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Making WordPress: How to Get Involved

WordPress is an Open Source project, which means there are hundreds of people all over the world contributing to it — they work on code, provide support, do translations, organize events, write documentation, review plugins and themes, and are involved in many other projects.

Contributors are grouped into teams, and each team has a site on make.wordpress.org to communicate with others and share updates about what they’re working on. Want to get involved in the WordPress community but not sure how or where to start? Start your search at make.wordpress.org, where you can follow these official team blogs and WordPress developer resources.

WordPress contributor teams at a glance

Accessibility: This is the site for the WordPress accessibility group, dedicated to improving accessibility in core WordPress and related projects. To get in touch with the team, use the contact form. They’re also seeking WordPress users to join their Working Group — from assistive technology users and users with disabilities to developers who have experience in the field of web accessibility. You can tweet the team @WPAccessibility or join the weekly chat on Wednesday at 19:00 UTC in #wordpress-ui on Freenode.

Community: This blog of the WordPress community outreach team is dedicated to growing and strengthening the WordPress contributor community. The group strives to improve the contributor experience with projects like the welcome wagon, mentorship programs, and diversity initiatives. If you have a question about one of the team’s projects, use the Ask a Question form.

Core: Interested in what the core development team is working on? Here, follow the team’s progress with weekly meeting agendas, project schedules, and updates. To learn how to get involved with core, the core contributor handbook offers resources on contributing with testing and with code, best practices and coding standards, and tutorials and guides. You’re welcome to attend weekly developer chats to keep up with what’s happening (Wednesdays at 20:00 UTC in #wordpress-dev on Freenode), though the agenda is generally limited to discussion by active contributors.

Documentation: This site is the hub for all things documentation — the WordPress Codex (the online manual for WordPress), developer handbooks and other projects, and best practices. The team’s weekly chat is on Thursdays at 20:00 UTC in #wordpress-sfd.

Events: The events blog is the nerve center for events-related news and updates, including WordCamp and WordPress meetup announcements, WordPress.tv moderation discussions, and general event planning and guidelines. Join in on weekly chats in #wordpress-events (check the site’s sidebar for times). (You can also learn about organizing a WordCamp or getting involved with WordPress.tv, too.)

Meta: The meta blog is for announcements and resources by (and directed to) the developers of the WordPress.org website.

Mobile: This development blog for all the official WordPress apps (iOSAndroidWindows Phone, and BlackBerry) compiles dev chat summaries and project updates. For developers itching to get involved, the best place to start is the mobile handbook, which gives instructions on how to get set up with any app environment. You can also join the team in #wordpress-mobile on Wednesdays at 8:00 am PST to learn about the status of mobile projects and how to contribute.

Polyglots: The polyglots site is for translators working on the latest releases of WordPress, and the blog to follow if you’re interested in contributing language support.

Plugins: If you’d like to keep up with announcements and read resources for WordPress plugin developers and the Plugin Directory, this P2 is for you!

Support: The Supporting Everything WordPress site is for people who wish to make WordPress Support the best it can be and to help improve support in the forums, codex, and IRC. (To clarify, this site is *not* the place to go if you seek support for your own site — the WordPress.org Forums are the best place for this!) The weekly chat is on Thursdays, 20:00 UTC, in #wordpress-sfd.

Themes: This is the space for the theme review team, who reviews and approves themes submitted to be included in the Themes Directory. The team also maintains theme review and testing guidelines and educates the theme developer community on best practices. If you’d like to dive in, check out the How to Join WPTRT page. If you have questions about theme review guidelines or best practices, ask on the mail-list.

UI: Here, you can follow along and chime in on project updates and big-picture discussions of the WordPress UI design and development team. Weekly UI chats are Tuesdays at 19:00 UTC in #wordpress-ui.

Updates: This blog is a space for the reps of the WordPress teams above to post weekly updates on project activity for the week, as well as to discuss notable changes to the WordPress project to keep all contributors in the loop. Refer to the site’s sidebar for the schedule.

With nearly a dozen teams contributing to WordPress in different ways, there are many ways to get involved, depending on your background and interests. So, follow along and subscribe to the sites that interest you, and check out this list of team reps to see who’s currently representing a particular team.

