On Episode fifty of the WordPress Briefing podcast, join WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy as she explores the three big trends from the inaugural WordCamp Asia.
Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to [email protected], either written or as a voice recording.
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[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:00:00]
Hello everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy.
Here we go.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:00:40]
The inaugural WordCamp Asia happened a couple of weeks ago in Bangkok. There were almost 1300 people in attendance, and I was lucky to be able to talk with a lot of them about their thoughts around the WordPress project and community. So today, let’s talk about three of the most interesting trends that I heard from people: the future of themes, the future of work, and the future of contributions.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:01:00]
So first up, the future of themes. This one was not a surprise to me. Not only has it been on my mind lately, but every WordCamp I’ve ever attended in Asia or Australia has had themes as a central element. There are a lot of theme creators making a living in WordPress in this part of the world. So it’s natural that they want to know what to prepare for.
Now, it’s hard to predict the future, but there are a couple of things you can do to kind of get a leg up on it. Firstly, the theme review team, if you know how to make block themes but are still struggling to understand what might make them high value to your users, donating a little bit of time to review them can help.
While I was at the contributor day, the team rep who happened to also be there to represent the table told me that reviewing block themes is way faster than reviewing classic themes. So if it’s been a bit since you stopped by, I would encourage you to give it a shot. It’s a lot easier than it used to be for a lot of reasons, and they can always use a little bit of help.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:02:00]
The second thing is this plugin called the Create Block Theme plugin. If you don’t know how to make block themes, you know how to make classic themes. You don’t know how to make block themes. This is a wordpress.org maintained plugin that will make theme creation simpler. It’s a relatively new plugin, though, so if you’re the type of contributor who likes to create good tools for good people, you can also feel free to grab a ticket or two from their repo and help get that moving.
The second thing that came up was the future of work. This was also not a surprise to me. There have been a lot of reports of layoffs in the tech industry and worries about the possibility of a recession.
Since WordPress is not only a tool that folks use in their jobs but also a tool that empowers people to create jobs for themselves, it’s entirely expected for questions about career prospects to come up during a WordCamp. Here are a couple of thoughts on that. So I mentioned this briefly during the Q&A session on that Sunday, but I’m gonna repeat it here because I believe it with every fiber of my being.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:03:06]
You can learn every 21st century skill that you need while contributing to an open source project.
I talked about it in episode 17 of this podcast. I’ve talked about it at WordCamps and major event series outside of WordPress for years. Like I really, really believe this, and it’s not just like a WordPress only thing. Although obviously, that is my primary perspective, that’s true for contributing to almost any open source project.
On top of that, if you are contributing to WordPress and you’re doing that in the way that we encourage folks to do, you’ve got public examples of proactive, asynchronous collaboration across cultures and time zones. And I don’t know about y’all, but sometimes it’s hard to explain what my job is. And so having examples of how the whatever it is that you were doing, however, you were collaborating or contributing or working on a project together, having concrete examples to be able to share with someone can never hurt.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:04:04]
I’m gonna give us a necessary side note here. I know that volunteering time is a privilege, and if you find yourself between jobs, the last thing you want to do is give up any more of your time for no money.
But if you have contributed to any team in the past, that benefit still exists for you. Your contributions are not taken away just because you’re no longer with your employer.
The second thought on that is actually one that Matt mentioned during the Q&A on Sunday. He said in his experience that open source shines in recessionary times.
I’ll have to take his word for that one since I discovered WordPress in 2009 or so and so after the last recession that I would have experienced in the US. However, I have heard from a lot of people in the WordPress ecosystem and in tech in general who have shared their stories from the last time that we all experienced a recession.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:05:00]
And certainly, when they suddenly found that they did not have a company to call the place that they were working, a company that they were working for, they were able to, at the very least, freelance until they found the next thing.
I know that that’s cold comfort if you’re in the middle of things right now, but it certainly is something that people always have looked back to as like one of those turning points for them in the 2007-2008 era here in the US.
