The future of the Indian WordPress Community, as I see it

My thoughts are mine, and I’d happily be proven wrong

Should we do a WordCamp India? Yes and no; a gray area is just a mixture of some black dots and some white dots. Right now, my black dots are more in number than the white dots and I’m more inclined to say, don’t do it.

I have had folks reaching out to me, albeit privately saying that I was too harsh, negative and confrontational, even dramatic. Let me try and see if I can explain myself better this time.

What do you think about Wordcamp India?

My views and opinions in this matter are strictly personal. They are voiced because I’d like to initiate public conversations. Basically, I’d like you to write a post expressing your opinion about it.

The points I was trying to make in my earlier posts were:

  1. We know that power centers are forming in the ecosystem, in terms of regions, people and organisations.
  2. We know that people and organisations have exploited these power centers in the past.
  3. None of our local communities can claim to be perfectly co-ordinated and conflict-free.
  4. I think there is an alternative way to do things and if you feel we can work with JaiWP together, we can.

I have issues with the centralised, top to bottom approaches

I feel that the only thing we should focus on is to make sure that such conversations keep happening. We should create platforms, movements, events that bring the community together and help it grow in a bottom to top approach.

I wish them the best of luck for that. As long as the activities overlap with helping local communities grow, I’m all in. However, I’m not open to the preparation for a WordCamp India in 2018, 2019 or even 2020.

I’m happy that some of the folks taking charge of the WordCamp India idea want to set a future date and try and work towards it. I personally don’t like that approach. So, my primary concern isn’t that bad boys are in charge. My primary concern is that this approach is wrong and that is why bad boys can exploit it. I feel it is vulnerable to manipulation and to chaos.

I’m not convinced that setting a period of 6 months to 3 years and then working towards making sure a WordCamp India happens is a good strategy.

I believe that the whole top to bottom approach is wrong. I won’t personally like to work with something that I don’t believe in. I don’t believe in a top to bottom system.

I feel that it accumulates power of decision making or representational claims, into a few leaders and in a hierarchy. Wherever there is accumulation of power, there are people willing to and even eager to manipulate it or exploit it any way possible, benign to malignant.

Second, the best current system we have is representative democracy. However, we can make sure that in almost all things, local communities should have local self-governance and the most power. This way, the local representative can be a real representative of 10-15 people’s opinions and decisions, not just their own.

A future for the Indian Community

So, what I’d like to see in the WordPress community in India is that the meetup groups should not be dependent or in need for a WordCamp or large scale events as the only option for evangelism, marketing, networking and celebration.

Meetup groups should be able to host half-a-day or one day events that are attended by 50 odd people. Obviously, that number is for reference. Communities can be any size. Even 100 is a small number for some.

The events should be well funded so that they can be high quality with equipment for projection and even recording. Did you know that WordPress.TV has great meetup sessions, as well?

Think of them as mini WordCamps of 2-3 sessions with less preparation, headaches and time. Also, like WordCamps, participants should get swag, too. 🙂

Meetup groups should be able to promote and market the event locally to attract as many people as possible.

Meetup groups should be able to pay for good venues, if donated venues are unavailable or low quality. I’m sure with the right support and if local communities can pay for the meetup and refreshments, a lot of venues will open up across their towns and cities. You won’t be doing meetups in the same place all the time. That’ll obviously help the cause.

There should be some time allocated to networking and meetup groups should be able to provide refreshments, or a full meal. Everyone likes free lunch!

They will come for the event but stay back for the community.

Instead of directly grappling with one large event a year, meetup groups should be able to do such mini WordCamps multiple times in a year. You could do once a month, or even once a week.

Local meetup groups should get sponsors and such for these events. If the local group doesn’t have good speakers, they should be able to have speakers from nearby for such events or even over hangouts.

The costs, the time spent and the stress of such events will be way lesser than that of a WordCamp. This will make sure that more people can become organisers, even freelancers. Otherwise, the community gets very dependent on employees of large organisations who get the time and support for such activities.

Also, each organiser can lead each such smaller event. This way, all the organisers will gain the experience and the confidence to do a WordCamp. From experience, I can say that if you get the flow of such small events, 3-4 times, organising a WordCamp is not very difficult. The most difficult part that takes real time and effort is co-ordination and everyone being on the same page.

Because of this experience, such coordination will be carried over to the local WordCamp whenever it happens. If you could carry over the same model further, imagine the kind of coordination and smoothness you’ll get at WordCamp India.

I personally feel that none of the communities in India right now, not even Mumbai is running that smoothly. Every organiser that’s reading this knows that their communities have issues with communication, coordination and there aren’t enough people turning up for events. Almost every community has had its share of tiffs and such on more than one occasion. I know personally, how much stress organisers and their loved ones have to go through currently.

If we focus on getting our local communities right, build a larger pool of organisers that can gain a large amount of experience doing mini-WordCamps:

  1. It’ll be easier to delegate and distribute tasks.
  2. Smaller, less time consuming tasks for everybody.
  3. Less stress and less friction.
  4. More backup organisers and wranglers.
  5. More volunteers.
  6. Complete familiarity and confidence in logistics.

This will enable existing community to grow, new communities to start, new WordCamps and eventually a great WordCamp India.

If we do all that, whenever we do it, it won’t matter how many years, but then we can have an awesome WordCamp India.

That’s what I’d like everyone to focus on, but at the same time, I’m not going to prevent you from focusing on WordCamp India. In fact, it’d be awesome if we could work together on this little plan that I have.

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