A Note About WCSF Travel Assistance

I’ve been reviewing all the travel assistance applications with the help of @andreamiddleton, and I’ve seen quite a few from people who shouldn’t really need to apply for need-based financial aid. As the rest of the decisions/offers go out today and tomorrow, you may get asked how the decisions were made, so I thought I’d post about it here. Here’s what we posted on the WCSF site as criteria when we opened applications:

Contributors to WordPress. For people who work for a WordPress-based company, coming to WCSF is an easy decision, but for contributors who volunteer and don’t have a WordPress-based day job, it can be financially daunting. As a global project, it can also be tough for those contributors who live on the other side of the planet to make the trip as easily as those in the same hemisphere. We hope to bring as many active contributors to the event as possible.
Diversity. For a global project with users and contributors from many walks of life, our events are often overwhelmingly attended by able-bodied, young, white men. Since a more diverse contributor pool means a stronger project, we hope to bring more of the underrepresented voices to the event.
Teachers. 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. literacy is important, and the educators who are teaching WordPress to their classes are helping grow the next generation of contributors. Since we’d like to create more school education programs, bringing teachers to the event can help bridge the gap between industry and academia.

Why then did we get so many applications from able-bodied, North American, caucasian men who work for WordPress-based companies (and a couple of women, but really a lot of men)? Someone working for a wp-based company should be working with their employer to cover their travel costs. In cases where I’ve been able, I’ve reached out to company heads/decision makers and asked them to send their employees who ask, especially those who are contributors. In some cases they say yes, because they recognize the value of being part of the event. In others, they say no, either because their business has cash flow issues, their priorities don’t include investing in the community this way, or they don’t want to send that specific employee for reasons that aren’t any of our business.

Good WordPress developers tend to charge anywhere from $50 – $150 (or more if they’re really good) per hour for freelance work. WordPress developers are always in need. The cost of a trip to the WCSF event could be earned by a person with these skills in a weekend or two. If you could earn that kind of money in a weekend or two, that’s not the same as having true financial need. To clear up the difference, I thought I’d post a couple of descriptions to show what really counts or doesn’t count as financial need.

Has Financial Need:

  • A single parent who can only work part-time due to their childcare responsibilities
  • Someone physically disabled whose employment options are limited
  • Someone who’s unemployed and is not a developer, so their contribution skills are not as marketable
  • A reliable contributor who works at a non-wp day job and would not only have to pay for the trip, but would lose income due to taking time off
  • Someone who works successfully with WordPress, but in a country where the currency is devalued enough that being successful there would not afford the kind of money needed for the US trip (talking about locals here, not American/European ex-pats drawing US/Euro salaries while living someplace cheap and exotic)

Needs to Pick Up a Freelance Gig:

  • WordPress developers and themers in general, but especially those in highly developed nations
  • Someone who quit their wp-related job and are thinking about starting a new business
  • Someone who quit their wp-related job and decided to take a few months off before looking for a new one
  • Someone who quit their wp-related job pretty much in general unless it was for a limiting reason like disability or illness that prevents working

Think of it like applying for financial aid for college. It’s not just about if you have ready cash — let’s face it, most people don’t have one or two thousand dollars just sitting around — it’s about your ability to earn it. If you have the ability, then you should use it. If you don’t have the ability, that’s financial need.

We can discuss this more in today’s 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.-themed team chat if people have objections to this definition of need or want to suggest additional criteria.

#community-management, #travel-assistance, #wcsf