WordCamp Seattle: Seeing my first snow of the year and living through the time change

There is a WordPress W with wings over Seattle shyline. Around the W are the words WordCamp Seattle 2017

For the first time since I was in Iceland I saw fresh snowfall. Unfortunately it was falling a lot and on the SEATAC airport so my flight got delayed a bit and we sat on the runway once we landed waiting the backlog to clear. Not too terrible of a flight all in all. Regardless of weather, I was super thrilled to come back to the home of Starbucks and Microsoft for WordCamp Seattle 2017, aka WCSEA

This was my second time to WordCamp Seattle and thus my second trip to the Washington State Convention Center. Also, I was just there 2 weeks prior for WooConf and had some pretty high expectations from that event for this community. Well friends, I am happy to report that I was not disappointed! From amazing sessions to fantastic lunch options to contributor track fun and excitement, this was not a WordCamp you wanted to miss. Let’s dig in.

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

As per usual with WordCamps, the fun kicked off the night before the event with the speakers and sponsors gathering together and sharing a drink and some food. We assembled at The Elephant & Castle . While this place scpecializes in hearty pub grub, I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of their baked balsamic glazed hummus. Tangy and sweet and creamy all at once. It was so great to see so many people there including some surprises like the amazing Carole Olinger who introduced me on stage back at WC Europe. I was also there with a few members of ym company and I had the divine pleasure of introducing people around. It feels good to make introductions and see people immediately hit it off.

Day 1

Like many conference centers, this place relies on the in house catering to provide conference coffee. Unlike most places, since we are in Seattle, bad coffee is a terrible sin and we got Seattle’s Best which is a far step above most bulk coffee. My colleagues had supplied me with some pretty neat options for breakfast, including some vegan donuts, and the day started out amazing.
Lunch at WCSEA takes an interesting approach that leverages it’s proximity to so many lunch places and I wich more camps would follow this approach. Each day of the conference you get a gift card for $10 to go to one of several local restaurants. $10 is enough for a filling small lunch from any of these places and if you wanted more to supplement it, no issues paying extra with cash or card. I chose Veggie Grill which is a chain I really wished was in SF, but also thankful it is not too close to my house or I would eat nothing else. No animal products allowed on their decadent and robust menu. I really wanted to take all the folks who were on the fence about the plant based food options here. The food is just better.

After Party

Again, as the year before and as many other camps are starting to opt for, the after party happened immediately following the last session on day one. We once again returned to Elephant & Castle for our “No Host” party. I go to a lot of events and I have only ever heard this term in Seattle, leading me oo believe it is a regional phrase. “No Host” means that you are on your own for drinks and food, the venue is just providing the space to use. Not a terrible way to go to be honest. It keeps bad behaviors in check because if you overdo it, then it is your own fault, not ever because you got one too many drink tickets.

It was a great time, but soon enough, some of us wanted to eat dinner so a small band broke off and had some pretty awesome asian fusion over at Wild Ginger. Their wine list is absurdly large, over 20,000 bottles and the staff is top notch. Can not recommend them enough


I was extra excited about WCKaroake this time around because it meant I got to go back to one of my favorite karaoke bars in the world, RockBox, where you can, according to their website “Rock Like A Salaryman.” This is my current favorite slogan for anything. There was a great showing from the camp and this might be second only to Chicago for largest turn out for a WCKaraoke this year. I am super happy to be a part of this community!

Day 2

More of the same from day one. I again had good coffee and once again returned to Veggie Grill to feast for lunch. There was some dessert things that happened but I am not sure of the details, all i know is I got handed vegan ice cream with peanut butter. It was incredible. Thanks to my teammate Tessa for looking out for me.

No pics of this ice cream exist, so here is a random tweet about vegan ice cream I found:


Opening Remarks:


WordPress is a Banquet
Andrea Middleton

It is not everyday I get to hear one of the leads of the whole WordPress Community give a talk. I was super excited as the community itself has become one of my passions over the last couple years. I love being a part of making WordPress even though I have never done a single pull request for code on the project. This was actually the crux of Andrea’s talk and I was super glad to hear this articulated so well. The talk revolved around three stories of people who contribute significantly to WordPress without writing code. No matter who you are or what you think you know, you know enough to contribute to the project. Don’t just sit there, go to make.wordpress.org right now and join the team!

