All of the firm expectations in the WordPress Community program and most of the “best practices” come from open source principles or methodology. These same principles and methodologies are applied to our events. Read on to see how!
One of the things we ask WordCamp organizers to do is keep ticket prices as low as possible. The goal is to have WordPress events that are as free and open as WordPress itself.
However, when it comes to an all-day event, there are some fixed costs that can’t be avoided, and making tickets free to attendees usually results in having 500 people sign up but only 50 show up, which is a lot of wasted lunches!
To balance this, we price tickets as low as we can so that the cost of a ticket isn’t a barrier to anyone’s participation, but enough that people feel like they will be wasting money if they don’t show up.
Avoiding Venues with Religious or Political Affiliations
WordPress events are intended to be welcoming events. A welcoming environment depends on more than just what the host and other guests say and do; it must also be free of associations that cause division or make people uncomfortable.
By avoiding venues that are affiliated with religion and politics — topics that frequently divide us — we remove barriers to inclusion and help create that safe, welcoming space, which in turn helps build community.
A basic requirement in our program is for community organizers to be local. For example, we expect the WordPress community in Lagos, Nigeria to be organized by someone in Lagos, not someone in Finland.
Local organizers help grow local communities and are available to participate in their community long after the event is over. These local communities are a powerful force that help recruit more local contributors, and build local community in ways that an outsider can’t.
The 100% GPL Requirement
Another firm expectation in our program is 100% GPL compliance. Any organizer, speaker, sponsor, or volunteer that distributes or promotes WordPress derivatives (themes, plugins, etc) provides their users the same freedoms that WordPress does under the General Public License (GPL).
Organizers are expected to ask potential speakers and sponsors to confirm that they meet those expectations and look at the licensing terms of any WordPress product that the speaker or sponsor might be selling.
Client work is not included here; this is a requirement only for themes/plugins/etc. that are being distributed (usually sold) publicly.
This is a firm expectation because the WordPress project (and its license) values the freedom of the user above all else. Why? Without the freedom to run, study, share/copy, and modify the software, open source software simply can not thrive. By only allowing speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and organizers who embrace the same license as WordPress, we create continuity throughout the WordPress open source project.
Hosting Sites on WordCamp.org
In the past, communities bought and maintained their own event websites. This caused many problems. Registration lapsed and URLs were bought by someone else. Important content was lost. Communities feuded over ownership, leading to stress and sadness for community organizers.
To solve this, all WordCamp websites are now hosted on a central network, wordcamp.org, which lives on wordpress.org servers.
Fortunately, the egoless participation of our organizers means that they can put aside that disappointment for the greater good — so that no WordCamp site content is ever lost again.
Casual, Easily-to-Replicate Events
WordCamps, meetups, and other events are intentionally organized as casual events. Casual events are more welcoming to anyone, and a welcoming atmosphere is a priority. WordCamps and other events in the WordPress project provide WordPress enthusiasts a place to network and share their stories, as well as recruiting new contributors.
WordPress events should also be enjoyable to organize and sustainable for the future. A large event with lots of “extras” may seem ideal, but can have an unintended consequence of making it harder to share leadership in the community and more stressful to plan.
Recruiting new organizers and creating a welcome environment for everyone is easier when the event is simple, even if it means it isn’t perfect.
Meetups: Meetups are local events often held monthly or quarterly that are intended to be keep our communities engaged and active. Each community decides what the format and content will be for each meeting. Our basic guidelines to them are to meet regularly and talk about WordPress.
do_actions: do_actions are often described as a hackathon. The idea is to work as a team on at least one local nonprofits website to rebuild or update some or all of the site. Organizers decide just how much or how little they will do based on community interest and the time available.
Contributor Day: Contributor Day’s are held to allow the community to come together to contribute back to the WordPress project. There are generally tables for each contributing team with a representative at the event and each team works together to accomplish a goal for the day.
WordCamps: WordCamps are conference-style events that a meetup community holds, generally once a year. These events tend to have a day or two of speakers, sometimes workshops, and occasionally a Contributor Day. This can bring in new members to the meetup and allow nearby communities to connect as people will often travel to attend these larger events.
Next Gen Events: Next Gen events are the communities opportunity to get creative with the type of events being planned. Adapting our event styles to meet the current needs of the local communities keeps WordPress relevant and interesting to new and veteran users alike.
Flagship Events: The current three flagship events — WCUS, WCEU, and WCAsia — are events held by those regional communities. In many ways they are similar to local WordCamps, but on a MUCH larger scale. It is important for the Community team to remind local organizers that while they may share the WordCamp name, local WordCamps are intended to be smaller, leaner, easy-to-replicate events.
Much like we require event organizers to be local, we encourage events to create a program with 80% local speakers. This allows the local WordPress enthusiasts to share their experiences with their community.
Speakers don’t have to be veteran users or expert speakers to give a great WordPress talk. Personal stories and case studies can be powerful tools for expanding the community’s understanding of how people are using WordPress. Talks about what they’ve learned, how they’ve learned, and how they’ve struggled help other community members understand the situations they may encounter and how to overcome them.
Focusing event programs mostly on known speakers/personalities in the WordPress project runs the risk of creating an echo chamber in our open source project. Open source requires a large number of users to thrive and we must intentionally keep the speaker roster in our community events wide open.
Also, local stories/speakers are more inspiring to local attendees. Hearing from a speaker who taught herself how to build an e-commerce sites and lives in their neighborhood — someone they’re going to see at the next meetup — is inspiring for many. Stories like these show an attendee that normal people like them can do more than they might think, and that they have local, accessible resources for when they get stuck on a project.
Code of Conduct
Enforcing our code of conduct is important. It’s like a contract with each other that lets everyone know what kind of behavior to expect and what kind of behavior isn’t acceptable at official events and when working in the community.
Because we are intentionally building an open, welcoming community from all cultural backgrounds, it’s unfair to just assume that everyone agrees on the best ways to interact at an event. If unwelcoming behavior isn’t addressed, then people will silently decide that this group isn’t a place where they belong, and we lose the diversity that we’re trying so hard to foster.
Now you try!
In the following quiz, we’ll ask you to use your understanding of our program to give the open source reasons behind some other expectations in Community Team programs.