Big Picture Goals 2022

During 2021’s State of the Word, Matt revisited GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/’s timeline, what has been accomplished, and what is ahead of us. The project is at something of a halfway point, and I want to offer my unending thanks to everyone who has contributed and welcome anyone who wants to join our efforts. This post contains some goals for the year (and will be updated with links to individual team posts when I start to see them), but there are some things you should know first.

These are intentionally broad

There is more to WordPress’ success than the code we write or the 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. freedoms we support. While the goals below focus on shippable projects, I understand that supporting contributions (translations, testing, triage, 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), support, performance, etc.) are part of these goals.

These are intentionally incomplete

There are always small projects that arise over the course of the year. And there are big projects to move forward in pieces over the course of multiple years. This project is too big for me to see everything all the time, and I rely on the information from team reps and the vision from project leadership to help navigate any surprises.

If you don’t see a project here, keep in mind that there are many that are still valuable to the overall success of our work. 

The Big Picture

2022 is all about committing to the co-creator relationship with WordPress users.

  1. Drive adoption of the new WordPress editor – Following WordPress 5.9, our focus will be driving user adoption by making full site editing (and its tools) easy to find and use.
    1. For the CMS – Get high quality feedback, ensure actionable tickets come from the feedback with collaboration from design as needed, and ship code that solves our users’ most pressing needs.
      1. Invite more users and extenders to participate in the FSE Outreach program (10-12 calls for testing).
      2. Host regular design-driven user testing (one test a week).
    2. For the Community – Share our knowledge and resources in a way that inspires and motivates our users to action.
      1. Invite more users and extenders to augment their skills through LearnWP.
      2. Turn routine support issues into new evergreen content (10-15 pieces of canonical content using Learn, Docs, 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/, etc).
      3. Translate high impact user-facing content across Rosetta sites (15-20 locales).
      4. Host audience-specific WordPress events (10-12 by common language, interest, or profession).
    3. For the Ecosystem – Prioritize full site editing tools and content across the ecosystem for all users.
      1. Highlight blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. themes and plugins in the directories.
      2. Provide tools/training to learn how to build block themes.
      3. Improve the block developer experience.
  2. Support open source alternatives for all site-building necessities – Provide access to open source elements needed to get a site up and running.
    1. For the CMS
      1. Update new user onboarding flow to match modern standards.
      2. Integrate Openverse into wp-admin.
      3. Integrate Photo Directory submissions into wp-admin.
      4. Pattern creator
    2. For the Community
      1. Ship LearnWP learning opportunities (1 workshop/week, 6 courses/year)
      2. Increase the number of social learning spaces (4 SLSs/week)
      3. Block theme contribution drive (50 block themes in the repo).
    3. For the Ecosystem
      1. Update the theme previewer to support block themes.
      2. Update the content & design across WP.org.
      3. Update Polyglots tools to Improve the translation experience.
      4. Create a developer-focused communications site.
  3. Open Source stewards: Iterate on WordPress’ open source methodologies to guide and sustain long term success for WordPress as well as the overall open source community that we are part of.
    1. For All
      1. 5ftF program expansion
      2. Recruitment of future leaders in the community
      3. Onboarding of current leaders in the community
      4. Upstream contributions to other OS projects (PHPPHP PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML. http://php.net/manual/en/intro-whatis.php., JS, Matrix, or the like)
      5. WordPress Project maintenance
      6. Ancillary programs
  4. Bonus: Preparations for WordPress’ 20th birthday

How can you help?

As I mentioned above, I know that our code isn’t the only measure of our success. If you already know what sort of contribution you’d like to make, you can check out this list of teams (with links to their community sites) and team reps. If you’re not yet sure, here are the areas that each team falls into:

  • Development, Technology, Code: CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress./Editor, Mobile, CLICLI Command Line Interface. Terminal (Bash) in Mac, Command Prompt in Windows, or WP-CLI for WordPress./Tide, Security, Performance
  • Design, Product, UXUX UX is an acronym for User Experience - the way the user uses the UI. Think ‘what they are doing’ and less about how they do it./UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing.: Design, Accessibility, Test, Triage
  • Community, Extending WP, Education: Community, Themes, Plugins, Polyglots, Training
  • Contributor Experience: 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., Docs, Hosting, Privacy
  • Communications: Marketing, Support, WPTV

A Note on Specialized Groups

A couple of coordinated efforts provide essential support to the progress of multiple teams.

