Becoming a WordPress Contributor: What You Must Know
WordPress has opened not one, not two, but many doors for millions of people across the globe. Be it entrepreneurs, developers, agencies, news outlets, freelancers etc, WordPress has given the world at large an outlet to express thought, reach out and do business. I risk sounding like a broken record but this is largely because WordPress is beautiful, elegant and easy to learn and use. It’s also incredibly easy to get involved with the WordPress project.
Today, we will let you in on the insider information and tips you need to become a valued member of the WordPress community. By the end of the post, you’ll have known how you’ll contribute to the auspicious project that’s the beloved WordPress. In other words, we’ll show you how to get involved, the qualities, and the tools you need to become a great WordPress contributor. We will also look at some of the merits of contributing to WordPress. Ready? Let’s get this ball rolling.
Merits of Contributing to WordPress
As a WordPress user, why wouldn’t you want to contribute to WordPress? I mean, hasn’t the platform in and by itself inspired you much? Put food on your table perhaps? How about contributing just to uphold the spirit of comradeship and giving back?
Unless you’re a first-rate curmudgeon, you can identify with the desire to give back to a community that’s helped or inspired you. After all, the collective contribution is what makes the WordPress community so successful. We can’t be takers all the time. – Carrie Dils
If that won’t get you contributing to WordPress, here’s a feast of benefits offering you the impetus you need to dive in this very minute.
Contributing Raises Your Status in the Community
You want to become a respectable WordPress pro, don’t you? You need what you say and do to count for something, right? Looking to cement authority in your choose WordPress niche?
Well, guess what, technical prowess is great, but unless you’re ready to help others – especially when they aren’t paying you a dime – you and authority will travel on parallel lanes. After all, it’s all about emotion, how you make the next person feel. Being human is how you elicit feelings of emotion, not basking in the glory of your technical might.
Contributing to WordPress, no matter how slightly, can have a huge impact on your status within the community. The Who’s Who of WordPress, the respectable and popular people we all know, have one thing in common; they actively contribute to both the platform and the community around it.
Quick question: If you were out looking for a WordPress developer, tell me, would you hire the guy who contributes in the forums among other places, or the guy who sits smack comfortably behind an online portfolio? You’d most probably go for the guy portraying his dev chops in the forums, which leads us to our next point.
Contributing Leads to More Business Links
If this isn’t so obvious, WordPress is a tight-knit community, which means one and only one thing. If you play your cards right, you can pull a lot of referral business. As we’ve already established, contributing raises your status, and a raised status correlates with more business links.It’s a simple fact.
As a WordPress professional, or user to put it broadly, most of your potential prospects and partners will come from within the community. Contributing and staying close to this tight-knit community is exactly how you keep these business (and even personal) connections alive.
Want more jobs coming your way? Become a contributor, one way or another. WordPress is always looking for great people to help with code, design, translations, documentation and more. There are so many ways of contributing, as we will see in the second section of this post.
Enriched Learning Environment
Contributing no only gives back or helps to establish a voice in the community, but it’s also an enriched learning environment. I learned more in my first three months contributing that I did in three previous years of web development. – Andrew Nacin, Lead WordPress Developer
Yeah that’s right, you learn by playing the game, not standing on the sidelines. I have learned so much about WordPress in a very short period, and at times I worry about information overload. But I had to immerse myself in WordPress first, and was shocked by the little I knew about the platform. I’m still learning, making small contributions here and there, and having fun!
Fun aside, what does the learning from the WordPress community do for you? You become a smarter consultant, developer, designer, blogger etc, and everyone wants a smart player on their team. Your knowledge and value increases tenfold and then some when you contribute to WordPress.
The more I dove in, the more interesting it became, and the more difficult things I was able to figure out. Now, when I look back and see what I’ve learned just by contributing, I’m amazed. It’s been more than I ever learned in college. – Andrea Rennick
And then there’s…
Never in my life did I learn as much as in the five years since I joined the WordPress community and started contributing to core. – Konstantin Obenland, WordPress Core Contributor
Need I say more?
Contributing to WordPress Makes You Happier
Hands up if you watched that movie The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. If you weren’t so lucky, the highlight of the movie was Christopher Gardner’s resilience and resolve at a time when his life was practically falling apart. I could go on and on but let’s get back to WordPress, and how contributing will make you happier.
