Updates on the Five for the Future program, and proposed improvements

Thanks to some great input from contributors and partnership with team reps, the 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 has added automated recognition for a number of non-code contributions!

For example, WordPress.org profiles will now show contributor activity such as:

  • Translating and reviewing strings on translate.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/
  • Publishing lesson plans, workshops, and courses on Learn WordPress
  • Publishing handbook pages
  • Mentoring 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.
  • Manual props received in the #props channel in Making WordPress

All new updates, and upcoming plans for automated recognition of contributor activity are tracked in GitHub. If there are other activities you think we could auto-magically record, please share in the comments below!

Trialing inactive pledge notifications

Capturing all this great contribution activity also means inactive pledges are more easily identified. There are a number of reasons that a pledge might be inactive: it’s not a great time for that company or individual to contribute, it’s an aspirational pledge and they don’t know how to contribute just yet, or perhaps they aren’t interested in contributing anymore. It could also be that what they are contributing isn’t being recognized yet! 

Whatever the reason, knowing which pledges are active is helpful information for Make Teams working on big projects that need contributors. Knowing which pledges are inactive also gives us an opportunity to reach out to see what support those pledges might need, and a chance to connect. The notification process intends to help Make Teams and contributors with these areas. 

This is not to remove or erase contributions – in fact, pledges that don’t get any response after a grace period will simply be deactivated, and can be reactivated at any time. All contributions will continue to be displayed on .org profiles, regardless of if the pledge is active or not.

For all teams

To start, the Meta team is exploring sending an email to any contributor who hasn’t logged in for three (3) months. This email will check in, see if the contributor needs some help in connecting with a team, and ask that they log in within the next 30 days. If the contributor does not, their pledge will be deactivated. 

Testing a future notification system

To test a notification process that will best support the future of Make Teams and contributors, the Meta team has been exploring options with the Training and Polyglots teams. These teams will trial a more comprehensive, automated notification system for pledges. 

For starters, this notification system will notify pledges to those teams without any recent contribution activity. Similarly, they will be offered support and given a grace period before the pledge is deactivated. This proposed schedule and notification system is currently being discussed in issue #205.

The Training and Polyglots teams have offered to help by giving feedback on these notification systems. Based on feedback received, the Meta team will make iterations before rolling this notification system out to other Make Teams. 

How you can help shape 5ftF

If your team would like to participate in email notifications, please voice your interest in the comments below! The Meta team will connect with you to help you get set up.

Another way is to help identify other contributions to recognize. A lot of time and effort is given to 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 every day. As Josepha recently said on WP Briefing, “Building our culture of generosity helps us to better recognize and celebrate each other for all of our contributions… if we see more and more of the same type of contributions being celebrated, then we can also work toward automating those as well.” If you see those contributions, say it! The Meta team can look into automating recognition of that contribution, to start. 

Last but not least, share your thoughts on the suggested notification system. What’s missing? What would you change to better support active and inactive contributors? 

#five-for-the-future

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

Defining Five for the Future Pledges & Contributions

After reading through some of this post’s comments, I think it might be useful to re-articulate the hopes behind the discussion.

The end goal is to find ways to automate contribution props, so that no one has to either spend huge amounts of time before their contributions are noted or find ways to contribute to the most time intensive props opportunities, major releases and major WordCamps. The end goal is to distribute props more equitably and more consistently by taking out the subjectivity of human review, not to make individual contributions somehow less valuable.

The first step for automation is, of course, documenting what you have and what you mean, hence my use of the word “define.” ~Josepha

In recent months, the Five for the Future (5ftF) program has improved to make it more reliable and useful when it comes to tracking impact and success. An example of this is the work being done to reduce the number of spam and dormant Five for the Future pledges and give more credit to non-code contributions.

To support such efforts, it’s also important to build a shared understanding for how the Five for the Future program works.

