WordCamp US 2023 Q&A

WordCamp US 2023 convened from August 24 to 26 in Washington, D.C. Nearly 2,000 attendees gathered for two days of engaging sessions, learning, and community-building. Saturday’s agenda concluded with back-to-back keynotes by WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg and Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy and a subsequent Q&A session. Read more about the event and watch recordings of the keynotes.

Watch the recording of the Q&A session from the WCUS keynotes by Matt & Josepha

As with past events, this post collects questions from in-person and online WCUS attendees that could not be addressed live—with answers from Josepha Haden Chomphosy and Matt Mullenweg. The community submitted some wonderful questions about all things WordPress and beyond. Due to the large volume of inquiries submitted, please note that a compilation of the list’s seven most representative and highly voted questions has been made. Tune in to the WordPress Briefing Podcast’s future episodes for answers to additional questions and discussion on related topics.

Let’s dig in!

Q. How do we ensure web 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). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessibility) remains at the forefront of design innovation?

One of the things we learned in the Accessibility conversation during the Community Summit is that checklists and blocking requirements (while a great starting point) can only do so much. Accessibility requirements are more nuanced than that and require a fair amount of collective judgment. It was noted that there needs to be awareness and training of foundational concepts, like defining DOM order before visual order, defining desired functions before scoping projects, and generally being more intentional about testing things with users. This all, of course, has to happen in concert with contributors throughout the product development timeline so that what starts with our designers carries on through the development process as well.

Q. How can we better reach users/audiences unaware of WordPress or who looked at it five years ago but not recently?

The tactical answer here is that we need a couple of different brand campaigns: conquest and re-introduction. But since WordPress has overwhelmingly always relied on word of mouth marketing, it can be hard to coordinate that sort of effort. What we would have to do in order to accomplish this would be a grassroots drive for testimonials and such, then hope that we can generate a viral pattern in social media platforms. 

Q. How can we encourage developers to learn WordPress?

There are a few tactical answers that are always worth pursuing. We should find a way to partner with schools (especially at earlier ages) to introduce what WordPress can do. We should collaborate with organizations that already work directly with the groups of learners and developers we feel would benefit most from WordPress. And finally, we should invest in our self-serve learning platforms and event series. 

It also might be worth thinking through a shift in our mindset. It’s hard to predict the future, but we do know that there are skills and values that are useful for anyone early in their career. Advanced 21st century skills (esp critical thinking, cross-cultural communication, and time management) are going to be vital as more companies and opportunities are distributed, as well as an enterprising spirit to see and adapt to challenges as they arise; all of which you can learn in the WordPress project.

Q. As AI gets better with written/spoken language translation, how might that affect the direction of Multilingual WordPress support?

For starters, I want to be clear that I think applications of AI should always be guided by the question “how can we streamline or reduce menial tasks for people” and never by the question “how can we replace this person”. That being said, I think that any value of AI to multilingual activity in WordPress will primarily be on the Polyglot team side. I don’t think we can overstate the importance of having both a well-translated CMS and the opportunity for that CMS to natively host well-translated content as our world gets more connected. I do hope that we are able to take full advantage of the potential for shortened workflows in the work of translating elements inside the WordPress project. Between Translate Live and the opportunity to have human moderation of AI suggested translations, I hope to make WordPress more available across the world, but especially for locales that represent at-risk languages and therefore have no GTEs.

Q. How do you envision WordPress integrating with the Fediverse in the Future?

I love the idea of a bespoke, hyper-local social network that can take the place of group texts or any number of “friends only” implementations in current social media platforms—just you and your book club friends bloomscrolling through your latest gardening experiments!

I also think we have a handful of plugins and solo projects in the ecosystem that, with a little collaboration, could offer that to WordPress out of the box through a canonical/community 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.

Q. 1,000 plugins in the queue; is the Plugin Review team still growing?

It is! And if you want to learn more about contributing to the WordPress project in that way, you can apply to join us!

Q. What is the biggest opportunity for WordPress in the next decade?

I think the popular answer here is “Artificial Intelligence,” and of course, that is certainly an opportunity. But I think if we look at “opportunity” in the sense of “where we can grow the most” I will always say connecting to the communities we currently have the least connection to. More connections mean more knowledge shared, more skills honed, and more economic opportunities for this world (and web) that we hope to make into a better place.

Do you have a question? Comment below, and join one of the many teams making WordPress for answers.

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