Proposal: Modify the Events and News widget to show topic-based meetups worldwide

Published on behalf of Amber Hinds (@amberhinds on Make Slack)

The purpose of this post is to discuss proposed changes to the Events API that displays upcoming events from meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. groups in the WordPress admin dashboard 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..


Topic-Based MeetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook.

In April of 2021, a proposal was created to allow topic-based meetups in the Meetup chapter program and in May 2021, meetup applications for topic-based groups were accepted.

There are currently three meetups in the chapter program that are topic-based rather than city-based:

These meetups have a city location of San Francisco, CA because that is the location of WordPress headquarters, however they each offer online events via Zoom that are open to anyone in the world (rather than in-person events). 

The WordPress AccessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). ( Meetup and Learn WordPress Online Workshops are holding events at times that are optimized for people around the globe so that some events will always be in the daytime, regardless of where you are in the world.

WordPress Events and News Widget

The WordPress Events and News admin dashboard widget displays upcoming events filtered by proximity to a city. This geographic radius makes sense for in-person meetups where people are unlikely to drive long distances to attend a meetup.

For the three topic-based meetup groups, this means that their events are only visible in the WordPress admin Events and News section if someone has set their location to San Francisco.

A challenge of the current geographic restrictions is that many users will be presented with a message telling them that there are no events they can attend and prompting them to start their own meetup. While we do want to prompt people to start meetups in their cities, it’s a missed opportunity to not make people aware of upcoming events that they can easily attend online.

Proposed changes: Allow events from topic-based meetups to show in the Events and News widget worldwide

The WordPress admin dashboard Events and News widget is a key way meetup groups can reach attendees to promote their events and may be the first exposure a new WordPress user has to the meetup chapter program. 

While the current geographic restrictions on event display make sense for a city-based group, they do not make sense for a group that is not city-based, holds events exclusively online, and which is intended to have worldwide speakers and attendance.

Benefits of this change

Changing the Events and News widget to include meetups from WordPress Accessibility Meetup, BlackPress Meetup, and Learn WordPress Online Workshops will accomplish the following:

  • Expose more people worldwide to virtual learning opportunities.
  • Provide increased resources to people in rural or other areas without a city-based meetup, thus leveling the playing field for people learning WordPress in these areas.
  • Increase the potential speaker pool size for these groups as more people become aware of them and participate in meetups.
  • Create a better user experience by showing virtual events in the WordPress dashboard rather than no events at all.

Why WordPress Accessibility Meetup

In the case of the WordPress Accessibility Meetup, making events show worldwide will also serve the goal of increasing general awareness of what accessibility is and emphasizing the importance of building accessible websites. 

Many people have never heard of website accessibility or realize that they need to take people with disabilities into consideration when building websites. The more people who are exposed to the concept of accessibility, the more likely we are to see improvement in the overall accessibility of WordPress websites – whether it’s because content creators will learn to enter their content more accessibly or because pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party, theme, and web developers will put more thought into developing with accessibility in mind.

The first step to making the web accessible is ensuring everyone knows about and has easy access to learn accessibility best practices. Putting WordPress Accessibility Meetup events in everyone’s WordPress dashboard is a major step towards growing awareness around the importance of accessibility.

Why BlackPress Meetup

BlackPress is a global WordPress meetup group that aims to raise awareness about WordPress in the global community of creators of Black African descent, and help connect them to other community members and grow participation and sponsorship toward WordPress.

People of Black African descent are underrepresented in technology careers and within the WordPress community. Many people who identify as Black may benefit from a group that supports their growth in WordPress, but may not know that the BlackPress Meetup exists or know to look for a group like it. Making the group’s events show worldwide will help people in their target demographic find the group, thus potentially increasing the number of Black identifying people participating in the WordPress community.

Why Learn WordPress Online Workshops

Learn WordPress is a community initiative to make more training resources on WordPress available to people all over the world. While making this group’s events appear worldwide doesn’t have the same social benefits that the other two have, the meetups held through Learn WordPress Online Workshops have a broad appeal and are specially created to help people work in modern WordPress. 

Things to Consider

If this proposal is approved there are some things to consider, a few of which were brought up in the original discussion on allowing topic-based groups.

  • Will there need to be changes in the events widget to display online event timing correctly across the globe?
  • How many topic-based meetup groups can the Events APIAPI An API or Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows programs to interact with each other and share data in limited, clearly defined ways. support?  
  • Should the Events API handle each topic-based meetup group equally? 
  • Should the events be divided into two lists under headings for “Local Events” and “Global Events”?
  • Should the total number of displayed events increase to account for the large number of weekly events held by Learn WordPress Online Workshops?
  • Because there will no longer be “no upcoming events” results, where would the prompt to start a meetup group be moved to?
  • Could there be a way of filtering global events by language so that people could choose to see events happening only in their preferred language?

Request for Feedback

Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on including events from topic-based meetups in the Events and News widget worldwide.

#meetups, #community, #diversity