Here’s one statistic that gets thrown around a lot, but most people don’t see the beauty beyond the percent sign (%). At the time of writing, WordPress powers about 25% of all websites on the internet. This means you will be contributing and giving back to a community and platform that will soon dominate more than a quarter of the internet.
It feels good knowing your contribution, however slight, helps about 25% of the internet. That’s a huge number of people! And you know what they say, the secret to happiness is creating happiness for others. Helping others by contributing is how you can do just that.
It’s not very often that something you do in an afternoon can touch so many folks, but WordPress is one of those places where you can. And for people who care about that, there’s nothing better. – Matt Mullenweg
Become Part of History (or Future)
Some 12 years ago, WordPress was barely out of the idea stage. It’s was like a squab, that flutters about before eventually flying. Well, all that is confined to history. Today, WordPress is no longer a squab; it’s full grown with the kick and thrust of a mighty eagle.
At the current rate, WordPress will be quite the beast in ten years. The platform is charting the kind of history you want to be part of. The kind of history I know I want to be part of. If you’re not so much for history, the future of WordPress is a promising one.
By contributing, you can design the WordPress of the future just the way you envision it. You can contribute to the project and help build a better WordPress for us all. You can be part of history, and also part of the future. You can be anything with WordPress; it represents freedom since it offers you options and the power you need to achieve your online dreams. Without a grain of doubt, respectable WordPress contributors will leave a record in history books. What kind of legacy will you leave behind?
The Perks are Many
Contributing to WordPress is giving back alright, even though in exchange you get to enjoy even more perks. You raise your status inside the WordPress community, generate business, learn and build a greater platform for the world. Contributing is a lot of fun. But how do you get in on all this fun? How do you contribute to WordPress? Here’s the juice.
How to Contribute to WordPress
There are several avenues available to you and all who wish to contribute to WordPress. That’s the beauty of it all; anybody and everybody can contribute and enrich the platform whenever and from wherever. Let’s begin with the most obvious route:
WordPress Core Developer
WordPress is built primarily on PHP and MySQL among other web technologies. If you’re well-versed in any of these areas, you can contribute your expertise in the capacity of WordPress core developer. WordPress, the platform, is always thirsty for new features and improvements. You can make your contribution as a developer, become a committer, and help WordPress grow in great and unique ways. As a WordPress core contributor, your tasks will include developing new features, testing, bug gardening and releasing updates.
Don’t worry though if you don’t know the first thing about web development or what PHP stands for, if you’re passionate, you can start contributing to WordPress in another way and learn while at it. Who knows, you might be a lead developer in a couple of months. Other areas in which you can involve yourself as a developer include WordPress theme and plugin development, mobile tech and documentation among others.
Previously, we looked into how the WordPress admin UI has evolved over the years. It has morphed from a bland platform to a beautiful and powerful CMS. The beautiful and elegant user interface is the work of web designers and UXers just like you.
WordPress is an open source project aka the combined work of thousands of contributors, so nobody is paid to put the design together. The design is sketched and brought to life by contributor designers and UXers. Their contributions have made WordPress what it is today, in terms of design. Of course, we are yet to see and experience the beauty and genius of your contribution, so don’t keep us waiting.
Perhaps it’s your contribution that will lead to an overhaul of the entire admin area to a more pleasant design. Perhaps it’s your contribution that will lead to a more streamlined user experience.
As a web designer or user experience expert, you can contribute also towards the WordPress mobile project, because we all know mobile is the future, and the theme review team to ensure only the best designed themes get to the end user. In general, your main duty as a contributing designer is to make WordPress beautiful. Sounds great right?
If you have a knack for words, there’s room for you as well. As a growing project, WordPress is in constant need of updated documentation. This is where you make your entry; where you shine as a writer.
Join the documentation team and be in charge of all things documentation. We are talking about handbooks, the Codex, inline docs, admin help and developer.wordpress.org among others. There’s never a shortage of tasks, so don’t hesitate checking out the official blog for the WordPress documentation team. The team meets online every week on Thursday from 18:00 – 19:00 UTC.
Are you a polyglot? Can you roll with that Espanol as easily as you can Russian, French or Swahili? Would you love to use WordPress in your own language? Of course you would. Who wouldn’t?
