Join WordPress guest host, Chief of Staff and Head of Operations, Chloé Bringmann, and special guest Head of Programs and Contributor Experience, Angela Jin, in the 58th episode of the WordPress Briefing as they discuss the next generation of WordCamps.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:00:10]
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 guest host Chloé Bringmann. And here we go.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:00:40]
So I have the privilege of guest hosting this episode of the WordPress Briefing. And today I have with me a very special guest. The Head of Programs and Contributor Experience, Angela Jin. Welcome. Before we dive into all the questions, can you tell me and our listeners a little bit about your role in the WordPress community?
[Angela Jin 00:01:01]
Yeah, happy to, and thank you so much for having me. I’m very excited to be here. I am the Head of Programs and Contributor Experience, and I provide oversight and guidance for our WordPress programs, such as our events programs, training, and Five for the Future, with an eye toward ensuring their sustainability and growth. I’m very fortunate to work with our contributors across many teams around the world. In addition to troubleshooting and helping folks figure out how to move forward, I also spend a good amount of time exploring with others what could be in our programs.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:01:41]
We just got back from WordCamp Europe in Athens, Greece. It was such an energizing event for me, but I’m curious about what your impressions were of the past week.
[Angela Jin 00:01:52]
Yeah, it was fantastic. I’m always really inspired by what a group of like-minded people can achieve together. There’s a lot of passion for this particular WordCamp, and it made for a really wonderful WordPress experience. Full of lots of great connections and memories; I have a million follow-ups and probably even more thoughts to reflect on. So it’s great. There were a lot of new WordPressers there. So it was lovely to meet them. And I’m really excited to see how many exciting new projects and ideas that we have in the space.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:02:27]
Same, you said it perfectly. Josepha also mentioned in the flagship’s keynote, the proposal for the next generation of WordCamps. I’m curious about what the main ideas and goals, as discussed thus far, are of that proposal.
[Angela Jin 00:02:42]
For sure. So WordCamps have been fundamental for the WordPress community for a very long time. And while they have continued to grow larger and reach more places around the world, it’s also undeniable that the way that people meet has changed since 2006.
[Angela Jin 00:03:01]
And so, just as WordPress itself iterates we’re looking at iterating on WordCamps so that they move from fundamental to indispensable for the WordPressers of today and tomorrow. So event attendees today are looking to learn essential skills, make connections that lead to neat opportunities, and more.
[Angela Jin 00:03:23]
So to that end, we put forth an updated purpose for our events, which is that WordPress events spark innovation and adoption by way of accessible training and networking for users, builders, designers, and extenders. We celebrate community by accelerating 21st-century skills, professional opportunities, and partnerships for WordPressers of today and tomorrow.
[Angela Jin 00:03:47]
So the goal here is to create events that are more clearly defined – who these are for what you will gain from attending. We are looking to see events that take a deeper dive into content, or topics and provide more advanced content. And let’s try out some different formats and see how that shapes our event experience. And so it is a big shift. And change is always hard.
[Angela Jin 00:04:13]
However, the feedback that I’ve gotten so far, and certainly at WordCamp Europe, is that this is a very welcome evolution. And the Community team has already received over 60 proposals. So I’m very excited about that. In fact, a WordPress Community Day in Rome has already been announced and is focused on providing meet-up organizing and community management skills. So that’s pretty cool.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:04:37]
Wow, that’s incredible. I love that we’ve gotten 60 suggestions already and that we already have an event in place. That’s fantastic. In that blog post, too, it’s mentioned that WordCamps should prioritize inclusivity and diversity. How can organizers ensure these values are upheld in the next generation of WordCamps and beyond events? Into our day-to-day project involvement?
[Angela Jin 00:05:04]
Excellent question. So while WordCamps themselves are changing, some of our core values, like prioritizing inclusivity and diversity, are non-negotiable. For the whole project, we have a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement, and a Code of Conduct that lays out how we expect our community to engage with each other in this space.
[Angela Jin 00:05:27]
And on top of that, our programs do focus on providing resources and training like how to create a diverse speaker roster. And we have diverse speaker training workshops on how to organize a diverse and inclusive WordPress event. And we also have a great list of third-party resources as well. And so, with so many events, we create a lot of opportunities to grow as a visible contributor, whether it is a speaker, a volunteer, or an organizer.
[Angela Jin 00:05:56]
And so with the next generation of events, we could more intentionally create these spaces for groups that historically have been underrepresented. Even long before my post went live, the BlackPress meetup group, for example, wanted to create an event that connected with historically black colleges and universities. And an event like that that really invites a specific group to learn all about WordPress would be a really great experience and a wonderful way to celebrate that community and a great connection to the broader community so that we can intentionally get to the diversity that we want to see.
[Angela Jin 00:06:38]
And I also want to add that the people who are underrepresented in our community are more likely to need financial sponsorship. And so even though we do keep our ticket prices low so that our events are more easily accessible, the cost of travel continues to increase, not to mention the time and energy required to participate in these events. So an excellent way that companies can help is to sponsor somebody’s time and somebody’s contributions, which we’re always trying to encourage through the Five for the Future program.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:07:11]
Beautiful. So, with that in mind, how do you foresee the next generation of WordCamps impacting the WordPress community, that larger ecosystem? So, what changes do you hope to see regarding community engagement, learning opportunities, and best practices?
[Angela Jin 00:07:31]
I foresee us evolving our tried and true event format into a dynamic wealth of community-led opportunities. I know that online events were pretty exhausting during the worst of the pandemic, but there is a ton of unexplored opportunities there. And community research is also showing that online is a great way to create more inclusive and diverse events.
[Angela Jin 00:07:58]
The Training team, with their learn WordPress online workshops, have really led the way with our online events. And there are so many more people that we can reach there.
[Angela Jin 00:08:08]
And so in addition to providing more advanced content, I also hope to see content around broader tech and business trends that influence WordPress, and conversely, how WordPress can shape those trends as well. And with all of that, I really hope that we can bring in more community members that otherwise wouldn’t be interested in what we currently offer, especially a younger generation that will help us drive the next generation of WordPress, the open source project.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:08:39]
Very excited to hear all of this, and I bet our listeners are too. I’m curious how they and community members can provide feedback or get involved with this next generation of WordCamps.
[Angela Jin 00:08:50]
I’m going to encourage everyone, please come chat with the Community team and comment on the current posts. We really welcome your feedback to help us get our events to this next iteration of what they will become. There are two posts, in particular, one is to suggest ideas of event formats and topics that you would like to see. And the second is if you are an organizer, we’re inviting you to hear some recommendations for improved tooling that would be helpful for your event site. And we’ll include links to those posts in the show notes.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:09:26]
One final question for you, Angela. Any thoughts as we prepare for WordCamp US and the Community Summit, which will be in National Harbor, Maryland, in August?
[Angela Jin 00:09:37]
For the Community Summit in particular, if you want to attend and you haven’t already applied, please please do make sure to apply as soon as possible. And encourage somebody else who you think should attend to apply as well.
[Angela Jin 00:09:53]
And if financial constraints are a blocker, we are aiming to help with the cost of hotel and or flight. And so one way to help support the diversity and inclusion of this event, and really to the whole project, is to also contribute to the Community Summit travel fund. You can find information about all of that on the Community Summit site.
[Angela Jin 00:10:15]
And next, if you have a topic in mind that you think needs to be discussed at the Community Summit, please please also share that information with us as well. And last but not least, I am, I am so excited. I’m not going to spoil anything. But I have been working with the WordCamp US organizing team and looking at some of what they have planned and some of the content. It’s going to be a truly incredible event, so don’t miss out.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:010:41]
Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much for joining me, Angela. And I can’t wait to see you and the WordPress community in August in person.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:010:58]
Which brings us now to our small list of big things. First up is the proposal and establishment of a new WordPress contributor team, the Sustainability team. Coming into WordCamp Europe, a proposal was put forward to create a team that would embed sustainable practices and processes in the ecosystem to ensure the Project’s longevity, both socially, economically, and as well environmentally. At WordCamp Europe, this proposal was confirmed, and the Sustainability team is now officially the 22nd contributor team that WordPressers can support with their contributions. Head on over to their making WordPress Slack channel, #sustainability, and join the conversation.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:011:39]
Second, I would like to call your attention to the 6.4 development cycle post that was published on June 5th. 6.4 will be the third major release of 2023 and supports our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts by being led by those contributors that identify as underrepresented gender. This release will also be the first to kick off phase three of the Gutenberg roadmap, which is collaborative editing and workflows. I’ve included a link to the post in our show notes and encourage anyone who is interested in being part of this momentous release to join us in making this both impactful and meaningful.
[Chloé Bringmann 00:012:16]
Finally, WordCamp US, as discussed, will be upon us before we know it starting on August 24th at National Harbor, Maryland. While tickets may be sold out, volunteers are still very much needed to make the flagship event run smoothly. So stop by us.wordcamp.org, raise your hand, and join us in August for engagement, inspiration, and learning. And that, my friends, is your small list of big things. I’m your guest host Chloé Bringmann and thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing.