When the first Barcamps became WordCamps, Barcamps for WordPress fans, I was so excited. As soon as possible, I got myself involved and invited to these grassroots events, enjoying meeting WordPress fans from all over the world.
When asked to speak at WordCamp Portland, they chose “How WordPress Changes Lives.” While preparing the video and presentation for “WordCamp Portland: How WordPress Changes Lives,” I kept asking myself what it is about WordPress that changes lives – that something that goes beyond blogging.
Blogging changes lives, but when WordPress enters into the conversation, faces light up. Fans recognize fans instantly. They want to “talk” WordPress. They want to debate over favorite Plugins, Theme features, SEO, and how to make WordPress work better for them. They share their thoughts openly about what’s wrong with WordPress, what’s right, and what can be better.
When I go to blog, web, and social media conferences, I don’t hear folks using TypePad, Movable Type, Live Journal, Blogger, or other hosted or blog platform services getting so fanatical and energized by talking about their blogging tool. Sure, they will whine and moan about this and that, wish they had this feature, and say they are satisfied with that feature, but the passion for the product is lacking.
Step into a WordCamp and you are surrounded by energy and enthusiasm. People don’t just shake hands, they hug. They cheer. They can’t stop talking, twittering, and sharing.
I’ve watched people totally new to WordPress be transformed at a WordPress event. They see the energy and they want to be a part of it. It’s contagious.
When I turned my video camera on WordPress fans and asked them how WordPress changed their lives, I was sure that I would be told that it hasn’t changed their lives. Their blogs changed their lives, but WordPress was just their blogging tool, their CMS – just another web app that helped them blog. No one gave me that answer. They all had very fast and definite responses about how and why WordPress changed their lives.
WordPress Fans Represent the Social Web
The WordPress Community has long been about sharing and caring. Volunteers came out of the wood work to help each other out on the WordPress Support Forums and the WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress Users. They wrote articles for and about each other, answering questions, solving riddles, and advancing the code.
When the first social gatherings were announced, they flocked in droves, some driving for days or flying cross country to be a part of the party.
started some of the first release and anniversary parties, but soon groups and communities were hosting their own all over the world. There have been WordPress release parties in England, Canada, Germany, Israel…all over. I’m sure there will be one scheduled soon in San Francisco where several of the WordPress developers live, but one is already scheduled for Portland, Oregon, on November 10, 2008, whether or not the release is ready.
WordPress Meetups started up, many of them announced on Yahoo Upcoming events for WordPress and Meetup.com WordPress upcoming events. WordCamps started following, an annual regional, community event, which led to The WordCamp Report blog being started, offering WordPress fans a way to stay up-to-date with all the various WordPress events. There have been WordCamps in China, Philippines, Israel, Germany, Greece, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, and more countries are starting their own WordPress groups and WordCamps all the time.
I report on the many WordPress events and news on the weekly Blog Herald WordPress Wednesday News. Early on, the WordPress news was all about development in the blogging platform, WordPress Themes and WordPress Plugins. Occasionally there would be a WordPress event or two. Now, WordCamps and Meetups represent a huge section of the post!
WordPress folks are very social folks. They want to get together. They want to meet each other. They want to learn from each other. More importantly, they want to work together.
Over the past four years I’ve seen companies choose WordPress experts over other web publishing and design experts because they wanted to work with those who work with WordPress. I’ve watched WordPress fans hire other WordPress fans to work for them and with them on their projects. I’ve even watched web designers and developers go from being Web Experts to WordPress Experts, or even the much-abused WordPress Rockstar titles.
WordPress reaches out internationally, breaking down language barriers by making it easy to blog. Have you checked out the WordPress in Your Language page on the WordPress Codex? While it might need updating, it lists more than 58 different languages that WordPress is available in, and includes many language and country-specific WordPress support groups to help fellow WordPress users.
Why is WordPress so different from other blogging programs? What is it about WordPress that energizes people – as fans or haters? Are there grassroots events and social get-togethers for the other blogging platforms? Have you attended? What was your experience?
While blogging changes lives, WordPress changes them even more. Has it changed your life? Help us understand how. I’m still trying to understand.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.