WordPress is a free and open-source software that relies on thousands of contributors volunteering their time to improve the project and push new updates. Without the help of these contributors, WordPress would simply not be the software it is today.
Any time you receive a notification that an update is available, that’s thanks to the developers around the world that investigated bugs, squashed them, and tightened up the latest version. The volunteer team behind WordPress makes sure that projects develop as rapidly as they do into wonderful solutions that benefit everyone.
But, volunteering for these projects isn’t always easy. Though developers always have roadmaps, regular users often encounter numerous problems while using them. For this reason, contributing to open-source projects is an unusual but fascinating situation where everyone wins: users solve the issues they come across and, in turn, for everyone else—while sharpening their skills along the way.
For each line of code we add, we refine our hard skills in the specific technical fields we’ve been targeting. Because of the friendly, generous nature of the community, more experienced users are eager to share their expertise and help others improve their talents.
But writing code isn’t the only way you can contribute to WordPress. It’s made up of 17 different teams, many of which require other skills! Let’s take a look at what being a contributor involves, how you can take part, and what it means to be sponsored for your participation.
The responsibilities of volunteer contributors
One of the great things about contributing is that as our knowledge grows our occasional contributions evolve into more continuous and steady-paced work.
Seeing your own skills develop is highly satisfying and you can quickly start answering newcomers’ questions with ease, funnily enough, they’re usually the same questions we had ourselves when we first started.
What’s even more fulfilling is that you end up mentoring other users, getting the opportunity to share what we’ve learned, and even teaming up with other volunteers to collaborate on projects that started out as opportunities and quickly became necessities for the WordPress ecosystem.
Even though the work we do is voluntary, we’re still all working towards a very specific set of deadlines and are of course, expected to complete the work on time.
It’s not unusual to find yourself juggling multiple tasks and trying to find a balance between voluntary work, and mentoring and supervising other volunteers in your spare time.
One example is that people often have strong opinions about projects that need an instant fix. This is why the community often reminds users of its voluntary nature; it runs on the free time and selflessness of volunteers.
As a voluntary translation editor myself, it’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of pending translation work that needs to be done and I’ve found myself dedicating more time than what was healthy to maintain a proper work-life balance.
When Weglot invited me to participate in the Five for the Future program, I felt deeply honored by the recognition.
Five for the Future, launched in 2014, is a program that encourages the WordPress community to contribute to the platform’s growth by allocating 5% of their resources to its development. It’s designed to keep the ecosystem dynamic, thriving, and always evolving. Contributors get to spot burgeoning talent, help shape WordPress’s growth, and make their mark in the future of the open web.
As more time passed by, it became clear that there were even bigger advantages to the program: though I took on more responsibilities to complete sponsored work, I found the work really fulfilling and could see the impact of my contributions. In turn, I learned to find a more balanced, disciplined, and harmonious way of working that allowed me to complete my contributor tasks but ensured I wasn’t overwhelmed.
Now that I have the responsibility to manage my time in ways that were both beneficial to me and my work, I could see more easily if I was overexerting myself, which easily happens when committed to other obligations like family, other work, and health.
Last but not the least, being sponsored gives me a great excuse to turn what I love—contributing to the community—into a commitment. This wouldn’t have been possible without the sponsorship.
Freedom and sustainability
As part of the Polyglot team and as a translation editor for the Portuguese WordPress Community, Weglot specifically asked me to continue doing the great work I was already involved in.
It was an empowering request, loaded with kindness and recognition for the contributions I’ve made. And it gave me the blessing to carry on doing what I loved.
This engagement of Weglot and other companies in 5fF is a cornerstone in the sustainability and health of the community of contributors, which powers the open-source WordPress ecosystem.
If you’re interested in becoming a WordPress contributor, I highly recommend you look into what area you could help with here.