WordCamp Cologne 2018 Recap: A Short Planning Phase Also Has Its Advantages

Johannes Benz Updated on 24.01.2020
8 Min.
Picture WCCGN2018 Recap

WordCamp Cologne 2018: In record time of just two months, this year's WordCamp Cologne was built from the ground up. Our quick recap presents the advantages and disadvantages of a shorter organising period as well as our overall impression and learnings of the weekend.

By now, we at RAIDBOXES have already visited at least ten WordCamps. The Cologne WordCamp is logically part of it, due to its proximity to Münster. Since 2015, we have participated in every WordCamp there and are very happy that a regularity is developing here that can take the German community to a new level.

In the following article I would like to review the weekend for the WCCGN participants and share our experience with those who could not make it to Cologne this year.

In the first part you will find a recap of the typical points that make up a WordCamp, and in the second part there is an overview of all sessions. If you don't know how a BarCamp works, you will find an explanation in our WordCamp Cologne Recap from 2017 .

WordCamp Cologne 2018 - Organization in record time

For those who, as a WordPress Meetup, are thinking about organizing a WordCamp themselves in the future, Cologne is an excellent example of both the possibilities and the limits.

WordCamp Cologne Welcome
WordCamp Cologne 2018 introduction round


In record time of only almost two months the WordCamp was organized this time. In my view, this was only possible because of the following points:

  • The location was already known from WordCamp 2017
  • The orga-team was very experienced and had partly already co-organized in 2017
  • The BarCamp format has made the Call for Speakers redundant
  • The Orga-Team was already well networked with sponsors
  • It was improvised in a sensible way

CONTRA - with some pros! 😉

When I compare the WordCamp Cologne 2017 with the WordCamp Cologne 2018, the difference was noticeable in parts. Each of the points caused by spontaneity, but also had its sunny sides:

Spontaneous Session Pitches

At WordCamp Cologne 2017 there was still a huge queue of potential speakers and in the end some had to be postponed to Sunday. At this year's WordCamp there was a bit of trembling.

"All of a sudden, there were no speakers in line and 40% of the slots were still open."

WordCamp Cologne: Matthias von RAIDBOXES at the session pitch
Matthias pitches his lecture "How you WordPress site fit for heavy loads"

The great thing: Anyone who thought, as I did, that some slots might be lost has been proven wrong. The free places also encouraged other participants who certainly had not prepared a session en détail or would otherwise not dare to try their luck. Also my personal favourite session "Working in Germany" has been a great success in this course. Session plan done.

WordCamp Cologne 2018: Session plan
This is what the filled session board looked like in the end.

Fewer sponsors

There were significantly fewer sponsors this year: In total, only four sponsor teams with stands were on site. Since the WordCamp was also sponsored by numerous supporters, who were then not on site with booths, it again writes a black zero this time. However, the balanced planning could only be maintained due to the slightly lower number of participants.

The great thing: Fewer sponsors in this case means more space in the foyer and less distraction from the other participants.

Afterparty directly at the location

Again it was a brilliant idea of the orga-team to have the party directly after the sessions. This has the advantage that the majority of people are still participating in networking. Personally, I prefer a second location as the venue for the afterparty. But simply to emphasize the then rather informal character and to let the evening end even more relaxed. Once warmed up by the Frei-Kölsch, nothing stood in the way of a relaxed atmosphere.

Of course we had, as with the WordCamp Retreat in Soltau...our slush machine. The colourful slush syrup was warm and dry in the RAIDBOXES office in Münster, but with orange juice and cola the drinks tasted at least as good. 😉

WordCamp Cologne 2018: Afterparty
Our Senior Web Dev Matthias has been busy mixing slushies.

Smaller Contributor Day

The Contributor Day took place last year at Microsoft on the Rhine for a whole day on Friday. For me, this was one of the best contributor days I had ever experienced. The location was great, the time was very sufficient, the food was good and above all one still had a lot of energy. On a Sunday, the energy level is naturally somewhat lower. 

WordCamp Retreat 2020 Planning
The community team in planning the WordCamp Soltau 2020.

