When I attended WordCamp Edinburgh in 2012 there was only one WordCamp a year in the UK. There was a central WPUK group who organised the bidding process and then coordinated the organisation of the event.
I was skeptical when it was decided that core organisers were to break away from the main WPUK group to form events throughout the year; I thought that it might spread the UK’s WordPress community a bit thin. Without the focus on a main event of the year, how would people know which ones to attend in order to make sure they go to the best one?
Also, would it put too much strain on speakers if they wanted to speak at multiple WordCamps? It would mean they would have to come up with more talks and more slides, more often.
Sponsors too. Whilst there are some excellent sponsors in the UK, their gratitude can only reach so far.
WordCamp London was the first to ‘break out’ last year and I attended the inaugural WordCamp Sheffield in April. It did feel a little bit thin on the ground compared to the WPUK organised ones, but overall it was a fantastic event. I’ll be attending WordCamp Manchester at the end of June of which I have high hopes for too.
Having a local event like this means that people who are on the fence about attending, but live closer to the event, are more likely to attend. If you’re a casual WordPress user/developer and you’re not sure if you want to go to a WordCamp and it’s 6 hours travel away you might decide to give it a miss; so local events gives greater access to potential attendees. The flip side to this is that people might just attend their local event and not attend other WordCamps further afield.
The strength of a WordCamp is the eclectic mix of attendees and there’s a danger this might be diluted somewhat with only local attendees at the events. For example, I won’t be attending the centrally organised WordCamp Bournemouth this year, whereas I would have in previous years – instead opting for Sheffield, Manchester & possibly London which are more local and certainly easier to travel to.
Luckily for someone who craves that eclectic mix, there can’t be a better event that brings together a wider group of people than WordCamp Europe. This year it’s in Sofia, Bulgaria and if last year’s in Leiden, Netherlands is anything to go by, it’s going to be great.
So, are we in a better position that a year ago? For sure – we have more WordCamps, more time to talk WordPress and an ever expanding community – I just hope people will travel far and wide to attend WordCamps that are a little further away than their local ones.
And for people who want even more WordPress – you should attend and contribute to your local WordPress groups which can be a catalyst for having a WordCamp in your city.