Request for Feedback: How can we Improve the Five for the Future Contributor Journey?

The WordPress project has made great strides this year thanks to its contributors. As WordPress enters an exciting new era of growth in 2023, it is time to examine how Five for the Future can best support the project and the people behind it. 

This post shares research on the contributor journey for individuals and organizations committed to the Five for the Future initiative. Your feedback will be valuable in further refining the contribution experience for pledged contributors. 

Self-sponsored Contributors and Pledging

At this time, individual self-sponsored contributors can edit their 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 to update and share the number of contribution hours per week towards their chosen contributor teams. However, after pledging contribution time towards their respective teams, the onus is on the contributors to follow up on their commitments. Below is a flowchart representing the current contributor journey for self-sponsored contributors in Five for the Future.

A flowchart depicting the contributor journey for individual self-sponsored WordPress contributors in relation to Five for the Future.

As depicted in the flowchart, many contributors pledging their time to Five for the Future tend to drop off. Based on conversations with contributors, I identified some reasons why this may be happening: 

  • Self-sponsored contributors do not get any direction on navigating the project or identifying contributor teams.
  • There is no onboarding for self-sponsored contributors pledging their time to the Make/Teams of their choice. 
  • Making the first contribution can require a lot of coaching and guidance, which is currently not available to self-sponsored contributors.
  • Pledged contributors frequently do not get any additional guidance or support on making ongoing contributions to the project. 
  • There is a lack of clarity on what constitutes a Five for the Future contribution.

When a contributor making a recurring time commitment to a big project like WordPress lacks guidance on how they can honor their commitment, their contributions could stagnate. In other words, at this time, the journey of a pledged contributor is not very much different from a non-pledged contributor.

Companies and Pledging

Companies have a more nuanced relationship with Five for the Future. They are listed on the Five for the Future website with dedicated profiles, which include lists of the Make/Teams they contribute to, linked contributors, and the total number of hours pledged. However, like individual contributors, once a company commits time and resources to Five for the Future, they frequently also lack direction or guidance on contributing. 

You will find below a flowchart representation of the current contributor journey for companies. As you can see below, in an ideal world, when a company pledges to Five for the Future, they should go on to make ongoing contributions to WordPress and build a mutually successful relationship. At this time, companies have to figure out the nuances of contributions themselves and put in extra effort to provide ongoing contributions to the project. If they are unable to get that support, their contributions could stagnate.  

A flowchart depicting the contributor journey for companies pledged to WordPress through Five for the Future.

Companies and organizations that have grown alongside WordPress or that already have experienced contributors may be able to navigate through the process more efficiently. However, many companies in the program (especially newer companies) could have a tough time figuring out WordPress contributions. Some of the issues faced by Five for the Future companies include: 

  • Lack of guidance on the next steps after pledging (Ex: How can a company start contributing to a Make/Team – example, Make/CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. or Make/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))
  • Missing direction for companies navigating their Five for the Future contributions (Ex: How does a company build a Five for the Future strategy? How do they effectively make contributions as a company? Are contributions aligned with company goals and WordPress project goals?)
  • Significantly less ongoing support for their contributor journey.
  • Little or no awareness of how companies can benefit from Five for the Future 

These issues could potentially lead to some companies reducing the quantum of contributions or even dropping off the program. 

How Can We Improve the Five for the Future Contributor Journey?

As @chanthaboune mentions in Episode 35 of the WordPress Podcast, Five for the Future intends to foster “generous collaboration toward the long term health and stability of our project for the future.” While the program has made great strides since its formal launch in 2019, starting the journey to the next iteration of Five for the Future will make that vision a reality. With improved onboarding and better cross-team communication between companies and contributors, that reality will also enjoy an unmatched contributor experience that benefits both the WordPress project and contributors alike. 

  • What do you think about the existing contributor journey? What are our successes and pain points?
  • How can we improve the contributor journey for Five for the Future contributors and sponsoring companies?
  • What more can Five for the Future do to help its contributors?
  • How can Five for the Future contributors best support Make/WordPress Teams? 

Please share with us in the comments on this post! Your feedback will go a long way in shaping the contributor experience of our favorite 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. 

Additionally, if you are an existing WordPress or Five for the Future contributor or work closely with Make/WordPress Team, @angelasjin and I would love to chat with you. Please express your interest in the comments of this post, pingPing The act of sending a very small amount of data to an end point. Ping is used in computer science to illicit a response from a target server to test it’s connection. Ping is also a term used by Slack users to @ someone or send them a direct message (DM). Users might say something along the lines of “Ping me when the meeting starts.” @angelasjin or myself (@harishanker) in the Make/WordPress 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/., or simply drop a mail to getinvolved@wordpress.org so that we can schedule a conversation based on your availability.

#five-for-the-future #5ftF #discussion

This post was jointly written with @angelasjin.

