Looking Back on WordCamp San Francisco 2014

As I look forward to WordCamp US, Philadelphia, I keep looking back to my experience at WordCamp San Francisco, the first ever international WordCamp I attended.  Wow, what a ride!

This WordCamp of WordCamps attracted the largest number of attendees WordCamp SF has ever seen, with about 1000 people participating.  Being part of that huge talent, energy and enthusiasm was an incredible experience.

A very belated thank you to the organizers of WordCamp Central, who selected me for participation because of my contribution to the WordPress theme review team. It would have been a big deal just to attend the event alongside talented developers, designers, strategists and other tech personnel. You can imagine how stoked I was when I was selected and sponsored by the organizers. It feels good to have one’s hard work acknowledged.

It was an event filled with many firsts for me. It was the first time in a tech conference that I was asked to turn off my phone and all gadgets. I experienced a moment of shock.  What was I going to do a whole day without gadgets? In a conference where I barely know anyone? But that turned out just fine. Everyone had a sense of security and freedom to provide their perspectives, and the discussions were much more rewarding.

It was the first time I learnt about the Accessibility team, and the whole accessibility initiative at WordPress.org. I met the team at the event, and was really interested in bringing this initiative to Nepal.

It was my first time face-to-face with a lot of different people I had worked with previously. I got to hear from Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress. I worked closely for two days with fellow theme review contributors on WordPress.org. Usually, we work together asynchronously via blogs, forums and bug trackers. Most teams have a weekly online meeting as well, but the challenges of time-zones, work schedules and coordinating among dozens of people mean that it’s rarely a full-team experience. This meet-up gave us a chance to work on our projects together and make plans in a face-to-face real-time environment which proved to be very beneficial. I was with my theme review team along-side Justin Tadlock and Emil Uzelac, the co-owners of Theme Review.Co. I became a Key Theme Reviewer from Theme Reviewer, a memorable achievement of my trip.

Another first at this WordCamp was my first time submitting a patch to the core WordPress. I became the first Nepali developer to contribute in this way. I had never even imagined that I would be able to submit to the core alongside other WordPress heavyweights. This gave me the confidence in my own abilities, and has given lots of hope and inspiration to people in Nepal that we can work with top-notch developers. With developers more confident in their own ability to contribute, we now have 3-4 people in Nepal who submit patches to the core, and 3-4 theme reviewers, which is a remarkable achievement.

I invited many colleagues I met there to participate in WordCamp Nepal and see how we are doing. As a result, we have two representatives from JetPack, one from Automattic, and one from WPML participating in WordCamp Nepal 2015. A whole community of Nepali developers and designers are getting access to an international platform, and I am happy about the way things are going. I hope my presence in San Francisco aided in putting our small community of Nepali developers in the large map of the WordPress community.

One thing that was VERY surprising to me in WordCamp San Francisco was the energy and enthusiasm of the community. People were working from early in the morning to late at night, and dedicating a lot of their time to a voluntary project. But in retrospect, WordPress is run by the community, so this energy must be what is leading to its success. And everybody there understood that if you don’t contribute to WordPress, it will stop being the amazing place it now is.

This is something that I try to instill in my colleagues here in Nepal. The Nepali edition of WordCamps and WordPress meet-ups here have inspired many people to join in the community. Our efforts help lay groundwork to the establishment of many leading companies of today.  I keep reminding people that it is your responsibility to give back to the project that you are earning from. If companies don’t take the time to contribute, if it collapses, they will lose big. I am happy that the numbers of Nepali WordPress contributors are growing.

 

 

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