West Coast Hackfest – Summary

Sorry this was supposed to have gone out some weeks ago and I lazed it up. Blame it on my general resistance to blogging. :-)

This year, I helped organize West Coast Hackfest with my stalwart partner and friend Teresa Hill in Portland – with assistance from Kristi Progi. Big thanks to them for helping to make this a success!

Primarily the engagement hackfest was focused on the website content. The website is showing its age and needs both a content update and a facelift. Given our general focus on engagement, we want to re-envision the website to drive that engagement as a medium for volunteer capture, identity, and fundraising.

The three days of engagement hackfest was spent going through each of the various pages and pointing out issues in the content and what should be fixed. Fixing them is a little bit problematic as the content is not generally available on WordPress but embedded in the theme of which few people have access to. Another focus will be opening up that content and finding alternatives to create content without having to touch the theme at all.

Our observations going through them are as follow:

  • Our website doesn’t actually identify what we are as a project and what we work on. (eg the word desktop doesn’t show up anywhere on our website)
  • There is no emotional connection for newcomers who want to know what GNOME is, what our values are
  • We have old photos from early 6-7 years ago that need to be updated.
  • The messaging that we have developed within the engagement team is not reflected on the website and should be updated accordingly
  • We have items on our technologies that are no longer maintained like Telepathy
  • We have new items on our technology page that need to be added
  • We have outdated links to social media (eg G+ should no longer exist)

Our tour of the website has shown how out of date our website has and it is clear that it is not part of the engagement process. One of the things we will talk about in GUADEC is managing content and visuals on the website as part of the engagement team activity. We have an opportunity to really find new ways to connect with our users, volunteers, and donors and reach out to potential new folks through the philanthropy and activism in Free Software that we do.

I would like to thank the GNOME Foundation for providing the resources and infrastructure to have us all here.

The plans for West Coast Hackfest is to continue to expand its participation in the U.S. As a U.S. based non-profit, we have a responsibility to expand our mission in the United States as part of our Foundation activities. While we have been quite modest this year, we hope to expand even larger for next year as another vehicle like GUADEC as a meeting place for users, maintainers, designers, documentators and everyone else.

If you are interested in hosting West Coast Hackfest – (we’ll call it something else – suggestions?) then please get in touch with Kristi Progi and myself. We will love to hear from you!

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