Why I contribute to the open-source WordPress project

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Work for free?

Someone once asked me why I “work for free”. So I thought it would be a good idea to write about it and explain why it’s good for me, and why it can be good for you too.

In my opinion it’s good to contribute to an open-source project. Read this article on the “Why”, by The Linux Foundation: Participating in Open Source Communities.

It could be any that you use and know (The Mozilla Project, VLC, Mastodon, or any other, you’ll find one that suits you 🙂 )

I chose WordPress without initially realising that I was contributing to it. I was attending WordPress meetups in Geneva in 2013 and was asked to co-organise them when the 2 organisers at the time left town. I’ve been a co-organiser there ever since.

How to contribute?

When it comes to WordPress, there’s sometimes a misconception: NO, you don’t need to know how to code to contribute (I’m neither a developer nor a designer!)
This was the topic of the panel I took part in at WordCamp Europe 2023: Contributing to WordPress without knowing “How to Code”.

Photo courtesy of WordCamp Europe

You can see the replay here from timecode 5:04:44

Livestream of the WordCamp Europe 2023 – Day 2 – Track 2

What’s in it for you?

If you are not sure what’s in it for you, here’s some food for thought!

Contributing to the WordPress project can be a rewarding experience for several reasons. First, let’s clarify the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com:

WordPress.org is the open-source, self-hosted version of WordPress. It’s a free platform that allows users to download and customize their own WordPress websites using themes and plugins. The WordPress project, which is maintained and developed by a community of volunteers, falls under this category and is the one we contribute to.

WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a commercial platform owned by Automattic that offers hosting and support for WordPress websites. Users can create a website without needing to download or manage the software themselves, but this comes with certain limitations and paid plans.

Here are some reasons why people choose to contribute to the WordPress.org project:

  1. Give back to the community: If you use WordPress, by contributing to the open-source WordPress project, you’re giving back to the community that created and maintains the platform. This is a way to show gratitude for the free software that has helped millions of people build websites.
  2. Improve your skills: Contributing to the project helps you improve your skills in web development, programming, design, for me: organising events, and more. You’ll work with experienced people and have the opportunity to learn from them.
  3. Networking: Being part of the WordPress community brings you into contact with other like-minded professionals and enthusiasts. This can lead to new friendships, collaborations, or even job opportunities.
  4. Influence the future of WordPress: As a contributor, you have a say in the future development of WordPress. You can suggest new features, report bugs, and help shape the direction of the platform.
  5. Recognition: Active contributors to the WordPress project are often recognised for their efforts, either through mentions in release notes, on the WordPress.org website, or at WordCamps and meetups.
  6. Personal satisfaction: Contributing to an open-source project can be a fulfilling experience. Knowing that your efforts are benefiting millions of users around the world can bring a sense of accomplishment.

Contributing to the WordPress project allows you to be part of a global community working together to improve and maintain a platform that empowers individuals and businesses to create their online presence.

How to start?

Head over to this page on the wordpress.org website: Become a WordPress contributor, or directly to the contribution subsite (make). You’ll find a list of the teams to which you can contribute.

You can also participate to the WordPress’ Five for the Future project. A round table was also held at WordCamp Europe 2023 about this subject: How someone can become a sponsored contributor, and how a company can sponsor a contributor

In addition, a pilot program is being set up (July 2023) for new contributors to be mentored by seasoned ones, stay tuned for more information soon.

Diversity

Diversity is very important in the WordPress world. We need to improve and ensure that people from often under-represented groups are contributing, speaking, organising events, etc. Representation matters!

This point is also valid if you think you do not have enough skills, if you are an introvert, if you feel that your English is not good enough, etc. You ARE welcome!

Conclusion

I hope you understand better what is it to contribute to WordPress. A friend of mine once said “it’s just a tool” but in my opinion it’s much more than that, and to be honest there are also professional benefits to it, which I listed above under point 3.

I’m looking forward to see you at a WordPress event!

Note: see the list of my participations in WordCamps and meetups

Edit: this article has been listed on:
WP Content: The WP Week Newsletter #132
WP Builds: This Week in WordPress #264

The WP Weekly: WP Weekly 157 – Creators


6 responses to “Why I contribute to the open-source WordPress project”
  1. Aditya Kane avatar

    This is a really cool write up. WordPress is software at the end of the day, but what a community we have that is in love with it and nurtures all that this piece of code means.

    Your story resonates a lot with me. I too started contributing to WordPress organising meetups and WordCamp, without realising I was contributing.

    1. Patricia BT avatar
      Patricia BT

      Thank you for your comment Aditya.
      Glad to have you in the community.
      See you soon somewhere in a WordCamp 😀

  2. Hari Shanker avatar

    I love this post (for obvious reasons)! You have elegantly shared the importance and benefits of contributing to an open source project like WordPress.

    Personally for me, one of the best benefits of contributing is getting to know amazing human beings like you! 🙂 Looking forward to meeting you in-person in a few days’ time!

    1. Patricia BT avatar
      Patricia BT

      Thank you my friend!
      I should have listed you (and Afshana, Courtney and Emanuel) by name when I mentioned the round-table above!
      Yes, looking forward to seeing you again at the WordPress Community Summit

  3. Thierry Pigot avatar

    C’est vraiment inspirant de lire ton histoire et de voir ton engagement (que je connais déjà très bien) envers le projet open-source WordPress. Ta passion et ton dévouement pour contribuer à la communauté sont vraiment remarquables et je me reconnais parfaitement dans ton parcours.

    Je partage ton point de vue sur l’importance de contribuer à un projet open-source. Ton expérience prouve que la contribution ne se limite pas au codage ou au design, mais qu’elle peut prendre différentes formes et avoir un impact significatif sur soi et les autres.

    L’idée que la contribution à WordPress n’est pas seulement bénéfique pour la plateforme elle-même, mais aussi pour les contributeurs, est vraiment ce que je partage le plus. Je suis totalement d’accord avec toi sur les avantages en termes d’amélioration des compétences, de réseautage, de satisfaction personnelle… même si sur le long terme cela use toujours un peu 😉

    Ton appel à la diversité et à l’inclusion dans la communauté WordPress est également très important. Ton message selon lequel chacun est le bienvenu, indépendamment de ses compétences, de sa personnalité ou de ses barrières personnelles, est profondément inspirant. C’est ce que j’ai tout le temps souhaité pour la communauté WordPress en France et plus particuliérement sur Paris.

    Je te félicite chaleureusement pour ton engagement et pour les bénéfices que tu apportes à la communauté WordPress. J’ai hâte de te retrouver lors d’un prochain événement WordPress.

    Merci pour tout ce que tu fais !

    1. Patricia BT avatar
      Patricia BT

      Merci beaucoup Thierry pour ton message.

      J’ai participé ces mardi et mercredi au WordPress Community Summit et à plein de discussions dont une notamment à propos de la diversité et de l’inclusion.
      J’ai trop tendance à croire au monde des bisounours et quand je dis dans mon post “everyone is welcome”, je dois aussi écouter les voix de celles et ceux qui ne se sont pas senti-e-s les bienvenu-e-s.
      “Everyone is welcome” c’est le but, mais il y a encore du chemin à parcourir.

      Merci aussi à toi pour tout ce que tu as fait pendant tant d’années au sein de la communauté WordPress France.

      Au plaisir de te recroiser lors d’un futur événement

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