WordCamp News

DreamHost Sponsors All WordCamps in the US and Canada in 2014

We’re so grateful that DreamHost has, for the second year in a row, committed to sponsoring all WordCamps in the US and Canada in 2014 at the WordCamp Champion level. This amazing commitment to the WordCamp program has been a true boon to the WordCamp program in the last year, allowing WordCamp organizers to focus less on fundraising and more on programming and planning amazing events that bring the WordPress community together.

dreamhost_logo-cmyk-no_tag-2012DreamHost is a global Web hosting and cloud services provider with over 350,000 customers and 1.2 million blogs, websites, and apps hosted. The company offers a wide spectrum of Web hosting and cloud services including Shared Hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), Dedicated Server Hosting, Domain Name Registration, the cloud storage service, DreamObjects, and the cloud computing service DreamCompute. More information about DreamHost can be found at  http://dreamhost.com.

Thank you to DreamHost for your commitment to WordCamps in North America!

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WordCamp Sofia Recap

The last weekend of October was important for the WordPress community in Bulgaria. Not only did it have its fourth WordCamp, but Sunday gathered people together to give back to WordPress during the first Contributor Day in Sofia.

More than 260 people attended on Saturday. There were two parallel tracks with talks: the General track covering common WordPress, business, and design-related talks, and the Developers track focusing on more in-depth topics. 16 different sessions were available to the audience, and a Q&A panel was the logical end to the formal part of the event.

There were local representatives in both the development and general tracks, and seven international speakers joined us to share their experience and feel the team spirit of the warm Bulgarian community. We tried to cover the essentials for beginners, set an (almost) full track of English talks in one of the rooms at any time, arrange a sequence of sessions revealing the beauty of WordPress – frontend and backend – and how easy and flexible it is, ending with a review of WordPress as an application framework (which many consider to be the future of the platform). Surprisingly, despite the eight technical talks in the Dev panel, people asked for even more (both in terms of number and details) code-oriented talks, which is something to be considered next year.

We spent quite some time (about seven months) planning and executing the original agenda (based on how WordCamps work across the world). Being able to get the venue for free as a donation by our local training academy was a huge win, given its convenient location and full equipment for a conference. Starbucks served coffee all day; we tried a new vendor for  lunch and chilled out for a few hours after the conference (or rather, had a great time at the after party). We were incredibly lucky with the weather as well – the first days of October were cold and rainy, but the second half of the month was warm and sunny, setting the tone for having a great community time.

Despite the long night for many of us, more than 40 people attended the Contributor Day on Sunday. We were lucky to have Kim and Eric from the Docs team prepare some tasks in the handbooks and inline docs, and Konstantin Kovshenin led the local docs contributors (with great results at the end). In addition to that, we formed teams for support, translations and theme reviews, and dedicated dozens of man-hours into WordPress-related activities, both for the local community and for the big family around the world.

Not to mention that we took part in several activities before and after the weekend — that’s how addictive the WordPress community is :)

The WordCamp Sofia organizing team is thrilled with all the positive feedback we got from the attendee survey sent after the WordCamp. WordCamp Sofia wouldn’t have been possible without the group effort from the team, our partners and sponsors, the volunteers, the speakers and – naturally – all the excited WordPress fans who joined us over the weekend!

// Photo credits: Margarit Ralev

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WordCamp Europe Recap

A week ago saw WordCamp Europe, the first WordCamp to represent not only a city or a country, but a continent. It had speakers and attendees from all over the world, all of whom descended on the small town of Leiden in the Netherlands, which found itself for three days awash with WordPress. So what happened, and why?

Organiser Zé Fontainhas with speaker Ptah Dunbar

Organiser Zé Fontainhas with speaker Ptah Dunbar

WordCamp Europe was organised by a pan-European team of WordPressers, all who are active in their local community. We wanted to create a large-scale European WordPress event that reflected the vibrancy of Europe, and that’s exactly what we did. There were ups and downs along the way, but at the end of it we are proud to say that we pulled it off.

Thanks to Kim for being a last-minute hero!

Thanks to Kim for being a last-minute hero!

The event comprised two main conference days and one contributor day. Amongst the speakers, 18 countries were represented, 14 of those European. It’s hard to pick out favourites as they were all so distinct, but we’d like to say a particular thanks to Kim Gjerstad from MailPoet, who filled in at the very last minute when Sean Herron had to pull out due to the United States government shutdown. We were very sad to lose Sean but Kim did a great job sharing his experiences of growing a commercial plugin business. The videos are in the process of being edited and will be up on WordCamp.tv very soon.

There were aspects of the event that went smoothly, and others that didn’t. But we hope that both we and other WordCamp organisers can learn from our successes and our mistakes. A major success was the venue and location. As the backdrop to your event, a good venue and location sets the ambience. The venue was stunning, the staff were professional and helpful, and Leiden is small enough that all of the locations could be easily walked to.

venue

Volunteers hanging out on stage

We were also pleased with the speakers and the scheduling. From the start, we knew that we wanted a two-track event. This takes the onus from the attendee who sometimes has to choose between five or six tracks, and puts the responsibility in the hands of the organiser to select the right speakers. It follows, we feel, the WordPress ethos of decisions, not options. It also provides a better experience for speakers who will always be presenting to a filled room. Many credible applications were turned down, but it is better to turn down good applications than have to accept not-so-good ones to fill up a huge schedule.

What didn’t go so well? We could have given a little bit more love to our sponsors, something that I would encourage all WordCamp organisers to do. It’s important to create long-lasting relationships with sponsors in order to ensure that your WordCamp is sustainable. There was also a major fail around the wifi on the Contributor Day when the entire network went down at the De Waag venue. This was remedied by us moving back to the original conference venue. A few hours work was lost in the morning but we did manage to get a few extra hours in the evening, finishing the day off with pizza and beer.

It’s worth adding a few things about the Contributor Day, which are beginning to accompany many WordCamps. A Contributor Day is a microcosm of when the community functions at its best online. People from different parts of the project ask each other for help and advice, and you can see them learning from each other. Rian Rietveld captures this perfectly when she talks about how the accessibility, polyglots, and core teams all brought their perspectives to one problem. We hope that this sort of cooperation can be continued online.

paolo

Paolo waits for the impending rush of attendees

From the organising team’s perspective, WordCamp Europe was a huge success. There are so many people to thank, speakers, sponsors, and volunteers, but we’d particularly like to thank the attendees, whose good will and enthusiasm during the event really made it what it was.

Discussions are already starting about WordCamp Europe 2014. If you’re a WordCamp organiser and you’re interested in hosting it in your country, keep an eye out on this blog. We’ll be looking for applications for a new host country, with the decision made by members of this year’s organising team along with WordCamp Central. You might call us crazy, but we can’t wait to do it all over again.

Photo credits Darren Ambrose

 

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Join WordCamp Lima via live stream this weekend

WordCamp Lima will be held this Saturday, October 19 at the Area51 Training Center. Registration is complete, but Spanish-speaking WordPress lovers around the world can enjoy WordCamp Lima via live stream! The last WordCamp in Lima was in 2009, so we’re very excited to hear from the WordPress community in Peru again.

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WordCamp Recap: Baltimore

Speaker Russell Heimlich Talks Caching (Photo Credit: Drew Poland)

Speaker Russell Heimlich Talks Caching
(Photo Credit: Drew Poland)

Baltimore: the largest city in Maryland and the 26th largest city in the United States. It was also a city that on September 21st played host to a packed WordCamp event. Ask anyone at WordCamp Baltimore, and you’ll still hear the excitement in their voices as they relived the event. Who can blame them? It was a memorable day as people from both the Baltimore area and from other parts of the country gathered as a community to talk WordPress, web design, and other topics.

Brad Parbs talk on SASS
(Photo Credit: Will Schmierer)

I had the joy of touching base again with Andy Stratton, who (along with Drew Poland and others) helped organize WordCamp Baltimore this year (and the previous). I asked him the usual question of why he helped start and continue WordCamps in Baltimore… as usual, it starts with the meetups. “The meetup has been active for years… It kind of made sense as the meetup organizers, we thought it’d be a fun and interesting challenge and great way to give back, foster and promote the WordPress community in this area.” Andy then talked about his goals for this particular WordCamp: “Just like our meetups, we like to make sure people have a few strong takeaways they can use to better their experience with WordPress or foster further ‘nuggets’ of knowledge/wisdom.”

Every WordCamp is unique, and Andy reminded me what ways WordCamp Baltimore stand out from the multiple of other WordPress events: “We’re in Baltimore! Home of The Wire!” Andy pauses here, and you can hear the small laughter as he quickly follows that up with: “Actually, Baltimore is much safer than that show makes it seem – and there’s some great locations that people visit when they come down. WordCamp Baltimore is at the University of Baltimore’s Thumel Business Center (same location as one of the first WordCamp Mid-Atlantic events). We have our after-party and attendee social right on the harbor in Fell’s Point.”

This year, WordCamp Baltimore brought in a bit over 200 attendees. Impressive, considering this is only Baltimore’s second official WordCamp. About a dozen volunteers were on hand to help. And good news – thanks to a local volunteer firm, it looks like videos from the event will be appearong on WordCamp.tv in the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for them so you can watch (or relive) many of the presentations, and then maybe make sure you’re in Baltimore next year. :)

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WordCamp Recap: Albuquerque

Back on September 13th, New Mexico played host to WordCamp Albuquerque 2013. It was a three day event located at the Albuquerque Convention Center. As you would expect from any successful WordCamp, it brought the local WordPress community together for an exciting and fun social event (not to mention bringing in lots of interesting out of town speakers).

Happiness Bar at WordCamp Albuquerque was popular and well-staffed.

Happiness Bar at WordCamp Albuquerque was popular and well-staffed.

This year’s WordCamp Albuquerque was the third so far, and this year brought in about 180 in attendance. Karen Arnold, an organizer for all three years, was kind enough to touch base briefly with me after the event. “The response to the community has been huge. I’ve been so pleased to see how many people have come out of the woodwork over the last three years. We have really amazing WordPress people in ABQ.”

Whenever I ask organizers about WordCamps, I’m always interested in the meetup as well – since that’s where many WordCamps get their start. Karen told me that the meetup has been active since early 2011. “There was no WordPress community in this area and I was essentially starving for a community.” As Karen said this, it’s good to note how a few people (or even one) can start a movement like this.

Another common question I like to ask of WC organizers is their favorite WordCamp story. “We realized we could contract with a local sandwich shop for lunch to save on food services costs.” Karen relates. “Now, we are in New Mexico, where rain is a rarity, but as it happened it rained pretty much every day leading up to WordCamp and the forecast called for rain all day the day of WordCamp. I was so nervous; we had people scouting out other locations where we could fit 200 people comfortably with sack lunches away from the rain. About an hour before lunch the sun came out, the ground dried up enough for our purposes and we ended up with the most amazing outdoor community experience. It was beautiful.”

WordCamp Alburquerque also had great support from over 15 volunteers as well. Big hand to those who helped out! Also big hand to those who supported the WordCamp kid’s workshop, which has been something of a tradition for Albuquerque.

Karen tells me that we should see some videos of the WordCamp appear on WordPress.tv. Can’t wait!

 

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WordCamp Recap: Tokyo

Over 1100 attended WordCamp Tokyo 2013. (photo by @me_me_sheep)

Over 1100 attended WordCamp Tokyo 2013. (photo by @me_me_sheep)

When you think “largest attended WordCamps” – what cities do you think of? San Francisco? Phoenix? Miami? How about Japan? This past weekend (on September 14th) WordCamp Tokyo rocked the house with over 1,100 attendees! That’s no typo. That’s about two large WordCamps (at least from the United States) put together! Not only that but this year marked the 6th annual WordCamp in the Metropolitan Tokyo area (including one in Yokohama, 2010) – which would also make it one of the longer running WordCamps.

To get a good idea of how everything went that Saturday, I had a pleasure of touching base with Naoko Takano, one of the organizers of WordCamp Tokyo. For starters, what improvements or changes were made compared to last year’s event? “This year, we included more sessions for contributing to WordPress.” Naoko related. “So talks focused on the Codex, forums, how to start meetups, and so forth.” I also asked about how you make a WordCamp of this size (and in Japan) unique. “This is the second year we’ve held WordCamp Tokyo along with another PHP conference. Even though it’s a relatively large WordCamp, we try to make it very community oriented and not too commercial.”

Happiness Bar?

Happiness Bar? (photo by Keiko Shinoda)

WordCamp Tokyo went to great lengths to ensure attendees don’t feel left behind in the community and to make them feel welcome and involved. To that end, there many “games” and interactive sessions were included throughout the day. For starters, there was a WordPress Typing Game (here’s a link explaining it in detail) that was immediately fun. There was also a photo booth (you can tell just by looking at the photos how popular that was) and “WordPress Karuta” (a type of card game) which was not only entertaining but also educational.

This WordCamp didn’t disappoint in the swag department either. A unique aspect of this camp were the stickers – collecting series of stickers at sponsor booth to win a t-shirt, special sticker or set of Karuta game cards. There were even stickers of Wapuu, which is the Japanese WordPress mascot! Yep, Japan has a WordPress mascot.

WordCamp Tokyo 2013 T-Shirt

WordCamp Tokyo 2013 T-Shirt

A great line of speakers helped make the event more memorable. There was a variety of fantastic local speakers – and there also some that traveled from great distances to attend. Among those out-of-town speakers was Konstantin Obenland - Theme Wrangler at Automattic and WordPress Core Contributor.

One of the many unique things about this particular WordCamp is that it is completely free, with expenses of the event offset by sponsors and other means. To accommodate an event of this size, one has to imagine a formable volunteer force. Thankfully, WordCamp Tokyo had over 100 volunteers that day, with half that number actually acting as nearly full time organizing team members.

cast

WordCamp Tokyo 2013 Staff (photo by @yorozu)

So after all the planning and all the efforts made for attendees to feel welcome and able to contribute, I asked Naoko what the most rewarding parts of WordCamp Tokyo have been so far. “I’ve seen many new find new friends and business partners because of face-to-face events like WordCamps. This contributes to the growth of local communities because then people feel comfortable sharing information and working together. I love seeing people building great relationships in WordPress community.”

Sessions were recorded and should be available on WordPress.tv in the coming weeks!

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WordCamp Toronto publishes their schedule

Toronto really knows how to put on a WordCamp, and if you’re at all able to be in town the weekend of October 5-6, you’ll get the chance to listen and talk to some wicked-smart people about WordPress. Check out WordCamp Toronto’s newly published schedule for Saturday - four tracks of awesome! Sunday will feature even more amazing speakers and sessions. Tickets are still available for this great event – just $30 for two days!

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