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WP Briefing: Episode 81: It’s your first WordCamp? Welcome!

Get ready to dive into the vibrant world of WordCamps with this special episode of the WordPress Briefing, hosted by Josepha Haden Chomphosy! This episode is designed for first-time attendees; we’ll explore what to expect, from Contributor Day activities to mastering the art of socializing and networking. Whether you’re aiming to contribute to the WordPress community or simply looking to make new connections, this episode will help you navigate your first WordCamp with confidence and excitement. Join us for a fun and informative guide to ensure you’re prepared and energized for all the activities these dynamic events have to offer.


Host: Josepha Haden Chomphosy
Editor: Dustin Hartzler
Logo: Javier Arce
Production: Brett McSherry
Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod

Show Notes


[00:00:00] Josepha: 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.

[00:00:28] (Intro Music) 

[00:00:40] Josepha: A pivotal moment in my WordPress journey was when someone invited me to a WordCamp. I was sort of aware of WordPress, but certainly not aware of the community or the ways of open source. And when I look back, there were a few things I wish I had known going in. I am, of course, an unapologetic extrovert and therefore unstoppable at events, but if you are headed to your first WordCamp and are feeling a little nervous or confused, then pop in some earbuds because the next 10 minutes are for you.

[00:01:11] Josepha: We’re going to first take a look at some basic tactical things about WordCamps, and then I’m going to tell you a few, like, human things about being a human going to events. If you’re a dog going to these events, I think that your prep is different, but also that is not my area of expertise. So the first thing, some tactical stuff about going to WordCamps. All of this happens before you even get in the front door. And so this is stuff that you can do in the comfort of your own home, on your own time, using your own computer. If you’ve got questions, you’ve got a search engine nearby to take some quick searches. Make sure you know what you’re talking about.

But first things first, the shape of a WordCamp. All WordCamps have at least one day of talks, one social event, and sponsors to connect to. Some also have extra events that you need to sign up for, like Contributor Days, workshops, things like that. But we’ll start with the main event, right? We’re going to start with the day of talks and things.

[00:02:09] Josepha: So when we’re looking at the main event of a WordCamp, what you should do is you should head to the WordCamp’s website and check out the schedule. I suggest that you plan for two, maybe three things that you might want to learn and look around at the schedule to see if there are any presenters or presentations that look like they fit those things that you think you might want to learn. Because if it’s not working for you, if it’s not teaching you something, then you don’t necessarily need to be in that one. Even if you’re not sure about a session a talk that you’re planning to go to, I recommend that you stop by, and then if you find out that it’s not for you, you can leave again. That’s fine. But I do encourage you to go to at least one thing that feels a little bit outside of your comfort zone. Even if you feel lost right now. It at least gives you an idea of what to search for once you do get to that point. I would never have known the things to search for early on in my learning of WordPress without going to at least one or two sessions that were just way over my head. 

[00:03:14] Josepha: Second thing is don’t forget to check when lunch is available. And if you have dietary restrictions, let them know ahead of time. I realize this sounds silly, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t focus when I’m hungry. But also, it’s really a great, low-stakes networking time, and I think one of the overlooked networking times as well. I mean, everyone’s gotta eat, right? And it’s easier to strike up a conversation over a meal than just out of thin air or, you know, in the middle of a presentation when you’re supposed to be listening to a talk. So yeah, check out when lunch is happening! And yeah, make a friend or two, sit down at a table, and ask somebody what they’re doing with WordPress and how long they’ve been doing it.

And the third thing that I would recommend that you do when you’re looking at kind of the main event for a WordCamp is to schedule in time to wander around and meet the event sponsors. They are all experts in some WordPress problem or other, so probably they have a solution to a problem that you have got. But they’re also how we keep our prices super low, so even if you have no problems or you think you have no problems. Still, check them out. They’re also staffed with wonderful people that are building really cool stuff with WordPress and so you might just get some inspiration out there. 

[00:04:28] Josepha: Now for the side events.

So the side events, we’re going to kind of start close to the main event and work our way out. So you’ve got generally three types of side events if you don’t count the networking things, which, in this case, I’m not. But just know that almost every WordCamp has some networking event, either an after-party or, like, a happy hour, a social that happens before the event.

