WordUp – A Fork Of WordCamp

If you’re anywhere near the Edinburgh area around October 22nd, make a pit stop to an event they are calling WordUp Edinburgh. According to the event website, this un-conference will mimic the WordCamp model in that there will be presentations with attendance being free. However, there are only going to be 50 spots available for this one day event. Congrats to those who purchased their tickets as all available spots have been sold. From taking a look at the attendee list, I’m happy to see that co-creator of WordPress, Mike Little, will be there along with one of my favorite commenters, Donnacha of WordSkill.com.

With regards to the event name, what do you think of WordUp? Could this become the defacto name for independent WordCamp events not wanting to have to deal with all of the guidelines that come with using the trademarked term, WordCamp? At least with WordCamps, we generally have an idea as to what to expect out of the event thanks to longevity of the term being used as well as a tighter grip being placed on events using the name. So I leave you with this poll question.

[poll id=”42″]

37 responses to “WordUp – A Fork Of WordCamp”

  1. I’m one of the co-organisers of WPScotland (and therefore of the WordUp in Edinburgh). Thanks for the mention of the event – we have some brilliant folks attending and are looking forward to the day!

    I’m a bit concerned though that your post gives the impression that our WordUp event is being organised as an alternative to WordCamp UK, as it was never intended to be that. We hold monthly meetups, plus are very supportive of WordCamp UK (and in fact hope to host it in 2012 if our bid is successful). Our WordUp event was designed to fit in between our monthly meetups and WordCamp UK in terms of scale, and also to provide a way for WordPress folks here to get together and learn from each other during the year in between WordCamps – in other words, an event complementary to WordCamp UK rather than an alternative or replacement. The term ‘WordUp’ has been used in the past for similar scale WordPress events in the UK, so we simply adopted the name for our event.

  2. Jeff, thank you so much for the shout out, you are always so kind, and thanks also for covering WordUp Edinburgh.

    Personally, I am very excited to see the start of such events in Scotland – so many people here use and love WordPress, there is even some fascinating innovation going on but it mostly seems to happen in isolated pockets, there has not been what you could really call a “WordPress community” here.

    On the issue of forking away from the WordCamp concept, I was not involved in organizing this event and, therefore, do not know their exact reasons, but it is worth noting that the rules that come with being allowed to use the WordCamp trademark can be discouraging for organizers outside the U.S.

    You probably remember the disappointment and anger last July when the WordPress Foundation decided that WordCamps could no longer be branded in the form “WordCamp (country name)” but, instead, must be “WordCamp (city name)”. This makes good sense in the context of a massive country such as the United States – WordCamp USA would be ridiculous – but it put a bullet in the head of WordCamp momentum in countries with different geographic, cultural, economic and infrastructural considerations.

    Organizers here in the UK already had a tough job but getting sponsorship and speakers for an event called, say, WordCamp Leeds is about ten times harder than if it is called WordCamp UK or WordCamp Wales or, indeed, WordCamp Scotland – I know for a fact that early stage plans for a WordCamp Scotland were abandoned last year specifically because of this decision.

    The net result has been that, while there has been one official WordCamp in Portsmouth this year, growth has now been diverted to independent events such as WP-Brighton or WordUp Edinburgh and many would-be organizers, all over the UK, have been effectively prodded back into that most natural of British states, apathy. My prediction is that, as a direct consequence of this mandate, we will eventually end up with a relatively expensive WordCamp London, heavily geared towards corporate attendees, which will become the annual WordCamp UK in all but name while regional efforts will struggle and sputter.

    It is not just the UK; there was no WordCamp Ireland this year either, despite a successful start in 2010 before this new rule was handed down, now they haven’t even bothered to keep the website running. You can bet that this autocratic approach has had a similar dampening effect in most other countries who share the misfortune of not being the U.S.A. – interest in WordPress is booming worldwide, so, obviously, the WordCamp movement will continue to grow but bad centralized decisions made with no consultation, even when supposedly made in the name of grassroots growth, are damaging the overall potential and frightening organizers into going it alone.

    So, you have to interpret this “fork” with the understanding that, while it would be wonderful to have the support of the larger WordPress community, if such support comes at the cost of having to obey harmful rules mandated by people who have no understanding of the harsh economic realities outside the cosy US bubble of venture capital and eager sponsors, you are better off alone: support that comes with strings is for puppets.

  3. Donncha,

    You can still make WordCamp London (UK). By the way sorry if I type UK part, there is a London in Canada (3 hours from Toronto), thus my head goes into confussion.

    I would say that most WordPressers would be or near, London England.

    What about:

    WordCamp London
    WordCamp Edinburgh
    WordCamp Cardiff
    WordCamp Belfast

    I have been to London and Edinburgh but not to Cardiff and Belfast.
    I was in Edinburgh 15-20 years ago so I think it is bigger/different now.

    Now Belfast might be too close to Dublin, according to Google Maps they are 2 hours driving away from each other. How close is too close for WordCamps to be to each other?

    For me WordCamps are a lot about locality (yes that is a word). 90% of speakers are local people right? I never liked WordCamp COUNTRY.

