponsorship

We are in an experimental event space for the first time in many years.

Our sponsors have been with us every step of the way in this challenging year, and it’s important not to ask their financial support for nonessential expenses. The value proposition of online sponsor booths is shaky, and we’ve always prided ourselves in partnering with our sponsors. Looking ahead, we must examine how much funding we need to create events that meet the goals of the team, and let that determine how to best coordinate with our community sponsors to deliver value and further our mission.

It’s also impossible to provide the kind of stability that underpins Global Community Sponsorship right now.  The 2020 program will be suspended for now, and later this year there will be a call for a working group to re-examine its potential for 2021. We’ll work with global sponsors to manage the transition gracefully. 

Experiments and measuring success

Experiments are exciting and important, because they help us go beyond what we thought was possible. But if we’re going to try new things, it’s equally important to identify whether or not the experiment was a success. We’ve used a standard attendee survey for a while now in WordCamps, which is probably too long for shorter online events and doesn’t do much to help us identify whether or not participants learned what they hoped to learn, in a session or workshop. 

Since learning is part of our coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. mission, it seems wise to create a different survey for online event organizers to use in assessing an event’s success. The pre- and post-workshop surveys used by the Diverse Speakers Workshop could be a very successful template.  If you’re interested in helping with the effort to create a survey template that any WordPress community organizer can use, please leave a comment on this post! 

It’s also great when organizers share their observations about what’s compelling and what didn’t work as expected, so we can all learn from each other. If you have a story of a success or failure you’d like to highlight for the broader community, please join our bi-weekly team chat or, for longer-form shares, request an author’s role on this blog from a community deputyDeputy 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. Find more about deputies in our Community Deputy Handbook..

Feedback

It’s exciting to see WordPress community organizers rising to the challenge of adapting to new circumstances, even with circumstances as unpleasant as these. If you have any questions or feedback on this post, please share them in a comment below!

Please also comment if you are interested in working on a new attendee survey that online events can share, to compare the success of different event types.

Thank you to those who gave feedback on this post: @angelasjin, @courtneypk, @kcristiano, @hlashbrooke

Tuesday Trainings: De-escalating conflict in text communication

Why de-escalate?

Open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. offers some unusual challenges to conflict resolution and de-escalation. You are required to have complex and sometimes acrimonious conversations in public in a place where those conversations will be immortalized, for as long as the archive lasts.

This long memory of our interactions means that responsible, ethical communication is very important —  you don’t get to just go back and undo something that you wrote in anger, desperation, or anguish. So it is particularly important for leaders in an open source project to respond to conflict wisely.  To do this, you must be aware of how you are reacting to accusation a complaint or a problem, so that you can respond in an intentional and a strategic way.

Do not fall into the bad habit of thinking that conflict is “a bug” in open source software development. Quite the contrary: public disagreement and differences of opinion are major advantages in the work of building software that can power so much of the web. The wider variety of opposing opinions we can collect and review, the more resilient and field-tested our decisions.

The focus of this article is identifying some rubrics and tools that can help you respond more effectively when disagreeing in a highly visible sphere, by de-escalating conflict to a level that does not interfere with contributors’ ability to collaborate.

Anatomy of an argument

What causes conflict? It’s worth reviewing the anatomy of an argument from Dan Dana’s book Managing Differences. Here’s what makes up an argument.

  1. triggering event
  2. perception of threat
  3. defensive anger
  4. acting out
  5. repetition

This happens to you too, when you are engaged in an argument (different from a debate, which lacks of anger). But of course not all arguments or conflicts are created equal; some are more severe. It’s helpful to identify what makes conflicts more or less intense and some of the ways they can rise or fall in intensity.

The intensity of that cycle really depends. It can also be useful to identify a “severity” rubric, to decide how and when it’s necessary or beneficial to engage or respond.

Conflict Severity Levels

Level 1: Differences — two parties disagree but feel no discomfort (your relationship is secure but you like different musicians, sports teams, activities, operating systems)

Level 2: Misunderstanding — What is understood by one party is different from what is understood by another party (miscommunication and/or disappointment on a level that makes you question your assessment of the other person)

Level 3: Disagreement — two parties see something differently, regardless of how well they understand the other’s position, and feel discomfort that the other party disagrees. Can result in a reassessment of the relationship’s future.

