Strategy speakers v2a 2018-08-02 RAM

This post is one of a set of posts on the speaker strategy for WCTO 2018 the URLs for which are:

  1. Strategy speakers v2a 2018-08-02 RAM
  2. Generic topics list v2a 2018-07-31 RAM
  3. Single-topic list v2a 2018-07-11 RAM
  4. Workshop topics list v1a 2018-07-27 RAM
  5. Survey questions list v2a 2018-07-27 RAM

TL;DR This is a 1,000 word text provided as both an update on work-in-progress and a
request for feedback. You don’t need to read it to participate in the discussion.

We should go about
the event’s programming in a way that can be clearly described and explained so that our decisions are transparent to our community. That requires us to articulate a
strategy and this text is an effort to provide a context as well as specific
recommendations to that end.

Strategy options

In developing the strategy for the programming of WCTO, there are
several approaches we could take:

  1. random, FIFO
  2. single-topic or themed
  3. session type specific (e.g., tutorials/workshops)
  4. curated for essential topics (e.g., Gutenberg)

Random/FIFO strategy

Last year’s WCTO was essentially the random/FIFO strategy in that
submissions were accepted if their quality was acceptable. The first 40+ that
met that basic criteria were selected (first in, first out, so to speak).
Suitable for large events. Not recommended.

Single-topic strategy

A single-topic or themed strategy is an event with a topic or
theme to which all sessions are devoted. It has some distinct advantages. The
primary disadvantage is for the part of the potential audience that has no
interest in the topic or theme.

This strategy includes events that are devoted to a segment of
users or industry (e.g., beginners, higher education, small business).

In this strategy, the call for speakers would set out the
sub-topics in sufficient detail to inform candidate speakers of what each
session would cover and submissions would be evaluated on the basis of filling
one of the slots. This is a more structured approach.

Session type specific strategy

The third strategy is session type specific and tutorials and
workshops are a good example. In the case of tutorials and workshops, they may
be on any topic but the goal is to provide a hands-on experience (à la
Ladies Learning Code).

Essential topics strategy

The fourth strategy is an event curated for essential topics such
as Gutenberg and, to the extent the number of sessions exceeds the essential
topics, then any of the other strategies can be used for the balance.

The process

We started by discussing the strategies and thought that, given
the number of sessions, the first strategy to evaluate is the single-topic or
themed strategy. We decided to generate a list of potential single-topics and
use that to evaluate the strategy. As an exercise, we thought that ranking the
single-topics in order of preference from the perspective of potential
attendees would be something we could quickly do and provide to the organizers
for discussion.

We thought it a good idea to include the single-topic list in the

We have other lists in progress which suit the other strategies.
The workshop list has sessions the topics of which are again illustrative.

We have created 3 lists for the strategy process which can be
included in the survey:

  1. all topics, alpha ordered generic, Generic_topics_list_v2a_2018-07_31_RAM.txt
  2. single-topic or themed, Single-topic_list_v2a_2018-07-11_RAM.txt
  3. tutorials/workshops, Workshop_topics_list_v1a_2018-07-27_RAM.txt

See Conclusions below on next steps regarding the lists.

Boston 2018 event

Alex reviewed
Schedule |
WordCamp Boston 2018
and posted a list of topics to consider. In reviewing
his list, it looks like a mix of:

  1. topics (e.g., Gutenberg)
  2. skill levels (e.g., Advanced Developers
  3. experience (e.g., Intro to WordPress)
  4. industry (e.g., Higher Education)
  5. session type (e.g., Workshops, Lightning Talks)

From a strictly topical perspective, the list has 4 topics:
Content & Social Media, Gutenberg, Intro to WordPress
and Site Builders. Community would be a 5th.

It’s noteworthy that the event has 2 Intro to
sessions on Saturday morning. There are 6
Gutenberg sessions
, more than any other topic.

Another thing that’s noteworthy about Boston is that its
tracks are the rooms in which sessions are held. That’s what
Andrea said is what she thinks tracks
means in our Zoom session on the budget last week.

The membership survey

In regard to the survey, there is a draft available for review,
comments and revisions
, Survey_questions_v2a_2018-07-27_RAM.docx. When the content of the questions is settled, then the
text of the questions can be quickly finalized and the survey invitations sent.

The lists in the survey can be used, revised or dropped depending
on the feedback and consensus of our group.

We don’t have any preference regarding the survey service to use.
SurveyMonkey is the
most popular and has a free tier. However, we recommend the Advantage
subscription tier at $34/month for 1-3 months to overcome the free
subscription’s limits of 100 responses viewable at a time and only a single
filter. We would also like to use a custom logo, colors and survey URL
available in Advantage and above.

Any recommendations for other survey services? (Andy recommended Google Forms and we’ll check it out. That may make the comments on the SurveyMonkey tiers irrelevant. More to follow.)

Can we spend the amount required for the first subscription

The next question is to how to send the survey. The
are options and the recommended one is provide a URL in an email rather
than include the survey itself in the email (haven’t yet
checked on the latter technique; see
Ways to Send Your Survey | SurveyMonkey; some email clients can process the survey responses if within an email message)

None of the 3 of us has done a survey of this kind before.
We’ll have no difficulty figuring it out but guidance and help would be

Survey respondents lists

The final aspect of the survey planning is the survey respondents

We have the WPTO Meetup and the WCTO 2017 mailing lists. Are there any issues in using these lists.

Are there other lists available?

Let us know if
you’re familiar with mailing to either list (Andy?).

Is it an option to
provide a contacts list to the survey service? In other words, can we generate a contacts list/dump of either list to provide to the survey service? If we used SurveyMonkey, then there are tracking and follow-up benefits to using that technique rather than a Meetup or WC email.


In conclusion, thanks for getting through this text. Here’s what
we’d like from you.

First, review the 3 lists. To revise any one of them, make a copy,
label it appropriately and fire away. It doesn’t take very long and doing so
will tune you up for the strategy discussion.

Second, review the draft survey and provide feedback and changes
by a means to be determined.

Third, consider the single-topic list and whether an event using
one of those topics or another one added to the list could be the strategy for
the event. If none of them appeal to you and you don’t have any others to
propose, then this isn’t a viable strategy to you.

If single-topic doesn’t work, then consider the tutorial/workshop
list on the same basis. No joy? On to the generic list of topics. This becomes
our strategy when all else fails. The survey is a key element in learning what
are the preferences, interests and needs of our members. We would use those
results to develop a much shorter list as the basis of the call for speakers.

For the survey, comments and feedback on the questions and use of the lists will be reflected in a new draft and the text edited for clarity and readability. The text for the invitation email is next and can be drafted as the survey is finalized and the respondents list(s) settled.