MN New Member
- 1 Overview
- 2 Collaboration Tools
- 3 Tools We Are Testing
- 4 Tools We Do Not Use
- 5 Documents
- 6 Best Practices
- 7 Where To Look for Info
Welcome to team Maker Nexus! You have joined us in a great adventure to open a new makerspace on the peninsula. There is so much going on it's often hard for a new member to know where to start. Well, this page is the place. As you come up to speed we're sure you'll have one of those "I wish I'd known this last week" moments. When you do, please either update this page or put a note in the discussion section and another wiki editor will incorporate your idea into this page. We all need to do what we can to help the next person to join us.
We have several tools that serve different needs. We have standardized on the following tools at this time. As you work with us, we do not want to splinter into a plethora of other tools. Please use one of these or engage the larger group on Slack to discuss a new tool before starting to use it.
Depending upon your interest you may want to use all or none of these.
firstname.lastname@example.org Someone from the steering committee monitors this email daily. If you need something or have some question, don't hesitate to send in an email. Please try to put something descriptive in the subject line.
Slack is a group chat system. It is for contemporaneous communication. It is organized into "channels". You can read any channel. If you "join" a channel then you will get notifications every time a message is posted there. It can be overwhelming. You can turn off notifications for each channel you join. If you are away from Slack for a few days, you might have 100 little notes to read; you might want to just skip them and get back into the conversation at the current point.
This wiki is a repository of slowly changing information. Here we try to document more factual things, after they have been hammered out by a group. This wiki is public. Anyone can read what is here. Anyone can contribute. You can sign up for a wiki account in the upper right corner of this screen. This wiki contains information about Maker Nexus. It also serves as a knowledge base for the larger community of makers around the world - you can see that on the home page of the wiki.
The public face of Maker Nexus, the website is the entry portal to our world. It should have current information about the Maker Nexus organization. Only our communication team can change the website.
We have a full G-Suite account. Every paying member of Maker Nexus will receive an email account in our domain. This email account will give them access to our team share. All documents that reside outside of this wiki should be in a Google Doc format.
NOTE: As of January 2019 we are still using a more generic GDrive shared folder. We will be moving all these files into our G-Suite account in the near future.
The Team Share is where documents live when they are being developed and not ready for world wide publication.
The Public Share is where documents live that need to have rich format, beyond what this wiki offers. Documents in the Public Share are available for the world to view. They often have a link to them from a page in this wiki.
The Board Share is where we keep documents that are only viewable by board members. This can be private MN contracts, donor contact information, etc.
As an example of how these all might work... Someone thinks we need a privacy statement (good idea!). On Slack the start a new #privacystmt channel and posts in the #general channel their interest and ask people to join them in the new channel. After some lively discussion the group realizes that this is going to take some group work and longer term focus. They chat in Slack and decide to create a new folder in our GDrive to capture their ideas. They gather some existing privacy statements from other places on the web. They create a new Google Doc and begin assembling a privacy statement. They involve the steering committee, since this policy will need executive approval. Eventually we have a privacy statement we can all support. It's added to this wiki to document it. That new wiki page is locked to prevent random editing. A link to the wiki page is added to the website. The folder on the GDrive is Archived.
All that could have been done in a day by one person without any of these tools. However, if the issue is contentious or very complex, the tools help the team converge on a solution.
Tools We Are Testing
We have a few people using Trello for To-Do list management. Ask and you can be added to the group.
Tools We Do Not Use
We specifically avoid the use of desktop files that are emailed to each other. If you've ever done this before, and who hasn't, you know how easy it is for those to get out of sync and suddenly no one knows what the latest version consists of.
We tried BaseCamp but found that it did not add a lot of value. It had poor integration with G-Drive. It hid too much information from users.
It is only free for 10 users. We need tools that can be used by the entire organization for free - or very, very, very low cost.
We want to limit our toolset and One Drive duplicates GDrive.
We want to limit our toolset and Drop Box duplicates GDrive.
We have GSuite from Google for free to all members. We want all our documents in native GDoc formats for easy collaboration. If you originate a document in a Microsoft format, please import it to a native GDoc format when you add it to our GDrive.
We do use Google Docs for collaborative document creation. When something needs to be heavily edited, reviewed, and rewritten by a group then Google Docs is the place to do it. We DO NOT send spreadsheets, presentations, or documents around via email for comments. Using email this way causes a complete loss of control and the work is often not collaborative. Please use Google Docs for this kind of work.
Once a document is stable then consider migrating it to a page in this wiki. If we need to leave the document in Google Docs, then try to find an appropriate place in this wiki to link to the GDoc. Also ownership of the doc should be transferred to the MakerNexus Google user.
Keeping Your Topics In The Right Place
Currently, our main sources of passing information are Slack, the Wiki, Google Docs, and direct messaging (email, Slack DM, texting, etc). Slack is primarily used for general contemporaneous information sharing (chatting), the Wiki holds public information about us and our programs, Google Docs is for collaboration in pulling together a significant new piece of material, and direct messaging is for private correspondence with each other. Knowing what channel to use is super important for making sure the key information stays at the forefront and doesn’t get lost in a sea of messages.
Within Slack, there are numerous channels for each topic we discuss. In Slack you can see a list of channels and add yourself to any that interest you. If you think there’s a Slack channel we could use, make sure to check if one already exists, if not, create it! These channels are for chatting about current issues, and for getting and sharing ideas for tasks. If these discussions become more concrete and turn into ideas for tasks or projects, you then have two options: 1) If it’s a short-term task, create a new Slack channel for the people involved and keep the conversation there, then archive the channel when your task is completed, 2) create a Google Doc and share it with your team.
Email, texting, Slack DM, etc is best for corresponding directly with a few others so your conversation with a few does not overwhelm the many.
Stay On Topic
In any tool a casual conversation can easily go off topic and cause unnecessary backlog of information and notifications to everyone else. Try to keep your conversations on topic. If a particular discussion grows, start another discussion just for that. If you want to discuss something with one or two people, or just chat, move that to a direct message with those people and keep the main conversation as streamlined as possible for everyone else.
Slack, in particular, can get very noisy, so if you find you are discussing a topic with just a few people, or that several discussions are going on in one channel, then consider creating a new channel for your discussion. Channels are free and easy to create/delete. Use #general for questions of a, well, general nature.
If wiki pages become long, consider splitting off some information into one or more other pages and linking to them.
If you are having an email discussion with two or three people, do not drift into other topics - start a new email chain.
Know Where To Check For Information
Important information you are looking for may already exist somewhere within our network. Knowing where to look or who to ask will prevent repetition of information and make it easier for people to find answers. For basic questions about our organization, check our website and wiki. For specific subcommittees, see if a channel exists in Slack. And if you have questions about something specific, ask in the correct Slack channel. If one doesn't exist, post a question in #general or just reach out directly to the head of your committee or any of the board members.
Balance Communication With Taking Initiative
In order for projects and tasks to be completed, someone has to take charge. Maybe you?
If you come up with an idea, it’s your job to either take on a leadership role or find someone who will oversee that project. Maybe you have a good idea but this just isn't the time to do it - everyone is busy doing higher priority tasks (including you). In this case put it somewhere in the wiki as a good idea. Remember it and look at it again in a month. Maybe then someone else will be interested in leading the charge, or maybe you'll have time then to do it yourself. If you can't find someone who wants to take on your idea, then it won't get done unless you do it!
If you are the leader of a project, it’s your job to find out what needs to be done and take initiative for it to be done. This doesn’t mean do anything you want without consulting the board or other committee members - it means knowing what you’re supposed to be accomplishing, and taking steps to do it without feeling like you need to ask for permission every step of the way. Ask for feedback, but we trust you to do what you need to do to get to an end point.
We Have To Manage Ourselves
This whole system only works if we’re disciplined and consistent. If you see someone going off topic, direct them to the right place to take that conversation. If ideas get too developed in Slack, start a Google Doc. Upload any important files or documents to the right place so everyone knows where to find them. At the same time, do not take offense if someone suggests you move your conversation to another place. We’re all responsible for staying on target to make our work easier for everyone!
Where To Look for Info
Suppose you want to know something but don't know where to find it. Here's a set of steps.
- Use the search function to find previous mentions of important topics
- Avoid posting pictures or documents here unless you don’t intend to refer back to them later -- important things should be in the wiki or Google Docs
- Post a question to #general and someone will give you advice on where to look
- The GDrive has a powerful search function. Try using it like you would a Google search.
- The Shared Folder is organized into Project areas. Each Project will be titled and include a description of its purpose. For example, “Marketing” is our resource location for all outbound collateral. In that folder is a "Photos" sub-folder that holds all the photos we might use for outreach, marketing and social media posting.
- If you think we should have a new high level folder, please talk about it on Slack so we can all agree.