Online WordCamp Organizer Interview/Orientation Script

Due to the current global health emergency, we strongly encourage you to consider online events instead of in-person in 2020. For more information, please refer to our online events handbook.

This interview/orientation script is for organizers who are planning on running an online 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., rather than an in-person event.

Interview Interview

When you’re interviewing a WordCamp organizer/organizing team, your approach should be friendly and welcoming. Your goal is to learn about the person/people who are interested in organizing a WordCamp in their local community, learn about the state of their local community, and explain our expectations for WordCamp organizers. Once you’re done listening and explaining, hopefully it will be clear whether or not the applicant will be happy organizing a WordCamp that meets expectations. 🙂

Before the Interview:

  • Pull up the organizer application in the WordCamp listing on WordCamp CentralWordCamp Central Website for all WordCamp activities globally. https://central.wordcamp.org includes a list of upcoming and past camp with links to each.
  • Pull up the local meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area./user group site.
  • Review both to see if you can identify any major issues that might need to be discussed.

Things you want to know:

  1. Is this person involved in the community?
    1. If not very involved, recommend that they recruit more community members for the organizing team and then get back to you with that list before approval.
  2. Is the local community healthy?
    1. If they act like an “owner,” talk inclusion/delegation.
    2. If they act like a “leader,” continue. 😉

Questions to ask:

  1. Meetup Stuff
    1. What is the local community like?
    2. What’s your role with the meetup?
    3. What’s your meetup group like?
    4. How often do you meet?
    5. Where do you meet?
    6. What kind of people usually come to gatherings? (speakers and attendees)
    7. What does it mean to have membership in your group? Are there requirements?
    8. Do you ever do additional events like hackathons or trainings or socials?
    9. Tell us about your sponsorship page and what goes into that?
  2. Community Stuff
    1. How would you describe your role within the community?
    2. What’s your favorite thing about your community?
  3. Organizer Stuff
    1. What do you do with WordPress?
    2. Other members of the organizing team?
      1. Talk GPLGPL GPL is an acronym for GNU Public License. It is the standard license WordPress uses for Open Source licensing https://wordpress.org/about/license/. The GPL is a ‘copyleft’ license https://www.gnu.org/licenses/copyleft.en.html. This means that derivative work can only be distributed under the same license terms. This is in distinction to permissive free software licenses, of which the BSD license and the MIT License are widely used examples. expectations as applicable (if any members of the team sell/distribute WP themes/plugins/derivatives).
      2. https://make.wordpress.org/community/handbook/wordcamp-organizer/first-steps/helpful-documents-and-templates/agreement-among-wordcamp-organizers-speakers-sponsors-and-volunteers/
    3. What else have you organized? (Remember that meetups count!)
      1. If not, have them find someone who does and add them to the team (local meetup organizer maybe) and get back to you.
      2. If yes, check and see what events and talk about how WordCamp might be different (especially if the previous experience is with organizing a trade show or marketing conference rather than a non-profit conference).
  4. Why a WordCamp specifically?
    1. What’s your goal for the event?
      1. Mention the goals of “connect, inspire, contribute” if possible
      2. Trademark violations?
    2. The thing about the WP Community is that you inherit a family and become part of the community. And we really hold WP organizers to a much higher standard than others.

Top ↑

Orientation Orientation

The purpose of a WordCamp organizer orientation is to give organizers reminders and updates around our expectations and tools.

BEFORE THE ORIENTATION:

  • review application and previous year’s application
  • review the debrief posted about last year’s event, if any, or recap on last year’s site, if any
  • review local meetup group site to check on frequency of events and diversity of speakers, if any

SCRIPT FOLLOWS:

The idea behind this orientation is to talk over WordCamp guidelines, tools, and recommended practices so that everyone understands the community expectations for WordCamps, which are official events for the WordPress open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. project, and so that you know what tools are available to you. Our tools and expectations change periodically, which is why repeat organizers are also asked to participate in an orientation every year.

My hope is that we’ll spend a little less than an hour running through everything — and I’ll be pausing periodically to take questions.

As you know, WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences focused on benefitting the local community as well as highlighting local experts to share their knowledge and perspective with the greater community.

WordCamp organizing is different from other event organizing, in that the purpose of organizing a WordCamp is to have a great event as well as to bring the community together.

So whereas when organizing any excellent event, you might limit the number of people on the team who will make decisions, and keep discussion private — with WordCamp organizing, we ask people to intentionally gather more volunteers than they might need, and keep discussion public and transparent, so that they involve as many community members as possible. It might seem inefficient to include more people than you might need, but this creates some redundancy — always nice when you’re dealing with volunteers — and helps train multiple people how to do organizing work, so that the community doesn’t depend on just one person or small group of people to have events.

So let’s talk about the process of organizing a WordCamp. At the end of this orientation, assuming you agree with the expectations I’m describing, you’ll be approved to go ahead with your online WordCamp.

