Welcome to the fourth article in the series about European WordPress communities. In the first article, we talked with community members from Poland, Lithuania, and Estonia. Then we presented the communities from Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia and shortly after the communities from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Hungary. We are continuing our series today to present you the communities from the central Europe.With every article we write, we are overwhelmed by the amazing enthusiasm and passion these and others community members have. Today, you will get to know WordPress communities from Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland.
Austria – WordPress on the blue Danube
Austria, the host of this year’s WordCamp Europe, is a country with an active WordPress community. Well known for its cultural contribution to the world–composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Johann Strauss were Austrians–Austria is a country worth visiting. Its capital, Vienna, is a home to the world’s first Zoo, Tiergarten Schönbrunn, opened back in 1752. Vienna also welcomes people from all over the world that now call it home.
This vivid community organizes WordCamp Vienna and today we’re talking with Paolo Belcastro, one of the organizers. Paolo is Italian and a true modern nomad. After living in Italy, France and Switzerland, he currently resides in Vienna where he works for Automattic as Spectrum Division Lead, the part of the company focusing on selling premium upgrades to WordPress.com users.
The Viennese community started in November of 2012 and has since grown to around 600 people. Meetups are organized the first Wednesday of each month and somewhere between 20 to 50 people show up each time.
It all started when I moved to Vienna and looked for a WordPress meetup. There wasn’t one, so I decided to create it with a few friends. We cover broad topics, from beginner initiation, to design, development, marketing, SEO, business…
The biggest problem for Paolo is time and how to keep the community alive between events. Talks are prepared and sessions organized, but the organizers lack time to animate the community even more. Besides Vienna, there are people in Graz and Linz that organize similar events, though the ties between these more local communities are not that strong. But…
We have very good contacts with the Slovak community, as Bratislava is only 70km from Vienna. We also entertain very good relationships with the Drupal community.
Get in touch with the WordPress community in Austria
- Fellow organizers: Luca Sartoni, Alex Kirk, Eva Neumeier, Letizia Barbi, Thomas Kräftner
- WordPress Vienna
- Vienna WordPress Meetup
- WordCamp Vienna
- Austrian (Viennese) WordPress community on Facebook + Austrian (Viennese) WordPress community on Twitter
Slovakia – community in the country of castles
Only 70 kilometers from Vienna is Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia and home to some of the most active Slovak community members. Slovakia, formerly part of Czechoslovakia ( a country that ceased to exist in 1992), is known for its dramatic natural landscape and many castles. Andy Warhol, an American artist and a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art, was of Slovak origin.
Living in Bratislava is Peter Nemcok – leader of the WordPress agency Webikon. Peter teaches WordPress, translates it into Slovak and organizes and mentors WordCamps and Meetups. For himself, Peter says that he’s not a leader but rather an “enabler” in the Slovak WordPress community, helping other people run Meetups and WordCamps.
We have 5 active Meetup groups and 2 new WordCamps are in planning. We have a lot more translation contributors. It all started in 2012 when we had our first WordCamp. After that we started organizing Meetups and using Facebook which kick-started our community.
At each Meetup, there are usually 10 to 50 people attending. It all depends on the topic they choose and how much time they have for the actual promotion of the Meetup. Topics are diverse and include talking about plugins, themes, SEO, basic setup, WooCommerce, multilingual setup and so on. “When we have a predetermined topic, more people will come,” says Peter. We asked him if the Slovak community is traveling between Meetups.
Several regular participants from the Bratislava Meetup are travelling to other cities for Meetups to help with the organization and lectures. We are all in touch through Facebook and Slack.
It’s interesting that the Slovak community began its expansion in 2015, after Contributor Day at WordCamp Slovakia in Bratislava. Before that, Meetups were organized in Bratislava alone, which makes this an outstanding community achievement. Since then, a couple of WordCamps are in various planning stages. WordCamp Bratislava was held on April 24th; WordCamp Žilina will be in October this year, and WordCamp Košice is planned for 2017. What kind of people make this community?
