There are a number of ways to get involved and give back to the WordPress community.
WordPress is an open source project meaning that the core software and a vast number of the tools to expand it are completely free to use and modify. That ethos extends to every aspect of the software and supporting information.
The community bands together to create additions to WordPress, translate it into different languages and help advance every aspect of the core software.
However, community contribution isn’t just limited to the developers out there. Anyone who wants to get involved can find a way to help out. All you really need is a WordPress.org account and the desire to get stuck in.
There are a lot of ways to get involved and we’ll go through a few of them for you here.
1. Develop A Free Plugin Or Theme
This is the most common method of giving back to the WordPress community. There are thousands of free themes and plugins in the WordPress repository for the community to use. To show you the huge variety that are being created I go through them all and highlight my favorite plugins and themes each month.
This isn’t an option for those who aren’t willing to remain committed over the long term. Any theme or plugin that is created will need constant updates to ensure they are bug free and compatible with each new version of the core software.
Incidentally, you don’t have to be a developer to develop plugins and themes. I’ve worked with a developer to create two plugins (with another two on the way):
Sure — it’s cost me a bit of money, but I’ve created plugins for which I had a personal need and they’re helping other people out. It also doesn’t hurt my reputation in the WordPress community.
Developing plugins and themes is a common initial step for many contributors in creating their own company selling premium products for WordPress. It is the most challenging level of contribution but ultimately without people giving up their time to create themes and plugins WordPress would not be as varied as it is today.
2. Answer Support Questions In The Forums
The support forums are an excellent way to get involved in the community. There are always new WordPress users looking for help and guidance, and with a shortage of moderators out there it may be one of the best places to get started with giving back. You may not think you are a WordPress expert, but if you have any experience whatsoever there will be questions that you will be able to answer (considering that the vast majority of questions are asked by absolute beginners).
There are a huge number of open threads at the moment, which can make deciding where to begin a little daunting. A good way to approach this is to think of a problem you recently had with WordPress that you were able to resolve. Use the search feature in the forums to find people asking about the same problem and write up they way you fixed it.
To learn more about getting involved with the support forums, this page explains everything you need to know.
3. Maintain The Documentation
The Codex contains everything you need to know about WordPress. It is constantly being updated and requires volunteers to fix errors, revise pages and also add new articles to expand the WordPress documentation, especially when new versions are released.
There is always a requirement to help keeping the Codex up to date. If you think this could something that appeals to you, take a look at the Codex Contributor Guidelines and get involved.
4. Work On WordPress Translation
The WordPress GUI operates in U.S. English by default but it has the capability to employ other languages.
If you speak more than one language then an ideal method of giving back to WordPress may be to help translate the core software into your language. This is especially important if WordPress isn’t already available in your language. As well as working on the software you can also help out by translating the numerous Codex pages into another language.
If you want to help with WordPress translation you can find more information about it on the Polyglots team page.
5. Develop The WordPress User Interface
If your skills lie more in the design field then the User Interface team may be an ideal place for your talents. This team focuses on front-end development and design of the WordPress user interface.
There are constant discussions about the design and user testing with people supplying mockups of their ideas in the UI group. If there’s something about the current user interface that you disagree with and would like to change, this group is the place to put forward that argument.
6. Improve WordPress Accessibility
If you or someone you know uses assistive technology, then helping out the Accessibility team may be the perfect place for you to get involved.
This team works on the assistive technology in the WordPress core and is always looking for feedback. Let them know about any problems you may have experienced and any ideas you may have to make the software better.
If this appeals to you, follow the Make WordPress Accessible blog and leave comments on their discussions over there.
7. Help Grow the Community
There are several WordCamps and hundreds of WordPress meetups that happen around the world each year. These events are ideal places for members of the community to come together in one place to share information about development, design, and every aspect of WordPress (checkout Carrie’s recap of her experience at WordCamp San Francisco 2013, or see why out friend Pippin attends WordCamps).
If there is currently a meetup or WordCamp happening in your area you could get in touch with the organizers and offer to help out.
If there isn’t a current meet up or WordCamp in your area, why not try to get one started?
Running a meet up or WordCamp is no easy task and requires a great deal of work both before and during the event. If this is something you are thinking of doing then it would be a very good idea to connect with other members of the Make WordPress Community site to ask for advice and support.
Community events aren’t limited to physical locations. There are numerous forums, IRC chats and online workshops that are targeted with the community outreach volunteers in mind.
8. Donate to the WordPress Foundation
If you worry that none of the above options are for you — whether it’s that you don’t have the time or the skills to help out in any of those ways — there is another option open to you. The WordPress Foundation is a charitable organization that is tasked with furthering WordPress as an open source project.
It is a non-profit that holds the WordPress trademark, funds a variety of open source projects and is an educational organization for WordPress and open source development.
We’ve talked about several options you can become involved with in the WordPress community but there are many other ways to contribute. In order to get involved in the community all you really need is have a desire to give back. Then you just need to figure out how you can do that in a way that best suits your talents.
Your contribution to the community could be in the form of reviews of themes and plugins or it could be working with the design and user interface teams to improve the look and feel of WordPress. Your contribution could even be based around your desire to champion WordPress to new users and helping them get started. There really is no limit to the options available to you.
Have you given back to the WordPress community in some way? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.