Nonprofit Update – Requesting More Information

We recieved a letter from the IRS requesting more information for them to consider our nonprofit application. This is typical and not at all out of the ordinary. The IRS specifically requested more information about our activities.  We’ve written up and faxed (yes, like it’s 1995) our response to the IRS and now we’re just waiting for them to review our paperwork!

We should be close to getting approved. If the next communication isn’t our approval it will be another request for more information. Once we get our approval letter we then have to wait another 30 to 45 days to be listed in the online database of nonprofit organizations. This online database is what services like TechSoup use to verify our nonprofit status.

Comments or Questions for the Leadership Team? Join us on Discord!

June Update from the Leadership Team

Nonprofit News

The big news item is still a waiting game. We’ve filed our paperwork to become a 501(c)(3) in the United States. Usually, this process takes a month or two however it’s taking an extra long time to get our application processed. Joe contacted the Internal Revenue Service to inquire about the status of our application and was informed the application has been assigned to an agent for review on May 29th. This means we should be hearing back within the next 30-45 days.

Hosted Service News

The hosted service suffered some rough performance issues in late May which unfortunately affected a few events. The Leadership Team dug into the issues and worked with our hosting provider Platform.sh to get the issues resolved. We have also moved to a newer region of their service so that we’ll have fewer issues. So far we have seen much improvement in the hosted service performance.

Open Source Project News

The Leadership Team has scheduled an internal Product Discussion meeting focused on defining what direction the hosted service needs to push towards to serve our users as best we can. The outcome of this meeting should provide the next 4-6 months of priority work around revamping the hosted service to better facilitate our users.

This past week was the 2019 Dutch PHP Conference in Amsterdam which featured a hackathon event where Joind.in was represented by Andreas Heigl & Jos Elstgeest from the Leadership Team. We had several contributors share pull requests and we’re excited to see new community contributors!

Hosted Service Outages May 21 & 22

On May 21st the Joind.in hosted service began experiencing connectivity issues between parts of their application hosting tier, which ultimately was caused by a mix of timeouts and TLS handshake failures when our web2 frontend requested data from our API. This resulted in many requests seeing a 522 error from Cloudflare, an application error from the website, or a Slim error message while we were attempting to troubleshoot.

We’ve been in contact with Platform.sh (our host) since shortly after seeing the issue crop up. They confirmed that the region we’re currently hosting the application in was having some infrastructure performance issues shortly thereafter. This morning they reached out to us indicating that these issues have been resolved.

As part of this discussion, Platform.sh staff noticed that our account is currently provisioned in their older, less advanced US1 region. They’ve recommended that we migrate to the newer US2 region as soon as we can manage to do so. Our plan, now that the fires are out, is to perform that migration next week.

 

The unfortunate part of this site reliability issue was that it hit smack in the middle of at least one big event in the US. We don’t want this to happen again and are working to ensure upcoming events will have a smooth experience with our platform. The region move is part of this effort, but we’ve also implemented additional performance tweaks at the database level to ensure API responsiveness, as well as increased logging, monitoring, and alerting across the board to ensure that we’re (nearly) the first ones to notice another issue like this.

 

If you’d like to ask any questions or chat with the Joindin Leadership Team, feel free to join us in our Discord chat group: https://discordapp.com/invite/fWa9fu9. Thanks to the Platform.sh team, including our primary contact Larry Garfield, for advising us on measures to avoid another repeat of this issue.

How Joind.in Events Get Approved

A lot of the work the Joindin Leadership team has been working on is understanding how the hosted site has been running so we can evaluate how to make things better. One of those first tasks was to document and ensure all of our event approvers are using the same criteria to approve events. To increase transparency we’d like to share our previously internally only guide for how events should be approved. Our guide isn’t perfect, but it’s the process that has been in place from some time now and before we go making broad changes we should be acutely aware of how things work today. The guide that all of our event approvers are using is outlined below:

  1. Has to be a community-focused event (so not just a for-profit event from an event planning corporation).
  2. Has to have an English description (can also have a second language, but must include an English description).
  3. Has to have speakers/talks (so not a bootcamp or online school course)
  4. Has to be getting listed for the purpose of collecting feedback for the speakers (can’t just be looking for advertising).

Number 4 is kind of subjective, but you kind of get a feel for events after going through a bunch. It’s usually pretty obvious, like JSDay versus an Annual Symposium on Some Scientific Thing (and then in the description, they talk about how all authors will be published in the Symposium book to be sold after the conference). The first would be accepted, and the second would be rejected.

Other than that, it’s up to the discretion of the person approving the events to determine if it’s really trying to collect feedback via our system or just use us or an advertising platform.

We’re going to be revisiting these guidelines over the next few months as the Joindin Leadership Team evaluates the direction we want to take the hosted service platform. If you ever have any questions about an event that was, or was not published on our site please feel free to reach out to info at joind dot in.

 

Joind.in Service Migration Maintenance Window

The Joindin Leadership team would like to announce this upcoming Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at 14:00:00 pm UTC we will be performing maintenance on the joind.in domains. While we anticipate a smooth transition we are planning for the worst. The goal of the maintenance window will be to switch our production environment currently hosted by the great team at Combell to Platform.sh. The best case scenario will be a 2-3 hour window where the hosted services will be in a read only state. The worst case scenario would be all hosted services fail and DNS is reverted back to Combell as we triage what caused the issues.

Part of this move will also involve the decommissioning of legacy.joind.in. This site will no longer be accessible after the migration is complete.

We will update this post once the maintenance has been completed to give the all clear. Thanks for your understanding!

 

The Joindin Foundation

Today the Joind.in Leadership Team is excited to announce the formation of The Joindin Foundation. The Joindin Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has applied for recognition of exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of The United States of America. We have the support of some really amazing people and I would like to introduce you to the founding board members: Adam Englander (Leadership Team), Beth Tucker Long (Longtime Joind.in Administrator), and myself Joe Ferguson. The three of us will oversee the nonprofit organization which will operate the Joind.in hosted service and oversee the open source project.

We would also like to announce that with the official organization comes an official address: PO Box 342457 Memphis, TN 38184. We would love for you to send us snail mail postcards and even stickers of your event!

You can also learn about what our leadership team has been working on by listening to the brand new episode of the Voices Of the Elephpant Podcast

February Update

The Joind.in Leadership Team has been hard at work in recent weeks and we’re just getting our feet wet! A couple of highlights:

Eric Poe’s primary goal is to lower barriers-to-entry for devs to get started with working with helping out the project. This includes looking at how we build a dev environment and updating documentation.

We’ve also seen a flurry of activity in our Github repositories:

Ian Littman was on code review duty, providing feedback on the first phase of switching the API to use proper dependency injection, which allowed a bug fix to the spam check service to be more thoroughly tested, among other fixes/enhancements. He also pushed (and, with Eric Poe’s help, tested) the first release of the API to production since October 27th.

Jos Elstgeest has been diving deep into the code:

  • Implementing DI in the API, adding tests to both API and web2
  • Making preparations for refactoring API and web2 to psr-4.
  • Mostly detective work on the code and writing more tests.

We want to thank ALL of our contributors past and present for all their hard work. We’ve been going through all of the issues across the project and have been focusing on securing our production environment, merging low hanging fruit pull requests, and adding enhancements to our primary joind.in site including that pesky contact form bug. We also want to thank Beth Tucker Long and David Stockton for being awesome administrators of the live joind.in site. If you submitted an event or asked for help from the site these two have been AMAZING to the project. THANK YOU both very much! You might recognize David’s name from our new leadership team as he was one of the several who committed to keeping the open source project and hosted service going.

The rest of the leadership team has been hard at work responding to and updating pull requests, deploying updates, verifying functionality between the legacy repository and web2, building a security guidelines document, planning infrastructure updates, and even a couple of things we’re not quite ready to announce yet!

Thank you all to the people who have reached out to individuals on the leadership team to thank us for what we’re doing. Speaking for myself: it means a ton, thank you. We’ve got some exciting plans in the pipeline and looking forward to the future!