One powerful feature of the WordPress for Toastmasters software that was introduced a few months ago has had unintended consequences for a number of clubs, including my own.
From now on, if you take advantage of the “Suggested Assignments” mode (which previously showed up on menus as “Assign”), you will get this warning:
Even though I had previously made some changes designed to make sure anyone who used this feature understood what it did, it apparently wasn’t as clear as it ought to have been. If you use this feature routinely, you can turn off the warning as a personal preference. Otherwise, you must confirm you know what you’re doing before you can proceed.
In Suggest Assignments mode, the software fills open roles on the agenda based on a list of members without a role. The choices are semi-random but also take into account factors like who has not filled that role recently. As the person assigning roles, you have a chance to review those choices and make changes, but they will be recorded when you click Save Changes.
Unfortunately, I’ve gotten several reports of meeting organizers getting into this mode by mistake, intending to make a single change to agenda, and belatedly realizing they had made a whole batch of assignments they hadn’t intended to make.
The Recommend mode of the agenda editor is similar to Suggest Assignments, except that it kicks off an email telling the chosen member they have been recommended for a specific role. The assignment is not actually recorded until and unless the member accepts. That can be a good way of nudging people to take a role, rather than telling them to do so.
Suggest Assignments is meant to be helpful to clubs whose leaders proactively assign members to roles, rather than waiting for them to volunteer. This feature was was a specific request from a couple of clubs, but it’s not necessarily appropriate for everyone. In fact, it’s now turned off by default. In the Random Assignments section of the Toastmasters screen under settings, you will see options to either turn on Suggest Assignments, turn it on selectively for site Editors, Managers, and Administrators, or leave it turned off.
You can also choose to hide the link advertising the Multi-Meeting Role Planner tool, which allows members to book speeches and other roles for multiple future meetings at once, The display of that link on the agenda is still turned on by default, but you can now turn it off if you prefer.
Let me know if you agree this is an improvement. As always, I welcome other suggestions for how the software can be made better.
David Carr, WordPress for Toastmasters project leader