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Checking in on the WordPress community

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Just a few short months ago businesses across the world were having to adapt and change rapidly due to the impact of COVID-19. Fast forward to October and those business altering changes are still unfortunately firmly in place. 

One such social and people driven community that’s needed to rethink how its very core is managed is WordPress… 

And when we talk about the core, we’re not looking at it from a developer perspective, but the huge volunteer community that’s helped grow WordPress into the community driven CMS it’s known for. From WordCamp organizers to contributors and forum moderators – WordPress is undoubtedly driven by community participation

As the very CMS we started developing Weglot for, we’ve always had a deep connection to the WordPress community which has led us to support more than 60 WordCamps and over 40 WordPress meetups in 2019 alone. 

With that in mind, we thought we’d take a little moment to check in on some of the WordPress Community leaders from around the world that we love working with and supporting to see how they’re adapting to these testing times. 

Monique Dubbelman – WordPress Netherlands

With no face-to-face events planned until 2022, what are your plans for keeping your WordPress community active?

WPNL organizes an online event every few months. However, most people I know experience fatigue spending so much time behind their computers. I think it’s good to join forces in the Dutch community and have only one online event. 

But I want to ask the members of the Amsterdam WordPress meetup what they would like to see happening and if they would be interested in a more local, online event. The local aspect seems less relevant online, as long as you keep speaking English and are in the same time zone.

How do you see the WordPress community growing?

That’s a difficult question to be honest. I attended the WordPress Accessibility Day as a volunteer which was nice. 

The event widget in the WordPress dashboard was always an important aspect of driving people to events and they were important for bringing new people to the community.

I see that the Dutch Slack channel is active and sometimes gets new members. Localisation is a thing as well. Not everyone speaks English and if you want to contribute to WordPress on a larger scale, there’s a gap there. 

I see good things happening in the Spanish communities, where people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to travel from Europe to Southern America, now speak at online events. Although networking in person does bring an extra dimension, online events can be inclusive in a way for people who cannot travel! 

What do you want to see next from WordPress?

The first ever all female leadership team is a real thing now, which is awesome! We still need more diversity in tech and this is a great example. 

There’s also a trend of companies sponsoring individuals to contribute to WordPress. Because spending your free time on it, aside from working a full time job, isn’t for everyone. It would be nice if this trend could stretch, so more different voices are heard, instead of the people who get paid for it by enterprises in the WordPress ecosystem.

Besides that, WordPress still can benefit from more love for accessibility. The accessibility team is working hard to improve stuff – but I still miss a strong leadership team supporting this from their heart.

And, whilst we’re here we thought we’d ask a few more personal questions! 

What/who inspires you? 

I’ve become a big fan of John Maeda since I first saw him speak at WordCamp Europe in Paris in 2017. He brought some fresh, very inspiring insights in the WordPress community. 

Any books to recommend? 

A book I strongly recommend is ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck’ by Mark Manson. It helped me decide what I should care about and what not.  

Another recommendation is ‘Profit First’ by Mike Michalowicz. It’s a must read for freelancers or other one-person companies. When I started applying this method, I finally got my finances sorted in a way that worked.

Flavia Bernárdez – WordPress Alicante

With no face-to-face events planned until 2022, what are your plans for keeping your WordPress community active?

We have to think about this situation and try to do new things to stay in touch and motivated with the rest of the team and the local community.

Meetups online are great way to discover what people are doing in the rest of the world. However, for that reason, the audience is now spread over the world. We have to think about this… For now, we have speakers for this two months, but I would like to do something different, for me and for the community.

I think the WordPress Community contribution will increase activity into 2021. However, integrating new people into our community now we cannot do face-to-face events will be the main pain we have to solve in 2021. That job was taken care of before by local meetups and WordCamp physical events.

What do you want to see next from WordPress?

I really would like to see Gutenberg in all WordPress ecosystems. Please! Widgets as a blocks now! #teamgutenberg

And, whilst we’re here we thought we’d ask a few more personal questions! 

What books/ podcasts /YouTubers would you recommend?

I love Charli Prangley’s YouTube Channel. Really inspiring. Then there’s CharliMarieTV also on YouTube. She is the creative director of ConvertKit, working remotely from Valencia (Spain) and it’s amazing how she explains her balance between work and life.

Book… I recently read Make Time, written by Jake Knapp (Design Sprint) and John Zeratsky. It’s more than “another book on GTD”, it’s excellent entertainment and so funny. I was really so happy whilst I was reading this book!

And last of all, for WordPress, I love Juan Hernando’s newsletter “Enlace Permanente”. It’s in Spanish, so sorry. It is a complete resume about the WordPress scene every Friday.

Juan Hernando – WordPress Pontevedra

With no face-to-face events planned until 2022, what are your plans for keeping your WordPress community active?

It’s a complicated situation for local communities. The closeness that you get in meetups and WordCamps is not possible to get through a video call.

In Pontevedra, we have joined forces with the other local meetups in our region and continue to hold a joint monthly meeting. We take advantage of the fact that we can have speakers from far away to do the events, and at least the organizers and regulars keep in touch.

