Thoughts on contributing to WordPress

When I attended WordCamp U.S last month, I tried to spend some time in the lightning talks track to mix things up a little bit.

One of the speakers on the second day was Morgan Estes, who gave a talk about taking the first step to becoming a WordPress contributor. I found his talk inspiring, and it really changed my personal perception of contributing.

I think it’s fair to say that there are plenty of others in the WordPress community who, like me, share the perception that contributing to WordPress as contributing code to core.

Contributing code to WordPress core is an itch I’ve been wanting to scratch properly for about the past twelve months. It’s actually in my list of development goals for 2016. That said, I have not, nor will I ever feel any pressure to make this happen. I’m content with the fact I’m doing great things with WordPress whilst working on client projects.

However, I’d really like to get more involved and share my own ideas (and code!) to help improve WordPress, so I can give back to the community of users that I’ve been a part of for nearly ten years in one way or another.

What Morgan made me realise that day was that I am giving something back, with my other contributions as an active member of the WordPress community.

For example, 2015 was the year I ventured into public speaking, delivering talks at couple of local WP meetups and two WordCamps. When I first decided to venture into speaking I had one goal: to help at least one person. From the discussions I’ve had these past nine months I know that my talks have helped at least a few dozen people, meaning I’ve already contributed something to WordPress and made a difference. Result!

I’ve now got the confidence to write and deliver more talks for the WordPress community, which is an ongoing commitment throughout 2016 and beyond. I may not be the best or the most experienced speaker in the world, but sharing my experiences and things I’ve learned is going to help others and that contribution means a lot to me.

Plugins is another area where I’m trying to give back. My first two plugins are now listed in the WordPress.org plugins directory, and I plan to continue writing plugins moving forward. This means I’m now committed to contributing code to the community. Granted, it’s not core code, but that doesn’t matter: my plugins are still going to help at least one person.

This is the best way to look at contributing. As Morgan said himself during his talk, it’s all about helping someone scratch the itch they have, or doing something that helps you scratch your own itch. The best thing is that quite a lot of the time, doing the latter also means you’re doing the former!

At Make Do (organisers of the WP Sheffield meetup), we’re really focused on increasing our contributions to WordPress in 2016. WordPress helps each of our team put dinner on the table every month as a result of our client work, so it’s important that we give back.

No matter what you’re doing: whether it’s translating WordPress, writing plugins, building themes, speaking at WordPress events, helping on the support forums, writing/updating documentation or even just dealing with WordPress questions/issues on Twitter you’re helping at least one person in the community.

And that is just as helpful and rewarding as each line of code you contribute to core. Plus, you stop people from scratching…

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