    UK IS pretty big, this coming from someone that lives in second biggest country on this planet (Canada).

    I know that for the end of time that WordCamp Toronto/San Francisco/New York will be in Toronto/San Francisco/New York.

    Technically speaking WordCamp UK can be in any city in the United Kingdom.

    I am sure London is not the only city in UK with a WP community. It could be the biggest. Why not grow a community in Edinburgh and Cardiff?

    I am just saying, when people think UK, most of them will think London. I much prefer Folkestone and would love to have return to Edinburgh.

    I am sure UK is more than just London. Right?

  4. Hi Miroslav.

    I can understand your dislike of the “WordCamp + Country” form in the context of the US and your country, Canada, but I will explain why I believe that the WordPress Foundation should apply a different rule to the vast majority of other countries in the world.

    First, however, I’ll address some of the other points you brought up.

    Yes, there are plenty of WordPress users all over the UK and almost none of them want to see WordCamps happen only in expensive London, not even the Londoners, but that is likely to be the unintended consequence of this misguided WordPress Foundation rule.

    Any large capital in a relatively compact country has certain draining effects. If you force all WordCamps to be “local”, you give yet another huge advantage to a city as massive, congested and concentrated as London.

    You are, naturally enough, looking at it from the perspecitive of attendees – the people who pay to attend the event – and, of course, the most WordPress users are in the most populous cities. I would, however, suggest that, for important practical reasons, it makes more sense to think about it in terms of the availability of sponsors who identify themselves with specific regions. You need the financial support of sponsors early on in order to pay for the venue rental and other fixed costs that must be paid in advance, often long before you can even start selling “early bird” tickets to attendees.

    I would argue that you could put on a WordPress event in any city and, if the ticket price is fair, you will sell out long before the event – getting attendees to come is rarely a problem, getting the event off the ground in the first place is. Without sponsors, the event either doesn’t happen or, if it does, the ticket prices will be astronomical.

    Unfortunately, in pure advertising terms, it is hard to make the argument that sponsoring a WordCamp gives a company a good return on their advertising dollar, so, they have to be persuaded that there is another, less tangible but still important benefit: that they are supporting a community that they, both as a business and as individuals, are part of.

    From that perspective, the number of companies who might feel any sort of obligation to sponsor a WordCamp UK is far greater than the number who will feel the same way about WordCamp Leeds. There is also the important factor the sponsoring any event gives a company certain bragging rights, gives it something to proudly mention on its website and, let’s face it, being of sponsor of WordCamp UK sounds far better than being a sponsor of WordCamp Leeds. I suspect that even companies based in Leeds would feel that way. The overall result of making all WordCamps local is that London will have a wildly disproportionate advantage in securing sponsorship because it is the city with the most businesses locally.

    Another very real problem is that high-quality international speakers are reluctant to appear at events that sound too regional. Again, being a featured speaker at WordCamp UK gives them far more bragging rights than WordCamp Leeds. There are some speakers who, in the absence of an actual WordCamp UK, could probably be persuaded to appear at a WordCamp London because it is the capital and, therefore, becomes the de facto main event, regardless of the WordPress Foundation’s intentions.

    Technically speaking WordCamp UK can be in any city in the United Kingdom.

    No, that is precisely the problem: the event previously known as WordCamp UK can no longer happen, no event can be named WordCamp UK. Under the rule introduced in 2010, each WordCamp must go by the name of the city in which it is held.

    Previously, this allowed the event, with all of its cachet as a national event, to rotate around different cities in the UK, with the honor going to whichever city offered the best combination of accessibility, facilities and price – this was never, ever going to be London and even Londoners appreciated being able to get out and see different parts of the UK.

    Companies all over the UK, even in London, could be approached to sponsor a WordCamp UK far away and high-quality speakers were happy to fly into cities they had never heard of because the event itself was prestigious.

    The WordPress Foundation rule probably made perfect sense when they were sitting in some San Francisco cafe, at the edge of a massive country with strong regional identities and vibrant local tech industries – WordCamp Austin, WordCamp Phoenix, WordCamp Portland … none of them need the cachet of being a national event and the capital city, Washington D.C., does not overshadow the rest of the country

    Another massive country with a non-dominant capital is … Canada! Toronto’s tech scene is entirely distinct from Vancouver’s and your capital, Ottawa, is hardly a threat to either. I would imagine the same applies to the major Australian cities too – do many people even realize that Canberra is the capital?

    No, the problem I am addressing arises only in older, geographically smaller countries where the capital has long overshadowed the rest of the country: the UK, Holland, France, Italy, Ireland etc. If their intention was truly to encourage grassroots, regional growth of WordPress, the WordPress Foundation scored an own-goal with this rule. It happened because they were not thinking about unintended consequences and, even after the stringent complaints of the foreign organizers who were affected by their meddling, they did not care enough to take on board the scale of the problem or to notice the effect that it has now, as predicted, had.

  5. @donnacha of WordSkill – good points, so it seems a shame that ‘WordUp Edinburgh’ is being branded as such rather than ‘WordUp Scotland’ or ‘WordUp UK’.

