If you’ve attended a WordCamp, you might be familiar with the term Happiness Bar. It’s an area within a WordCamp venue devoted to providing technical support for WordPress. Morten Rand-Hendriksen thinks it’s time to change the name to something more obvious.
The most important task of giving a service a name is to ensure the name communicates what the service does to the uninitiated. The problem, which is pretty obvious, is that the name “Happiness Bar” says nothing about what is being provided. The name “Happiness Bar” is more befitting a bar where they hand out cotton candy, hugs, or free jokes.
Like Hendriksen, I have observed WordCamp attendees not take full advantage of the happiness bar, mostly due to not knowing what it is. It also doesn’t help when WordCamp organizers fail to mention it during opening remarks. Happiness is a subjective term and is delivered differently depending on the person. This is evident in the responses Hendriksen received when he asked attendees what the happiness bar is.
- “Is it where they hand out swag?”
- “It’s a place where they give you life advice?”
- “It’s a desk where they have life/business/happiness coaches?”
- “You go there to get a massage?”
- “Do they give away candy?”
As someone who has attended several WordCamps, I find their responses comical yet, realistic. Within the comments of Hendriksen’s post, Jen Mylo gives insight into how the happiness bar originated.
Here’s the historical reason it was called that: It used to be Genius Bar and at SxSW an Apple person came over, smiled, and took a picture, and we were afraid we’d get sued. WCSF was coming up soon and all of the natural names like WP Help Desk etc had independent businesses attached to them, and we didn’t want to have a conflict with any small businesses.
Back when Automattic ran WCSF (vs a .org community team like now), happiness bar made sense for that one event, because they were mostly Happiness Engineers and it didn’t infringe on anyone’s business. After that, other WCs wanted to copy it. I begged them not to, to just call it a help desk or something, but organizers persisted in wanting to adopt that nomenclature to be more like SF. (I didn’t use it at the WCs I organized in NYC or Savannah.)
I work for Automattic so I obviously think it’s a good company, but the devotion to that name in other contexts has always bummed me out, because it doesn’t mean a damn thing to anyone unless they have already been indoctrinated with the whole ‘focus on happiness, not support, because the happy outcome is what we want to provide’ thing, which almost no one has.
Mylo finished her comment by offering feedback on Hendriksen’s suggestions for a new name and encouraged him to post his idea to the Make WordPress Community site to start a more official conversation.
Call The Happiness Bar The WordPress Help Center
I think the happiness bar should be renamed to something that’s generic and easy to figure out based on its title alone. My suggestion is to call it the WordPress Help Center. It tells people it’s a location within the venue and is a place to get WordPress help. It’s also generalized so that it covers both WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
The only issue I see is that, WP HelpCenter used to be a service that offered WordPress tech support. However, the site and service has been defunct for a long time. Perhaps the WordPress Foundation can find a way to obtain the domain so the title can be used at WordCamps.
Do you think it’s time to rename the happiness bar to something else? If so, let us know what you would call it and why.