Minutes from the third Communications committee meeting

20 Jun 2014 by Myf Nixon

Here are the minutes from the Communications subcommittee meeting on 20th June 2014.

Poplus subcommittees are free for anyone to join in. They are held on alternate Fridays at a time which aims to suit people within many timezones - keep an eye on the Google Group to find out when the next one is.

These minutes were also posted on the Google Group here - visit that link to see comments and discussion.


1. Targets and strategy

The meeting began with a discussion over what the Communications Group's targets should be, and how we might measure them.

At the moment, measurement seems the most important: once we know the baseline, it'll be easier to set some targets.

These were the metrics we came up with; we also wanted to ask members of this group what they would consider to be good indicators of an active development community - please do comment with your thoughts (there was some talk of pull request numbers, tickets on Github, etc):

  • The number of (active?) members of this Google Group / the number of posts each month.

At the moment, this is where the most activity is happening. If you are involved with Poplus, whether as a coder, as an interested potential user, or in any other capacity, you post on the Google Group.

  • The number of times Poplus is mentioned in a blog post or news story.

We can do active outreach here. Action: Myf is going to provide a generic overview of Poplus which we'll make available in the resources pack.

Volunteers from each country can then feel free to take this text, translate it/adapt it as they see fit, and share it with the most fitting mailing lists, media and blogs in their own countries.

  • The number of visits to the Poplus website

There was a question over whether Google Analytics was installed.

Action: Lucha to find out what the status is and to get access given to everyone on the Comms committee.

  • The number of enquiries from groups about using Components

Steve suggested that we have a spreadsheet which is updated every two weeks or month with top-level metrics on user numbers, Google Group members/posts, enquiries, etc, and he shared Susan Mernit on tracking what matters.

Action: Set up Google Alerts to track blog and news mentions (anyone can do this and the alerts are connected to your Google account); set up spreadsheet for top-level analytics (Myf can do this); update it at regular intervals (Myf will do this unless someone else wants to take it on).

Suggestion: Set up a web comment /enquiry form on the website, which includes the question 'how did you hear about us?'.

2. Addressing the non-techy audience

Lucha mentioned that the website does a good job of talking to coders and developers but may not be so accessible for the kinds of groups who would benefit from using Components, while not having tech skills themselves.

Again, we think we can do some proactive outreach to blogs and organisations - for example in the UK, there are organisations which have many charities as their members, or exist to help charities. They would be a good place to disseminate the message efficiently.

We need to be careful with our message: we cannot promise that we will build organisations whatever code they need, but we can be frank about the fact that Poplus is at its beginning and has many coders who are willing to listen to ideas and needs.

Action: Myf has a piece she wrote for an organisation in the UK; she will adapt it a little and share it.

Whenever it is published, people should share the links so we can record that.

Action: Gemma is going to create a spreadsheet with the different types of target audience on it, plus columns for the kinds of events they will be at and the kind of blogs/mailing lists they read. Everyone will be able to add the information for their own country.

Stephen has already been doing a lot of active outreach on mailing lists (thank you Stephen).

3. Actions from the last meeting

a) Changes to the Poplus website (adding examples of Components in situ; adding links to Committee minutes, etc) - all done, but waiting for a merge before it goes live.

b) Adding PoplusCon video - Lucha is seeing to this.

c) Adding images to the website - on hold until the new sub-pages are up and we can see exactly what would benefit from images.

d) Infographics for the site - Stephen says that if anyone can do a sketch on a napkin that easily explains the benefits of Components, then it will be easier to go ahead and make this happen. See thread here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/poplus/_MABEADr8pE

Jen: a visualisation of Tom's talk about farming (from the conference) would be good; also of benefit would be a drawing to explain exactly what an API is.

Gemma: The site might also benefit from some ultra-clear FAQs.

Lucha: we should ask the non-tecchy people on the Google Group what their first understanding of Poplus was and how we could explain it better. Actions: Lucha is going to do this in a separate thread. Gemma is also going to ask organisations who have used Components about their experiences. She'll start keeping notes on a shared document which can eventually become a blog post.

e) Sharing blog posts with other networks: there's nothing on the blog that is ultra-suitable for sharing yet, but we'll keep our eyes open for future posts that could be cross-posted on eg OpeningParliament or Sunlight International.

f) Blog subscription options - James is waiting for a pull request to be merged: "which will add a “subscribe by email” form to the top of the Poplus blog (designers can choose to place it elsewhere of course): https://github.com/ciudadanointeligente/home-poplus/pull/52 If anyone would like to get control of the FeedBurner feed, I can transfer it. If people want to edit the confirmation emails, etc. they can do so once they have control of the feed."

g) We need clear instructions over how to add your blog to Planet Poplus, plus the Planet Poplus feed (or a link to it) needs to be on the Poplus website, plus the email subscription needs to be to Planet Poplus rather than our own blog (James has volunteered to take this action point; however it needs some extra thought about whether it's confusing to have two different blog subscription options (the main blog and the Poplus Planet one) - possibly this could be handled with good design, with the main blog having a banner to say 'Part of the Poplus Planet network' and linking off-site.

This action is open if anyone (maybe a designer) would like to spend some time thinking about it.

h) Map showing where Poplus members are:

We have nationalities of everyone who was at the conference, can we import them to a map for starters and then allow new members to add themselves? Actions: Myf to look out the nationalities; Lucha to go on researching Map options.

4. Any other business

a) Suggestion that all committees write-ups should be on the Poplus blog.

At the moment access to the blog isn't as simple as it might be, but we're broadly in favour of this - it'd help make the blog look more active, and give an instant glimpse as to what's current.

On the other hand it's potentially more work for each committee (although they are already writing minutes up so it could just be a C+P job)... Your thoughts are also welcome.

b) Use of word 'Activists' on homepage might be narrowing prospects/gov collaboration. Action: Myf to consider alternative wording and change it if she can do so/request if she can't.

c) We need to make it easier to effect quick, small changes on the Poplus website. Ideally for non-tecchy people as well as those who can use Github. Action - for now, Myf to request admin access for some mySociety people. Later - would be great if the whole site was accessible via an interface like Wordpress.Is it worth requesting this or are there impediments?

d) Translation - we agreed that the content is still too much in flux to initiate the translation process.

e) Consider Adding Poplus Google Group - Headlines from RSS or ATOM feed to Get Involved page? <- Action - Myf to ticket this request

NEXT MEETING: 4th July, agenda TBC on same document https://docs.google.com/a/mysociety.org/document/d/1Bnq2xXRw5UMY376-zv626_7sPZRyWFzaKryNp723HUs/edit#

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