Making LoCo Teams Rock

A few weeks ago at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Mountain View we had many interesting discussions around Ubuntu LoCo Teams. We have so much potential with our LoCo community, and much of the discussions were based around improving our current roster of teams and how they work together.

Today we have 67 Approved and 112 New teams and these teams span the entire planet. LoCo teams participate in a range of activities including advocacy, support, organising events and get-togethers and much more. They are our eyes and ears. They are our troops on the ground helping to spread the word of Ubuntu. In my travels I met a number of LoCo Teams and the energy is always electrifying, whatever the size, location or experience.

In 2009 I want to help improve our LoCo Teams story. Although we have this incredible backbone of teams, we have some challenges to face in making the most of our teams. I see three primary challenges as the center-point of our focus:

  • Teams List – today we have a big list of LoCo teams available on this page. It is essentially a wiki table with one team per row. This method of listing our teams is suboptimal: we really need to store our teams in a database and make use of the data in a web application. This opens up all kinds of opportunities when it comes to data mining, keeping a current perspective on the LoCo community and making it easier for new members to find their nearest team to join. At UDS we discussed this problem and the conclusion was to build a database and make it open enough to allow our community to build a number of mash-up applications to explore what we can do with the database. Rich Johnson (nixternal) has started on the database and I am going to schedule a call with him soon to discuss progress and to get this ball rolling.
  • Education – we need to improve how great teams can better educate new teams. We have so much great experience, insight and best practise available in our community, and we need to figure out how to better channel it. An idea proposed at UDS was to have an Open Week style event in a number of concurrent languages. This is something I am keen for us to organise in this cycle. At UDS we had buy-in from the French, Romanian, German, Spanish and Italian teams, so there is some real potential here.
  • Better Messaging – right now the primary avenue in which LoCo teams get in touch with each other is the loco-contacts list. I am keen for us to bring more focus to this list. It is an ideal platform in which we can all share experience and perspective and to help each other succeed. But messaging is not just about using a mailing list: it is about the wider picture of LoCo Teams. We need to share more stories, more experiences and more tips on making our respective teams rock and roll. This needs to happen on blogs, in articles, on YouTube and anywhere else we can attract eyeballs.

For us to achieve these goals we are going to need to work together and share our ideas and efforts to make progress. I am really keen to hear from existing LoCo leaders and members to hear about where you would like to see our LoCo Community move forward. Expect some follow up posts soon as some of this work kicks off.

  • ethana2

    I think something that would be an ideal solution to this entire thing would be to set up a hierarchy of irc channels with log bots and mibbit clients, so people can navigate and use the site to see previous chat on the channels and to participate in it themselves– This would allow for easy participation and communication with those comfortable with irc, and those not, while kind of being synchronous and asynchronous at the same time. I also think it would be great if gnome could use a person’s current location to recommend irc channels for them to join when they start up a chat app that supports irc. “Oh, you’re in Omaha? See what you think of #ubuntu-us-ne-omaha”

  • ethana2

    Well, the blog certainly looks pretty now, but I’ll be glad when it functions pretty too.

  • Mean-Machine

    I think an Open Week for LoCo Teams is a very good idea. Ubuntu-UK is the nearest to us, and we can learn a lot from our neighbours. Even though a lot of good things happened in the Irish Team in 2008 (advocacy, SoftwareFreedomDay), we still need to improve the structure of our LoCo, communication and participation in the global events like Bug Jams etc.

    IRC sessions with other LoCo Teams and maybe some sort of mentoring for less experienced ones would make a big difference.

  • Sense Hofstede

    At Ubuntu NL we’re currently discussing a subteam that would be responsible for informing the media(also mistake correction) and ((semi-)governmental) organizations and companies about Ubuntu. To provide good information, good material is needed. Because not all teams are as big as others or have a lot of expertise, I think it could be a good idea to start some kind of repository containing press releases, leaflets, texts and more things like that for the LoCo teams to translate and use. This way we can ensure that each team gets material of a good quality. This material could not only be written by the LoCo teams, but also by the Marketing Team and everyone else interested in helping out. LoCo teams could also translate their own work to English and submit it so other teams can profit of that work too.

    I’m also of the opinion that LoCo teams should reside under a subdomain — so Ubuntu NL should be moved to — and be responsible for the localized homepage. Again the raw content and theme could be provided by the Ubuntu Community and should be largely consistent.

  • jono

    Fixed! :)

  • jono

    Mentoring is an idea that we have tried before, albeit in a rather ad-hoc way. I think we should also try to kick off mentoring again too.