Here’s your chance. Contribute to WordPress by helping translate the platform to any language you fancy. That’s not the end of it, the WordPress polyglots community welcomes you to lend a hand in creating tools that make translating WordPress the easier. Think of WPML etc.
Translating WordPress to your (or any) language is a fun experience, and you can be up and running in no time. So, what the hell are you waiting for soldier? Go start translating! Oh by the way, the weekly chat happens on Slack in #polyglots every Wednesday at 10:00 UTC. Don’t miss out, let your
voice language be heard known. Double strike-through right there like a boss. That’s my language, you feel me? Haha. Moving on.
One of the easiest yet effective ways of contributing to WordPress, providing help in the support forums among other areas could just be how you make your mark in the WordPress community. The operating mantra here is “everyone knows the answer to something”, so don’t be shy, dive in and help out a fellow WordPress lover.
The support forums will be your forte, your battlefield, and you’ll call the shots and win the war. Been playing plenty of war games of late as is evident, but the best way to start is answering a question in the support forums. Right this minute. Learn more about how you can contribute to WordPress by supporting users at the office support blog.
Love throwing parties? Bringing friends together? If events could easily pass for your second name, WordPress needs you. You will join an elite team of other contributors from all over the world who “…oversee official events, mentorship programs, diversity initiatives, contributor outreach, and other ways of growing…” the WordPress community.
Organizing events sounds like fun, and when you’re doing something you love for a platform you adore, right there is a dream come true, which means the fun will easily quadruple. You will organize WordCamps and meetups for your local WordPress community, and chip in on global WordPress events. How sweet. There’s an Outreach blog and weekly office hours (read online meetings) on Tuesdays and Thursday.
If you love passing down information, you can start your contributor journey at the teaching arm of WordPress right this minute. What does being a teacher or trainer within the WordPress community involve? You will be responsible for creating downloadable learning materials that instructors use in live workshops.
You will write/create lessons from scratch, edit existing lessons, design the look of the lessons, and/or test the viability of the lessons. This can turn out to be a great learning experience for you mi amigo. The WordPress Training weekly chat is held every Tuesday at 17:00 UTC, so don’t miss the next one.
We have WordPress.org, WordPress.com and, in my opinion, a little known WordPress.tv. Of course, there is BuddyPress.org and bbPress.org among others but we won’t go there today. We are all about WordPress.tv, where you’ll find a ton of WordPress-centric video content.
If you spur well in the video production department, here’s how you contribute to WordPress. Welcome to the WordPress TV Review team, and get ready to review, edit, approve and publish all videos on WordPress.tv. You will also dip a hand in WordCamp videos post-production, so yeah, there’s no limit to the amount of fun you can have volunteering your efforts and skills. Check out the official TV Review Team blog.
You might feel like the above channels of involvement lock you out, but don’t let that be. Anyone, I repeat, anyone can contribute to the WordPress project irrespective of race, gender and/or skill level. The only thing required is that burning desire you have.
Don’t let a thing hold you back, the world is yours, and WordPress needs you. Yes you, you, you and you. All you have to do is check out Make WordPress and take the plunge. Don’t worry about anything, you’ll learn in the process, unless of course you don’t possess any of the following attributes.
Qualities of a Great WordPress Contributor
Well, to be a great contributor, you simply need to start contributing. No waiting around, just get to it. By all means, you need to be respectable and friendly. At times, your contribution might remain untouched several releases later, and if you go ballistic over such trifle matters, then you won’t be a great contributor.
Other times, someone might disagree with your suggestions, and it hurts I know, but you can’t pick up and drop the entire world on said someone just to prove a point. See where I’m going with this? You need to pay attention to detail no matter your level of contribution. As we’ve already said, WordPress powers 25% of the internet, so anything you do has the capacity to influence, either positively or negatively, a big number of people. Do you want to go down in history as the arrogant committer who broke WordPress?
Humility is a nice trait to have in all areas of life. Remember you’ll be working with thousands of other people, each with unique ambitions and different view of life. Being arrogant will only do more harm than good. It will be a stumbling block per se.
