Announcement: In-person do_action hackathons are back!

As announced in the Make/WordPress Community blog, in-person do_action charity hackathons are back! do_action hackathons moved online in March 2020, following the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the past 18 months, we have had five do_action hackathons so far. As more and more people around the world are getting vaccinated and as the spread COVID-19 pandemic, it is time to bring back in-person do_action charity hackathons. While our online hackathons have been impactful, in-person do_action hackathons bring people volunteers, and non profits together in a shared space, helping to create a wonderful experience for everyone.

How do I organize an in-person do_action charity hackathon

Local WordPress Meetup groups can organize an in-person do_action charity hackathon if their region allows in-person events AND if their COVID cases are under control OR if vaccination/testing is freely available. The flowchart below describes the conditions for organizing an in-person charity hackathon.

If you wish to organize an in-person do_action charity hackathon, follow these steps:

  1. First, check if your local health authority allows in-person events. If local gatherings are not allowed, you cannot organize an in-person event in your region.
  2. If your local health authority allows in-person events, fill up the in-person meetup decision checklist in the Make/Community Handbook. (Here’s a direct link)
  3. If the checklist recommends that you organize a do_action hackathon, go ahead and fill up the do_action event application. A community deputy will get back to you with more details on how to organize the event.
  4. If the checklist does not recommend organizing an in-person event, you can still consider organizing an online do_action event.

The WordPress Foundation would like to highlight do_action events (whether they are held online or in-person) on the WordPress Foundation website (wordpressfoundation.org), through social media, and whenever possible, in local media. Send an email to info@doaction.org or ping one of the Community Deputies in Make/WordPress Slack if you would like help with organizing a do_action hackathon or if you need help with outreach.

Feeling inspired? Do you wish to organize an in-person do_action charity hackathon? Apply now!


do_action Nigeria coming up on November 29 – December 5!

The WordPress community of Nigeria is back once again to organize an online do_action charity hackathon from November 29 – December 5, 2021! For the last three years, local communities in Nigeria have organized in-person do_action WordPress Charity Hackathons in several cities, where they had spent an entire day building brand new websites for a selection of local charities and NGOs. This year, for the second annual regional do_action Nigeria event, the team aims to repeat the same in an online format, for a handful of charitable organizations! Learn more about the event by following the link below:

do_action Karnataka 2021: A report

WordPress Community members in the state of Karnataka, India organized a do_action charity hackathon from 07 to 15 August 2021. The event, which was supported by 12 volunteers, helped create websites for 3 non-profits. do_action Karnataka was held completely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it concluded symbolically on August 15th 2021 — the 75th Independence Day of India. This is the second do_action Hackathon in Karnataka — the first one being do_action Bengaluru, which was held in 2019.

Efforts behind do_action Karnataka kicked off three months prior, in April 2021. N Suresha, Prem Tiwari, UC Riyaz, Sagar Vora, SR Venkatesh, and Yogesh Londhe (myself) from the WordPress Community of Karnataka, joined hands to support local non-profits by helping them build websites. The following non-profits signed up for our hackathon: 

  • Luv Kush Foster Home: A foster home that aims to care for animals in need
  • Vridhi Foundation: which aims to support the education of underprivileged children
  • Peacespark Foundation: Welfare of women and children

12 volunteers immediately signed up to build websites for these non-profits. Not everyone could participate due to personal challenges related to COVID-19, but the teams worked hard to complete the work within the stipulated time. As a result of all that hard work, two non-profit sites were launched, and one is in the pipeline!

Peacespark Foundation: https://www.peacespark.org/

A screenshot of the Peacespark Foundation website created by the do_action Karnataka 2021 team.
A screenshot of the Peacespark Foundation website created by the do_action Karnataka 2021 team.

The website of Peacespark Foundation was built by SR Venkatesh (project manager) and Hari Shanker (content writer). Venkatesh collected all the content and the photos from the non-profit, and he was also in constant communication with the team. He also single-handedly designed and developed the website for the team! Since the content manager volunteer could not join on time, Hari stepped in to prepare the content for the site. As a result, the site was ready well within the deadline, and the non-profit was happy and grateful!

Vridhi Foundation: https://vridhifoundation.org/

A screenshot of the Vridhi Foundation website created by the do_action Karnataka 2021 team.
A screenshot of the Vridhi Foundation website created by the do_action Karnataka 2021 team.

