Five for the Future: proposed scope and mockups

Last year I posted a proposal for a Five for the Future acknowledgement page, which discussed multiple approaches for how to achieve the goal of acknowledging companies that pay contributors to work on the WordPress project as well as motivating more companies to sponsor more contributors. My recommendation was to create a tool companies could use to publicly pledge employee time, with pledges that would link to the WordPress contributor profiles of those employees. Promotion of the program would guide potential participants to a landing page that describes and explains the benefits of the program, featuring contributor case studies.

In June, WordPress.org Profiles and jobs.wordpress.net were updated to help with transparency, and make it easier for companies to find and hire people who wish to become sponsored contributors.

Based on public feedback and technical considerations, I think the proposed approach from last year is viable, and worth a try.

This post includes a more granular description on how the project could work, including some mockups for easier visualization. Below the slideshow of mockups, you will find explanations and more details.

View the prototype or see additional states in Figma.

Landing Page

This page explains the Five for the Future program, outlines the benefits to companies and contributors, and helps individual contributors or companies find their next steps. The marketing team and I collaborated on the spec copy for this mockup.

Individuals

For freelancers or micro-agencies that would like to participate, there are two options. The simplest is by filling out the Contributor tab on your profile with the number of hours per week you wish to pledge, and the teams you plan to contribute to. Once you click “save,” an automated notification will go to the team’s Slack channel, announcing (for example):

“@julialopez just pledged 5 hours a month to work on Core and Documentation! 🎉 Please reach out and help them get involved in a cool project!”

We’d add another field to the Contributor tab of the WordPress.org Profile, to make it easier for people who currently contribute to a team on a volunteer basis, and are interested in being hired to contribute to WordPress. If a contributor clicks the “I’m interested in being hired to contribute” box, then some kind of “Hire me!” graphic element will appear on the front end of the contributor’s profile. There will be no messaging capability; we’ll assume that contributors looking for WordPress work have included ways to contact them on their WordPress profile page.

Another method for freelancers or micro-agencies to participate, would be to follow the company prompt; which I’ll describe next.

Organizations

If, when a pledge is submitted, the organization names one or many contributors, each contributor will receive this email from WordPress.org, asking whether the contributor would like to accept the invitation to link their profile to a pledge.

Email Preview

A company does not have to name contributors to pledge time, and can edit their pledge to add or remove contributors. Every 6 months, the company will be prompted to update their pledge.

Pledges will be displayed (in random order by default) on a Five for the Future page that can be filtered alphabetically, by number of contributors, and number of pledged hours per week.

Feedback time!

Based on these descriptions and mockups…

  1. Do you have any concerns about what you’re seeing?
  2. Do you have any suggestions based on what I’ve written about this already?

#5-for-the-future

Mobile Team Update – September 10th

We continue testing WordPress iOS and Android version 13.2 as we are skipping one release cycle. Sign up here to join the beta program on iOS or follow this link on your Android device, tap on Become a beta tester.

Highlights for the last two weeks:

  • Block Editor: Media&Text block merged, several bug fixes, ~22% of posts are now published with the block editor! 
  • Full Site Editing: Continued cross platform Gallery block implementation, and started Inner Block UI enhancements.
  • Offline Support: Almost completed in Android, in iOS we continue to uncover inconsistencies in our Media support and addressing issues as they appear.
  • iOS 13 Updates: Big push to ship Dark Mode.
  • Android only: Color tech debt in advance of Dark Mode implementation, changes to the Me tab for the Improved Information Architecture project, started work to enable audio uploads.
  • Infrastructure: Support for iOS 13/XCode 11. Wrapped up the Android tooling improvements project, refinements in app screenshots and related tools.

#mobile

Team Lead Interest Post

Update: I’ve asked for help splitting each unit into modules and identifying questions for each module. Hopefully we can get it into an active state by the end of September. ~Josepha, Sep 5, 2019


In March, I shared a post outlining a new concept of team leadership, but then I was asked to coordinate a major release which took up most of my attention. Today, I’m picking right up where I left off.

I want to be sure the process is as open and clear as possible, so I’d like to continue with this plan:

  1. Post an open call for people interested in learning more about team leadership (that’s this post!).
  2. Send interested people the team lead training + quizzes.
  3. Host group orientations with people who pass the quizzes.
  4. Identify team leads (and immediate future leads) from there.

The Team Lead Training Materials

Methodology

There are five sets of training modules, compiled by contributors from the Global Community Team. Each module consists of existing content from project handbooks, plus some added “best practices”.

