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Creating word press community with the human voice

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WordCamp Toronto 2017

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Creating word press community with the human voice

  1. 1. Creating WordPress Communities with the Human Voice Today we’re going to talk about how the WordPress open source project uses the power of the human voice to create community.
  2. 2. WordPress Open Source Project Global Community Team @andmiddleton Andrea Middleton My name is Andrea Middleton, and I work on the WordPress open source project’s global community team. I’ve provided WordPress community organizers with training, support, and oversight since 2011, and the time I spend volunteering for the WordPress project is sponsored by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com.
  3. 3. I’ve spent 6 years working with WordCamps, and I’m sorry to say this is the very first time I’ve been able to visit WordCamp Toronto! So I’m very excited to be here, and I really appreciate your warm welcome. There’s been a WordPress community in Toronto since at least 2007, which is really exciting. The Toronto WordPress monthly meetup group recently joined the open source project’s chapter program for meetups as well, which is also very exciting. Let’s take a look at what the greater WordPress community looks like these days!
  4. 4. The foundational unit of the WordPress community is the local monthly meetup group. We now have over 500 meetup groups all over the world: from Kenya to South Korea, and from Nuuk, Greenland to Wellington New Zealand. People meet on a monthly basis to talk about WordPress in over 84 countries all over the world! And then from this community, which arises from the local meetup group’s activities, we get annual WordPress conferences, called WordCamps…
  5. 5. WordCamps, are organized all over the world as well. WordCamps, like meetups, are exclusively organized and staffed by volunteers. All the speakers are volunteers, the organizers are volunteers, and all of the volunteers…. are volunteers too. We’re really good at naming things. :)
  6. 6. There have been more than 750 WordCamps since the first event was created by Matt Mullenweg back in 2006, and there will be over 120 events this year. We’ve had WordCamps in 65 different countries, on 6 different continents. This is a lot of amazingness, but it’s also a lot of work! A lot of volunteer hours, a lot of collaboration and planning and money, and everything. The company that pays me to work on WordPress community projects, donates the full-time work of 7 other people as well. The WordPress global community team works with about 2,000 volunteers all over the world. That’s a lot of humans! Why do WordPress people, why does the WordPress open source project, care so much about supporting and growing the WordPress community, anyway?
  7. 7. Well, let’s go back to a few basics real quick. WordPress is free software that’s written and maintained by hundreds of volunteers, all over the world. While lots of people work ON WordPress, no one works FOR WordPress. It’s a collaborative project, not a company. And just like there’s no company that runs the WordPress open source project, there’s also no office — no physical location where people show up every day to work on the WordPress project. No, our office is… the internet.
  8. 8. So we kind of have this, up here, except all those prettily-colored word bubbles are people talking to each other in text over the internet. We coordinate all the work that’s done on WordPress via interactive blogs and messaging systems like Slack, from the code to the support forums, to the help documents, to translations, to events. And it’s tricky, because do you know what happens when you ask a bunch of people to just talk to each other over the internet without ever meeting each other?
  9. 9. You get Trolls! Yes, online communication can make normally delightful and charming human beings into sassy, brusque people, and semi-volatile people into, well, real meanies.
  10. 10. Online Disinhibition Effect Psychologists call this phenomenon the “online dis-inhibiton effect.” A psychologist named John Suler theorizes that certain features of online communication play into the tendency toward troll-like behavior.
  11. 11. Online Disinhibition Effect Anonymity & Invisibility —> Lack of consequences For one thing — well, for two things — online communication can be anonymous. That very anonymity can mean that you feel free to say whatever you want without anyone knowing it's you who said it. Likewise, there’s an invisibility to online communication: you are not visible to others, but also others are not visible to you. So you can’t see a hurt expression on someone’s face, or dejected body language, or other cues that send powerful messages to our brains that something we’re saying/doing is harming someone else. Anonymity and invisibility combine to lower social barriers to negative behavior.
  12. 12. Online Disinhibition Effect Anonymity & Invisibility —> Lack of consequences Delayed reactions —> Hit and run Much of online communication is “asynchronous,” meaning it doesn’t happen in a tight feedback loop. Someone can drop a criticism or comment online and just walk away, refusing to engage again in the conversation, again avoiding all repercussions that might arise from their words, and leaving the other people in the conversation to pick up the pieces.
  13. 13. Online Disinhibition Effect Anonymity & Invisibility —> Lack of consequences Delayed reactions —> Hit and run Echo Chamber —> Heightened emotional reactions The absence of visual and auditory cues means that text-based online communication is experienced as happening in our own voices, in our own heads. This can create an echo chamber effect, in which our imaginations run wild and take us to places that we wouldn’t normally go when anchored by concrete stimulus like seeing facial expressions and hearing tones of voice. Personality styles are usually heightened online — if you already have a short temper, you’re more likely to be reactive or respond angrily on the internet. If you engage in a lot of negative self-talk in your head, you’re more likely to speak negatively to other people online, because it can seem like it’s all happening in your own head.
  14. 14. As the saying goes, on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog, and thus you’re free to act however you want to act, with few “real life” repercussions. You know how they tell you, “don’t read the comments?” well this whole project, all of WordPress is coordinated by people having long, complicated, technical discussions in comment format. Here’s a list of all the people who contributed to the last major release of WordPress (SLIDE)
  15. 15. Aaron D. Campbell, Aaron Jorbin, abrightclearweb, Achal Jain, achbed, Acme Themes, Adam Silverstein, adammacias, Ahmad Awais, ahmadawais, airesvsg, ajoah, Aki Björklund, akshayvinchurkar, Alain Schlesser, Alex Concha, Alex Dimitrov, Alex Hon, alex27, allancole, Amanda Rush, Andrea Fercia, Andreas Panag, Andrew Nacin, Andrew Ozz, Andrey "Rarst" Savchenko, Andy Meerwaldt, Andy Mercer, Andy Skelton, Aniket Pant, Anil Basnet, Ankit K Gupta, Anthony Hortin, antisilent, Anton Timmermans, apokalyptik, artoliukkonen, Arunas Liuiza, attitude, backermann, Bappi, Ben Cole, Bernhard Gronau, Bernhard Kau, binarymoon, Birgir Erlendsson (birgire), BjornW, bobbingwide, boblinthorst, boboudreau, bonger, Boone B. Gorges, Brady Vercher, Brainstorm Force, Brandon Kraft, Brian Hogg, Brian Krogsgard, Bronson Quick, Caroline Moore, Casey Driscoll, Caspie, Chandra Patel, Chaos Engine, cheeserolls, chesio, chetansatasiya, choong, Chouby, chredd, Chris Jean, Chris Marslender, Chris Smith, Chris Van Patten, Chris Wiegman, chriscct7, chriseverson, Christian Chung, Christian Nolen, Christian Wach, Christoph Herr, Clarion Technologies, Claudio Sanches, Claudio Sanches, ClaudioLaBarbera, codemovement.pk, coderkevin, codfish, coreymcollins, Curdin Krummenacher, Curtiss