You’ll get emails about those if you have signed up for updates on the website. Also, you can look on the website directly. Just check out the schedule. Always go to those. The networking is the best at a WordCamp. But the side events—we’re talking about specific types. Like I said, we’re going to start close and work our way out.

[00:05:11] Josepha: So, workshops. These are just what they sound like. They’re classroom-style opportunities to practice the things you’ve learned at meetup events or on, depending on how you found your way to this WordCamp. They mostly happen during the WordCamp itself. in a separate track, and there are like stacks of workshops in that track in that series of sessions. But a lot of them do require preregistration simply so that the trainer has an idea of how many people to expect. Again, if you get in the workshop and it’s way over your head, you feel like you absolutely cannot get it done, you’re always welcome to leave and check out some other area. But, in general, the workshops that we have WordCamps are pretty solid.

So a little bit further removed from that are our Youth and Teen Days. So this is more of an event series that is specifically designed for teens or kids who are trying to learn more about WordPress and other related business and entrepreneurial topics. It’s kind of a catch all but also has a lot of WordPress content in it. They have age limits, of course, and require separate registration for safety and planning purposes both. And those, in general, are either half-day during the WordCamp itself or a full-day during that WordCamp.

[00:06:32] Josepha: Which brings us then to the big one, the major side event. This is a full-day side event called Contributor Day. If your WordCamp has a Contributor Day, it will happen either the day before or the day after the WordCamp itself. It is an entire day where attendees come together to learn how to contribute to the future of the WordPress open source project. Now, if you are listening to this as part of, like, you’re getting ready to go to a WordCamp, and you don’t know what I meant by open source or open source project or WordPress open source project, that’s fine.

[00:07:08] Josepha: You’re going to learn all about it at the Contributor Day if you go, but the TLDR is that this software that you are about to choose to build your website on is built by thousands of people across the planet who are looking for the best solutions to problems that they have in their businesses that probably you will encounter or have encountered before. There’s no new problems under the sun, and open source methodologies kind of use the collective wisdom of everybody who has ever worked with a WordPress project or site and ran into a problem that they had to solve on their own, like this open source project, this community of people just make sure that that wisdom is collected and standardized and made available for all of eternity.

That’s all you need to know. Low key. I’ve made Contributor Days sound so calming. However, that is a whole day thing. It happens before or after the WordCamp. It has separate registration so that organizers of your WordCamp can plan for how many folks need to be there to teach new and returning contributors, what to do. If I’m going to be honest, if you’re going to get overwhelmed at any WordPress event, it’s going to be one of these, but they are well worth the effort.

[00:08:30] Josepha: Even if you just make a single contribution and never return, which I hope is not the case for you. I hope you do return. Even if you make a single contribution and never return, there’s something really grounding about seeing how much expertise and time, and care goes into this software that is, against all odds, completely free. So that’s all the tactical stuff, or a lot of it anyway.

It at least gives you a sense for what you’re getting yourself into for your first-ever wonderful WordPress weekend. But I promised you some human stuff too. So here is my considerably shorter list of stuff to bring as a human being going to a WordCamp. There’s an optional one. I’ll start you off with an optional one. Come with an idea of what you think you want to learn. You don’t have to come with that if you don’t want to. Some of us don’t know what we don’t know yet, and that’s fine too. But if you have a sense for what you think you need to learn, you’ll have an easier time figuring out how to spend your time while you’re here.

[00:09:30] Josepha: So, the non-optional things. Bring some way to exchange information. It can be QR codes, business cards, or pen and paper. It doesn’t really matter as long as it’s something that works for you to be sharing information with people that you meet. Because you never know when you’re going to meet your business soulmate, but the odds that you’re going to do it at a WordCamp are pretty dang high.

The second thing to bring is bring what you need to be comfortable. Bring your water bottle, a change of shoes if you need it, spare battery for your phone, your glasses. This day is going to be long enough without worrying about small inconveniences. So bring what you need to make yourself comfortable. 

