[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast. From WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley.
Jukebox is a podcast which is dedicated to all things WordPress. The people, the events, the plugins, the blocks, the themes, and in this case, how to learn to use WordPress and help with events.
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So on the podcast today, we have a Vagelis Papaioannou. Vagelis is a software engineer from Greece. His journey with coding began during his elementary school years. In an experimental coding class. This sparked a lifelong passion within him.
His love for WordPress dates back to the early versions. For the last eight to nine years, he has actively participated in the Greek WordPress community, engaging in various roles, such as organizing WordCamps and meetups. Vagelis also contributes to multiple teams, cherishing the small contributions that allow everyone to make a difference. He also serves as the project translation lead for the Greek language.
Vagelis, although a self-confessed introvert, shares his initial struggles with being a part of the community and attending local meetups. He encourages people to step outside their comfort zones, and attend events like WordCamps and meetups, where they’re likely to discover a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Vagelis recounts his own experience of attending such events, initially feeling scared, but eventually having an enjoyable time, making many lasting friendships along the way.
He talks about how local meetups are more casual gatherings than WordCamps. People come together to talk about WordPress, learn, and spend time with like-minded individuals. From meetups by the sea to forest walks, these events offer opportunities for both education and social engagement.
On the subject of WordCamps, Vagelis unravels the magic behind these larger multi-day events, with presentations and a contributor day. He emphasizes that contribution to the community doesn’t necessarily require coding skills, and encourages more people to get involved. WordCamps are not only platforms for learning and exchanging ideas, but they also provide a space for attendees to have fun, network, and explore all manner of other opportunities.
We talk about the importance of the code of conduct at WordCamps. This code ensures that participants know that they’re going to have a safe and inclusive experience. With attendees joining from all corners of the globe, these events attract a diverse range of individuals who are passionate about the software and the community.
We then talk about the effort required to organize these events. Vagelis explains why he’s willing to dedicate his time and energy to be a part of such complex projects. He talks about the benefits participants gain from taking an active role, whether as an organizer, speaker or volunteer.
As Vagelis shares his personal experiences in organizing and participating in events like WordCamp, Athens, he strongly advocates for more community involvement, and highlights the need for new organizers to get involved, to allow the community to meet up once again.
We then get into a discussion of other ways that you can be involved. This time in the Learn project, which is making freely available materials so that people can learn about WordPress at a time that suits them. Vagelis talks about what the Learn team does, and how you can join them. He discusses how the team works using GitHub for collaboration and accommodating individuals with various skills and abilities.
From the educational content available on the learn.wordpress.org website., To the valuable connections made through hallway chats, Vagelis emphasizes the power and importance of the WordPress community.
If you’re a seasoned WordPress enthusiast, or just starting your journey in contributions, this episode is for you.
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can find all of the links in the show notes by heading over to WPTavern.com forward slash podcast. Where you’ll find all the other episodes as well.
And so without further delay, I bring you Vagelis Papaioannou.
I am joined on the podcast today by Vagelis Papaioannou. Hello Vagelis!
[00:05:27] Vagelis Papaioannou: Hello Nathan. Hello.
[00:05:28] Nathan Wrigley: Very nice to have you on the podcast today. Just to give you a little bit of orientation, right at the outset we’re going to be talking about WordPress events. We might well dip our toes into WordCamp Europe. We might talk about local meetups and WordCamps in general. And then we might also pivot to talk about something which Vagelis is interested in, the training team.
But before that, just to paint a picture of who you are and what your experience is with WordPress. I wonder Vagelis if you wouldn’t mind just giving us your bio. You can start as early as you like. Anything you want to say about you and WordPress.
[00:06:04] Vagelis Papaioannou: Yeah of course. My name is Vagelis, I’m from Greece. I was raised and born in Athens and I live in Thessaloniki for the last 21 years. I’m a software engineer and my journey with coding started at elementary school where we had this experimental class of coding and I got really into it. And then that just made my passion.
So regarding WordPress, I’ve been using WordPress since the version one point something, I can’t really remember. I was using b2 and then I jumped over to WordPress. The last eight, nine years I’ve been part of the Greek community of WordPress. I’m trying to go to build as much as possible I can.
And I’m a WordCamp organiser. I’m a meetup organiser. I do contribute across multiple teams like training, testing or photos and all that small bits that everyone can do. I’m also the P.T. for the Greek language translation. Yeah that’s pretty much it I guess.
