Organizer Best Practices: Make the most of your feedback!

As community builders and leaders one of the most important things we can do is put feedback to work for us. But since doing nothing is often easier in the moment for various reasons than doing anything is, we often receive feedback and never act on it or put it off until it’s no longer timely. To put receiving, giving, and using feedback to its best use here are some handy suggestions this month on making the most of your feedback.

Where does feedback come from?

Feedback can come from so many sources that sometimes we don’t realize we’re receiving it, let alone putting it to good use. Feedback  can be active or passive and is defined most simply as the return of information. Feedback is data. Sometimes it’s hard to quantify that data, but if we find a way, we can put it to great use! So let’s talk about some of the most commonly available forms of feedback for organizers in our community.

Indirect Feedback

Attendance – Attendance, or lack thereof, of a 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. event is feedback in and of itself.

Participation  – Pay attention to how the audience or guests interact with presenters or projects. Are they engaged and enthusiastic?

Discussion boards – What are people asking about on the meetup group discussion boards? If there are topics you’re not covering at your event, consider including  them in the future.

Conversation  Whether conversations take place in person or on social media, listening to what attendees and participants have to say is a valuable exercise.  Organizers can put that knowledge to use by making adjustments, additions, refinements or even repeating topics.

Direct Feedback

RSVPs/ Ticket Sales –  Even though we can expect a certain amount of attrition with any event (lower for formal or paid events, higher for more casual and free events) whether or not people are RSVPing for certain topics or at certain days and times or purchasing tickets can tell you a lot.

Survey results – For Meetups in the chapter program we send out a yearly survey. Individual results for each meetup group are sent to the organizing team through meetup.com and general results can be found here: https://make.wordpress.org/community/2019/04/18/2018-meetup-survey/ We’re working to significantly improve this survey moving forward in case you wanted to share some feedback with us about that (hint hint.)

For WordCamps there is a standard survey available for all attendees to answer after 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. is completed. They’re collected by 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. account and shared to the organizing team. Organizers can  also create their own custom attendee survey if they want to get more in-depth information or ask about a specific feature of the event.

Meetup automated debrief questions – After every Meetup.com meetup an automated debrief is sent to those who registered to attend. It’s not customizable, but it’s still great information to have. Encourage your attendees to fill it out, and review the results regularly!

How to get better feedback

Create a safe space for feedback –  Many folks feel anxious about sharing and receiving feedback and don’t want to be seen as critical or complaining. This often leads to organizers and leaders hearing from a vocal few who might not represent the majority. Make it clear that feedback is welcome and important for the growth of your community, and that you are committed to improving events in response to community feedback. Provide multiple ways for your community to provide feedback such as in person, a voice call, email, or 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/.. Not everyone is comfortable with the same communication style, and you’ll get the best information if you collect feedback from people in the way they’re most comfortable.

Ask specific questions – If you want to know something specific, just come out and ask. Unless your community includes some mind-readers, people won’t know that you’re open to feedback unless you tell them.

Ask what you’re not asking – Leave room for attendees to fill in the blank. Specifically, call out that you want diverse ideas and opinions, and you’d like to know what the leadership team isn’t thinking to ask.

Make it actionable – Don’t ask for feedback just for the sake of having it. Example: If you’re asking people if they have a dietary preference or restriction but you’re meeting in an office and no food will be provided, there’s no reason to collect the information. But if you have a speaker who is an expert in three different topics and you want to know if your community would benefit more from learning about Contribution, SEO, or Content Management — then ask the community what they’d like to hear about.

Make it shareable – Either collect or collate feedback in a way that makes it shareable with the entire leadership of your group, or whenever possible, your entire community.

Recruitment – New incoming community members, speakers, sponsors, and leaders will always bring with them fresh ideas and a new perspective to share.

What to do with feedback once you have it

Share what you’ve learned – With the exception of private information and personally identifying information, it’s important to share what we’ve learned.

Don’t make change for the sake of change – If everything is working, and that’s the feedback you’re getting, don’t change things on a whim. If you want to test out new formats, content, or dates, then try to offer them as an alternative and then collect feedback on the experiments.

