Proposal to Simplify Training for WordCamp Mentors

We currently have 27 folks listed internally as “active” 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. mentors. At this time, 11 of the people on the mentor list are not mentoring any events. Earlier this week, I sent an email to all those listed on our mentor roster to determine their availability. Several folks have already asked to be pulled from the active list, and I anticipate several more will either ask to be removed or not respond. That will leave us with about 20 active mentors.

We currently have 109 WordCamps in various stages of planning, ranging from “Needs Orientation” to “Scheduled” that need or will need a mentor. Only 34 of those events have a mentor now. We need more mentors!

As WordCamp mentors, folks are asked to advise organizers, remind them about things organizers frequently forget, keep them on track in planning, and be the team’s connection to 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.. We also ask that they make regular updates about their mentor sessions on this site.

At this time all mentors are deputies, but not all deputies are mentors — while the work they do is related, it’s different. Our current deputy training process is for people who might triage our shared email, vet applications for both WordCamps and meetups, orient organizers for both WordCamps and meetups, and review WordCamp budgets. Because of all these different tasks deputies might handle, training is time consuming for would-be deputies (and for the trainers). Including all this additional content and time commitment may be making it harder to recruit and train new mentors.

I propose a change in the training for mentors to be more in line with the work we’re asking of them. Instead of asking that they undergo the entire deputy training process we would instead follow these steps:

  • Potential mentor submits an application to be a WordCamp Mentor.
  • A deputy reviews their application to ensure they meet WordCamp mentor requirements.
  • Mentor completes the WordCamp Organizer self training to ensure they’re up to date on expectations and guidelines.
  • Mentor has a call with a deputy to talk them through the mentoring process.
  • Mentor is assigned a WordCamp to work with in their preferred region.

I also propose that, for transparency, we have a Mentors page similar to our Deputies page or that we add a separate tab for mentors to show which mentors are active and what events they are currently mentoring.

In line with these suggestions it would make sense that mentors no longer be considered deputies. While being a mentor would not prevent a community member from being a deputy or vice versa, I don’t think we should consider them the same position — or provide deputy-level access to central.wordcamp.org and Help Scout for all WordCamp mentors.

If it seems like this will work, the next steps would be:

  • Create a WordCamp mentor application
  • Post a call for new mentors
  • Create a Mentors page or update the deputies page with a mentors tab.
  • Implement new mentor process as detailed above.

If you have any concerns, ideas, or thoughts, please share them in a comment below. Let’s try to conclude our discussion by March 12, so we can begin a mentor recruitment drive on March 16, 2018.

#mentors #deputies #community-management

A Community Core Team

While gathering feedback from the deputies/mentors (also, can we just say deputies instead of separating that into two different labels? “people helping with community wrangling” is the definition for both despite different tasks) is important in deciding what changes to make to this program, there is plenty of low-hanging fruit that we can start knocking down.

Here’s an apple dangling from its branch:

We need to make leadership of the community team more decentralized, more globally distributed, more reliable, and more transparent. 

Starting the deputies program was a step in that direction, but we need to go a lot further, and I think we are ready.

Currently

Right now, the “official” leadership of this team rests with Josepha and Cami, with me and Andrea coming back in for awhile to help catch up the backlog and try to organize some stuff to be more efficient. All four of these people are in the US, and all four are employed by Automattic. Then we have a handful or two of deputies that help out a little or a lot, depending on what else they’ve got going on. Most of these deputies are not employed by Automattic, and a few are not US-based, but we don’t necessarily know how much time they can give each week, and the coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. people for whom this is a full-time job wind up feeling overwhelmed when the backlog grows and they have to try and catch up when the volunteers have other things to do that week. The vagaries of wrangling volunteers and making up for when they won’t or can’t deliver should be familiar territory for all our deputies, since you’ve been in this position yourselves when organizing WordCamps or Meetups. It’s frustrating, right? I have an idea.

Expand the Team Leadership

What if we decide as a group that we want a little more structure on this team, and create a community core team made up of the people who are able to commit to x hours per week of the various tasks involved in running the program? Obviously that would still include the current full-time 4, but just like the core team that makes the software we all know and love (on good days, anyway), we would include people who have some dedicated time donated by their employers, and the self-employed/freelancers who’ve decided to make this a commitment as equally “official” members of the team, where some people do it full time and others are just a couple of hours per week (but they are good hours 🙂 ). If we knew for sure we could count on these people, we could start decentralizing responsibilities that are time-sensitive or that touch sensitive information to be shared by more people. This could get the full-time 4 out of the never-ending pit of backlog/reactive customer support, and we could focus some time on creating tools and processes to make things easier instead of always treading water (sometimes less successfully than anyone likes). Sound like a plan?

