BAT creation process

I’ve heard from some that they feel BATs do not work. I think they could. Right now it seems like a BAT is merely a formal discussion topic… even if we mean it to be more. Maybe BAT creation should require submission of a schedule for delivering some decisions on the topic… pre-defined meeting and voting dates set out from the start… a list of expected outcomes and outcomes that we don’t think should be addressed in the particular BAT even though the topics may be related. Is this too unrealistic?

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I think it’s great to have formally-defined missions and leadership structures behind national initiatives. We need to give people charters to pull together work across brigades or we’ll mostly just idle in bystander syndrome. The BAT structure as it is now is a first draft in that direction.

I wonder if we’re trying to be too clever with the name though… every conversation I have starts with explaining BAT->Brigade Action Team->National Working Group

@nFlourish have you seen the BAT GitHub repo and docs? I haven’t gone deep into starting a BAT yet but my sense is it’s a lot closer to what you suggested.

My hope is that the introduction of the forum and this corner of it will add some space for the ideation and cocreation of BATs. What if we leveraged the forum as a formal part of the proposal process? i.e. a BAT starts as posting a topic in a category to solicit initial comment and co-sponsors. That could provide a lower bar to getting ideas out there and defer assembling a more complete charter until some more allies and feedback has been accrued.

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The current BAT proposal process does require that you specify a start/end date as well as project outcomes, but not a timeline for milestones. That would be a great thing for the collaborators on a BAT to agree to but i don’t think i’d want to tie it into the proposal process.

@chris - I’m optimistic that having the BAT ideation and formation here on the forums will help a lot. Having separate channels made things very closed and hidden. So yes, I’m all for tying the proposal process to the forum. @jhibbets what do you think?

I’m definitely open to that. As I’m thinking about this, I think the Discourse forum would be perfect to discuss “pre” BAT stuff. For example, have a discussion about a potential action team and get organized to submit a proposal. I still like the idea of having the official proposal be a form to collect common details., if Discourse could do that, I’m good. It also opens the process up a bit more so others can see BATs being discussed, submitted, and officially formed.

:+1: Since the initial post on a thread can be turned into an editable wiki, that could be the WIP proposal. With the IDEA BAT, we’re basically using a Google Drive doc to do this, which is great and all but is hard to get to. It makes sense to then have the completed proposal entered into a form so they’re in a centralized place.

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Let’s prototype that. Can you copy/paste that Google Doc into new thread in the BAT topic and invite people to update it?


I’ve always liked the idea of BATs, especially being here in the hinterlands and all. It seems like they could serve a couple of different kinds of needs.

Over the past 4+ years I’ve been with our brigade, co-captain Dave and I have tried hard to figure out why people show up to our particular Meetup, why they do or don’t come back, and who stays with the projects, etc. Further, why do so many people come to hackathons, then vanish after the event?

Our present working hypothesis is that the programmers who already have the skills are looking to just work on coding for some worthwhile cause for a few hours at a time. They aren’t looking to make a commitment to what is essentially another job. They don’t care a lot about whether the product of the hackathons finds any practical use - they are there for the “exercise” - for lack of a better word.

People who don’t have programming skills struggle in other ways. They could be a project lead, but unless they speak enough geek, and are already accustomed to working with volunteer teams, reluctant partners, and initiatives that are figure-it-out-as-you-go, they understandably don’t want that role.

My vision for the BATs would be that they could offer very discrete tasks on projects throughout the network, so that when someone shows up for a Code for Dayton working session for 2 hours, and says I want to work on front end design, If we don’t have a project opportunity in our brigade at that moment, we can point them to a menu of tasks to choose from, where they can spend their time productively, both for them and for some
CfA project.

A big part of the difficulty with including the non-coders, such as me, in productive casual participation is the barrier of the workspace itself. If all the opportunities are on planet GitHub, and you’ve barely heard of it, you aren’t going to be able to readily find a place to use what you do know how to do.

From the perspective of a project lead in a community where we don’t have volunteers with all the skills needed to take an already up and running project to the badly needed next refinement, being a BAT could make the difference between a MVP and an implementation that the whole network can be proud of.


This is exactly my own observation and conclusion too ^^

Where does one track the latest with different BATs? The github MetaBAT has a lot of getting started docs.

The ohter repos seem to be issue heavy and link out different places. Also one needs to request permission to access this:

Maybe I’m missing something though I feel like there’s a bit of tool bloat and things scattered in many different places.

One simple suggestion would be to double down on discourse. It’s open, has great discussion features and makes a lot of sense as the centralized place of deep civic tech conversation.

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I really like the idea of moving BATs fully to Discourse.

Not only does it give us another place to compile them all, but what I see a lot of potential in specifically is giving people a place where they can start out sharing just “Who else thinks something like this is a good idea?” and then organically build up and evolve a BAT proposal in-place through wiki mode as an idea gains allies

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OK then - I’m starting “Buckeye BAT: Open Data Policy”
and I will put it in Discourse
I’m not very familiar with how this workspace works, so pls advise when I get things wrong!

In Ohio, we have 4 brigades and an opportunity to participate in crafting legislation on Open Data Policy. The idea is for us to work together to understand the current state of public data in the state, see what regulations are in place and what legislation is pending, and call on the expertise of the wider Code for America community to work with other Open Data proponents to propose legislation.

The launch of this BAT will be our Open Data Day project - so we have 6 days to figure out how to bring people to a useable workspace for that purpose here on Discourse…

move it all to discourse!

I realize the likelihood of this is slim, but hey, a boy can hope.

Carl - You ever hear the old song “The Impossible Dream?”
I think we’ll have to start on Slack, but we can ease over to git hub later maybe?

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This? ^^

That’s the song, but I’d recommend any of the Broadway cast recordings over Andy for this particular tune. It’s from the classic Broadway musical, Man of La Mancha. In the play, it is sung by Don Quixote - you know, the guy who fought windmills…

Hi all, Version 2 of the BAT framework is ready for more feedback. The goal is to make the BAT creation process easier: