August 24, 2020 Office Hours

A group of ambassadors continued this discussion via synchronous conversation during office hours today. Notes from that conversation are below.

Notes from Open Office Hours


@bcotton, @ronmcfarl, @ben.openwaypbl, @Bryan, @jenkelchner

Questions that frame our discussion

  • What should we do with Discourse and email lists ( Combine them, eliminate one, channel community participants in a specific direction?
  • What type of engagement do we want to invite? This question helps us determine what tool is best for our purpose.
  • What kinds of participation do we want to encourage? This question helps us determine what kinds of behaviors we need to facilitate (i.e.,
  • How would this platform be configured? Who would have access? These questions might help us decide which tools and platforms are most attractive to new users.

Thinking about access

As for the “access” question, @Bryan has created color codes for various levels of access on Discourse:

  1. Public items (accessible without login) are turquoise
  2. Non-public items (accessible only with login) are navy blue
  3. Ambassador-specific items are purple

At the moment, there’s no distinction between Level 2 and Level 3. You’re either a passive observer of the public information, or you’re an ambassador and have access to everything on Discourse. So the tool we choose should likely help us “tier” access to certain discussions or resources, create a contributor pipeline that creates a scaffolding for participation.

We have a pipeline problem—too few new contributors are joining the project and community. Expanding our use of a community conversation platform—whatever we choose—should help us address that challenge and grow our contributor pipeline.

Thinking about engagement

How do we engage people? What kind of engagement do we want to see? People will need open contributors/knowledge more than ever with the emerging future.


  • We’d like people to engage with the community and the topics the community care about
  • Comments on articles and broader engagement: Convert readers into participants and contributors
  • Make the new platform a resource for cultivating the community of authors and potential authors, make it a contributor community
  • Increasing engagement to what end? What do we want to happen as a result of increased participation? More articles? More books? Better discussions? New media (podcasts, videos)? What does success look like?

Onboarding new contributors

  • Flagging editorial wish-list items as “easy” to “advanced” to get more people involved (helps them find a task that suits their comfort level)
  • Easier points of entry for new members (sometimes, engaging directly on GitHub is intimidating)

Decisions that need making

  • Do we keep Discourse? And do we eliminate the email list in favor of it?
  • Do we move everything to Github and expand into other platforms that can allow for engagement (social platforms, like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)?
  • What are other ideas for gaining contributors and community engagement?