Cultivating More Effective Contributing on Contributor Days

Contributor Days are usually single day events focused on all things related to contributing to WordPress. They often accompany larger WordCamps, but are sometimes planned along smaller ones or even as ad-hoc events with specific focuses. People at all experience levels, backgrounds, specialties, etc. are welcome.

For larger or flagship (US, Europe, Asia) camps, various Make WordPress teams (CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress., Community, Documentation, Polyglots, etc.) will have designated table leads to help orchestrate focused discussions or efforts. However, at many events the overwhelming majority of time at contributor dayContributor Day Contributor Days are standalone days, frequently held before or after WordCamps but they can also happen at any time. They are events where people get together to work on various areas of There are many teams that people can participate in, each with a different focus. is usually spent in one of two areas:

  • Helping people decide which team’s mission and work speaks to them and fits their skill sets or passions
  • Onboarding people interested in specific teams in order to get started contributing

While these areas are very valuable and there should always be some amount of this at Contributor Days, it’s not necessarily the best use of the very limited amount of face to face time contributors have together in person. Even new contributors tend to get frustrated with the amount of time onboarding takes to reach a state where they can actually start contributing.

I fielded a unique request/feedback today from a new contributor. She indicated it took half the day to get everyone set up, then it was lunchtime, and after lunch people were getting sleepy. Add in that it took folks a while to rotate around through different teams to find what really spoke to them.  She wished we had a 2nd day for contribution time. I wonder if we could do a new contributor morning and then 1.5 days of actual work time for intl camps.

Feedback Courtney Robertson(@courane01) shared in the Making WordPress Slack

While adding a day could be an option for some camps to consider, WordCamps are already quite time intensive, even more so for those that have traveled a great distance to attend (which is the majority of attendees for flagship camps). The ability to extend the commitment of attending a 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. by even a half day is also not a privilege that everyone has for a variety of reasons, from financial constraints to social responsibilities. With these complexities in mind, the best ways to improve the effectiveness of Contributor Days will likely need to be focused on the time prior to the events themselves.

What’s Been Tried so Far

Though there are some planning and onboarding resources shared between WordCamps, they mainly fall into two buckets:

  • Logistical planning for organizers
  • Team specific documentation for team/table leads

There have also been some new contributor focused resources that have been created for specific events, but few if any have been reused in following events. Here’s a list of a few:

Specific teams have also created their own team specific resources related to Contributor Day:

After some back and forth between several contributors involved with many of the tools and efforts above in SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at (@courane01, @desrosj, @oglekler, @st810amaze, @isabel_brison, @milana_cap, @sereedmedia, @harishanker, @webcommsat), the discussion was paused so this post could be published (posts are better at preserving discussions for historical reference).

Some other points, action items, and takeaways from the discussion so far (which you’re encouraged to go read in full):

  • All contributors can benefit from better documentation and onboarding any day of the year, not just Contributor Days.
  • Encouraging contributors to prepare for Contributor Day before arriving at the event would make the day itself much more valuable and productive.
  • Each team will have its own onboarding process and documentation. This should be compiled in a similar location for every team.
  • Collecting all onboarding information in one place will make it easier for Contributor Day organizers to communicate this information to attendees before the event.
  • Better descriptions of team duties and responsibilities with the proper global context would help new contributors determine which team they’d like to contribute to before arriving at the event.
  • Better summaries of the planned activities and focuses for each team at a specific Contributor Day beforehand would make it easier for contributors to determine which team they would like to contribute to before arriving at the event.
  • A uniform way to collect this team specific info would really help WordCamp contributor day / event organizers.
  • By Make Teams having more time to plan, they can also plan collaborations or joint discussions with other teams, eg. marketing team and training team have used contributor events to work jointly on tasks or discussions at an event, a suggestion has come from core to work on specific old tickets which attendees could read about before the event and may be relevant for other teams too
  • Bigger camps have much greater resources than smaller ones. Documenting and sharing the efforts from larger camps could enable more smaller camps to have Contributor Days, which teams from WordCamp Europe have tried to do.
  • Contributors that created tools related to Contributor Day have other responsibilities and often are unable to properly maintain them or make them flexible enough for other camps to use.
  • Sharing information with attendees 1 or 2 weeks prior is likely not enough time (especially camps that require further travel). But sharing 2-3 months in advance is likely too difficult (table leads may not be known, and registration may not have even opened yet).

And finally, some tangentially related items that were mentioned in the discussion:

Thoughts & Feedback

This post is not only meant to document the discussion and several action items that were identified, but also to gather any feedback from the wider community and volunteers with an interest in helping to complete the related initiatives. If you have any additional thoughts on this topic, please weigh in below!

Props @courane01, @desrosj, @oglekler, @st810amaze, @isabel_brison, @milana_cap, @sereedmedia, @harishanker, @webcommsat for participating in the original discussion, and @webcommsat, @annezazu, and @isabel_brison for peer reviewing this post prior to publishing.

#contributor-day, #contributors