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Call for volunteers

Join the Umbraco Community Teams (or Rejoin!)

Ilhamnewsletter
Written by Ilham Boulghallat

Close to 3 years ago, we set out on a journey with the very first Community Team, The Documentation Curators! Along the way, more Umbracians joined us making the launch of other teams a success and an incredible learning experience. Today, we are happy to open a call for volunteers to join one of the following three teams: the Package Team, the Core Collaborators, and the Unicore Team.  All interested can apply, including the members of the current teams! Yes, if you are currently part of one of the community teams, we invite you to reapply. The applications open today and close on the 24th of September 🎉

To help you learn more about the initiative, I have compiled, in this post, a list of resources which covers information about the teams, their missions and work process, and the learnings so far.  If you would like to join the initiative but are not sure what it entails or how the teams are structured, read on. 

If, however, you have been closely following up with the teams and patiently waiting for the right moment to join, here is a tl;dr and the link to apply. We look forward to reading your application!    

TL;DR We had a fantastic experience working closely with the Umbraco community as part of the Community Teams initiative. We want to do more and open the door to new members to join. Not only that but also offer the current members the opportunity to reapply or take a bow and enjoy a well-deserved break 👏 . The applications are open until the 24th of September; you can apply to join one of these 3 Community Teams:

 

Access the application form 

 

When we launched the concept of an Umbraco community team, our goal was to build and test a process which will enable HQ to work closely with dedicated community members. We did not expect the initiative to grow from 1 team to currently having 5 active teams, including a 100% community-driven group. 

With so much happening in each of the teams, there is a lot of information to cover, so let's dive right in. 

 

The Community Teams initiative

Hear directly from the teams - their experience and learnings

The application process - Apply or Reapply!

 

The Umbraco Community Teams - What, Why, and How

The Umbraco community teams are a collaborative effort between Umbraco HQ and dedicated community volunteers, with the mission of fostering the friendly sharing culture.

Each team has a clear focus, process, and is run by a group of skilled and dedicated volunteers. Four of the current teams were initiated by Umbraco HQ, and one, the Accessibility Team, was formed and is fully run by members of the Umbraco community 🙌.  

  • The Documentation Curators
  • The Core Collaborators (formerly known as The PR team)
  • The Package Team
  • The Unicore Team
  • The Accessibility Team (100% community-driven)
The teams’ first visit to HQ in 2019 - Documentation Curators + Package Team + Core Collaborators. Left to right: Sebastiaan Janssen, Lotte Pitcher, Dave Woestenborghs, Sofie Toft Kristensen, Jesper Mayntzhusen, Poornima Nayar, Kevin Jump, Jeavon Leopold, Richard Ockerby, Emma Burstow, Damiaan Peeters

The teams’ first visit to HQ in 2019 - Documentation Curators + Package Team + Core Collaborators. Left to right: Sebastiaan Janssen, Lotte Pitcher, Dave Woestenborghs, Sofie Toft Kristensen, Jesper Mayntzhusen, Poornima Nayar, Kevin Jump, Jeavon Leopold, Richard Ockerby, Emma Burstow, Damiaan Peeters

All teams have a driving mission that helps them set up goals and enables the different members to stay in sync while working together.

 

The Documentation Curators’ mission:

‘We help you succeed using your favorite CMS by curating the Umbraco documentation and making the process of contributing to the documentation simpler, friendly, and social.’

 

The Core Collaborators’ mission:

‘We empower you to influence how your favorite CMS evolves by guiding your contribution, ensuring the process is clear, simple, and enjoyable.’

 

The Package Team’s mission:

‘We help you expand the functionalities of Umbraco by making package development, distribution, and usage simpler and fulfilling.’

 

The Unicore Team’s mission:

‘We help future-proof Umbraco CMS by transitioning to .NET Core through community involvement and making it friendly, transparent and social to contribute.’

 

The Accessibility Team’s mission:

‘We want to help your favorite CMS be accessible to everyone.’

 

Each team consists of a mix of people with different backgrounds and skills. The standard structure that we usually follow when starting a team is ideally a group of no more than 6 members:

  • 1 HQ employee - Steward
  • 3-5 community volunteers
  • With a team lead, Steward, in the center, the team is organized around fulfilling different roles according to the skillset and preferences of each.

 

Not all teams follow this standard structure. Like any other organization, the teams learned to build their own structure based on their needs and experience. 

 

For example, 

  • the Documentation Curators run their own internship program where they offer 2 interns the possibility to be part of the team and gradually learn about the Umbraco documentation.
  • the Accessibility Team has a structure built around 3 levels of involvement: Meetup coordination, Testing, and Core Members.   

