Giving Back To WordPress. What’s In It For Me?
Giving back to WordPress is something that’s widely encouraged.
Matt Mullenweg famously suggested that companies making money from WordPress should give 5% of each employee’s time back.
But why? What’s in it for me?
The answer to this question is very wide ranging. There’s one benefit in particular I want to talk about, but before I get to that let’s list some of the others.
- If you make your living with WordPress then you’re building a better product.
- You’ll meet and become friends with some really great people.
- You’ll learn some great things.
Those are really great things, but what I want to talk about in this post is that giving back to WordPress can get you a better job and thereby more money.
Allow me to explain. No, it is too much, let me sum up.
The other day a friend of mine applied for a job at two different places in the same day. Within an hour or so she’d heard back from both of them, very interested in talking to her. She confided in me:
“Honestly, I’m pretty sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m on the WordPress accessibility team”.
She’s certainly not the first person to have a career nudge from giving back to WordPress. Mika Epstein’s story is quite well known. She worked hard in the WordPress forums and helped thousands of people. When it came time for a new job it gave her a huge advantage:
“Helping in the support forums upped my visibility in the WordPress community, which certainly helped me get the job I wanted. But it also exposed me to myriad different ways people use WordPress, giving me a deeper understanding of users and their problems. Perhaps more importantly, it also let me see more code which helped me become a better developer. Now, regardless of if I’m working in WordPress or not, I have a solid basis for digging into user problems and debugging software I’ve never seen before.”
How does this work?
Why does giving back to WordPress help you? Many reasons, here are a few
- It functions much like an internship, but you work for ALL the companies. You learn quality things and the people around you get a good feel for what you know, how you work, and your personality.
- You meet people who hire, or people who KNOW people who hire. If you keep at it long enough you’ll meet people from a wide variety of companies, and quite possibly become good friends with them.
- You’ll learn how the community works. You’ll get a feel for what to say, and when, and to whom.
So, give to WordPress and I get a job?
I’m not going to promise you a job if you give back to WordPress. This next thing is very important.
Contributing to WordPress reveals to the community who you are. If you are honest, hard working, knowledgeable and work well with other people, contributing to WordPress will highlight all of that, and shine a big spotlight on you for employers to see.
But it works both ways.
If you’re a jerk, or don’t know what you’re doing, or worst of all ONLY contributing to WordPress so you can get a job, everyone will see that too.
All that to say, contributing to WordPress reveals what you already are, and can often make it more so. So be awesome, be yourself, and contribute to WordPress. The worst that could happen is that you’ll learn great things and make some great friends.
It also just might change your career.
Are you ready to contribute? There are many, many ways to give back to WordPress. The Make WordPress site goes into great detail about things anyone can do, from coding to training to translation and more.
There is one thing in here that on one has really articulated before: that the community will have a chance to see you as you really are.
I can remember many people coming into the community announcing they were there to help, but they spammed folks, and did some very nasty things to some people they were jealous of. This was the true nature of who they were.
We also see people who help a lot, but are very gruff or even rude, and it can put people off.
The WordPress community has been around for a while now, and it will have quite a few more years to go. It is like a very large, loosely-tied family. With that comes all the high points and low points, affiliations and dysfunctionality. But unlike other web developmental communities, the WordPress community as a whole is pretty clear that jerks aren;t allowed or tolerated.
To be positive, there are SO many people that give back to WordPress that fly under the radar, and aren’t on any “100 people to follow” lists. These people are the backbone of the WordPress community, and the reason the platform has been as successful as it has been. You have done an excellent job in shining more light on these people through the HeroPress project, and we are all blessed by that.
It is difficult for communities that are this large to still be guided by kindness and generosity, but for some reason, WordPress still manages to stay excellent. Your advice is golden, give freely in the shadows and you will eventually be rewarded in the light.
Have a great one, Topher. 🙂
What a great comment, thanks John!
Hey John, I just saw this comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to give feedback. Very well said.