Next steps include:

  • recruiting your full organizing team
  • setting a date
  • selecting your production and captioning vendors
  • starting to look for speakers

WordCamp organizing can be challenging, and building a great team will make the best event possible. By involving more of the people from your local meetup/community, you

  • recruit volunteers to help – more than you think you’ll need in case some volunteers have to quit the team or have less time available than they thought
  • limit the amount of work you have to do – even though this will be an online event, this can easily become a full time (volunteer) job, yikes!
  • include lots of different skill sets and experiences
  • as mentioned before, help unite your local community by working on a project together

Meet regularly with your team! Hangouts can be a great way to talk without driving somewhere, and also posting meeting notes on your WordCamp site is a great way to keep everyone informed and organized.

Lead organizers should start with few day-to-day responsibilities so they can pick up tasks as people get busy and/or drop out. 90% of the time, this happens in at least one major area. Be prepared!

It’s generally not good to give sponsor or speaker wranglers more than one job, as they have a significant amount of responsibility.

As this is an online event, the costs of a production company and captioning vendor are the main expense. The Community team has two options in this case:

  1. Use identified vendors who have past experience working with WordCamps. Using identified vendors will greatly simplify the budget review process and organizing process as a whole.
  2. Select local vendors. Since identified vendors provide services in English, the Community team will support your decision to work with a local vendor who speaks your local language. Here is a page to help you select a local production company.

Let a deputy know which option you prefer. If you want to go with the identified vendors, let us know by emailing support@wordcamp.org. We will request some basic info from you about your WordCamp, and put you in touch with the vendors. You’ll work with them to get quotes, which you’ll use to fill out your preliminary budget. Unless you have some additional expenses or sponsorship levels, your budget will be swiftly approved! If there are extra budget items, the review process will still be much simpler as the budget review process will be conducted over email.

If you want to work with local vendors, please request quotes and send those to support@wordcamp.org. You will need to submit your budget with these estimates and any sponsorship levels, but again, the review process will still be much simpler as the budget review process will be conducted over email.

In either case, you won’t need to sell tickets, although for the sake of recording things correctly and getting everything working smoothly, attendees will still need to book their tickets (for free, of course). You will however still need to raise funds to cover your WordCamp’s expenses, by finding sponsors to support your event. More on that in a bit!

Web Presence and Tools

We host and maintain all WordCamp websites on wordcamp.org. This makes sure we have archives from past events and also keeps old “proprietary” domains from becoming spam sites or link farms.

You have a selection of themes on WordCamp.org and can customize them with CSSCSS CSS is an acronym for cascading style sheets. This is what controls the design or look and feel of a site. to make your site unique. We don’t do child themes on wordcamp.org because the maintenance, with so many events, it would quickly become unsustainable. If there’s something you wish you could do and can’t – perhaps some 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 WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party or 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. that would make your life easier – let us know and a developer on the MetaMeta Meta is a term that refers to the inside workings of a group. For us, this is the team that works on internal WordPress sites like WordCamp Central and Make WordPress. team will review it for security. For security and maintainability, we can’t allow custom PHPPHP PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML. http://php.net/manual/en/intro-whatis.php. or JavaScriptJavaScript JavaScript or JS is an object-oriented computer programming language commonly used to create interactive effects within web browsers. WordPress makes extensive use of JS for a better user experience. While PHP is executed on the server, JS executes within a user’s browser. https://www.javascript.com/. code — we run on wordpress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ so security is a big deal for us.

You’ll have a number of special WordCamp tools, including blocks for speakers, sponsors, organizers, and sessions, as well as a registration plugin called CampTix. We want you to use these tools, as they provide us with important data about the program that we can use to scale and project numbers from year to year.

The blocks for speakers, sessions, and organizers are set up so that they get credit for their contribution on their WordPress.org profiles. Please use them! The Session post type has a way to enter the date and time of a session and then build a grid schedule using a shortcodeShortcode A shortcode is a placeholder used within a WordPress post, page, or widget to insert a form or function generated by a plugin in a specific location on your site., which is a huge time-saver, yay! You can display your speakers, sponsors, and organizers on pages using shortcodes as well, and via CampTix you can display who’s bought tickets with the [attendees] short code.

CampTix is the event ticketing program we wrote for WordCamps. If you find a bug or want to write a new feature, it’s on the repo so please feel free!

We have great documentation on both blocks and CampTix in the WordCamp Organizer Handbook; be sure to check it out!

Your WordCamp website is created with a number of standard pages, pre-loaded with content. There are a few things you should edit and publish immediately upon publishing your date: the Code of Conduct and Contact pages. The contact form on the pre-created speakers page will auto-fill speakers and sessions into draft — very useful!

Please don’t export attendee data from the WordCamp site to a third party service (like MailChimp or InfusionSoft) unless you provide attendees an opt-out before exporting, because of WordPress.org’s privacy policy. It’s generally best to keep attendee contact data only on your WordCamp site. We never share attendee contact info with sponsors.

