The goal is for a group to come together to produce something collectively. A participant can be anyone in the GitLab community: GitLabber, significant other, customer, contributors,including GitLab users.
What to expect
- Everyone can contribute. a. Limit to 15 people. (i.e. Small enough so that everyone can share)
- Content is generated from the discussion, not prepared ahead of time.
- Each session has a GitLab issue on the project page for the event, or a Google Doc to capture notes. a. Pro tip: Set up offline access for Google Drive so you can take notes even if wifi is spotty. The doc is then ready to share once you can connect to the internet again.
- Sharing in real-time is optional. a. Everyone can contribute, not everyone must contribute. b. Some folks prefer to listen. c. Some folks prefer to think about the session then add comments to Google Doc later.
- Can be GitLab or non-GitLab related a. GitLab related: produce notes that can be shared. Decided later if any action needs to be taken. Create an MR together on-site. b. Non-Gitlab related: Just have a discussion about something you enjoy with other people who enjoy the same thing to build a relationship.
- Preparation needed: a. A GitLab issue or Google Doc for the session b. A facilitator
How to facilitate an unconference session
- Give a short introduction to the topic for folks that may not be familiar.
- Ask some questions to get people talking then let the discuss flow organically, e.g. Why did you come to this session? You mentioned X, can you tell us more about that?
- It's good to ask someone this if they’ve been quiet or haven’t participated yet. Some folks are waiting for an invitation to speak and will appreciate being asked specifically to share. Some folks will say, “no thanks” and prefer to listen. Both are ok.
- The facilitator might need to interrupt someone who has just interrupted someone else so that everyone can contribute and one person doesn’t dominate the conversation.
The following are measures of a successful unconference session:
- Contribution: the more people contributing, the better.
- Thorough notes: a Google Doc full of notes. There’s no expectation to act on the notes. Once the session is complete, you can decide if there’s a next action.
- Relationship building: some sessions won’t have a next-step action; they were simply opportunities for people who enjoy the same thing to build relationships. E.g.board games, cooking, or sharing recipes, snacks or talk about favorite tv shows and movies.
- Tangible artifacts: assets produced by the group (e.g. an MR, a demo, a diagram, a song, etc.)
Here's an overview of how this works during Contribute.
- We request everyone to send in topicsduring registration to discuss during the sessions at Contribute.
- If you're suggesting a topic, we ask you to be the topic leader. What this means is explained above under "how to facilitate an unconference session"
- When time is up you give a short summary and thank the people that contributed relevant questions and answers.
- Everyone signs up for sessions, we limit every session to 15 people maximum so that everyone can contribute.
- We have scheduled time for the unconference sessions and will provide the schedule of the sessions and topics several weeks before the event so facilitators can prepare some notes.
Most sessions can, and should, have diverse group of folks attending like GitLabbers from different teams, SOs, customers, etc. There should also be scheduled time for teams to have team-only time to discuss their work, strategize, and problem solve.
- Functional groups meet together (e.g. East Sales, Pipe-to-Spend, Site Reliability Engineering, etc.)
- Cross-functional groups meet together (e.g. Plan, Create, Verify, etc.)
- Customers meet together without any GitLabbers in the room to talk freely to each other.
What to expect
- A workshop is interactive training of 45 minutes with 15 minutes for Q&A (topic exmaples: Rails Girls, Kubernetes 101, Speaker Training, etc.)
- Everyone can participate. It’s a workshop, not a presentation. Everyone in the room should be able participate.
- Can be a small or large number of people. Larger groups may need multiple facilitators or coaches to ensure everyone can participate.
- Requires preparation and coordination ahead of time to facilitate a productive workshop. a. Room needs to be set up. b. Outline or the training needs to be created. c. Supplemental materials may to be created. d. Good WIFI may be required.
- Can be simple and lightweight (e.g. bring your laptop and learn: how to use git, how to make an MR, how to contribute to GitLab, etc. This is content that already exists in the handbook/website, but it can be very helpful to have someone walk you through it in person.)
The following are measures of a successful workshop.
- Equipping: People learn a new skill or improve an existing skill.
- Participation: Everyone has the opportunity to participate.
- Presentations are one-way, one-to-many communication mode (one person speaking many people listening.)
- One-way, one-to-many communication is easy to do remote while Unconference-style, many-to-many discussion is harder to do remote.
- If a GitLabber has an idea for a presentation they should do this outside of Contribute (e.g. schedule a remote call, livestream or upload the recording to YouTube, link it in the training section of the handbook, etc.)
- Customers and Users presentations are good for Contribute so that more GitLabbers can hear from our customers and experience greater customer empathy.
Keynotes and interviews
The following should be assigned and/or arranged a month before Contribute:
- All interviews, keynotes and content production
- Who will be presenting, when and what they will be presenting
- Projectors, wireless (non-hand-held) microphones, and any other (audio) needs
- Recording equipment such as stage cam, audience cam, presentation feed etc.
- An audio feed that goes directly from microphone into the recording
- A program and manager for live streaming
- The blog text for the presentation, including relevant materials shared after the presentation, as well as approval and a plan to publish the blog 24 hours after the presentation is given
Great WiFi is essential to the success of Contribute. We can't have everyone in one location and not have excellent internet.
- Main room needs one access point for every 40 people attending in the main room and management, we have our own equipment but need to buy more.
- We need two different uplinks from two different providers.
- We need our own router between the uplinks and the WiFi.
- We need wired connections to the WiFi access points.
- We need to have WiFi working before the executive team arrives.
- We need very reliable fast connections if we are livestreaming during Contribute.
- We need a map of the property with all wiring and access points drawn in 3 months before Contribute starts.
- Ensure there are large meeting rooms for team members to join work hours and presentations
- Tip: Label your charger, or other belongings, with your name for easy return to owner in case you lose it