N Suresha (project manager), along with Hussna Hussain (content writer) and UC Riyaz (designer) built the website for Vridhi Foundation. Makarand Mane helped with the multilingual translation plugin, the theme, and the required templates. Prem Tiwari set up the site and provided technical support during the development, as well. Together, the team worked in synergy to burn the midnight oil and deliver the site for the non-profit, which formally launched the same in a function at their premises, on August 15th! 

Representatives of the Vridhi Foundation at their website launch event on August 15, 2021
Representatives of the Vridhi Foundation at their website launch event on August 15, 2021

Since representatives of Luv Kush foster home were out of the country during the hackathon,  they couldn’t collaborate to give the content and the photos for the website. Most of the technical groundwork for their website is done, and it will formally be launched once the non-profit provides content for the teams. 

The hackathon would not be possible without the support of our kind sponsors who provided hosting, domain names, WordPress plugins/themes, and post hackathon support guarantees for all the non-profits. A big thanks to all of them! Our sponsors include:

  • Give WP – Who kindly sponsored a premium license for their flagship donation plugin
  • Yoast – Who kindly sponsored a premium license for their SEO plugin
  • Themeisle – Who provided premium licenses for their theme
  • WP Job Openings – Who provided a license for their job board plugin
  • WPGenius – Who provided a translation plugin, templates, and themes
  • Prem Tiwari – Who has offered post-hackathon tech support for non-profits
  • Bluehost India – Who provided hosting and domain names for all three non-profits

In addition to our sponsors, I wish to thank all stakeholders who helped make our event a grand success — especially our team of passionate volunteers and organizers who battled several personal challenges and a global pandemic to build an ever-lasting online presence for non-profits. Special thanks to the WordPress Foundation for supporting these do_action charity hackathons which empower non-profits across the globe, especially in these tough times.

As we were wrapping up the event on the final day of the hackathon, I asked our team of organizers and volunteers one question: “Despite all the challenges, would you do this again?” They all answered in one resounding voice: “YES!” 🙂 

On behalf of the do_action Karnataka 2021 Organizing team,
Yogesh Londhe


Feeling inspired, already? You can use WordPress for social good, by organing a do_action charity hackathon in your own city! Check out our handbook for more information. It just takes five minutes to fill out the application form. So why wait? Apply now!

18 years of WordPress

On this very day 18 years ago (May 27th), the first version of the WordPress open source software came out. WordPress has come a long way in the past 18 years. At the time of writing this blog post, WordPress has surpassed 40 releases and powers more than 40% of the web!

Check out these 40 key milestones in the WordPress journey towards 40% of the web!

One of the critical milestones in this journey is the establishment of the WordPress Foundation in January 2010. The foundation aims to ensure free access, in perpetuity, to WordPress and the software projects we support. People and businesses may come and go, so it is essential that the source code for these projects will survive beyond the current contributor base. This will ensure that we have a stable platform for web publishing for generations to come. As part of this mission, the Foundation will protect WordPress, WordCamp, and related trademarks

A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the WordPress Foundation pursues a charter to educate the public about WordPress and related open source software. We regularly host educational programs like charity hackathons and open source educational events. These programs are made possible through the help of generous donations from our donors

If WordPress has helped you in any way during the past 18 years, kindly consider donating to the WordPress Foundation. Money raised by the WordPress Foundation will be used to ensure free access to supported software projects, protect the WordPress trademark, and fund various programs. In short – your donations will go a long way in helping the WordPress project. You can either make a one-time donation or choose to donate annually. If you sign up for any one of the four annual subscription plans, you will be featured on our Donors page – as a token of our gratitude for supporting education programs about WordPress and open source. 

WordPress would not exist without its team of global contributors that help build the software. The best way to give back to WordPress is to help us build it! You need not be a developer to give back to WordPress – some other ways to contribute to the project include translations, support, community, documentation, and marketing, to name a few. In other words – anyone and everyone can contribute to WordPress, and we strongly encourage you to do so!

Thank you for your support of WordPress over the past 18 years. Your continued patronage will ensure that WordPress will keep going for the next 18 years and beyond! 