Grymala, Cătălin Dogaru, danhgilmore, Daniel Bachhuber , Daniel Kanchev, Daniel Pietrasik, Daniele Scasciafratte, Daryl L. L. Houston (dllh), Dave Pullig, Dave Romsey (goto10), David A. Kennedy, David Chandra Purnama, David Herrera, David Lingren, David Mosterd, David Shanske, davidbhayes, Davide 'Folletto' Casali, deeptiboddapati, delphinus, deltafactory, Denis de Bernardy, Derek Herman, Derrick Hammer, Derrick Koo, dimchik, Dinesh Chouhan, Dion Hulse, dipeshkakadiya, dmsnell, Dominik Schilling, Dotan Cohen, Doug Wollison, doughamlin, DreamOn11, Drew Jaynes, duncanjbrown, dungengronovius, DylanAuty, Eddie Hurtig, Eduardo Reveles, Edwin Cromley, ElectricFeet, Elio Rivero, Ella Iseulde Van Dorpe, elyobo, enodekciw, enshrined, Eric Andrew Lewis, Eric Lanehart, Evan Herman, Felix Arntz, Fencer04, Florian Brinkmann, Florian TIAR, FolioVision, fomenkoandrey, Francesco Taurino, Frank Klein, Frankie Jarrett, Fred, Fredrik Forsmo, fuscata, Gabriel Maldonado, Garth Mortensen, Gary Jones, Gary Pendergast, Geeky Software, George Stephanis, Goran Šerić, Graham Armfield, Grant Derepas, Gregory Karpinsky (@tivnet), Hardeep Asrani, Helen Hou-Sandí, Henry Wright, hiddenpearls, Hinaloe, Hristo Pandjarov, Hugo Baeta, Iain Poulson, Ian Dunn, Ian Edington, idealien, Ignacio Cruz Moreno, imath, implenton, Ionut Stanciu, Ipstenu (Mika Epstein), ivdimova, J.D. Grimes, Jacob Peattie, Jake Spurlock, James Nylen, jamesacero, Japh, Jared Cobb, jayarjo, jdolan, jdoubleu, Jeff Bowen, Jeff Paul, Jeffrey de Wit, Jeremy Felt, Jeremy Pry, jimt, Jip Moors, jmusal, Joe Dolson, Joe Hoyle, Joe McGill, Joel James, johanmynhardt, John Blackbourn, John Dittmar, John James Jacoby, John P. Bloch, John Regan, johnpgreen, Jon (Kenshino), Jonathan Bardo, Jonathan Brinley, Jonathan Daggerhart, Jonathan Desrosiers, Jonny Harris, jonnyauk, jordesign, JorritSchippers, Joseph Fusco, Josh Eaton, Josh Pollock, joshcummingsdesign, joshkadis, Joy, jrf, JRGould, Juanfra Aldasoro, Juhi Saxena, Junko Nukaga, Justin Busa, Justin Sainton, Justin Shreve, Justin Sternberg, K.Adam White, kacperszurek, Kailey (trepmal), KalenJohnson, Kat Hagan, Keanan Koppenhaver, keesiemeijer, kellbot, Kelly Dwan, Kevin Hagerty, Kirk Wight, kitchin, Kite, kjbenk, Knut Sparhell, koenschipper, kokarn, Konstantin Kovshenin, Konstantin Obenland, Konstantinos Kouratoras, kuchenundkakao, kuldipem, Laurel Fulford, Lee Willis, Leo Baiano, LittleBigThings (Csaba), Lucas Stark, Luke Cavanagh, Luke Gedeon, Luke Pettway, lyubomir_popov, Mário Valney, mageshp, Mahesh Waghmare, Mangesh Parte, Manish Songirkar, mantismamita, Marcel Bootsman, Marin Atanasov, Marius L. J., Mariyan Belchev, Mark Jaquith, Mark Root-Wiley, Mark Uraine, Marko Heijnen, markshep, matrixik, Matt Banks, Matt King, Matt PeepSo, Matt van Andel, Matt Wiebe, Matthew Haines-Young, mattyrob, Max Cutler, Maxime Culea, Mayo Moriyama, mckernanin, Mel Choyce, mhowell, Michael Arestad, Michael Arestad, michalzuber, Miina Sikk, Mike Auteri, Mike Crantea, Mike Glendinning, Mike Hansen, Mike Little, Mike Schroder, Mike Viele, Milan Dinić, modemlooper, Mohammad