Episode 259: The WordPress Community


Show Highlights

Rob Cairns sits down with Ryan Waterbury and talks about what they like and do not like in the WordPress Community.

People needs to remember that clients do not care about all the inside baseball stuff. They just want a website that works and serves their needs.


Show Notes

Rob Cairns.

Here and today, we’re doing our monthly segment.

I’ve got my good friend Ryan Waterbury with me.

How are you today, Ryan?

I’m doing pretty good.

And you and I were talking over the last couple of days, and we thought we’d do something a little different and dive into the word press community.

And I need to start the conversation by kind.

Just saying there’s two parts to WordPress.

There’s the people in the community like the devs, the designers, the developers, the social media people like you and.

Who are sort of tuned into what we call the inside baseball or the inside workings of how things go on.

And then there’s her clients.

And at the end did it.

Our clients have no concept to what’s going on in the community.

They frankly don’t care.

And at the end of the day, really what they want is results from their websites.

So thoughts on that.

That’s exactly true, and as I’ve gotten more in tune with WordPress and really centered on.

You know word press being my CMS of choice.

You get to know more people in the community and learn more things and different ways of doing things and you know advance your technical skill set and learn things that help you provide a platform and tools for your clients to produce.

Results for them.

Whether it’s more sales, more brand awareness, whether it’s an activism site that.

Gets a lot of donations to accomplish their mission.

The point is.

Uh, you’re a professional in the communication digital communication space to help your clients accomplish their goals, and you know word, press it.

It’s still the I.

I don’t know if I want to say elephant in the room or.

Has the lion share of the market, but it’s it’s one of the tools that whether you want to use it or not.

Clients sometimes ask for it.

Yeah, it’s it’s true, but I think you know one of the problems is and I’ve said this and I’ll say this and they’ll say this even though WordPress is my tool choice.

Is what you should be selling your clients is the results they get from not from having a website, not what the back end is.

’cause I think at the end of the day the client could care less what technology is running on the back end.

Absolutely, and what they what?

What clients care about is results they you know I kind of talked about that they they want more brand awareness, more more sales.

Uh, more donations.

Every website has a little bit different goal, but people want to see growth and an increase in whatever their conversion goal is.

And you know, that’s that’s their care.

Uh, they to them to the client.

Uh, website is just a tool.

And being in the marketing space as well as the development space I had spent, I think more maybe a little more time in local groups for SEO and marketing and attending those conferences before I hit my first word camp.

And I will.

Tell you based on a recent interview that you know I said I can’t give you out the secret sauce.

That’s my inner marketer talking that how how to do things just even technically setting something up like here’s where you put the code for your Facebook.

So that was held pretty pretty and tight in marketing groups.

They they wanted to talk philosophy and trend, but no one was really helpful when I went to my first word camp I I was just floored with.

Oh, here’s exactly how you do this.

Let me e-mail you this snippet of code here.

Use this tool.

It works way better For these reasons and I was just amazed at the.

Difference in attitude and how friendly and open the word press community seemed when I had started attending word camps it was just a night and day difference in comparison to being in a.

Room full of marketers.

Yeah, it’s so true.

I’m being in both places.

I get that.

And one thing I will say is having been to a a numerous number of work camps in Toronto and being at a numerous number of meetups in Toronto we have.

Had, uh before the pandemic, a large meet up contingent.

I find most of my conversations when they think back at them are the ones around the meet up, not so much the presentation at the meet up.

Not so much.

The presentations at the word camp.

The last word camp before the pandemic I was at.

On the Saturday I saw one presentation all day, yet I was at the word camp all day.

And the one presentation I saw just for interest was Adrian, Toby, Groundhog presentation, who I?

Know very well.

And I spent most of the time in the hallway talking to people and catching up with people and in the break room talking about people.

With people on what they’re working on and what they’re doing and what it mattered, because I think the value in this community to go into word camps.

And meetups is the people, not necessarily the technology or the presentations.

Yeah, absolutely.

The hallway chats are.

Always much more beneficial and.

Uh, you know networking with other agencies, other devs, designers and casual users.

You you learn more and understand how people are using the tool to accomplish different goals and.

Those are extremely positive experiences that.

You know I I think.

Like you know, you touched on it before the pandemic.

We had a great monthly meet up here and a pretty active local word press space.

But since the pandemic we haven’t had an active meet up.

We had one virtual word camp for the upper Midwest here, which was usually Minneapolis, Saint Paul.

There’s no virtual one this year again, which is kind of disappointing.

So I I see things just to change in the word press community a little bit that.

Uhm, there’s a little more sand kicking, and it’s not as friendly as it.

Used to be.

No, and I and I’m gonna turn around and cause a little bit.

Of fun here.

Uh, my our good friend Mr Nick Diego is now in the Minnesota area, so I think.

I’d like to see him jump in with.

WP Engine quote, ’cause that’s who we worked for in the Dev Advocate team and maybe get in touch with you and let’s get something going back.

Going into the field area.

In the minutes.

Ironically enough.

He’s doing a.

Yeah, no, he’s doing a virtual meet up on Friday to talk about no code full site editing and I I was happy to see that that even though it’s virtual that now a new local dev advocate is.

Get stepping up to do some more.

Meet up activities.

Yep I would agree.

Uhm and everybody kind of looks set to WordPress community and looks at Facebook and looks at Twitter.

But I can also tell you there’s some.

There’s some big meet up groups, UM, and we’ll kind of get into how they function in a minute.

I’m going on on LinkedIn as well, including one I’m involved with.

The WordPress global product community and I think.

What we gotta be really careful of is.

Supporting the community doesn’t mean just jumping in a group and pushing your work.

It means being helpful and trying to answer a question and.

You know trying to get involved and and trying to be be helpful to those who need to help and try.

And answer a problem.

Yeah, the.

The Genius bar, or, uh, help desk at word camps.

Uh, it was one of the most fantastic.

Tools for a lot of the casual users that aren’t like you and I that are inside the community understand the inside baseball work with.

Everything around WordPress every day, but just to get your questions answered and you know and and informal and quick and easy.

I I think we need more of that.

I I do too, and uh, we were talking before we went to record one of the things I’m doing.

Yeah, next next week and at the time this recording comes out will probably already be done.

Actually is I’m speaking with the word press Atlanta meet up group on a beginner to intermediate way of walking down.

Your website using free tools and you know I’m just trying to give back and a lot of these people would be people that are they go to a meet up.

They’re not involved in the inside baseball.

They don’t understand how things function and they just need some help.

So I think that’s really important, actually.

Yeah, absolutely, and that’s the, you know, the the turn.

I’d like to see come back and you know, it’s just been.

Maybe it’s just spend the the two years of lacking some some local involvement and we’re just starting to.

See, you know word camp Europe happened for the first time in a couple of years and that went pretty well.

Word Camp USI was sorely disappointed that the venue that they chose and the limit on attendees was pretty tight. But I understand some of the concerns.

I think word word Camp Asia in 23 is happening in its normal fashion, so I’m kind of interested to see how these events start back up and just to see some more of the the positive help out there that.

That I really discovered when I got involved with the community.

Honestly, some of the other C Ms groups that I’ve been involved with Drupal in particular the the developers aren’t very nice and not very helpful when you have a problem.

So it was a marked change coming in a word press, and you know, just don’t haven’t seen that as as much lately.

No, it’s true.

One of the things that will go to some of the inside track that I have the big issue of right now in our community is people like to jump up and down and complain.

And they like to say I don’t like this.

I don’t like that and my response always is.

Did you open up a GitHub ticket for?

Your issue, because that’s how we get tickets back and things taken care of and they’ll say, hey, I can’t be bothered or be.

I don’t know how.

Well, the second one is really easy to deal with because I know.

In talking to a number that the Devil advocates and that includes people like Brian Gardner, people like Nick who have talked about people like Michael Colley, Courtney Robertson.

At GoDaddy, the people like Sam Moonos a burger, Polly, hack and McCarthy had automatic.

All you have to do is reach out to these people and say I really don’t know how to open up a ticket.

Will you help me?

And I know they’re all gonna look at me after hearing this podcast and say you called us out again and my response to that is, well, you, you people you group with people.

Keep saying if people need help come see you so go see them folks like help yourselves please.

There’s a lot of open tickets with some of the changes over the past couple of years with WordPress and I.

I think you’re inviting even more tickets, which is a good thing because there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed with the Big G Gutenberg, but which is a little bit of a contentious subject when we talk about community.

Uhm, and automatic in particular.

But yeah, absolutely asking for help.

Asking for support in the appropriate channels and they’re out there.

Sometimes there’s just a little bit of education that needs to happen, and you know, testing and finding these bugs, and you know submitting.

Feature requests is, you know, one of the first steps getting some of these things solved in core.

And I know I did the devil advocates and I’ve mentioned a few of them.

They, many of them have said if you need some help, I’ll jump on a 1 to one with you.

If you need 1/2 hour somewhere, so like really use some guys like there, they are a big part of this community. Even though they work for big hosting companies or.

Even automatic, they can be like extremely helpful and we can’t lose sight of that, you know.

Yeah, I don’t think you necessarily have to give back by running code for core or doing specific testing.

Just getting back to answering questions that everyday users have and helping them accomplish their goals and solve their problems so they can get back to.

Doing what they really care about and their website becomes a functional tool that helps them accomplish whatever their mission is even better.

I I didn’t, uh, I don’t write code.

But as as I’ve mentioned, I helped manage a WordPress community group and I think that’s giving back to WordPress and you know, I’m I’m not so sure the fight for the future program sees it that way, but I would argue that I probably give back.

More than 5% of my time, so I I don’t know that that’s the case.

