Monique Dubbelman and Rian Rietveld on WordCamp Europe 2018 Contributor Day

Why would you work for WordPress for free ?

In mid-June I was in Belgrade for the largest European WordPress conference: WordCamp Europe. After being selected last year as a speaker at WordCamp Europe in Paris and a few other congresses, I decided to take it a little easier this year: I would only go to WordCamp Europe as a visitor and enjoy the city to some extent. But when Tammie Lister, with whom I'm on the WordPress design team, asked me a few months ago if I wanted to lead the design table at Contributor Day, I decided to play an active role again this time at WordCamp Europe. I do this on a voluntary basis, but I still get the question: why should you work for WordPress for free?

What is WordPress Contributor Day?

First of all maybe some explanation about what contributor day is. Contributor days are days that are usually linked to WordPress conferences. On this day, the community will be divided among the different knowledge areas of WordPress. Because WordPress is open source software, the development runs to a large extent on the users. When I first started going to WordCamps a few years ago, I always skipped contributor day. I didn't feel like I could contribute anything because I'm not a programmer. Time to dispel that myth.

Even if you are not technical, you can contribute to WordPress.

Contributing to WordPress is not just about writing code. Although it is the basis, I would cautiously claim that code is becoming less and less important in relative terms. After all, what use is good code if no one knows you exist? Or when your safety is not guaranteed? What if the software isn't intiative and user-friendly for most people? If it is not accessible to people with a disability, such as dyslexia, colour blindness, blindness, partially sightedness or low literacy? If there is no documentation about your software? And the program is not available in your language? Hundreds and thousands of people around the world work for free on all these aspects during contributor day (and beyond).

Working for WordPress for free, why would you do that?

But why would you work for free for WordPress? We're all busy enough already, so where do you get the time from?

Last year during contributor day at WordCamp US we were asked the following questions:

  • How much do you depend on WordPress for your income?
    My answer: about 70%
  • How much of your time do you spend contributing to WordPress?
    My answer: about 10% (not counting speaking and volunteers on WordCamps)

Working for WordPress for free: how much time do you contribute?

This made me think about what was also said on that particular contributor day: how does it feel when others decide for you which way to go with the software you are so dependent on in terms of income?

An important reason for me is therefore being able to actively influence the decisions and content of WordPress. No matter how small that influence may be. But that's not the only reason. Since I started contributing to WordPress, I have learned a lot. On the one hand by looking at how more experienced people do things. The WordPress community contains a lot of knowledge and many people are willing to share that knowledge. In addition, I come into contact with all kinds of new programs, such as Invision. As a self-employed person, I wouldn't buy this program very quickly, but as a member of the WordPress design team, I have access to this software, which teaches me how to work with this program and how to collaborate with it.

Contributing to WordPress can be done in many different ways

Working for WordPress for free is not only done by working on the software during contributor day. This can also be done by organizing Meetups or WordCamps, or by registering as a speaker, volunteer or organizer. You can also contribute to WordPress online, for example by translating texts from English into Dutch. You can find me every week in the international online WordPress design team (and you can read about what we do there on our blog).

Expanding the business network through WordPress

Finally, expanding my network is a very valuable reason to work for WordPress for free. In recent years I have met so many fine people, some of whom I now consider friends. It's nice to meet them and it's also nice to know who I can turn to for certain knowledge, especially in the case of larger projects. In the end, my customers benefit from this as well.

The main reason for contributing to WordPress

As Remkus de Vries said on Contributor Day during WordCamp Europe in Belgrade: You come for the software, but you leave with family. And perhaps that is the most important reason to make a contribution to WordPress.

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