WCUS 2022 Q&A

WordCamp US 2022 convened from September 9 to 11 in San Diego, California. It felt reminiscent of earlier gatherings that offered a comfortable environment for reconnecting, learning, and discussing all things WordPress. The highlight for many was the closing session with the project’s co-founder, @matt, who shared a sneak peek at features slated for the upcoming 6.1 release and engaged in conversation with attendees in a Town Hall Q&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. US 2022 Q&A

In an effort for no questions to go unanswered, those submitted on Livestream and Twitter are listed below with answers from WordPress contributors. 

Q1. How do we convince legacy web builders, agencies, and companies to more quickly adopt new WordPress features? I’m seeing a ton of opportunities to support older sites (5.0), but very few agencies/projects/companies are moving to build on 6.0.

A1. A few teams are working hard to share and educate users about new features in the latest WordPress releases. The Training Team publishes tutorials to help ease adoption. Marketing highlights new #WordPress features across multiple social networks. @annezazu hosts regular Hallway Hangouts in Test. Your thoughts on additional adoption initiatives are welcome.

Q2. How close is WordPress to editor collaboration? It’s sometimes frustrating that two people can’t be in the editor at the same time. 

A2. The project roadmap shows the big picture goals and upcoming releases, and @matveb shared some early thoughts about building a “multiplayer” experience, but there is no release date for this feature yet. As noted in the Q&A, some big questions need to be addressed before collaboration can be addressed. That said, some exciting plugins explore comments and other collaborative tools.

Q3. Any thoughts on p2’s release date for self-hosting? It looks lovely!

A3. The new version of P2 requires WordPress.comWordPress.com An online implementation of WordPress code that lets you immediately access a new WordPress environment to publish your content. WordPress.com is a private company owned by Automattic that hosts the largest multisite in the world. This is arguably the best place to start blogging if you have never touched WordPress before. https://wordpress.com/ hosting to power its more advanced feature set, so there is currently no self-hosted version available. You’re welcome to try the O2 plugin and the P2 Breathe theme, but please note that this pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party is not in active development.

Q4. What commitment does WordPress CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. have to advance 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) for disabled WP users and also for baking it into WordPress sites created?

A4. Accessibility is top of mind while developing WordPress, and WordPress 6.1 has seen 40 accessibility improvements listed under milestones 13.1-14.1 in the 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/ GitHubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. https://github.com/ repository, if you would like to follow along, with more expected in upcoming releases. As Matt mentioned in the Q&A session, there is an interest in slowing down the fast clip of Gutenberg development to allow for necessary improvements, like accessibility.

Q5. What is the plan for making the Site Editor accessible?

A5. Every new release includes a variety of accessibility improvements. You can read about WordPress 6.0 Accessibility Improvements and expect more in 6.1. You can also get involved with this work by joining the #accessibility channel in Make Slack.

Q6. Are there any plans to make future WordCamps hybrid to take advantage of the aspects of video conferencing that we discovered during the pandemic?

A6. WordCamp US 2022 had a captioned Livestream available throughout the event (recordings also available). Community members in San Diego and at home kept the conversation going with #WCUS across social platforms, especially on Twitter. WordCamp organizers are committed to iterating and exploring how best to bring the experience to participants both in-person and online.

Q7. What is the timeline for removing the “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.” tag from the Site Editor?

A7. The Core Team is discussing open issues and blockers to the removal of the Beta label. You can follow along with the discussion on GitHub.

Q8. Right now, the navigation 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. is basic. Are they planning to improve this? For example, I would like to easily create a mega menu.

A8. Navigation is a crucial part of the site editing experience and can cover a wide array of use cases, from simple “all pages” navigation to complex structures. Currently, the project is focused on ensuring the best experience possible for the most common use cases while still allowing extensibility. Once that experience is polished enough, the editor will be extended to allow more complex navigation structures such as mega menus.

Do you have a question? Comment below, and join one of the many teams making WordPress for answers.

#wcus2022

Request for feedback: Recording Five for the Future contributions

Have you kept up on the latest updates to the Five for the Future (5ftF) program? In addition to addressing spam and dormant pledges, @josepha has proposed a definition for 5ftF pledges and contributions. Most notably:

Participation in Five for the Future means consistent effort by an individual or a company via a Make WordPress team to directly support 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 and the project’s current big ideas, rather than the sole benefit of a company or individual.

Another important iteration to the 5ftF program is identifying and recording contributions made; this will help Make Teams follow activity and progress (dashboards, anyone?!) and support all WordPress contributors to recognize all the great work achieved.

Upcoming improvements for the 5ftF program are tracked in GitHub. There are a number of suggested contributions to record that apply across Make Teams, such as props, HelpScout activity, or attending a Make Team meeting. There are also suggestions for Team-specific contributions to record, thanks to input from the Training, Documentation, and Community teams.

Of course, there is much, much more activity to celebrate. This is where I would like your input. Based on the definition we now have of 5ftF contributions, what other activity, specific to a Make Team or across multiple teams, should be recognized and recorded? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

#5ftf, #five-for-the-future

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