Community Summit Discussion Notes: Iterating on the Team Rep role

From the session schedule:

Today, each Make Team has a few Team Representatives (often referred to as “Team Reps”). Historically this role was not a leadership position, but designed to help facilitate communication across teams through weekly updates and cross-team discussions. Over the years, the 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. role has shifted and now differs from team to team: on some teams, Team Reps are only responsible for setting weekly agendas for meetings and posting recaps. On other teams, the Team Rep holds mentorship responsibilities. This discussion aims to a explore stronger definition for the Team Rep role, including responsibilities and what skills might be helpful, and where in the contributor journey they should be.

Facilitator: Angela Jin (@angelasjin)

Notetakers: Jonathan Desrosiers (@desrosj), Benjamin Evans (@bsanevans)

Discussion Objectives:

  • Create a stronger definition of the team rep role
  • Consider how team reps can be better supported
  • Consider how folks can be helped to become better team reps

Key Points

Community Summit 2012 is where the role was initially discussed, and should be revisited.

  • The role was originally in charge of communication and project management, and represented the team to the project.
  • Was not about prestige.
  • Considering the size of the project today, the role was created for a smaller subset of groups than what we have now.
  • Was created when 6-8 teams existed, at most.

What is a team rep?

  • We need standardization and a stronger definition of what we want/need the role to be.
    • 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. can be used for standardization.
    • At the same time, some teams have found the team rep role does not work.
    • Some think the rep role should be limited to admin tasks, while others think it should be limited to project wide communication.
    • Variation in the role definition is good (teams are making it work for them). But these differences need to be clearly documented.
  • Some folks do it because they want to serve, but sometimes also because there is a need.
    • Some people are rep for too long because they can’t pass it on.
    • Sometimes it is hard to make it look attractive.
  • For some teams, it’s very difficult to be an unsponsored contributor and serve as a team rep.
    • How can this barrier be removed?
  • It should be a role folks grow out of.
    • Teams should have a clear progression path (contribution ladder).
    • If folks are doing it for recognition, then there should be other means of recognition.
  • Projects need leads to get stuff done, but there is history behind not calling reps “leads”.
    • There is a difficult balance of democratizing, and pushing things forward.
  • Ideally, team reps shouldn’t need to know English
  • Having diverse reps can ensure global coverage.
  • Some teams require a higher level of trust and vetting, such as Security or 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 Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party Review teams.

Teams can do better at setting reps up to succeed.

  • New team reps need onboarding.
  • Clearer expectations and outlined responsibilities.
  • Teams need documentation on the role, and also how succession is made.
  • Teams should strive towards a diverse group of team leads
    • Stagger term limits so that there is both an experienced and non-experienced person
    • Have reps from different time zones
  • Teams should have separate folks assigned to inter-team collaboration – such as project managers.
  • Keep working groups in mind when defining what a team lead is.
  • The project can empower new teams to get up and running with representation more quickly with stronger definitions and better documentation.

Improvement ideas for

  • /updates/ was created as a place for reps to communicate with each other.
  • Access to the site needs to be managed better for new team reps.
  • This needs to be better marketed so that non-reps also know it and follow it.
  • Great spot to get the birds-eye view for what teams are working on.

Suggestions to improve the rep role:

  • Send Welcome packs to new reps, welcoming them to the role and setting out clear next-steps.
  • Have Rep/Lead Camp – a point of accountability and connection.
  • As there are many teams now, we should group teams and have someone represent the group.

Have the responsibilities outgrown a single role?

  • Is there a need for multiple kinds of reps (project manager, communications, etc.)
  • Is there a need for both internally and externally focused reps?
  • Does this involve directly responsible individuals? Another team is working on a proposal for what this could mean and how it could work.


  • Most teams have the following needs. But how much falls under the responsibility of the team rep role, and how much is conducted by other active contributors, differs from team to team.
    • Team Representative
      • Represents the team to the wider Make project, and the project to the team.
    • Project Manager
      • Accountable to “get things done” within the team.
      • Aggregates ideas in the team in a format the whole team can follow easily.
    • Administrator
      • Conducts general administration for the team.
      • Collects stats about the team’s performance and projects.
    • Mentor
      • Onboards and mentors new contributors.
  • Teams need to clearly define the team rep role in their team and set up a succession/onboarding process.
    • Guidance or “templates” from the larger program could assist with this.