This week, WordPress celebrates it’s 15th anniversary with celebrations all over the world. With over 22 million downloads of its latest version alone, WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder and content management system. But, WordPress is also much more than that. Behind the free, open source WordPress download is a vibrant community of designers, developers, and WordPress lovers of all kinds who work together to keep WordPress itself running smoothly and to provide education, connection, and innovation through real-world conferences, meetups, and trainings.
WordPress began life as a resource aimed primarily at bloggers – and blogging is still supported in most WordPress themes. But the platform’s relative simplicity and ease of use has rapidly made it the site building software of choice for many other purposes as well – so much so that now, WordPress has been translated into over 50 languages and consists of nearly 350,000 lines of code. It can be used by a new blogger with no experience in coding or site design or as the basis for sophisticated customization by professional web developers.
A Community of Dedicated Users
What makes all this possible is the fact that WordPress is free to download and “owned” by its users – a piece of open source software under General Public License that can always be updated and changed through contributions by its vast and growing user community. From new users to seasoned professionals, the members of that community are committed to keeping WordPress freely available and making sure its source code remains stable and functional, no matter who happens to be involved with its development in the future.
To support those goals, Matt Mullenweg, the developer who created WordPress, has established the WordPress Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting the ongoing development of WordPress and to sharing WordPress with the world. Today, the WordPress Foundation is the nexus of WordPress related projects ranging from actual work on WordPress itself to local events and outreach efforts to bring computing to underserved areas of the world.
The WordPress community is a large and devoted one, dedicated both to making WordPress the best it can be and supporting connection among its many members worldwide. Because WordPress is – and, its users maintain, will always be – free to use and always editable, the platform invites interaction and attracts a large and diverse band of supporters and aficionados who support WordPress and each other in a variety of ways.
WordPress Teams – Contributor Support
WordPress depends on the work of its large community of developers and designers to keep WordPress running and make any needed upgrades and fixes in the program. This team is known as the Contributor Team. To provide a framework for the volunteers who devote their time to building and improving WordPress, the WordPress home site provides a directory of the many teams that work directly on the interface itself, as well as on related support functions.
WordPress-centered teams include the Core team, which is responsible for writing essential WordPress code, fixing bugs, and maintaining the core structure of WordPress; the Design team, which works on developing new aspects of the interface; and the Theme team, which reviews and approves all new themes for inclusion in the massive WordPress theme repository. On the outreach side, teams work on documentation, training, WordPress marketing, and support. There are even teams for running WordPress TV, the home of many WordPress tutorials, WordCamp talks, help videos, developing plugins, and translating WordPress and its related documentation into different languages.
Teams connect in weekly virtual meetings hosted by the workplace management app Slack. Anyone with the relevant skills can apply to become part of a WordPress team and, with teams ranging from high-level coding and site development to general user support, there are opportunities for volunteers of all levels to get involved with WordPress.
Did you know that many WordCamps have an additional camp day just for contributors to connect and work on projects?
WordCamps – Real World WordPress Conferences
Founder Matt Mullenweg organized the first WordCamp in San Francisco in 2005. Since then, more than 800 of these low-cost, user-friendly conferences dedicated to all things WordPress have been held in 69 cities around the world, spanning 6 continents, with many more on the schedule for the next year and beyond.
WordCamps are organized by local WordPress users in cities small and large around the world. While content can vary, all WordCamps are focused entirely on WordPress, with presentations, workshops, panels, and demos devoted to topics such as new features, troubleshooting site issues, and making the most of WordPress tools. WordCamps provide a place for new users to mingle with WordPress experts, and for users of all skill levels and interests to meet and make connections. Find a WordCamp near you.
Meetups – Connecting Users in Real Life
In many communities, WordPress users are forming their own groups to share ideas and learn more about WordPress. Meetup.com —an online tool that helps people organize and run groups and communities around a shared interest, makes it possible for WordPress aficionados to find and join a WordPress meetup in their area.
To encourage users to form Meetup groups, the WordPress Foundation has a Meetup account to cover the costs of organizers’ dues. The Foundation also supports the development of trainings and educational materials for use in WordPress groups and outreach to the community. Anyone with an interest in WordPress can join a group, either through Meetup or through local organizers, to learn about WordPress and meet others with shared interests.
WordPress Forums – Virtual Connections for WordPress Users
The WordPress community also exists online. WordPress.org, the platform’s home site, features forums on all kinds of WordPress related topics ranging from design and development issues to troubleshooting problems with WordPress installation and performance. Multiple threads allow users to connect and support each other with advice, solutions, and shared interest. New topics can be created at any time, and any user can participate with a sign-in to the site.
WordPress powers over a quarter of the world’s websites with tools that can be used both by new site owners and experienced developers. It’s available to anyone, virtually anywhere, and it can be maintained and updated at any time by its users. Making connections both online and off, those users form a worldwide community of WordPress supporters dedicated to keeping WordPress free, accessible, and secure.
How do you support and connect with the WordPress community?