Numbers in the Netherlands

At the start of 2017, the decision was made to switch from a single national WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. in the Netherlands to local city-based WordCamps. This was in line with the same decision having been made in a number of other countries before that. @chanthaboune provided some additional context around this decision at the time.

The last time we had a public discussion about this was just over a year ago and after recent in-person discussions at WordCamp Europe in Berlin, now is a good time to revisit things in a public forum — and now with data!

The Numbers

Below is some hard data on the number of attendees, organisers, speakers, and sponsors taking part in local WordCamps over the past 6 years which the team may find interesting and could help inform the next round of discussion.

Here is the raw data from each event:

WordCamp Date Tickets sold Organisers Speakers Sponsors
WCNL 2014 10-11 May 235 4 22 12
WCNL 2015 26-27 September 268 5 16 5
WCNL 2016 14-16 October 461 7 38 21
Nijmegen 2017 1-2 September 270 7 22 18
Utrecht 2017 25-26 November 250 6 22 32
Noord Nederland 2018 9-10 February 113 5 14 9
Rotterdam 2018 23-24 March 218 5 18 21
Nijmegen 2018 30 August – 1 September 298 7 37 21
Utrecht 2018 27-28 October 175 5 19 28
Rotterdam 2019 12-13 April 181 7 18 31

And here are a few calculations from that data:

Attendees

Total number of attendees at WCNL 2014-2016 (uniques): 716
Total number of attendees at local camps from 2017-present: 1,351
Total number of attendees at local camps from 2017-present (uniques): 910
Number of people who attended local camps from 2017-present, but not WCNL (uniques): 696
Total increase in the number of attendees at local camps from 2017-present: 194
Number of people who attended more than one WordCamp in the Netherlands from 2017-present: 441 (48%)
Number of people who attended WordCamps in more than one city in the Netherlands from 2017-present: 243 (26.7%)

Organisers

Total number of organisers for WCNL 2014-2016 (uniques): 8
Total number of organisers for local camps from 2017-present: 42
Total number of organisers for local camps from 2017-present (uniques): 28
Number of organisers local camps from 2017-present, but not WCNL (uniques): 24
Total increase in the number of organisers for local camps from 2017-present: 20
Number of people who organised multiple local camps from 2017-present (all in the same city): 14 (50%)

Speakers

Total number of speakers at WCNL 2014-2016 (uniques): 60
Total number of speakers at local camps from 2017-present: 151
Total number of speakers at local camps from 2017-present (uniques): 108
Number of speakers at local camps from 2017-present, but not WCNL (uniques): 88
Total increase in the number of speakers at local camps from 2017-present: 48
Number of people who spoke at more than one local camp from 2017-present: 43 (40%)
Number of people who spoke at local camps in more than one city from 2017-present: 30 (27.8%)

Sponsors

Total number of sponsors for WCNL 2014-2016 (uniques): 18
Total number of sponsors for local camps from 2017-present: 108
Total number of sponsors for local camps from 2017-present (uniques): 66
Number of sponsors for local camps from 2017-present, but not WCNL (uniques): 59
Total increase in the number of sponsors for local camps from 2017-present: 48
Number of companies that sponsored more than one local camp from 2017-present: 42 (64%)
Number of companies that sponsored local camps in more than one city from 2017-present: 22 (33.3%)

These numbers seem to indicate clear and significant growth in the number of people participating in the Dutch WordPress community in all roles. Huge kudos to community organizers in the Netherlands! This kind of growth is wonderfully inspiring.

The number of new attendees, organisers, speakers, and sponsors who have been welcomed into local WordCamps, given a platform to share their knowledge as speakers, and given leadership opportunities in their work as organizers… well, it’s all very exciting.

Additional Context

Numbers aren’t everything, however, and there are a few things that should be taken into account when interpreting the data here.

Firstly, had the decision not been made to switch to local WordCamps, the WCNL team was planning on increasing their number of organisers to 16 for the 2017 event, with an aim to host 600 attendees (up from 461 in 2016). Given that the decision to switch was made, this planned WCNL 2017 did not happen.

Secondly, the WordPress dashboard events widgetWidget A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page. WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress theme to the user. was launched in 2017 which had a generally positive effect on attendees at both meetups and WordCamps around the world. We don’t have any data on how many people attended events because of the widget, but it is something worth taking into account. This would likely have led to an increase in attendees no matter what events had taken place in 2017 (and onwards).

Next Steps

The plan since 2017 was always to enter into talks about reintroducing WCNL after a few years of local WordCamps. With that in mind, the next steps here are:

  • Continue with local WordCamps in the Netherlands but also reintroduce an annual WCNL to complement the local events.
  • Given the scope of WCNL, initiate a discussion around some strategies local camps might try in the future – for example, whether organizing smaller camps or subject-matter-focussed camps will help local communities maintain the growth they’ve achieved and continue to grow sustainably.

Discussions are ongoing, and it’ll be really interesting to see what happens next.

Feedback

So over to you – what do you take away from the numbers provided above? Let us know in the comments!