[00:10:09] Josepha: And finally bring your bravery. You will not know by looking at someone whether they’ve been doing WordPress stuff for two years or two weeks. But you can know that at some point, they were in the first two days of trying to figure this all out. One of the most endearing things about this community is the zeal they bring to solving a problem. So if you get lost or stuck, just ask the person next to you. We all remember what it was like to know nothing, and we are rooting for you to succeed. And that’s it. That’s your whole list. That’s everything you need to know to be the most prepared first-time attendee to a WordCamp ever. If that all sounded more overwhelming than just showing up, don’t worry.

You can also just show up. That’s what I did. And even though I knew next to nothing, those WordCampers made me feel welcome and included and kept me coming back to learn more.

[00:11:04] Josepha: Ah, WordCamps. Gosh, I love those things. So glad that we’re all getting back together for them. 

[00:11:10] (Music interlude) 

[00:11:18] Josepha: That brings us now, my friends, to our small list of big things. If you’re a first-time WordPresser, if you’ve never been to a WordCamp, and you don’t know what any of these things are, don’t worry; you can still go take a look at them, or you can wait until later when you’re less overwhelmed.

Either way, but this is our small list of big things for middle of the year 2024. First thing on my list, the gender equality in WordPress businesses survey is still open. It aims to gain critical insight into the gender composition of leadership teams, the experiences of women and gender-diverse leaders and employees, and also take a look at the challenges and barriers to their career success. I care deeply about making sure that we have a way for folks who are traditionally and historically underrepresented in technology have a way to get into our space. Obviously, women and nonbinary folks are an area that I feel particularly called to help build those on-ramps for, but I have a great concern for that across the entire ecosystem and any intersection that we run into as we get more and more users into our space. 

[00:12:30] Josepha: If you are a woman, if you work with women, if you work in WordPress, if you work in a WordPress business, go take that survey, and let’s see what we find out about what it’s like to work in this space, as somebody that we normally don’t see. 

The second thing on our list is that WordCamp Asia 2025 dates and venue have been revealed. So WordCamp Asia 2023 and 2024 were both major successes, and we are excited to share that the dates and venue for next year will be February 20th, 21st, 22nd in 2025 in Manila, and you’ll be able to go over to that website, take a look at it, we’ll have a link in the show notes as always and maybe start planning your your next big Asian adventure.

[00:13:13] Josepha: The third thing on my list is this new contributor wizard questionnaire. So, there are more than 20 teams to contribute to in the WordPress project. They all show up at those Contributor Days that I talked about. But there are more than 20 of them. They work on different parts of the WordPress project every day. And our passionate community offers contribution opportunities for everyone. I know, we know, that finding the right team is the key to a meaningful contributor experience. So, our interactive questionnaire is here to help you determine where to start. It is sometimes difficult to know whether you can contribute to a software if you are a designer, if you are a writer, if you are in marketing.

And it turns out that you can contribute to WordPress with a bunch of skills that you otherwise would not have realized. So, we’ll have a link to the questionnaire in the show notes again. Also, it’s probably going to pop up on WordCamp sites, Contributor Day sites, anything that helps you all understand where you might find a little bit of success as a contributor is a good place for it to be. Take the questionnaire, see where you land, the WordPress sorting hat. 

[00:14:18] Josepha: And item number four. So we’ve made some updates, not we’ve made some updates, we have some updates from the Five for the Future program. So the Five for the Future program has a long history in the WordPress project. There are a couple of different episodes in this podcast where you can learn more about it.

But, to bolster transparency and openness, we have an update on the current state of WordPress contributions as of the end of May 2024. In the past few months, we’ve made a lot of efforts to improve the program and contributor experience in WordPress. We’ve also done a little bit of work to kind of clean up the pledges that are in there for, people or companies or teams that have found that they couldn’t continue their contributions over time. That is fine too. But we’ll have a link to that update in the show notes as well.

[00:15:09] Josepha: And that, my friends, is your small list of big things. Don’t forget to follow us on your favorite podcast app or subscribe directly on You’ll get a friendly reminder whenever there’s a new episode. If you liked what you heard today, share it with a fellow WordPresser. Or, if you had questions about what you heard, you can share those with me at I am your host, Josepha Haden Chomposy. Thanks for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks. 

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