Jangda, Mohan Dere, monikarao, morettigeorgiev, Morgan Estes, Morten Rand-Hendriksen, moto hachi ( mt8.biz ), mrbobbybryant, Naim Naimov, Nate Reist, NateWr, nathanrice, Nazgul, Ned Zimmerman, net, Nick Halsey , Nicolas GUILLAUME, Nikhil Chavan, Nikhil Vimal, Nikolay Bachiyski, Nilambar Sharma, noplanman, nullvariable, odie2, odyssey, Okamoto Hidetaka, orvils, oskosk, Otto Kekäläinen, ovann86, Pantip Treerattanapitak (Nok), Pascal Birchler, patilvikasj, Paul Bearne, Paul Wilde, Payton Swick, pdufour, Perdaan, Peter Wilson, phh, php, Piotr Delawski, pippinsplugins, pjgalbraith, pkevan, Pratik, Pressionate, Presskopp, procodewp, Rachel Baker, Rahul Prajapati, Ramanan, Rami Yushuvaev, ramiabraham, ranh, Red Sand Media Group, Riad Benguella, Rian Rietveld, Richard Tape, Robert D Payne, Robert Jolly, Robert Noakes, Rocco Aliberti, Rodrigo Primo, Rommel Castro, Ronald Araújo, Ross Wintle, Roy Sivan, Ryan Kienstra, Ryan McCue, Ryan Plas, Ryan Welcher, Sal Ferrarello, Sami Keijonen, Samir Shah, Samuel Sidler, Sandesh, Sang-Min Yoon, Sanket Parmar, Sarah Gooding, Sayed Taqui, schrapel, Scott Reilly, Scott Taylor, scrappy@hub.org, scribu, seancjones, Sebastian Pisula, Sergey Biryukov, Sergio De Falco, sfpt, shayanys, shazahm1, shprink, simonlampen, skippy, smerriman, snacking, solal, Soren Wrede, Stanimir Stoyanov, Stanko Metodiev, Steph, Steph Wells, Stephanie Leary, Stephen Edgar, Stephen Harris, Steven Word, stevenlinx, Sudar Muthu, Swapnil V. Patil, swapnild, szaqal21, Takahashi Fumiki, Takayuki Miyauchi, Tammie Lister, tapsboy, Taylor Lovett, team, tg29359, tharsheblows, the, themeshaper, thenbrent, thomaswm, Thorsten Frommen, tierra, Tim Nash, Timmy Crawford, Timothy Jacobs, timph, Tkama, tnegri, Tom Auger, Tom J Nowell, tomdxw, Toro_Unit (Hiroshi Urabe), Torsten Landsiedel, transl8or, traversal, Travis Smith, Triet Minh, Trisha Salas, tristangemus, truongwp, tsl143, Ty Carlson, Ulrich, Utkarsh, Valeriu Tihai, Viljami Kuosmanen, Vishal Kakadiya, vortfu, Vrunda Kansara, webbgaraget, WebMan Design | Oliver Juhas, websupporter, Weston Ruter, William Earnhardt, williampatton, Wolly aka Paolo Valenti, WraithKenny, yale01, Yoav Farhi, Yoga Sukma, Zach Wills, Zack Tollman, Ze Fontainhas, zhildzik, and zsusag. WORDPRESS 4.8 CONTRIBUTORS (I’m 99% sure none of those people are actual canines.) So knowing what we know about how people tend to communicate online, how is this possible? how is it possible that all of these people can work on WordPress together, maintaining the software that runs 28% of the internet, while communicating online?
  16. 16. WordCamp Cincinnati 2016 Meetups and WordCamps to the rescue! As I explained earlier, we spend a lot of time and energy getting people together in one space. Why? What does this get us? Well for one thing, it gets us up, and out of the house or the office, and among other people who care about the same things we do.
  17. 17. WordCamp San Francisco 2006 We get practice collaborating in person (troubleshooting AV is always popular)
  18. 18. WordCamp Sacramento 2015 We eat together.