One last tool is the Payments Plugin. You’ll find it under “Budget” on your WordCamp’s dashboard. There you can submit vendor payments. It allows WordCamp Central to get payments out more efficiently and keeps a record of all payments made.

Sponsorship

As mentioned earlier, although tickets are free, raising sponsorship funds is still necessary to cover the costs of an online WordCamp. While there are many global businesses that you can approach for sponsorship, it’s important for local companies to continue to be involved in these events, as that connection between companies and the community is vital.

When working with sponsors for your online WordCamp, please refer to this page for some ideas on how you can acknowledge sponsors.

You can set the cost for sponsorship according to what is reasonable in your area, but they don’t need to be too highly priced. If you raise surplus funds through sponsorships, these funds will go back towards supporting the WordCamp and WordPress meetup program all over the world.

Local Focus

In-person WordCamps are usually asked to set a goal of 80% local, 20% out-of-town speakers, and we’d like to keep this same ratio for online WordCamps. This means that at least 80% of your speakers should be from the region your event is covering.

WordCamp is your chance to celebrate all the amazing things people are doing with WordPress in your area, and focusing on locals is a great way to create a unique conference program that highlights the way WordPress is being used where you are. When you’re still in pre-planning, it’s great to open up a survey so that people can suggest potential speakers or just share about unique and interesting uses of WordPress in your area. As a community organizer, you probably already know about people who are pushing the envelope or doing cool stuff — it’s fine to directly reach out to these people and either encourage them to apply or invite them to speak. As long as your schedule is diverse and locally-focused, you can invite as many speakers as you want — though we encourage every camp to open a speaker application just for those people you don’t know about yet.

Going back to that community organizing versus event organizing paradigm, it’s a great benefit for your local community to identify local WordPress experts. These people will continue to be a resource to your community long after the event is over, whereas a “rockstar” from out of the area won’t be available to advise local community members after WordCamp weekend. Also, seeing how your neighbors have been able to learn and use WordPress is much more inspiring than knowing a few “geniuses” out there in the wider community.

Vetting

We ask everyone associated with a WordCamp in an official capacity — organizer, speaker, sponsor, volunteer — to uphold the principles of the WordPress open source project, including the GPL. This helps protect the user/attendee, who might not realize that by using a non-GPL plugin or theme, they are giving away the rights that WordPress provides them.

Many organizing teams ask people to agree to the WordCamp organizer, speaker, sponsor, or volunteer agreement as part of their application to participate. That said, due diligence is recommended. To find out a the last minute that one of your speakers or sponsors does not meet the expectations outlined in the agreement is a painful and unhappy thing; don’t risk having to change your schedule unexpectedly or give back some funding!

We also ask that each organizing team review WordCamp speaker’s slides a few weeks before the event. This helps avoid any inappropriate content in the presentations (WordCamps should be family-friendly, with no swearing or discriminatory jokes or comments), and also helps you catch any misspellings, fauxgos, or other problems in the slides.

Code of Conduct

The WordCamp code of conduct is required. We have a standard Code of Conduct in a page on your site specific to online events; please update the contact info and publish it immediately upon your date being announced. Train at least one person to take incident reports (link), and announce the code of conduct in opening remarks and identify where someone can go if there’s a problem. Also, if you are having an afterparty, announce when the after-party ENDS, so you can let people know when the organizers’ vigilance ends as well.

WordCamp swag

Online events don’t lend themselves to traditional swag, but you encourage you to think creatively about what you can offer. Maybe your sponsors could provide free/discounted products/services, or you could find some other way of offering freebies to your attendees.

Online WordCamp budgets do not cover physical swag, as the cost and logistics are a lot more complicated than for in-person WordCamps. “Digital Swag” that can be downloaded or emailed is the best option for both organizers and attendees!

Video

As part of their scope of work, your production company should provide post-production services to help upload recorded sessions to WordPress.tv.

Mentorship

Your Mentor will be assigned to you and will check in every 2 weeks and post about your check-in on make/community. It’s your mentor’s job to advise, remind you about things organizers frequently forget, keep you on track in planning, and also be your connection to WordCamp Central. Also, please subscribe to make/community. 🙂 If your mentor is not helping or doesn’t know an answer, please reach out by emailing support@wordcamp.org and we’ll address it. It’s cool for your mentor to meet bi-weekly with the whole team, or just the lead organizer.

Thanks for taking part in the magnificent community of WordPress community organizers! WordPress events allow our open source project to keep being the friendly little corner of the internet that it is today, and you’re helping make that happen by organizing a WordCamp in your town. You’re the best!

Next steps:

  • Sign the organizer agreement via HelloSign.
  • We’ll send an invitation to your camp’s G Suite account, please let us know if you don’t receive it.
  • We’ll send an email intro to connect you with your mentor. Set up a biweekly meeting time.
  • We’ll set up your site and give you access to it; add other organizers as you wish.

Last updated: