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W3C Community On-Boarding

As the scope of Web technologies increases, and as the communities impacted by the Web grows, it becomes critical that a wider variety of people can come on board of the W3C train and become effective participants in W3C groups.

Effective participation in W3C groups require overcoming a number of barriers:

  • a cultural/language barrier for some
  • understanding how a given group works given the disparity of work modes
  • understanding the underlying technical stack
  • understanding the most impactful ways to contribute based on one's interests and abilities

In this headlight, we will examine and document all the existing approaches deployed to overcome these barriers, explore new ones, and facilitate the deployment of the most effective ones (e.g. by suggesting or building tools).

Sign up to public-onboarding@w3.org to bring your ideas and input to this task force!

Problem statement

The W3C community is growing and the scope of the technologies it touches upon expands. Half of the W3C Members in 2014 were not W3C Member 4 years ago.

To ensure the Web fulfills the need of this expanding community, it is critical that newcomers feel welcomed to groups and empowered to participate in the development of specifications.

Today, upon joining a group, a newcomer often faces the following challenges:

  • it is hard to know and to learn what has led a group to a particular design;
  • it is hard to find one's way across the many mailing lists, tools, task forces, etc;
  • it is often unclear how one starts making contributions;
  • having learned these in one group, one often has to explore the same questions in any new group one joins as groups have all their own micro-processes and cultures

Some early ideas

  • gather stories from successful new participants
  • generalize welcome messages to new group participants across groups:
    • provide a template of expected information
    • have IPP send that information upon joining new groups
    • (how to best ensure the info remains up to date?)
  • propose to chairs/staff contacts to organize a monthly "welcome teleconference" specifically for new participants (taking timezones into account)
  • more generally, train chairs/staff on "community onboarding"?
  • create on-line training program for new participants? (is that equivalent to the "modern guide" project?) probably both on technical and more "cultural" aspects
  • create a forum/mailing list for participants (new and old) to exchange questions & answers (à la Stack Overflow?)
  • institutionalize a "welcome new participants" day before TPACs
  • SMALL COMMENT: I agree that "on-boarding" is important (that is, helping people get _started_ with the W3C). But I suggest we not limit our thinking to only when people begin. A lot of the ideas / discussion / suggestions so far have been about how to conduct W3C business in general, to minimize the problems of language, culture, time zones, etc.

look at minutes of related TPAC breakout