Community Advocacy

Finding the Community Advocates

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Community Advocate Resources


Role of Community Advocacy

Goal

The goal of community advocacy is to grow the number of active GitLab content contributors. We do this by increasing conversion in the contributor journey.

Plan

  1. Have discount codes that are easily distributed by team members
  2. Send every major contributor a personalized gift
  3. Host online sessions for content contributors
  4. Start keeping track of our core contributors
  5. Do the rest of the contributor journey

Vision

  1. GitLab has 1000's of active content contributors (e.g. for blogs, meetups, presentations, etc.)
  2. Being a core contributor is a very rewarding experience
  3. There are 10's of active GitLab/ConvDev meet-ups
  4. 100's of talks per year given at conferences and meetups
  5. Our most active content contributors come to our summits
  6. 100's of people contribute content about GitLab every month
  7. We use software that helps us to keep track of core contributors (can be forum, Highrise, software made for advocacy, or a custom Rails app)
  8. There is a core contributors page organized per region with the same information as the team page and what they contributed, where they work (if they have a linkedin profile), and a button to sent them an email via a form.
  9. We measure and optimize every step of the contributor journey

Respond to Every Community Question About GitLab Asked Online

Community response channels

The Community Advocates actively monitor and respond to the following set of channels. Those not marked as active need a response process to be put in place and are currently monitored on an occasional basis.

CHANNEL SOURCE AUTOMATION DESTINATION ACTIVE?
@gitlab Twitter mentions Zapier Zendesk
@movingtogitlab Twitter mentions None Tweetdeck
@gitlabstatus Twitter mentions Zapier Zendesk
Facebook Facebook page messages Zapier Zendesk
Hacker News Hacker News mentions Zapier Slack: #hn-mentions
Education initiative Education application form Marketo Salesforce and Zendesk
Open Source initiative Open Source application form Marketo Salesforce and Zendesk
E-mail (swag@shop.gitlab.com) Shop contact E-mail alias Zendesk
E-mail (community@gitlab.com) Handbook E-mail alias Zendesk
E-mail (movingtogitlab@gitlab.com) #movingtogitlab campaign (deprecated) E-mail alias Zendesk
E-mail (education@gitlab.com) Handbook (TBD) E-mail alias Zendesk
E-mail (personal inbox) E-mails to track as tickets E-mail alias Zendesk
GitLab blog Disqus comments Zapier Zendesk
Speakers Find-a-speaker form Google notification @dsumenkovic
Combined mentions Product Hunt, Hacker News, Reddit, YouTube, Quora notify.ly Slack: #mentions-of-gitlab
Documentation Disqus comments Zapier Slack: #docs-comments
Reddit Reddit mentions Zapier Zendesk
Stack Exchange Stack Exchange mentions N/A N/A
GitLab forum forum.gitlab.com N/A N/A
IRC IRC support N/A N/A
Gitter Gitter support N/A N/A
YouTube YouTube comments N/A N/A
Mailing list GitLabHq Google Group (deprecated) N/A N/A
Quora GitLab Quora topic N/A N/A
Wider community content Blog post comments N/A N/A

Deliverable Scheduling

Release Advocate Duties

Every 22nd of the month we release a new version of GitLab. More often than not we get a spike in community mentions. To help deal with this we have dedicated release advocates that "own" the effort of responding to community mentions on/after a release.

The two channels that we see the biggest increases in are:

HackerNews

Most of our releases end up on HackerNews. Some of them hit the first page. These HackerNews posts are top priority for us to answer to. They're both important and urgent.

Every comment should get a response from someone from the company. Feel free to use this template. If you or the expert don't know the answer to a comment / remark please share your thoughts because every remark should have at least one response.

Handling mentions

Urgent and important mentions

It's important to be able to recognize events that are both important and urgent. Some might be important but not urgent, others urgent but not important while some are neither important nor urgent. However, mentions that are both urgent and important should be handled as top priority. HackerNews is a channel that commonly sees this type of mentions.

These mentions might be intimidating and/or hard to answer by yourself. Please involve several topic experts to respond instead.

When this type of mention comes up during a weekend, please ping more people than usually. It's not considered rude (anyone and everyone can always snooze Slack notifications during weekends), you're just increasing the chance someone sees it in time.