There was a closed pre-alpha review from Andrea Middleton, Sarah Semark, Tammie Lister, and me. There was an alpha review from current team reps, team reps in training, and former team reps. This marks the start of the public call for comment.

Materials for Review

Once all the feedback on these materials has been added, they will then become training modules similar to those available to people wanting to become Community Deputies.

Share your feedback!

These docs will be open for about two weeks. Then I’ll combine and refine the feedback, and start moving the documents into training modules.

I have two requests for you, dear WordPress Contributors:

  1. If you want to learn more about becoming a team lead, please leave a comment below with the team you currently participate in and which team you’d like to help lead.
  2. Please leave any feedback you might have on the training itself in the comments of the documents above.

#leadership #training

Mobile Team Update – July 31

WordPress iOS and Android version 13.0 are now available for beta testing (Call for Testing: iOS, Android). Sign up here to join the beta program on iOS or follow this link on your Android device, tap on Become a beta tester.

Highlights for the last two weeks:

  • Block Editor: The block editor is now auto-enabled upon opening a post that contains blocks. UX improvements for adding new blocks, bug fixes for image captions on Android.
  • Full Site Editing: Working on a proof of concept for a cross-platform Gallery block.
  • Offline Support: Implemented offline publishing on iOS, added support for setting the featured image for a post while offline on Android, and improvements to offline error messages on both platforms.
  • Infrastructure: Wrapped up the initial UI test project and continued to improve release tooling.

#mobile

Proposal: Five for the Future acknowledgement page

tl;dr: let’s increase the number of companies that dedicate employee time to WordPress by building a tool that allows companies to make public pledges of dedicated time.

Background

In 2014, @matt launched the Five for the Future initiative, saying that “organizations that want to grow the WordPress pie (and not just their piece of it) should dedicate 5% of their people to working on something to do with Core — be it development, documentation, security, support forums, theme reviews, training, testing, translation or whatever it might be that helps move WordPress’ mission forward.” WordPress-based organizations responded by contributing more dedicated time to the open source project, which has helped WordPress grow to power 31% of the Web.

A discussion was held at the 2017 WordPress Community Summit about how we could encourage more companies to contribute more dedicated employee time. @liljimmi suggested that if there were a page where all companies participating in Five for the Future were listed, then smaller companies would see that they could have an impact too. This got a lot of people thinking about outreach to companies of all sizes, and how we could encourage participation in Five for the Future.

A year or so later, here’s a proposal that takes this concept and runs with it! Main collaborators on this program proposal include: @chanthaboune, @hlashbrooke, @_dorsvenabili, @iandunn, @angelasjin, @coreymckrill, and myself. Hand-sketches are from me; other mock-ups by @iandunn and @mapk.

Props to Tracy for the idea that sparked this, and thanks to the many people who gave early candid feedback. 

Exceptionally long proposal after the jump!

Project goals

  1. Acknowledge companies that sponsor volunteers to work on the WordPress project.
  2. Motivate more companies to sponsor more volunteers.

Potential challenges

  1. Defining the kind of contribution that would “qualify” for this.
  2. Identifying what contributions come from people whose work is being sponsored by a company.
  3. Deciding what qualifies a company to appear on the page (minimum number of hours, licensing practice, company size, etc).
  4. Holding companies accountable, if we think that’s important.
  5. Defining how we treat companies and sponsored employees on WordPress.org.

How do other projects do this?

How do other open source and/or volunteer organizations acknowledge and recruit contributors, specifically support from companies? We looked at the following organizations in a comparative analysis:

Key takeaways

  • Nearly all of these organizations make an appeal to contributors with the promises that their contributions will have a powerful impact, that they will be recognized for their work, and that their work will help the project/organization thrive for years to come.
  • Most open source projects place more emphasis on individual contributors, and don’t directly acknowledge companies that support the project by sponsoring contributors. Drupal is a notable exception to this practice.
  • Gamification is common. Badges are very popular, as well as being able to filter by the most commits (Github is a very common tool for this). Python even gives cash awards to noteworthy contributors.

Possible approaches

Option 1: The activity stream firehose

One option would be a completely automated system. All volunteers would share what company, if any, sponsored their contributions. Contributions could be shown in an activity stream, in which activities are grouped by company, and sorted by the most recent contribution. Additional sorting and filtering options would be available.

Advantages: No administrative work/moderation needed.
Disadvantages: Information overload; company visibility is low.

Option 2: Curated case studies

Another option would be a page that shares the goal and vision of the 5ftF program. Included would be rotating examples of participating contributors, like case studies curated from a broad cross-section of the open source project.