  19. 19. WordCamp San Francisco 2014 We talk to each other. And the combination of all that… connects us, and thus makes a community. Now I have a lot of thoughts about that last one, eating together, because I love to eat and to feed people, and because there’s something really special and bonding about eating together. But today I want to dig in to what’s happening in this slide, making a group of people into a community.
  20. 20. Ursula K. Le Guin (15m) One of the best authors of our time, and a native of my hometown, Portland Oregon, is named Ursula K Le Guin. She’s been writing since the 60s in the science fiction space, and her best known novel is called The Left Hand of Darkness, and I highly recommend it. She also writes a lot of essays, and one of her essays, called “Telling is Listening,” discusses this specific phenomenon, of what’s really going on when people talk to each other, face-to-face.
  21. 21. Mechanical Model She observes that the most common way to think about communication is in a mechanical model. Someone talks, and information is transferred from the box of one person’s brain to another person’s brain box.
  22. 22. Intersubjective Model What she proposes, however, is that live, face-to-face communication is INTERSUBJECTIVE. She uses a metaphor of amoebas reproducing. Generally amoebas simply split when they need to reproduce, but sometimes conditions indicate that a little genetic swapping might improve the local crowd, and two amoebas get together — literally — and merge their pseudopodia into a little tube or channel connecting them, and then exchange genetic information, literally giving each other inner bits of their bodies, through a channel or bridge made out of the outer bits of their bodies, mutually responding to each other. So her proposal is that communication isn’t a one-way street. It’s a mutual feedback machine.
  23. 23. She also reflects, as have many others, on the power of speech. She says that speech is incredibly intimate and vital because it is a physical, bodily process. Human beings naturally mirror each other. When we see some smile, we smile. When we see someone in distress, we feel distress. She cites a study by a researcher named William Condon, in which people were filmed while listening to a speaker. The films show listeners making almost the same micro movements of lips and face as the speaker is making, nearly simultaneously — a 50th of a second behind. Condon describes communication as a dance, “with everyone engages in intricate, shared movements across many subtle dimensions.
  24. 24. WordCamp San Francisco 2014 Listening isn’t a reaction, it’s a connection.
  25. 25. WordPress Romagna meetup group 2016 Another thing that connects us when we speak and listen is the actual physics of sound. The way speaking works, the issuing of sound waves that surround the listeners, is inclusive and connecting. We share the same auditory space, enveloped by sound, immersed in the same experience.
  26. 26. WordCamp San Francisco 2013 And that same experience, this experience right now, is temporary This is the only September 30th 2017 that we’ll ever have together, in this place. The very evanescence, the temporal nature, of the experience is what gives it significance. Words themselves are events, they do things, they cause thoughts and feelings in people. They feed understanding and emotions back and forth, and amplify it. Words Have Power.
  27. 27. WordCamp San Francisco 2014 A lot of people are afraid to assume that power, and to speak up, but it’s vital that we make it possible for them to do so. WordPress isn’t just built for brave, outgoing people. It’s not just for Rock Stars. The mission of this project is to democratize publishing; to make it possible for anyone, ANYONE to express themselves online. Because speaking and listening solve this “alone in a crowd” feeling, that anonymity, that invisibility, and makes connections. And connections solve, or at the very least offset, all the things that lead to those toxic interactions we try so hard to avoid in the WordPress project.
  28. 28. WordCamp San Francisco 2013 Connections make us visible to each other, they teach us that the person on the other end of that chat, or the person you’re responding to in that comment, is a human being. Connections allow us to be patient, show compassion, to contextualize our online communication. In many cases, you don’t seem to have to meet ALL the people to remember that everyone is a people. The behavioral norms we set at our events, at every meetup and every WordCamp, follow us online. And those connections allow us to not only communicate better about WordPress, they also allow us to make WordPress better.