    In regard to WordCamp Ireland’s site, I wonder whether that might have been a trademark issue? I would imagine that Matt has been advised to go after domains using ‘wordcamp’ in the same way as he was advised to shut down domains including ‘wordpress’.

  6. @that girl again

    I wonder whether that might have been a trademark issue?

    I doubt it. I mean, the WordCamp trademark may come into play, however, it would’ve been a request to migrate/redirect to a domain which didn’t contain the word, ie. redirect WordPressABC.com to wpABC.com.

    Generally, From what I’ve seen, is once the event is done and gone, there’s no incentive to keep a website up and running.. and so it falls through the cracks and is never seen again. This is where WordCamp’s policy to host the site centrally on wordcamp.org is great, the mandate requires them to have the site on a known “safe” host (ie. one that will not go down, One which can archive it, and one that url’s will never expire).

    WordCamp Australia from 2009 had the same issue, the website contents/archive is in the hands of a few people, but the domain no longer hosts it.

    (note: This is based off my own opinion and guesses, I have absolutely no knowledge of what may, or may not have been said)

  7. @that girl again – yeah, I noticed that, even given the independence to choose “Scotland” if they wanted, the WordUp folks opted for “Edinburgh” instead.

    As I said, I wasn’t involved in any of the planning for the event but I can think of a few reasons for that, the most likely of which is that the organizers are mostly WordPress professionals and, despite the event being independent, they are nonetheless anxious not to antagonize the Automattic folks – no-one wants to get black-listed and it is already notoriously hard for UK firms to get listed as WordPress consultants in Automattic’s CodePoet directory (for instance, according to CodePoet, the grand total of Scottish WordPress consultants is NONE … and, among the many Scottish WordPress consultants I know, none of us has ever been told why we were rejected).

    In regard to WordCamp Ireland’s site, I wonder whether that might have been a trademark issue? I would imagine that Matt has been advised to go after domains using ‘wordcamp’ in the same way as he was advised to shut down domains including ‘wordpress’.

    Much more likely that, once the new rule was revealed, the Irish organizers lost heart and simply stopped maintaining the site – it was a particularly cruel blow for them because they put an awful lot of work establishing the first WordCamp Ireland that year. Their preferred venue was in a seriously remote town called Kilkenny but, with the WordCamp Ireland branding, it was still a success and seemed destined to become an annual event. Would it work as WordCamp Kilkenny? Well, I think the abandoned website says all we need to know about that.

    Unlike the WordPress trademark, I don’t imagine anyone will ever need to be sued for infringing the WordCamp trademark – the sort of people who organize WordPress events, even if they do resent the WordPress Foundation’s myopic decisions, tend to be nice, idealistic, conscientious people. In fact, in any other reality, Automattic would be eager to encourage them, not place ridiculous obstructions in their paths.

  8. I voted “Yes” in your poll, Jeff. I think a WordUp is a fantastic alternative for any organized event that would like to share their passion and joy for WordPress without worrying about using the WordCamp trademark and all of the “guidelines” that come along with it. I would venture to guess that there are some folks out there who would like to be free to run an event without oversight – WordUp, or (almost) any other alternative name is an opportunity to do that, without ruffling any feathers or upsetting the official WordCamp status quo.

    Also happy to see valued WP’ers like Mike Little and Donnacha involved in helping make WordUp Edinburgh a success. Kudos to all of them for finding an alternative and making it happen – I’d attend if it weren’t for that very large body of water between me and it, and the time it takes to get there. Someday I’ll visit Scotland!

  9. Voted: yes.
    I can see the “confusing” part but in reality, what’s the problem with other groups extending the user-base and educating more people on WP? Having more with those skills not only helps the WP community but small biz and entrepreneurs alike.

    Since donnacha brought up the camp I helped organize, WordCamp Phoenix… thought I’d jump in on that part. I caught some flack this last camp because of the name, because I had the camp in “Chandler” not within the city limits of Phoenix. Anything in the valley here in Arizona is considered Phoenix… even to everybody that lives here. If you’re in mesa, gilbert, chandler, tempe, queen creek, glendale, etc etc… you’re still in “phoenix” metro. The only exception here would be Tucson because they’re pretty much their own identity down there. (and it’s a 2 hour drive of absolutely nothing other than dirt in between). Having a WC Gilbert or WC Chandler just wouldn’t have the draw or recognition from anybody outside of AZ and anybody inside of the valley would see it as a meetup group instead of a good conference. Breaking it down that much is only going to make for worse camps. Local speakers are already helping in meetup groups and stuff and a bigger WC for a city was good to bring in the big WP devs and names to really get some answers and tips from the pro’s the attendees know and see making plugins etc. I know other organizers are talking about the new rules already too, hosting of sites and sponsorship issues in the future etc. Aaaanyways…

    It’ll be interesting – kind of like how Woo forked Jigo… WordUp forks WordCamp? See where it goes!

  10. @scribu – good point – it all seems a little inconsistent.

