Getting more Learn WordPress Discussion Group leaders and attendees

Learn WordPress is getting closer to its full launch and more workshops are being published, worked on and planned. One essential idea with workshops are discussion groups, that are a great way to share thoughts and ideas between others that have watched the recorded workshop.

Discussion groups can be held via Zoom or in #community-events 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/. channel by original workshop presenter(s) or anyone who wants to be a discussion group leader. Virtually anyone interested in leading a discussion group on any of the workshops on the site is welcome to do so.

To make the most out of workshops and discussion groups, it would be great to have at least two discussion groups per each workshop. These discussion groups can happen anytime and even after the workshop has been published already months ago – it’s up to the discussion group leaders interest.

Currently, discussion groups are a bit hidden in the Learn WordPress platform. I’m proposing the following additions in order to raise awareness about discussion groups happening and more attendees and discussion group leaders:

1. Add “Upcoming discussion groups” section between “Recent workshops” and workshop idea submission CTA on the front page.

This new section would list three next upcoming discussion groups and link to the meetup.com page where all upcoming discussion groups are listed. This way also older workshops get some attention on the front page if new discussions groups for those are scheduled.

We already have code to get meetups from meetup.com, so it shouldn’t be a big job to get scheduled discussion groups from there as well. Of course, it needs some dev time, but I’m sure it will be worth it.

2. Add “Interested in running a discussion group?” CTA next to current “Have an Idea for a Workshop?“ CTA on the front page.

I’d like to have many discussion group leaders, so running those won’t fall into the responsibility of a workshop presenter(s) and a small group of an active group of Learn WP deputies. With this new CTA in place, we make it more visible that virtually anyone can run a discussion group if they find a workshop they’re really interested in and there’s no scheduled discussion group for that workshop.

Quick mockup showing how upcoming discussion groups and new CTA could be places on the front page.

3. Add details about discussion groups in workshop pages.

Currently, the page of a single workshop only has a button “Join a Discussion Group” which is a bit vague. We should add a small blurb on top of the button explaining what is a discussion group. Below the button could be a small text, much like the CoC notice, saying that if there’s no scheduled discussion group for this workshop, apply to be a discussion group leader to run one.

4. Create a new “Be a Discussion Group leader” page

As you might notice, two previous proposals contain a link to a page that doesn’t exist at this time on Learn WP platform. We should create a new page where it is explained what discussion group is, what it means to be a discussion group leader and how to apply. Currently, this information exists only in this make/community posts.

Tracking all the upcoming discussion groups and keeping an eye that each workshop has at least two groups

It would be nice to have at least two discussion groups for each workshop. These can happen anytime after the workshop has been published, even months later.

To keep track of upcoming discussion groups, we’ll use meetup.com where all scheduled discussion groups are being added.

In parallel to public listing on scheduled groups, I suggest that we create a new Google sheet with each workshop listed on it. In the sheet we can track if;

  • Zoom discussion group has been scheduled/held
  • Slack discussion group has been scheduled/held
  • Additional discussion groups have been scheduled/held

It would fall mostly under my lap, as I promised to manage discussion groups, but everyone who schedules a new discussion group in meetup.com should update this sheet.

With this sheet, we can track if a workshop hasn’t had any discussion groups and we can reach out to our discussion group leaders and workshop presenter(s) (not too) regularly asking whether they would like to schedule one. In future, the list of workshops needing a discussion group leader, could be added to the new “Be a Discussion Group leader” in Learn WP platform.

What do you think? Thoughts, ideas, comments, questions? How we could attract more discussion group leaders and attendees in your opinion? Please share your feedback before 2020-11-09.

#discussion, #discussion-groups, #learn, #learn-wordpress, #learn-roadmap

Discussion: continuity of Community Office Hours

Office hours are usually quite quiet, people ask their questions when it’s convenient for them and deputies forgot to open or close those (regardless of the bot we have to remind us). There is almost always deputy to answer questions or if there isn’t, the question will be caught up later when some deputy sees it.

So, I’d like to question if community hours are really needed and propose their retirement. In exchange there are few things we could do to encourage people to ask questions freely.

During the last community team meetings, few good ideas were conducted from the discussion:

  • replace the office hours sidebarSidebar A sidebar in WordPress is referred to a widget-ready area used by WordPress themes to display information that is not a part of the main content. It is not always a vertical column on the side. It can be a horizontal rectangle below or above the content area, footer, header, or any where in the theme. and welcome box text with something more general about #community-events channel and encouraging to ask questions at all times
  • having a random empathy bot that reminds #community-team that we should post something encouraging to #community-events if the channel has been quiet for some time

Some concerns were also raised:

  • some people are waiting for the office hours before asking their questions
  • we don’t want to loose a human touch so having a bot in #community-events opening/closing office hours, sending random reminder messages or auto-replying is not an option
  • we need to be very clear that people can ask their questions any time, but know that they may not get an immediate answer

Please share your thoughts about retiring office hours or ideas on how to evolve those! Comments will close 10.4., please leave your comment before that.

#discussion, #office-hours

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

Regional WordCamps

There’s been discussion in our community lately about expanding the number of regional WordCamps in the community program. In this post, I’d like to give some historical context about how the program came to include regional events, and then discuss how regional WordCamps fit into the goals of the community team’s programs. Finally, I’d like to gather opinions and thoughts about what kind of criteria we should set to decide on how to add regional WordCamps to the program.

A little history

First came 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. SF, which was the first WordCamp ever and became to be the official annual conference of the WordPress 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. project. Over the years, WordCamp SF grew as WordPress itself grew (quickly).

Then we tried a new event concept: WordCamp Europe, a large regional event that brings together WordPress community members in Europe to share knowledge and create closer community ties. When discussing WordCamp Europe with the first organizers in 2012, we set very specific goals:

  • to organize an event that exemplified the values of the WordPress project and the WordCamp program
  • to encourage the growth of local communities in Europe (to prompt more WordCamps, not less)

In 2014, WordCamp SF finally grew out of its historic home in the (edit) Moscone Center Mission Bay and became WordCamp US. Unlike the WordCamp Europe tradition of moving to a new city every year, WordCamp US currently moves to a new city every 2 years. WordCamp US is also the event that hosts Matt’s annual State of the WordState of the Word This is the annual report given by Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress at WordCamp US. It looks at what we’ve done, what we’re doing, and the future of WordPress. https://wordpress.tv/tag/state-of-the-word/. address.

The success of these two events begs the question: why don’t we organize more regionally-based WordCamps?

Community team program goals: ALL OF THE CAMPS!

One goal for the WordPress Community program is to have a WordPress 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. and annual WordCamp in as many cities as possible in the world. So while regional or national events have a purpose, they should never be a replacement for our focus on supporting the growth and health of local communities.

Regional events are big events, and big events are challenging. A lot of program resources (volunteer time especially) go into organizing both WordCamp Europe and WordCamp US. So as we start thinking about adding more regional events to the program, the question of “how is our volunteer time best spent” is important. For example, if we had to choose between organizing 3 more WordCamps in CountryX, or organizing just one WordCamp CountryX, then we’d always go with 3 more WordCamps in CountryX — because that directly helps us meet our goal of “a WordCamp in every possible city.”

Of course, just as WordCamps don’t replace year-round monthly meetup events — but instead hopefully help the local monthly meetup community grow — regional WordCamps can also help our program grow by attracting people who weren’t already active in their community and/or inspiring attendees to start communities in their hometowns.

Community team program goals: ALL OF THE PEOPLE!

Another goal in the WordPress Community program (which dovetails nicely with our goal of having a community in as many cities in the world as possible) is to make WordPress community accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of their financial status or other factors that might limit travel.

Having several WordCamps in a certain country every year makes WordCamp more available to more people, even if those folks are not able to travel. So more WordCamps gets more good quality content to more people, which is another good reason not to allow regional WordCamps (even one that travels from city to city every year) to replace an active local WordCamp scene.

The Question

What should a region have, to make a regional WordCamp possible and beneficial to the overall community? Here’s my first stab at a set of expectations:

  1. Multiple, active local WordPress communities: Regional WordCamps need a lot of local, experiences volunteers wherever the event is hosted. If there aren’t already more than 3-5 local communities in a region that have experience hosting WordCamps (at least one but preferably two in a row), then a regional event won’t be able to move around and share the work of organizing a big regional event.
  2. Multiple, experienced and available regional organizers: A regional WordCamp organizing team should represent and reflect all of the local communities in the region it represents. I’ve previously mentioned that regional camps should not be organized at the expense of multiple WordCamps being held in the region, so that means if a regional camp is going to happen, it should not be robbing local camps of all their prospective organizers.
  3. Further the goals of the community program: As with any event in our program, regional WordCamps should help the program pursue our goal of having more, better local communities and more, better local WordCamps.

What do you think about the idea of having more regional WordCamps, considering our community team goals? How about those suggested expectations? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

#discussion #wordcamps

We were chatting in the office hours today…

We were chatting in the office hours today about coming up with some simple tags like Beginner, Novice, Advanced, etc. to describe the difficulty of the video. In some minor discussion a question was asked what the difference was between Beginner and Novice. We got a couple of different answers, so rather than discuss is in chat, let’s talk about it here.

What are your thoughts for difficulty level tags? Are Beginner, Novice, Advanced adequate? Do we think everyone will understand them? And GO! 🙂

#difficulty-levels, #discussion, #office-hours, #wordpress-tv