The WordPress project thrives because of the generous contributions in time and resources from people and companies across the globe. A portion of contributions are made in the form of Five for the Future pledges from individuals and organizations. They commit to giving back to the WordPress project by contributing a goal of at least five-percent of their time (or resources) consistently via the Make WordPress teams. By joining together in giving, we make WordPress stronger.

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. Simply put, Five for the Future exists to collaboratively invest in the health of the WordPress project, ensuring its long-term sustainability and success.

What makes a contribution a 5ftF contribution?

Some contributions are easy to sort through and agree on; we see them happening, props are given with them already, and we understand how they help make WordPress better. Contributions of code to CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. or the apps, translations through Polyglots, forum management with Support, organizing WordPress-centric events, and many other main focuses of Make WordPress teams. 

But other contributions are in a grey area. For those, it’s important to look at not only whether they move WordPress forward, but also whether it helps the community of contributors work in a sustainable way and whether the contributions can be done consistently over time.

Some examples of grey area contributions that do fit the 5ftF definition include: maintaining 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/, WordCamp.org, or Rosetta networks; adding or editing official WordPress documentation, training, or communications; speaking at WordPress Meetups and WordCamps; and maintaining or moderating official repos (plugins, themes, photos, WPTV, et al).

Examples of grey area contributions that do not fit the 5ftF definition  include: creating WordPress websites, creating WordPress themes, plugins, or blocks (including those that are listed in WordPress.org), and providing support solely to third-party WordPress themes or plugins. These activities are critical to extending the reach and utility of the WordPress project, but they are not considered part of making Five for the Future commitments. 

There are many important efforts and lots of incredible work performed outside of WordPress.org and Make Teams. While these are indispensable activities that further the WordPress ecosystem, Five for the Future is about ensuring that the WordPress project continues to be a fertile foundation for WordPress extenders and users.

What do you think of this definition? Share your feedback in the comments below. 

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

Proposal to remove spam/dormant Five for the Future pledges

Last fall Andrea wrote about several challenges with the Five for the Future website that are preventing it from fulfilling its intended purpose. I’d like to start working on the first challenge of addressing spam or dormant pledges.

The Challenge

Many of the pledges have no recent activity on their profiles, or none at all; many only have personal activity (maintaining a 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 in the directory, asking for help in the support forums, etc); and many don’t participate in the Making WP 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/., where contributors primarily coordinate.

That inaccuracy weakens the value of sincere and active pledges. It also makes it difficult and impractical for team representatives to use the pledge lists to recruit contributors for projects. The lists for Core and Community have over 1,300 and 1,400 people respectively, many of whom seemingly have not contributed, are unlikely to contribute, and/or are inconvenient to contact.

Proposal

To help surface active pledges, I’m proposing that we email all pledged 5ftF companies to request that they review, update, and confirm pledged contributors, teams, and hours. If they do not confirm within a reasonable period of time, their pledge would be removed.

Longer term, 5ftF could better identify and credit both code and non-code contributions. That would also help to keep pledges up to date.

To do this, we could automatically detect contribution based on Profile activity, and automatically remove pledges from folks who haven’t contributed in the past 6 months. In order to do that accurately, though, we’ll have to start crediting more non-code contributions, which often aren’t reflected on Profiles.

To track those, each team could request an activity that’s important to them, such as writing documentation; making changes to a Figma mockup; moderating a WPTV video; etc. We could also add a few things that cover all teams, like attending a Slack meeting, and giving/receiving props in the #props channel on Slack.

Once those are added to Profiles, then we could add an automated task to the 5ftF site which would examine all pledges every day. For those who haven’t contributed in 6 months, we’d un-publish their pledge, and send them a polite email to let them know. If removing them was a mistake, or they’d like to start contributing again, they can contact their team repTeam Rep A Team Rep is a person who represents the Make WordPress team to the rest of the project, make sure issues are raised and addressed as needed, and coordinates cross-team efforts.. Teams reps will be able to re-publish their pledge.

Feedback

What do you think of this proposed next step? Are there problems that aren’t addressed, ways to improve it, or is there a better idea altogether? Please reply before March 31st.

+make.wordpress.org/updates/

#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