WordPress / Automattic Events Awareness
I hope to soon be working as an Automattic Events Wrangler (AEW), and the previous three posts on this blog have talked a lot about Automattic events. But I haven’t given any details about these events.
Since I’ve applied for the position of AEW, it seemed appropriate and necessary for me to become reasonably knowledgeable about Automattic events. I’ve been to lots of WordPress local meetups but have never participated in WordCamps or other types of Automattic events.
To become more familiar with the types of events an AEW wrangles, I did a lot of reading on WordPress.com, WordCamp.org, WordPress.org and Meetup.com, along with a few searches on Google. Based on what I already knew and what I read yesterday and today, I’m separating Automattic events into three categories; WordCamps, WordPress regular meetups, and other Automattic events.
According to Wikipedia, “WordCamps are casual, locally organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress” for WordPress developers and users. This type of event was described thusly by WordCamp Chicago blog post: “WordCamp is a popular event that brings in local and national speakers every year to present cutting-edge talks on design, development, content production, and other WordPress topics, for an extremely reasonable price.”
The very first WordCamp was a one-day event held in 2006 and had over 500 attendees. WordCamps are held all over the world now, and many large cities have them annually. Some cities or regions hold a one-day event, but it appears most of them have two-day WordCamps. WordCamp US is the crown jewel of this category of Automattic events, held in San Francisco, and it will be a three-day event in 2016. For more info on WordCamps, go to the Events page on WordCamp.org, the website of a specific WordCamp, or the Events page on this blog (click on Events tab at top of page), which lists a few WordCamps I am especially interested in working on.
WordPress Monthly Meetups
Many cities or regions also have regular informal meetups for WordPress users. A fair number of these users work as website developers either for a company that does web development or doing the company website of the firm that employs them. These meetups are most often monthly, but the schedules are dependent on the interest level and availability of the groups’ members.
The format of the regular meetups vary from city to city, but each meeting often features a presentation about a significant feature or aspect of WordPress, with the talk given by a meetup group member or a guest speaker. In addition to the presentation, there is typically a time for asking the group’s input regarding a challenge someone is facing with WordPress or with their web development business. Many people also make time before or after the meetup to have side meetings to talk with good friends in the group or to get to know new people in the group.
I helped build the Appleton, Wisconsin, WordPress monthly meetup when it was started in 2012. Although the Appleton population is quite small compared to Milwaukee, Chicago and many of the other cities with WordPress meetups, we often had 20+ people at the events, with some of them coming from 50 miles away or further.
For more info on WordPress monthly events, search for WordPress on Meetup.com (most monthly local WordPress groups use that website / meeting service). You can also use Google to search for “WordPress meetup” in your city or state. I’ve listed a few Wisconsin and Midwest regular meetups on the Events page on this blog.
I didn’t do an exhaustive search, but it appears Wisconsin may currently only have three regular WordPress meetup groups; Milwaukee, Appleton and Central Wisconsin. It appears Madison had a group, but Meetup.com indicates their last meeting was in 2013. When I get the AEW job, if it’s an appropriate work activity for me, I’ll participate in as many of the three Wisconsin groups’ meetups as my other work priorities allow. And maybe I can even publicize and promote more participation in regular Wisconsin (and Upper Peninsula!) WordPress meetups. If there aren’t enough interested WordPress users and developers in this region to support more monthly meetup locations, maybe I can work with people in different parts of the region to start a few quarterly meetups, or maybe a rotating schedule where meetups happen in various cities on a planned basis. Potential cities for this include Green Bay, Madison, Wausau, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Marinette, Escanaba, Marquette, and Houghton.
Other Automattic Events
After I start working as an AEW, I’ll know a lot more about what other Automattic events are put on. And when I better understand the specific goals of the various Automattic events, I’ll be able to suggest a few new types of event to consider for achieving those goals.