If you are a WordPress fanboy or simply want to learn more about the software that powers nearly one-half of the world’s websites, then attending WordCamp is a good place to start. The event is online this year and you can attend for free.
To celebrate this wonderful event, I have shared my thoughts on maximizing your online experience, and you can read the article here.
Traditionally, when I think of volunteering, two general themes come to mind. First, I think about opportunities to physically assist someone or some organization, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter, cleaning up a highway, or staffing an event at your child’s school. Second, I think about local opportunities, such as what groups nearby need my help. These two themes are intertwined, of course. Because, when we think about volunteering, we typically think about volunteering locally through a nonprofit, religious organization, or otherwise.
These are all very noble endeavors. There is no doubt in my mind that these organizations need help.
But sometimes we cannot help. Be it because we, ourselves, are limited in some way that precludes us from helping. Perhaps we have a physical, mental, or economic challenge we are dealing with that distracts or even prevents us from lending a hand. Maybe volunteering in person is just not the right fit for who we are as an individual, or our skillset.
Some people have a lot of money and very little time, so they choose to write “checks” to organizations as a show of support. That’s okay too.
I’m here to say that all of this is perfectly okay.
Philanthropy is not about a benchmark – you give what you can – and it doesn’t matter if you cannot give a lot compared to your neighbor.
But, there’s another way to give, and it’s called digital philanthropy. Instead of volunteering on your feet on the side of the highway or along the sandy shores of beach doing cleanup, you can contribute to something that is also impactful – open source software.
Now you might be thinking that contributing to software is not volunteering and should not be equated to volunteering at a hospital visiting sick children. I’m not here to opine on what is equivalent to what. Draw your own conclusions, if you must and I will not judge you. But open source software, like WordPress, can empower individuals through the freedom and democracy of publishing. That’s a fairly noble cause (I have bias, of course, because that’s where I contribute some of my time.)
The foundation of open source software is the idea that it “belongs to the community” and that the power of community produces something better (when compared to a closed and proprietary system). By drawing on a global community of volunteers to create a software product, it benefits from broader perspectives and skillsets.
If you want to learn more about what open source software is and why it is so important, here are some great introductions, both using Legos (I have two kids who are into Legos, so this is very relevant to me right now.) If Legos are not your thing, go to YouTube and type “open source software” and you’ll find more than a dozen great primers on open source software.
And finally, here’s a verbatim excerpt from my employer, Automattic, that sponsors my time spent contributing to the WordPress open source project and community:
We believe in democratizing publishing and the freedoms that come with open source. Supporting this idea is a large community of people collaborating on and contributing to this project. The WordPress community is welcoming and inclusive. Our contributors’ passion drives the success of WordPress which, in turn, helps you reach your goals.
But now to my actual point (sorry it took so long to get there – but I wanted to catch you up.) Anyone can contribute to open source software, especially WordPress. You do not need to be a software developer! You can be a designer, a user experience expert, an accessibility specialist, a writer, a site creator, a publisher, or a translator. Certainly I’m missing something here, but you get the idea – you don’t need to be a programmer and you don’t need to know programming languages. If you do, good for you! If not, you can still volunteer your time in other ways.
For example, in the WordPress project, we power more than 40-percent of the world’s websites (as of 2021). That’s a lot of websites. To get there, WordPress has been translated into more than 70 languages (90% or more) and another 40+ languages have been completed at least 50-percent or more. Many of the contributors that work on translating WordPress are not programmers, they just happen to know more than one language (usually English plus another language).
So, if you want to become part of one of the largest open source software projects in history, even if you do not have programming skills, you can.
And, if you happen to speak more than one language, there’s a great opportunity awaiting you with WordPress. If you are interested in learning more, check out WordPress.org or send me a message. If you would like to help translate WordPress, there’s a call for contributors right now.
As the head of marketing for a large organization, I have to edit a lot of copy. Press releases, collateral, web pages, blog posts, print ads, emails and so on… In fact, most marketers have to write copy as part of their role. But most marketers are pretty bad at it. I previously discussed Mark Twain’s view on brevity and why your marketing copy probably stinks.
However, just yesterday, a small “pocket reference guide” made it’s why to my inbox for review. The guide, meant to be a quick reference tool for students to identify who to contact in each department, included descriptions of departments and some FAQs. Fairly benign content, in my opinion. There were about four pages of copy. And it was a quick and easy edit.
I found that the copy was a collection of small paragraphs most likely written by multiple individuals, so it took a little finesse to achieve a unified tone and style throughout the piece. What amazed me the most was that nearly every passage used exclamation points.
Over the course of four pages, I found 23 —- TWENTY THREE —- exclamation points.
Needless to say, by the time I completed my edits, we were down to two – one in the title and one in the initial welcome section.
Then it occurred to me, no one knows how to use an exclamation point. Not marketers for sure, but also few people in academics (save for your English major).
An eloquent marketer should be proficient at devising creative ways for emphasizing importance and excitement without adding a superfluous amount of exclamation points. Exclamation points are overused and make copy sound juvenile or informal. So unless that is your goal, please do without, except in rare cases where you are genuinely convening something that is extremely exciting.
As a frequent speaker on social media, marketing and blogging (and a blogger myself), one question I come across on a recurring basis is when someone should “give up” their blog and just be done with it. You’ve probably come across a blog like this, if not your own, in the past several months. Basically, the way it works is that a blogger starts out with grandiose ideas of writing daily about this-and-that, tweeting out their posts, sharing content on LinkedIn, and creating lively discussions that lead to dozens of comments and follow up posts… In reality, what really happens is you write a few posts for the first month or two, maybe add in a couple shares, that dwindles to a post a month, and then after a year blogging it seems like just another item on your ever-growing to-do list that is put off indefinitely. Months go by and the best you can wrangle up is a retweet of an interesting news story you saw on Yahoo.com.
So what do you do? And, how do you know when it’s time to throw in the towel versus “keep on trucking”?
I was just doing some work at explaining word clouds (or tag clouds) and have been looking at some tools that create them automatically from your website. Here are some amazing tag clouds generated from my blog using various tools:
Ever wonder how to open your blog post to ensure the post gets read? Look no further… Darren Rowse at ProBlogger penned an outstanding post entitled,
“10 Tips for Opening Your Next Blog Post“. It is a must read for all content creators out there.