WordPress Meetups

In our October update, we mentioned the WordPress Foundation has an official Meetup.com account through which it covers costs of organizer dues.

As of this month, 23 meetups are now under this central account.

There’s a lot of cool stuff in the works for the Meetup.com Program:

  • Making WordPress Events is a discussion forum for WordPress event news and updates, as well as an online resource for organizers and volunteers (including, most recently, a series on meetup best practices).
  • Buying and sending out items like projectors and video cameras to meetup groups that need them.
  • A variety of training sessions, with the help of the Support and Community teams, to bring professional WordPress education to more people. As curriculums are tested and approved, they will be available online for use by meetup groups running official training sessions.
  • A core team of volunteers to work on meetup guidelines for organizers.
  • Other plans to expand the program, from a monthly email that suggests and provides possible content to groups, to meetup starter packs with fun stuff like flyers, table signs, buttons, stickers, sign-in sheets, and a T-shirt for a new organizer to wear to their first meetup.

As you can see, 2013 is already a busy year for WordPress meetups. We expect more groups to join in this spring — if you’re looking to add your meetup group to the WordPress Foundation account, please visit and follow along at Making WordPress Events for what’s happening with meetups.

WordCamps and Such

Howdy! This blog has been quiet but the Foundation has been busy and I want to catch you up on what’s been going on.

WordCamps: world-wide

Since spring 2012, WordCamps have been held everywhere from Seoul to Seattle, Bucharest to Boston, and Vegas to Vancouver. (Vancouver also hosted BuddyCamp, the first event to be focused entirely on BuddyPress). If you’re interested and passionate about WordPress — whether you’re a blogging newbie or a professional developer — you could certainly trek the globe from camp to camp.

Something we’ve been doing experimentally is to remove the financial burden for WordCamp organizers and provide logistical support so they could focus more on their content and the community. WordCamp organizers can opt for the Foundation to manage their funds which allows WordCamp to use the Foundation as their financial and legal backer and:

  • removes the financial barrier to entry for organizers,
  • protects organizers from being sued,
  • protects organizers from having to answer any awkward questions from the IRS about why, for example, they ran a $15,000 conference through their web design business, and
  • protects WordCamps from embezzlement and fraud.

To date, people around the world have attended 207 WordCamps in 116 cities, 38 countries, and 6 continents. In October 2012 alone, 15 WordCamps were scheduled.

As we approach 2013, the events keep on coming.

Sessions available on WordPress.tv

Back in 2010, we bought the first video kits for use at WordCamps. In 2012, we provide camera kits not only to WordCamps in the US, but to events in Europe and Canada as well. It’s a wonderful program that ensures all sessions, including non-English language content, are published to WordPress.tv.

We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of WordCamp videos posted to WordPress.tv since 2007:

  • 7 in 2007.
  • 75 in 2008.
  • 337 in 2009.
  • 180 in 2010.
  • 271 in 2011.
  • 325 (ytd) in 2012.

Meetups: the WordPress world where you live

I love when people in a community who are interested in WordPress — from bloggers and business users to developers and consultants — get together to educate each other about WordPress at lectures, presentations, hacking meetups, and social gatherings. It shouldn’t cost anything beyond time for someone to run a WordPress meetup.

To help out now we have an official Meetup.com account and the Foundation covers the costs of Meetup.com organizer dues for groups who are part of the WordPress account. We’re reaching out to organizers to figure out how else we can offer financial support to local meetup groups.

In addition, we’re working on other community initiatives to support and expand local WordPress meetups by incorporating feeds from meetups in WordPress.org, expanding the video equipment program, helping meetup groups offer WordPress classes in their community, mentoring WordPress clubs at schools, and developing guides and support forums for new organizers.

Simply put, we’re very excited about the projects we’re working on and look forward to what’s next.

2010 – Year in Review

The year has gone by quickly since the WordPress Foundation was announced back in January. Much of that time was spent surveying the WordPress ecosystem to identify how we best could fulfill the mission of the Foundation to promote WordPress and educate people about the possibilities it offers to both publishers (personal and business alike) and developers.

