Outreachy week 5: Exploring WordCamp Europe

Time goes by really fast and I’m writing this sitting in the Vienna Schwechat airport waiting for my plane as WordCamp Europe is already over. Those days were filled with awesome people, events and things, but per best instructional design practices 🙂 I’ll focus on the top three things I really enjoyed about WCEU.

1. WordCamp Spirit

As a newcomer I was smitten by such a chill, low-key, welcoming environment. Even though that wasn’t quite a regular WordCamp, but the biggest in Europe (check out a panoramic image WCEU shot at Q&A with Matt Mullenweg – whoa, that’s a lot of people!), it still felt cozy and open for everyone, regardless of the experience level. And all the automatticians (employees of Automattic, the company behind wordpress.com) were really super-nice and invited me tag along despite the fact that I was overwhelmed and stricken with introversion most of the time 🙂

2. Contributor day

After two days of listening to the speakers it felt really good to move to action! Not only it was amazing to see five hundred people willing to contribute to WordPress and get to know what are other teams doing, but we also had a chance to test the WordCamp & meetup organizer training courses which I was working on last month. And there was a lot of useful feedback which we’ll use to improve. You can take a look at the document which summarizes what we found out here.

Three of the most important findings are:

  • We need to agree on the way content is going to be synced between organizer’s handbooks and the training site.
  • The navigation of the course is to be improved with some custom fixes like removing the links we don’t want to be clicked, forcing the links to open in different window and generally making sure learner understands where & why to click.
  • The timing estimations should be added so that people would understand how long will them take to go through the training – especially given the fact that WordCamp Organizer course will be a long one.

3. Talks

WordCamp Europe 2016 really was the kind of conference that was open to everyone, regardless of experience with WordPress, with a diverse range of topics. This was really helpful to me to get a better perspective in what is going on in the community and learn from others’ experience. I have selected three talks I was most impressed with – and you can watch them as well at WordPress.tv:

  • My friend the Impostor Syndrome by Sonja Leix. A lot was said already about the impostor syndrome and techniques one could employ to cope with it, but this honest, brave and deeply moving talk is still really worth watching.
  • WordPress: the early years by Mike Little. This one is a co-founder’s view of the early years of WordPress which is not-surprisingly very interesting.
  • Code is Poetry: A Musician’s Tale by Helen Hou-Sandí. The shameful thing is that I haven’t actually seen this one as I was in another track but EVERYONE says it was awesome and features a real piano so you can’t miss this – and I will definitely watch it.

To sum up, I think the biggest “take away” for a myself as a first time WordCamp attendee is about how big and generous the WordPress community is. And that even one with not much expertise in coding can become a part of this community and start contributing. What’s required is really just some persistence, a tiny bit of bravery and willingness to learn and explore. And I do have all of that 🙂
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