[00:07:14] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah that’s a lot. That really is a lot. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you on. We didn’t discuss this in our pre recording chat, but I’m just wondering if you could paint the picture for us of what the state of the WordPress community in Greece is like. Just judging by my accent you can probably tell that I’m from the UK, and we might have a very different complexion here.
We’ve obviously just this year had a huge WordPress event in Greece. WordCamp Europe was held in Athens earlier this year. If I’m looking at it from the outside I get the impression that the Greek community is thriving because they put on events like WordCamp Europe, but I don’t know if that’s the case.
How is it being a Greek WordPress user? Are there plenty of events? Is the community thriving or is it in a different state?
[00:07:59] Vagelis Papaioannou: Well the community is pretty big. We have a huge Facebook group with almost 20,000 people. We do two major events, two WordCamps, one in Athens and one in Thessaloniki. Sadly COVID 19 hit us really hard, so we had to stop for a while. We also stopped the meetups but we’re getting back to it. We’ve done like 10, 11 meetups the last year in Thessaloniki, and I know there are plans to do more meetups in other areas of Greece.
We also in planning of a special WordCamp. We try to figure out where to do that and how to plan it so we can apply for it on WordCamp Central. And yeah we have a lot of users, lots of people trying to translate, we have a lot of coders.
We also have a lot of people actually working in key companies regarding to WordPress, like Automattic and stuff like that. So yeah, we’re doing good I guess. But because I’m that kind of person, I know we could do better in some fields, but that’s a whole different story.
[00:09:10] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah I guess there’s always room for improvement. I can completely sympathise though with the whole COVID thing. I think it’s fair to say that it put the brakes on in the UK and I don’t think the community has quite got back to where it was. Things are beginning again. There are various different WordCamps and meetups and things like that which are coming back from being online.
Broadly speaking I think a lot of them carried on in an online way, but I’m not sure that the interest was maintained. And so a lot of them are now coming back and hoping to be in the real world once more. But the flagship event, one of the bigger events that we had in the UK was WordCamp London and, as yet, it has not re emerged. So fingers crossed.
[00:09:52] Vagelis Papaioannou: Yeah. I’ve been on the last WordCamp London and I had a blast. It was a great event. We had great fun and I really hope that it’s coming back.
[00:10:01] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah fingers crossed for that as well. We’re going to talk a little bit about local meetups and what have you, and WordCamp Europe in particular. Let’s begin there. Let’s begin with WordCamp Europe and paint a picture.
Prior to that though I wouldn’t mind having a conversation around the fact that it’s very obvious to somebody like you and somebody like me, who probably obsess more than is healthy for us about WordPress, but we know that there’s a community. We’re well aware that these events take place. There was a time though when I was a user of WordPress, I was using nothing else, it was probably about two years into my journey with WordPress that I actually noticed that there was a community at all.
Prior to that I was simply going to the .org websites, downloading the software, using that software, and then you know rinse and repeat, building websites and so on. And then I can’t remember where, it was possibly on social media or something, I remember seeing a picture. The collection of people with WordPress T-shirts on standing in a hallway or something. And I was thinking well that’s curious, what are they doing?
And then obviously as time went on, it occurred to me oh there are these events. So given that the listenership to this podcast could be anybody, do you want to just talk a little bit about what WordPress events are? What they endeavor to do? How they are organised? Whether that be big events, little events, meetups and so on.
[00:11:21] Vagelis Papaioannou: Definitely. Well first of all I need to reassure everyone that’s listening to this that I’m an introvert. So it wasn’t easy for me to be a part of a community, any community. Or just go in a random place in a local meetup, open the door and just stay there with a bunch of random folks.
So if you feel like that, just come to any event even if it’s a WordCamp, a meetup, gathering, whatever. Just come, say hi and we’re all really welcoming and friendly. And you’re going to find someone who can really make you feel comfortable.
I was aware of the community for a long time before I even managed to go on a local meetup here in Thessaloniki. And I remember me being there, just sitting on a chair, and I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I was kind of scared. Scared grown up man, just in a strange place with other folks talking about software, which I love.
So the next time was better and I actually had fun. I made a few contacts which I can now call friends. And that’s pretty much what a local meetup is. It’s just a gathering. We just get a soda, we talk about WordPress. We may have a presentation, we may have snacks. It’s a cool two hours spending with friends around WordPress. That’s pretty much it.
I remember our last meetup, it was a month ago and we did it on Thessaloniki seaside. So we had like this beautiful sea view and we were just 20 people talking about random stuff. And then the idea struck, and someone said, shall we do another one? But like in Naousa, which is a different place, a different town. There’s a forest there. We can walk through the forest and go eat and do some stuff. And we agreed to do that. So that’s our next meetup. It’s on September the 2nd. So it’s pretty informal.
And the same goes for WorldCamps, but WorldCamp is a bigger event. It’s usually like a couple of days event. There’s the presentation day and then there’s a contributor day where we gather and contribute.
Just a side note, you don’t have to code to be a contributor. You can contribute in so many ways and we do need more contributors to help in so many teams.
So yeah WordCamps, like I said, WordCamps are informal. You can come to learn something but if you feel that you can’t learn anything you can just come and have fun with us. Have a nice lunch, meet new people, exchange ideas. And maybe at the end of the day you learn something new. I don’t want to digress so that’s pretty much it.
[00:14:11] Nathan Wrigley: No I think that’s great. That was a really nice summary. And I think a really important point that you made there, especially for people who’ve never been to these events before, is the no code piece. That is to say, you really genuinely don’t need to know a line of code, you don’t need to know any of that whatsoever to enjoy the event.
Because usually, especially at the larger events, there’s a whole broad range of things that are being presented, workshops that are being given. Yeah, some of it will be about the code but a lot of it will be about other aspects of life on the internet. So it may be SEO, or marketing, or design, or something like that. So there’s definitely something for everybody.
And also, I’ll throw into the mix, the somewhat undermentioned but very important hallway track. And this is simply when you’re not at a presentation. This is just hanging out, being in the corridor, chatting to people. And my understanding from chatting to people over the years is that quite a lot of serendipitous things happen during those hallway chats. You know friendships are created, businesses are formed, partnerships are made during those kinds of hallway random meetups. And it’s those things in particular are really nice.
[00:15:24] Vagelis Papaioannou: And you also get the vibe of the market. So if you’re into that market, you get the vibe of where are we heading to? And that’s a good thing to always stay up to date.
[00:15:36] Nathan Wrigley: I think also it might be worth mentioning that there is an enforced code of conduct. So there really are kind of rules and guidelines around what is acceptable. So if you have any fears or worries around that, what your participation would look like? How you would feel? How comfortable you would be or what have you, there are definite guidelines to make sure that your experience is as friendly as possible. Let’s put it that way.
So WordCamps are the big ones. Then we’ve got these more ad hoc local meetups where really you’re probably just capturing people from the local area. Maybe a few miles around, as opposed to people getting on aeroplanes. They typically happen more like once a month or something like that.
Why have you been so keen to contribute to these things though? Because my understanding is, especially an event like WordCamp Europe, you only have to attend to realise how breathtakingly large that undertaking is. The enterprise of putting on an event for several thousand people, coming from all over the globe.
The fact that it’s, the catering is done, the internet is provided, there’s AV, there’s translations, there’s people standing around with the correct T-shirt on, helpfully guiding people all over. What I’m trying to paint a picture of is just how breathtakingly large these things are, and complex are. So I’m just wondering, why do you give up your time in this way? What do you gain from it?
[00:16:57] Vagelis Papaioannou: It is indeed a massive event especially the Europe, US and Asia. I mean it’s about giving back I guess, to the community because we all get something out of it. I’m that kind of person that I believe we should always try to give back, even if we don’t get enough. We should give more than we get. This is how I work.
However, about WordCamp Europe, yes it was a massive thing. It required so many hours of work. Oh and I forgot to say that most of the times it is fun to get involved in these kind of stuff. And WordCamp Europe was fun for most of the time.
At the end of the day it is a massive event. It’s our country and we’re a bunch of people that we had to help to organise a good event, if you know what I mean. It’s always about giving back. I don’t have something specific in my mind. I never go out to try to find contacts. I never try to go out and do business or whatever. I just want to give back.
[00:18:01] Nathan Wrigley: Certain sense of pleasure from being there, helping, making sure that it all runs smoothly. I can totally empathise with that.
Okay so again, thinking about the listeners who have never been to such an event as that. I described the kind of things that might be on offer. You talked about the fact that volunteers, community members, helping out at these events are a crucial part of that puzzle.
Are you able to just tell us some of the different roles? Now you might just cherry pick some that you know top of your mind. But just to give a flavor of the kind of things that you could be doing should you dip your toes into the water and offer your time at one of these events. What are the kind of things that you might find yourself involved with?
[00:18:45] Vagelis Papaioannou: Well it’s easy to find something to do on these kinds of events. I mean if you can use Gutenberg you can join the website team. If you can design you can go with the design team. That’s pretty straightforward.
But if you just want to volunteer and that means that you will be there at the three days of the event, and you will all be spending time for the event while being there. Which is a different thing than being an organiser, because we had to work like months, several months before the event. So if you just want to be a volunteer you can do so many things from registration, or from helping the sponsors, from making sure everything is okay. From sitting on a corner and waiting for someone to ask you something.
There are so many roles, and I believe that volunteers are a huge part of any event, even if it’s WordCamp Europe or a local WordCamp. Without the volunteers we can do nothing. And also we need to make clear that the organisers are also volunteers. I had a chat with multiple people, and it looks like some folks believe that we’re getting paid or we get something like a benefit or I don’t know, whatever. But we don’t, we’re just volunteers just like the rest of the volunteers and we are all equal during this event.
[00:20:08] Nathan Wrigley: As one of the lead organisers, given that you probably have months and months of work involved in it, well probably years is more the correct way of describing it. But given that you’ve probably got to make trips to the event, now you mentioned that you don’t get paid, but is there a system whereby, if you’re at that level and you’re organising things and you have to, I don’t know, let’s say for example you don’t live in Greece so you needed to make a journey to Athens. Are there any scenarios in which those things are paid for? Or are you always dipping into your own reserves for the WordCamp organising endeavor?
[00:20:42] Vagelis Papaioannou: I guess you can just look for a sponsor for a company that would like to sponsor you to do that. But in my case I covered everything. I’m in Greece, I’m just 500 kilometers away from Athens, so that wasn’t a big thing. But for other people coming from other countries, and if you consider that this is during summertime, and summertime in Greece the prices are going high, because of the tourism and all that stuff. They have to book hotels just like did, so it’s a big expense to be fair. I mean, it’s a few thousand euros to be able to go to venue visits and then go to the event, and stay for a week.
[00:21:24] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah that’s interesting. I certainly have met people who have been sponsored to attend these events. Yeah thank you for that.
We should probably also talk about the affordable nature of these events, because typically if you were to go to a three day conference, well in WordCamp’s case it’s often two days, and then there’s something called a contributor day which we’ll get onto in a minute.
The cost of these tickets is really low. If you were to attend an event of similar size and scope elsewhere, I feel that you might have a very high ticket price. But WordCamps don’t have this ticket price. Now I understand that some of the money is offset from the sponsors, but typically they’re very affordable to attend in the region of, I don’t know 40, 50, 60 euros, something along those lines.
So I just wanted to raise that as a point. You don’t need to have deep pockets if you want to attend. And if you’ve got local WordCamps it’s very likely that the cost will be low as well. In fact, in many cases, I think it would be true to say that the cost of your ticket probably wouldn’t even cover the food.
[00:22:27] Vagelis Papaioannou: You always get your money back. And I mean our local WordCamps cost 25 euros. And you get lunch, you get swag, which swag is really, really important. And when someone goes to WordCamp Europe for the first time and you travel abroad, just bring an extra bag with you. You’re going to need it. I’m always bringing an extra bag when I go to WordCamp abroad.
So yeah you always get your money back. You get coffees, you get refreshments, lunch. WordCamp Europe was 50 euros. It’s really cheap because if you consider other events of that scale, the ticket could be like 600 euros easily. So yeah these are really cheap events.
[00:23:09] Nathan Wrigley: I’ll also point out the fact that there are, there’s quite a few initiatives. Many of them actually I believe begun by a previous WordCamp Europe over many years. So for example, if you have children that you need to be taking with you, that is also something which at WordCamp Europe at least, I can’t speak about the other ones, there are facilities provided for that.
And also great lengths have been gone to, to make sure that the events are accessible as possible. So by that I might mean that for example, if you need the use of a wheelchair or something like that, great lengths have gone to to make sure that you can access all of the different parts of the event.
But also that things like live translations are done, and not by an AI robot sitting in the corner but by a bank of real human beings, and all of those things really, they’re amazing. I’m quite proud in a sense that the WordPress community sees those things as important enough to spend the money on, to spend the time on, to get right.
[00:24:13] Vagelis Papaioannou: Yeah that’s really great. And this is again done by volunteers, so we should just sit back and realise how much work we need to do in order to get these done. This year in Europe we had childcare and we also had workshops for children, which was really great. Every event should be inclusive, and accessibility should be our first concern.
However this is something that brings a lot of drama into the community for numerous reasons. But yeah we should all help everybody, everyone, every single one to come to WordCamp and have fun.
[00:24:56] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah nice. So I think we’ve painted a picture there hopefully of an event which is not only affordable, if you can make it there. The cost of the ticket is affordable, but also inclusive. There’s a whole variety of different things, you don’t need to be into one particular thing aka code.
If you want to attend, it’s very likely that you’ll meet some people, make some friendships. And in my case I think it’s fair to say that quite a lot of real, proper, genuine friendships have been built up from chatting to people who were stood next to me that I never knew just five minutes before.
So they’re the big events. Now I can’t remember whether you mentioned whether you’re a part of a more local meetup, but I think if we could just get into that quickly.
[00:25:42] Vagelis Papaioannou: I’m organising me and a few friends, I’m going to call them friends because after all these years I consider them to be my friends. We’re organising the Thessaloniki meetups, which is a monthly meetup. We try to do presentations. We also have a workshop going on about creating what we called the first community block theme, but we didn’t do it fast enough. Someone else did that, but that’s fine. And we also tried to do a few outdoors meetups. The next one is in a month or so in the city near Thessaloniki.
Local meetups are great. We just have a beautiful small place, sponsored by a local business here in Thessaloniki. We gather once a month, we have some snacks, we have some refreshments, we exchange ideas, we have a laugh, we do the presentation and then everyone goes home. And then we just wait for the next one.
It’s really hard to organise these kind of events. It really needs some time to get them done correctly, and it’s always done by our personal time, so it’s not that easy. But it’s fun, and people really like these kind of events.
Oh, I forgot to mention, these events are free, so anyone can just come and join us. There’s no ticket or whatever. We do have a sponsor which helps a lot for snacks and refreshments, and we do have another sponsor for the venue, so we’re pretty much covered and yeah, it’s fun.
[00:27:22] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah so much more frequent. The cadence is typically I think once a month, something like that. Much more local, so there’s no accommodation requirements. You just make your way there. Often in the evening when the work day is over. A couple of hours of presentation, like you said a few snacks and that’s the way it goes.
So a real nice way to keep up to date with your local WordPressers. And I think these things, once they kickstart themselves after the pandemic, I think really just events like that really do underpin the whole community. Without them I don’t know where we’d be in all honesty.
[00:27:55] Vagelis Papaioannou: It’s an important part of the community, the meetups, I believe.
[00:27:59] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah I think so too. Let’s move on. Let’s pivot because we’ve got something else to talk about. So this is something called the training team. Obviously it’s connected with WordPress but I wouldn’t really say that I know too much about this. During the process of this interview hopefully I will be learning a lot about it as well.
Let’s just lay the bedrock. What is the training team? What’s its purpose? How long has it been around? Any place you want to begin there really.
[00:28:23] Vagelis Papaioannou: Well the training team is brilliant. There’s so much content for anyone and everyone in there. And how I met the training team. A year ago I wanted some resources about our local meetup, and I was talking with someone from the marketing team, and they told me just go to the training team and get some content.
What’s a training team? I’ve never heard of it. And then I joined the training team and I’ve seen that there are so much good content in there. There are courses, there are lesson plans, there is so much content for all different levels of WordPress users or developers. For the last year it grew so much.
There are two main things in training team, tutorials and lesson plans. You can follow a tutorial and then something new, or you can get a lesson plan and use it on a local meetup, or on your class and teach the others something new. And in order to do that there are a bunch of volunteers working day and night creating content.
But most importantly keeping the content up to date, because that’s the most important thing. Whenever a new version of WordPress comes out and there are changes, we have to go back, review the content and do the appropriate edits. And also because we’re trying to be inclusive, we want to translate that content, and this is where I fit in. I try to translate as much content as possible in Greek. And I also have on the website in order to do some patterns, to do that translation easier for the translators.