    I’m writing as the coordinator of the series of WordCamps in the UK that started out as WordCamp UK, with the first one being held in Birmingham UK in 2008.

    Due to a discussion at the end of the Manchester WordCamp UK in 2010 – see the last section of this post http://sltaylor.co.uk/blog/wordcamp-uk-2010/ for more details.

    As correctly stated above we select (via a mailing list) a different venue for each event, but we named this year’s event WordCamp Portsmouth UK 2011, as a result of the debate at Manchester.

    We still intend to do this for 2012 as a continuation of this series of WordCamps in the UK – see http://wiki.wordcampuk.org/ for details.

    The points made above concerning London UK by @donnacha are also correct, in my view – and I live in London!

  11. Erm… then why are so many “WordCamp [Country]” events this year still?


    @scribu – by “so many”, do you mean the 3 out of the 37 WordCamps on that page?

    I presume that Germany, Denmark, Kenya, all of which are 2011 events, were already being organized by the time this rule was announced and would have had a good argument that it would mess up their existing sponsorship plans.

    I imagine the horrified organizers scrambled to come up with any excuse they could to avoid having their event so ruinously downgraded. I would particularly like to hear what the reaction of the Germans was :)

    Of the 2012 events, precisely none have been allowed to use their country name.

  12. @donnacha of WordSkill

    I presume that Germany, Denmark, Kenya, all of which are 2011 events, were already being organized by the time this rule was announced and would have had a good argument that it would mess up their existing sponsorship plans.

    Your presumption is incorrect. We never said there could be no more “WordCamp [Country]” events. What was said was that once more than one person/group wanted to hold an event in that country, then it would need to broken down into city names so people would know which events were which. Some countries still only have one event/set of organizers, so they are still labeled that way. In countries where there are multiple organizing teams for multiple events/locations, it’s not fair to give one team the bigger country designation and make their event seem like it is more important than newer organizer’s events.

    Of the 2012 events, precisely none have been allowed to use their country name.

    That’s not true at all. Most of the events in planning for 2012 are still in the “Planned WordCamps” column on the schedule page because they haven’t nailed down dates/venue yet. If you had looked there before commenting, you’d see that Azerbaijan, Norway, and Croatia are all using their country name.

  13. @donnacha The issue of naming was raised in July 2010 by Jane at WordCamp UK in Manchester.

    Can anyone give me a link and a date to when the policy on country WordCamp naming was changed?

  14. @Jane Wells – Thanks for taking the time to respond and letting us know what the official line is.

    My comments above were responding to a post which discusses this new WordUp event brand. It was entirely relevant, appropriate and valid of me to speculate on why the organizers of upcoming WordPress events in the UK, such as Edinburgh and Brighton, are choosing to forgo the support of the WordPress Foundation and the cachet of the WordCamp brand.

    As @Tony Scott reminds us, the issue of naming was raised by you at the WordCamp he ran in July last year and you must surely remember the reaction of many members of the British WordPress community. I drew upon my memory of that controversy to inform my speculation.

    If that entire controversy was, in fact, based upon a misinterpretation of what you said, a lot of people in the UK certainly aren’t aware of any clarification – in going over the many posts written at the time, I did not notice anyone from Automattic popping up to reveal that it was all a misunderstanding.

    Your explanation of the naming rule makes sense and sounds fair but, for whatever reason, it does not appear to have filtered through to many people directly involved in organizing events. As I noted, the idea of running a WordCamp Scotland (which, like many such plans, may never have come to fruition anyway) was dropped specifically because of the impression that this rule would be forced upon us.

    That’s not true at all. Most of the events in planning for 2012 are still in the “Planned WordCamps” column on the schedule page because they haven’t nailed down dates/venue yet. If you had looked there before commenting, you’d see that Azerbaijan, Norway, and Croatia are all using their country name.

    Please don’t suggest that I should be aware of every branch and twig of WordCamp documentation before I am entitled to comment. I believe I was fairly thorough in examining the page that Scribu linked to, on which all 2012 WordCamps – at all stages of planning – use city name rather than country, including Baku, Oslo and Zagreb.

    You say there is some schedule page I should have been aware of but that is on an entirely different site from the WordPress.org one that Scribu linked to and which looks pretty authoritative to me.

    I am just making comments, not writing the editorial for the Wall Street Journal, my point was that Scribu’s link did not refute and, in fact, supported my speculation. If, instead, he had linked to the schedule page, sure, my conclusion would have been different, just as I now accept the definitive truth from the horse’s mouth.

    For what it’s worth, it is not a bad thing that this discussion has taken place; a lot grumbling has stemmed from apparent misunderstandings of the WordPress Foundation’s role and attitude, a lot of good people have been rubbed up the wrong way and, even if they are mistaken, it should be treated as real issue.

  15. It is also worth noting, from WordCamp UK organizer Tony Scott’s comments above, that Jane’s comment in Manchester, and the resulting controversy, led to an important change in how the single annual WordCamp in the UK is named, which is a real world impact far beyond the limited circumstances she suggested of …

    … once more than one person/group wanted to hold an event in that country, then it would need to broken down into city names so people would know which events were which.