2010 saw explosive growth in the number of people using the free downloadable software from WordPress.org. How explosive? When WordPress version 2.9 debuted in December 2009, it averaged about 47, 000 downloads per day. When version 3.0 was released in June 2010, it averaged about 235,000 downloads per day. When version 3.1 is released in the coming weeks, I expect the numbers to show continued growth. In the meantime, if you ever question the impact WordPress has, just watch the download counter for a minute or so, and think about those people who — every second of every day — are being empowered to publish on the web, without restriction and for free. As I type this, the download counter shows that WordPress 3.0 has been downloaded over 28 million times. I know it blows my mind!

2010 also saw the WordPress trademark donated by Automattic to the WordPress Foundation. This was important in helping to draw a clearer definition between the two entities, and to ensure the protection of the trademark in the future, but more immediately it was important because now the trademark is officially tied to the open source project and its goals. As we move forward in coming years with initiatives to educate users and developers, the trademark policy will help prevent confusion among the community about which resources are officially tied to the open source project (or not).

One of the best things about the WordPress community is the existence of WordCamps. However, that explosive growth I mentioned earlier has made it more and more difficult for WordPress fans to put together affordable events that can meet their local community’s needs. Having been involved in organizing a number of WordCamps myself (New York 2009 and 2010, Savannah 2010, San Francisco 2009 and 2010) and acting as a central point of contact for organizers around the world, I constantly hear about the pain points, which usually come down to money. Whether it’s not being able to get a decent venue as a donation or for an affordable fee, not having access to video equipment to record sessions, or bearing the tax burden of an event that can run tens of thousands of dollars, there are many issues that distract WordCamp organizers from what is intended to be their focus: putting together a program to bring together local community members to learn about and celebrate WordPress.

In 2010, we bought the first of several video kits for use by WordCamps. The video kits contain a Canon HD camcorder,  an external microphone for better sound, a tripod, memory cards, and a hard shell case to protect the gear. The first WordCamp to use one of the kits will be WordCamp Phoenix in January 2011, and the hope is that by providing decent video equipment to WordCamps that can’t arrange it locally through volunteers, we can ensure that there will be a video record of every WordCamp posted to WordPress.tv. Right now we have one full kit purchased with the funds donated last year by WordCamp NYC, another on the way donated by WordCamp Savannah, and some additional video equipment being donated by WordCamp Philly. Contributing funds or equipment to video kits is a great way for WordCamps to dispense of any surplus after the event is over, and has a nice symmetry.

Handling the money for a WordCamp — taking sponsor payments, paying vendors, signing venue contracts — is one of the greatest burdens on a WordCamp organizer, and not having to deal with money at all is the single most frequent request from WordCamp organizers. We’re not at a point where the Foundation can take on the financial burden entirely, but we are working on coming up with a solution toward this end. As an experiment, the Foundation handled all the finances for WordCamp NYC 2010, including the venue contract. This meant that all ticket sales and sponsor payments went straight to the Foundation, and the Foundation paid the bills. In cases where cash payment was necessary or it was easier for an organizer/volunteer to pay out of pocket, the Foundation reimbursed those costs shortly after the event.

Compared to the year before, when one organizer had to jump through tax hoops as a result of being the WordCamp money handler, it was much less stressful. On the other hand, it was not always convenient, as when we wanted to buy anything, we needed to put in a payment request to the person who handles the Foundation finances. In 2011, we hope to find a way to enable more WordCamps to have the Foundation handle the finances in a way that is efficient and hassle-free, so that WordCamp organizers can focus on the content and the community instead of worrying about maxing out their credit cards or setting up a checking account and the tax repercussions that go with that.

In 2011, we hope to accelerate the initiatives to make running (or attending!) a WordCamp easier, which includes building out a number of community features on WordCamp.org. In addition, we’ll be ramping up some of our plans around developing free, open source WordPress training materials, participating in mentorship programs, and doing our best to help grow the WordPress community in a sustainable and Super-Awesome-McExcellent way.

If you want to contribute to this effort, donations are welcome — and tax deductible!

Thanks for continuing to spread the word. Happy New Year!

Our First Project: WordCamp Videos

It’s been pretty quiet around here, but it’s been busy behind the scenes as we worked through budgets, tax requirements, legalese and reviewing the ways in which the Foundation could be of most use in helping to promote WordPress and provide education to the WordPress community. Our first program is centered around making it possible for all interested parties to benefit from the presentations and workshops given at locally-organized WordCamps around the world.

WordPress.tv hosts all WordCamp video free of charge as a community service, but not every WordCamp is able to record sessions, as organizers and volunteers don’t have access to the proper equipment. Moving forward, the Foundation will be working on making it possible for every WordCamp to publish their session videos by providing video kits.

We used WordCamp NYC as a test drive, and bought a handful of Flip HD Slide cameras and gorillapods, thinking that small, easy-to-use cameras would be the easiest for volunteers to operate, as well as the safest to ship back and forth between WordCamps. However, we found that the Flips had four serious problems:

  1. Though the Slides were chosen because they can record up to 4 hours of continuous video, the fact is that the battery does not last more than 2 hours. They didn’t put that in the ads! WordCamp NYC was a nightmare in this respect, with Flip operators constantly needing to trade out cameras so they could be recharged, because….
  2. You can’t plug a Flip into an outlet while it is in use. We bought a couple of wall chargers, but plugging the USB connector into the outlet charger still means the camera can’t be recording at that moment (and when it’s plugged into a computer’s USB port, it’s obviously out of rotation).
  3. The USB connector that flips (ha) out is not as sturdy as other Flip models, so that when it is plugged into a computer port or a wall charger, it is precarious, wobbly, and stops charging (and downloading video) when the connection is interrupted.
  4. The sound is terrible unless the camera is right in the front row during a presentation, and you can’t connect an external microphone.

Because of these issues, we’re going to go with a slightly more complex, but vastly more reliable solution. We’re buying kits containing a Canon Vixia camcorder that records onto SD cards, a compact, expanding tripod, an external microphone, and a hard case to hold it all. The cases will provide protection for the electronics during shipping, and we’ll put together a simple user guide for the volunteers to learn how best to record the sessions.

We’re ordering the first of these kits now, and once we confirm that the components we’ve chosen are definitely the best ones for the job, we’ll buy more kits so that we can cover multiple tracks at the larger WordCamps and/or multiple smaller WordCamps. For now we’re going to begin with WordCamps in the U.S., but hope to expand this to support international events in the future. Since WordCamps are some of the best educational WordPress events around, it will be awesome for people around the world to be able to watch the sessions whenever they like for free on WordPress.tv, overcoming the barriers of geography, economics and time that might prevent them from attending a WordCamp in person.

WordPress Trademark in the House

WordPressWe are pleased to announce that Automattic has made a remarkable and generous donation by transferring ownership of the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Foundation. We’re honored to accept this donation, and to preserve and protect the trademark in the years ahead as a keystone part of the Foundation’s mission to ensure that WordPress is around and thrives for generations to come.

It is highly unusual (to say the least) for a company to give away a trademark worth millions, and this move by Automattic is extremely generous and community-minded.

Matt has posted about the decision to donate the trademark on his blog, and our official trademark policy is posted here on this site.

Thank you, Automattic! The Foundation will do its best to safeguard this legacy.

Our First Donation

Exciting news: the first official donation to the WordPress Foundation has arrived! WordCamp NYC found themselves with a budget surplus after the November 2009 event, and decided that the best way to put the money back into the community would be a donation to the new Foundation. Their donation of $28,069.25 kicks things off with a bang.

No, it’s not a typo. $28,069.25.

Specific programs have not been identified/set up yet, but it is the hope of the WordCamp NYC organizers that the majority of the funds can be earmarked toward initiatives to extend the reach of WordCamps. There are a few different forms this could take, so we’ll be looking at possibilities over the next few weeks to find the best use of the money. One idea is to fund streaming and recording video of WordCamp sessions so that people can reap the educational benefits of attending a WordCamp even if they are not able to attend in person.

Whatever is decided about how to utilize this donation, we’re very grateful for the generosity of WordCamp NYC in deciding to use their budget surplus to give back to the community.

Please visit the WordCamp NYC site for more information about WordCamp NYC’s decision to make this donation.