Automattic is getting pretty big, almost 200 folks now, spread all over the world. That’s a lot of people we can send to WordCamps. I remember when it was mostly Matt and I splitting up who’d go to which events — how times have changed in five years!
Since we’re hiring so enthusiastically, my team is putting together a little guide for Automatticians on how to be an awesome Automattic representative at a WordCamp. I have a pretty giant list of tips and advice at the ready (you’d never have guessed, I know), but it occurs to me that non-Automatticians are probably the best people to ask about what we can do better when we pop in to a local WordCamp.
Here are some of the things from my giant list so far:
- Don’t travel in packs. When there are a few or a bunch of Automatticians at an event, we tend to cluster together because we so rarely get to see each other — and we like each other — but it makes it less likely that we’ll meet new community members. 1. Because we’re too busy talking to each other to reach out to new people. 2. Because it’s intimidating for someone new to break into that group.
- Ask questions. A lot of WordCamp attendees will already know about Automattic, so while we should definitely be a resource for anyone interested in the company, the better use of time is getting to know the community members: who are they, how are they using WordPress, what would help them make their community more vibrant, who are the local independent consultants/themers/developers that we should know about?
- Help out. WordCamps are a lot of work. Automatticians aren’t visiting dignitaries — we’re getting paid to be there — and we should help out along with the locals, whether that’s taking a shift on the help desk, moving chairs, or passing out shirts.
- Be identifiable. Wearing the same WordPress t-shirt as everyone else is cool and all, but wearing a shirt that identifies the wearer as an Automattic employee, or a lanyard for the badge or something, would make it easier for people interested in talking about Automattic (especially people interested in jobs!) to find the Automatticians in the crowd.
- Carry cards. Saying “email me later” works better when the card with an email address is handed over at the same time. That said, getting community member contact info so the burden of follow-up isn’t on them is even better.
- Tweet It. Using Twitter to let local followers know Automatticians are there is helpful. They might love to meet in person and talk about working at Automattic or contributing to the .org project and may not realize we’re there, especially if we’re not on the speaker list.
- Don’t hog the speaker slots. Yes, Automatticians are speakers you can rely on, and we do employ a lot of seriously smart people, but if the speaker roster is filled up with Automatticians, that doesn’t do a lot to help grow the experience of local folks, which is part of what WordCamps are about.
- Don’t be exclusionary. If planning to go off to an Automattician dinner or something after a long day of not traveling as a pack, don’t make those plans in front of other people, who will feel excluded (or might not understand what’s happening and might inadvertently show up later and crash the dinner); make private plans in private via Automattic channels. Even better, don’t go to private dinners, go to dinner with members of the local community.
- Be present. In sessions, don’t work on the laptop, just pay attention to the speaker. In the crowd, don’t focus on the phone, smile and meet new people. Be there for the whole event, don’t take off early or skip the second day. Show the local community that Automatticians are respectful and want to be there.
What would you add? In the comments (or in an email to me at jenmylo/wordpress.org if you don’t want people to see what you think) make suggestions for what Automatticians can do to be awesome at WordCamps. It’s also okay to give examples of times when we have not been awesome. Learning from our mistakes is good, too. Thanks in advance for your help!
If you currently organize a local WordPress meetup or WordCamp in your town, let’s have breakfast together tomorrow! 8:30 am at The Grove. Andrea Middleton and I will both be there, so new organizers are welcome too. I will create new official meetup groups on meetup.com at breakfast if people interested in starting WP meetups attend. See you there?
- WordPress Forum Bozo Policy: Instead of making posts invisible to all but the poster, instead, when that person tries to leave a new reply, do one of the following:
- Send an electrical shock through the keyboard. Needed: Better technology.
- Start flashing strobe light from monitor so annoying they just leave.
- Flash very brief subliminal message to be nice, potentially use Wil Wheaton floating head with “Don’t be a dick” speech bubble — surely he’d grant permission?
- Create a job similar to the Google Doodler, where the sole activity is creating easter eggs for WordPress. Each release cycle, the release lead can choose one to use. Job Title: Easter Bunny.
Hat tip to final stretch dinner companions Konstantin Kovshenin, Tom Willmot, Scribu, Ryan Hellyer, Kailey Lampert, Owain Cuvelier, Joe Hoyle.
- Plugin so that if a commenter tries to leave any textspeak (“u r” instead of “you are,” etc), treat them to the same kind of subliminal flashes described above, but this one says, “Be a grownup. Use your words!”
I know I sort of disappeared from WordCamps last year. The whole #fakemom thing seemed like the more important responsibility. Now that my mom has moved down to Savannah and Morgan is doing well, though, it’s been okay to ramp up the travel again. I’ll once again be roving from WordCamp to WordCamp, meeting WordPress users, taking suggestions/complaints/bribes, and making sure things are running smoothly on the organizational front. I’ll be hitting Birmingham, Atlanta, Miami, and Phoenix between now and the end of February.
If you are planning a WordCamp and want me to come to yours, let me know (or ask Zé/Andrea while you’re going through the approval process). Since we usually wind up with multiple WordCamps per weekend during the summer and fall especially, I usually try to make commitments based on who asks first. If two ask at the same time, the one I haven’t been to before will win. If I haven’t been to either, then I choose the one where there’s not someone else from core and/or Automattic already going. The one with better weather and less-annoying travel may also have a very slight edge.
And yes, once I’ve got my local meetups up and running for a couple of months, I’m thinking WordCamp Savannah/Tybee, maybe before the summer season really makes things crazy (and hot).
I am super-grateful that Randall Munroe replied to my IRC ping and gave his permission for us to use an xkcd strip as the basis for the WordCamp San Francisco shirts. You all know how much I love working on WC shirt designs (2 years in NYC, 1 in Savannah), so working on this one was an extra treat. #867 was one of my first choices, since it’s conference based. I changed herpetologists and ornithologists to developers and bloggers, and wrote some replacement text. Chelsea Otakan turned the PNG into a vector and used a fan-created font to approximate the look of real xkcd text. Mike Ritchey at High Voltage Productions (formerly Lo-fi Custom), who works with a lot of WordCamps on custom shirt printing, did some adjusting to make sure it would be legible. They’re being printed right now on sweatshop-free tees in a cheerful, summery blue color. And here is the WCSF2011 shirt art:
For the WordCamp Mid-Atlantic folks, as promised:
"Boy, are my paws tired!" (caption by @rboren)
Grizzly, taken just now
Most of the littermates of the 3.0 kitteh have been spoken for, but there’s one kitten left for adoption. My niece named her Grizzly when she was tiny b/c she was the crybaby of the litter (kind of like calling the biggest guy in prison “Tiny”). She quickly grew out of that and we appended the Adams on her name, though we usually just call her Grizz. If you give her a good home (which should include spaying, please!), you can call her whatever you like.
Grizz is all black (which makes it hard to get cute pictures of her, sorry, but trust me that she is gorgeous) with short fur that is silkier than my dead grandmother’s mink coat from the ’40s. Seriously, petting this cat is one of the most luxurious tactile experiences I’ve ever had. If we hadn’t had to restrict ourselves to keeping two, I’d definitely have kept her. She has a delicate face and a sleek body with a normal/long tail. She slinks as elegantly as a panther and pounces around with the joy all the kittens had when they were still tiny.
I used a flash to try and make her more visible.
She’s litter trained (we use the recycled pine stuff that is compostable/flushable), and knows how to use one of those cardboard scratchers. She’s not a slathering lapcat, but purrs when petted, is happy to be picked up (unless she’s in the middle of something), and does a very satisfying head rub when she’s happy. She’s used to other cats (has been living with her littermates, mother, and my original cat, Lucy, who’s 13) and would probably be happy to be in a household with another animal. That said, she’d also probably be fine being the only cat… not much seems to faze her.
Detective Mittens (left) spooning Grizz (right)
I’m moving out to Tybee Island and need to find her a home asap. If anyone from the Savannah area is interested, I’ll be in town this Friday, and then again next week when I move, so could deliver her. Anyone coming to WordCamp Savannah could also pick her up at/after the event. Anywhere else and we can talk about when/where/how. Interested? She’s an awesome little cat/big kitten (about 16 weeks), and I’d like to be sure she gets a home where she’ll be loved and well cared-for. She’ll make someone a wonderful, loving companion: could it be you? Shoot me an email using the contact form on this site to tell me why you’d be a good person to take “the Grizz”and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Tell your friends!
I have booked a buttload of travel today. If you’re going to be at any of these events/in any of these places and think we should meet up, let me know.
April 7-8: Norwood, MA for WordPress University, a NERCOMP-produced mini-conference for academics using WordPress, organized by Randall Rode from Yale University.
April 9-12: Rome, NY to visit my mom, clean out a room for her, and get all papers necessary to do my taxes. Yes, cutting it close. Shut up.
April 16-20: Tybee Island, GA to hit the Tybee Island Wine Festival (April 17) and generally relax with the twins over the weekend, then possibly some coworking with Sheri.
April 23-25: UC Irvine for WordCamp Orange County, where I’m giving the keynote.
April 25-May 14: San Francisco, CA for WordCamp SF followed by working at Pier 38 with my visiting coworkers. *Maybe* I’ll do sangria one evening at the pier. Oh, and a .org code sprint May 3-4.
May 31-June 4: Portland, OR for Open Source Bridge conference. Not speaking, just attending.
June 4-7: Chicago, IL for WordCamp Chicago. Will be doing a presentation on creating custom menus with 3.0.
Still to book: Denver, UK, Doe Bay?, Burning Man, Mid-Atlantic, Automattic meetup.
As I start on my presentation for WordCamp Ireland tomorrow, it occurs to me that I never posted my slides from Boston or Miami. Oops. Here they are.
WordCamp Boston, ending Ignite presentation announcing the WordPress Foundation:
WordCamp Miami, What’s Coming in WordPress 3.0:
At WordCamp Atlanta this past weekend, I gave the opening keynote, “WordPress Resolutions: What to Expect in 2010.” It went pretty well, and more people approached me about volunteering than at any previous WordCamp, which was cool. Here are my slides:
There’s also a video of the talk (I don’t come on until a few minutes in).
I talked about the plan for WordPress 3.0 (the merge with MU, custom post types, blog menu improvements, core plugins, new default theme, stricter scope control), being nice when communicating with each other, doing more to involve design/ux contributors, mentoring programs, increasing diversity among the core contributor pool, the ideas forum, redesigning WordPress.org and WordCamp.org, and mini-camps for kids to get them into WP development. I also said my personal resolution was to convince 5 theme developers to go GPL in 2010. More detail on all these topics will be forthcoming as they get fleshed out a bit.