A mock-up of a Five for the Future page with a WordPress.org header, a short description of the program, and some lorem ipsum, and Featured Contributor case studies (Helen Hou-Sandí and Jan Dembowski) on the right side bar.

Advantages: compelling content, lots of useful information.
Disadvantages: selecting contributors to highlight could be contentious; limited number of companies acknowledged; lots of administrative work to maintain content.

Option 3: Pledged contributions

Companies make a public pledge to dedicate a certain amount of time to the open source project. Then their employees complete and confirm the information about intended team and intended time. All pledges would be public and listed on WordPress.org.

Advantages: Company/volunteer reported & verified; would not require much ongoing moderation.
Disadvantages: Potential for abuse/misrepresentation.

Proposed approach

After considering these three possible structures for a Five for the Future program, I think the most effective method is a pledge program: allowing companies to publicly declare how much dedicated employee time they plan to donate to the WordPress project.

This approach would work towards key goals for the Five for the Future initiative:

  1. Recognize the companies that sponsor volunteers to regularly work on the WordPress project.
  2. Ensure a stable contributor base, by motivating more companies to sponsor more volunteers.

The program would allow companies of any size to submit a pledge indicating the number of hours they intend to commit to the WordPress project. After making the pledge, the company notifies its contributing employees, who then edit their WordPress.org profiles to indicate the company that is sponsoring their time. This will allow a contributor’s sponsored time to be credited to the company that is enabling them to contribute much more time than they (presumably) could give, if unsupported.

On their profiles, all contributors will be able to share how many hours a week they dedicate to the project, and on which team(s). If a contributor’s work is part of Five for the Future, they will be able to link to their company’s pledge on their individual profile.

Privacy note: The intent here is that a contributor must intentionally link their individual profile to a published pledge. No matter what a company pledges, the individual contributor won’t show up on that pledge unless they link to the pledge and save. Then the company contact associated with that pledge will have to accept the link — active consent should be required on both sides.

This will help contributor teams identify what people have been pledged to work on their projects, which should help with recruiting people to work on specific, possibly longer-term, team projects. Once a pledge has been made, companies and individuals will be encouraged to keep their details up to date as needed.

Historically, we have recognized individuals for their contributions to WordPress, without connecting that work to their companies, even if their time has been sponsored. By asking companies to make a pledge of time, we hope to offer increased recognition to all parties who actively participate in the Five for the Future initiative.

Companies that have made a pledge will be listed in a public, searchable, and filterable archive that displays:

  • company name & logo
  • company size
  • number of contributing employees
  • number of hours pledged
  • teams contributed to

Here’s an example:

As we receive more information from Five for the Future companies, we can consider whether we recognize companies further by publishing individual company pages. We hope that this will also encourage additional companies to make their own pledges and commit employee time to the WordPress project.

Companies and sponsored contributors will be expected to update and resubmit their pledge after a period of time – this will make sure that the page remains current at all times. For privacy reasons, individual contributors won’t be listed on a pledge unless they choose to link to the pledge. Companies that wish to make a Five for the Future pledge will be asked to agree to follow project etiquette and meet our expectations for promotion on WordPress.org.

And another thing…

Despite the disadvantages of the curated case studies idea, that’s still a great way to show organizations what kind of impact their participation in Five for the Future can have. If possible, we’d like to include a case study or two on the Five for the Future landing page on WordPress.org, which would also include some persistent content like: “Why donate employee time to the WordPress project?” and/or “Convince your boss to donate your time to WordPress.org.” For case studies, we’d want to rotate the content at least every 6 months. We may want to feature contributors who are doing some of the less “glamorous” or visible work that nevertheless has a strong positive impact on WordPress.

Measuring Success

How will we know this is making a difference — what can we count?

  • number of people whose paid time was pledged to the project
  • number of companies participating
  • percentage of teams with at least 1 sponsored contributor
  • number of pledged hours
  • number of people sponsored at least 20 hours/week ; number of people sponsored for 40 hours/week

Feedback!

We’d love your thoughts on this approach to Five for the Future acknowledgement! Here are some specific questions, but please ask about anything that concerns you, in a comment on this post.

  1. Should we require users to be logged in to wordpress.org to be able pledge? (This would stop spam and make editing easier in the futur.e)
  2. Should we auto-publish pledge submissions, or should a moderator review them first?
  3. Should we set a minimum company size for participation in this pledge program?
  4. Do you think this might help teams find people to work on less “glamorous” contributions?
#5-for-the-future, #profiles

Updates to WordPress Profiles and jobs.wordpress.net

WordPress profiles now include some additional fields that contributors can use to share how much time they dedicate to the WordPress project, which teams they work on, and whether or not their contributions are sponsored. All of the contribution fields are optional, and won’t appear on the public profile unless the hours and teams fields are filled in.

