Creation of an Evergreen Advocate role
The Evergreen community has historically been composed largely of Evergreen developers (and other highly-technical people) and understandably led by those developers. As the software becomes used in libraries across the world, it's natural for the number of non-developers in the community to grow substantially. We're recommending the creation - either formally or informally - of an Evergreen Advocate role in the community. The objectives of Evergreen Advocates would be:
Creation of formal Evergreen Website Team
A community website platform that supports the needs of a diverse community and fosters the growth of that community is not something that can be built and then left to run on its own. We're recommending the formation of a formal Website Team, to be composed of self-selected community members, and reporting to the Governance Committee until a formal Evergreen organizational structure can be put in place. The twin primary goals of this Team would be to make short-term improvements to the website as well as plan long-term architecture improvement and maintenance operations. This Team would actively and regularly seek out feedback and suggestions for direction from Evergreen community constituencies, including the Communications Committee, the developer community, DIG, new users and potential users, etc. In addition, this team would be tasked with lowering any barriers to participation in the website and encouraging contributions from as many community members as possible. Finally, this team would coordinate a schedule of maintenance and management duties for volunteers (e.g., conducting periodic reviews of curated content, performing website software updates, running link scanning tools to detect old or broken links, etc.).
Creation of Website Policies
Until the Evergreen Foundation is formalized and intellectual property concerns are subsequently addressed, it would be wise to institute website-related policies as semi-formal community guidelines or terms of service. Specifically, the Website Planning Committee has recognized the need for:
Active Publication of New Content
The new Website Team, working in conjunction with the Communications Committee and any interested Evergreen Advocates, should create and implement a schedule for regular publication of new Evergreen-related content on the website. For instance, once each week a blog entry about a specific Evergreen feature or case study could be published to the front page of the website.
In order to form an inclusive and diverse community welcoming all, we are recommending the creation of a formal Accessibility Advocate role, possibly as an adjunct to or within the Website Team. This role would strive to ensure that no groups of people are inadvertently barred from participating in the Evergreen community due to any reason such as visual, auditory, or motor skill impairment, language barriers, etc. We also recommend the creation of a similar role to actively participate in Evergreen software development features related to user experience.
The Web Team's primary technical recommendation is to replace the existing website with an integrated community website platform constructed using existing open source software and tools. An ideal community website platform would provide the following features:
1. Provide a content management system that encourages content contribution from the community while allowing strong editorial management
Many of the strategic goals and requirements defined during this process involve the need for a system allowing as many community members as possible to easily contribute content to the community: documentation, files, useful resources, discussion, etc. A modern community website platform would include easy-to-use, web-based content management tools for all community members to take advantage of.
At the same time, there is a need for the community website to be well-organized and for highly-relevant information to be curated to a prominent position, while deprecated information is archived or removed. A well-designed website platform would provide powerful editorial capabilities for the Evergreen Website Team defined in the People & Process Recommendations.
2. Provide collaboration tools that allow community members to work together
Like most communities, the EG community uses a combination of web-based development tools (software code and documentation repositories, development management, community wiki space), email (on various development and community-focused lists), and IRC (development, support, and community meetings). The Web Team has identified some additional opportunities for web-based community tools, such as standard online forums (for discussion and/or support), an idea percolator (a workflow for identifying potential collaborators), and a voluntary contact directory of Evergreen community members (individuals and organizations).
3. Provide a foundation for integrating third-party data, software, and services
There are a variety of requirements that involve interacting with third-party data, software, and services. Many of these requirements are fairly straightforward, e.g.:
A community website platform can include many of these features "out of the box" or via relatively easy modular integration.
1. Define project management team membership, responsibilities, and decision-making authority in a process that recognizes the importance of community input. Pragmatically, this might take the form of the Governance Committee formally chartering the Evergreen Website Team to plan and implement the new platform with input from the community at regular intervals and defined community stakeholder representatives. Since virtually all of the strategic planning has already been conducted and documented as part of our planning process, the Website Team would be able to proceed directly with relatively straightforward technical planning.
2. Select a community website platform. The Website Team will need to evaluate several community website platforms for their suitability, ease of implementation and customization, availability of support from community members, and other factors the Team deems necessary.
3. Define and prepare website development and production environments
4. Develop community website platform
a. Develop information architecture b. Populate content as defined by information architecture, using existing website content where possible c. Implement custom community and collaboration functionality using existing tools where possible d. Implement a design theme that maximizes website user experience given the defined information architecture and functionality features e. Implement stakeholder and community review process of completed website platform
5. Launch community website platform
a. declare new content freeze and user account freeze on existing website b. ensure content is synchronized on existing and new websites c. launch new website, archiving existing website into a web-accessible archive indefinitely for future reference d. begin community outreach activities to encourage membership and participation in new online community platform
Benefits of centralization:
1. RSCEL (Resource Sharing Cooperative of Evergreen Libraries - rscel.evergreen-ils.org)
Much of the content and functionality of the RSCEL site is aligned with the strategic goals and requirements defined during this process. Wherever possible, we recommend that this content and functionality be integrated into the new website just as the existing website content will be.
2. Docs (Official documentation DocBook site maintained by DIG - docs.evergreen-ils.org; unofficial documentation maintained via wiki and other website pages)
Currently, documentation is contributed via the git software version control tool to enforce version control; this method is not accessible for many non-developers and represents a barrier to widespread contribution. There are many solutions for content management that provide version control in a more user-friendly manner. If DIG elects to preserve the current method for contributing official documentation, we can instead encourage widespread participation in and contribution to the unofficial documentation set.
3. Community News Aggregator (Maintained by community member - planet.evergreen-ils.org)
As the Evergreen ecosystem continues to grow, relevant content will increasingly be found off-site. By integrating the community news aggregator functionality into the community website platform, off-site and on-site content can be associated in searches and collections of resources.
One of the key functionality requirements for the website is the ability for users to browse and search for content specifically targeted at their specific role. To properly satisfy this requirement, the following steps are recommended:
One of the key functionality requirements for the website is the ability for users to browse and search for content based on a specific topic or keyword. To properly satisfy this requirement, the following steps are recommended:
Lori Ayre is currently spearheading a team of community contributors working on a draft of this features list. The present incarnation is a Google Docs spreadsheet embedded in the EG wiki here:
This knowledge base could be as complex as a dedicated knowledge management application or as simple as a dedicated set of wiki pages kept up-to-date and highlighted for website visitors.
During the website visitor survey, respondents were given a list of existing website sections/components and asked to identify those that they “most frequently” access. Unsurprisingly, the most commonly used sections of the site are the official documentation (produced by the Doc Interest Group), the unofficial documentation (produced by the community using the website's Dokuwiki functionality, and the mailing list archives. The Web Team had already identified these three content areas as containing almost the entire collective knowledge base of Evergreen.
These three areas - docs, wiki, and mailing list - can ideally be used as three different “tiers” or “phases” of collaboration and community knowledge management. For instance, a discussion about a particular problem or feature may take place on the mailing list, where it appears in the archives. Information that is deemed especially valuable in the mailing list archives might be moved by an enthusiastic website contributor into the unofficial documentation stored on the wiki. Documentation Interest Group members may then regularly review popular wiki pages to determine if they are suitable for inclusion in the “official” documentation where they would most likely be accessed by the largest number of potential users.
This is a type of knowledge management is a form of curation, by which people in different roles or contexts manually move knowledge from a limited discussion context into a context accessible to all on the website. However, website visitors increasingly rely on search, especially for finding specific information within a broad topic such as Evergreen. Therefore, it is critical that all identified information sources are incorporated into a search corpus and that end-user search tools on the site are able to return useful results to user queries. In addition, the website should be structured in a way that optimizes automated indexing by third parties such as Google. This will help ensure that the site is ranked as a valuable resource for those searching with off-site tools.
Evergreen users seeking community support currently use the mailing list and the IRC channel. Some users are more comfortable using a web-based interface for support interactions – or for finding relevant information in historical archives of those interactions. In addition, support forum posts would automatically be archived and indexed by the content management system and could take advantage of tagging/categorization, identity/profile connection, and other features not available to the web-based mailing list and IRC transcript archives.
As a collaborative open source software project, the Evergreen community has a demonstrated history of organizations successfully working together to build software. The "feature percolator" application proposed by the Web Team would allow community members to submit their ideas to a community forum for collaborative discussion and development. In addition, community members participating in the discussion of each idea would be able to communicate their willingness, if any, to sponsor the development and implementation of that idea. This process is hoped to foster relationships between community members leading to greater collaboration and improvement of the Evergreen software.
Because many EG community members perform multiple roles in their EG deployment, and because of the increase of content related to EG, we recommend the implementation of website personalization tools to help increase visitors' effective use of the website. These tools could include: