Opinion: As Local WordPress Communities Evolve…

Local WordPress Community

I’ve been a co-organizer of the Toronto WordPress Group since 2011.

As we approach the end of the year, and as we approach WordCamp Toronto 2013, I’ve been thinking about the type of presentations and activities that come up in our meetups.

I think it’s time for a change.

Groundhog Day meets Full Metal Jacket.

Groundhog Day Full Metal Jacket

Plugins. Themes. Intro to development. SEO. It’s basic training. Over and over. And there’s only so much of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman that you can take before you go a bit goofy.

There’s nothing wrong with focusing on these topics. There are always new users who need that “Getting Started” orientation.

But, at some point, these new users graduate. We all do. We move beyond the basics. We become intimately familiar with themes and plugins and posts and pages and how it all works together.

Once that point has been reached, what compels members to keep coming back to the meetups? What keeps them interested?

I feel that Toronto’s WordPress community has reached that point, and I think that the same may hold true for other local communities as well.

It’s time to pass the training torch.

There’s been a boom in the number of WordPress training resources that are available (our own plugin included), both online and offline.

As a meetup organizer, I feel that we should pass the training torch on to these resources, and change the focus of our meetups.

Are we using our time wisely?

Our meetups are two-to-three hour events that happen once a month. That’s only twelve times per year that the local WordPress community comes together as a group.

Spending most of that time on basic presentations, with all of the resources that are available elsewhere, feels like a spoiled opportunity.

Are they worthy topics? Absolutely. No question. Meetups are how a lot of new users get a crash-course in learning the platform. But those presentations should be balanced, if not overshadowed, with topics that are unique to the community in which the meetups takes place.

What can a local community accomplish?

We have more than WordPress in common: we’re neighbours. We’re local.

What unique opportunities exist for us, as a local community? Some ideas to get thoughts flowing:

  • What are members of our local community doing with WordPress?
  • What things would they like to be doing with WordPress?
  • What things can we accomplish together with WordPress?

Your mileage may vary.

The thoughts above are based on my own experiences with Toronto. Your situation may be different. But the takeaway remains:

If you are running a local meetup, look at your community. Look for those unique opportunities. Figure out what your members need.

The WordPress software is the same from one location to the next.

The people who use it, and the communities they create, are not.

Featured image credit: elPadawan on Flickr

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