Report from Global Yearly Review Meeting 2015

OTS Yearly Review meeting 28 March 2015

Last Actions reviews/updates:

Gio– Berlin, Web Front End co-learning
Every Wednesday (Main org. now: Gio, Stefan, Bastian, Martin, Jessica)
Going very well: big turnout of people after the JS workshop
Then the amount of people back to normal: 20ppl
good balance women/men!
We are happy with the format,
we found way to make ppl welcome/comfortable:

  • Intro round, is sometimes long but necessary to help ppl communicate
  • Music
  • Sofas

We were thinking to also specialized on some topics-- node, jquery
but didn’t arrive to agreement on that yet
We are keep staticic of woman/man and new coming

Duana– Berlin- Learners meetups
Team now: Duana, Ellen, Chiara
Monthly meeting.
same format Talks + barcamp
good turnouts (30ppl)
all women facilitating and running!!
not taking stats on audience-- appears to be about ⅓ to ½ women in attendance
One problem: interesting characters turn up.

Bettina – Berlin. Learners and Orga
Jump in when I can learn something and help events/workshop organising
Now she organize the second SQL workshop with Ellen.
Saturday 25th April - 30 ppl going and many on waiting list
She create a second group of people from other OTS events/workshop where small group of ppl meet and code together about Clojure.
RailsGirls and OTS models - once a week
The idea is to keep small group so no more space to join but if someone is interested can talk with Bettina.
Bettina-- can write up- how to start your own small learners group!

Rachel– Berlin. Creative Code
2 event (Jam and stammtisch) per month
Team members: Rachel, Ramin, Raphael, aBe
stammitsch people come together and talk about their project.
Show and tell model.
About art in technology
Stammtisch: 30~ ppl
Jam: 10-15 ppl
Lately is more men.
Maybe if there is not active female organizers. It ends up more male?

Gen– London. Organizer
Manager as background, coding is an hobby
London Team: Vickie (full stack Dev) and Gen. They need more people
running tracks on the learners materials page
Haiko was just there introducing co-learning
past year they’ve just been concentrated on beginners
want to change the model to get advanced ppl involved
About 20 meetups so far
30-50 participants
no prob. in terms of getting coaches
connected with others
prefer to have structure -only a certain venue- booking structure
they want it to not conflict with each other

Martin— Berlin - Community Call
he just stumbled upon it! (we didnt know what it was!!!)
talking mainly about OTS conf (Ola is organising in Dortmund)
we talked about OTS values-- conference will be expensive
Regular tickets, more than 140 euros, theres also diversity tickets, grants etc
The concern that that would not make everybody happy
Dortmund is different then Berlin: in dormund nothing going on at all
instead of berlin style that we are alternative
She uses OTS , tech agnostic, has values…
thats why an OTS conf.— about opentechnology
free and paid workshops
call for papers mid-april.
her idea to advertise OTS and the tech community and general
need sponsors and money
After the conference we will see if this is something we really like
Conf Title: The OpenTechSchool Conference in Germany
People feel we should have talk about before because is not just a chapter decision.
We don’t want Berlin being the one decide everything.

  1. TOPIC : interesting characters – how to deal with them

Lately we had more then one episode where people showed up at OTS event and they are clearly not involved in the group but mostly looking for a social env where to set up. But they can change in a not so positive way the environment or even bother others learners

Main point:
we’re trying to assure quality in our events.
Our fear is that someone will come in and not do a job not according to OTS values and participants will be scared off. if we can also share expectations with participants
so participants can get back to us to say.
As OTS we should provide a self welcome environment and who break this env is… not welcome.


For Orga:
Give a workshop for organizers where we learn how to deal with these situation.
Idea: Play a role game.
Reference person => Duana: Will contact someone that probably can help

For Community:
Create a learners guidelines (like coach one) and share code of conduction
Learners also need to know what to expect from coaches. (like no touch keyboards)
Reference person => Bettina: Will create a learners guidline
For Coaches:
Remember to show always the coaches guidelines before a workshop.
Also is a good practice to do a Skype call/meetign before the event, so we get to know coaches.