    There is, at the very least, confusion regarding this policy and it is alarming that people feel that they must read between the lines so carefully when Jane says something. Frankly, there is a slightly oppressive atmosphere in the WordPress community these days that disappoints me.

  16. Slightly oppressive? This is nothing new. These type of decisions have been commonplace in the WordPress community from Matt’s camp for years. Dating back to Automattic’s old nick name Autocrattic for it’s oppressive top down way of running things. This is how Matt does things.

    Jane is just the messenger. She doesn’t make all of these decisions. She’s involved, sure, but ultimately the buck stops with Matt and he seems to get a pass by people in the community.

    He wants anything and everything related to WordPress to be done the way he says it should be done. If you disagree with him, you are frowned upon and shunned. If Matt shuns you, his followers follow suit.

    It’s like high school. Matt’s the popular kid with his group of wannabe’s who hang on his every last word and will carry out his directive’s at all costs. Which is ironic because i’m guessing Matt wasn’t a popular kid in high school. So now that he has some power, he’s rules with an iron fist and a big smile on his face.

    Jane takes the heat, but ultimately it’s the WordPress golden boy who is ultimately responsible for all of these rules and regulations being forced upon the community.

    So much for WordCamp being a grassroots event. The ironic part is they aren’t even the ones doing the hard work or funding the events… yet they get to dictate how it should be done.

    WordUp is a great thing for the community. The idea that the WordPress Foundation and the official WordPress project should be the only people that can organize a WordPress initiative is absurd. I hope we see more WordUp events pop up here in Europe and beyond.

    The Edinburgh organizers should have promoted it as WordUp Scotland. Not sure why they want with the city centric name, I guess since it was a smaller event. Hopefully more organizers go with the WordUp name and run the events the way they want to without interference from people who think they know it all.

  17. There are a great number of things at play here, many of which I was hoping wouldn’t have to be raised.

    1) WordUp Edinburgh

    Although I wont be attending, it’s a wonderful little event with a great backing.
    The WordPress community in Scotland, specifically Martin and Taryn, should be praised for their efforts to get it off the ground in difficult circumstances. I can’t wait for their second one.

    2) A “WordCamp” fork.

    I don’t agree with this I’m afraid.
    The reality is that the WordCamp model maps itself to certain communities better than others. That’s not a negative statement at all; we can’t expect every model to map to every system. The existing WordCamp model, and indeed it’s implementation in the last few years as WordCampUK, is really poorly suited to the Scottish community. It’s the nature of the beast, and the WordUp folks are just organising an event that matches their community’s needs. It’s a wonderful idea, but not a fork of an existing one – especially with the negative connotations that word brings in the IT world.

    3) “WordUp Scotland”

    While I’m quietly convinced that the good folks at WordUp Edinburgh were simply wanting to be accurate in their naming, there are a good number of reasons to call it WordUp Edinburgh.
    It’s accurate
    Events in Scotland, with the name Scotland in the title receive fewer attendees from England.
    With the shambles of WordCampUK in the last few years, I think getting away from Country names inside the “British Isles” landmass is a really good thing.

    4) WordCamp + Name

    With no disrespect to Jane (who works wonders) and the person who has since taken over from her the naming rules of WordCamp are simply not flexible enough – again, working for a very specific set of rules that really doesn’t map well outside of large countries. As Donnacha has said a “WordCampUSA” would be ridiculous, but the idea that I could stop there being a WordCampUK by hosting my own WordCampShetland (only 12 hours by boat from the north of Scotland, a mere 16 hours travel from Edinburgh or 28 hours by train from London) is mental. These 2 *hypothetical* events are clearly not aiming for the same catchment of people, but somehow each have an impact on the naming conventions used with the other.

    The reality is, while I do hate the WordCampUK moniker (it’s in England, lets just call it WordCampEngland), an event 28 hours away by conventional transport should not impact it’s name.

    In my opinion, the Country rule should be changed to be one of catchment. In the US you can have a WordCampNewYorkCity, while WordCampBarcelona might not have enough people but WordCampSpain would preclude people from Malaga (a mere 9 hours by train) from doing their own. In this instance, WordCampCatalonia would work for the event in Barcelona while still allowing the WordCampSpain event to be held in the south west of the country.

    The reality is though, that WordCamp+City causes a huge number of problem for organisers in smaller countries than the US, or when there is a growing community that neither matches the Country/City model. Sometimes the name catches too wide an area and sometimes it catches too small an area, simply to fit a model that rarely works outside of the US.

    5) WordCampUK

    I’ve spoken before ( here, here, here ) about WordCampUK, and how very un-inclusive it is (a whole 4 people made it from Scotland this year out of 200+tickets) with it’s late ticket sales and moving of this year’s conference 200miles further away from Ireland/Scotland/Wales to appease the “London based people” who struggled with the 2 hours travel to Manchester.

    Purely as an aside, the journey from London to Portsmouth is still 1.5 hours; but pushed my journey time from 4 hours @ Manchester (2010) to 16 hours @ Portsmouth (2011).
    How very “UK”.

