If you are living in part of the world where the polar vortex has plunged the weather into record-cold temperatures, you might enjoy this fireside chat from WordCamp India 2021. The event was held online over the span of three weekends from Jan 30 to Feb 14. Matt Mullenweg and Josepha Haden Chomphosy joined organizers over the weekend for an invigorating conversation about India and the global WordPress community.
One of the opening questions from the audience was about the growth of newsletter services like Substack, which seem no different from a WordPress-powered blog with emailing features. The audience asked how WordPress can help people who want to start their own newsletter service.
Mullenweg said that although “pretty much everything is possible in WordPress,” some things require putting together many different plugins and might have a higher barrier to entry:
I think there’s two ways we can address that. One is by education. People can actually get through a lot steps if there is a good guide. A great guide around how to build something just like Substack on your WordPress blog where you own everything would be really valuable and popular. Second, when we make that guide we will probably see some steps that we could eliminate or smooth, friction points which we could make easier for people to get through. Whenever we see something like a Substack pop up on the market, I think it’s a great moment for reflection to see where can that educate us to where we can improve our own product, plugins, and educational material.
Mullenweg also shared that Automattic has just made “a pretty large investment” in Titan, a company based in India, which he said will be a big part of how WordPress.com offers email going forward.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy gave an update on what’s next for in-person events, which may resume later in 2021 if things go well:
In the short term, the future of WordCamps is very careful. There’s an ongoing conversation about how we can bring everybody back together in a way that keeps us connected and provides all of that normal WordPress feeling but also is incredibly safe. It’s hard. There’s a lot of unknown stuff, but the success with the vaccinations we have seen so far is really heartening. Fingers crossed we can start allowing quite small in-person events starting in Q3 of 2021.
Haden Chomphosy also indicated that hybrid events may be here to stay, streaming to an online audience with captioning and translation available when possible, to make in-person events more accessible:
We can, with a little bit of pre-planning and with a little bit of intention, make sure that our events, even if they are in person, have an online component that helps to make sure the education that we’re trying to provide there gets to as many people as possible without having that barrier to entry of having to physically go to a place and pay your time to get there and pay your money to get there. I’m hoping that we see a little more consistent planning about that in our in person events so we can keep offering a more global mindset to our events overall.
She touched on the topic of training and education, noting that WordPress’ 0-101 level content is somewhat lacking. This critical “make or break” onboarding stage could be improved for many users.
They also discussed the need for attracting a younger generation of contributors that WordPress veterans can mentor to infuse new life into the project. Check out the recording below.