The great thing: Nevertheless, a lot was achieved at this Contributor Day as well. It is noticeable that WordCamps are becoming more and more structured and so I think it is great that it is already clear that the following WordCamps will be organized (still with reservations of the WordPress foundation):

  • WordCamp in Muenster / Osnabrueck end of March 2019
  • WordCamp Europe on 20-22 June 2019 in Berlin!
  • WordCamp Stuttgart in autumn 2019
  • WordCamp in Cologne probably in autumn 2019
  • WordCamp Soltau in May 2020

Just how useful it can be to test the latest Gutenberg-beta or the new WordPress -Theme "Twenty Nineteen" and create tickets on GitHub was another learning experience of Contributor Day for some.

Less Swag

Last year in Cologne it was called "Turn the Swag on". This year the whole thing turned out to be much more sparse. 

The great thing: There was a towel 🙂. Whereas T-shirts are piling up in the cupboard meanwhile, I don't have a single WordPress towel yet. Here too, the orga-team has shown creativity.

Conclusion on the organisation

It is great what the orga team has achieved in such a short time. Creative solutions have been found for many points that were not fully realized due to the short time available, and the BarCamp format has once again shown that, in a suitable setting, the community is involved and contributes to the success of BarCamps.

At the same time, it shows the great efficiency advantages of organizing WordCamps regularly. Many other WordCamps should follow the example of Cologne and organize WordCamps regularly. In Spain, for example, a WordCamp takes place almost every month. And this with a fully booked number of participants and each time at a different location.

At this point we would like to thank once again Thomas Brühl, Tobias Fritz, Judith Schröer, Sebastian Blum, Udo Meisen and Sven Wagener!

The WordPress TV revolution in action

Especially outstanding this time was the publication process of the sessions for WordPress telev. For the participants and speakers themselves, there was no direct difference. The real advantage now comes directly to you.

In the past, due to extensive post-production, videos were sometimes only available several weeks after the actual WordCamp. Understandably, the motivation for organizers to edit all session videos after the performance is over is limited.

The solution: In order to reduce the amount of post-production work to a minimum, the videos are now "cut" directly while they are being recorded. How this works exactlyFrank Staude has already presented the new product at the Meetup Hannover in 2016.

Since the sessions did not have to be edited afterwards, the first videos were uploaded in full on Sunday at Contributor Day and released directly. In my opinion this is absolutely great. Therefore a big praise to Frank Staude and the video team for this great process optimization!

WordCamp Cologne 2018: The sessions at a glance

We have grouped the lectures thematically for you once. So you can watch individual sessions afterwards, depending on your field of interest. Just click on the link and you will be taken directly to WordPress -TV lecture. The complete overview on WordPress -TV you will find here.

If certain lectures are not available, they have either already been held at other WordCamps or there have been technical problems. For the former we tried to include "old" lectures in the links.

Beside classical topics like WordPress -Tools or Webdesign Basics there were this time also topics for GDPR . Those who are understandably fed up with the subject can check the lecture to see whether it was all just smoke and mirrors.

The subject of the lions' den was also new. WordPress is becoming more and more relevant when it comes large burden to bear. The fact that this requires extensive preparation and expertise becomes clear in both lectures on the topic. As we have RAIDBOXES already participated in more than five broadcasts, we know the pitfalls very well and will soon publish an extensive article on the topic.

WordPress -Development

WordPress and web design / Gutenberg

WordPress and WooCommerce

WordPress Tools and Plugins

WordPress -performance

WordPress -Security

GDPR & Law

Online Marketing / New Technologies

work-life balance / everyday agency life

Our special recommendation from current occasion, is the Gutenberg-lecture. Sören is an active contributor and therefore very close to the action. Those who have been listening here consider a start in November more than questionable. We will also keep you informed here.

WordCamp Cologne 2018_Maja Benke_Soeren Wrede
Maja and Sören present Gutenbergand the new WP-Theme "Twenty Nineteen".

Overall conclusion: "You Germans are not so bad ;-)"

At the end I would like to close with my personal favourite session. For me she is an expression of this WordCamp, because she probably would not have made it on the session plan if everything had gone "smoothly".

In it four WordCamp participants with foreign roots share their experience of 1-10 years Working stay in Germany. In times of AfD, xenophobia and fear of "foreign" people in our country, statements such as "We have never experienced racism - neither at WordCamps, nor in Germany in general" and "You Germans are not as bad as one might have thought in advance." are a positive surprise.

This is really great and shows how valuable values lived at WordCamps can be, also for our society.

The group picture was kindly contributed by Jan Angel .

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