For newcomers:
Bettina: Reference person for everybody wanted to start a new event
Feel free to write her and ask about how to start a new event/workshop!

  1. Topic: Communication Issues

As OTS we don’t communicate enough so chapters don;t even feel part of OTS umbrella.
And this is why stuff like Conference or Hackership or Review Meeting encounter problems.
We have to main problems:
A. Make people feel more part of OTS as global Organization
B. Improve our communication tools
Many times organizers don’t know how to reach the community.
We have too many communications tools:
- Discourse
- Emails Groups
- FB/Twt/Google +
- Slack

We need to make people feel more part of OTS but we also want to give the freedom to everybody, be able to organize stuff and decide without asking every time for consent.
We need more structure!
1. Set up a fix date for Yearly Review Meeting: next one 21.03.2016
Duana propose to help in organize it
We want to have one person per chapther present and a second contact in case this person isn’t available at the last moment.
We want a RSVP system for it. Maybe EventBrite? (metope doesn’t work because we don’t have global OTS page)
2. Monthly Global Call - already going
3. By-Monthly Chapter Orga meetup with Drinks: Martin will take care
4. Write guideline about what is OTS. If anybody have a new idea, they have to check these guidelines and see if their ideas fit into it. If not they need to rise their proposal to the global community and ask for consent.
Where no consent can be agreed, board have to jump in.
Rachel will organize a team/meeting for write down these guidelines. If interested to join, check out discourse tread

Policy: Never Cancel Meeting within 24hours before the meeting!

Open Concerns:
How to make people read guidelines?
- make them more attractive
- make people read it if they want to organize and event (?)

2.B Communication Tools
As said, we have to many tools and we don’t know where to reach our audience.
We agreed to use Discourse and finally move from Emails to discourse.

	**Final Tool: Discourse Forum**

Martin M. will give a workshop to organizer about how to use our Discourse Forum properly.
We still keep emails till we feel confidence with Discourse but we warmly invite everybody to stop use them and focus on Discourse.

Social Networks
Fb/twt/google + are still used but as Social Newtwork. So different goals.
We need better way to share access to organizers
Also should be used just as social network/event org tool. Not community forum/chat.
Drive people on discourse if they start a conversation there

Community Support:
We decided to stick with Irc
Most of us disagree on Slack because isn’t open.
Slack is great for a team not for a community.
Also we don’t like to be sponsored by Google/Silicon Valley last fashion startup
Today is free but tomorrow?
Also: This decision wasn’t communicate properly and so don’t encounter the majority community consent

New comes:
Newsletters. From now on we will have a newsletter.
Gen and Gio are setting up Mailchimp and the direction we want to take.
Gen will give soon a workshop on Google Hangouts/Skype about how to use Mailchimp.
Everybody should be able to Edit.
The idea is to have a monthly Global OTS Newsletter about already set up events/workshop/improvements/tools…
Newsletter shouldn’t bother people but needs to reach everybody. We will need at least a contact from each chapters.

If we have budget, would be nice and super helpful to have a paid secretary/organizer that for 10 hours per week take care of all these Global stuff and coordinate everything
Do we have any budget??

  1. TOPIC: Commercial Events

Lately there was some good and valuable OTS proposal which need money to be run.
In particular Hackership and OTS Dortmund Conference
Many people among the community feel very confused about these initiative because
A. They weren’t communicated properly. No body ask for community opinion
B. They are not free. That means they are not open to everybody. Which is something we state in our website under whats is a OTS? OpenTechSchool is a movement aiming to offer free tech education.
We discovered there is a lot confusion also among our coaches/learners.

We think there are two solutions:
1. Change OTS values
2. Make these events/projects kind of separate entity from OTS

Since we believe what make OTS unique and make us grow so fast is our unique way to teach completely FREE and run events by volunteers, we don’t want to change OTS values.
But we don’t even want to “kick out” these project which are anyway very valuable and help people.

Make any commercial project as child brand of OTS - like programs supported by OTS
More then legally, make people understand this.
Something like: We are OTS - we run events for free for everybody.
Do you want to be a full stack dev? We also offer this service but is our child project that runs it since is impossible to run it for free.
How to do this is still unclear. We know is long and complicated process but we also believe we need to start somewhere otherwise discussion could least forever.

We will start with:
1) Writing guidelines about OTS branding and PR.
2) Explain where money asked goes and if there is any earning will go back to OTS
3) These projects would have mostly the same OTS values.
4) Members that run these project must be involved also In OTS activities/Communities
5) In case is needed, board as final say on this.
We are sure that these points will bring up more concern and questions which we will deal step by step.
So don’t take any of the above as final.
Referred Person: Rachel. She will organize a meeting in order to discuss and write this guideline.
Check discourse if you are willing to join


Bettina w/ Duana: Create/Adapt coaches guidelines for learners: for SQL

Duana: Train facilitators and organizers on how to handle
participants who do not respect the code of conduct: Duana get

Rachel: Organise a meeting to write OTS Brand Guidelines - Find
a date to get together and write guidelines for HK and commercial
event, as sister!

Martin: Call to Dortmund and ask questions to them and tell them why
we feel uncomfortable about it. Maybe change little things to make
it better.

Martin: Quarter Berlin drinks more attractive

Martin and Martin: Martin HK workshop about learning how to manage Discourse ( 2 hours ) - In Orga Meetup 29.04.2015 TODO: Move to discourse

Gen, Gio: Create Newsletter

Gio: Update Website Tasks

Gio: Share Agenda wrap up on Discourse

Gio: Ask Ben and Robert where most of our docs are. Google
Analytic/Global coaches lists/

Meeting notes can be found here:


One correction re:Newsletter, I think we have to be careful in saying Everybody should be able to edit, as we can’t assure quality of content if everybody can edit. My recommendation is to start with a small team for now.

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Right! I meant everybody willing to, will be part of the newsletter team.
Good catch :slight_smile:

Thanks for the great write-up, will re-read it tonight!

Do you want me to play my evil reminder@ superpowers again?

Which is almost like everybody being able to edit, right? :slight_smile: (Which I’m hugely in favor of! Initiatives led by a small minority tend to die out once the original volunteers lose interest/become busier.)

Yes if you could do our lovely reminder hehe would be great!

One thing I tripped over repeatedly while re-reading the notes: "team tech is not very active, nobody [is] supporting us now."

I want to highlight Team Tech is a purely volunteer-driven effort as well, nobody is being paid or anything (quite the contrary, Ben is paying a whole lot out of his own pocket IIRC.) Ben is doing a tremendous job at keeping Discourse up and running, and AFAICT all other requests (new users, password resets, bounced emails) are being served by the team in a very timely fashion.

Furthermore, I think this team should be devoted to keeping our core infrastructure running, and nothing else. We probably would not want to grant admin privileges on our Google Apps to just everyone, so that’s why we have in the first place. :no_mouth:

That being said, our general rule applies: the doers have the say. If you want something done — and excuse my strong language here — just effin’ do it. The worse part is that I’m not even sure how you’re dissatisfied with, and I couldn’t find any complaints voiced to the group in the past months.

The largest area of trouble I could identify is our Web site, and you can modify that whichever way you want. Pull requests have improved a lot lately in terms of latency; I would argue, though, that it’s not's responsibility at all to handle these, and Martin and Ellen have gratuitiously helped out. (And it’s also, by far and large, not the team’s task to improve the Web site.)

Sorry for my lengthy rant, just wanted to get this off my chest.

On the positive side: Maybe a potential list of OTS resources should point out's responsibilities more strongly.

I really don’t understand where this is coming from!
No body never talk about team tech! Also during the meeting nobody complain about the job done from others people, in particular from team teach and nbody expect nothing particular from them!
I was at the meeting so i’m pretty sure we didn’t talk about it.
But since we are already on the topic, maybe team.teach could be more open and welcome others people that want to help. For my point of view it was always the special team difficult to join.
So if you feeling you have to much to do or you are doing a lot, maybe you should review your openess and try to engage more people and share your tasks.

Strange, I literally found that quote in the notes. :astonished: I have commented in the notes document to make it easier to find.