Honesty too is a great quality to possess as a contributor. For instance, it’s alright to be honest when you’re not confident with your commit/contribution. The WordPress community is bursting at the seams with people (read experts) ready to help you out.
You contribute and learn, which means you have to be curious and have a thing for learning. I might be wrong, but I don’t think any single person possesses enough knowledge to understand WordPress in its entirely. Being the collective work of thousands of contributors, you’ll need all the curiosity you can muster to learn as much as you can about the platform. Just take it one step at a time, and you’ll be okay.
At the end of the day, all this boils down to one quality: patience. Every great contributor must learn that art of patience, the quality without which you will have a difficult time dealing with the human race in general, not just fellow contributors. Be patient just enough, and you will enjoy the adventure. After all, patience is a virtue – it will help you in many other areas of your life.
You can achieve so little without the right tools, that’s a no-brainer. That’s why I’ve put together a couple of tools for you as a WordPress contributor. The following tools will be invaluable as you journey on to contributor level PRO:
The de facto communication app for WordPress, Slack allows you to keep in touch with members of the team you ultimately decides to join. For instance, if you choose the WordPress core development team, you can join other contributors for real-time communication in the #core channel on Slack.
Slack is a top-level messaging app for teams working on a common project. To set it up, just navigate to Make WordPress Chat, and follow the prompts to get an invite from WordPress. The rest is easy peasy stuff, we don’t expect you to run into trouble. It won’t take you more than 5 minutes I promise. I don’t intend to ruin the surprise, so just go get invited already, and join yours truly and other contributors in the
chat rooms channels.
This we can refer to as the Contributors Central. Make WordPress is where you go to start your WordPress contributing adventure. Whether you’re a skilled developer, designer, writer, translator, support rep, organizer or just a beginner who just discovered WordPress, you need to make your way to Make WordPress. Drop everything you’re doing, and head over to Make WordPress right this minute. We mean it. Don’t wait.
Without sugarcoating anything, Devhub is simply “…the project name for developer.wordpress.org.” On devhub, you’ll find resources and documentation aimed at WordPress developers, designers and UXers. Once complete, it will carry handbooks and code references.
You can make your contribution by joining the #meta-devhub channel on Slack, solving a ticket on developer.wordpress.org trac, reading about Devhub, and/or submitting a pull request to WP-Parser on Github.
Oh by the way, at the time of writing, Devhub needs you if you’re a PHP developer, front-end developer, designer, UXer or a volunteer looking to offer feedback.
You can learn so much about the project from the official WordPress.org website. You can learn even more by checking out other WordPress-related resources and blogs out there. Published by WordPress lovers (read contributors), you’re bound to learn something new on each WordPress blog you visit.
Don’t be modest too; tear through every WordPress tutorial, book or blog posts you get, and absorb that wealth of knowledge. You never know when it will come in handy. I don’t know why that last statement reminds me of The Last of Us, the game.
If you’re interested in organizing WordCamps, then you must check out this nifty guide built with you in mind. You need to understand how to choose the perfect venues (you know, venues with great WiFi so attendees can spend half the time tweeting about the event instead of listening to the speakers), get food and beverages, fundraise, and so on and so forth. You can even register as an organizer on the WordCamp Planning site, so yay!
And now a word from
our partners at WordCamp Planning Winnie the Pooh…
Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. – Winnie the Pooh
As a WordPress contributor, you definitely want to follow along with the development of the platform. WordPress Trac is where you go to track changes in your favorite CMS, WordPress. What’s available at Trac? There’s a Timeline Section with the latest tickets, a RSS feed, a mailing list, and a form to submit bugs. You’re spoilt for choice really.
If you want to contribute to WordPress core development, you just need to go and read this contributor handbook. It literally covers everything you need to know to contribute, from beginning to end. Not much we can add to that.
At the end of the day…
Contributing to the WordPress project allows you to give back to a platform and community that’s given you so much. It’s good karma to contribute, plus it helps in taking WordPress to the next level for you and me.
Did we leave out something? A favorite tool of yours perhaps? Got a question or contribution(s) to make? Be a good sport in the comment section. See you around 🙂
This was such a thorough and well-written piece! I love the inclusiveness of the WordPress community and I hope this inspires more people to give back!
i would love to be a part of wordpress in any positive constructive way
It is like a passion to me and fun .