 

All this is great and shows how valuable it is to work closely with the community, and to open up to external knowledge and suggestions. But don’t just take my word for it, let’s hear directly from the members themselves. 

 

The impact the initiative had on the teams

What stands out the most when asking the teams about their experience is the knowledge transfer.   

Let’s hear directly from the HQ stewards and some of the members about what they learned, how the experience shaped them, and the advice they have for those who would like to join.

 

Thoughts on working with the Documentation Curators

Sofie Toft Kristensen, Steward of the team, shares her experience: 

What has the community team enabled you to do?

‘I'd say there are two main things that stand out: 1) It has enabled me to grow as a team lead, even before I was an actual team lead here at HQ - mainly the whole structuring and managing a team part of things. 2) Being part of a Community Team and working closely with highly engaged and experienced Umbraco people, really inspired me to do more when it comes to the whole experience of using Umbraco products.’ 

What have you learned?

‘I've learned a lot about Umbraco, and a lot about Git as well 🙈 . I've probably learned much more than that, but I find it really hard to put into words… You’ll get what I’m trying to convey once you’re part of one of the teams 😉’

 

Marc Goodson, member of the Curators, shares some good advice:

What advice do you have to someone interested in joining a Community Team? 

‘I think it’s a great learning opportunity, I realise I don’t have the qualifications for V8 but I’ve written lots of the documentation and worked with others to curate the PRs of other updates. It’s ‘paid back in spades’ for my day job, consulting and helping companies get started with Umbraco and adapting to using V8. ‘ 

Read more from Marc.

 

Thoughts on working with the Core Collaborators

Sebastiaan Janssen, Steward of the team, shares his experience:

What has the community team enabled you to do?

‘Thanks to them we've been able to scale from being able to accept maybe a dozen contributions a month to many dozens and, on occasion, over a hundred a month. This leaves the D-Team at Umbraco HQ free to concentrate on creating large new features like the Block List Editor and new major versions of Umbraco like the upcoming .NET Core version.’

‘Additionally, in our regular meetings at HQ about contributions that need some discussion, we've invited Emma Burstow as a community member to help get an outside perspective when we're making decisions.’

What did you learn?

‘Most of all, setting expectations is both very difficult to do but also very important so contributors know what the next steps are. While not perfect yet, we keep improving all the time. Other than that I've become very familiar with all things git, git aliases, merge conflicts 😱, cherry picking, etc.

Thanks to Anders Bjerner, I've also gotten a chance to work with the GitHub API and we've made our first small attempts at querying the API with GraphQL. Spoiler: using GraphQL is a lot of fun and very efficient. Of course, each incoming pull request is a chance for everyone on the team to learn something new. There's many different areas of Umbraco that contributors want to change and improve, so you get to see all of the corners of the code base.’

 

Thoughts on working with the Package Team

Jesper Mayntzhusen, Steward of the team, shares his experience: 

What has the community team enabled you to do:

‘Based on the team’s experiences and network within the Umbraco community, they have helped me make informed decisions to the benefit of the Umbraco package ecosystem.

As I had no prior experience in creating and maintaining packages, it was a game-changer for me to have these experienced developers provide guidance, but also help gather feedback, spread information, and really just be the faces of the Package initiative.’

What have you learned?

‘I have learned a lot about the struggles package developers run into, but have also learned a lot of cool tips and tricks about creating packages.’

 

Lotte Pitcher, member of the Package Team, shares some good advice:

What advice do you have to someone interested in joining a Community Team?

‘If you’re interested but not sure how you would answer the ‘why should you join the team’ question, I suggest you ask someone you trust from the Umbraco community for their answer. I predict they will have more good reasons as to why you’d be of value than you would think of yourself!’

Read more from Lotte.


Thoughts on working with the Unicore Team

Bjarke Berg, Steward of the team, shares his experience: 

What has the community team enabled you to do?

‘What I found extremely valuable, especially when trying to work on a solution, is the diversity of opinions that the team brings. The way I see it, having different community members involved offers the possibility to represent various groups and ways of working within the larger Umbraco community.’  

What have you learned?

‘It’s humbling to work with volunteers when you are the one driving the project as a full-time employee. It’s a unique experience that has extremely shaped the way I work with my team at HQ, not to mention all the cool things I learned from regularly interacting with these highly smart people.’

 

Emma Garland, member of the Unicore Team, shares some good advice:

What advice do you have to someone interested in joining a Community Team? 

‘Try it, you might like it! But without pressuring yourself too much. I have had to say no to things I really wanted to do at times, because I knew I was pushing myself too far and couldn’t fit it in mentally or physically.

Ask questions. I asked Bjarke about how things might be structured in Unicore, and the expected time commitment. It can be hard to predict, but if you share how much time you could offer, you’ll know if it is the sort of thing they were expecting.’ 