Examples

Mention Important Urgent Explanation
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17032274 The OP mentions GitLab out of context.
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17101902 This required an urgent response because the thread momentum was very perishable.
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16914775 The OP expressed dissapointment with his support experience - This is important to address, but not time sensitive (a one or two hour response time woudln't have any difference in impact compared to a 6h response time).
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13537052 Content is volatile and affects a lot of users and the company image. This needed to be addressed as soon as possible and with care.

Zendesk

Disqus

All the comments from our blog are handled by Disqus. There's an integration with ZenDesk in place which pipes posts to ZenDesk as tickets.

Go through the tickets per-post, see if all comments have received responses, respond if any need responses, then mark all the relevant tickets as Solved.

You should also monitor the #docs-comments and #mentions-of-gitlab channels and mark every post with a :white_check_mark: to show it's been reviewed and handled.

Twitter

Tweets that mention @GitLab, or @GitLabStatus will create a ticket in Zendesk, and show up in the "Twitter" view. All responses should be sent from Zendesk.

If a tweet is responded to from TweetDeck, this risks duplicate responses. Responding from Zendesk also enables us to track our response times vs. our internal SLA.

Reply to almost all tweets, following the social media guidelines, and the guidelines on representing GitLab on Twitter regardless of whether the tweet is of a technical nature or not. Follow up with the support team if the issue is too complex to handle.

General

When resolving Twitter tickets you should:

  1. Use Play mode in the Twitter view. The default Twitter view will sort tickets by created date (ascending).
  2. Not skip any tickets
  3. Assign the ticket to yourself or ask in the appropriate chat channel if you don't know how to answer it
  4. Not cross assign tickets
Handles
Usage of Likes

Use "Likes" on Twitter for promoting positive feedback about our product since we direct users there when we want to show that people really love the product. Avoid using it for anything else.

Direct Messages

We have DMs disabled, but they can be used if we DM a user first. This should only be used when the user needs to communicate with us privately (e.g. to give a mailing address).

E-mail

Respond to e-mails sent to our community@, education@, opensource@, merch@ addresses. Deprecated e-mail aliases: movingtogitlab@, swag@shop.gitlab.com. You might still receive occasional e-mails from those addresses. If you do, please reply from the appropriate active e-mail address from within Zendesk.

Please ensure that all e-mail traffic happens within Zendesk. This enables any advocates to collaborate on tickets, to bring visibility on conversations, and to make our response time metrics more accurate.

If, for some reason you absolutely need to use your own @gitlab.com e-mail account to reply, please set up and use e-mail aliases as instructed on this video. This will make the conversation to be managed as a ticket in Zendesk, as opposed to privately on your personal inbox:

Facebook

Messages sent to our Facebook page also feed into ZenDesk.

hn-mentions Slack channel

While we're restructuring our handbook, this topic has now moved to the Hacker News workflow section.

mentions-of-gitlab Slack channel

The #mentions-of-gitlab chat channel tracks mentions of GitLab across multiple sources. This allows us to respond to user requests across various platforms.

We currently track the following sources for GitLab mentions:

  1. Product Hunt
  2. Hacker News
  3. Reddit
  4. YouTube
  5. Quora

These mentions are piped by notify.ly.

All comments on our blog posts and any mention of GitLab on Lobsters also gets funneled to this channel using Zapier.

Hacker News

Besides #hn-mentions channel, mentions of GitLab on HackerNews are also piped into the #mentions-of-gitlab Slack channel.

Reddit

Respond to mentions of GitLab on Reddit, especially ones in the GitLab Subreddit.

YouTube

Repond to comments made on the GitLab Youtube Channel.

Quora

Respond to questions about GitLab on Quora, especially the ones that appear in the GitLab Topic channel.

#movingtogitlab initiative

We have a daily reminder in the #community-alerts Slack channel to check for new #movingtogitlab tweets. This is done through TweetDeck, and the goal is to keep the #movingtogitlab trend and hashtag alive by retweeting appropriate tweets from our movingtogitlab Twitter account.

When you retweet every relevant post, leave a checkmark on the reminder, so the rest of the team knows that it's done.

Docs comments

These questions tend to be the most technical ones; consider involving experts when responding to them. Every comment should be answered.