    In reality if WordCampUK was named WordCampEngland many of the issues people had would have gone. It would have removed the perception that people in Scotland were in anyway thought of or catered for, AND would have enabled a WordCampScotland to be set up along side WordCampEngland. Again, it falls into the issue I raised above, that the WordCamp naming convention causes problems.


    We all love WordPress, and of course we’re all going ti have different opinions. But after 4 years of being involved in this community, I very strongly feel that the WordCamp model has a great number of holes in it to the point that it doesn’t map well to different locations in the world. The “UK” is simply one of those.

    In the best possible way, the WordUp Edinburgh folks have made their own model for supporting their community. I can’t praise them enough for this.

  18. I’m the other co-ordinator for WPScotland along with @Taryn. I’ll try and answer a couple of the points raised above.

    Firstly I want to reiterate that we didn’t name the event WordUp as any sort of statement on WordCamp guidelines.

    Our WordUps are hopefully going to be a series of events, run in in October, February and May of each year, leaving the July slot open for WPScotland people to attend WordCampUK. This gives WordPress enthusiasts “north of the border” three events on their doorstep while still being able to attend WordCampUK – roughly one event every three months. This is why we named our first event WordUp Edinburgh 2011 – there will be one in three different cities around Scotland each year, but because we’re only just getting started there’ll only be one in 2011. We thought it best to start the naming convention from the start.

    WordUps will be small events, filling the gap between 10-15 person meetups and the 250+ that go to WordCampUK.

    As mentioned above, there are only really two of us running WPScotland, and between meetups and WordUps we’re kept incredibly busy – we don’t have the resources to run an independent event that would do the WordCamp brand justice.

    On a personal note, I’m not sure I’d want to run anything in competition with WordCampUK – it’s a terrific event and I imagine that the UK title makes it considerably easier to acquire sponsorship. Also, the WordCampUK guys have offered invaluable advice and support on getting WPScotland up and running, so going against them wouldn’t be the nicest way to repay them!

    However, as Taryn mentioned, we are preparing a bid to host WordCampUK in Edinburgh in 2012. Even if we don’t win and it isn’t in Scotland, we’ll do our best to be there and support it in any way we can. That’s what WordPress is all about – collaboration and community.

    Who knows, maybe in the future there’ll be an appetite for a big WordCamp Scotland. If that’s the case, then I’ll be happy to work with anyone to make it happen.

  19. I can understand the confusion, but I don’t get why people don’t just ask.

    We’re all ‘presuming’ and ‘assuming’ and from what I can see, a lot of people don’t just ping WordCamp Central and ask “Can I use WordCamp Scotland?” Who knows, maybe you could persuade them to allow smaller nations to use regional names. “WordCamp Ontario” and “WordCamp Ohio” wouldn’t make much sense in the US and Canada, but “WordCamp Scotland” certainly would. Then you’d only need to branch out into city name if more than one Scotland event took place.

    We can’t all be expected to know everything about WordCamps, and that there are guidelines instead of rules implies that you’re permitted (if not encouraged) to ask for clarifications, exceptions and explanations. If you don’t hear it from the horse’s mouth, it’s always okay to ask for clarification.

    I’m pro WordUp – Not everything needs to be a WordCamp, and diversity is good.

  20. @Julian Suvarez – I am aware that there are pockets of animosity Automattic but I really don’t want the point I am making to be swept into that maelstrom. In particular, I don’t want people who care about WordPress and who bring up legitimate points to be lumped in with the usual suspects whose continual complaints are driven by spite and naked self-interest.

    Perhaps I am naive, I have never met him in person, but, on the whole, I am impressed with Matt’s leadership, I think we are lucky to have him. In fact, I am fucking amazed that, even after all these years, he appears not to have been softened by proximity to the world of big money and venture capital, he stills appears to genuinely believe in Open Source principles and has spoken more clearly and eloquently on that than anyone else. I trust the man.

    Jane, too, is clearly dedicated albeit a tad prickly and that is why I did not mention her until she herself entered this discussion. I take your point that she is often merely the messenger and unfairly blamed for the decisions of others but I think my point is that, for whatever reason, it is the message that is being misinterpreted – we can all agree that there is confusion.

    Of course, the momentum behind WordPress is so unstoppable that Automattic don’t need to worry about the sensitivities of early adopters, there are more than enough newly-minted evangelists to replace the old-timers who have gradually become disgruntled, but it strikes me that misunderstandings like this could so easily be addressed before they fester into distrust.

    Is it possible that the reason why people are so worried about saying the wrong thing is that they sense that the Automattic folks often feel embattled and will interpret any questioning of their actions as an attack?

    Are our only choices really between being a fanboy or being an enemy?

  21. @Ipstenu – Well, to be fair, they did ask at the Manchester WordCamp and, for whatever reason, they ended up thinking it was necessary to rebrand their single annual event to include the city name, even though that was supposedly not necessary.