Shows the edit screen of a WordPress profile, with the Contribution tab selected, and new data fields including Sponsored (yes/no), Hours per week (number field), and Teams (multiple selection box).
The Profiles edit screen, showing the new Contribution tab

That little [Sponsored] tag next to “Contributions” will appear on your profile only if the other Contribution fields are filled in, and only if the option chosen under “sponsored” is “yes.”

Screenshot of a WordPress profile, showing the results of having the Contributions tab filled out

Hopefully this will be a gentle first step toward some version of the proposed Five for the Future program (discussed on this blog last November — wow, time flies!). I think it will also help with transparency, and might facilitate how teams set internal expectations for how much time different contributors might have to spend on a project or ongoing task.

The left sidebar of jobs.wordpress.net, with a list of Position Types, including Contrib

Somewhat related, jobs.wordpress.net now features a new position type: “Contributor.” Hopefully this will make it easier for companies to find and hire people who wish to become sponsored contributors.

Feedback and Call for Volunteers

This is a first iteration, so if you have concerns or suggestions, please share them in a comment on this post!

Welcoming more sponsored contributors into WordPress teams might happen more gracefully if there were some clearly stated expectations for avoiding conflicts of interest (perceived and actual). If you’d like to collaborate on creating a first draft for this in order to gather public feedback, please also comment on this post! 🙂 #contributors

#5-for-the-future, #profiles

Update: Sanctions and Open Source

A Bit of Background

Late in December last year, Slack started disabling accounts for people in countries with US sanctions on them. This month GitHub has begun to restrict access to accounts for those same people. This applies to anyone connecting to services from Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria (regardless of whether they live there or not) and applies to Automattic’s work as well as the work we all do in the WordPress project.

There was some general discussion on Twitter in December that died down, and now we’re starting to see some chatter in our community about the recent changes from GitHub.

What We Know

Here is a preliminary take, published at this stage in order to keep everyone as fully informed as possible, since public discussions of the issue are ongoing.

The trade sanctions that precipitated the recent bans by GitHub (and Slack last year) are United States sanctions and GitHub (Microsoft) is required to obey them. The sanctions apply to certain countries, and have the largest impact on paid online services and proprietary software.

In the instance of Slack, there is the potential for excluding contributors in those countries, not because of what WordPress offers, but because of the tools we use.

WordPress is in a different position than GitHub, in a few ways:

  • WordPress doesn’t provide a service; our software is publicly available and offered for free.
  • WordPress is not encrypted.
  • The GitHub account suspensions don’t apply to open source (as noted here https://twitter.com/natfriedman/status/1155311122137804801)

What Next

At the moment, the GitHub changes don’t come with any direct risks to us. The Slack changes have some risks to our contributor participation. In both cases this has raised a number of questions about how to be certain the project is still able to function despite any nation’s political maneuvers.

This is a very technical set of rules. We’re continuing to research them with people who are experts in the area. As you might expect, since we are a global project, there is a lot of information to gather before making any short or mid-term choices that affect us all. I will update this post with more information when I learn more.

To Do – Josepha

  1. Reach out to other open source CMSes to see if there are already learnings we can benefit from.
  2. Reach out to other OS community leaders to see if they have any insights into how it affects their projects.
  3. Reach out to legal experts for advice.

To Do – Everyone

Regardless of the future solutions for WordPress, one thing everyone can do now is make your concerns known to your local and regional lawmakers. Any advocacy we can do in this short-term moment can have major impacts in the future.

Community team update – 15-08-2019

The Community Team meets twice a month, first and third Thursday, at two different times to cover different timezones.

Agenda and Slack logs from July 18: 11:00 UTC and 20:00 UTC.

Ongoing discussions

How to handle conflict of interest situations
Team has some assumed norms about conflict of interest situations, but not any suggestions or documentation how to handle those. There is ongoing discussion to identify possible conflict of interest situations and how we should work with those. After discussion there will be an proposal or post for further discussion.