Consider deleting the ones that aren't related to the documentation feedback. This kind of comments are distracting and aren't helpful to other users.

Types of comments that should be deleted:

Warning: If done poorly, it can cause more damage than good. Please consider these steps:

  1. Respond to the user (he gets an email with your response):
    • Sample response
  It looks like this issue is beyond the scope of the documentation comments. Please consider using <a href="https://forum.gitlab.com">our community forum</a>, or see <a href="https://about.gitlab.com/getting-help">other ways to get help</a>.
  Read more on how we handle documentation comments <a href="https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/marketing/community-relations/community-advocacy/#docs-comments">in our handbook</a>.
  Thanks for using GitLab!
  1. Make sure the response contains a link to our documentation process
  2. Delete the comment

Mailing List

Respond to questions on the GitLab Mailing List.

GitLab Forum

Questions from the GitLab Forum flow into ZenDesk, but can only be responded to from within the Forum environment.

Stack Overflow

The Stack Overflow tagged questions that relate to GitLab flow into Zendesk, but can only be responded to from within Stack Overflow.

After you create an account on Stack Overflow (if you don't already have one), you should start by answering a few simple questions in an area you're familiar with (a language, web framework, development platform, API, etc.) or in the GitLab tag(s) if you feel comfortable. The goal is to get enough "Reputation" and have access to a few more features.

Consider offering some of your Reputation using bounties if a question is particularly advanced and you don't believe you can answer yourself, and the question seems deserving of an answer (e.g. if it has lots of upvotes).

Community Interaction Archetypes

Stability Complaints

Feature Requests

General Questions / Issues with .com

Bug Reports

General Positivity

Tweets expressing positivity about GitLab.

Sample responses:

Others

Special Types

Notes / Remarks

External resources

When responding to community messages, you may face a situation where our documentation doesn't have an official solution. In these circumstances, you can consider replying with a link to an external resource.

Before that, consider documenting the missing piece. It is time-consuming, but it saves time for both you and your colleagues when this comes up again. Respond after updating the documentation. This approach encourages immediate documentation improvements/edits, and it allows avoiding all external resources. If you have any questions about writing the documentation, ask the relevant Technical Writer or Product Manager. When your content is ready, assign it to one of them for review.

If you determine that this question is too specific for our documentation and decide to use an external resource, please make sure that:

Involving Experts

When responding to community messages, you should always strive to involve a resident GitLab expert on the subject if possible.

This gives:

Please ping the expert in the relevant channel (e.g. in #frontend if it's a frontend question) with:

@expert_username LINK: [LINK TO COMMUNITY COMMENT]
https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/marketing/community-marketing/community-advocacy/#can-you-please-respond-to-this
Can you please respond to this? Please answer in the social channel that the comment was originally posted in. If you don't know the answer, please share your thoughts and involve someone else, because every remark should get a response.

And add an internal note with the link of the Slack message to the associated Zendesk ticket. If there is no Zendesk ticket related to the mention (e.g.a HackerNews mention) track it in the #community-relations channel.

When trying to figure out who has expertise on what segment of the product, the handbook Product page has a section called "Who to talk to for what". The team page can also be useful.

Can You Please Respond to This?

You got a link to this because we'd like you to respond to the mentioned community comment. We want to make sure we give the best answer possible by connecting the wider community with our experts and expose you to more community feedback.

When responding to community mentions, you should check out the social media guidelines. Please answer in the social channel that the comment was originally posted in - discussing it internally via Slack makes it impossible for the community member to interact.

If you can't respond to the linked comment, that's OK, but please quickly let the person who pinged you know so they can ping someone else.

Handling swag

MVP Appreciation Gifts

Each 22nd of the month is a release day - every release we pick a Most Valuable Person and thank them for their contributions. We send them some GitLab swag as a thank you (e.g. a hoodie, socks, and a handmade tanuki). There's also the option of sending personalized swag - see custom swag providers.

