The Open Source Project is about a lot more than coding. It’s about meetups, WordCamps, Contributor Days, and other events that bring WordPress users together. It’s about Open Source Community.
On the WPCoffeeTalk podcast, one of the questions I ask my guests is “What is something you wish you knew earlier in your WordPress journey that would have made your life easier?”
About half of the guests say “the WordPress community.” Most go on to say that once they discovered the community, that WordPress really became more robust for them, more open, and more supportive.
The Open Source Project Isn’t Just About Code
Part of what people appreciate about the WordPress community is the opportunity to give back, pay forward, and take ownership in the future direction of WordPress through involvement in Meetups, WordCamps, Contributor Days, and joining the community teams that drive the open source project.
There are eighteen different teams that make up the Open Source Project. All of them are needed to move every part of the project forward. A lot of emphasis is placed on coding…as it should be, of course, but a product (free or not) without support, marketing, community, etc. would not be nearly the powerhouse that WordPress is.
It takes a village, y’all.
Following is a list of teams that community members can join to help advance the Open Source WordPress project. (Note, contributing to WordPress on any team is done voluntarily and the dividends paid include feeling good about your contribution, new friendships, potential business alliances, and sometimes recognition.)
No two Meetup groups are the same. There are similarities, of course; we all talk about WordPress, help one another, answer questions, have talks, etc., but how we do those can vary quite a bit.
So how does a Meetup advance the Open Source Project?
By getting more people involved, spreading the word about the community, and sharing opportunities to contribute.
Every person who contributes to WordPress got involved somehow and somewhere. Many of them through their local Meetup. As a matter of fact, that’s how I got involved. The local Meetup organizer came back from WordCamp Toronto with a ton of swag and a lot more stories. I was intrigued. I looked at wordcamp.org and discovered a whole world of WordCamps (and a larger community than Rochester, NY). It was from that one Meetup that my whole life would eventually change starting as a local freelancer and eventually including speaking at WordCamps, organizing WordCamps, and joining Impress.org as a team member.
By attending that Meetup I’ve contributed 1000’s of volunteer hours over the years to the WordPress Open Source Project…and that’s just me. There are thousands more like me. That’s powerful!
If a local Meetup has the potential to influence WordPress, imagine what putting hundreds of WordPress enthusiasts in the same location for a day or two can do!
So how do WordCamps advance the Open Source Project?
WordCamps help advance WordPress by encouraging sharing, learning, networking, and involvement between WordPress users. WordCamps are where anyone can give a talk, run a workshop, or share what they’re working on with others in the community. WordCamps help grow a network of WordPress users…the people who volunteer for different WordPress teams, organize WordCamps and events, and help with WordPress core.
WordCamps that include Contributor Days go a step further…
Contributor Days at WordCamps are where the community itself works directly on the Open Source Project on the different teams listed earlier in this post.
My first Contributor Day was WCUS 2018. I was nervous. I’m not a developer, so I really didn’t see how I could help…and that was how I discovered all the teams! With a background in marketing, I joined the Marketing Team and found a home in the Open Source Project! Not only did I create content for the WordPress.org site that day, but I also contributed social media content to share, and discovered how all of the different teams truly are reliant on one another to make the whole project move forward. I really don’t need to be a developer to be part of something big.
Contributor Days can be HUGE like at continental WordCamps, but also may be smaller like at more regional camps…and both are incredibly helpful and useful.
So how do a Contributor Days advance the Open Source Project?
Contributor Days are ALL ABOUT advancing the project. Every team on Contributor Day is working directly on various needs for WordPress. If a WordCamp you attend is also hosting a Contributor Day, consider attending to see how you can contribute!
Many Hands Make Light Work
Look at any release of WordPress and you will see how many people are involved in making it happen. Click through the support forums on WordPres.org and see the thousands of people replying to others’ needs and issues. Join the WordPress Slack group at wordpress.slack.com and you will encounter still more.
One Example of Many
The WordPress.org post about WordPress release 5.3 (WordPress 5.3 “Kirk”) lists the WordPress community members that contributed to the version directly. And there are many more who helped in other ways from Marketing to Events and more.
The WordPress Community
This Community is comprised of generous people who want to see the Open Source Project continue to grow, and continue to be open source. Getting involved through your local Meetup, WordCamp, or Contributor Day are just a few ways that you can be involved and help move us forward.
Advanced WordPress is about advancing WordPress. It really does take many people and many avenues to get there.
Michelle is a veteran of public speaking. She’s been an instructor for a wide variety of topics including Using Quantitative Data Analysis Software, Meditative Drawing, Intro to WordPress, and Marketing for Massage Therapy. Michelle speaks at conferences all over North America. You can find many of them recorded on WordPress.tv including “Little Things That Make a Big Difference” and “Hidden Features of WordPress Revealed,” as well as panel discussions on ethics, marketing, page builders, and women in technology.
Michelle is the author “A Good Firm Handshake (and other essential business tips)” available on Amazon.com.