Earlier this month, I chaired a panel at WordCamp Cape Town that was all about contributing to WordPress:

As the chair of the panel, I wasn’t there to answer any of the questions; that was left to the Pascal Birchler, Thabo Tswana, Trisha Cornelius and Vedanshu Jain – all talented and experienced contributors to many different areas of the WordPress project.

The panel was open for attendees to ask any questions they wanted and we had some really good ones! As I wasn’t answering the questions on the day myself, I thought I’d pick out a few of the interesting ones and answer them here. Not that our panellists didn’t already do a stellar job of course – I just found these questions particularly interesting and worth discussing further.

There are already so many people contributing, why should I get involved?

More people = more voices = more diversity = more ideas = more valuable contributions.

Getting involved is always a good idea as you will inevitably have something new to offer that no one else is able to. Even if you honestly believe that you have nothing new to offer (which isn’t true), then remember that many hands make light work, so your contributions will always be valuable. 

How is the WordPress South Africa community levelling barriers to association and creating equal opportunity for locals?

This is a big question and one that we could talk about at length. Currently, the primary organisers for the Cape Town community are all white males (myself included) – this is a problem that we fully recognise, but unless someone else steps up to assist then there’s not a lot we can do to change that ourselves.

For WordCamp Cape Town this year, we made a special effort towards diverse representation in our speaker line-up, and we had the most diverse set of speakers that we’ve ever had for a local WordCamp. Hopefully this kind of thing will encourage and inspire folks who are under-represented on the organising team to come forward and lend a hand.

WordPress is a community-driven project and we can only grow more in this area if people come on board to assist. If you would like to get involved in the local WordPress community to help knock down barriers to diversity, then please reach out to me!

Why contribute to WordPress? What motivates you to contribute?

There are a lot of different answers that could be given here – not least is that contributing to WordPress increases the diversity of ideas that are made available to project.

A more personal answer regarding what motivates me to contribute, is that I firmly believe in the mission of WordPress to democratise publishing for everyone. The open-source nature of the project, makes it one of the most powerful forces for change in the world. You might feel that’s being over-dramatic about a CMS, but you should never under-estimate the power of giving someone a voice.

By contributing to WordPress, I believe I am helping to further the goal of allowing everyone in the world to easily and freely publish their thoughts, ideas and opinions. That may not seem like much if you have always had that sort of opportunity, but for much of the world, it means everything.

Is there a way to financially support WordCamps in other countries?

Yes! Any company can sponsor any WordCamp in the world. If you aren’t in a position to sponsor, then you can simply purchase a ticket for the WordCamp to donate some money towards them. Many WordCamps even have “microsponsor” tickets, which are priced higher than normal tickets, but lower than a sponsorship package – these are a great way to donate to a WordCamp that you would like to assist financially.

What aspect of WordPress is most in need of contribution currently?

As a member of the Community Team, I an unequivocally say that it is obviously the Community Team that has the most need right now. Then again, someone on the Documentation Team would tell you that it is the their team that needs the most contributions right now – the same goes for all teams I’m sure!

A less biased answer is that the Testing Team is always in need of contributors. It is not unfair to say that if more folks were actively testing new WordPress features, then the release schedule could potentially be brought forward and each release would be more stable and reliable.

Is it difficult to become a Core contributor? Any tips on how to get started?

It isn’t difficult at all. The Core Contributor Handbook is a great place to start and has some useful info about submitting your first patch. A general tip from my experience, is to start with something simple – the first patch I ever submitted to core was adding a single do_action call in a place where I needed to output some HTML for a plugin of mine to work properly.

What are the challenges with contributing when you have daily work commitments?

This is a great question as I know it is a stumbling block for many new contributors. Not everyone is in a position where their company sponsors their time to contribute to WordPress or, at the very least, allows then to spend a small amount of time each work on contributions. If you are in that boat, then I would recommend that you start with smaller, manageable tasks.

Things that I would consider more manageable in terms of time, would be testing WordPress core, testing the mobile apps, getting involved in vetting meetup applications, helping in the support forums, translating WordPress, and captioning videos on WordPress.tv. There are many other paths to getting involved that also won’t take up loads of your time, but I feel like those are a few that are simple enough to get started, but also allow for much more growth when you find that you have more time available later on.

How can a non-developer contribute to WordPress?

I already listed some of the ways in the previous answer, but generally speaking – if you want to start contributing to WordPress, you will always find something that matches your skill set on the Make network.

How many words could a WordPress press if a WordPress could press words?

The answer, of course, is as many words as a WordPress could press if a WordPress could press words.


There were a number of other questions asked as well, but I already touched on them here, or they were more technical and specific, so not necessary to answer in this post. In general, I really enjoyed the panel and I think many of the questions gave some great insight into the thoughts of our community.

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