Contributing to WordPress is, as with many open source projects, an existential component for the further development and success of the popular content management system. Last but not least it is said on WordPress.org: "Contributing is the heartbeat of every community". Today I'll show you how you can make a big contribution to the WP community with just a little effort.
Many are not even aware that WordPress.org as an open source project is maintained and developed by thousands of volunteers worldwide. These volunteers, who contribute to WordPress in various ways and thus make an important contribution to the overall project, are also called WordPress Contributors.
If you think that only selected people with certain skills are allowed to participate to WordPress, I can only say: far from it! The possible fields of activity are so broad that really everyone can find something to do his or her small individual part, even without any programming knowledge. But more on that in a moment.
Why join WordPress in the first place?
There are many reasons why contributing to WordPress is a great thing to do: through your efforts you can gain and share new knowledge, gain expertise in a particular area, strengthen community cohesion, and of course meet new people from the WP community.
WordPress is now used by over 30 percent of the world's top websites. So your contribution, no matter how small it feels, can have an impact on 30 percent of the internet - If that's not an incentive! 😉
But no matter what your personal motivation is to contribute to WordPress - in the end it counts that you do something for the benefit of the community. After all, the hard (and above all unpaid) work of the many contributors ultimately contributes to the fact that you can continue to work with WordPress.
For this reason, we would like to encourage you with this article to help shape the future of WordPress and contribute something to the open source project.
In his blog post "Five for the Future," WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg appeals to WP companies to commit about five percent of their resources to contributing to WordPress.
#1 Contributing to WordPress: Find your niche
If you go to WordPress.org you'll see all the areas and teams you can get involved with. As you can see, there's an incredible amount of opportunity - from working on Core to Support and Marketing to Sustainability.
Unfortunately, writing about each of the 18 teams would go beyond the scope of this article. That's why I will focus on the areas where you can make a valuable contribution even without programming knowledge.
If you've been working with WordPress for a while, you've probably already acquired valuable knowledge that you can pass on to others. The WordPress support forums are particularly well suited for this, as the questions posted there are answered by volunteer supporters. Even if you only answer simple questions at first, you are already making an important contribution to the community!
Before you start answering questions, it's best to read through the WordPress Supporter's Guide first.
WordPress is constantly evolving and there are always new features or innovations that need to be documented. As a member of the Documentation Team you can help for example to improve the WordPress manuals, the codex and co. and to create new documentation.
WordPress has a strong community that hosts regular events all over the world. These range from local meetings in small groups (so-called WordPress Meetups) to two-day international conferences, such as WordCamp Europe. You can attend WordCamps not only as a participant, but also as a sponsor, volunteer, speaker or as part of the orga team. Our experience report from the WordCamp Retreat Soltau gives you a small insight into how a WordCamp can run. The retreat format "WordCamp in the green" had a (very successful!) premiere in Soltau and will probably be repeated. But before I start raving about WordCamps, let's get back to the Contributing 😉
Most WordCamp talks will be recorded to make them available to everyone later. However, there are still some steps to be taken before publishing on WordPress TV, for which volunteers are needed. After all, the footage not only needs to be recorded, but also moderated, edited, and post-edited if necessary. Once a video is published on WordPress TV, you can also help transcribe or translate the session.
By supporting the TV team, you'll be helping to make the latest WordPress knowledge available to as many people as possible.
How to transcribe or translate videos for WordPress TV is explained in the following video:
The Polyglots team works to make WordPress available not only in English, but in as many languages as possible. If you know another language besides German and English, you are in good hands with the Polyglots. But even if you can "only" translate into German, there is enough to do - countless plugins and themes are not yet available in German and therefore not usable for everyone.
In the Polyglots guide you will learn step by step how to get started with translations in WordPress.
The Accessibility Team takes care that WordPress itself as well as the content on WordPress.org is equally accessible for all people. This refers for example to WordPress users who are physically limited, for example regarding the accessibility of the Gutenberg editor.
In the area of accessibility, you can test new features or versions for accessibility, write documentation or check themes with the accessibility tag even without programming knowledge. Furthermore, it is already helpful if you create awareness for this important topic through blog posts or even lectures.
"Contrary to what some people think we're not all techies, and we feel that everyone who is connected with accessibility has something useful to contribute." - WordPress Accessibility Guide
Of course, you can also contribute to WordPress without being a member of an official WP team: For example, by writing about general WordPress topics on your blog, sharing your WordPress knowledge at workshops, speaking at events, or simply spreading the word about WordPress and telling other people about it. That way, you'll help even more people get to know, understand and love our favorite CMS.
#2 Contributing to WordPress: The technical framework
Now that I've introduced you to a few areas, it's time for the basic "technical requirements". But don't worry, this is only about the tools you need to communicate with other contributors.
Step 1: Create a WordPress.org account
If you want to contribute to WordPress, the first thing you should do is to create an account at WordPress.org . Make sure you have a good username, since you won't be able to change it later.
For your posts in the respective areas you get profile badges, which are awarded by the corresponding teams. The example of Morten Rand-Hendriksen shows how the profile of an active WordPress contributor can look like.
Step 2: Join the international WP Slack group
The most important communication channel in the entire WordPress community is Slack. The messaging tool is used to coordinate the various teams, hold meetings, plan WordCamps, and make joint decisions. Slack makes it possible for everyone around the world with an Internet connection to participate and have a say in WordPress.
After logging in to WordPress.org , go to make.wordpress.org/chat. There you can enter your email address under "joining the WordPress team on Slack".
Use the same username for Slack that you used for your WordPress.org account so that people can identify you better.
After you register for the international WordPress Slack community, your Slack mail will be[your username on WP.org]@chat.wordpress.org. This is important in case you forget your password.
Now you can browse the different sections and topics in Slack under "Channels" and join meetings and discussions. You can find the name of the Slack channel for a specific workspace and the time of the meetings on the corresponding team page at WordPress.org.
Step 3: Join the German WordPress Slack group
If you want to get involved in the German WordPress community, you should also join the German Slack group "DE - WordPress". You can find a step by step guide here.
For example, if you register as a volunteer at a WordCamp in Germany, a separate channel will be opened so that everyone can exchange information and discuss the schedule before the event.
Of course, the German Slack community is also an ideal place to meet people with the same interests and make new contacts. If you search for #meetup in the channel list, you'll find WordPress enthusiasts near you.
#3 Contributing to WordPress: Learning by doing
Now you know the different areas you can get involved in, even without programming skills, and how to get in touch with the different teams. If you're still a bit shy and don't want to jump right into the action, feel free to read along with a few teams that interest you in the Slack channels first. That way, you'll find out what they're currently working on and where your help might be needed.
Once you've decided on an area, I recommend joining the regular Slack meetings and simply asking if you're unclear. No one will expect you to already know the contributing processes, especially since they differ from team to team.
Now there is only one step left: Get started! Because as with many things, "learning by doing" is also the order of the day when it comes to contributing.
I hope I've been able to show you that there are an awful lot of areas in WordPress that you can get involved in. It might take you a while to find your passion and "your" WordPress team, but that's not a bad thing. After all, you can still learn a lot and find out your strengths by dabbling in multiple areas.
And who knows, maybe you'll even give a WordCamp talk in the future - like Birgit Olzem or Carole Olinger - about the (re)ways you became an active member of the WordPress community. In this sense: Happy Contributing! 🙂