By now, you may have heard a lot about the WordPress Community Summit that’s happening on December 2 & 3. You might know it’s a smaller event for those who contribute to the WordPress project to discuss important topics that effect the WordPress project and community. You may also know that we have been calling it an unconference but you might not know how an unconference works.
How does an unconference work?
Unlike traditional conferences, unconferences do not include presentations, slides, or speakers. This particular unconference features multiple tracks of group discussions on topics critical to the WordPress project. Below are some guidelines for the Community Summit’s unconference day:
- Many of the discussion topics are suggested and moderated in advance to make the best use of everyone’s time during the Community Summit.
- Participants are asked to participate in only one discussion at a time.
- Before each new session begins, participants will be asked to introduce themselves and share their interest in the topic.
- Discussion groups should take the last 5 minutes of each session to summarize their discussion so it can be shared at the end of the unconference day.
If there are no speakers what are the roles?
Each discussion will have a leader, a moderator and a notekeeper.
- The discussion leader is often (but not always) the person who proposed the session. This person kicks it off by identifying the topic to be discussed and voices their initial thoughts. This person should not give a lecture on the topic, just kick it off and keep the conversation going.
- The discussion moderator ensures the conversation stays on track. It’s easy to get swept up in a tangent or debate between people and the moderator is there to remind everyone to stay on topic and make sure everyone has a chance to take part in the discussion. The moderator will call on people who haven’t yet spoken to ask their opinion, or might gently ask someone who’s been monopolizing the conversation to let other people speak and actively listen.
- The notekeeper takes thorough notes throughout the discussion. In some cases it may be necessary to have two notetakers to capture everything. The notekeeper will also be responsible for writing the discussion summary to be shared at the day’s end, although they do not necessarily have to be the one who speaks during the summary sharing time.
How are discussion topics selected?
The discussion topics are chosen by the participants. People can propose topics ahead of time in the forum set up for this purpose. Past sessions have included such topics as the future of core features, theme and plugin directory issues, hosting concerns, community engagement, diversity, internationalization/localization, mobile apps, education, GPL and more.
The WordPress Community Summit unconference day is a safe space.
The unconference is a safe space, protected from photos, tweets, blog posts quoting people, etc. This allows us to have very honest conversations without people worrying their words might be taken out of context later online. It also means people need to put their devices away to be 100% present in the conversations. The goal of the summit is to be honest and work through community issues without distractions.