WordPress is a CMS that has been created from the ground up by volunteers. Owing to people willing to collaborate worldwide, we now have the documentation, core software, competent support, a series of translations to various languages, get-togethers and other types of events, but, most importantly, we have a perfectly functional blogging system that hosts more than 60 million websites. To keep WordPress running, individuals are willing to sacrifice their spare time, and a growing number of companies now ask their employees to join this project development.
The secret behind WordPress’s success is primarily associated with its manifold community, which, unlike many, does not consist solely of developers. Instead, it is also designers, support volunteers, users, writers, accessibility and experience experts, as well as enthusiasts who make things possible. While strengthening the project, this diversity also implies finding a task for anyone willing to cooperate. So, whatever skills you have, there will be room for you in WordPress community.
Being an open source, WordPress provides users with virtually infinite opportunities to learn something new and share their knowledge and ideas with the world. For the same purpose, new perspectives and suggestions are always welcome at WordPress, and being a part of a large and highly supportive community that has an impact on the lives of many people is extremely rewarding.
Apart from that, this project offers plenty of opportunities, especially if you are experienced in support, design, documentation and marketing – the truth is, there are more ideas in these areas than there are people to put them in action. The same is with mobile WordPress development – with people accessing the Internet through their phones more and more often, the mobile group has a lot more work – yet they are still short of contributors.
Therefore, WordPress looks for skills in exchange for opportunities and knowledge – quite an attractive offer, don’t you think?
One of the major challenges WordPress is currently facing refers to the fact that many contributors are on the project only part-time. This way, people cannot devote the same amount of time, which can be problematic for the project. For this matter, the core team tries to balance the work by increasing the number of committers.
There are several ways you can join the core team:
- Live chats: You are free to tap into weekly live chats that take place each Wednesday 21:00 UTC (irc.freenode.net, #wordpress-dev). However, before jumping into discussion, we suggest you check which point the project release cycle is currently at:
- Early stages – the next release is being planned.
- Middle stages – the project is under way, which includes checking on progress and guiding the features.
- Ultimate stages – fixing bugs.
- Post-release stage – chiefly an open forum, a perfect time to ask for some advice on moving your ticket forward.
- Firehose: You are also free to subscribe to track notifications to receive updates on each comment in each ticket. We are aware that it is a lot of information for you to process, yet it will really help you grasp the idea behind the project’s work, as well as best practices, different people’s roles and the amount of authority they have.
- Ideas: In case you have some suggestions for WordPress feature or anything else related to the project, you may consider writing a blog post about it for starters. Even though there is a specific forum dedicated to ideas, as a matter of fact, it is not used that much. If you have come up with a certain idea, with a straightforward plan of how to implement it, a blog post has more field for thought and traction. Hence, you will have no limits in actualizing your idea, whereas other community members will have a better understanding of what you are suggesting.
Furthermore, if you want to make your way to the core team, you may want to work on your communication skills, such as consistency, clarity, compassion, thick skin, relatability and a good sense of humor.
The UI group takes care of WordPress’s user interface, user experience and all other elements that are associated with graphic design, accessibility and quality. The major areas the UI team is presently focused on:
- Graphic design: Currently, this work is merely occasional.
- UX design: Including concepts, storyboards and wireframes.
- User testing: User tests are run specifically to help identify problems.
- Frontend development: Creating the admin interface with the help of HTML and CSS.
- Quality assurance.
How to get involved with the UI group:
- IRC – visit the UI chat (on Tuesdays at 19.00 UTC) or the common chat room to introduce yourself. Still, we suggest you do that outside the meeting hours.
- Make blog – Introduce yourself through Make Blog. You are also welcome to offer help on the upcoming projects.
- Twitter – contact the team through Twitter.
- WordCamps – if you have any ideas, or simply wish to help, don’t hesitate to stop by and chat about getting involved at WordCamps.
Skills and traits that will help you get involved:
- Good communication skills
- Being a team player
- Understanding of the ways interface and workflow function.
The mobile team is responsible for creating applications for six major platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Nokia, BlackBerry and WebOS. Moreover, it assists in expanding the XML-RPC and API layers, along with investigating the new API and the strategies of working with mobile. Considering that nowadays a growing number of people use mobile to perform tasks that could have previously been performed solely from PC, the mobile group is in huge need of people willing volunteer their time and effort to become involved in the open-source project.