Raw Notes:
Most people are surprised that this free software runnign 28% of the interenet is made by community
lot of people work on WP but no one works for WP
Goes over the teams
Looks like a lot of plates on a table
like a banquet
each of us bring something to create something bigger than ourselves
Not going to talk about the eating part – the using
talk about contributing and the recipes
and what some contributors have found works
One of the goals
I couldn’t do that fallacy
I can’t write code so I can’t contribute
3 stories of contributors with no code!
there is some secret people or unusual attributes required
She wants to show the source code of contributions
humans made of human stuff
1 – James Huff
2004 – Lost and House re new, flip phones, ipods are new
James working at a feed store
macmanx news site
wanted blogs, movable types
James didn’t like it, minor things got on his nerves
WP 1.2
hit bug
answered a few questions on install
he liked helping people
he learned in the process
I learned most of what I know today by researching answers for questions I thought were really cool
User: Can I display only one category on my front page?
Me: Wow, that sounds cool! Let’s find out!
Became a moderator when unemployed
went to work for WP.com
happiness engineer
49,000 replies on the support forums!
start by focusing on what you know, not what you don’t know.
You know something that someone does not know of the forums, even if you just installed WP
Willingness to help others
Dedication to the project over your own needs
Petya Raykovska
Superbad, iPhone and FB premiered
She was marketing manager for publishers
set up a blog
WP let her do things that until then took a dev to do
in 2011 started a web agency
translated stuff into Bulgarian
she learned a lot about WordPress
she got in deep in a way she
Eventually met the head of translations at WCEU
Editing the Codex
just gave her a page to edit, she did, and she realized at that table of international people
part of something huge that mattered
She ended up running the team
in 2015 polyglots went to translating 30,000 projects
still needed more people
Stayed for the people
they came up with WP Global translation day
the last one was the biggest and she didn’t have a direct hand, she passed it on
it will be bigger than you
Curiosity, Respect and patience a
Bridget Willard
in 2007
Was working at the office manager for contractor firm
WP.com blog personally
in 2008 economy crash – crushed construction market
Started a blog for company and didn’t tell her boss
she ran it on her own
they let her
no tech background, she had a relentless curiosity
networking for a lot of social media
brought in work
she had 20K followers, which is crazy good for a construction company
First WordCamp in 2013
Side note – Keeping the price low for WC helps keep it accessible and growing
Bridget kept building and learning and blogging about her user experiences
by end of 2015 she got a job at a plugin
she found her tribe
I got a shout out ๐Ÿ™‚
learning and listening
Intellectually honesty
start small and move forward
that is only 3 of the ‘dishes’ in our banquet
You are welcome to join us
you are invited
and you can definitely bring something to the table

Accelerating Custom Development with Dynamic Scaffolding and WP-CLI
Ben Byrne

There is no secret that I am in love with the WP-CLI. It is a real time saver for sure, but the real magic of the tool is that you can extend it and make it do anything you want. It is rare however to hear someone make that as an articulate argument or real world example of anyone doing this. Ben hits the ball clear out of the park with this talk on both of those fronts. His team has not only figured out how to make the most out of what WP-CLI offers out of the box, but they have also bent it to their own needs and made it do some pretty neat tricks. I did my best to follow along here and make sense of my raw notes, but you should really find his slides to see the awesome code examples.

Raw Notes:
real name of talk:
“Come hear about this neat thing we built”
building good stuff fast is the issue at hand
Want to keep affordable, non-profit
custom sites, can take a lot of time and effort
A lot of people immediately got o premium themes
overblown for some use cases
hard to maintain sometimes, bugs and troubleshooting
sometimes very hard to customize
Starter themes
+ component libraries are another approach,
preferred way for a lot of people
but at Cornershop
lot of institutional knowledge
hard to maintain library if you are doing a lot
plus all the copy and pasting
Dynamic scaffolding
for their starter theme
fancy way of copying things and configuring them as they set them
warning: your milage may vary, not a best practices talk
just ideas around efficient workflows they have experienced
First goal is to speed development
also easy for new folks to learn
theme should have everything it needs and NOTHING IT DOES NOT – clean code
Avoid reinventing the wheel
avoid tedious, repetitive work (e.g. copy/past)
WP-CLI is the cornerstone of the their work
Broad support and awareness
already offers scaffolding
supports Mustache templating
Easy documentation! – no separate help docs, all in tool
WP-CLI scaffold child theme
taxonomy – outputs you have to STOUD
theme-tests – build s a bunch of files
They extended it
built Produce (it could be a package as well)
It extends wp-cli with a new command and subcommands
then run, command inject code into our starter theme, Crate
Basic flow
Make sure starter theme is present
install & Activate Produce plugin
Run WP-CLI commands