  • Triage: The triage effort happens across multiple teams and has two purposes. One purpose is to make sure tickets are sorted and have all the elements needed for someone to work on them. The second purpose is to determine priority. Not everyone has the information to set priority, but anyone can help sort and replicate reported bugs!
  • Test: The testing effort also happens across multiple teams and has multiple purposes. One purpose is to validate bugs, bug fixes, and new features before they go to users. The second purpose is to bring continuous high quality feedback throughout the entire release cycle. A lot of that coordination happens on make.wordpress.org/test, but there are also calls to test during various points of the release process in the Core channel.

#planning #goals

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Suggested iterations for the Five for the Future program and tool

The Five for the Future site and tools launched at the end of 2019, and then the pandemic hit. It’s been difficult to make time to iterate on the program, but eventually the window of opportunity for changes will open, and I wanted to collect my suggestions here, in case they will be helpful in the future.

The program has a few major challenges that have kept it from reaching its full potential. Here’s my take on those problems, and how they might be resolved:

Spam or dormant pledges

The program runs on the honor system, and it wasn’t clear how much of a risk that would be, at launch. Two years later, there have certainly been more “spam” pledges than anyone would want, and surprisingly (to me) few reports of fake or spam pledges. What that tells me = either people don’t go surfing around in the pledge lists, checking for accuracy, the Report feature is too hard to find (unlikely), or people don’t really care whether pledges are accurate or not.

I do think that a substantial number of false/fake/spam pledges are a problem, because they depreciate the value of the sincere/active/real pledges. If we never intend to clean up the rolls, then we should probably consider shutting down the program or putting more disclaimers on the site. 🙂

I don’t think it’s time to get that drastic, though. Here’s what I think could work, to increase the signal to noise ratio in pledges, in no particular order:

  • Share the list of pledges with leaders on each contributor team, asking them to mark the contributors they’ve never worked with or seen participate on the team.
  • Send the “absent” contributors a friendly email, letting them know that we’re cleaning spam pledges from the site, and asking them to confirm that their pledge is not-spam. Share the names of those who confirm not-spam back to contributor teams and encourage them to reach out to that list with opportunities to help work on things.
  • (This will depend on each team being able to provide a list of ways to contribute. Worse comes to worst, I suppose we can send pledgers to each team’s handbook page that talks about how they can help.)
  • For those who do not confirm within a reasonable time period, remove their pledges from the site, and email them with a friendly message that we have been removing apparent spam pledges. Let them know how they can re-pledge if they simply missed our previous message asking for confirmation. It would be interesting to know if people who only come back once we’ve removed their pledge, actually become active or not. I’m not sure what will happen there.
  • Institute a biannual 5ftF spam-check, following the above process. Maybe that’s too often — maybe only once every year?

Disconnect between contributor teams and pledged contributors

For whatever reason, the outreach that I imagined would happen, between contributor teams looking for help and the list of pledged contributors that was added to every 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. on the Make network…. never really came to pass. I’m not sure if that’s because contributor teams don’t feel comfortable pinging someone out of the blue and asking for help (it’s very likely that I have less shame than most, in my recruitment work), or if that *has* been happening, but just hasn’t been productive.

I was talking to Courtney Engle Robertson about this a little, this week, and she mentioned the idea of a tagging system on Make blog posts, that could automagically alert pledged contributors of posts that included opportunities to help out. I think we’d need to add some opt-in steps there, for privacy reasons of course, but I think this idea has merit.

When contributors re-confirm their pledges, they could be asked to click a box on their Profile page if they want to be emailed posts from Make blogs with a #5ftF tag or something, and maybe even specify which blogs they’d like to hear from in that way.

Another idea in this vein = inviting people to mark what kind of work they’re interested in doing for WordPress, when they make their pledge. I’m envisioning options like:

  • administrative (answer emails in a queue, take meeting notes, etc)
  • feedback (review and comment on blog posts,
  • testing (CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. 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. testing, contributor tool beta testing, pre-beta testing for new features, etc)
  • writing (write new or update old documentation, revise contributor team handbooks)
  • and the like.

Then contributor teams could get a regular report that (for example) 24 people have pledged 2 hours per week to their team, and 10 of them are willing to write or edit documentation. This could aid in the outreach/recruitment that contributor teams do, when they need to find people to work on a new or dormant project.

Train the pledgers, train the recruiters/onboarders

Another thought I had, about how we don’t seem to see a strong connection between pledged contributors and the teams they’re pledged to, is that not everyone knows how to effectively recruit people to contribute — even if they’re “qualified leads” (which is what I’d consider pledged contributors).

And not all people making pledges, necessarily know how to *find* the pages that tell them how to get involved.

So I think a two-pronged approach could help here. We write some docs or a training on how to recruit (and onboard?) contributors, and then we alter the email that pledged contributors get when they pledge, to include links to the onboarding docs for the teams they indicated. That’s work, y’all! But I think it would have a positive effect even beyond this program.

Discuss!

What do you think of these ideas? What ideas do YOU have for making the Five for the Future program more reliable and useful? Share your ideas/feedback and discuss in the comments, below!

#five-for-the-future

The Metrics of Contributions

When the Five for the Future (5ftF) program was proposed, one of the big questions I found myself considering was how to reconcile participating in a team with specific outcomes and expectations for work when that team contributes to a larger organization that has impact as one of its coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. values. It can feel like impact should be the primary consideration, but for those who are employed, there is always the pressure to quantify contributions over time.

The following notes are from a two part session with current sponsored contributors, to discuss how this tension appears in their day-to-day and how it balances over time.

General Thoughts

  • High impact contributor work in the project usually gets defined and clarified over time (e.g. the reiteration of priorities, the WordPress North Star, posts that outline goals).
    • Is it OK to have aimless or agenda-free contributions?
    • What is the difference between aimless and agenda-free? Or agenda-free and agenda-aligned?
    • If a contributor’s agenda is too clear, that doesn’t feel right—it is in direct conflict with “agenda-free contribution.”
  • Early contributions can be tricky for sponsored contributors as there are expectations from employers, project leadership, and casual contributors.
    • Goal alignment can be a struggle. What is valuable to the company may not be impactful for the project. 
    • How do you balance and align those expectations and responsibilities?
    • How do you reset expectations with casual contributors who become sponsored?
    • Should we have a different or more explicit onboarding process for company-sponsored contributors vs. self-sponsored contributors?
  • Sponsored contributors ensure that someone will track and execute the operations and administrative side of the project.
    • Does anyone even know about this type of work in the project?
    • Do we need a way to identify those who can do less desirable tasks?
    • Should sponsored contributors have an 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. mission statement that makes the project’s internal goals visible to impactful work
  • WordPress project onboarding necessarily has friction, which is a good thing.
    • A clarifying example is that you don’t hand over the keys to the first person who walks into the Red Cross and claims to have the solutions to all the problems.
    • The friction is going to exist if there is growth and transfer of knowledge. 
  • Being a sponsored contributor tends to come with a change in how volunteer contributors perceive you and your work.
    • The weight of your vote can change as goals align more/less over time.
    • Invisible work becomes your responsibility, but is rarely easy to point to let alone quantify.

Question to Contributors:
What are the things that changed when you shifted from a contributor to a sponsored contributor? Answers anonymized. 

  • I am now more willing to take on the less glamorous (administrative) tasks.
  • I am now expected to take on dropped tasks that are important to goals.
  • As a contributor, adding to the project made me feel empowered, and I think even more so now as a sponsored contributor. I felt like I was mainly guessing, whereas now I have familiarity and context. 
  • Sponsored contributors have more direct interaction with project leads, and extra vision and foresight setting than regular contributors have access to. 
  • When you can work full time on the project without the distraction of other work, you can see the patterns and projects more clearly. That exposure comes when you have a lot of time.
  • I started on the fringes, but saw that the onboarding to the space was steep and I didn’t have the time to invest in that. Having a buddy/guide helped.
  • Once you show up more frequently, people are more willing to offer help and guidance.  