Mobile team members primarily have to deal with the development of native apps that have to handle malfunctions and incorrect responses in the XML-RPC layer. For this purpose, the group uses client-side clean-up libraries, yet there are so many ways in which XML-RPC layer can cease to work properly that ensuring that everything works just fine is complicated and effort-consuming.
To join the mobile group, you can do the following:
- Check Make WordPress Mobile page for openings and suggestions.
- Jump into the WordPress Mobile IRC Chat (16:00 UTC on freenode, #wordpress-mobile)
Generally, mobile apps are written in these languages:
- C# for Windows
- Java for Android and BlackBerry
- Objective-C: iOS
Hence, in case you have coding skills in any of the aforesaid languages, your contribution will be highly appreciated. This is particularly acute for the C# developers, as Windows Phone is currently the fastest growing app, so don’t hesitate to stop by the chat and see if you can help somehow. Furthermore, the team is in need of graphic designers.
The polyglots group works on wider global outreach, while also being responsible for translating WordPress. Hence, the principal spheres of the team’s concern include:
Adaptations: One of the group’s principal tasks is translating WordPress, along with a series of plugins (such as import/export plugins and BuddyPress) into a number of languages.
GlotPress: With this translation tool collaboration on a translation of WordPress is possible. Similar to WordPress itself it is an open source, so designers and developers are searched for to fix bugs, test patches and suggest features.
Community: Lately, the polyglots group was extended to include the new global team, which focuses on bridging people from various communities worldwide and increasing WordPress’s visibility throughout the world.
Managing perceptions and raising awareness are among the principal challenges that the polyglots group has to deal with. The truth is, in some 40% of the cases of overall WordPress downloads, it is a non-English version that is being downloaded. Still, the US-centric tendency continues, which to some may seem counterintuitive. Apart from that, the team objectives include making sure that the developers’ code is prepared for translation.
To become a member of the polyglot team, all you need is a mere WordPress.org username. Then, decide on the area that suits you best:
If you feel you will be best working with translation, we suggest you check whether a team is translating into the language you’ve chosen and contact them to see if your skills can be of any use.
Likewise, if you are most interested in cooperating with GlotPress, visit GlotPress track, where you will see the tickets your assistance may be needed with.
Also, keep a check on the news concerning the new global blog, which is to be launched in the near future if you feel a community team is a right place for you.
When applying to join the polyglot team, you are expected to possess:
- Language skills
- Understanding of the principles of translating (you should be able to work with the context and understand English).
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the support team is the skeleton staff of WordPress. It is their infinite patience that grants users worldwide answers to all sorts of blog-related questions, from “How do I change the text color of the post author name to red?” to “OMG I broke my website! Can you fix it for me?” Currently, there are some 30 moderators working on WordPress.org support forums, and only 12 of them have sufficient time to actively answer queries each day. Naturally, this number is way too small for all questions received each day to be handled properly, and, even though the support team members are helped by about 200 volunteers from WordPress community, there is still a large number of queries waiting to be processed.
The primary areas of the support group’s concern include:
- WordPress.org support forums. Most commonly, whenever users are in need of WordPress support, this is where they go to find a solution. The spectrum of issues volunteers help people with ranges from forming their request right to writing code necessary to fix the problem. Hence, support team has room for each person willing to collaborate, regardless of the level of WordPress expertise.
- IRC Chatroom. Some people find it more convenient to contact support team via the chatroom. In case you are comfortable giving instant feedback to people, you are welcome to hang out in the IRC chatroom on freenode at #wordpress.
- WordPress Stack Exchange. More advanced questions, which were previously shown on the wp-hackers mailing lists, can now be found on WordPress Stack Exchange. Thus, if you wish to help users with more complex matters, you are free to dive in there.
Furthermore, the support team is now focused on creating training courses on various aspects of WordPress, which will be available for anyone to study and teach. This way, it will be a lot easier for people to contribute, as well as improve their knowledge on working with the described CMS.
There are two main challenges the support team is currently facing. First, as it has previously been mentioned, there are more people asking questions than those answering them. Hence, when people do not receive a reply immediately, they often get frustrated and bump their threads or leave snarky comments. This way, it is extremely easy for the supporters to snap back out of irritation. After all, they are not obliged to answer these queries, they choose to volunteer their free time and effort to help. Second, some people wish to assist with support, yet they may think that their knowledge is not enough to do so. However, the support team members assure that it should not scare you off, as it is impossible to know everything. In fact, if you can answer at least one question, your contribution will be appreciated greatly.