Additional posts worth highlighting

Numbers

  • General
    • Active deputies: 27 (+8%)
    • Active WordCamp mentors: 41 (+5%)
    • HelpScout total conversations: 990 (-19%)
    • HelpScout messages received: 1 051 (-28%)
  • Meetups
    • Meetups needing vetting: 15 (+/-0%)
    • Meetups in chapter program: 777 (+1%)
    • Members in meetup groups: 422 444 (+1%)
    • New Meetups groups in chapter: Gulfport, MS
  • WordCamps
    • WordCamps needing vetting: 8 (+11%)
    • WordCamps in the schedule: 63 (-6%)
    • WordCamp tickets sold: 2 422 (+43%)
    • New scheduled WordCamps: Port Macquarie 2019 and Stuttgart 2019

+make.wordpress.org/community

#community-team

Proposal: a WordPress Advisory Board

Update, Aug 13: There seems to be general consensus that this should move forward. There were a lot of questions raised and identified risks to be aware of, so I’ll draft a post with next steps and get the foundational work done. Thank you to everyone who participated! Comments are now closed. ~Josepha


At the end of 2016, Matt created two growth councils to amplify efforts to bring open source to a wider audience, and fulfill the WordPress mission to democratize publishing. Last December, they held their final meeting — I was fortunate to work with both of these groups, and am so grateful for the way the people involved generously donated their time to the project.

My Takeaways

During the 10 months that I met with them, I saw many things that worked and learned about many things that didn’t.

  • Working: There were a variety of markets represented, and people at the top of their field across the board. Every member came with a feeling of selfless coopetition that drew them together. There was a lot of insight at each table and a lot of opportunity to see a bigger picture than usual.
  • Not Working: Gathering everyone monthly was difficult and keeping work moving between meetings was a struggle. Decisions became prone to analysis paralysis. It was unclear how to step up or step back as time and circumstances required.

I think that holding on to what worked could be a major win for the WordPress project overall, if we can find a way to clear away the things that didn’t work.

Proposal: a WordPress Advisory Board

Who: A nomination-based group made up of members of the WordPress ecosystem, with set term limits.
What: A traditional advisory board providing information on industry trends and risks as well as non-binding strategic advice to the Project Lead and Executive Director.
When: Meeting quarterly.
Where: Video calls with high level notes published afterward.
Bonus: The Executive Director (me!) will be a permanent observer and facilitator of the advisory board meetings, and Matt will attend some, but not all meetings.

Additional Clarifications

On nominations: I think that a traditional board process of nomination and self-nomination will serve this group well. Good ideas can come from anywhere, and open nomination process can help get voices that might otherwise not be heard. I would like to reserve the right to invite nominees (for diversity and representation purposes) which will be key for keeping a well-rounded group on hand. Existing members select candidates from nominees.

On non-binding strategic advice: I am not proposing that this group would function as a final-say, decision-making body for the WordPress project. It should serve as a collection of bright, insightful people who have contact with clients and end-users of WordPress. This removes the “analysis paralysis” challenge that the growth councils faced.

On set term limits: Since, in my mind, the group won’t be a direct decision-making body and won’t have any fiduciary duties, I would suggest some flexibility in setting term limits as we get started. My ideal is a 2 year limit, though there is wisdom in a shorter limit, too.

Next Steps

I’d like to open the comments to discuss this idea. If feedback is broadly supportive, let’s start with the following steps:

  1. As a proof of concept, assemble the existing growth council members into the first iteration of the Advisory Board.
  2. Start this initial group with a 12 month term (taking us to the middle of 2020).
  3. Publish an announcement that includes 1) who is on the advisory board, 2) companies/verticals represented on the advisory board, and 3) information on how to nominate yourself or others for future participation.

If you have feedback on or questions about this proposal, please share that in a comment on this post!

Updates to the WordPress User & Developer Survey

For many years, information on how people use WordPress has been gathered through an annual survey published on WordPress.org. In the early years of WordPress, interesting results were shared at the State of the Word. In 2017, I shared results from 2015-2017 surveys in a post on the News blog. There was no survey in 2018.

In preparation for the 2019 survey, I’d like to collect topic suggestions from WordPress contributor teams. Ideally, the questions can be updated to gather information that will help inform contributor work in the coming year.

A few important notes:

  1. This survey is mostly publicized through WordPress.org, which affects the base of respondents.
  2. A full export of the raw data will not be published, to avoid sharing information that might reveal something that respondents consider private. (I’d love to make this information as accessible as possible, though, so if you have a suggestion for an OS project or tool that would allow people to access with the data, but that still protects individual response privacy, please leave a comment on this post!)
  3. Long surveys generally gather fewer responses. It might not be possible to include questions on every suggested topic.

Suggest a topic!

WordPress contributor teams, what information would help you prioritize or direct your work in 2020? Suggest some survey topics in a comment on this post!

#survey, #user-developer-survey