  • jono

    I think the idea of shared resources is a good one, and this has been organised in the past. I will check to see if the project is still going.

    It makes sense to provide a repository of materials that LoCo s can use, translate and improve upon. It would also be nice to have an online gallery of the range of current materials.

  • Tom

    I think a good integration with openstreetmap would rock!

    BTW it would rock for LP also 😉 (Google maps stinks!)

  • Martin Pihl

    The idea of a collection of materials to be used acros LoCo teams has been around for quite few years, but it finally seems to actually get realized.

    It is called Spreadubuntu, and the development site can be reached here:

    You can join the Marketing team if you want to help on the project, and you can also start uploading Dutch materials if you have something to share.

  • Craig Box

    I was involved with the NZ team before I moved north (18 months ago), and we were going to be used as a case for ‘mentoring’. Didn’t really work at the time, as there wasn’t anything that we found we could do.

    I checked and see that NZ still isn’t on the approved list, and would respectfully suggest that the barrier to official approval is too high. At least in that small country, where most of the LoCo members are already working through other channels (national Open Source society, LUGs etc), there is a good group of people who would make great representatives for the project, who already send out stickers and help people who post to their mailing list, but getting the “official seal of approval” involves having the group do three official things, a large hoop to jump through for little reward.

    Perhaps the anointing of the team would spur the kind of activities you want to see the teams active in?

  • nixternal

    YOU’VE GOT MAIL! You and Daniel both are spending way to much time away from the computer when I need to talk to you!

    I like some of the ideas here and think some might be a good thing to implement into this project sometime in the future.

  • Fabian Rodriguez

    I see another huge challenge involving any LocoTeam from a country where English is not the official language.

    Launchpad is not available in any other language, and as a result many people can’t contribute to it in their own language. Bug reports would need some special sauce to accomodate other people’s contributions, however.

    The Answers system and its FAQs is perhaps where such language support would benefit the most.

    Having a proper translation of several key LocoTeams wiki pages also comes to mind, starting with the Leaders code of conduct.

  • David Futcher

    A problem I have found with LoCo’s currently (I only have experience with my loco team, ubuntu-uk, but I’m almost certain that the problem exists within other Loco teams) is that events only happen in one or two places; they don’t seem to spread out around the country. For example, in the UK Loco team, most of the “real life” events are held in London, or somewhere in the South of England. This isn’t great for those living in Scotland or Northern England. Another developer has also noticed this behaviour in his Loco (Ohio, I think), where all the events are held in one city.

    While this is partly a geographic issue (I am aware a large amount of the population of the UK reside in the South of England) I think that solving issues like this is important for the Ubuntu community to grow at a grass roots level. Whether this means having “locos-within-locos” (Ubuntu-Scotland probably would not be able to exist as a standalone Loco, but I could see it being a “branch” of Ubuntu-UK) or simply encouraging people to hold events in varied locations, I think this is a problem that wont be too difficult to fix, but one that is important to try to sort.

  • Darcy Casselman

    This is all the more true for a country like Canada. Not to take anything away from the ubuntu-ca volunteers, but having one LoCo for a country this size doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    During the Ontario Linux Fest, we had a presenter up from the US who asked for a show of hands if anybody was involved in a LoCo. Nobody put up their hand. He seemed surprised–when he’s asked the same question at the Ohio Linux Fest, or some event in Rochester, quite a few people were involved.

    I think the solution to this may be giving the country group some autonomy in deciding how their region should be subdivided, and actively engaging people in those regions to organize. For Canada, that might mean provincial subgroups. For a lot of other countries, that might mean no subdivision at all.

  • n8

    One valuable thing might be to encourage existing LoCos to share more of the how of successful events. Photos and attendance reports are great to hear, but the nuts and bolts all along the journey, too — how far in advance do you call up potential sponsors and what will you need to be able to tell them, when to ask about venues, will a local college actually be cheaper than a hotel if you’re not students, etc. A lot of those issues are pretty straightforward once you’ve been through them once or twice, but can seem quite opaque if you’re just getting started.

    I was quite impressed with what I learned from the Ohio Linux Fest gang this year; they employ a wide open model for all to see and learn from, and Ontario Linux Fest is evidence that the knowledge sharing works. LoCos aren’t exactly the same, of course, but the larger LoCos could probably share a lot more information by telling the story of their events — bug/docjam, installfest, advocacy, whatever — than they could by trying to polish it into a KB “howto” article, where sincere effort at generalization can accidentally drain genuine detail.

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