Now I know that is sometimes not what anybody wants to hear. And also like, who am I to be speaking about observed experiences from other people? I did want to let you know that the folks over at PostStatus have opened up some networking opportunities for anyone that’s been caught up in the current downsizing around the ecosystem.
I’ll link to that in the show notes here on wordpress.org/news, but also, if you’re a part of the PostStatus network, they’ve got it posted over there on their sites and things as well. So easy to find and definitely worthwhile if that’s a situation that you find yourself in right now.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:06:02]
And the third thing that I heard from a lot of folks about is the future of contributions. So 635 people attended the contributor day that happened ahead of WordCamp Asia, And at WordCamp Europe in Porto last June, it was 800 people or something, which was the biggest one on record. And so this is really close to that.
There’s a lot of people. And a lot of them were attending for the first time. Over the course of the day, I checked in with quite a few of the table leads and heard some pretty consistent feedback, both about what we’re doing to help onboard contributors now but also about how we can help to onboard contributors in the future.
Firstly, we all generally agree that documentation, which is our current problem to solve toward easier contributor onboarding, we all generally agree that that’s going pretty well. We now have a ton of our preferences and processes documented in various team handbooks, but with a ton of documentation comes the potential for overwhelm.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:07:00]
So across the board table leads shared the need for sort of a quick start guide for each of their teams. Secondly, we also generally seem to agree that mentorship plays a big role in the success of many long-term contributors. I’ve talked about it before. I had some mentors as I was getting started, and I would never have made it past organizing meetup events if it hadn’t been for their help.
And so a bonus item I heard about is actually Meetup events. Meetup groups are one of our most resilient ways to contribute to WordPress, and they also happen to be one of the hardest working. If you’ve never been to one of these events, you may not know that you can learn a skill that’s new to you or teach a skill that you’ve had for a long time.
You can also network to find the jobs that you want or network to hire the people you need. It’s where people learn how to use the CMS or learn how to become an entrepreneur.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:08:00]
But it’s also where they discover our community and eventually learn why we think that open source is an idea that will change our generation.
So if you took nothing else away from this, I guess the takeaway is that you too can organize a Meetup event that will strengthen your local community and the world!
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:08:27]
Which brings us now to our small list of big things. So first up, we have a live product demo for WordPress 6.2 on March 2nd, that’s going to be at 17:00 UTC.
There is a post that has gone up about it, which I’ll include in the show notes. This is an opportunity for folks to watch a live walkthrough of the current release with a collection of people from the release squad as well as avid contributors and testers. It’ll give you an idea of upcoming changes, but also we’ll probably expose a bug or two along the way.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:09:00]
Come with your questions, and we will see you there.
Item number two is documentation. So apparently, that’s just half of what I wanna talk about today. Documentation, so wordpress.org, has docs that are specifically written for users and pulls in not only the documentation that we have but also information from the codex, the documentation space of yesteryear.
There’s a bit more to do here, and I realize this project has been going on since 2015. It’s because there’s a lot of stuff we have to do. There’s a lot of documentation, and we have to kind of get it in order. But that is the area that we’re in now. We have launched the new documentation page, the new look and feel is out there.
And so the next question is making sure that we have it organized in a way that’s easy to find and easy to learn from as you go. There is a whole working group that meets about it, and I will share a link to that in case you find that to be of interest to you as well.
And last but not least, there is another speaker workshop coming up on March 1st.
[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:10:00]
If you have not heard of these yet, it’s a workshop that helps speakers learn the process of presentation brainstorming and creation. It is a great workshop. It was created over the course of many years within the WordPress project by Jill Binder and crew. It is a wonderful opportunity.
It’s not a WordPress link that we’re on, but there is an event link that I will make sure that we all have access to here, in case that is something that you have always wanted to try, learning how to speak at WordPress events.
And that, my friends, is your small list of big things. Thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks!