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In the twenty-eighth episode of the WordPress Briefing, Executive Director, Josepha Haden Chomphosy discusses returning to in-person WordPress events.

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@wordpress.org, either written or as a voice recording.

Credits

References

Transcript

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:00:00]  

Hello everyone! And welcome to the WordPress Briefing: the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:00:40] 

I was checking the list of upcoming events recently as part of just my regular work and saw that the call for organizers for WordCamp Asia is open. On the one hand, it made my heart skip a beat with excitement. That event is six years or so in the making. And on the other hand, it reminded me of February 10th, 2020, the day that Matt told me that we had to proactively cancel WordCamp Asia. That week was truly heartbreaking for me as well as I think the entire organizing team.

But it also, fortunately, was prescient. As I think back over the two years since then, I’m grateful for our community wranglers and deputies who have consistently hosted important discussions about how to return to in-person events safely. And with two of our major flagship events returning this year, I’m here to summarize, sort of, what the rules and guidelines are.

But certainly I hope that you come away from this with an idea of what’s being done to keep everyone safe as we are best able.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:01:44] 

Firstly, before we dig into specifics, I want to be clear upfront that the guidelines for COVID-aware events are mandatory, unless otherwise stated. For folks who’ve been attending WordPress events, or participating in the community for a long time, this is a change. As a program, we have always done our best to be flexible with guidelines so that we can prioritize local knowledge. But our responsibility is to the long-term success of this community and this program. So moving forward with in-person events that risk the health of our community members poses risks to the program itself. So with that in mind, let’s learn what we’re going to see at events for the rest of the. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:02:28] 

For any WordPress event that is gathering more than 50 people, the new mandatory guidelines are:

Number one, follow local laws and guidelines. If your area has suggested guidelines on top of the mandatory ones, follow those.

Second, is if you are in a location where laws or guidelines require or permit venues to limit admission based on a person’s vaccination status and masking, then events can only happen in venues that are willing to provide staff to check for vaccination status at the door. And then also to remind participants to wear masks during the event.

And the third thing is if your area or venue legally cannot check vaccination status, your area must pass the in-person checklist, which I will link in the show notes below. But that in-person checklist has to be passed at the time of the application and then again at the time of the event. And in addition to that, the venue must be willing to provide staff who will remind participants to wear masks and check for temperature during the event.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:03:33] 

Organizers in these areas must be prepared to move online or cancel if the region fails the safety checklist, which again, will be linked in the show notes below. So those are the three things and they are pretty dense, but also I think allow for a fair amount of flexibility. There is also a tidy flow chart linked in the sidebar of make.wordpress.org/community that will help you to decide what sort of event your own area can support right now. 

So those are the mandatory guidelines for WordPress events in general right now, but you probably also have a few specific questions. So I’ve got the three most common questions ready to go with answers from Angela Jin who helped me to kind of pull together the information for this particular podcast props to Angela. Thank you. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:04:25] 

So, first question, anything specific to know about WordCamp Europe? WordCamp Europe will be following these guidelines as well. All attendees and participants are expected to wear a mask while they are at the event and catering will be offered outside so people can remove their masks to eat. 

The second common question is how will these guidelines change as countries and local governments begin deescalating restrictions and safety measures? We should consider these guidelines to be subject to evolution based on what the team is hearing and seeing from the community. But right now we intend to keep these stricter guidelines in place until we see how the loosened rules play out elsewhere. 

And then a third frequent question is what’s going to happen to all these online events?

The community team will continue to support online events right now. So if your community doesn’t feel ready to have an in-person event, but still wants to kind of get everyone together that is still allowed, and still  encouraged. And finally the community team will continue to keep a close eye on situations around the world.

If it becomes safe to do so, and your community is interested, they of course will be happy to chat with you about a WordCamp. There is an application that I will share the link to in the show notes below as well. In case that is something that your community is wanting to look into. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:05:54]

Oh, and I have a little postscript also. I know I was like finally, and now I’m doing a finally, finally. That’s what postscripts are about. P.S. If you have not stopped by the community team’s site or any of their meetings, they’ve been doing a really great job of keeping things moving through two years of unpredictable changes. If you are a community team member, I want to offer you a huge thanks. Thank you so much for helping us to stay aware and able to move forward. 

If you are an organizer, pat yourself on the back. I want to thank you for pivoting with us, moving through online events, even though they are not at all the same as in-person events and certainly they don’t share the reasons that we get people together sometimes.

And finally, if you are an end to end attendee, if you go to WordPress meetups or you go to any sort of WordPress online events or WordCamps, anything like that, thank your local organizer. They have been doing this probably for a while, and I’m sure that they are looking forward to getting back to in-person events themselves, but even, so they have been putting in a lot of volunteer hours to help make sure that we all know how to use WordPress.

And so find them, thank them, and I’m sure that they’ll appreciate it.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:07:20]

And with that, it is time for our small list of big things. Number one, WordCamp Asia has a call for organizers open! This event will be in 2023. And I think that we all simply cannot wait. So I’ll link the call for organizers in the show notes. And then of course you can follow that whole site to stay up to date on what’s happening there.

The second thing is, while we’re on the topic of events, there’s also an open discussion about how we can best support organizers who are getting back to in-person events. We’d like thoughts from both organizers and attendees. So feel free to drop by and leave a note in the comments section. And while you’re over there, the third thing in my small list of big things, there’s also an open discussion about regional events. So go over there, get all your thoughts about WordPress events together. Get them all sorted out in one go. Just leave comments, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. All over the place. 

And that my friends is your small list of big things. Thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing. I’m your host Josepha Haden Chomphosy.

And I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:08:54]

So my most embarrassing WordCamp story actually has to do with where I was supposed to be versus where people thought I was supposed to be. This was early on in my time with WordPress, with Automattic. And I had convinced someone, I had convinced a colleague and friend of mine to go to my home WordCamp, WordCamp Fayetteville over there in Arkansas.

And then I didn’t go. But I knew I wasn’t going, I knew I was going to WordCamp Boston, but he did not know that I was not going to go. And so he arrived at WordCamp Fayetteville, WordCamp Northwest Arkansas. I can’t remember what it was called at the time. And immediately was confused about where I was and why I wasn’t there.

And so there was this excellent moment of mass confusion among states where the folks at WordCamp Fayetteville started tweeting about how I had convinced this contributor to go to that event and then didn’t show up. And then the folks at WordCamp Boston, we’re looking at all of those tweets, because if you are a WordCamp organizer, you are always looking at the tweets from all the other WordCamps happening in your weekend.

And people got very confused about why I was in Boston while they were thinking that I was in Fayetteville, even though the tweets were talking about how, like, I wasn’t in Fayetteville. They probably didn’t say that it was probably more along the lines of like, “Hey, let’s share a photo with Josepha” to, like, make fun of the fact that I wasn’t there.

And so I caused mass confusion in multiple states. That’s probably my most embarrassing WordCamp story. You’re welcome. Bye!