    Taryn, the organizer of the WPScotland group, has mentioned above that they would like to hold a WordCamp in 2012 “if our bid is successful” – are applicants going to feel that, regardless of the stated guidelines, bids that play it safe and opt for city name branding, even when country name would supposedly be permissible, are more likely to be accepted?

    I agree that diversity is good and I would just like to see more user-driven WordPress events, whether they be officially sanctioned or not – it is astonishing that it has taken until late 2011 for there to be one in Scotland, a technologically advanced country with a population of over five million educated people and only some of them drunk out of their minds.

    Without a doubt, the existence of independent WordPress events will be good for WordPress and healthy for the WordCamp movement too.

  22. Hi @donnacha – Just to clarify events in Manchester last year – the question of the name of the event, which that year was WordCamp UK 2010, nor of future UK WP events, was not raised by the organisers, since we did not know at the time there was any issues relating to the name of such events. The name issue was raised by Jane during the last open session.

    Also the WordUp title originates from the event Simon Dickson organised in Whitehall and held in October 2010 http://puffbox.com/2010/10/13/word-up-whitehall-today/

  23. @donnacha of WordSkill – Unfortunately yes, that is the case. You can either be a fanboy and blindly follow everything Matt and the WordPress Foundation preaches as gospel OR you’ll quickly become an enemy if you question anything.

    It doesn’t take much research to confirm this. You can find plenty of examples, dating back to the very beginning of the WordPress project, of snarky comments by WordPress Foundation representatives anytime someone tries to engage in even a friendly debate regarding decisions made by the Foundation.

    Typically they will fall back on the WordPress core excuse that if you want to be heard, contribute to core. Which is really their way of telling you to shut up and that your opinion doesn’t matter to them.

    I agree that people that contribute code regularly to code should have more sway when it comes to implementing features, enhancements and changes to core. But contributing to core should have no bearing on opinions and ideas related to the community as a whole and issues such as WordCamp. They are two different things.

    The quickest way to get on their shit list is going to be to question or disagree with them on something in public. They can’t stand being challenged, no matter how friendly the challenge may be presented. They hate it. They’ll deny this is the case. But their action and responses speak louder than their denials.

  24. So much churn on this discussion seems counter-productive to the point of WordUp — a simple way to put on the event you want without being bothered with WP Foundation rules you don’t want to follow.

    Last year, we put on a single event as a local collection of Camps, which would have included WordCamp Dallas. We were kindly contacted by Jane, who kindly explained the WordCamp rules and how what we were doing was against the rules. Easy enough — we stopped calling our event WordCamp Dallas, although that’s truly what it was, and instead organized OpenCamp. And everyone survived.

    I’d say if you don’t like the WordCamp rules, take up the spirit of open-source software and fork the event into WordUp, OpenCamp, or whatever you prefer.

  25. @Ipstenu

    I can understand the confusion, but I don’t get why people don’t just ask.

    Been asking for at least 2 years mate :)
    And in fairness, been getting answers for years too :)

    Who knows, maybe you could persuade them to allow smaller nations to use regional names

    We asked, We Can’t.
    Country then City.
    Thems the rules.
    And Automattic think that UK is a country.

    If I may stress, Jane has been supportive as she could be with rather inflexible rules :)

    @Tony Scott

    the question of the name of the event, which that year was WordCamp UK 2010, nor of future UK WP events, was not raised by the organisers, since we did not know at the time there was any issues relating to the name of such events. The name issue was raised by Jane during the last open session

    That may well be Tony, but it was raised by others.

    We raised it with WordCampCentral almost 20 months ago after feeling a little fragmented/separated due to the “UK” event not exactly catering for those out-with England.

    Surely this year’s exceptionally low attendance even WITH moving the “UK” event to the South East of England to attempt to attract more Londoners ( but 200 miles further SE than the previous year – away from Ireland, Scotland and Wales); has proved that simply calling something by a catch-all name does not mean that it caters to the needs of the many.

    The effort the organisers of WordCampUK put in has never been in doubt; but 4 English guys from England, living in England, organising an event with no direct flights/trains/buses to any city outside of England does not “UK” make.

    @donnacha of WordSkill

    If WordCampUK is in Scotland in July2012, I’ll personally pay for the top sponsorship; because it’s not going to happen. The Turkeys are not going to vote for Christmas.

    With multiple WordUps, and Open Source Scotland (featuring: Andrew Nacin, Joost De Valk, Rasmus Leerdorf to name 3) I personally don’t think that the current set up of WordCampUK actually meets our needs any more (if ever).

    I know @Martin and @Taryn are huge fans of the WordCampUK organisers, and have felt no slight with this years fiasco (my small dealings with them have proven them to be lovely people) – but the last 3 years of oval peg being assimilated into a round hole simply to comply with a naming convention designed to meet an external model is too much for this WordPress fan.

  26. @Matthew McGarity – You’re right, there is no point in us becoming frustrated with the rules regarding WordCamp when we are entirely free to organize our own events, according to local needs, under different names.

    You can understand though, I’m sure, why people express such frustration, it seems bizarre that the priority of a WordPress Foundation is not to promote WordPress usage and grassroots participation in any way possible but, rather, to embed yet another centralized bastion of rules and bureaucracy in a world that is already drowning in red tape.