  29. 29. So here we are, gathered here around the campfire of WordPress, listening to each other’s stories, learning what we have in common, and where we can go to close the gaps that separate us. If you have already spoken, shared your powerful words, then I encourage you to indulge some rich, intersubjective listening. If you have been listening up until now, I encourage you to extend yourself, to activate the power of your voice, and to speak — either in this context as a presenter, or by asking questions, or by chatting at a meetup. And if you can help create — to organize — a moment that makes room for a voice that hasn’t been heard yet, then I encourage you to make that moment happen. 
 But how!?? OK, let’s get concrete for a sec, because this talk has been pretty theoretical. Imma give you some bullet points, are you ready?
  30. 30. Making room for many voices •empathy •clear expectations •multiple event formats (and times) •encouragement/ training Creating a space that’s inclusive and welcoming of new voices requires a TON of empathy, and a lot of tolerance for stepping outside of your own set of experiences. If you were to ask me what the most important trait of a WordPress community organizer is, I would say… well, first I would say “the ability to show up when they said they’d be at the event they organized” but right AFTER that, I would say empathy. Because without empathy (and its BFF, compassion), we can’t anticipate what will make an event unwelcoming for people, and without compassion, we won’t even care.
  31. 31. Making room for many voices •empathy •clear expectations •encouragement/ training •multiple event formats (and times) Once you have your empathy firmly fixed in place, start thinking about what new people (or just quiet people) know about your group from the outside, and make sure you make it clear what to expect at your events and from your group.
  32. 32. Welcoming events •clear expectations •code of conduct •welcome new people •name tags •encourage participation (lots) •offer speaker training •thank people for participating •open paths for participation and leadership But as for concrete ways to encourage people to participate, there are a few good basic steps: - tell people what to expect in your group (in WP we do this with our 5 good-faith rules) - tell people what to expect at your event - welcome new people to your event - name tags - encourage people (over and over and over again) to participate. It can take a long time to convince people, especially people in marginalized communities, that you really mean it when you tell them that their voices are important to the group, and that they belong. - provide speaker training (we have lesson plans available!) - thank people for attending - thank people for participating & encourage them to take part again - provide open paths for participation and leadership
  33. 33. Event formats •lectures •other lectures •oh, and a few lectures One of the simplest ways to include lots of voices in a community is to have a lot of different kinds of meetings. This format, the presenter talking and everyone listening, is quite popular, but certainly not the only way to connect people and share knowledge.
  34. 34. Multiple event formats •lectures •round table discussions •blog-alongs •hands-on workshops •interviews •socials •networking events •picnics •organizer breakfasts •help desks So! Multiple event formats are key: lectures aren’t the only way you can share knowledge, and in fact isn’t always the most effective way! round table discussions, help desks, hands-on workshops, even interviews, are all ways to get more interaction going in a group. You can also see some great results with purely social events, like picnics, networking events, breakfasts, etc. People will naturally talk about WordPress, because that’s the one thing that is guaranteed to connect them, but it’s really good for the community if WP isn’t the ONLY thing that everyone has in common. Warning! if you’ve always only organized lectures in your group or event, then the people who keep coming back for more… are a self-selected group of lecture-like-ers. So when you decide you want to mix it up a little bit and organize a wider variety of event formats, it takes time to gather up all your workshop--like-ers, your round table- like-ers, and your networking-like-ers. change takes time, and it helps to give the whole group some context about why they’re seeing lots of new kinds of events lately. Make it clear that your goal is to include a wide variety of WordPress enthusiasts with a wide variety of experience, and why.
  35. 35. WordPress Community Summit 2017 Because no matter what your experience is with WordPress, no matter how unusual or common it is, we want — we are deeply driven — to hear from you. Not only because we crave that intersubjective communication, to share bits of our experiences and improve our little corner of the internet, not only because want to be less invisible and anonymous online, but also because
  36. 36. Democratize publishing! the mission of WordPress is to democratize publishing! Every voice has power, and we hope to include yours in this community.
  37. 37. Andrea Middleton @andmiddleton Thank You