What It’s Like to Participate in a WordPress Contributor Day


WordPress community members are often encouraged to contribute to the project. That makes plenty of sense. The software is open-source and relies on both sponsored and volunteer contributors. It’s what keeps things moving forward.

However, the idea may seem overwhelming. Even technically-minded people might feel some trepidation. And non-developers might wonder if they have anything to offer.

I’ve had reservations about contributing. I know how to write code. But I’m not an expert. Plus, I was skeptical of what I could add to WordPress. There are a plethora of brilliant people already contributing.

Despite my uncertainty, I volunteered for Contributor Day at WordCamp US 2023. I figured it would be a good starting point. Besides, it’s only a day. Any disasters would be temporary!

Here are some thoughts and observations on what it’s like to participate. Is WordPress Contributor Day for you? Keep reading to find out.

There Are Myriad Ways to Contribute

There’s a perception that developers are the main contributors to WordPress. And sure, the project could use expert programmers. But coding is only part of the story.

As of this writing, there are 22 different contribution teams. Several have nothing to do with PHP, JavaScript, or CSS.

The Photos team is a prime example. Members are responsible for, among other things, moderating submissions to the WordPress Photo Directory.

Or you might help fellow WordPress users via the Support team. It includes answering questions on the project’s support forums. A working knowledge of WordPress will help. But you don’t have to know anything about code to pitch in.

There are also opportunities to help with marketing and community wrangling. These are great options if you’re a people person.

And we’re just scratching the surface. Your skills may translate to contributing more than you think.

There are numerous ways to contribute to WordPress that don't require code.

Team Leaders Are There to Help You

I spent Contributor Day working with the Support and Documentation teams. I figured these teams were a good fit, given my background.

But there were challenges. Part of my task was to update the block editor documentation. Some articles were outdated and needed to be refreshed.

It sounds straightforward, right? Not quite. There are processes to follow that were foreign to me. I spent a few minutes staring blankly at my screen.

Thankfully there were some terrific team leaders on hand. In my case, Milana Cap was incredibly kind and patient. She walked me through each step and was always happy to answer questions. Oh, I had a lot of questions.

The point is that you’re not flying blind. Experienced team members are there to guide you. Therefore, it’s OK if you don’t know everything. No one expects you to be perfect.

For my part, progress was slow. I submitted a handful of edits to an article. Were they good enough to be published? Time will tell!

WordPress team leaders are happy to answer questions and help you get started.

You’ll Feel a Sense of Community

Contributor Days are held at WordCamps worldwide. Therefore, attendance can vary based on the size of the event. In the case of WordCamp US, several hundred people were there.

There was a real sense of community among the attendees. Even a grumpy introvert like myself couldn’t help but notice.

I spoke with people I knew from previous WordCamps. But I also met contributors from far and wide. And many were first-time participants.

And the biggest surprise was that I wasn’t the only neophyte. The Documentation team table I sat at had several newbies. We all faced similar challenges in getting up to speed.

That was comforting. One of my biggest fears was being behind the curve. I didn’t want to slow everyone else down.

Refreshingly, the new contributor orientation said to expect things to move slowly. That statement did wonders for my stress levels. From there, I was able to relax and learn.


Other Things Worth Noting

I couldn’t be everywhere at once. However, I did make a few general observations about WordPress Contributor Day. I hope that they help you get a sense of the overall experience.

There Are No Sales Pitches

I was grateful that Contributor Day didn’t turn into a sales pitch. You know, the kind where you’re prodded into making a long-term commitment.

My experience was nothing like that. Attendees were free to move from team to team. And the teams I worked with were all about helping and having fun.

I felt no pressure to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. That’s a rarity in the world we live in.

There Are Some Very Dedicated Contributors

How has WordPress thrived for over 20 years? Its many contributors are a big reason why.

I witnessed some incredibly passionate people at their best. They knew how to get things done. Yet they were still welcoming of newcomers.

Some contributors are paid to be there. But I didn’t notice anyone treating their work as just another job. I saw enthusiasm everywhere I went.

There is a casual atmosphere to WordPress Contributor Day.

WordPress Contributor Day Is Worth Your Time

If you’re attending a WordCamp that includes a Contributor Day, consider giving it a try. There are learning opportunities everywhere. Not to mention the chance to meet some great people.

I found the experience to be a positive one. And I gained a different perspective on how contribution works.

It takes a lot of coordination and dedication to keep WordPress going strong. There are a lot of unsung heroes who help make it happen.

Most importantly, know that your skills are valued. There’s a place for you to contribute – regardless of your expertise.

This was my first WordPress Contributor Day. But it won’t be my last.

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