WordPress Community Team Proposes New Selection Process for 2017 Summit Attendees

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WordCamp Europe 2017 is set to host the next community summit in Paris. This will be the first time the event has been held outside of the United States, a change that makes it more accessible for contributors who are unable to obtain a visa to enter the U.S.

Attaching the summit to WordCamp Europe was the next logical step, as the event brings together project contributors from around the world. Europe is one of the fastest growing regions for the WordPress community in terms of events, with a 70% increase in WordCamps in 2015. There were 20 WordCamps held in October and 50% of those were hosted in European cities.

The past three community summits have been invitation-only in order to ensure those present were active contributors to WordPress and to enable a format that facilitates face-to-face discussions on key issues facing the project and the community. This inevitably leaves many valuable contributors on the outside. In an effort to mitigate the sense of exclusivity around the event, the WordPress Community Team is proposing a new selection process for 2017:

If we have to limit our attendance to have productive, collaborative discussions at the Summit, then choosing the participants becomes a challenge if we don’t know what the teams are going to discuss ahead of time. Therefore, this year I suggest we try something new:

Let’s ask teams to decide on the challenging, controversial, or sensitive issues they want to discuss at the summit before the summit is held. Then, once the teams know what they want to talk over in person, they can nominate and select the people needed to represent all points of view in each of those discussions. This way, the event stays small, hard topics get discussed, but the selection process is more transparent and functional.

Rocio Valdivia, who posted the proposal on behalf of the team, roughly outlined how the selection process would work. She suggested each make.wordpress.org project team would create and publish a list of topics/issues for discussion at the summit and submit them by December 20th. Teams would then select representatives to attend the summit. Two members of those selected would be assigned to help with the organization and logistics of the summit, including tasks such as finding sponsors, travel assistance, and communication.

“The intention of this approach is to propose a more open and team-focus Community Summit with transparent participation from all active contributors and reps of each team,” Valdivia said. “This way we can hopefully anticipate barriers and cross-team difficulties that might come up, and avoid them.”

This approach is different from past events where attendees were not part of the organizational aspects but it gives contributors more ownership of the event and their teams’ specific goals. Details and logistics would be worked out later in the year with the help of the WCEU organizers.

The Community Team is asking for feedback on the proposal before implementing a plan of action for the new selection process. As the open source project has grown, WordPress has hundreds of contributors spread across its three dozen core components. So far contributors have weighed in on the initial proposed number of team representatives and the deadline for preparing topics.

There was also some concern in the Community Team’s meeting on Slack as to whether the new selection process will perpetuate the pattern of the same people being invited to the summit every time simply because they are most active in the project. Allowing teams to nominate their representatives based on the anticipated topics will make the selection process more focused on which contributors are best suited to work on pressing issues. Moving the location to Europe will also give regional contributors the opportunity to bring fresh ideas and perspectives, especially regarding the challenges of multilingual publishing with WordPress.