customize the admin login
manually it is cumbersome
Quick command lines to automate adding new logo and changing background!
other subcommands
wp produce site-options (bundle of fields they commonly mod)
term-fields – acf fields builder
articles gives you a new post type
10 commands now and still growing
lot of ideas in queue
architecture –
base class with methods, variables and helpers to facilitate building commands
subdirectories for a lot fo things
articles files commands/articles
mustache templates
automatic support for WP-CLI is part of why they like it
template with some PHP and CSS
4 variables injected
mustache is name of curly brackets for simple templates
commands are straightforward to extend and build
__invoke is what gets triggered when you type a command
you can skip things that are not needed when you enqueue things
Don’t touch non-generated fields!
makes it way easier to customize bu standardizing what they can touch

Stronger Than Fear: Mental Health in the Developer Community
Edward Finkler
OS Mental Illness

Ed is one of the bravest persons I have ever met. He is brave because he is standing up and saying things that absolutely need to be said. Mental health is just as critical as any other kind of health, in some ways even more so. It is easy to see someone with a broken arm or other obvious injury and give compassion and sympathy. But mental health issues have a terrible stigma imposed by our fear and ignorance as a society which prevent us from even wanting to acknowledge this is a real problem. Ed shared his personal experiences, ones I am all too familiar with and never really talk about because I too have a fear of being stigmatized. It is time we openly talk about mental health and realize we all need some help and know people that are in need of some support and help. If anyone out there reading this wants to talk, let me know. I am always willing to be there to listen and support you if you feel you need someone to talk with about anything mental health related. Be brave.

Raw Notes:
this talk if for the people who work with tech
How many people wear glasses?
Are you comfortable talking to your co-workers about glasses?
How about diving? Talking about it?
Mental health? A larger number than he thought would
talk about your own mental health
difference between talking about mental and physical health
Generalized anxiety disorder – flight or fight is extreme in non extreme situation
like a lion going to eat you is OK to have reaction
but how about buying lunch?
Walking into a new bar for the first time
ADHD – low frustration threshold – ten minute “snit fit” when things go poorly
good at constructing false situations in his mind,
Therapy helps – talks about how and why he does the things he does
some of this is advantageous to his job
security issues, empathizing with users
able to make disparate connections faster
it can take everything from you though
hospitalized and had to do outpatient therapy
forced him to quit a job
had o step away from stuff that is normal for him
Feeling alone is a real part of it
especially in a crowd
depression kicks in
afraid of people getting tired of him and leaving
lot of people feel that way as well
that is what we are fighting
WHO study – burden of mental disorders is largest in North America across all catogies
People do not feel they can talk to their peers or employers about mental health
most people think it would affect their careers
there is some evidence that there is more mental health issues with tech professionals
Sick workers don’t work
it benefits the org to have better employees
mental wellness = better employees
people want to work with people who respect them fully
1. Get the OSMI handbooks for free
ebooks on getting your workplace improved
2. Speak openly about Mental Health subjects
you have a lot of influence o the community around you
you would be surprised how many people open up if you open us first
3. Tell people that they matter
we are social creatures and need affirmation
those are tings you can do
we are talking about our colleagues and friends
suffer in silence
some disappear
and we are left to wonder and regret and try to understand
Fear is the only thing that allows this
we have to choose
give in to fear and be quiet, it is easier
pretend it does not happen
meet inaction with action
meet confusion with understanding
meet indifference with compassion
Yes, we need you, lot to do, go check out the

Women in WordPress Panel
Miriam Goldman
Francesca Marano
Rachel Cherry
Bridget Willard
Tessa Kriesel

I have a ton of respect for anyone that is ever in front of an audience on a panel who is willing to share their experiences. The sheer talent of this group of individuals made this an awesome one. It is almost like they planned an ‘Awesome people in WordPress’ panel and it just happened to be all women. I wish we lived in a world where that would happen by happenstance, but I am very glad that we made sure in fact it did happen this time by planning an all women panel. I showed up and I listened and I took a lot of notes and walked away with some awesome stories to share next time I encounter anyone feeling like they are limited in what they can do because of their gender. I am super grateful to this panel for giving their time.
I did my best to capture what was said and represent exactly what I heard verbatim here without commentary.

Raw Notes:
Miriam intro karate and ballroom dance
Tessa is 10 years a dev, works at Pantheon
Bridget Marketing Freelancer, WPBlab womenwhoWP, apple music CD of her music
Francesca from Italy, siteground manager, building sites since 1999, freelancer 6 years, meetup organizer, global WP community team
Rachel works Disney, build shopdisney, was in an ad campaign for slack, in NYT!
– What was a major challenge and how you overcome it
Mariam: job people didn’t take her serious because she is small and look a newbie in some ways
persevered and now people take her more serious
Tessa: Her attitude is sassy and outspoken, been an issue with
Bridget: Being taken seriously as a marketer, marketing is as important as code, WP does value words!
she went to meetups and talks and taught herself a lot and she is taken more seriously now, friends spoke dev
Rachel: People assume she is a designer or marketer only, she is a dev though, not taking seriously, she had a boss who was intimidated by her
she as trying to make the world better and he made it harder on her, only wanted his opinion validated, she kept on keeping on and ultimately she left on her own terms to go to a dream job
F: Imposter syndrome, very real
first job was picking oranges at age 20
she became freelancer because she didn’t
Siteground tell her she had a impressive resume
she is surprised and delighted, felt good
– What is greatest achievement?
M: Doing so many talks and conferences
T: teaching herself code and site building in a super small town
B: year of transitions, biggest achievement is believing she is worth being valued and worth investing in herself this is the year she is not going to be afraid anymore, that is awesome, we are awesome
Stop apologizing for being awesome
F: born in the herring capitol of Romania, teaching herself English and bettering her life is greatest
R: didn’t;t ever thing she could do this for a living, wanted to be a band director, no access to real education, born in Alabama, she taught herself along the way, worked way up to where she is now, Higher education work, stuff she does at Disney, sometimes she is the only woman int he room, recognizing that she deserves to be there. Feels good to not feel out of place, safety is the main reason teams get better
– how to get started as a woman in WP
All: Just do it!
R: Diversity talk – person speaking is not always expert, just person who said yes
F: sometimes you don’t even need to say yes, just tweeted and got on
R: that’s how we got this organized
Q&A (I had to go get on booth duty ๐Ÿ™ )

What WordPress is Doing to Keep Your Site Safe
Aaron Campbell

Once again I got to see a new talk from the awesome Aaron Campbell and hear about the deep dark secrets of the security team. This is a special subgroup of the Core team that does not operate as openly as the rest of the Core group and with good reason. They are the team concerned with all the terrible stuff black hats are trying to do against WordPress installs and trying to stay one step ahead. Next time you hear someone say “WordPress is insecure” I would recommend citing this talk. WP does more for its users’ security than a lot of other projects and thanks to their backwards compatibility commitment, every WP user can get the latest and greatest patches ASAP after release, ahead of the black hats targeting their site for those recently surfaced vulnerabilities.

Raw Notes:
Talks about what you have to do
this talk is about that WP is doing for the user
Goal is not really site secure, it is keep users secure
makes what they are doing more difficult than just the site
security team
50 volunteers
most have day jobs around security
Code review is def part of it
constantly changing
bad actors are always coming up with new ways to break things
bug bounty program https://hackerone.com/WordPress
a secure, safe way to surface and fix issues
some real successes with it already
increased number of reported issues
reporters feel appreciated
paid out about $12K in bounties
average bounty $350
better tools HackerOne – used to be an email chain
make sure it is fixed right the first time thanks to testing
there has been some struggles too
only about 16% of reports are valid
information overload, 5 out of 6 are invalid
high touch – lot more time per ticket
time is the limiting factor they struggle with the most
some things we do better than other projects
plugin devs
can help
able to help protect WP sites before the actors ever hit the site itself
want to protect millions of sites thanks to WAFs and Hosts
4.7.2 – millions sites protected before there was even an issue
does not want it to be a fair race, lets get a head start on security
they are pretty good at that
Automatic updates are fast
tens of thousands of updates a minute
If you are turning off auto updates OK if you got 24/7 staff working with host, that is reasonable
But if you don’t have staff and turned them off from fear o site breaking, that is bad
99.9% of new updates success
.001% failure rate
rest are retries
you are far more likely because you were late on updating to get hacked than have a broken site
and with that Q&A

Picture Perfect: Getting Beautiful Images Without Violating the Law
Timeca Briggs
Zainab Hussain
Christine Winckler
Lisa Stewart

I was very interested in this talk mainly because I borrow a lot of images for my talks. Mostly my use falls under Fair Use since I am using them for scholarly reasons and not commercially. However, this talk made me very aware of some of the things I have been overlooking when considering the implications of doing image searches for gifs and such. For instance, I have been taking CC (Creative Commons) licensing for granted if I saw it CC licensed at all. Turns out you should always do a reverse image search to see if it is really CC licensed or if someone just re-uploaded with a new license on it. This is done all the time and not legit at all. You will be liable if it come up for litigation! Be careful out there and maybe just make your own pics to be sure you own the rights.