Read more from Emma.


Thoughts on working with the Accessibility Team

Rachel Breeze, team member, shares her experience and advice:

What has the community team enabled you to do?

‘The team has enabled us to share our skills and learn from one another, whilst helping to make the core of the Umbraco Backoffice more accessible to users with different needs.  As well as connecting and working with people I wouldn't normally have the privilege of working with in my day to day life.’

What have you learned? 

‘It's very easy to sit and say a product should do "a thing". What’s great about open source is that you can make it do that thing, time, health and family commitments permitting.

Collaboration across time zones is hard but highly rewarding.  Communication is key and English isn't everyone's first language.  That contributing to an open source code base is very different to contributing to an agency one, there are so many commits/ PRs to consider.’

What advice do you have to someone interested in joining a Community Team? 

‘Do it! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s a great way to collaborate with people you wouldn’t normally work with, make friends, whilst sharing skills and working on a great CMS.’

Read more from Rachel.

 

Hearing from all these incredibly talented and dedicated people may have sparked your interest in the teams. And if that’s so, today you are in luck! You can apply to three teams (Core Contributors, Package, Unicore) that are welcoming new volunteers.  

This does not mean that you cannot show interest in joining the other teams. Both the Accessibility Team and the Documentation Curators would be happy to hear from you and are open to support and guide your contribution efforts. 

The Umbraco Community Teams application process

This is the first time we open the applications for three teams all at once. It is also the first time we offer the current members the option to either renew their involvement or exit the team. Not that leaving the team was not an option before; it has always been the case but this time we have a clear process for it. 

We hope that by opening the applications to everyone, including the current members, we will be able to give everybody a fair chance to be selected.

If you are a new applicant 

The application form is open to everyone in the Umbraco community who has an interest in joining one of the three teams (Core Collaborators, Package, Unicore). 

When submitting your application, you are able to choose one team or more, in case you’re not sure which could be the best fit. You will be asked about the reasons behind your choice(s) and to provide some information about your background and areas of interest. 

Once the application closes, you will be invited to a Zoom chat with the steward(s) of the team(s) that you have selected in the form. The chat will be an opportunity for you to ask all the questions you might have. 

The final selection will be made by the steward of each team and the selected applicants will be notified. Once the new team is formed, a public blog post will be shared on umbraco.com 

Timeline:     

  • 9 September 2020: Applications open 🎉
  • 24 September 2020: Applications close (at 4 pm CEST)
  • 25 to 30 Sep: Friendly Zoom chats with the applicants to answer questions
  • 6 October 2020: Results announcement sent to the applicants
  • 13 October 2020: Official announcement on umbraco.com blog section

What to expect when joining the team

  • An onboarding phase where you get introduced to the rest of the team,
  • A process-reevaluation phase where all the team members get to decide on the structure, goals, and processes. The previous setup might have worked for that specific group, but we understand that new members mean new ideas, new habits, and new ways of working.

 

Join the initiative

 

If you are a current member

All current team members are invited to reapply. The reapplication is meant to either confirm your interest in staying with the team or to give HQ an official notification that you are ready to leave the team. 

Still interested in being part of the team? 

The re-applications are possible through the same main form that is open to everyone. When accessing the form, you can choose your status as a current member and follow the steps. 

During this process, the steward of each team will help guide you and answer all questions you might have. The team’s channels that you already have access to will stay open until a final decision has been made.    

 

Reapply to the community team

 

Ready to exit the team? 

We couldn’t be more grateful for all the work you have put into the community team you are part of. For that we say a big H5YR! 

We understand that it’s not always easy to leave an initiative like the community team. We want to help you in this decision by offering you an opportunity to officially exit the group. 

All stewards have reached out by now to their teams and announced this new process. But we still encourage you to share all questions or uncertainties you might have.    

As it might be a difficult decision to make, I can only quote Marc Goodson here.   

‘The main thing is it’s really nice to feel part of a gang of lovely people, with a common purpose who chat regularly. But it also feels like a big commitment as there is no ‘easy way’ to leave a team… which is why we are running experiments with ‘interns’ (possibly the wrong name) in the documentation curators team, so that people can join the team to try out what it’s like for six months, a bit like Jury service, perhaps take on a ‘project’ - Bring some freshness, enthusiasm, and new perspectives on the activities of the team rather than it just being the SAME set of anointed folk doing the SAME old things ‘forever’!’

Marc Goodson - Documentation Curators

 

Exit the community team 

 

If not sure about a full exit and would still like to stay somewhat involved?  

We got you covered. You can choose to stay as an Honorary Team Member! You will still have access to the team’s Slack channel and the option to join the meetings if you would like. Your main involvement will be around mentoring the new members joining the team.

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