How to get involved with the support group:
- Start off by creating an account and checking out the support forums. Take a look around and see if there is a discussion you can jump into. However, we suggest you pay attention to the date, as in case the discussion is several months old, it is quite likely that the request has moved on and you’ll just waste your time replying.
- If you want to be really useful, you can always go to the forums and click the “No Replies” link and see if there are queries you can help with. This way, not only will you help out the support team members, but you also get a chance to work your way up.
- Moreover, in case you notice someone double-posting or spamming, you can either flag these posts as spam or alert a moderator. There is a “Tags” section on the right side of the post, in which you can add a “ModLock” tag to have a moderator take a look at the post.
- You can also get involved in the new training initiative in the support section. Just stop by the post “Training Group, Team Reps and Growing the Team.”
The theme review team is responsible for setting the standards for the equality of the themes hosted in the WordPress’s Theme Directory. Apart from that, this group members review every theme submitted by users against these guidelines and adds it to the repository if the theme meets the standards.
How is the theme review performed:
- First, a developer submits a new theme on WordPress.org through the “Theme Authors” link. The theme is then run through a script, unpacked and put through a series of tests. In case it passes these tests, the uploader repacks the theme, and it is consequently stored in a specific subversion repository. After this, a ticket is generated in the Theme Trac.
- This ticket is then moved to a queue. This line is prioritized based on whether the theme has been reviewed before, if it is presently approved and how long ago has it been added to the queue.
- The highest priority theme is then taken on by the reviewer, who examines the ticket. This ticket includes a link to the theme ZIP file, or a diff file in case the theme has been submitted before.
- When reviewing the theme against the standards, here’s what the reviewer takes into consideration: theme files, theme unit test data, code quality, front-end tests.
- If the theme matches the guidelines, the ticket gets closed and resolved as “Approved”.
- In case the theme fails to pass, the reviewer comments on the issues that reasoned the disapproval, and perhaps makes some recommendations on how the theme can be improved.
Overall, the theme review takes about two to three hours at most. In case major issues are reported in the theme, the review can be stopped early, and the reviewer will specify the problems for the developers to fix. Generally, about 10 tickets are submitted daily, and there are some 80 people who can close tickets. However, with WordPress’ goal not to leave a ticket in the queue for more than a couple days, the team is currently facing a shortage of people. This means that in some cases, given the volume of submissions, reviewing a theme takes longer than it is expected.
To join the theme review group, you can do as follows:
- Check out the Make WordPress Themes blog, which is currently a main arena of activity for the theme review team. From this blog you can also retrieve a link to the reviewers mailing lists, in which a large portion of communication takes place.
- If you are a newbie in this field, you will not have rights to close tickets. Ergo, you will have to ask the authorities to assign a ticket to you. To do so, you should post a comment on the “Trac Ticket Request Queue” page (your trac user name should be made clear this comment). Soon after that, a ticket will be assigned to you by one of the administrators. Once you’ve completed several tickets, you will be granted review privileges, which means you won’t have to wait for the admin to process your request.
- Apart from that, you are always welcome to share your ideas when discussing the guidelines.
The plugin directory group is a small team that focuses on working with WordPress’ Plugin Directory. More than 40 plugins can be submitted to Plugin Directory each day, and this group is responsible for processing every incoming plugin submission. Each of the new plugins is examined for coding best practices and guideline violations. In case an unpurposed issue has been detected, the team cooperates with the author to resolve the problem.
Apart from that, the group’s area of concern includes support requests, which are sent to email@example.com. Furthermore, it is their job to monitor and curate the plugin directory, reporting security exploits and guideline violations. Similarly, the team members go through the security-exploit database and announcements for anything plugin-related.
One of the principal challenges the team is currently facing concerns the lack of time – as opposed to the constantly increasing amount of plugins submitted daily, the support emails and everlasting updates by plugin developers. Moreover, spammers also chip in to the pool of work with their incessant attempts to game the system. Hence, the team has to safeguard plugin directory, which is a tidbit for people who wish to inject spam into the websites of WordPress users.
If you wish to help out the plugin directory group, you will be more than welcome to do the following:
- Check out plugins and evaluate code. In case you detect any malicious code or guideline violations, contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Specify the problems, include the plugin’s name and a link to its page. This will allow the group to get in touch with the plugin’s developer and have the issues fixed.
- Show off your technical competence. Presently, the group is on the lookout for new members with a deep knowledge of PHP, WordPress and plugin guidelines. The ability to understand the authors’ code and security expertise will also help you make way to the team.
Typically, when people come to think of WordPress documentation, the first thing that comes to their heads is the Codex. While being a cornerstone of WordPress documentation, the Codex is also a part of a striving towards the overall improvement of documentation.
Similar to any other group, joining the documentation team will benefit your WordPress skills, along with your technical writing skills, while also being a superb opportunity to give back to the community.
At this moment, you can get involved in this team by:
- Updating the Codex. Each time a new version of WordPress is released, there is a turmoil around the Codex, which has to be updated to reflect any changes and remain a useful source for users. Furthermore, each person with a WordPress.org account can easily edit the Codex.
- Writing texts for the Handbooks. The following year, WordPress plans to launch a new project, aimed at creating the collection of guides that provide people with information on how to make a contribution to WordPress, develop themes and plugins etc.
One of the principal problems the documentation team has to face concerns keeping everything up-to-date. Since WordPress release cycle is quite fast, the docs group has to respond to each update as quick as possible in order to keep up. Another challenge is directly associated with WordPress’ immense size, or, rather, keeping abreast of all the work this size implies. There is a huge number of functions described, yet most of these functions do not have practical examples, which are super-helpful when it comes to grasping the information better.
Furthermore, some people may not realize that they can actually edit the Codex. Well, we are here to let you know that you can, and you clearly should!
To get involved with the documentation team, it is best that you go to the Codex and log in with your WordPress.org user name. When done, you will notice an “Edit” link atop of the right sidebar. Hit that button and – voila – you can now edit edit the Codex the way you feel is best!
Whatever your contribution is, it will be appreciated, even if you do as much as fix a little typo. If you read the Codex and you spot an issue, don’t hesitate to fix it. Or if you came across extra resources on the topic, which the users can benefit from – add those to the Codex.
Apart from that, you can always stop by the Make WordPress Documentation blog and search for something to help with there, or visit a weekly chat with the support team that takes place each Thursday at 9:00 pm UTC in the freenode IRC channel #wordpress-sfd.
Meetups and WordCamps are a great opportunity to get together and share knowledge, socialize and learn something new. However, none of these events would have taken place if not for the events contributor team.
Although flawless on the outside, these events require thorough organization, which is actually far more challenging than it may seem. Hence, the events team is responsible for finding sponsors and a venue, searching for good speakers who will be able to engage the audience, managing a budget, taking care of catering and organizing a team of volunteers. Organizing a successful event means getting a whole lot of details in order, and extra help is always highly appreciated by the events contributor group.
People willing to join this team are expected to have some experience in organizing meetups or any other volunteer-run events. Also, if you have good accounting and communication skills (such as tolerance, patience, respect and a healthy sense of humor), it will be a lot easier for you to make way to this team.
If you wish to organize a WordCamp, yet there is no local community, you can start off by arranging a meetup. This is likely to get people out of their houses and talking about their experience with WordPress. WordCamps are organized annually in the regions with the most active WordPress communities. Ergo, if you are eager to help out with event organization, visit the events contributor group blog and introduce yourself.
The accessibility team has specifically been created to back the core team up with accessibility-related issues. The group consists of assistive-technology users and technical developers, which examine the problems and find appropriate solutions that they later pass back to core developers. Presently, this team is undergoing an expansion to cover plugins and themes as well.
The main challenges the accessibility team currently faces include:
- Keeping momentum. Fundamental changes are not made instantaneously, hence, this process often lasts for a while, taking more time than it is expected. For this matter, by getting involved in outlying accessibility projects (which usually involve various teams across the world) you will make a huge contribution that will be valued by the accessibility team.
- Engaging users with a wider range of assistive technology. The accessibility team is all about making WordPress available for as many people as possible. Hence, the team already includes screen reader users, and it is currently working on getting dyslexics, switch, braille and VR users involved. Creating a pan-disability user group is crucial for the team’s success.
- Persuading the community that accessibility should not be associated with ugly UIs and dull design. Instead, it is absolutely possible to combine accessibility with graphical richness and beauty.
If you possess the necessary skills, you can get involved in accessibility group’s activities by:
- Following the Make WordPress Accessibility blog, in which you can get in touch with current team members.
- In case you cannot access the Internet without assistive technologies, giving a first-hand feedback on existing problems and solutions will be highly appreciated.
- Helping out with the technical aspect. If you are a developer willing to cooperate, your assistance in translating users’ needs into handy solutions will be priceless.
The community builders team focuses primarily on mentorship programs, getting new contributors involved, diversity, WordPress.org imrpovements, college outreach and scool programs. Being a part of this group means understanding each of the current groups’ work and being able to answer questions regarding its activities.