Final Thoughts

It comes down to balance:

  • Aimless contribution vs agenda-free contribution (& if working toward goals works against that)
  • WordPress goals vs Company goals (& when they don’t match)
  • WordPress needs vs Company value (& when they don’t match)
  • Project work vs admin work (& setting expectations w/ contributors)

Resolving these conflicts is multi-tiered. We need to get better at welcoming organizations into a Five for the Future arrangement where the stakeholders, impactful work, and responsibilities are made clear at the start. We need the information to be clearly received by 5ftF contributors, while also making sure the same information is readily available to any contributor.

Five Proposed Solutions (+ pros and cons)

  • TagTag Tag is one of the pre-defined taxonomies in WordPress. Users can add tags to their WordPress posts along with categories. However, while a category may cover a broad range of topics, tags are smaller in scope and focused to specific topics. Think of them as keywords used for topics discussed in a particular post. sponsored contributors.
    • We have this tag but it’s unverified (honor-system and self-selected).
    • Can it be reframed to the lens of a contributing vs staff writer.
    • At what point should there be a closed selection component to contribution? 
    • Cons
      • It would be easy for that to carry too much weight/power.
      • We can’t opt-out of certain contributions.
  • Clarify the difference in the expectations. 
    • What are the differences and how do we keep people accountable?
    • When you are clear about what you are doing, it’s easier for people to work alongside you.
    • It can bring stability to sponsored contributors and level set their own expectations.
    • Cons
      • Could alienate other contributors.
      • That level of clarity could feel antithetical to OS methodologies for all contributors. 
  • Clarify the steep learning curve and trust-building for this type of team
    • The work of building trust, context, and rapport should be explicit to support personal and organizational expectations (6-12 mos).
    • Being sponsored does not immediately mean we are trusted with a decision.
    • Cons
      • No cons found.
  • Dedicated 5ftF onboarding process
    • What does that look like?
    • Do we change the metric from hours to perhaps contribution or event participation? 
    • Automated greenhorn system for 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/.?
    • Cons
      • Could alienate other contributors.
      • That level of clarity could feel antithetical to OS methodologies for all contributors. 
  • Should we have a specific 5ftF mission statement?
    • Having one could clarify the expectations for sponsored contributors.
    • Does a mission statement make it clear who can work on what, or is it divisive?
    • Current 5ftF White Paper

But there are so many questions

You might have noticed that there are twice as many unanswered questions as there are answered thoughts in this discussion. And these aren’t even all the questions I have!

Yet, the most important thing to me is how the project can support sponsored teams (and how those sponsored teams can support the project) transparently and with as much care as possible.

#5ftf

Welcome to make.wordpress.org/project

When the Make WordPress network was created back in 2012, every team that existed at the time got its own blog to use for transparent communication, collaboration, and coordination. An Updates blog was also created to be a place each team could use to report on their activity to other teams, and beyond.

The number of contributors and teams has grown in the nearly-ten years since, along with the user base of WordPress itself. As organizations expand, more coordination and communication work becomes necessary to keep everyone connected and working together. We’ve always used the Updates blog for this, because it was our only contributor-focused, cross-team space. 

As more contributors get involved in cross-team efforts, I have heard complaints that it’s distracting or confusing when the Updates blog is used for announcements (like this one) and discussions (like these).

The last thing that I want is to create confusion or distract from the way teams keep each other informed, so I think the best solution is to create a new blog for all-project communications and cross-team collaboration. This blog should make it easier to host and find discussions that affect all teams, and make WordPress project “back-office” work more transparent.

This blog is not associated with any one team but rather with all the teams, and may be used for topics ranging from short-term initiatives to long-term maintenance work. User permissions will be closed-selection, with the list of people who can author posts listed on the 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.. Since the work accomplished on this blog exists across all teams, contributions won’t receive an additional profile badge. Once the work on here feels more settled, we can all take a look to see if a specific badge is needed.

P.S. – From an 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. perspective, this idea might sound pretty “business-y.” A simpler explanation might be that this is similar to the work done by our 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. team: creating and maintaining the tools, infrastructure, safety, and processes that make contribution possible and more successful.

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