    It is what it is and, clearly, not open for discussion, so, we just have to shrug our shoulders and route around the problem.

  27. @Kevinjohn Gallagher – very well put and thanks for pointing out Open Source Scotland, what a cool wee website, especially the last menu item.

    Thank you for organizing it, unless something unavoidable crops up, I will be there, would love to hear Andrew and Rasmus talk, and I’ve already seen Joost blow the audience away at WordCamp Ireland, my claim to fame is that I was the guy running around with the microphone so that people could ask questions :)

  28. @donnacha of WordSkill I don’t see it that way. What would be the purpose of forming a non-profit organization just for the purpose of pissing people off? There is some merit to ensuring that a multi-city, multi-date, multi-organizer type of event like a WordCamp has some uniformity. The actual burden is how the rules restrict the organizer’s freedom to stage the event as best works for them. For example, who you can have as an advertiser. I think the burdens that the rules create, coupled with the lack of underwriting support (e.g. WordPress gets a ton of pub while the organizers take the risk and potential bath), are the greater problems that time and experience will resolve.

    And actually, it is open for discussion in a way — if you don’t like the rules, and you cannot become part of the group that influences the direction of the WordPress Foundation, then you put together your own event like WordUp. The only thing you lose is the built-in name recognition of the WordCamp monkier and the centralized website; otherwise, you’re still free to run things as you see fit.

  29. I think one of the issues that’s not directly affecting this, but certainly sitting in the back of people’s minds, is the growing disparage between those “in the circle” and those “outside the circle”.

    Capital_P_Dangit(), bbpress2.0, admin bar not being opt-in, WordCamp Name/Sponsor issues… and a great many more have created this small divide between the people in the know and the rest of us.

    It’s not that I don’t trust what’s said, it’s more than I no longer think that any changes to the “rules” are automatically in my interest. Not a bad thing I suppose, but the previous high regard that I held many in just 2 years ago has disappeared to be replaced with a significant level of mistrust.

    I mean, for a company big on Openness, where are the “rules” for running a WordCamp on the Wordcamp central website? I can’t find them (again, might just be me, it’s late here)

  30. @Matthew McGarity – I think we’re saying pretty much the same thing and I would agree that, yes, just going ahead and organizing independent events is itself a (rather indirect) way to influence the direction of the WordPress Foundation. It is just a pity that, in the process of providing that valuable input, those brave organizers will miss out on the support of a central organization and, as you say, many will risk taking a bath. It is even sadder that many events that could have happened will not happen at all, to the detriment of WordPress.

    What I am not feeling is your optimism that time and experience will resolve the gap between the foundation’s current deafness and the best interests of the WordPress community – organizations that start out with such a single-minded emphasis on rules rarely become less bureaucratic over the years.

    As I say, however, I am not complaining, it is what it is, we work with the reality we have and WordPress is still a wonderful part of my life.

  31. @Kevinjohn Gallagher – I know what you mean, the sense of a wall going up and, for me, the surprise has been how needlessly tight that circle has been drawn.

    With so much enthusiasm and goodwill towards WordPress, I would have imagined they could have been much more open – when you are already on a roll and people are already so willing to follow your lead, you should have to confidence to open up even more, not batten down the hatches.

    Matt and Jane already have natural authority, certainly enough to weather the possible consequences of small politenesses such as consulting the UK WordCamp organizers on important rule changes before introducing them. You asked if the rules are actually online, yes, I believe they are on a specific section of the WordCamp.org site and their sudden appearance there was the first that the UK organizers knew of them. So, astonishingly, even those guys, who have been so committed and volunteered so much of their time, are outside the circle.

    This past weekend, I happened to have a Skype chat with someone who is fairly connected and he was saying that, professionally, I made a huge mistake in mentioning this problem in this thread and that, now, no matter what I do, I will always be seen as an enemy of the inner circle. He said that a lot of people are upset about the way things are going but that it simply isn’t worth mentioning it and getting blacklisted. I don’t know if it is true, about the blacklisting, but screw that, the Internet and WordPress itself should be about freedom of expression and open debate, not nervously censoring what you say for fear that a small cabal will decide that you no longer officially exist.

  32. @donnacha of WordSkill – inner circle, circle of trust, those in the know, us versus them. Man, it’s starting to sound like an interesting political movie lol.

    Unfortunately though, I know where Kevin is coming from with his comment regarding the us versus them mentality, something that really is unnecessary and didn’t have to happen. People need to realize that arguing changes to rules will most likely not get them to change, we won’t get our way but at the same time, shoving those changes in our face without allowing open dialogue from people to talk about those changes is a bad deal. That was my basis pretty much behind the post I wrote : All We Want To Know Is Why?

  33. @Jeffro – Hmmm, I hadn’t seen that article, very well-written, thanks Jeff. Interesting that so many people – and not the usual suspects – are starting to voice their worries at around the same time, I wonder if this is the start of a wider trend?

You may also like


Subscribe Via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: