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From our Community Blog:

Announcing the WPCampus Planning Blog

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Since the beginning of WPCampus, a key element of our community’s success and growth has been ensuring all members have the chance to be heard when it comes to planning and decision-making.

It is one of my favorite aspects of how we get things done here at WPCampus.

However, after five years of the same overall planning process, things have changed. And our planning methods became less effective. It’s time to try something new in how WPCampus organizes and fosters our community, its events, and its initiatives.

TL;DR

From now on, the WPCampus community will post all planning activity, announcements, requests for feedback, decisions, and anything else related to planning our organization’s growth to the new WPCampus Planning Blog.

The WPCampus Slack #planning channel will continue to be our home for planning-related discussion. WPCampus members will use the #planning channel to share and discuss the Planning Blog. All requests for planning-related feedback will go through the Planning Blog. All public planning meetings that took place in the #planning channel have been canceled indefinitely.

You can now subscribe to Planning Blog email updates to stay informed of new posts.

Please read the first Planning Blog post announcing our Call for WPCampus 2021 organizers. And be on the lookout for an upcoming survey looking for WPCampus 2021 feedback.

Keep reading if you’re interested in the history of our planning methods, the lessons we learned, a deeper dive into how the new Planning Blog will work, and how to stay involved with planning our community.

The history of WPCampus planning

A vital component of our planning process has always been the WPCampus Slack workspace #planning channel. This channel has been home to all public community planning conversations.

Public planning meetings take place directly within the #planning Slack channel. Depending on the time of year and how close we are to hosting a WPCampus event, planning meetings would take place weekly or bi-weekly. Any members interested in helping plan our community events and initiatives may join the meetings to provide feedback, suggest ideas, and participate in voting via emoji. 

WPCampus committees (like the planning committee for a specific conference) and other working groups tend to have private discussions but share their efforts and updates, and ask for feedback, via the #planning channel.

At any time, the #planning channel is a great place to post questions and notes and discuss, develop, and foster ideas—allowing members to provide feedback at will.

If the conversation there seems essential, organizers share in the #general Slack channel to broaden input. We post prominent announcements to the main WPCampus blog to expand information beyond our Slack audience.

Why our planning methods became less effective

Overall, our planning method worked pretty well for the first five years of our organization. But there were small issues that grew in prominence. It became clear we need to rethink how we plan and organize our community.

Not everyone could attend the planning meeting

When you only have one planning meeting a week, this restricts who can attend and participate. We enjoy the textual format of hosting meetings in Slack so that those who cannot participate can read the transcript later and provide feedback. But because our Slack plan is free (which means our messages aren’t indefinitely archived), meeting transcripts are eventually lost.

The need to hold meetings became sporadic and hard to manage

When we are planning an event, we hold a planning meeting each week. But throughout the rest of the year, there is no need to maintain a weekly meeting. So we started holding bi-weekly meetings. If we had nothing to discuss, we would cancel the meeting. Over time, meetings’ sporadic and unpredictable nature became hard to manage for organizers and attendees, and attendance noticeably dropped.

Our planning notes aren’t centrally stored and easy to find

As an organization, we use Google Drive to store our organizational notes and information, including meeting minutes, agendas, etc. As part of Slack functionality, we try to “pin” and link these documents within related Slack channels. We also try to link these documents to related pages on our website. But we don’t have an organized, central place to help members find planning information and documentation.

You have to be fairly active in Slack to keep up

Our community has always been pretty Slack-active. It’s where we get things done. But not everyone can be tuned in to Slack all day, which means you might miss a vital planning tidbit from time to time.

How we’re going to plan our community from now on

So now that we’ve learned some lessons, it’s time to try something new. And with that, we introduce the first step forward: the WPCampus Planning Blog.

From now on, we will post all planning activity, announcements, requests for feedback, decisions, and anything else related to planning our organization’s growth to the WPCampus Planning Blog.

The Planning Blog will allow for:

  • Planning conversations and feedback to be more asynchronous
    • Discussions and updates will not depend on our Slack #planning channel or a planning meeting
    • You can receive planning information and respond to calls for action or surveys in your own time
  • Planning discussions to expand outside the WPCampus Slack workspace
  • Our planning notes and documentation to be more accessible
    • Publishing on the website will allow the blog to be indexed and publically searched

The Planning Blog posts will also:

  • Share updates related to planning our organization and community
  • Ask for help planning events and initiatives
  • Share “behind the scenes” updates about events and initiatives
  • Publish surveys to gather feedback to help leadership make decisions
  • Publish agendas and meeting minutes for WPCampus planning committees and working groups
  • And more!

Who will publish to the Planning Blog?

For now, only myself and WPCampus members in a leadership position will be allowed to post to the Planning Blog. For example, you might see posts from the chair of the new WPCampus 2021 organizing committee or from Dash or Trip, the co-chairs of the Diversity and Inclusion committee.

What this means for public planning meetings

For now, all public community planning meetings have been canceled indefinitely. The Planning Blog’s goal is to foster planning-related communication and feedback without the need for meetings. We will re-introduce meetings if deemed necessary. Working groups and committees will continue to meet.

What this means for the #planning channel

The #planning channel has always been and will continue to be an excellent place for planning-related discussion. Feel free to continue to use the channel to post any planning-related ideas and foster planning-related discussion. The WPCampus Slack #planning channel will also host comments and discussions related to the Planning Blog. 

In the next section, How to interact with the Planning Blog, I discuss how to use the #planning channel going forward.

How to interact with the Planning Blog

How to ask questions, provide feedback, and comment on blog posts

To get the blog up and running quickly, I opted to forego comments. We all know managing comments can be quite tricky. 

Still, feedback is the most important of the planning process. I will solve this issue first. 

For now, we will discuss the planning blog posts within the WPCampus Slack #planning channel.

If a planning blog post asks for specific feedback

If a planning blog post asks for specific feedback, the blog post will include a survey form. This method allows WPCampus members to participate more efficiently and for WPCampus leadership to measure and analyze results. When a survey is closed, we will publish the results within the Planning Blog.

If a planning blog post requires a call for action

Often, our planning efforts require assistance. For example, organizers might be looking for conference assistance or need help with web content or development. If a blog post requires a call for action, the blog post will include further instructions.

In closing: Thank you!

Publishing the WPCampus Planning Blog is the first step towards what I hope will be lots of positive and constructive change for planning our community and events. Ongoing efforts will be needed to ensure we have well organized and discoverable planning information and frequent communication and transparent processes.

WPCampus governance — of both the organization and community — is important to me. I know that it currently needs and will always need improvement. I hope these changes will help us improve our community together.

Thank you to all who have been a part of our planning process. So many of you show up and put in the work. You give what you can, and I am so grateful for you.

Here’s to the future of WPCampus, eduwapuu, Truck Sheep, and all of you who contribute and participate and make our community special.