I’ve started reaching out to some business owners in the wp ecosystem that seem like a good fit for donating an employee’s time. It doesn’t need to be full-time (though wow that would be great); even a few hours each week can make a big difference if we know we can count on them no matter what. So:

  • If you have a business and would be willing to donate some employee time
  • If you are already volunteering on company time (or your own) and would like to make it official
  • If you are already volunteering but not on company time and would like help convincing your boss that it’s a good idea
  • If you are not yet volunteering but would like to, if you can convince your boss (or are willing to make the commitment on behalf of your own time)

…let me know. You can leave a comment here, or if you’d rather raise your hand less publicly, you can email me at jenmylo at 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/. I am happy to reach out to your boss if it seems like a good fit. We’re especially in need of people outside the US for both time zone and language reasons, but also just because our community team leadership should be representative of the community team itself, which spans dozens of countries.

Getting Trained

In the meantime, we are going to start training more people on how to do more stuff here, whether their bosses are paying them for it or not. We’ll do the first of these trainings (video format) on Tuesday, June 16 at 11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern, 6pm UTC and cover how to process 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 applications and get organizers started with new groups or roll their current group into the chapter account. If this time doesn’t work for you, don’t worry, we’ll record it and post it, and will set up a another training in the future that’s friendlier to the Asia/Australia side of the world. If you are interested in attending the training on the 16th, please let us know in the comments so we can decide which format will work best (hangout, hangout on air+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/., zoom, etc) and we’ll give you the link to join that day. We’ll work out the topics of future trainings as we get feedback from the deputies and can take a more educated guess at which tasks will make the biggest impact if they are shared more widely.

Transparency

When we have more people doing the work, we’ll have more available time to work on things like tools for managing stuff, tracking progress, etc, and we can say goodbye to private google docs forever in favor of transparent information posted right here on this site. But first we need more people we can count on so that we can plan appropriately. Can you help?

 

#deputies, #community-management, #mentors, #training

Deputies and Mentors v2

Hello, community wranglers! It’s been a little over 6 months since the introduction of the deputies program, and it’s time to look back on how things have been going, and iterate our hearts out to improve the work we do here.

I’d like to get feedback from everyone who has participated in the deputies/mentors program since it began after WCSF. I know a number of people started out participating but have since stepped back. In the interest of keeping the feedback process at this stage limited to the deputies and mentors, I need your help to know who should be contacted. This is the list I have, but I believe it is only current participants: Aditya Kane, Brandon Dove, David Bisset, Dee Teal, Erick Hitter, Flynn O’Connor, Grant Landram, John Hawkins, Karen Arnold, Kevin Cristiano, Mario Peshev, Mayuko Moriyama, Petya Raykovska, Richard Archambault, Scott Basgaard. Here are the people whose names are on an old list of John’s but I don’t know if they ever got started with mentoring or not: Hugh Lashbrooke, Jeff Zinn, Rafael Proveda, Shannon Smith.

Are you actively mentoring/deputying now? Were you part of this experiment earlier? Do you know who else volunteered as a deputy or mentor? Please let me know in the comments so I can get feedback from those who stepped back as well as those still involved. Will begin reaching out next week, and once I’ve gotten feedback from everyone on how things have been going (time commitments, clarity of what needs to get done, structure, etc), we can start the work as a team of figuring out how to change the processes we have to make things better.

Let me know if you or someone you know belongs on this list, or if you are listed but shouldn’t be. Thanks!

** Side note: I would have done mentions for the names to spur notifications, but not everyone has a role on the site for some reason. From now on, let’s automatically add deputies/mentors to the site as authors so they can post updates. @camikaos: Can you go ahead and make all the active folks Authors on this site? Thanks!

 

#deputies, #community-management, #iteration, #mentors

WordCamp New Organizer Mentorship Program: Week 6

The 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. Mentorship Program (henceforth abbreviated WCMP) team got a lot done in the past week. We’ve posted three documents to the Mentors P2 (The first two will eventually make their way onto plan.wordcamp.org and the exit surveys will be administered via PollDaddy):

We think these are pretty comprehensive, but please take a look at them and comment if you have any suggestions. We still need to finalize the Mentor and Mentee application forms, which will also be administered via PollDaddy.

We’ve also finalized the weekly meeting time and place for the WCMP leadership team meeting. We’ve moved from having a weekly phone call to meeting in IRC, to make the process more transparent and open. (Side note: it also makes it easier to eat and talk at the same time :P) Here are the details:

  • Thursdays at 22:00 UTC
  • irc.freenode.net
  • #wordpress-events

Feel free to join in or comment here if you have any suggestions. For now, here are our steps going forward

  • Draft the Mentor/Mentee applications
  • Finalize all documents after community input.
  • Migrate documents to plan.wordcamp.org and forms to PollDaddy
  • Announce the program to the world, and start taking applications!

So, it looks like we’re almost there! We hope to be ready to launch the program within the next two weeks. Again, any suggestions or constructive feedback are welcome.

#mentors