Recruit – Some WordPress community organizers like to say, “You’ve got an idea? You’ve got a job!” because feedback and suggestions can so often be used as a recruitment tool. The people who care enough to suggest a new topic or event series for the meetup, or a new registration system or caterer for WordCamp, are much more likely to care enough to get more involved in the community. If people come to you with a good idea that you think will work, invite them to take another step along the path to leadership by taking responsibility for making that good idea become a reality. If someone has an idea that you think won’t work, then you can still explain the reasons you do things the way you do, and invite them to help come up with another way to solve the problem they’ve identified! Often people don’t realize how easy it can be to get more involved in the local community.  

Please leave feedback on this article about feedback

How do you collect and respond to feedback in your local WordPress community? Have you ever given feedback and been surprised by the results? Do you have some other suggestions for ways to improve the quality of feedback, or respond to it? Leave a comment on this post with your thoughts!

#feedback, #organizer-best-practices

Discussion: Micro-regional WordCamps

After an extensive community discussion involving community members from all over the world, we put together some guidelines for the situations where regional WordCamps will be approved. These guidelines have been accepted and are the working basis for any regional 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. application that we receive. Recently, however, we have received applications for two WordCamps that we would call “micro-regional” as they comprise more than one city/town, but they are all in very close proximity to each other. There are special circumstances here that make these applications different to the average regional WordCamp, which is what we would like to discuss here.

What do the applications entail?

As we have two separate applications here, I’m going to explain the requests in a single instance using cities named Alpha, BetaBeta A pre-release of software that is given out to a large group of users to trial under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through alpha testing in-house and are generally fairly close in look, feel and function to the final product; however, design changes often occur as part of the process. and Gamma.

The WordCamp application is for WordCamp Beta, even though Beta does not have its own 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. group. The organisers of the WordCamp will come from the Alpha and Gamma communities, as all three cities are within 30 minutes of each other. In some cases, the Alpha community has held meetup events in Beta as well as Gamma, as these cities are so close together that travelling between them is fairly trivial. Beta was chosen for the WordCamp location as it is more central and also less costly than Alpha and Gamma.

Why do we need to discuss this?

A long-standing rule for all WordCamps is that we only ever host a WordCamp in a city that has an active and healthy meetup group. This is to ensure that the WordCamp has the support and longevity that it needs to keep its momentum going. The applications that we’re looking at here are both for WordCamps to be hosted in cities that do not have their own active meetup groups. On the other hand, they are deeply connected to their neighbouring cities that do have meetup groups, not just by proximity, but also by the fact that they have shared event locations (and even event organisers) in the past.

So, what do you think? Is the concern of the host city not having its own meetup group mitigated by the fact that the surrounding groups are so connected to them? We’d love to get some opinions on this from the community and deputies, so please weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.

As both of these camps need to get going with their pre-planning, I’m going to set the deadline for concluding this discussion at next week Friday (17 November) at 10:00 UTC. At that point I’ll summarise the discussion and we can decide on the way forward.

#deputies, #feedback

Community Team badges for user profiles

There has been a bit of discussion about this in the past and recently, but now that we have a really solid idea of how the deputy programme works and a mostly clear view of who is and isn’t a deputy, it would be valuable to look at creating a ‘proper’ Community Team badge for WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ profiles. How most contributor teams work is that they have one badge for general contributors to the team and a second badge (that looks like the first, but has a shaded background) that is for the ‘coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress.’ group of that contribution team (see my profile and read the badge tooltips if you’re unfamiliar with the differences).

The full list of badges is here – we currently have only one for ‘Community Team’ that is a standard badge with no background. That badge is assigned to anyone on the team (which need to be added manually) as well as automatically for anyone who is added as 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. organiser. I would propose the following changes:

  1. We change the existing badge to a ‘Community Contributor’ badge and it remains as being auto-assigned for WordCamp organisers and we could maybe also manually assign it for 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. organisers if that makes sense for the programme.
  2. We then add a new ‘Community Team’ badge (which has the shaded background), which would be manually assigned to the community team, super deputies and deputies.

This would bring the Community badges more in line with the other contribution teams (consistency FTW) and it would also indicate who is involved in things centrally and who is a local organiser. Badges like this are a nice way to acknowledge people’s contributions to WordPress, so it’s more than just a thing to show off – I think it actually encourages increased involvement.

The issue, of course, is how we would decide the criteria for who would receive the Team badge. I would suggest that people who meet the following criteria would receive the badge:

  1. Anyone who works full time for the Community Team.
  2. The Super Deputies.
  3. Deputies who have answered at least 30 tickets on Help Scout in the last 3 months (in reality, these numbers would probably be somewhat flexible as some tickets take a lot more time than others).
  4. WordCamp Mentors who have mentored at least 2 (or 3?) WordCamps in the last 12 months.