Among beginners there are lot of bloggers and marketers. In the community we also see many business owners who have a website on WordPress and they want to know how to use it better. A large part of the community are web developers and freelancers. But we have only a few WordPress developers in Slovakia so far.
Peter says the biggest problem was not having enough active people in the community.
Only 2-3 people were doing everything from translations, posts about WordPress on wp.sk, helping on support forums or organizing a WordCamp. But as we encourage more and more people, it is great to realize that now we are not alone and we actually have an active community with dozens of active contributors.
Get in touch with the WordPress community in Slovakia
- Fellow organizers: (Bratislava) Katarina Novotna, Karol Voros; (Nitra) Stefan Cudai; (Zilina) Martina Novakova; (Kosice) Peter Furmanik; (Banska Stiavnica) Andrej Minarik
- WordPress Slovakia + Community website
- List of WordPress Meetups in Slovakia
- WordCamp Bratislava
Czech Republic – talking WordPress over a pint of beer
We leave Slovakia to go to the Czech Republic. Once in the same country as Slovakia, the Czech Republic is now its bigger neighbor. Czech people are known to be the world’s largest beer consumers. If you have ever been to its capital, Prague, you must have seen a lot of pubs that are never empty. Even the former Czech president, Václav Havel, used to take visiting heads of state to local pubs to have a beer. The Czech Republic gave a significant contribution to the 20th-century world. Filmmaker Miloš Forman, Martina Navratilova, one of the best female tennis players of the 20th century, and Gustav Mahler, a pianist, and conductor from the 19th century are all from the Czech Republic.
In Prague, we talk with Radek Kucera, a WordPress enthusiast and the type of person we see a lot these days. Radek says that he doesn’t earn money from WordPress, but that it’s rather a hobby since he works in sales at a telecommunications company. But he’s been a fan of WordPress since 2008 and co-organizer of WordCamp Prague since 2014. What is the goal of Czech WordPress community and what are you doing to achieve this?
Our goal is to connect WordPress people in Czech Republic, because here there are many great people working in this branch, not knowing each other. Last year we started to separate Meetups for beginners and each theme had 100 visitors. We organized two other conferences for experienced users that have around 80 visitors per conference.
For some time, Prague was the only city with an active community and a WordCamp, but things are changing. Brno is the second active city in the Czech Republic and other Meetups like Hluboka nad Vltavou and Plzen now follow. Other people in the community do make a living out of WordPress, so there is a lot of enthusiasm to help others.
“It’s a success that the community is now talking to each other,” says Radek. “They are networking now.” There were problems in the past, mainly from the organizational perspective. “Use Trello or other apps for task management. Use Slack and have weekly hangouts,” recommends Radek and continues, “also, do a conference for beginners on how to create websites on WordPress.”
Get in touch with the WordPress community in the Czech Republic
- Fellow organizers: David Binovec, Tomas Poner, Vladislav Smitka, Tomas Kocifaj, Jan Mucska, Vladislav Musilek
- WordPress Czech Republic + Community website
- WordCamp Prague
- Czech WordPress community on Facebook
Germany – focus on the people
West of the Czech Republic lies Germany. Like their eastern neighbors, Germans are well known for their beer consumption, being the second largest beer consumers in the world. Historically, Germany had a big impact on the modern world. From composers like Bach, Beethoven, Wagner or Strauss; philosophers Kant or Nietzsche; the brothers Grimm that gave us so many epic children’s novels; or athletes like Steffi Graf, the female tennis player who won the most tournaments in the past century, and Michael Schumacher.
The German community is spanned across the entire country with many Meetups and WordCamps taking place from time to time. It is not known to us when the German community started its journey, but it is amazing the passion the Germans are showing towards it. We’re talking with Stefan Kremer from Nuremberg, Thomas Bruehl from Cologne and Torsten Landsiedel from Hamburg.
