Office Hours June 30: INN WordPress Plugins

We'd like to hear from users of our WordPress plugins this week during our open office hours. Join us from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern in our weekly video chat and in the notes to talk about what you want to see from our plugins.

We maintain:

We'd love to hear what feedback you have on the plugins and ideas you have for their future development.


Join us from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android at zoom.us/j/298377456

Or by telephone: +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll) or +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 298 377 456
International numbers are available.

Notes for this week's office hours will be in this etherpad.

Our ongoing office hours schedule is in this Google Sheet.

More about our office hours: nerds.inn.org/category/office-hours/

Changes to Office Hours: Moving to Zoom.us

Because of ongoing problems with Google Hangouts, we're making the switch to Zoom for our weekly open office hours.

Here's how to join the new-and-improved Office Hours:

When we announced our open office hours back in October 2014, our goal was to be open and accessible to as many people as possible. We've had conversations in English, Spanish, emoji, and sign language, which we couldn't have had without stable video. Anyone is welcome to join - not just INN members.

Unfortunately, Google Hangouts is becoming less and less stable. Audio drops, video freezes, and people get booted from the call. Several months ago, we switched to Zoom for our internal calls, and this week we're making the switch for office hours.

If you have any questions about compatibility, give the link a try to see if it works with your browser and operating system, and let us know your concerns at nerds@inn.org.

Changes to Office Hours: New Opportunities For Code and Design Review

We've decided to make a few changes to our open office hours based on some feedback and requests we've gotten from our members and community.

It's been really exciting for us to help out with the projects that people bring to our office hours. But we've also heard from a number of folks at our member organizations, people who are often the only designer or developer on their team, that they don't have anyone to help review their code, give feedback on their design work, or have project retrospectives to look at recent projects and talk about what went well, what they might improve next time, etc.

So we've decided to hold our office hours more frequently and also to structure them in a way that will allow us to be better at giving this sort of feedback. This way, we'll be able to act as a resource and sounding board for these lone developers and designers while still preserving an opportunity for people to come and ask us more general questions.

Here's what we're going to try (starting in June):

  • Instead of doing a two hour block once a month, we'll now do an hour every week (on Friday from 2-3 ET).
  • Time slots will now be 20 minutes long (instead of 30), but we'd like to encourage people to sign up for more time (the full hour if necessary) if you think you'll need it and we'll try to accommodate. Generally we want to be able to dig a bit deeper and get into more complicated questions about your design or coding challenges and we know that sometimes that will take a bit more time.
  • Sign up as early as you can (preferably by Monday the week you want to attend) so we can get some more background on your project or questions, review your work and potentially ask some questions in advance to help us get the most out of our time together.
  • During unused slots we'll have code or design reviews for our own projects that you're more than welcome to participate in and help us make our work better. Hopefully seeing how we handle this sort of feedback internally will give you some ideas you can take back to your own organizations.

The office hours will still be held via Google Hangout (link), and they will still be completely open to the public by default – because we believe our community is strongest when we have a chance to learn from one another – but ask us if your project involves sensitive information that you may not want to share publicly.

The signup link also remains the same.

As always, if you have thoughts on ways we can better support your work, we'd love to hear them.

We hope you're able to join us in the coming weeks!

An Idea From Office Hours: Annotating A Post

Every month our team holds open office hours via Google Hangout where anyone can join us to get feedback on projects, ask questions and learn from the group.

Kate Golden from WisconsinWatch stopped by the Nerds Office Hours with an idea last month where she wanted to figure out a way to present opinions from opposing sides of an issue as text annotations within a story that was primarily made up of graphics.

She explains:

At WisconsinWatch.org, we were bulletproofing a series of 12 animated GIFs and provoked some interesting, critical (and longish) responses from opposing sides. Instead of changing the piece, I wanted to add the responses as annotations, preferably hidden by default to avoid weighing down the layout. This led me to the News Nerds office hours. The second-best thing about the pop-up footnotes they came up with is that it is fairly easy to implement. The best part is that it allows me to take a page from the fantastic web comic xkcd (thanks to Ben Keith). The inspiration is here and the gist of the solution is here.

The result is a story told through 12 sandy animated GIFs with annotations, and here's a look behind the scenes at the code.

image-number-02

Take a look at the end result and let them know what you think!

P.S. - You can sign up for a slot to join our next open office hours on Thursday, May 7 from 4-6 ET. Hope to see you there!

December Office Hours Recap

Monthly open office hours allow our team to connect with colleagues from organizations around the country — to work on projects together, ask questions, and brainstorm about various tech challenges.

This month’s session included a MailChimp how-to, a design review for an election app, and a discussion about reporting journalistic impact.

Connecting WordPress to MailChimp

First, we talked with Ariel Jensen-Vargas from Women's eNews about connecting WordPress with MailChimp.

We walked through a few of the options to customize and automate mailings using the custom RSS feed template we've built into Largo to integrate seamlessly with MailChimp's RSS to email functionality.

If you want to learn more here are two how-to resources from MailChimp that explain the process:

And to see an example of the Largo to MailChimp integration in action, check out the newsletters from Aspen Journalism or Yellowstone Gate.

An Election App From The Lens

Next, developer Thomas Thoren walked us through an app that The Lens built for November’s election and will use again for their Dec. 6 run-off election coverage. (You can see the November election results here.)

The design discussion included mobile considerations and how to refine the user experience.

A couple of resources and examples that were referenced during the conversation:

Impact Reporting For Foundations

Our final conversation centered on thinking about how we might optimize and automate the reporting of journalistic impact metrics for foundations. Specifically, we talked with Lauren Fuhrmann of Wisconsin Watch about a project she is working on to expand and tailor something like this web metrics guide for nonprofit news organizations and the foundations that fund them.

Some of the questions foundations ask and news organizations expend sometimes a lot of manual effort in answering are:

  • What did we do (how many stories did we publish and what did we cover)?
  • Who did we reach (and what do we know about them)?
  • What happened as a result of our work?

Lauren showed us a sample report they've been working on and then we talked about ways of potentially automating the collection of this data from Google Analytics, social APIs and other sources.

And then to wrap things up, in the spirit of December celebrations, we enjoyed a YouTube jukebox of carefully curated holiday tunes.

Next Month

Our next open office hours are Thursday, Jan. 8. Sign up for a slot, or just drop by and join the conversation. They're always held via Google Hangout so you can join from anywhere and all are welcome!

Free Ideas! Announcing Our New Open Office Hours

IMPORTANT! We have made some changes to the schedule and format of our office hours (starting in June 2015), they are now held every Friday from 2-3 pm ET. More details here.

We're a small team juggling a lot of projects. There's not always much time to answer questions (particularly those not directly related to the products we build and support) or to give thoughtful feedback on projects that people bring to us.

But we want to be accessible, approachable and create an opportunity for INN members (and members of the journalism and tech community at large) to ask us about any tech-related issues they may have or to get feedback on their projects.

So we're going to start setting aside some dedicated time every month as a team to do just that.

Starting next month we will hold open office hours on the first Thursday of the month from 3-5 p.m. CT. For now we're going to do this once a month, but we might do them more frequently if there's sufficient demand.

Here's how it's going to work:

Anyone can sign up for a 30-minute block to meet with our entire team and get feedback on tech-related issues you might be facing (new project ideas, critique of works in progress, general tech/strategy/design questions, etc.). You can sign up for a longer block of time if you clear it with us in advance.

Here's the signup sheet.

INN members will get priority but, if space is available, we'll open the signups to any organization or individual on the Monday before each month's hangout. If we're already booked, you can put yourself on the waitlist and we'll let you know if a spot becomes available.

Since we're a remote team, these will be Zoom.us video calls (the persistent link for this call is right here). (This used to be a Google Hangout; we changed it in July 2016)

The default for these hangouts will be public because we think sharing ideas in the open helps everyone learn and improve but if you want to keep the conversation just between us, indicate that on the signup sheet and we'll set up a separate, private hangout.

If you have any questions or suggestions for us on how to make these office hours work best for you and your organization, email us anytime: nerds@inn.org.