This would mean that new deputies would not immediately receive the badge just for completing the deputy training and, as a result, badges would only be given for active work in the community (as is the intention behind the profile badges).

In the name of not erasing the efforts/contributions of formerly active contributors, I don’t think we need to keep track of ongoing activity. We can use the 30 tickets in 3 months metric as an initial milestone, but we don’t want to retroactively undermine someone’s past work if they fall below that milestone later on.

Probably the best way to manage this (as manually assigning badges does create extra work of course) is to check in on our active deputies every quarter and manually assign badges as required. It would be great if we could automate this quarterly check, but not the end of the world if we cannot do so.

If everyone is happy with this, the first step would be to design the new badge (which consists solely of adding a shaded background to the existing one) and then submitting a MetaMeta Meta is a term that refers to the inside workings of a group. For us, this is the team that works on internal WordPress sites like WordCamp Central and Make WordPress. request to have it added along with the initial list of to whom it will be assigned.

If you have any major concerns about this or any votes of confidence then please comment here and we can get this done.

#feedback, #badges

A new type of WordCamp

From time to time, we come across fresh ideas for WordCamps – sometimes we see them happen organically from within event organising teams, and other times there’s a more formal application process for something new. The recently announced WordCamp for Publishers event happening later this year is a really good example of one of those ideas that has led to a brand new type of 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. that is focused on a specific niche. We now have another application for something else that is new to the WordCamp programme and would essentially be a new type of WordCamp – albeit with the difference being one of format, rather than content.

The new event type we are talking about today has been dubbed ‘WordCamp in the Green’ (or possibly ‘WordCamp Retreat’) and has been proposed by @mahype and the Köln meetup group in Germany. As the event name suggests, this would be a WordCamp that would be some ways out of town and would involve all of the attendees staying over at the WordCamp venue. The event format as proposed would look a lot like a normal WordCamp with regular sessions over two days and a Contributor DayContributor Day Contributor Days are standalone days, frequently held before or after WordCamps but they can also happen at any time. They are events where people get together to work on various areas of https://make.wordpress.org/ There are many teams that people can participate in, each with a different focus. https://2017.us.wordcamp.org/contributor-day/ https://make.wordpress.org/support/handbook/getting-started/getting-started-at-a-contributor-day/. after that, with the added feature of various outdoor activities taking place in the area and everyone who is attending the WordCamp staying in the same hotel. This is different to some other events that have popped up recently, in that this is, at its coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress., a WordCamp and not simply a retreat or weekend away.

A budget has been proposed for the event and the organising team is very keen to move forward with things, but, as this is a brand new event type and it is something that we know there will be a huge amount of interest in from other communities around the world, we wanted to pitch it here for feedback and discussion. If we introduce a new type of WordCamp event like this, we want it to be something that works in many communities, scales effectively for larger (or smaller) groups, and is able to be reproduced by any organisers who wish to do so.

So, to aid you in providing feedback, here are some questions that we can discuss here:

  • Do you think an event like this is a worthwhile addition to the WordCamp programme?
  • Do you think it’s different enough from a normal WordCamp to actually need a different name?
  • What do you think of the format of the event? Should it look more different? Or is keeping it the same as a WordCamp a good idea?
  • Would you be interested in organising an event like this in your area?

What say you?

#feedback, #wordcamps

Requiring WordCamp Speakers to have a WordPress.org account

A team of contributors is working on building a new tool for handling 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. speaker submissions. As part of that project, we’ve run into a question that we’d like help from the rest of the Community team to decide.

Should potential WordCamp speakers be required to have a WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ account in order to submit their proposal?

Currently, potential speakers are required to log in before submitting a proposal. Some people feel like that doesn’t offer a substantial benefit, and that it creates a barrier for speakers, especially those outside the WordPress community who can offer valuable perspective. Others feel like having the data is beneficial, and an unwillingness to fulfill a minor requirement might be a red flag that they wouldn’t be a good representative of our community.

Our discussion from September 2015 has more details on the pros and cons. I remember there’ve been more discussion in 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/. too, but I couldn’t find them. If you do, please link to them in the comments.

cc @jennybeaumont, @imath, @tomjn, @johnjamesjacoby

#wordcamps #feedback