Absolutely, and my GitHub repo is completely empty.

I do almost everything local and me.

Like I said, that’s just my inner marketer.

Don’t let anybody see anything in public.

It’s your secret sauce, but that’s one of my goals is to publish some of the code that.

That I’ve written to solve some simple problems and fix some issues that is publicly available and it’s out there for everyone to use so.

That yeah, just helping people solve little issues. It really can make somebody’s day and I can’t tell you how many times I have, you know, gone through Stack Overflow.

So, uh, gone through the the forum on GitHub and just banging my head against the wall on how to solve a problem and then the light bulb goes on and you figure out how to.

Right that little.

That little snippet of code and it it solves everything for your day.

Just sharing some of those little things can take the pain and agony out of a day for somebody else so.

Yeah, and sometimes it’s just knowing who to reach out to and say yeah, have a minute.

Can you give me a hand, can you?

Do you have any idea?

Sounds good.

Oh absolutely, absolutely.

Yeah, yeah, if I have.

If I’ve got a woo commerce question, you know I’m I’m going to ping Bob on Twitter and, you know, use some of those resources.

I’ve I’ve gotten great responses ’cause you know I’m not a specialist then.

Every single aspect of WordPress, I’m very much in generalist and so so I know what I know and if I can help I will but.

Understanding who to go to to ask for help is sometimes part of that battle too.

I would also say you know the big problem with the Community as it grows and more presses over 40% in the Internet. Depending on what stat you wanna listen to at any one number of days.

There’s always a bunch of people in our community amongst many other communities that like drama and.

I really don’t want to spend a lot of time on the drama side of it, but all I’ll say is I choose.

Avoid it and I choose to avoid it like the plague, because that’s not why I’m in the community.

I’m in the community because I like generally the people that I like to converse with and those who want to create drama.

Frankly, I can just ignore.

I wholeheartedly agree.

And whenever we talk about, you know open source non profit projects there.

There’s always a little bit of politics and drama and it’s.

It’s unavoidable, but it also turns off a lot of good people from contributing and continuing to participate in that.

Isn’t doesn’t invite more people to help answer questions, contribute code it it starts pushing them to look for other solutions and look outside of the WordPress community.

So as we try and grow WordPress, finding ways to be positive and avoiding the drama, and there’s plenty of it out there.

But I I agree, I I tune it out I I take a lot of breaks from social media.

To do that, put my head down.

And and you know, I, I do write code, so that’s where I find a little salt.

But yeah, the drama is going to be there always, but our clients don’t really care about that.

I, you know, a lot of them don’t even know it happens or exist, they it doesn’t.

It doesn’t necessarily affect them.

Yeah, a lot of clients don’t even know what the word camp is or or care where to get help because frankly, that’s what they hire us for.

Or even as I’ve said, care that WordPress is our back end.

They they just name more press because here it’s a good CMMS.

But you know, at the end of the day, to them it doesn’t matter.

Does there have to generate leads which convert to sales?

That’s what the clients really care about.

They really don’t care about the rest of it.

It’s it’s an ongoing.

It’s an ongoing issue.

Is there anything you think we can do to strengthen the community a little more?

I you know, I I I touched on it earlier, but I’m looking forward to seeing more in person meetups and you know I’ve talked about this recently.

Uh, in my blogs and newsletters that as things change, we need to evolve and change.

But one thing that that needs to happen, especially when you know you look at things from digital marketing perspective and automation.

Sometimes you lose that personal touch and just being positive and helpful and making a good connection.

And offering real solid help is something that I think we all need to take a step back and look at again.

As we’ve done more things digital.

We lose lose a little bit of science and lose a little bit of touch with you know, just.

Being people and being good people to other people.

It’s true, and I think being good people to other people is a is a big deal to be honest with you.

I think we.

We all forget about.

And in today’s world, even more so, I think it’s even more important.

Absolutely from your peers to colleagues, friends, family, clients.

Uh, having a positive outlook and and sharing, you know that that good mojo and positive energy is.

Goes a long way.

Yeah, you don’t know what kind of day is somebody.

Else is.

Having they could be having a great day.

Or they could.

Be having an overbooked day like like we’ve got today.

Yeah, it’s so true.

Uhm, is there anything else you want to add Ryan?

Or is that pretty well cover most of it?

I, I think that that touched on everything that that was on my mind.

Yeah, and I think your mind and my mind are are very similar, so I think it’s, uh.

I think the key is just to be good to people and the kind of.

Go from there and stay out of the drama and and help people and make things happen.

I think that’s really important.

Thanks Ryan.

Somebody wants to reach out to you.

How’s the best way?

Uh, you can find me on every social media outlet at onedogsolutions.

You can e-mail me Ryan.Waterbury @onedog,solutionsor visit my website https://onedog.solutions/.

Have yourself an amazing day Ryan and thanks.

For the chat.

Likewise you too.

 


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