Contributing to WordPress

I’ve used WordPress for a few years, mainly building websites for clients as a business. I’ve recently started to think of what ways I could contribute back. I’d be interested to hear stories about how other people got started contributing, whether just being helpful on forums, updating the codex, developing plugins/themes/etc or working on core.

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I got started contributing with WordPress documentation. You can find that at make.wordpress.org. There are new WordPress plugin and Theme handbooks that need some editing and could use some improvement. I would say that that’s a good way to start contributing.

Posting on the WP forum is good, there is also a pretty helpful community on IRC in #wordpress, I tend to hang out in there quite a bit. It’s nice to have more real-time support on Wordpress questions, or even to bounce ideas off other WP developers.

I haven’t contributed to core yet, every time I think about it I go on the Trac, try to find something to work on but can’t find something. I haven’t used that software enough to be comfortable in it. But if you are a developer, it’s always cool to release plugins and/or themes in the free repository.

Definitely lots you can do! Also see if there is a Wordcamp in your area. They always seem to have a day or two of talks, then the following day is “Contributor day” where you can help others, find out how you can help, etc.

I started using WordPress in 2004, ran into a problem right away, asked on the WordPress Support Forums, and starting answering whatever threads I could.

In 2009, I was laid off for stupid reasons (company wanted to keep the part-timer and give the full-timer the boot) and spent all of my job-searching days (a whole maddening year) from 10 AM to 5 PM in the WordPress Support Forums, just so I could feel like I was at work and not fall into laziness.

In 2010, I was lucky enough to be hired as a Happiness Engineer by Automattic, and here I am, still volunteering in the WordPress Support Forums. :smile:

I’ve contributed to the WordPress community in many ways and manners over the years.

I first started trying to help in the forums which actually forced me to learn more about the actual code. This lead me to start designing themes, which I have several hosted in the WordPress Theme repository. Theming lead me to developing plugins, which I have even more of those in the WordPress Plugin repository than themes.

Ultimately this lead me to WordPress Meetup groups … attending, co-organizing, and organizing them. Getting involved in WordCamps in much the same fashion as well; and this is not to mention being involved with the Theme Review Team.

Getting involved and contributing to the community is just part of the whole WordPress experience … and it really doesn’t matter how you do it just as long as you try.

Trac has come a longways this last year. Little stuff like “Good First Bugs” is helping to remove the barrier for first time contributors.

https://core.trac.wordpress.org/tickets/good-first-bugs

One easy way to contribute is to answer questions in the WordPress Support Forums. Someone suggested to me a good way to do that is to pick a plugin that you know well and just starting answering questions there.

So I picked Contact Form 7 (which I knew a bit about & why not pick one of the biggest on WordPress) and have been answering a few questions, just about every day, for a over year now. It seems to make a difference and I’ve learnt so much by doing it.

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I second the notion that the easiest way to contribute back to WordPress is answer a few support questions on the forum a few times a week. Each thread you help solve makes a difference, especially when you consider the volume of request that place receives.

By the way, if you are interested in contributing to WordPress via code by the likes of Trac, I wrote about my experience and how you don’t have to be afraid or intimidated. The changes to Trac have really helped encourage contributors.

I first used WordPress in 2006; I started to contribute to the community about 2 years ago by answering questions in the forum then I later developed and submitted a theme to the repository. I have a few ideas for plugins; I’ll submit one in about a month. Contributing to the core has always seemed daunting but off to read your post Jeff…would love to give back in that area too. Like the rest, I feel answering questions in the forum is a good place to start

started diving in to wordpress back in 09, and that time the support forums was in very different vibe than we have today. time to time I help out to answer questions in the support forums i do wish i can contribute more like in documentations and stuff but time is my problem. im planning to by the end of year to try to submit a theme in the repository hopefully it gets accepted. since i live in the part of the world where it is dominated by drupal, joomla and blogger , i am one of those people thats trying to change the mindsets of people that im interacting with especially for local businesses. but i find the support forums is the best place to start these days

Thanks guys, a great wealth of advice and stories. It looks like the wordpress forums at the best place to start for me. I’m going to carve out some time in my schedule and take a stab at it.

Something that hasn’t been mentioned about contributing on the forums and a tip I found invaluable starting out: scroll to the bottom of the forums list and click on the “No Replies” link. Starting with “fresh” topics might (and might not) help get your “support” legs underneath you.

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This is a great tip. I think the forum volunteers specifically look for those threads as well so answering them lightens the load.

I agree with the documentation idea. Actually, I think everyone should be contrinuting to the Codex because I’m sure the majority of us see errors or something missing most days and ignore it instead of fixing it.

Something that hasn’t been mentioned about contributing on the forums and a tip I found invaluable starting out: scroll to the bottom of the forums list and click on the “No Replies” link. Starting with “fresh” topics might (and might not) help get your “support” legs underneath you.

Always wondered about this: does a topic has to go unanswered for a specific time before it will be part of that “No Replies” list, and if so, how much? There are many questions that have no answer and have been posted in the past hour or so, but they don’t show up in the “No Replies” list. That one start at 2 hours and longer (.org) or 3 hours and longer (.com).

All topics over 2 hours old in the .org forums, excluding those left under plugin or theme sub-forums, wind up in the No Replies view. Please feel free to pitch in there. :slight_smile:

I usually first check the Installation and Miscellaneous sections, then the How-to and Troubleshooting one. I’ll give the No Replies section a first look from now on. Though, I bet there’s a reason why they are still unanswered. :wink:

There’s a limit to the number of “HI MY POST BUTN DOSENT WORK IN WIGET PLZ HELP” posts someone can address in a day.

@MacManX while we’re at it: is there a specific reason why the forum on WordPress.ORG gives you some time to edit your post once you’ve submitted it, but the forum on WordPress.COM doesn’t at all?

Just wanted to give my 2c:

  • Contributing is easier than you think. I made my first contribution on a Codex page (so no need to be a coder for that). My two “code” contributions were really simple (one was in fact was not even a change on the code itself but on a comment in the code that was pointing to the wrong file and the second one was a typo that was assigning the month number 8 to September). And one last bug I found was beyond my availability (and probably also my skills) so I just reported the bug. Just help the way you can.

  • Contributing is more about having the right mindset. I mean if you can book an afternoon a week to contribute to WordPress great but I think it´s more of when you see something that could be improved do it and not just ignore it. You may think your contribution is so small that it’s useless (one of the bugs I patched was introduced in v. 2.8 so if nobody had noticed it yet you can guess it was not a major issue) but it´s not. Every bit counts.

I’m not sure to be honest. WordPress.org and WordPress.com are both two entirely separate entities, operated differently by different people. Basically, one wants to allow editing and the other doesn’t. :smile: