Community Summit Discussion Notes: How does the Make Team ecosystem work and how are we connected?

From the schedule session:

There are 22 Make Teams (and counting!) that build WordPress. Each team has it’s mandate and priorities, and are connected by the overarching purpose of moving WordPress forward. For contributors working on one team, it can be easy to lose sight of the broader project and other teams, or see how your team’s work fits in. This discussion will explore how teams are connected and the impact a team may have on others, with an eye towards growing our collective understanding of the Make WordPress ecosystem as a whole. We will also explore how we can keep growing this collective understanding for all new and current contributors.

Facilitator: Hari Shanker (@harishanker)

Notetaker 1: Emma Sophie Young (@emmaht)

Notetaker 2: Erica Varlese (@evarlese)

Notetaker 3: Taco Verdonschot (@tacoverdo)

Exploring how the Make teams are connected

  • How are the 22 Make teams connected?
    • Are we connected?
  • Sponsored vs. individual contributor role creates a second layer in the ecosystem.
  • Documentation is closely connected to WordPress as they need to research every new release. 
  • Training has direct connections with several teams to fulfill needs. 
  • There’s mostly individual connections between teams, but there is a severe lack of processes that include relevant teams in projects/decisions.
  • Within the Community team, the focus is so broad that it’s hard to keep up with everything that’s going on.
    • It could potentially benefit from splitting up in smaller teams. 
    • It’s possible to contribute to the Community team in an “isolated” way, and some people don’t even realize they’re contributing (e.g. 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. organizer).
  • In Polyglots, there’s the international team, but there are also local teams that can be quite separated from the international team.
    • There are things happening in local communities that may not be seen by the international team (there is a lost opportunity there)
  • Many countries/languages have their own SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at instance, outside of Make WordPress. This also creates separation. 
  • Hosting and Docs have a bit of overlap, as Hosting also creates docs.
  • We need to actively involve other teams in our projects to make sure that things are taken care of. We can’t just sit back and wait until other teams find out what we’re doing and step in. 
  • The release squad does have a MarComm role, but it doesn’t necessarily connect to the Marketing team.
  • When going to a channel, all the people are very busy. And it’s unclear who you should talk to when you’re not active in a specific team or channel. 
  • Onboarding new contributors is important, because people might not be aware of the teams that exist. This is a first step in creating connections.

Observations of disconnect (examples and possible solutions)

  • Teams working independently can cause redundancy. 
  • When you need something, you can ask in a Slack channel or DM, but it’s unclear how to get problems or projects prioritized across teams. Likewise, team bandwidth and points of contact may not be clear.
  • All teams need more contributors, so how do we get more people involved?
  • Individual contributors may struggle with consistency, e.g. varying workloads and availability.
    • How can we make it easier to keep up with the constant changes and updates in each team?
    • Improve ways to pick up smaller or ad hoc contributions.
  • People find out about Slack and Make team blogs way later in their contributor journey. How can we engage people on these platforms sooner?
  • Signing up for Slack and/or the Make sites can be difficult. Examples from a local meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through 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 will help you find options in your area. that ran an onboarding session to help users navigate any difficulties, such as:
    • Creating/finding a username
    • An online implementation of WordPress code that lets you immediately access a new WordPress environment to publish your content. 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. vs. 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. confusion
    • Forgetting which email they used to sign up
    • Finding the sign-up email
  • Meetup organizers may be uniquely positioned to help with this type of onboarding.
  • Most teams have onboarding in their Handbooks, but we don’t have all of those synthesized. The Contribute page is the beginning of that process
  • As a result of all of this, we’re losing people who want to contribute.
  • Latest vs. Updates pages lack a connection; we’re lacking a single source of truth on connecting across teams.
  • While there are disconnects between teams, there are also points of connection.
    • Example: releases have representatives from various teams. Even when disconnected, there’s often overlap.
  • The project structure and Make teams tend to reflect how large companies are organized.
    • We can learn from businesses outside of WordPress on how to improve
    • There are verticals, teams that work on their own, and there are teams that cross all verticals (e.g. design).
    • More of the new teams are the latter categoryCategory The 'category' taxonomy lets you group posts / content together that share a common bond. Categories are pre-defined and broad ranging..

How to share this understanding with contributors?

  • Create good onboarding for new contributors.
    • The documentation often exists, but sharing everything at once can be overwhelming.
  • You get a sense of availability and interest during onboarding. Can we group people together in a “pod” to feel more connected?
  • Reduce/clarify confusion between and
    • For many people, it’s just WordPress. How to clarify confusion about where and under which account to contribute?
  • Improve the 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 There are many teams that people can participate in, each with a different focus. through clearer expectations, tasks, and understanding.
  • Make sure each Handbook is up-to-date and easier to search/find information.
    • Should Handbooks be grouped under one umbrella?
  • We also need to better define the problem space.
    • For example, is the problem attracting new contributors or retaining? 
    • How do you recognize what’s actually moving forward?
    • Should there be a more cohesive strategy in terms of contributions and recognition?
  • How can we make information not only transparent, but also accessible (and understandable) for all levels of WordPress contributors?
    • Many projects are connected via one-on-one networking.
    • Scoped, cross-team projects can help new contributors and create built-in networks.
    • Inventory existing communication tools to see how we can use them better.
  • Improve documentation on how teams collaborate and connect. Without information, people feel alone or not connected to the bigger picture.
    • Example: add Handbooks as bookmarks to each Slack channel.
  • Foster a feeling of interconnectedness within your own team first.
    • Frequent experimentation and creating a safe space to explore change, but in a more accessible way.
  • Weekly roundups of things that have been happening: What are the decisions, blockers, and statuses each week for each team? What is needed for each project?

Takeaways / Suggestions for the future

  • Possibility of having an overall dashboard/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. project where we can avoid overlap and have all the resources in one place.
  • Create more cross-team collaborations.
    • Clarify where responsibilities end in one team and where the next picks up.
    • Define ownership and DRIsDRI Directly Responsible Individual - the people who are taking ownership or responsibility for a particular project or feature. for each project.
    • Contributor Day
      • A cross-team table to discuss and plan projects together across teams, creating alignment.
      • Matrix-type projects: announce projects with a call for people from each team to push projects, or smaller initiatives, forward.
  • Host townhalls across the community.
  • Streamline user connections.
  • Create an onboarding and/or New Contributor channel in Slack.
    • Use bookmarks with tasks ready for people who don’t have the time to keep up with all of the Slack channels.
  • Create an onboarding ops team (e.g. sponsoring operations work).
  • Focus on project-based releases.
  • Handbook updates:
    • Alignment and standardization across teams.
    • Make information clear and understandable for any level of contributor.
    • Clear roles and responsibilities for each team and for roles within the team.
  • Provide a single source of truth for each Make team and how they connect, as well as preferences for communication.

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