The WordPress Community – Smashing Conf Jam Session

Francesca introducing herself
Pic by Christian Heilmann-Smashing Conf London 2018

I managed to cross an item from my bucket list: “attend Smashing Conf”.

On February 8 and 9, I attended Smashing Conf in London, soaked in all the knowledge I could, fawned at Rachel Andrew, giggled at the stuff that Una and Martin showed on stage and had a jolly good time.

I also had the chance to give a lightning talk at the pre conference jam session, the night before the event. Here is a transcript of my notes, I hope the talk will inspire you to join the WordPress Community, online and offline!

I fell in love with the WordPress community in 2015, being part of it has completely changed my life. Today I am here to tell you a bit about it. Hopefully, you’ll fall in love too and get involved.

First of all, what is

WordPress is a free, open source CMS, made by a community of volunteers.
Born in 2003 as a fork of an open source blogging platform, today it’s powering almost 30% of the web (based on Alexa ranking).
Its mission is to democratise publishing though open source software.

WordPress is completely made by volunteers. Although there is a Foundation, it has no employees and its purpose is to support WordPress, its community and other Open Source projects, not actively working on them.

All developments and enhancements depend on us, the community of users!


And what is a Community? If you go to the dictionary you’ll find a number of definitions, the one that I think is most fitting for a software community is this: “A body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society“.
You could say the web is the larger society and WordPress is a subgroup of it.

So how do we meet? Where? When? Here is a primer to get you started.


First of all Meetups. They are the heart of our Community. Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month).
Anything that brings together 2 or more people to share their WordPress experiences counts — there’s no minimum number of attendees or required format.
We have a Meetup program supported by a subsidiary of the Foundation.

As of yesterday (February 5th, 2018), when I took a screenshot of this map, there are 572 Meetups in the program, in 87 countries with more than 500 thousand members. These are only the chapter Meetups, there are tons of non-chapter meetups and events there are out there!  To find the one close to you go to and search WordPress Meetups in your area.


Communities that have built strong Meetup groups are great places to host WordCamps, that’s what we call our conferences. Born as bar camps, they evolved into more structured events, from one day, one track, local conferences with fifty people talking about WordPress to what we consider our flagship events, WordCamp Europe and WordCamp US. These events are held once a year and they gather more than two thousand persons in the two continents.

In 2017 there were 125 events world wide. Chances are there will be one in 2018 close to where you live: you can find out on

Contributor Events

In addition to Meetups and WordCamps we have events focused on contributing to WordPress. They can last a whole day, with different teams coming together to make WordPress, to shorter events, focused on one aspect of WordPress.

A notable contributor event is the WordPress Global Translation Day. We have done this already three times: for 24 hours we live stream sessions dedicated to different topics around WordPress localisation and internationalisation and we organise on site events in different cities around the world for a translation sprint. WordPress is translated into more than 160 languages, at least 50 of them are 100% complete when there is a new release.

Contributing to WordPress is made by volunteers and if you are interested in knowing more about how the project is structured and hopefully getting involved with it, we have a website with all the information you need,

The welcome box tells you what we do: we need everyone to make WordPress better.

It took me years to decide to contribute to it because I thought they only needed help writing PHP. Now I know better 🙂
Not only code makes WordPress. We need translations, documentation, testing and many other things. Every contribution, no matter how small, makes a difference.

Currently we have 18 teams, basically none of them accepts only contributions from back-end developers. Even in Core, the team that oversees the code that powers WordPress they always need testers, feedbacks, bug reports from everyone. Each team is responsible to move the platform forward in their area of focus. From Accessibility to Design, from Plugin and Theme reviews to Marketing, there is a job for everyone, not just developers.


And if you want to keep in touch with the people you met at an event or follow the updates of a team you are interested in contributing to, we have a Slack workspace with more than 20 thousand people in it.

So there is only one thing left to do! Join us 🙂

Pic by Christian Heilmann (I kept my cool in front of the one and only @codepo8. Barely)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.