How WooCommerce Builders Can Contribute to WordPress

With a project as vast and as celebrated as WordPress, it can be intimidating to join the community of folks who help make it what it is today. Consider this your one stop guide to getting involved! Scan over the headings and find 2-3 that appeal to get started. Remember that you don’t need to do it all and it’s critically important that when you do get involved you find a way to do so sustainably.

Establish Your Unique Way of Helping

“Go where you are rare” - paraphrasing a quote from Megan Smith, former CTO of the US

There are so many ways of contributing to an open source project like WordPress. Don’t have time to set up a testing environment and contribute a patch? No worries -- here’s a list of other ways you can help:

  • Run meetings and take notes for the various contributor meetings. Just join the respective slack channel for that team and offer to help.
  • Test releases early, whether for the Gutenberg plugin or during the Beta/Alpha period for WordPress.
  • Triage Trac and the GitHub repo, including summarizing issues with lengthy discussions.
  • Write developer and user docs.
  • Share designs to solve problems.
  • Report bugs and enhancements you’d like to see.
  • Get involved in running a meetup or WordCamp.
  • Create content/courses for Learn WordPress.
  • Speak at a meetup or WordCamp.

Eventually, you might soon find you can mentor someone new just like you were and pay forward all the help you got along the way!

Find Your Team and Your Local (or virtual) Community

Similar to how there are so many ways to help any one area of WordPress, there are also various teams you can focus your efforts towards when doing so. For example, you might take notes for the accessibility meeting or do triage for Gutenberg. You can check out all of the teams here at make.wordpress.org. When you select an individual team, you’ll also see in the header of their blog information about how to get involved. Here’s an example from Make Core.

make core

Outside of the virtual halls of WordPress, you can also find your local community to get connected with other link minded folks nearby.

Due to the pandemic, there’s also a plethora of online options that you can join.  Personally, I’ve loved nearly traveling the world from the comfort of my apartment thanks to an internet connection and the rise of more places going virtual. There are also some neat individual efforts to bring folks along including streaming how to contribute from Tonya Mork and hallway hangouts, where groups of contributors gather to talk about WordPress.

Curate Your Information

If you follow everything, you’re ultimately not able to truly follow anything! As a result, it’s recommended you spend some time finding spaces you want to be and then curating how you receive that information. Even spending 10-15 minutes doing this will pay dividends when it comes to finding opportunities to get involved in work that will really excite you.

At a high level, I’d recommend joining Make Slack and following, to start, 1-2 Make Blogs. In Make Slack, I’d try to narrow your focus to just a few channels to start as well and perhaps even add a reminder to loop back to make sure that what you’ve joined is indeed helping a few months down the line. Outside of that, you can follow various communities (like Do The Woo!), join other WordPress focused slack communities, follow core contributors on social media, etc.

Beyond that, here are some more resources to help you with this step:

Dig into Learn WordPress

Learn WordPress is a wonderful and growing resource of learning materials for all things WordPress. Spend some time searching through the courses and even recommend any you’d like to see! Bonus points if you find there might be a course you could serve as a subject matter expert for.

Help with “Good First Issues”

“Good First Issues” are a simple way of saying “start here”. They tend to be less complex bugs or enhancements to work on that don’t require deep knowledge of the codebase while also letting you explore when creating a solution. For developers keen to get involved more deeply in the project, this is a great place to start. Here are the links for Trac’s Good First Bugs and for GitHub’s Good First Issues.

If you want a steady stream of the latest good first bugs without needing to do any digging, you can follow this Twitter account.

Build Something and Improve the Path for Others

Sometimes the best way to know where you want to get involved is to try to create something and to discover the pain points along the way. If you’re running into blockers, tons of other people likely are too and it’s an excellent way to contribute back to the community. What documentation needs to be updated? What API needs more context? What bugs did you run into and can you report? Can you update and add more examples? For now, since blocks are increasingly becoming the future, check out the following resources that might be fun to explore:

As you’re finding your way, if you need a friendly face to cheer you on or answer questions, feel free to ping me. I’m @annezazu on WordPress.org slack and am excited to see you there.

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