And now we’re in the state where we’re trying to find more people to contribute in translations because if we manage to translate all that content then there is no excuse for someone to say, I don’t know how to do that because everything is in there. So you can really learn something new every day from the training team. Which, by the way, can be found, this is confusing, at learn.wordpress.org. So training team is a team, but the website is learn, and this is where you go to learn WordPress. That’s the idea.
[00:30:41] Nathan Wrigley: Do you know if there was a reason if you like, why the team was given a lot more focus and attention more recently? What I’m wondering is, we spoke a little while ago about the effect of things like the pandemic, and effect that that had on the community. I don’t know if it’s coincidental or if it’s intentional that more effort seems to be being put recently into things like providing training materials.
There seems to be a lot more of that being created, but I see a lot more of it being mentioned in different parts of the WordPress ecosystem. So I didn’t know if it was an endeavor just to bolster what we’ve already got, or if it was trying to react to, I don’t know, community dwindling, something like that.
[00:31:21] Vagelis Papaioannou: It’s probably both. I also think that training team has more resources now. By saying resources I mean more people, and more people join every day, and the more people we get the more content we have. And it looks like it’s getting a lot of support from the community and also the team leads.
The previous ones,, and the ones we currently have did a really great job. I’m not going to get into names because I’m going to forget someone and it’s not fair. But they’re all great, and they all did so much about the training team. And I think this is part of the success of the team. It’s going to get better, I’m pretty sure about it.
[00:32:02] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah so obviously it’s putting out content, it’s keeping that content up to date. WordPress is going through, well certainly in the last several years has gone through some real transformational changes. And it does feel like we’re with the advent of WordPress 6.2 and 6.3 and probably 6.4, there’s going to be a lot of changes, made and so communicating those changes is going to be really important.
You mentioned that the team leads have been great. You also mentioned that there seems to be a steady trickle of people heading in your direction, wanting to help out with the team. How does that team organise itself? How do you come to decisions about, okay, we’ll make this piece of content, but we won’t make that piece of content just yet? Where do you meet? How often do you meet? What platforms are you using? And so on.
[00:32:47] Vagelis Papaioannou: Well there’s a weekly meeting happening in the Make Slack of the training team. If anyone listening to this and doesn’t use Slack, just download Slack and join. How do we even call that? It’s always confusing. Well the Make Slack which is where all the WordPress folks are gathering around, and all the teams and all the info. And you can get really mad really quickly because of the massive amount of the information. But don’t worry about it just join training team. There’s a weekly meeting there.
And then we do use GitHub, but don’t be scared if you hear of GitHub. We don’t really use it only for coding, we also use it to raise issues. And by raising an issue it can be a lesson plan idea, or a content idea. And this is where all the review is going on, and all of the conversation. And then all of a sudden the content is getting published into the website. It’s really easy. Everyone can contribute.
I forgot to mention that I’m dyslexic. So it’s really hard for me to do many things related to languages and stuff, but I do manage to contribute successfully on those teams without any problem. And whenever I need a hand, a helping hand, there’s always someone to help you.
You can also facilitate an online meetup in training team. That’s another great thing training team does. We do online meetups, and you can learn how to code custom Gutenberg block using React or JSX. Or you can just learn how to use a block, like the very first steps and one to do using Gutenberg.
[00:34:29] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah I think it’s really remarkable the rate at which I’m seeing content being produced. And also a shame in a sense that it doesn’t get mentioned quite as much as I wish it did. I have to sometimes go looking for these things or subscribe to an RSS feed. But if everybody in the WordPress community was just familiar with that URL, learn.wordpress.org, I think you’d be hard pressed to find nothing there which should be of interest to you.
Whether you’re kind of an expert in building blocks, or whether you just want some primer, some kind of 101 of how to begin using WordPress. It is increasingly an amazing resource. And so bravo for all of the things that are being done there.
I’m just curious about the kind of jobs that might be needed, because I’ve seen video content. So obviously at some point somebody needed to sit down with a screen and record that stuff. But presumably there was some kind of script that was created for that. I’ve seen lots of written tutorials. I’ve seen things which you could describe as courses, where you know one thing leads onto another thing, there is isolated bits of content. What kind of tasks are in need of being done to keep that initiative going?
[00:35:43] Vagelis Papaioannou: That’s a really hard one. I mean everyone can find something to do. You can do the meeting notes, which I can’t because I’m dyslexic, but you can. You can do a translation. You can get a lesson plan and translate it. You can create a lesson plan if you have an expertise, or you can create a tutorial. Or if you can create a video tutorial you can get the video and do the transcript.
You can review the content and test what the lesson plan guides you to do and see if it’s correct or not. And then provide feedback for the author to correct it, or say, yeah it’s great just publish it. There’s so many things from the smallest to the biggest one. And it’s really easy, even with an hour per week you can really make the difference.
[00:36:33] Nathan Wrigley: I guess the whole imposter syndrome thing may be something that people are concerned about. You know they’re listening to this and think, do you know what I think I’ve got something that I want to share, but there’s probably somebody out there who’s better at it than me. You know they’re a better writer or they’ve got skills for putting videos out there.
I guess we should address that. Are there any barriers to entry here in terms of the quality of what you’ve got to produce, or the level of expertise? You know if you are going to be writing or producing materials around, let’s say, something in WordPress Core, you probably do need to have some decent understanding of how that all works so that the content is actually useful.
[00:37:09] Vagelis Papaioannou: Yeah definitely. Well if you get into coding, I mean if you do a coding tutorial I guess you should just follow the coding standards and all that stuff. But again, if you do a mistake it’s not the end of the world. Someone will point you out to the right direction and you’re going to figure it out.
And as you may already know, and I’m sure you do, the best way to learn something really deeply is by writing or teaching it. This is the best way if you want to master a craft. If you try to teach it to somewhere else, you get really deep into it. And at the end of the day you will realise your weaknesses and you get better. Or you will realise that you shouldn’t have that imposter syndrome, which I have really bad.
[00:37:55] Nathan Wrigley: Amazing. You’ve come on this podcast. Thank you for that. Takes a lot of effort.
[00:37:59] Vagelis Papaioannou: I have to say it’s not an easy thing, but I mean I’m dyslexic it’s not something terrible. It’s just, okay I may read half your email and I may respond to half of it, or I may mess a few characters. But other people may get these as a weakness and step back because they have something like that. We have people in WordPress community that they can’t even see and they code daily, which is a massive thing.
If you consider that there’s a person without sight who can create some kind of code which is what they do for a living. Why should I stay back because I have that minor thing? And people shouldn’t just stay back. Just join the community. If you know one thing to do just say, yeah I’m good at it, and you’ll find someone to pair with and create something really good and helpful for others.
[00:38:56] Nathan Wrigley: What a cheery episode this has been. I really enjoyed this. And we talked about these fabulous events which you can get yourself involved in. Potentially make some real meaningful friendships and learn lots of things. But also pivoted to talk about the learn.wordpress.org, the training team if you like, and all of the free resources that are over there. A sort of sub community, if you like, of people there that you can also make friends with, and become part of the training team setup.
If somebody has been listening to this today and has thought to themselves, do you know what, maybe that’s for me, I’m going to give it a go. Whether that’s organising an event or becoming interested in training and all of that kind of thing. Let’s tackle the training team bit first. Where would you advise people to go? You mentioned obviously Slack but I wondered if there was somewhere else that you wanted to mention as well.
[00:39:44] Vagelis Papaioannou: If you don’t want to join Slack yet, just go to learn.wordpress.org, and this is the main website. And at the very bottom of your screen you’ll find the CTA. Have an idea for your content? Let us know. Apply to present a tutorial. Submit the topic idea. Just click any of those buttons. And on top of that there’s another block which says get involved, learn how to contribute. And you get all the info from there. It’s really easy. And there’s nothing scary into the process of being part of the team. There are all really welcoming and we’re really all good people. Well most of us.
[00:40:24] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah thank you. And then pivot that to events, meetups and WordCamps. Where would you point people if they want to begin that journey?
[00:40:32] Vagelis Papaioannou: Well I guess from their local community. Also be aware that you may see that there are a few faces that are again and again on the same event. An example, I’ve done a presentation at WordCamp Athens 2022. I’ve done one in 2021 I guess. I can’t remember. And then I did one in 19.
This is not because I’m special or something. This is because you didn’t apply. If you apply. You may get up there. We need help. We need more people. We need more organisers. We need more people to do presentations, more speakers if you want to. Don’t block yourself, just find your local community, get in touch with them, apply to facilitate an event, apply as a speaker.
