Contributing to the WordPress Project
“Community” has become something of a buzzword. Once marketers realized that a strong community increased loyalty and drove revenue, it morphed into a strategic aim rather than an organic collection of like-minded folks.
It’s easy to become a little jaded and look at all communities through this corporate, sales-oriented lens. After all, communities do offer economic benefits. They naturally bring together people who have the same interests, needs, and wants.
Yet this should be the byproduct rather than the primary objective. First and foremost, Communities (with a capital “C”) should be about sharing, connecting, and growing together. By being part of one, you should feel enriched and inspired by those around you. Hopefully doing the same for others.
Beyond this, it should actually be fun. We get a kick out of predicting what WordPress will look like in the future and discussing new features with the Community.
The fact is, in this era of community. While every business and industry has its own version, WordPress still manages to stand out as something special. More than anything else, this is why we’re willing to dedicate our time to the WordPress project.
An (Almost) Unique Global Project
When you’re part of a community, you always think it’s unique or special in some way. But with WordPress, we have a specific reason to believe this.
The WordPress project is one of those unique endeavors that is easy to idolize or hold up as “a great achievement of humankind.” Perhaps we’re going a little far – we are WordPress fans after all. However, how many other projects can claim the same kind of impact that isn’t wrapped up entirely in financial gain?
WordPress is an open-source project. This means it’s entirely free for everyone to use. This attracts individuals who share certain mindsets and ways of looking at the world. It’s almost like an honesty box on a global scale. You get something for free and can choose to donate if you wish.
The only other example that comes to mind for us is Wikipedia, which is famously a free, crowd-sourced platform that runs on volunteer support. But the fact is that projects like Wikipedia and WordPress are few and far between.
A Big-C Community With Individual Impact
As great this high-minded sense of solidarity is – or contributing to a world-changing platform – it’s not the only thing that drives us.
If you speak to your average WordPress developer, nearly every one will have a personal story about the Community. More often than not, it involves someone who acted as a guide or mentor, offering up their free time to help them gain new skills and grow. This selflessness, which is characteristic of the WordPress Community, is clearly seen by the incredible work that WP Engine does.
Whether it’s through forums or Facebook groups, in-person events or webinars, the individual, one-on-one interactions that take place thanks to WordPress routinely make a positive on a personal level.
Our own project manager, Dave Margowsky, wouldn’t be working with us if not for the local OC Meetup group that we continue to donate our time to.
Contributing to the WordPress Project
Often, we come across people who want to contribute to the WordPress project, but say their coding or other technical skills aren’t good enough.
It’s true that many developers do dedicate their time to writing new code, fixing bugs, or other similar tasks. If you’d like to go down this route, a good way to start is by reading the WordPress Core handbook or having a look at the list of bug fixes that need to be addressed.
But it’s important to note that this is not the only way to contribute to the WordPress project. In fact, WordPress clearly outlines the different teams that focus on specific areas. Aside from the Core team that we mentioned above, there’s also Design, Mobile, Accessibility, Themes, Polyglot, Support, and more.
We’ll go into detail below on a few of the areas, but WordPress provides a nice, simple overview of all the ways you can get involved here.
UX Experts and App Developers
Sticking with the more technical support, if you’re a UX designer or similar, you can contribute to the improvement of the user interface. On the blog, there are many discussion forums where you can talk about design-related issues and volunteer your help. You can also get involved with themes if you like.
Likewise, anyone who has experience with mobile – as a developer, designer, or tester – can join the mobile team and get involved that way.
Even if you’ve never seen the WordPress backend before, you could still contribute to the project. WordPress powers an incredible 43% of all websites on the internet. Which means people from every country in the world are likely accessing the platform on a daily basis.
If you speak more than one language and have strong translation skills, you can get involved in the project that way.
Accessibility and Support Forums
Language is one form of accessibility, but there’s much more involved in ensuring that the digital experience is as open and welcoming to the entire global community.
Individuals who suffer from certain disabilities or older members of the population can find it more difficult to interact with websites unless steps are taken to accommodate them. Accessibility is an incredibly important issue in WordPress, not just ethically but also legally and contributions in this area are essential for the ongoing health of the platform. You can find out more about WordPress accessibility here.
Alternatively, you can simply spend your free time answering questions that people post in the forum. You’ll find that, even if you only have a basic understanding of WordPress, there are still individuals who you can help.
Documentation and Organization
Many of us have benefited from having teachers or mentors who help us in our WordPress journey. But that’s not always the case.
Creating robust documentation is another way you can contribute. This could be for:
How Pixel Jar is Involved
Over the years, we have contributed in many different ways to the WordPress Community. One of our favorites has to be through camps and events where you can positively impact those you meet there.
We co-organize the OC Meetup, which now takes place online and welcomes attendees from around the world. Getting involved in this way allows us to meet new people, learn, and share the skills that we have. It’s an enriching and enjoyable experience that gives you a good idea of what the WordPress Community is all about.
Aside from the Meetup, we are also pledged to the Five for the Future initiative. This is a concerted effort to engage and inspire individuals to take part in the WordPress project. Our co-founder, Brandon, has been a deputy of the initiative for years and everyone at Pixel Jar is committed to what it represents. We were also heavily involved in the Orange County (OC) WordCamp. Brandon and Jeff started WordCamp Orange County back in 2011 and we’re excited to see its return post-pandemic.
If you are interested in getting involved at all in the WordPress project, join us for one of our Meetups and ask us in person how you can help out. We can’t wait to see you there!