The problem with positions —at least in every model I can think of— is that it’s a very trusted position, and we wouldn’t just let everyone join. People in this team have administrator privileges on our Google Apps domain and access to the archives. This involves access to a lot of passwords, and potentially access to all email accounts (while audited, still technically possible.)

I don’t think there is any problem with All requests are, I repeat, handled very timely and I’m pretty satisifed with the team’s work. Nothing to review from my side and since nobody seems willing to disclose any other problems, I’m going to drop the topic.

While I find @bettina’s efforts to become the go-to person for new events/workshops very laudable, I don’t think this is a scalable approach. Having a contact person is great, don’t get me wrong, but how’s the bus factor on that one? What if @bettina suddenly has other constraints eating up her time? Could this become a blueprint (+ her answering any inquiries we get on it? :blush:)

Agreed. I have opened another thread to discuss a possible way to approach this.

Could you clarify, @anaketa @xMartin : Is this supposed to be a Berlin-only thing?

I think this statement is offensive and I’m trying hard to keep my temper and will just give the following to consider:
There has never been any decision; I volunteered to evaluate Slack to the best of my knowledge, engage with their sales staff, and then get a premium deal for OTS (which I, again, am confident in.) I offered it to you as a playground to tinker around with and seeing how desolate IRC is nowadays I’m still hugely in favor of having something people actually want to use—speaking of appealing UX.
Unequivocally condemning it from a meeting which doesn’t reflect “majority community consent” is kind of disparaging and I will strongly reconsider me stepping up for OpenTechSchool the next time such an opportunity comes around (see, for example, our recent Meetup deal.)

This sounds like you want to make it a “tip of the day” thing, rather than a newsletter, @coderinheels. My vision for a newsletter would be sharing new information among chapters.

The prime example for that is always the Melbourne model, where our Melbourne chapter came up with the simple but novel idea that we could offer a basic and an advanced workshop at the same event, thus allowing for a larger/diverse audience. I accidentally heard from this; I’m really sad everytime I hear what great work chapters are doing through mere accident, and not through a regular medium.

I think just having it repeat “already set up” tools is going to make it an echo chamber. :cold_sweat:


From a game theory perspective this sounds like a constraint which is easily gamed and might easily miss the goal. :wink:

Hey Robert i saw your comment on the agenda notes. You are right there is that sentence but beleive me, is probably just a bad way we espress our self and maybe we had to write fast and that was the outcome but reading also the topic around the sentence it was more like: We don’t knwo what to do, we shoudl ask them but we are not sure who is active there anymore (We knew that teach team is made by you, Ben, Amelie and Stefan which two of them aren’t active in OTS anymore). Nobody never want to point the finger to someone’s else job! that’s for sure :smile:

I still think you should be more open and at least share all the work you do, so other people are aweare about how much work you guys do.
Again, communication problem! But hopefullly we can solve this one with newsletter. Or at least try

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Hi @robert

I wish I knew how to quote you like you did @anaketa, but since I haven’t been able to attend the Discourse workshop, here goes:

  1. Re Melbourne model – we did already have an advanced and beginner workshop at the second or third HTML CSS Workshop that was held in conjunction with CSS Conf 2014 :smile: so it is already happening within our chapter.

  2. Very cool you stepped up re Slack. AFAIK / remember, no one there could really comment re Slack. So as a group who could really say anything re about adopting it. Please don’t take offense.

  3. There is already a blueprint on organizing workshops on the OTS website. What @anaketa’s notes refer to is that even with that documentation, newbies need some mentoring. That’s what I can offer…and maybe also other organizers, so it’d be a peer mentoring network. So far no one has yet reached out, so I haven’t answered any inquiries yet :smile:

Lastly, I did not get any notifications via email when you @-mentioned me. Not sure what I have to change in my settings?

I think we were talking past each other here: I know Berlin is doing this and Zurich is, too, but only because of pure chance. This is not documented or communicated anywhere. That’s the issue I was talking about.

I understand, and still your time is limited too. How can we make this a non-contentious resource? Maybe setting up a dedicated Discourse category would be useful? What colour should the bikeshed have though?

I think that’s another problem with just declaring to be a go-to person — it needs to be documented somewhere.

Can someone make a guide on these two items? @ben @xMartin @mamhoff?

To quote you just need to highlight the text you want to quote and you will see a tooltip “quote”. Click it and quote text would be in your answer.

About notification, read here: Get more updates from Discourse
If you still don’t get them, we can try to see what’s going on the next time we meet

What about adding me to the OTS website as “Workshop Organizer Mentor” or “Mentor for New Organizers”? @anaketa – I know you’re working on updating the OTS site…

Me as a mentor is a non-contentious resource. On the website where I’m identified as a workshop mentor, we could also say the best way to get in touch is set up a dedicated Discourse post/category and @bettina tag the question.

Also me not getting that email was due to user error :wink: and nothing to follow up on …

Thanks, @anaketa! Have immediately implemented that :smile:

I’m not sure I understand — surely, your time is as limited as everyone else’s. Hence, you are contentious: You cannot possibly handle all inquiries, the model doesn’t scale. (That’s not saying you can’t handle all inquiries right now, but what if there’s ever a time where we have a lot of inquiries and you are, say, on holiday?)

I don’t think tagging the questions is required. You can just subscribe to the category. :blush: That also makes it easier for others to chime in or help out and doesn’t require newbies to know you.

Um, I don’t see it. Where did that happen?

A note on the actual implementation: I’m always in favor of keeping stuff generic. So I’d have “post to the Newbies Corner Discourse category” rather than “tag @bettina in your post”, or “write to mentors@” instead of “drop bettina an email.”

Hey @bettina you are right, after a small UX analys of our website, we have this problem. People come to our website and don’t really know where/who to contact if they want to start a new workshop or make an event and that’s also the feedback we get.
We are working to create different call to action buttons on the wbesite so people with differents goals, knows what to do/where to go/what to read.
But i still feel we miss some more “human” contact for people. Many people come to me and ask how to start a workshop and they already have read all our guideline. That means they really just need to have a more human/personal contact.
I also believe that put your email is a bit unstable. Not because I don’t believe on your effort but because we know how fast things change in OTS and how is normal that people change their life plan. So i thought to introduce a typical "" a general email where people with any kind of question can write and then in other side there is a team of OTS people like you for examples that can guide these new comers in teh righ direction and give them a “human” help :smile:

Like big companies, is time we improve our customer support department :smiley: :smiley: (to whoever want to argue about this sentence, is a jokeeee!)

Hi @anaketa and @Robert

My vision is more of a network of peer mentors, not that I’d be the contact person forever for every single request. I understand the idea of people not being infinite resources but as of right now, no one’s come up to me yet to ask for help. We should worry about scaling once we’ve proven that lots of people need this kind of support.

I hear almost at every workshop I organize that someone wants to help organize, but the person almost never follows up. So I agree with @anaketa that there is a need for a human contact to help people, because we’ve been referring them to the documentation on the website and it’s not enough for them to take action.

I also think the way we’ve been set up is more based on a “pull” method, ie, if they have questions, they will ask. But I personally would like more of a “push” method, following up with them, asking them where they’re stuck, offering to look over their Meetup text, etc.

So I definitely don’t think more documentation is the answer but more human responsibility and contact.

I feel like just expecting new orgas to ask questions via Discourse is a bit of a hurdle; not all coaches are on Discourse. Email might be better, but it would be a question of how to preserve those conversations for the future should we decide to document the process better for future organizers.


@robert - I meant that I implemented the quote tag in Discourse :smile:

hi @robert and whoever this may concern. just saw this on the google doc “review meeting post-mortem” and wanted to respond:

Mar 29: Gen and Rachel argue all decisions of the meeting should be binding because of the effort that went into them. Robert opposes.

Robert, i did not argue this point, i wouldn’t even say i necessarily agree with the idea. what i believe i said was that this topic came up and we discussed it. i don’t know how official decisions should be decided. all i can say is that in the best group scenario ive ever been in we used concensus for decision-making and meetings had to meet a quorum (particular number of people ) in order for votes to be taken. there was yes, no and maybe votes. if there were ‘no’ votes then the decision didn’t pass as it was written. so no “majority rules”. if we could set up something like this-- that would be ideal imho.

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