Three years on Contributing to WordPress project

During the last six months, I’ve been thinking more and more how grateful I am for being able to contribute to the WordPress project. It has taught me so much on so many levels. Helping event organizers allows me to go (virtually) around the world and learn from different cultures. I get to work with amazing and super talented persons. New friendships and connections have been established. I’ve been trusted to take care of complex things and resolve those on my own.

It always gives a long-lasting good feeling, when you see someone you helped to make a blast out of their event or success in their contribution. But the utmost valuable thing has been endless warmth and respect for each other. Even if we wouldn’t always agree, everyone’s opinion is heard and taken into consideration. We work together towards the same goal.

Without my involvement in the project and without the discussion with thoughtful individuals, I wouldn’t be the person I’m today. WordPress project has given me the feeling of being part of something bigger and far more important than I’ve felt ever before, although I have been involved in too many soups to this age.

How it all got started?

From a WordCamp. Do I need to say more? 😅 No, more seriously you should read the “12 years with WordPress” post I wrote a few months ago. It describes how I did get involved with the WordPress project.

Okay, in that post I might have skipped the part when I tried to start my contributions to Core back in early 2015. I don’t remember why it did not take the wind, but if I’d have to guess, at that time they didn’t pay as much attention to new contributor experience as they do nowadays.

If the post is too long, here’s tl;dr of the timeline:

  • 2015 attendee in first WordCamp in Finland and started attending to new meetup group
  • 2016 volunteer in WordCamp Finland, started co-organizing meetups in my new home city and attended first time to WordCamp Europe
  • 2017 organizer in WordCamp Helsinki team and attended WCEU again
  • 2018 lead organizer of WordCamp Jyväskylä and became Community Deputy
  • 2019 organizer in WordCamp Nordic team and attended to my third WCEU
  • 2020 organizer in WCEU Porto team and WCEU Online team

What have I done?

As you might see from the post and tl;dr version, my involvement in the WordPress project has been mainly in Community team and helping event series organizers. And to be honest, it’s no surprise because after a long day at the office writing code you want to do something else.

Sometimes I feel it’s a bit of a pity that I’ve stuck to the Community team so strongly, and haven’t seen all the aspects of contributing to the WordPress project firsthand. But you have only so much time in your week. Also when getting deeper to the project itself, you get to collaborate with contributors from other teams and it gives you the peek into their work. Probably also a possibility to learn some new skills.

Being a developer at work and in my heart, the mindset is in the background while doing the community contributions. While using our tools to manage the community, I’ve come across a few things here and there that could be fixed with a little bit of code. That has lead me to contribute some time to the Meta team, especially #meta-wordcamp which is targeted to maintain and develop the tools Community team uses.

When I joined the Community team, I didn’t even imagine how many different things you can do in that team. In the two years of being Community Deputy (huh, so little time?) I’ve been helping multiple WordCamps to succeed, vetted numerous Meetup applications, received the duty of taking care of our camera kit program for EU, had many lengthy discussion on difficult topics and situations that need resolution, improved the ways how our team works… the list could go on.

What future brings?

The next four weeks do bring me a heck lot of work on preparing the largest scale online Contributor Day that has taken place in the WordPress Project. When WCEU Porto 2020 was postponed to 2021, I immediately signed up to help to make the event happen virtually in 2020. To my surprise, one of the main organizers asked me to lead the team that takes care of Contributor Day.

After that, nothing new I guess. Currently, I’m fairly happy where I am in life and with my contributions towards the WordPress project. Maybe organize a WordCamp and do_action after covid-19 restrictions have been lifted off?

For sure there are still many things I’d want to do in the future. For example, running orientations for new Meetup organizers, doing budget reviews for WordCamps, and in general deepen the involvement as well as starting to contribute more regularly to #meta-wordcamp. The first two were kind of planned to happen, but this covid-19 situation changed everything. And there’s so many other things the Community teams does!

For the distant future, I’ve been starting to dream about a job where I could contribute more time to the WordPress project. Maybe split time between client work, Community team, and #meta-wordcamp contributions. In my wildest dreams, the split would happen between two, Community team and #meta-wordcamp.

My, myself and I.

Unlike the content of this post may give you the impression, I don’t like to talk about myself much. But I wanted to tell my own experience, as I hope it will inspire others to get involved one way or another in the WordPress project.

This was also a fun exercise to pause and think about how much has happened in only two years. It feels like the time is flying. Always when I have started doing something or have gotten involved, I just can’t do it half-heartedly. While it’s sometimes consuming, to me it gives a lot back too.

Contribute as less or as much that suits you

For everyone it doesn’t need to be the same, you can contribute as much as feels best for you. If it’s one to two hours per week or eight hours per week, your work will be equally valuable. There’s no need to become an active and visible contributor if that’s not your trait, there are countless things that can be done easily whenever it’s the best time and without a long commitment.

Actually, those small unseen things are usually the most valuable ones, and visible contributors just help to achieve those contributions. For example, the WordPress Community events wouldn’t exist without our amazing local organizers. Community Deputies could not themselves organize the 156 WordCamps around the world (in 2019).

We are in a sense more visible in the project than local organizers, because we collaborate with so many different individuals. Our contributions are important as we support local organizers, but in my opinion, those event organizers are far more important contributors to the project than us. They spread the love from this community at the grassroots level. We only make our humble best to help them and provide the support they need.

To me, this is the beauty of open-source projects like WordPress. There’s always a way to contribute in your own way and as less or much as suits your situation. Every contribution makes the difference and WordPress a little bit better.

Get started on making WordPress better today, find your way to get involved on make.wordpress.org. Hope to see you around – and thanks for your contribution!