Level 4: Discord — conflict that causes difficulties in the relationship of the involved parties, even outside of the original conflict. Relationship is strained, may not recover.

Level 5: Polarization — conflict characterized by severe negative emotions and behavior with little or no hope for/interest in reconciliation. Relationship is actively hostile or estranged. Signs of polarization might include: recruitment/picking sides, refusal to engage in constructive behaviors (ie, perspective taking, creating solutions, reaching out), and a high volume of effort committed to defending a position or making a case.

Escalating and de-escalating elements

Certain elements can push a conflict up or down the scale of intensity.

Escalating elements:

  • making it personal (“you’re the kind of person who,” “designers never understand,” “well if you have low standards then….”)
  • discomfort with the other’s conflicting opinion (especially if the person has more positional authority)
  • level of perceived risk or serious consequences associated with the issue
  • noticing a trend or pattern in the other party’s behavior/opinions
  • quick-paced interaction

De-escalating elements:

  • identification of common ground
  • willingness to embrace differences
  • focus on the issue, not the people
  • focus on interests, not positions
  • efforts to understand all sides
  • slow-paced interaction

In WordPress, we can use de-escalating tactics and proactive relationship-building (online and at events) to help us keep conflict severity to a Level 3 or below.

Communication environments

Communication environments will also affect your ability to de-escalate or resolve a conflict, so let’s make explicit where and in what environment you can more easily de-escalate. These are listed in order of difficulty to de-escalate, with the most difficult at the top:

  • public complaining blog post/“exposé”
  • public complaining on social media/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/.
  • open discussion with the WP public
  • private group discussion (email/DM)
  • private 1:1 discussion (email, DM)
  • anticipated conflict

Also, as you can see, the best place to deescalate is before we start talking, or before the conflict goes public. If you know something is going to be controversial or conflict-causing, get in front of it by making a strategy and doing some pre-communicating with known stakeholders.

That said, any text-based discussion is not private on the internet. Anything you write to someone in the WordPress community, with very few exceptions, should be something you’re ok with being posted on a public website. Get good at complete and contextualized sentences, and use them.

Steps when responding to conflict:

Compose yourself:

  • What am I feeling (in my body)?
  • What am I thinking? (What’s the perceived threat?)
  • (If not calm) How can I calm down?

Calming Reminders:
(especially for survivors of trauma) You are safe and not in danger.
• Feedback is better than indifference.
• Lack of dissent = monoculture = obsolescence.
• We’re making software, not saving lives.
• You don’t have to win this argument.

Analyze/Empathize:

Why did they take the time to write this? What emotion fueled them? Where are they coming from? What is this person’s goal? What do we have in common? What do I admire about them?

Contextualize:

What people in our program are affected by this conflict and/or agree with this person? How widespread is this opinion or conflict? What is the root cause of this disagreement?

Strategize:

What’s the desired outcome? (what do we want to happen, that isn’t happening right now) Is it necessary to respond at all; will a response make things better? If so, who can respond most effectively, and should you activate a group or a single point of response? What are the risks associated with your response, and how can you mitigate them?

Mobilize:

Recruit your team, if you need one. Share the analysis and strategy with them, if you have not already. Draft a response that reflects your strategy. Ask for help in reviewing the draft if it’s not coming easy, or if you’re still having trouble staying calm.

Additional response advice:

  1. Don’t lie or misrepresent the facts; it will damage your credibility and the risks outweigh the rewards.
  2. Do intervene in a discussion when civility, fairness, or safety are threatened, or a relevant fact is mis-stated.
  3. Avoid “you” statements; use “we” — including the other person for rapport-building — “someone” if that rapport-building sounds trite.
  4. The goal is not to win an argument; the goal is to understand the other person’s perspective.
  5. Zoom out until you find common ground, and then proceed from there. See if you can find one thing in the comment you agree with, and open with that.
  6. Be nice for no reason — it elevates the tone of the discussion. Thank people for the time they’ve spent thinking through a comment or reply.
  7. In text interactions, especially in async conversations, you only really get one or two chances at eliciting more information without also giving information, before your info seeking sounds false or deceptive. Try to express interest in the information without literally asking questions (asking lots of questions can start to seem like interrogation rather than interest).
  8. Cut off specious arguments by redirecting attention elsewhere: “That reminds me of…” “This discussion has me wondering about XYZ-tangentially related topic.”
  9. Try to limit the length of a comment response to (maximum) double the length of the other party’s comment. “Drowning” people in information comes across as condescending or aggressive. If you have to write that much text in an interaction, ask yourself if you’re really trying to gain understanding, or if you’ve accidentally started trying to win the argument.
  10. If you can have a direct conversation with someone, on video or in person, start with active listening.
  11. When you are in a position of low privilege, speak up. When you are in a position of high privilege (which you are, if you are in leadership), listen up.*

Bibliography

Conflict Communication: A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication by Rory Miller

Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader: How You and Your Organization Can Manage Conflict Effectively by Craig E. Runde and Tim A. Flanagan

Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution by Diane Musho Hamilton

Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution by Dana Caspersen

#tuesdaytrainings

Online conference platform concerns

As I mentioned in one of our team meetings yesterday, I made the call to provide support for community events to use Crowdcast as an online event platform a few weeks ago, without testing whether the tool was fully accessible. Unfortunately, Crowdcast doesn’t meet the community team’s needs for accessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessibility), and I’m really, really sorry about that mistake. I acted in a hurry, motivated by the desire to make a powerful tool available to event organizers as soon as possible, but should have thought to test the accessibility of the platform before setting our team on that path. I know better, and I apologize.

Since Crowdcast is not currently navigable by keyboard-only users — thank you to Rachel and others for bringing this to our attention! — it’s not a viable option for WordPress community events to use right now. My understanding is that the company is working to resolve those issues quickly, so I hold out hope that we’ll be able to use them in the future.

This does mean that the training material and documentation supporting Crowdcast usage will not be relevant right now, and that a bunch of people pushed hard to work on docs that we can’t currently use. I’m so disappointed that my error might have either wasted our volunteers’ valuable time or delayed the benefits of that hard work. Kudos to @marktimemedia, @kaysweb, @bph, @angelasjin, @nao, @chaion07, @casiepa, @andymci, @camikaos & @hlashbrooke for their efforts, and I hope you’ll all accept my apology.  

Our team is committed to making our offline events as accessible and inclusive as possible, and we will work to meet the same expectations for our online events.

Next steps

Community deputiesDeputy 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. Find more about deputies in our Community Deputy Handbook. are working on identifying and vetting other platforms that we might be able to recommend to community organizers.  If you would like to participate in identifying, reviewing, and testing other possible platforms, here is a shared spreadsheet where options can be suggested and feedback can be captured. 

Thanks for any support you can give to this effort at a very uncertain time for all of us. 

New recommendations for event organizers in light of COVID-19

UPDATE as of July 2020: As per the latest guidelines from the Community team, all WordPress events (including WordCamps and MeetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook.) will be online-only till the end of 2020. We will re-evaluate these guidelines in Q1 2021.

I’m sure that WordPress community organizers all over the world are keeping a watchful eye on the news related to COVID-19. Many organizers have received questions and recommendations from their communities about whether to continue meeting in person, in the absence of direct instructions from the public health authorities in their towns or countries. 

We are a team of people dedicated to bringing people together, and our community events are a labor (much labor!) of love. WordPress community organizers have carved out time from their busy schedules, sacrificed time with family/friends or that would have been dedicated to other causes, and taken on very challenging work (we make it look easy, but it’s not!) in order to plan community events. Naturally, we approach the topic of postponing or cancelling our events with deep reluctance and sadness. 

That said, one of our fundamental priorities must be to preserve the health and well-being of our attendees and communities. Making decisions that support the effort to “flatten the curve” — slowing the rate of infection so that health care systems are not overwhelmed — is both responsible and prudent. 

In cities or countries where the public health officials have restricted public gatherings, I trust that organizers will follow the advice of authorities. For organizers with events planned in cities or states that have not yet made public health recommendations, the decision is much more difficult. We have not trained organizers to assess risks like these, because our program has never had to adapt to a global epidemic of this scale. To support organizers in this difficult decision, here is the recommendation:

If you are planning an event scheduled between now and December 31, 2020, we strongly recommend that you postpone the event until 2021 or later, and/or adapt to an online event.

Please review this handbook page for recommendations on postponement vs cancellation of 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., and procedures for both. This recommendation stands for both meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. events and WordCamps.

If your community has not yet seen evidence of community transmission of COVID-19, please take extra precautions with attendee health:

  • Discuss event details with local health officials and prepare to implement an emergency contingency plan based on their specific guidance.
  • Share and provide COVID-19 updates on your WordCamp site, and promote preventive health messages to your attendees and volunteers, such as:
    • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, then put the tissue a the garbage bin.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
    • Recommend that attendees minimize close contact (e.g., recommending no handshaking or hugging)
  • Encourage participants who are experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to refrain from attending the conference. 
  • Make sure that every attendee has registered via purchasing the ticket or marking their attendance in meetup.com so that if someone gets sick, it will be easier for public health authorities to identify those at risk of infection.
  • Create refund policies or remote participation capability (such as arranging to live stream the event, if possible) that permit participants the flexibility to stay home when they are sick, need to care for sick household members, or are at high risk for complications from COVID-19.

It’s possible we will extend this recommendation past June, depending on what happens in April and May. Please expect updates on a monthly basis, if not more frequently.  Update as of July 2020: We have extended the recommendation to hold online-only events for all of 2020, and we will re-evaluate these guidelines in Q1 2021.

Support and training for online event planning is in the works. Next week I hope we can publish a handbook page with advice for temporarily adapting monthly meetup events so they can be held online, and the infrastructure and documentation to support organizers interested in holding WordCamps online are targeted for publication by the end of March.

I recognize that this is a terribly difficult time for many, and community deputiesDeputy 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. Find more about deputies in our Community Deputy Handbook. are available to help. Please email support@wordcamp.org with any questions or concerns, or share your concerns in a comment on this post.

Discussion: Safe and welcoming events in the WordPress community

Recently there’s been some discussion about how inclusive spaces are affected when someone wears a hat featuring “MAGA,” an acronym for the US political slogan “Make America Great Again,” 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.. Aaron Jorbin posted about this first, and it seems time to hold a courteous and respectful discussion on the topic inside our team.

The WordPress global community teamGlobal Community Team A group of community organizers and contributors who collaborate on local events about WordPress — monthly WordPress meetups and/or annual conferences called WordCamps. asks community organizers to create events that are safe and welcoming for all attendees. We do this because WordCamps and meetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. exist to connect WordPress enthusiasts and inspire people to do more with WordPress — and it’s difficult for people to connect or get inspired if they don’t feel safe. 

Our methods for creating welcoming events include:

  1. Setting clear behavioral expectations with participants, by sharing our code of conduct online, in the event registration flow and in opening remarks
  2. Addressing behavior that doesn’t meet expectations promptly, using a “calling in” approach
  3. Refraining from hosting events at religiously- or politically-affiliated venues.

Our program has very clear guidelines about what kind of behavior we expect but rarely sets expectations around what attendees might choose to wear to a WordPress event, or what iconography is allowed on belongings. For example, while we do not hold events in houses of worship, we do not ask attendees to refrain from wearing religious symbols or clothing to WordCamp. This line of reasoning falls apart when it comes to widely-recognized symbols of hate, like Nazi iconography. I think we definitely would ask someone to remove a Nazi icon from our event spaces if they brought one in, on their clothes or laptop.

That said, I think all event organizers would like to avoid attendees being surprised, either by a reaction to what they’re wearing/displaying on their belongings, or by what someone else is wearing or displaying on their belongings. 

Over the years, this program has had better results by defining what we would like to happen than by defining all the things we don’t want to happen. We have found that creating more rules tends to require us to make even more rules, to close loopholes and clarify. The fact that this is a global program, with events held in over 100 countries around the world, further complicates the creation of effective and prescriptive rules. 

Join the Discussion

WordPress community organizers, please help discuss this question: How can we keep the inclusive and collaborative nature of our events, without specifying what can and can’t be worn to WordCamps and meetups?

This may be a difficult issue to discuss with calm and courtesy. Please do your best to express yourself kindly and assume good intent among those who are sharing their perspectives on this sensitive topic. I’ll leave comments open until March 16, or until we need a cooling-down period.