As for the challenges, the team presently has to tackle answering a number of questions about engagement with WordPress, as well as fixing the issues concerning dissemination. Lately, the group has launched the Make WordPress.org Updates blog, which allows users to stay tuned for the recent news around the groups.
Luckily for those willing to collaborate, the group is still in the process of formation, so there is plenty of room for each contributor. There is no experience bar to be reached in order to join the group, so even you have not yet gone further than installing WordPress and navigating the admin area, you are still competent enough to help others. Therefore, visit the Make WordPress Community blog and leave a comment with your name and the areas you can be most helpful in.
BuddyPress and bbPress are the offsprings of WordPress. If you are a fan of social networking, forums and communities, these can be the places you may be excited to try out. Technically, you can consider BuddyPress as “social networking in a box.” Furthermore, it is a powerful platform to build a WordPress community on. As for bbPress, it is a forum plugin for WordPress.
In fact, bbPress and BuddyPress can be regarded as microcosms of WordPress itself. For this purpose, contributors are welcomed in many of the same areas, yet on a smaller scale. The spectrum of ways you can join the team includes writing plugins, refactoring code, developing new features and functionality, working on user experience and design and helping out with codices and support forums.
Naturally, with such a wide range of activities, there is a lot challenges for this group to face. The biggest of them is keeping up with the speed of WordPress’ development. Since there is always a lot of things going on, the team has to keep all of them within reach to keep the project going. Considering that the code has changed significantly since the moment BuddyPress was launched and the directions have changed, this code needs to be adapted. For this matter, there is a bunch of code just hanging in there. Deleting this code would mean breaking everybody’s installation, yet this much code slows down the release cycle. In case you are willing to cooperate in this area, your help will be extremely valuable.
To get involved, you can start off by assisting with bbPress and BuddyPress support forums. If you think you know too little to be helpful – don’t worry. Most likely, there is someone, who knows less, and who will be very grateful for your guidance.
Also, you are welcome to help with both codices. Since there is so few people working on them at the moment, you can really make a difference to this project. Also, there is always a spot for you in the development field. You are free to contact the development team at #buddypress-dev on Wednesdays at 19:00 UTC, or #bbpress on Wednesdays at 21:00 UTC.
The answer is simple – and complex at once. There’s a lot of things engagement with WordPress community can offer, and chances are, one of them will motivate you to join one of the abovementioned teams. Hence, if you decide to help out in any of the areas, you can count on:
- the fun and joy of being a part of a huge international community;
- the excitement of making something that will later be used by millions of people worldwide;
- virtually endless opportunities to learn something new and share your knowledge with others;
- the thrill of being involved in democratizing publishing.
Now that you’ve decided to make a contribution, and you have already found a team of contributors that suits your expertise and preferences, you may want to take a look at the following tips:
- Before you dive into work, it is best you do a little research to see what’s on the agenda and what are the ways the group handles things. This way, you can get the idea of the group’s field of activity and the main methods, as well as see for yourself, whether you fit in. Most commonly, it will be enough if you go through the P2s.
- Visit the P2 for the team you’d like to join and introduce yourself.
- In case you have troubles choosing the team to get involved in, go to the #wordpress-contribute IRC chatroom on freenode. There is always someone to help you come into play.
- Examine the P2, trac or mailing lists. Make sure your ideas haven’t been suggested before. If they have, see why they were refused.
- Show up at meetups and WordCamps.
- Establish contacts with other contributors through Twitter or email.
WordPress freenode IRC chatrooms have been designed to find out how things work and what’s on the agenda. Although you will find lots of people hanging out in these rooms throughout the day, there is still a schedule you may want to consult if you decide to jump into discussion:
- Tuesday: UI
- 19:00 UTC in #wordpress-ui
- Wednesday: Mobile
- 16:00 UTC in #wordpress-mobile
- Wednesday: BuddyPress
- 19:00 UTC in #buddypress-dev
- Wednesday: bbPress
- 20:00 UTC in #bbpress
- Wednesday: Core
- 21:00 UTC in #wordpress-dev
- Thursday: Support and docs
- 21:00 UTC in #wordpress-sfd
Likewise, you are welcome to stop by #wordpress-contribute and check out the areas your help may be needed in.
There is a huge number of ways you can get involved in WordPress community – you just have to choose the one that works best for you. We guarantee that once you decide to join, you will be surprised how rewarding this type of work can get. Try helping out with something small, and you’ll get absorbed in the community’s fun projects in no time!