  1. Determine MVP after merge window closes, see #release-mvp channel
  2. Find MVP's contact information
    • An email address is usually stored in git commit data
    • A user might have email or twitter info on their profile
  3. Congratulate the MVP via email, ask for their shipping address, as well as any other relevant information (e.g. shirt size)
  4. Investigate the MVP's interests
    • If the MVP doesn't have a notable presence on social media, you may choose to ask them directly or send GitLab swag instead
  5. Choose a suitable gift (up to 200$ USD)
  6. Write a kind thank you message
  7. Send the gift
    • The MVP should ideally have the gift 48h before the post goes live, though shipping to people outside the United States can take longer and usually won't make it in time
  8. Verify shipment status
    • Make sure that it was sent
    • Make sure that it arrived
  9. Mention the MVP gift in the release post
    • Make sure there's a picture of the gift in the release post if it's available

Handling #swag channel requests

Handle swag requests made in the #swag channel.

Requests for customer events or conferences

Ask in the #swag Slack Channel and ping the swag expert or any Community Advocate available.

Please include the following in your request:

Note: we recommend that you request merchandise at least 4 weeks in advance for us to be able to accommodate your request. However,

Community swag requests

Email your request to sponsorships@gitlab.com. In your request please include the expected number of guests, the best shipping address, and phone number along with what kind of swag you are hoping for. The swag we have available can be found on our online store. Note: We recommend you request swag at least 4 weeks out from the event date or we may not be able to accommodate your request.

Requester

Here's the process for requesting a swag gift for a contributor/user/customer:

Request templates:

NOTE: If you don't specify which swag to send, we'll send a standard package (T-Shirt + 2 stickers) NOTE: Please keep a single swag request confined to one message to avoid clutter

Community Advocates

NOTE: Please keep in mind the list of countries we do not do business in.

GitLab Swag Shop

Community Relations handles shopify store front. This includes adding and removing items to store, fulfilling orders, maintaining inventory levels and responding to store support requests.

Adding items to the Shopify storefront

NOTE: For more information, see this official guide

Removing items from the store

Sending swag tips

Consider using https://www.stickermule.com for sending stickers since Printfection inventory is limited. If Stickermule doesn't work for you, then use Printfection instead.

NOTE: Always check Printfection inventory and item availability before sending.

Initiatives

Education / OSS

While we're restructuring our handbook, this topic has now moved to the Education/open Source workflow section.

#movingtogitlab

Applications in Zendesk

Supporting Community initiatives

When we see outstanding articles about GitLab from our wider community, we should acknowledge the author.

Please create an issue for every such initiative to track our effort of supporting the community member in the Community Advocacy Issue Tracker.

Outreach email template

This is an email template for outreach that should be used to contact those users, thank them for their contributions and offer further support.

Hello NAME,

I'm reaching out to thank you for being such an incredible part of the GitLab community! Specifically, for taking the time to write about our product and help us grow our community.

We appreciate everyone's effort to spread the word about GitLab, especially when it's an individual initiative. This is something that we really like because it is the ultimate sign that we're on the right path with our vision.

We're so blessed to have such an awesome community, and we'd like to hear how can we thank you in the best possible way!

Is there something we can do to support you better? There are several things that we can think of:
1. Let us know if you want $100 of free swag from https://shop.gitlab.com/ so that we can send you a coupon.
1. Would you like us to cross-post this on our blog?
1. Is there any technical support we could offer you as you're working with GitLab?
1. Would you like to be introduced to GitLab developers so that you can discuss more advanced topics?
1. Would you be interested in doing webinars or blog posts together with us?

Finally, please consider adding yourself to the speaker's list if you're intersted in speaking about GitLab: https://about.gitlab.com/find-a-speaker.

I'm looking forward to hearing back from you, NAME. Could you please continue the conversation in the following issue LINK. If you have any other questions, feel free to include them in your reply. Thanks for promoting GitLab. Take care and have a great day!

Sincerely,
YOUR_NAME

Thank you swag

Always take care of GitLab contributors. Look for contributors and send some swag (stickers/T-shirt).

Users speaking about GitLab

Keep updating the speaker list with outside contributors.

Users who tweet about their upcoming/previous talk about GitLab:

NOTE: Don't ask for the private information on Twitter, collect user information via email.

advocate-for-a-day Slack channel

When community advocates aren't available, or we expect high traffic on social media (because of some major outage, or some significant announcement), we should try to recruit more Gitlabbers who would help us cover our social networks.

A good way to quickly organize those volunteers is an advocate-for-a-day Slack channel.

Expertises

Every Community Advocate owns one or more of the processes that the CA team uses. These are called expertises.