I would also like to do Q&A events so that the more novice people or those who have just arrived at WordPress also have that space. Still, we understand that the health crisis comes first, and we are simply looking forward to the opportunity to get together again.

I think it’s a good time for organizers from all over the world to share their experiences, knowledge about online events, innovate in this field, and make events more entertaining or better. It is not easy because people have many problems (health, economic, family…), and many people are tired of so many video calls.

Growing the community is difficult because attracting new people in an online environment where everyone is just a click away from getting lost, leaving, or being entertained by something else… requires a lot of dedication.

But I believe that communities will come out stronger and, above all, eager to do things as soon as they can. And until then, I think it’s vital to maintain communications and, if possible, a monthly or periodic meetup so that people know that this still exists.

What do you want to see next from WordPress?

I would like to see a season of greater stability at the WordPress level. I think the new block editor is fantastic, but we’ve been changing it for months with each version, and it isn’t easy to keep up to date and for users to get used to using it.

I know that the versions that only fix bugs and have small improvements are not as attractive, but I would love to see this. Right now, you are teaching a user how to use the editor, and four months later, a lot of things have changed. And to me, as I work creating themes, with Full Site Editing on the way… these are complicated years. Exciting but complex.

So between this and the pandemic… who wouldn’t like a little peace of mind?

And a few more personal questions: Who inspires you?

I am inspired by people who try to help others, whether it is by writing articles in their blogs, answering questions in the support forums, lending a hand in open source projects, or financially supporting others to keep going.

Also, those who try to do their bit to make the world a more sustainable, accessible, and private place. I have so many friends in the community that are doing extraordinary things that I can’t just recommend one, so… you can come to our WordPress meetups and meet some of them!

Takis Bouyouris – WordPress Greece Community

With no face-to-face events planned until 2022, what are your plans for keeping your WordPress community active?

This is a really difficult and unfamiliar situation for all of us. Hopefully, technology is going to be one of our best solutions to keep in touch with each other. We’ll be trying to make the best use of technology and the internet over the next few months, with lots of communication between our members via our social media accounts and groups and also organising online events such as meetups and WordCamps. The first quarantine period of 2020 was a big test and, although the covid pandemic is still not defeated, we managed to keep our community quite united with weekly online meetups via Zoom.

I find it a little bit difficult to talk about growth in a period where human activity and economy shrinks. But, as I said before, technology is a way out of this.

This dire situation will not last forever and I believe even more people will turn to technology and the internet during this period and the period to come after. So, I do think that the WordPress community still has a lot of room to grow because the WordPress ecosystem is going to be an excellent solution for lots of people who want to be active online. And our numbers in Greece seem to be proving that this is correct so far. The WordPress Greek community will try its best to accommodate this and help everyone who wants to build beautiful things with WordPress.

What do you want to see next from WordPress?

Now this is an easy question. Well Gutenberg reaching a mature and final state, of course! Although I am a fan of the new block editor, I did have my concerns at first. This big shift caused – and is still causing – lots of additional work for web design agencies like mine. So what I am hoping for is the time when it will have reached some sort of maturity. And I think it is close!

And, whilst we’re here we thought we’d ask a few more personal questions! 

What book/podcast would you recommend ?

I always used to read a lot of web design and development newsletters and I cannot really single out any one of them. If I were to recommend something it would be just this: stay alert, stay active, read a lot, try new things all the time!

Carlos Macìas – WordPress Vigo

With no face-to-face events planned until 2022, what are your plans for keeping your WordPress community active?

Currently we have joined with the rest of the MeetUps in Galicia so now we are 5 local MeetUps that do a monthly online event together. Besides that, as a local translation editor, I continue – at a slower pace – translating themes and plugins into Galician, trying to involve more people so that the community continues to grow

Despite not being able to do face-to-face events, online events have grown, and the community in general continues to grow. In our case, the MeetUp group has grown in terms of users and continues to do so despite not being able to see us in person.

By 2021 I suppose things will be very similar to the current situation. I hope I’m wrong and that they improve. It would be very good news! 

At the moment our plan is to continue holding events online until the moment when they allow us to meet again in person.

And, whilst we’re here we thought we’d ask a few more personal questions! 

What/who inspires you? 

In this profession there are always those who stand out a little above the rest, either because of the type of work they do or because of their work to maintain a community, etc. Perhaps one of my references for the effort and the work he does is Fernando Tellado. In Spain it’s a benchmark, and my admiration is for the fantastic work he does with the WordPress community.

Any podcasts to recommend? 

I see YouTube more as a source of entertainment. With so many hours of work, when I watch YouTube, I look for something that amuses me. In this regard, one of the YouTubers that I follow the most for their content is Colin Furze. He is an inventor who does a lot of crazy things, besides humor.

I am also passionate about carpentry, so there are several YouTubers in this sector that I follow.

And going a little closer to home, I follow some podcasts of users of the WordPress Spain community. “A ticket to Chattanooga” by Ana Cirujano and Pablo Moratinos, Fernando Tellado, Luis Estévez with his “Marketing Club”, Jaimer Garmar with his “WordPress Club”. Just to name a few!

Mariano Pérez – WordPress Sevilla

With no face-to-face events planned until 2022, what are your plans for keeping your WordPress community active?

In the WordPress community in Sevilla we were starting to go back to holding our monthly face-to-face events, ensuring we’re following government guidance, of course. However we’ve now made the decision to go back online. 

The same goes for our lunchtime meeting which we were holding once a month – we’ve chosen to suspend this for now. So, we plan to continue this way as long as it is necessary, we will not stop our events! 

What we’re focusing on now is exploring new ways of doing online meetups in a different way than just a camera on someone’s desk. We’re thinking perhaps a magazine format with interviews and street reports – more like a TV show type format. 

What do you want to see next from WordPress? 

I’d like to get to full page editing and see the desktop become less important. Also I’d love everything being able to be edited from the frontend.

And, whilst we’re here we thought we’d ask a few more personal questions! 

What/who inspires you? 

Personally I like culture: whether than be reading, the cinema, television series, podcasts, theater, museums, etc. In the cultural field I like Woody Allen, Marvel, good wine…I am eclectic, yes 😃. 

Any podcasts to recommend? 

For me, one standout podcast is a Spanish one called Gravina82 which is really funny. And, more WordPress related, I recommend a development podcast called El Arroyo Dev

Shaan Nicol – WordPress Singapore

With no face-to-face events planned until 2022, what are your plans for keeping your WordPress community active?

We might be looking at some face-to-face events next year, possibly towards the end of this year, we’re seeing how things go for now. 

We’ve experimented with 2 meetups a month, 1 workshop and the other was our regular 2 talks. This seemed to work well at first, with a good level of participation – but unfortunately it’s been dying off recently. 

We’ve also decided to shorten talks to 20 minutes for now until the end of the year so people aren’t spending too much time online. We’re considering 1 talk per meetup, maybe one every 2 weeks – it’s still a work in progress! 

We’ve also been working hard at trying to get feedback from our users on what they want to see from the community. It’s been a bit challenging to get that feedback so for now as the organisers we’re suggesting the topics. 

What do you want to see next from WordPress? 

Better Gutenberg support as well as a simplification of the admin area for notifications.

Ivan So – WordPress Hong Kong

With no face-to-face events planned until 2022, what are your plans for keeping your WordPress community active?

Adapt to the new normal is what companies / organisations should do nowadays. Tools like Zoom, Google Meet and the meetups transforming from offline to online (we also upload the recorded meetup video to reach more users whereas previously the offline meetups were not recorded) are just some of the ways we can stay connected.

With the previous months of experience, participants are getting used to the new way we do meetups but I would say offline is better to build friendship much easier, but as there is no other option so we should quickly adapt new normal.

It’s a difficult period but because more people work from home, it’s another opportunity for them to join our meetup for the first time or watch the record video.

Also with a growing number of people starting a business online and with WordPress the most popular CMS for this purpose, we are probably going to have more new comers in our community!

What do you want to see next from WordPress?

It’s pretty good already to my understanding. But it is always good to improve the speed, security and SEO as well as improving WooCommerce as more people are moving their businesses online and ecommerce is always an easy start.

Jesùs Yesares – WordPress Granada

With no face-to-face events planned until 2022, what are your plans for keeping your WordPress community active?

We will continue celebrating at least one meetup online every month. We publish the audio of the meetup in the podcast feed, and we will launch special episodes of the podcast with news of WordPress.

Whilst everything seems very difficult at the moment, it’s also an opportunity. Since we started online events with WordCamp Spain, all members of the Spanish WordPress community are a lot more connected. We participate in the different online meetups in other cities and we take advantage of the Zoom connections to share impressions.

What do you want to see next from WordPress?

I would like to see a more stable and accessible editor. This is one of the features of WordPress where criticism is focused.

And, whilst we’re here we thought we’d ask a few more personal questions! 

Any podcasts to recommend? 

It’s difficult to say. In Spain people like Fernando Tellado, Javier Casares or Joan Boluda are a reference for me. I used to listen to wppodcast.es from Javier Casares, and wpradio.es from Joan Boluda and Javier Casares. 

If you want to keep up with WordPress in Spanish, these are the podcasts I would recommend. Sometimes I also listen to Matt on “Distributed”.

Alex Sirota – WordPress Toronto

With no face-to-face events planned until 2022, what are your plans for keeping your WordPress community active?

We’re continuing to run meetups at wptoronto.com and on meetup.com. Our virtual let’s fix your website meetups are an unmitigated success! And actually they are more accessible and easier to run virtually.

What do you want to see next from WordPress?

  • Superior built in e-commerce and forms functions
  • High degree of stability and performance
  • Better built in block editing tools

What/who inspires you? 

See you at a virtual event soon! 

As expected from the WordPress community – there’s no stopping them, even when events need to be online. 

Innovations, changing the way online events work and this ‘no stopping us’ attitude means the WordPress community can still continue to grow and thrive in these albeit different times. 

Thanks to all the WordPress community leaders for taking the time to chat to us and see how things are going! 

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