Raw Notes:
Copyright vs copywrong
Copyright is the legal right
exclusive, yo have the right to use and distribute the image
exclusive but not absolute
they do expire, then go to public domain
cr not to ideas just the specific written down thing
copyright is not universal, it is territorial
Copywrite is automatic without registering
but registering makes it way easier to prove you have the rights
also registered lets you get damages above normal damages
How to find the images
think about what you really need, too tall/too short, what do you need it for and costs
Think about compelling composition
this can subjective, go back to your style guides
make sure it addresses an emotional needs
need to know their needs and how you solve them, images reinforce that messaging
How do I find free images
First up is Google image search, easy to see these
flickr is actually really good as well
another great source is wikimeida – lot of public domain that require no attribution
as well as paper trail on how it was used in the past
unsplash has over 500,000 shared images you can freely use for a variety of reasons
lots of options these days
Use trusted sources because they will have terms that explain licensing in one page
google does a good job of this, but has disclaimer, not 100% but it helps show your good faith efforts which protects you somewhat
Watch out for other people re-uploading an image they don’t own under creative commons license
try reverse image search to see obvious violations
Make sure you are regularly reviewing your use and the terms
sometimes they change but more importantly sometimes you change
some licenses are non-profit specific for example
some specific verticals have certain rules
Licensing for images are NOT transferable
make sure you are not buying on their behalf
if they don’t use it then
tips for non-photographers to take their own photos
Assessment. Know what you need
want to be super organized
orientation, resolution, number needed, budget, etc
blogpost have to have an attractive image that has something to do with content
matching images
sometimes easier to just take own pics
Lighting is super important
daytime if you can
know your subject!

My Session

“Discovery, Discovery, Discovery, Discovery! The Most Important Part of the Project”

I was super happy to deliver this talk only for the second time. The first time was back at Stanford in the Spring. I have developed a similar talk around this subject as well, but with a Motorhead theme. The real highlights for me on this talk are hearing the Q&A feedback and suggestions. As Rachel Cherry said in the Women in Tech Panel, it is not always the be all expert up on stage, it those of us that raised our hands and volunteered to contribute. I firmly believe that the real experts are in the room, collectively knowing more than I could possibly store in my limited brain. The other part was, since this was loosely based on Ballmer’s “Developers” speech I got to close the thing out by having everyone chant “Discovery, Discovery, Discovery, Discovery!” Truly one of my crowning achievements this year!

Contributor Day

There was not a dedicated contributor day at this camp, it was instead a dedicated track on day 2. This has the plus side that there is a lot of foot traffic that would not be there otherwise, but it also means that you have to choose between contributing and seeing sessions. This is a hard choice. Since Andrea had called me out as one of the leads for the Marketing team I decided I better roll up my sleeves and help out. Very glad I did, helping people get started and having some interesting discussions with both the Meta and the Core teams. So many good ideas were born that day and I can not wait to discuss them more deeply with the rest of the team formally at WordCamp US contributor day!
If you are reading this and want to contribute to WP, hit me up, I am more than happy to guide you towards the right path if I can. So happy to be a part of this team and can not wait for you to join in to also experience the feelings of awesomeness that come with contributing.

Wrapping up

I learned a lot this camp even though I missed all the lightning talks to go be part of the contributor day. That is a lesson unto itself that I struggle with, FOMO: fear of missing out. I realize intellectually I can’t do everything and am going to have to make some trade offs. In my head though I feel like I am missing all the best things by doing the other amazing things. This camp actually did a good deal to help me settle down and just be able to focus. This is mainly due to my amazingly talented teammates from Pantheon who held theo booth down and kept the steady flow of folks informed on what we are all about.

I really dig Seattle. From the fact that I never see see the sun, to the awesome coffee options, all the way down to Pike’s Market and the many goodies that are for sale there, this town has a lot going on. Making it even better is a pretty amazing and wonderful WordPress community that puts on a pretty good camp. I am super happy to get to visit and hope to visit again well before WordCamp Seattle 2018!

4 thoughts on “WordCamp Seattle: Seeing my first snow of the year and living through the time change”

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences Dwayne.

    It looks like your session choices (and food choices) were different than mine. That’s the great thing about having four presentations (including the Contributor Track) to choose from every hour.

  2. Dwayne – thanks for this great post and all your enthusiasm. As one of the lead organizers (and a vegan) I’m especially pleased to hear all your comments. Hope you’ll be back next year!

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