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

Johannes Benz Last updated 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'll find a recap about the typical points that make up a WordCamp, and then in the second part there's an overview of all the sessions. If you don't know how a BarCamp works yet, you'll also find out in our WordCamp Cologne Recap 2017 you will find what you are looking for.

WordCamp Cologne 2018 - Organization in record time

If you are thinking about organising a WordCamp yourself in the future as WordPress Meetup, Cologne shows you very nicely both the possibilities and the limits.

WordCamp Cologne Welcome
WordCamp Cologne 2018 Introductions

PRO

In record time of only almost two months the WordCamp was organized this time. From my point of 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 2017
  • The BarCamp format has made the Call for Speakers obsolete
  • The Orga-Team was already well connected with sponsors
  • It was improvised sensibly

CONTRA - with some pros! 😉

When I compare WordCamp Cologne 2017 with WordCamp Cologne 2018, the difference was noticeable in parts. Each of the points caused by the 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 some trepidation.

"All of a sudden, there were no speakers lined up and 40% of the slots were still unallocated."

WordCamp Cologne: Matthias from RAIDBOXES at the session pitch
Matthias pitches his talk "How to make your WordPress site fit for high load"

The great thing: Anyone who thought, like me, that a few slots would be lost was proven wrong. The free slots also encouraged other participants who had certainly not prepared a session en détail or would otherwise not dare to try their luck. My personal favorite session "Working in Germany" also made it onto the session schedule.

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

Fewer sponsors

It felt like there were significantly fewer sponsors this year: In total, there were only four sponsor teams with booths on site. Since the WordCamp was also sponsored by numerous supporters who were not present with booths, it was once again in the black. 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 attendees.

Afterparty directly in 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 a large part of the people still participates in networking. Personally, I do prefer a second location as a venue for the after party. But simply to emphasize the then more informal character and to let the evening end even more relaxed. Once warmed up by the Frei-Kölsch, however, nothing stood in the way of a relaxed mood.

Of course we had our slush machine with us, just like at the WordCamp retreat in Soltau. The colorful slush syrup was warm and dry in the RAIDBOXES office in Münster, but with OJ and Coke the drinks tasted at least as good 😉

WordCamp Cologne 2018: Afterparty
Our senior web dev Matthias has been busy mixing slushies.

Smaller Contributor Day

Last year, Contributor Day took place 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 you still had a lot of energy. On a Sunday the energy level is naturally a bit lower. 

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

The great thing: Nevertheless, a lot was accomplished 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 has already been decided that the following WordCamps will be organised (still with the reservation 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

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

Less swag

Last year it was still "Turn the Swag on" in Cologne. This year the whole thing was much more sparse. 

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

Conclusion on the organization

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 benefits of hosting WordCamps on a regular basis. 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 that with a fully booked number of participants and each time at a different location.

At this point a big thank you to 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 publishing process of the sessions for WordPress .tv. For the participants and speakers themselves, there was no direct difference. The real advantage now comes directly to you.

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

The solution: To reduce the effort of post-production to a minimum, the videos are now "edited" directly during recording. How this works exactlyFrank Staude already presented in 2016 at the Meetup Hannover.

So, since the sessions didn't need to be edited afterwards, the first videos were already completely uploaded on Sunday at the 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 presentations thematically for you. This way you can watch individual sessions depending on your area of interest. Simply click on the link and you will be taken directly to the WordPress -TV presentation. You can find the complete overview on WordPress -TV here.

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

In addition to classic topics such as WordPress tools or web design basics, this time there were again topics on the GDPR . Those who are understandably fed up with the topic can take a look at the lecture to see if it was all just smoke and mirrors.

The topic of Höhle der Löwen was also new. WordPress is becoming more and more relevant when it comes to this, high load load. The fact that this requires extensive preparation and expertise becomes clear in both presentations on the topic. Since we have already participated in more than five broadcasts at RAIDBOXES , we know the pitfalls very well and will soon publish another 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 for the current occasion is the Gutenberg lecture. Sören is an active contributor and therefore very close to the action. Who has listened here, thinks a start in November is more than doubtful. We will keep you up to date here as well.

WordCamp Cologne 2018_Maja Benke_Soeren Wrede
Maja and Sören introduce Gutenberg and 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 favorite session. For me, it is an expression of this WordCamp, as it probably wouldn't have made it onto the session schedule if everything had gone "smoothly".

In it, four WordCamp participants with foreign roots share their experiences from 1-10 years of working in Germany. In times of AfD, xenophobia and fear of "foreigners" in our country, statements like "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.

Image source: Jan Engel has provided us with the image for this article.

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