Contributor Day Organizer Handbook

So you want to host a contributor day at your WordCamp. Awesome!

The Global Community Team thinks contributor days are great and would love to see more WordCamps hosting contributor days. Below is an outline of what to expect and what to plan for.

Roles Roles

Contributor Days generally need two people to lead things: one to organize the logistics and one to organize the contributor teams (see below) and lead the day of the event.

Event planning is not easy for everyone, so it is easiest to combine the organization of the contributor day logististics (venue, food, etc) with the WordCamp logistics.

As far as organizing the day-of, the best person will be someone local to the community who has contributed to WordPress before, regardless of their area of contribution. Further below, we will provide information on exactly what that role entails and how to lead individual areas of contribution.

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Before the Contributor Day Before the Contributor Day

Contributor days should be free. While everyone gets value from contributor days, it is important that new contributors feel welcome and invited. Paying to contribute makes them less interested and is not great anyway because we are asking them to give up a day for WordPress. That means you will need to build the cost of the contributor day into your budget, including venue, lunch (see below), and any other expenses.

Contributor days are for everyone, on every experience level. Even someone who knows very little about WordPress can contribute by answering support questions. The exception is, perhaps, focused WordCamps (i.e. Developer WordCamps) where attendees are expected to know a bit about development, and thus the accompanying contributor day can be mostly developer-focused. Even then, it is useful to have a plan in case new contributors arrive wh,o are not developers. Make sure you emphasize this point in all your communication with potential attendees.

Attendance will be higher if the contributor day is after the WordCamp, not before. During your WordCamp, you will be able to heavily promote the contributor day, resulting in more enthusiasm for WordPress. Attendees feel most excited about WordPress right after a WordCamp. Use that excitement to encourage them to attend the contributor day.

Post multiple times about your contributor day. Your WordCamp blog is a great way to get the word out about the contributor day. Many people will miss the first blog post… and the second… post four weeks ahead of time about the contributor, then three weeks. At two weeks, start allowing sign-ups (see below).

Post a separate sign-up form for your contributor day. WordCamps that have combined the sign-up for the WordCamp itself and the contributor day have been disappointed with the lack of attendees. It is standard in free software for contributors to “over commit and under deliver”. The same is true for contributor days. A second sign-up form requires more effort – and explicit effort – from a potential attendees and will give you a better idea of how many people will attend.

If possible, allow attendees to “just show up” to contributor day. Sometimes this is not possible due to venue requirements, but encouraging attendees at your WordCamp to “just show up” will increase attendance and, again, lets you promote the day during your WordCamp.

Remind attendees to bring their laptops (or tablets). It seems logical, but many people do not realize they will need their laptops (or a tablet) to contribute. Remind them both on the website and in any emails about contributor day.

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The Contributor Day The Contributor Day

Attendance will be lower than planned. Because contributor days are free – and sign up is free – attendance will be lower than your sign ups. This is true with all free or inexpensive events.

Do not start your contributor day before 10 a.m. Expecting attendees to wake up in time for a contributor day the morning after a WordCamp after party at even 10 a.m. is hard. We recommend starting at 11 a.m. or even noon, with your free lunch at 1 p.m. or so.

Provide a free lunch. It is an added cost, but a worthwhile one. Of course it is not always possible (due to budgets) to provide a free lunch, but if you can, it is  very helpful in convincing people to attend. Typically, pizza or something simple that can be ordered when you know how many are in attendance is the provided lunch, but we would suggest something more creative like sandwiches or burritos. If you can not provide lunch, you should at least provide a snack and beverages.

Likewise, provide free coffee, water, and/or soft drinks. In the U.S., Starbucks provides cartons of hot coffee at a reasonable charge. Water is also invaluable to have on hand in the form of cheap bottled water or an easily accessible drinking fountain with cups.

Pick three or four areas to focus on. There are a lot of ways to contribute. Unless you are planning on having a very large contributor day, it is best to focus on a handful of ways to contribute. The standard three are core, support, and docs. Depending on available contributor leads and location, you may wish to include theme reviews, meta, or polyglots as well. Each team has a page on how to contribute at a contributor day. The contributor leads should rely heavily on those pages if they are not familiar with contributing to that area.

Give a preview of the focus areas. Each contributor lead should introduce their focus area and talk a little bit about what people will be working on if they join that group.

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What areas can people contribute to? What areas can people contribute to?

There is a complete list at make.wordpress.org, but below is a list, along with links to how to get started with that team at a contributor day. For each team you are planning on supporting at your contributor day, you will want to have someone familiar with contributing to that group and familiar with the contributor day page (a group lead). Different groups will do different things, but your group lead should be prepared for both experienced contributors and new contributors.

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  • Core – There are generally two different groups at a contributor day: those who have contributed to core before and those who have not. It is usually best to split the core group into two, letting previous contributors work on new contributions and teaching new contributors how to contribute. You will probably want two leads here, but it will depend on attendance at your WordCamp. For new contributors, you need to go through a number of things, most of which are listed in the sidebar of the core contributor handbook. Be sure to cover how to use trac, what makes a good ticket, how to setup a local development environment (if needed), and general best practices (coding standards).
  • Support – Most contributions here will be to the support forums. You should go through what the support team does and focus on answering questions in the support forums. Be sure to give information on stock answers and help users setup a WordPress.org account.
  • Docs – At contributor days, docs contributions are generally editing and improving the theme and plugin developer handbooks. However, some people may want to improve the codex or contribute examples to the developer hub. Talk to a docs contributor ahead of time to make sure someone is around to give out Editor status on make/docs.
  • Theme Review Team – A full walkthrough on how to review themes is important. Likewise, be sure to contact a TRT admin so they can be around during your contributor day and can assign tickets to new contributors.
  • Mobile – The mobile handbook is generally up-to-date. For contributors to either the iOS or Android apps, they should have a knowledge of development on their respective platform. Following the handbook at that point should not be hard.
  • Polyglots – Contributing string translations to a current localization of WordPress is a great way to get started. The document linked to walks through how that should be done. If you are hosting a WordCamp in a language that does not have a full translation of WordPress (or related projects), it can be good to set one up ahead of time with the polyglots team and kick off your translation work there. The first step there will be requesting a new locale.
  • Meta – The meta team is programming-based, for the most part. The WordPress Meta Environment (based on VVV) is the best way to get setup and contribute to the open sourced projects that the meta team manages, including wordcamp.org, global.wordpress.org (rosetta), jobs.wordpress.net, developer.wordpress.org, and apps.wordpress.org.
  • Accessibility – Generally, we group the accessibility team with core so they can contribute their testing or programming expertise to core tickets with the “accessibility” focus.
  • Training –
  • Community – (Including speaker workshops)

Tip: Here is a quiz on this article. Read quizzes page if you have any questions about quizzes and how to navigate them.