WordCamp organizing teams have always been provided a firstname.lastname@example.org email address in order to look more official when contacting venues, sponsors, etc. Historically, we had 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 didn’t work well when multiple people are using it. Organizers have found it challenging to track emails from a central location, and to send outgoing emails from the email@example.com account.
The WordPress Foundation was approved for a Google Workspace for Non-profits account in April 2020, which we can use for the wordcamp.org domain. Google Workspace (formerly known as 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 existing email service implementation had several shortcomings and realized that Community Members would benefit immensely from a Google Workspace account.
Hence the team decided to implement Google Workspace for all WordCamp accounts in August 2020.
Getting a Google Workspace Account for your WordCamp
All approved WordCamps from August 2020 will get a Google Workspace account automatically. We can also set up a collaborative inbox for the organizing team upon request.
All WordCamps in 2020 (both scheduled camps and events that had at least made it to pre-planning), as well as all successful (closed) WordCamps from 2019 will also get a Google Workspace account. The preset email forwarders in these accounts will continue to be active.
Email addresses of all older camps (Camps that last had an event held in 2018 or before) will be deactivated. If those camps require a Google Workspace based email address, they can email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request access for the same (access will be provided on a case-by-case basis).
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.
WordCamp Central will provide organizers with the credentials for the Google Workspace account over email (after a successful WordCamp orientation, or directly by email for existing camps that are eligible for their Google Workspace account). They can use those credentials to sign in to the Google account by visiting: https://accounts.google.com/ or (https://mail.google.com/ to access their emails). We recommend that you set up a recovery email and a phone number for account security. If you want, you can also set up Two Factor Authentication (2FA) for your account to bolster account security; however, this will make it difficult for sharing credentials between organizers. If you do set up two-factor authentication, and wish to share credentials with your organizing team, you can use options like security keys, or a Two Factor software such as Authy (which provides accounts) for sharing two-factor authentication credentials.
By activating your Google Workspace account, you automatically get access to all the Google Workspace tools listed above.
Google Workspace Tips and Tricks for Organizers
Using Email Labels and Filters for Speakers/Sponsors/Organizers and more
Gmail allows users to add labels and filters, making it a lot easier to filter out emails. As WordCamp organizers, you are going to use the inbox to do a lot of communication. You can filter these communications into different sections using Labels, and order them by colors.
Labels To create a new Label, after logging into the Gmail interface, in the left sidebar, scroll down, then click More, click on the Create new label button, enter your label name and click on the Create button. You can assign the label to existing messages (Select messages that you’d like to label from the Gmail interface, click Labels at the top, select a one from existing options, or create a new one), or assign a Label to a message you are writing. You can read more about labels in the Google support doc. It would make sense to add Label for commonly-used WordCamp topics, such as Speakers, Sponsors, Attendees, Volunteers, etc.. Feel free to experiment with Labels as much as you want!
You can create filters by clicking on the Gear icon on the top right corner of the Gmail web interface, followed by See all settings. Then, navigate to Filters and Blocked Addresses, where you can manually create filters. You can also create filters from the Gmail search interface. In the search box at the top, click the Down arrow, and enter your search criteria. If you want to check that your search worked correctly, see what emails show up by clicking Search.
Then, at the bottom of the search window, click Create filter. Here, you can choose what to do with the filter you have just created.
As you can see, you get a variety of options. Some of the options that you can try out are:
Automatically assign labels (e.g., the Speaker label for speaker emails using the: “Apply the label” option)
Forward the email (for instance, you can forward the speaker emails directly to speaker wranglers).
Mark it as important
Clicking on “Apply filter to matching conversations” applies the filter to all existing conversations as well.
If you send an email to an address by appending a plus (“+”) sign and any combination of words or numbers after your email address, your email will get delivered. For example, if a WordCamp email address is email@example.com, you could send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, and your email will get delivered to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can add these custom emails as aliases by navigating to Settings (the gear icon on the top right corner), followed by “See all settings.” Choose “Accounts” from the top menu and add aliases like: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and more, if you like.
Upon setting this up, organizers can send emails using these aliases, as shown below:
You can add signatures for each account in the Settings > See all settings > General > Signature field, and choose between different email signatures when sending emails too by clicking on the “pen icon” in the tool field.
Each team can set up custom labels and filters, and email forwarding based on these aliases as well, as mentioned in the tips listed above. If you already have filters set up for sponsors or speakers (or if you want to create new filters), you can add the custom email address (e.g., “email@example.com”) to the “to” address field in the filter creation screen, as shown below.
The best use-case for this technique is to forward speaker emails to the personal email addresses of speaker wranglers, sponsor emails to sponsor wranglers, and so on. This will ensure that they don’t miss any updates. A copy of these emails will also remain in the shared inbox, available to everyone for viewing, thereby maintaining transparency.
Create email templates
As organizers, you will get a lot of common questions, or you might need to send the same reply to several users. Setting up templates will help you solve this problem. You can compose your response once and save the email as a template. Later, you can open the saved template and send it again with just a few clicks.
You would need to enable templates first. To do this, click on the Gear icon (Settings) on the top right corner of the screen, followed by See all settings. You can then choose the Advanced menu item from the top. Check the “Enable” radio button alongside “Templates” and then click: “Save all changes.”
To create a new template, open the Compose window, enter your template text. Then click on More (the three dots button on the bottom right corner of the compose window), followed by “Templates.” You can then choose the option to create a new template or to change an existing template.
To insert a new template, click on the same More icon (the three dots button on the bottom right corner of the compose window), followed by “Templates.” Choose your template from the list, and it will auto-populate on the composer screen:
Many organizers like setting up tools such as FreeScout, may require you to enable POP/IMAP for your Google Workspace account. One can enable these settings in Settings (the gear icon on the top right corner of the Gmail screen) > See all settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP. When you enable POP or IMAP, please preserve the emails in the Google Workspace inbox. You can read about this in the documentation.
Other tips and tricks
You can play around with email priority, and choose to display what email first, so that you don’t miss out on important messages.
Gmail comes with Tasks, comes with your Google Workspace account. If you wish to incorporate task management, you can use this tool.
Email forwarding will be disabled for the Google Workspace account. However, if you would like to create forwarders for the account, you can contact WordCamp Central to set this up.
You can forward emails to a Google group address, or enable a support inbox if you want to (You will need to contact WordCamp Central if you would like to enable this feature).
If you are hosting an online event for your community, you are encouraged to use the built-in YouTube account to broadcast your videos and Google Meet to facilitate organizer meetings or hangouts with WordCamp organizers.