5 tips for organizing a successful online do_action charity hackathon

In 2020, unfazed by the COVID-19 pandemic, community organizers rallied together and worked hard to give a WordPress-powered web presence for charities through online charity hackathons. Our passionate and resilient community members are pulling out all stops this year to continue the good work. We already have two applications for do_action events in the queue, with more in the pipeline! This post aims to encourage all our zealous organizers with tips on how best to organize successful online do_action charity hackathons.

  1. Recruit a core team and prepare an event plan
    Enlist a team of 5-10 members to wrangle the event. Much like a WordCamp, organizers need to plan do_action events down to the last detail. Make sure you have a plan for the entire event lifecycle – including selecting nonprofits, finding volunteers, finding sponsors, task management, and execution. For inspiration, check out how the do_action Japan team came up with a plan for the event beforehand! Having a solid communication strategy and setting deadlines is equally important. Finding answers to questions like: “When do volunteer teams meet?”,  “How often should there be check-ins?”,  “How do we track tasks?”,  “How do we measure progress?” and “ What deadlines do we need to meet?” for instance, will help in devising a strategy.
  2. Finding non-profits and volunteers 
    Finding eligible non-profits for your event could be a challenge. When your event publishes the call for non-profits, share it widely on social media. Since this is a charitable event, we have noticed that getting PR from local news media outlets is a lot easier. You might also want to reach out to Non-profit organizations and offer assistance proactively. You can follow the same approach for volunteer recruitment too.
  3. Fix your collaboration tools and communication strategy
    Since this will be an online event, you will need the right collaboration tools to make the event successful. Please note: A doaction.org G Suite/Google Workspace account will be provided to all do_action event organizers in 2021 and beyond! Feel free to use that account for all your needs. Check out the handbook page for more information. Here are some tools that you can use for your event:
    • doaction.org website (call for nonprofits & hackathon participants)
    • Slack (overall event prep, communication on the event days) – A free plan will be sufficient.
    • Zoom (event organizer & inter-team meetings, opening/closing remarks) – WordPress Community zoom accounts can be used. 
    • Google Workspace tools (provided to all 2021 organizers in the location@doaction.org format) – Gmail (inquiries & sponsor communication), Google Forms (call for organizers & sponsors, post-event survey), Google Sheets (task & data management), Google Docs (collaborative editing of documents, Google Drive (for storage needs),  and Google Slides (opening/closing remarks presentation)
    • WordPress.com P2 – for task management
    • Trello – for task management.
    • Figma (design)
  4. Finding sponsors
    For online do_action events, organizers need not worry about venue or catering expenses. Hence, sponsorship benefits for these events can be passed along directly to non-profits. Most WordPress companies are passionate about supporting non-profits, and providing product/service licenses is a cost-effective way for them to support the community. Consider reaching out to specific companies as per your needs. Sponsorship benefits that do_action events in 2020 had availed include:
    • Free domain and web hosting for non-profits
    • Sponsored premium plugins and themes (Only 100% GPL Compliant themes and plugins are allowed)
    • Sponsored website services (backups, caching, security, optimization, etc.)
  5. Find a way to offer post-event support for non-profit websites
    Make sure that once the event is over, each non-profit is trained on how to use and update the site. Perhaps a few volunteers could provide post-event support for a short while (while ensuring that the right expectations are set on both sides). Offering post-event support as a sponsorship benefit could also be a solution to that problem.

Does all of this sound exciting? Would you like to support your local community by organizing a do_action event? Send in your application right away! You can read more about do_action in the event handbook. Thank you for all that you do to support the global community through WordPress.

The Basic principles of Open-source Software

The WordPress Foundation aims to educate the public about WordPress and related open-source software (OSS). Towards that end, the WordPress Foundation created the Introduction to Open-source workshops, which shed more light on the potential of open-source software, particularly in countries where there is less participation in OSS projects. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these workshops have moved online. The WordPress Foundation hopes to see more open-source workshops held online this year to help spread awareness about the importance of open-source software.

What are open-source software and Free Software?

Open-source software is software whose source code is available for anyone to view, modify and enhance. Free software refers to software that complies with “four essential freedoms” – to use, study, modify and distribute software for any purpose without legal restraint. Open-source software is characterized by the public accessibility of its code, while free software focuses on the capabilities for using and sharing the software.

Advantages of Free and Open-source Software over Proprietary software

Proprietary software is distributed in executable files where the source code is encrypted and not available. Free and Open-source software enables users to read and modify the code, thus allowing a host of advantages such as little (or no) cost, faster distribution, greater customization, and easy availability of bugs and security patches, to name a few. 

The Introduction to Open-source workshops cover the difference between different software types, the history of open-source software, its advantages over proprietary software, and how this applies to WordPress. The workshop also explains the differences between free and Open-source software and highlights the different types of software licenses. 

Want to learn more about Free and Open-source software? Participate in an Introduction to Open-source workshop!

There are four ways you can participate in an Introduction to Open-source workshop! 

  1. You can attend the Introduction to WordPress workshop from the comfort of your home! Learn WordPress now features an Introduction to Open-source video workshop that you can watch at your convenience. 
  2. Community members can also now host or participate in Introduction to Open-source workshop discussion groups in the Learn WordPress meetup group for a global audience. Sign-ups are now open for the following two discussion groups:

If you would like to host an Introduction to Open-source discussion group for a global audience, please apply to become a discussion group facilitator. 

  1. WordPress Meetup groups worldwide are also encouraged to organize an Introduction to WordPress watch party + discussion group (based on the Learn WordPress workshop on Introduction to Open-source) as part of their meetup (it does not need any prior approval). 
  2. Lesson plans for the Introduction to Open-source workshops are available! Meetup group organizers can plan their live open-source workshop based on the lesson plans. 

The WordPress Foundation invites community members across the world to join these open-source workshops and to organize workshops and discussion groups in their communities to help spread our mission of serving the public good with the help of Open-source software.

Meetup groups organizing Introduction to Open-source workshops will be featured on this website. All you need to do is to reach out to us with a brief write-up about your workshop along with pictures, and we’ll publish them here!

do_action hackathons and open-source workshops in 2021

In 2020, we saw do_action events and open-source workshops move online. Around the world, community members organized 5 do_action hackathons (4 of which were online) and a handful of open-source workshops last year. In moving these events online, community organizers not only brought their WordPress community closer together, but they were also able to make a positive impact on their local or regional community in an exceptionally-difficult year.  

Seeing this impact, we would like to help more organizers host even more of these online charity hackathons (do_action events) and Introduction to Open Source workshops in 2021. This post shares more information for community organizers who would like to organize do_action events in 2021.

do_action charity hackathons

Based on feedback from the community members, do_action events so far have been quite impactful in how they bring participants together to help non-profits establish an online presence, something all the more significant in 2021. Here is how we plan to support do_action events in 2021:

  • Improving the online do_action event documentation: The community team is currently working on revamping the documentation for online do_action events to include tips on remote collaboration, using collaboration tools, remote project management etc. Additionally, we will be reaching out to past do_action organizers to share recaps and help share task lists to help organizers get used to the online event format. 
  • Sponsored accounts: Organizers can reserve and use Community-sponsored Zoom Pro accounts for their events. 
  • Countrywide do_action events: There were a few countrywide do_action events in 2020. More regional/countrywide events are encouraged. 
  • Linking do_action events with WordCamps and mentoring: Since WordCamps are also online, organizers can organize do_action events in tandem with their online WordCamps, for more impact. Similarly, new do_action organizers will get mentoring from past organizers/mentors/community deputies.
  • Technology changes: The following changes will be implemented on the doaction.org website in 2021 to support our organizers in a better way: 
    • doaction.org to Google Workspace / G Suite (so that organizers can use custom emails – get access to a branded Google Workspace account) – Due March 2021
    • Doaction.org will be modified to support multiple event dates. – Due June 2021
    • The do_action application will be moved to doaction.org.- Due June 2021

Does all of this sound exciting? If you would like to organize a do_action event in your locality, please send in your application through this form! Community deputies will get back to you shortly to take it forward.

Introduction to Open-source workshops

Introduction to Open Source workshops help spread knowledge and understanding of the open web and open source. They have also been instrumental in onboarding new contributors to WordPress. With the Learn WordPress workshops on Introduction to Open-source, meetup groups could host a watch party of the recorded workshop or organize a discussion group. Here’s how community members can organize open-source workshops in 2021. 

Organizers can feature these workshops and discussion groups in the WordPress Foundation blogs by reaching out to the community team. Since open-source workshops are online, there is no cost involved in organizing them, but organizers can always request paid zoom accounts for their event

The WordPress community has the power to uplift and empower people across the world by organizing these events. Our community organizers have already done stellar work in 2020, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we step into 2021, we look forward to supporting and seeing what organizers do with these online events to help their communities!

Open Source Workshops: November 2020 report

The WordPress Foundation has been organizing Introduction to Open Source workshops, as part of our continuing efforts to educate the public about WordPress and related open-source software (OSS). In 2019, as part of our goal of organizing workshops in parts of the world with less participation in open source, we held four successful workshops in India, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Thimphu. 

By March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had engulfed the world, forcing community organizers to cancel all in-person events. Unfazed by these challenges, our community organizers pivoted to online events by organizing four successful online charity hackathons in Japan, South Africa, India, and Nigeria, so far. The Introduction to Open Source workshops have also moved online. The workshop is now available online as part of Learn WordPress, which is a brand new initiative from WordPress contributor teams to help people learn how to use, build for, and contribute to WordPress. Community members across the world can now learn about Open-Source safely from the comfort of their homes and test their knowledge using the embedded quiz. The workshops are also followed by discussion groups, where participants can discuss their learnings in real-time and find answers to their questions.  

As of November 2020, the Introduction to Open-source workshop video has been viewed 757 times. Three online discussion group events with over 152 RSVPs were also held successfully. Sign-ups are open for two more discussion groups that are listed below:

You can watch the workshop video and participate in these discussion groups to learn about open-source software and find answers to your questions on open-source.

In addition to these scheduled discussion groups, community organizers can organize their own online discussion groups (based on the lesson plan)or hold online watch parties for the Introduction to Open-Source workshop

Given the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, WordPress Foundation events are likely to be held online in 2021. We will be announcing our plans for 2021 events later this year.

Charity Hackathons: August 2020 Report

In September 2019, we shared about the progress of do_action charity hackathons for the year. We went on to work with 15 local communities to organize charity hackathons in 2019, which is a remarkable improvement over the 12 events from 2018.

2020 brought in some unexpected challenges for community organizers across the world due to COVID-19. By March 2020, the pandemic had spread out to most parts of the world, and hence many organizers were forced to make the difficult decision to cancel their planned in-person events. Despite these challenges, community organizers worldwide joined hands with a firm resolve to help charities by organizing online do_action events. As a result, we have seen three online do_action events in 2020 so far, with more events in the pipeline. 

Volunteers of do_action Japan doing a virtual wave.

In pre-COVID-19 times, do_action events were local – with volunteers and NGOs belonging to the respective cities. However, since online events are location-agnostic, organizers decided to experiment with larger do_action events that elicited participants spanning an entire country! The first of such events – do_action Japan – was a success! The event was followed by do_action South Africa in June and do_action India in August. Community organizers have embraced the online event format and are excited about the process.

As geographical restrictions had eased, community organizers went a step ahead and used the opportunity to help out charities located in far-flung areas. Instead of a single day event, local communities experimented with spreading out the event over multiple days or weeks. Organizers, volunteers, and charities also used tools such as Slack and Zoom to collaborate during the event.

A screenshot from a do_action India launch event.

The three events that have already taken place in 2020 saw 359 participants helping out 23 non-profits build their brand new websites. Volunteers also trained these Non-profits on how to use their websites after each event.

Here are some of the websites built at these do_action events:

More than strengthening these charities’ web presence, the websites help these charities in furthering their mission by assisting them to attract volunteers, teach courses, receive donations, and help more people. Our community members’ excellent work goes the extra mile in taking forward the mission and vision of these organizations.

Volunteers of do_action South Africa are helping non-profits learn how to use the WordPress block editor.

We live in challenging times, where the actions of a global community have the power to uplift others’ lives. Unfazed by the challenges of COVID-19, our communities have done stellar work to support charities that contribute to the greater good. As we move forward to the rest of 2020, we are excited to see what our communities do for even more non-profit organizations, and how the do_action program will grow and adapt to an online format!

Charity Hackathons in 2018

A few months ago we reported on the progress of the do_action charity hackathon event series so far in 2018 — at that stage of the year, we had supported eight local communities to help them run their own do_action events. By the time the year came to a close, we had worked with a further four communities, making twelve total do_action events for 2018.

As the program grew through the second half of the year, the additional communities that had organised do_action events were Stuttgart, Beirut, Montreal, and Port Harcourt. Montreal and Beirut were both returning communities who held their do_action event for the second year in a row.

Continue reading Charity Hackathons in 2018