It’s really easy. And even if you don’t get approved at the first time you apply as a speaker just do it again. Try again. It’s not the end of the world and it’s not personal. It’s probably because that specific event had too many applications, or maybe your presentation was too specific to something.
I mean I’m a coder but I’m not going to do a really deep, deep coding presentation because I know most folks are not coming for that on a local WordCamp, and they kind of get bored and we need to sell these tickets. So we had to do some funny presentations coding wise, but not just open your terminal people, type npm install and do that stuff. Yeah you know what I mean?
[00:42:09] Nathan Wrigley: If somebody has been listening to this podcast, this is more particular to you, where, if you wish to share that is, where would people be able to contact you? Perhaps you’ve got a website that you want to mention or a, I don’t know, a social media handle that you feel is a good way for people to get in touch.
[00:42:25] Vagelis Papaioannou: I do have a website which I made at WordCamp Athens some year. I can’t remember. It was a presentation about headless WordPress, which was really good back then when people started to freak out about Gutenberg. And I don’t use it at all, so there’s no content in there, so don’t use that.
Find me on GitHub. My username is vagelisp. Or on Twitter, and my handle on Twitter, it’s VagPapDev. Yeah that’s hard. V A G P A P D E V. That’s my Twitter handle. You can find me there. And of course on any of the Make Slack channels as Vagelis. And on Greek community Facebook and Slack channels as Vagelis as well.
Some may spot it that my name is spelled wrong and you may seen this with an n, Vangelis. I just don’t like it with a name. It’s my name. I’ll write it however I want.
[00:43:20] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today. I do hope that you get some people reaching out. That would be really great. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
[00:43:27] Vagelis Papaioannou: Thanks for having me. It was really fun. And I really hope someone got something out of it, and someone got the boost, they may wanted to join their local community.
Vagelis is a software engineer from Greece. His journey with coding began during his elementary school years, in an experimental coding class. This sparked a lifelong passion within him. His love for WordPress dates back to the early versions. For the last eight to nine years, he has actively participated in the Greek WordPress community, engaging in various roles such as organising WordCamps and meetups. Vagelis also contributes to multiple teams, cherishing the small contributions that allow everyone to make a difference. He also serves as the Project Translation lead for the Greek language.
Vagelis, although a self confessed introvert, shares his initial struggles with being a part of the community and attending local meetups. He encourages people to step outside their comfort zones and attend events like WordCamps and meetups, where they’re likely to discover a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.
Vagelis recounts his own experience of attending such events, initially feeling scared, but eventually having an enjoyable time, making many lasting friendships along the way. He talks about how local meetups are more casual gatherings than WordCamps. People come together to talk about WordPress, learn, and spend time with like-minded individuals. From meetups by the sea to forest walks, these events offer opportunities for both education and social engagement.
On the subject of WordCamps, Vagelis unravels the magic behind these larger, multi-day events with presentations and a contributor day. He emphasises that contribution to the community doesn’t necessarily require coding skills, and encourages more people to get involved. WordCamps are not only platforms for learning and exchanging ideas, but they also provide a space for attendees to have fun, network, and explore all manner of other opportunities.
We talk about the importance of the code of conduct at WordCamps. This code ensures that participants know that they are going to have a safe and inclusive experience. With attendees joining from all corners of the globe, these events attract a diverse range of individuals who are passionate about the software and the community.
We then talk about the effort required to organise these events, Vagelis explains why he’s willing to dedicate his time and energy to be part of such complex projects. He talks about the benefits participants gain from taking an active role, whether as organisers, speakers, or volunteer. As Vagelis shares his personal experiences in organising and participating in events like WordCamp Athens, he strongly advocates for more community involvement and highlights the need for new organisers to get involved to allow the community to meet up once again.
We then get into a discussion of other ways that you can be involved, this time in the Learn project, which is making freely available materials so that people can learn about WordPress at a time that suits them.
Vagelis talks about what the Learn team does and how you can join them. He discusses how the team works, using GitHub for collaboration and accommodating individuals with various skills and abilities. From the educational content available on the learn.wordpress.org website, to the valuable connections made through hallway chats, Vagelis emphasises the power and importance of the WordPress community.
If you’re a seasoned WordPress enthusiast or just starting your journey in contributions, this episode is for you.