Stefan is a WordPress user from WordPress 2.x that has a company offering maintenance services to other WordPress users. He was the lead organizer of this year’s WordCamp Nuremberg. Thomas is a WordPress enthusiast doing WordPress only part time, working as an IT Security Management Specialist in an insurance company. He was the organizer of last year’s WordCamp Cologne. Torsten is a WordPress freelancer, the moderator of the German support forum and a GTE (General Translation Editor) for the German language. He also co-organizes a WordPress Meetup in Hamburg and was a co-organizer of WordCamp Hamburg 2014. We ask them to tell us more about their local communities.
Thomas: We had a WordCamp in Cologne back in 2011, but this was organized by people from outside the local community and sets a starting point. Shortly after that there was a first try in setting up a Meetup, but it took until September of 2013 for a second try getting the Meetup up and running. Since then we’ve had a monthly Meetup, and in June we had WordCamp Cologne 2015 organized by the local community with 350 attendees. Our Meetup is very diverse and open for everyone interested in WordPress. Currently we count around 450 members on meetup.com and have around 25 people show up each Meetup.
Stefan: We have a monthly Meetup at CoWorking Nuremberg (which gives us the room for free). Usually we have about 10-12 attendees, on special events – e.g. participation in Nuremberg Web Week – up to 35. WordCamp Berlin was the starting point for our Meetup. The first two organizers – @vanvox and me – tried to transfer the chilled atmosphere and the welcoming and helping mood from Berlin to Nuremberg. We try to find topics for all our attendees, no matter if they’re “only” user/blogger, programmer, designer… Sometimes a difficult job as the gap even with only a few participants may be large.
Torsten: In Germany we are a very active and well connected community with a long history. Our current main communication tool is Slack (dewp.slack.com) and since WordCamp Europe 2013 and the following WordCamp Hamburg 2014 we are more and more connected with other European communities as well. Our local community in Hamburg started in 2013 and we have 20-35 attendees every month. After WordCamp Hamburg the next WordCamp in Germany was Cologne, and as a team we helped as much as we can to give them a great start. Every new WordCamp was announced at the end of the previous one. But in Hamburg we told the community: “This is not WordCamp Germany” – everyone can start an own WordCamp in his or her town and just one year after that we had two WordCamps (Cologne and Berlin) and 2016 seems to have three WordCamps in Germany.
When we talk with Torsten, Stefan, and Thomas, we see a passion for doing community work and promoting the idea of WordPress. As Torsten says, “There is no idea of one city hosting the German WordCamp”. After the WordCamp in Hamburg, next year Germany has seen two new WordCamps in Cologne and Berlin, and this year Nuremberg got its WordCamp for around 300 people. “There is enough time in the year for more than one WordCamp,” he concludes.
Local communities use Slack to communicate and people are visiting each others’ Meetups. There are a lot of personal friendships between members in German community–Caspar Hübinger (Potsdam), Bernhard Kau (Berlin), Bego Mario Garde (Cologne), Frank Staude (previously Hannover, now Franken), Simon Kraft (Frankfurt)–are all valuable community members. We ask our interviewees about the challenges they had organizing events and building a community and to give us some advice.
Stefan: Invite, invite, invite! Be prepared to have some Meetups with only a handful of people or even be your own Meetup. Be stubborn and offer the next date, next topic.
Thomas: Announce your dates regularly, get a nice room and set a subject for your Meetup with a short talk on every Meetup. This will help to grow the community.
Torsten: We have challenges. Things like how we want to communicate and where? Or how you can interact with the community as a company? These challenges are still there and we are discussing them from time to time. But in the end, WP is a “do-ocracy”, like Matt Mullenweg said it. The people who are doing the work are allowed to make decisions. But we are looking much more to other European/global communities now. How do they solve things. Sometimes we copy it, sometimes we have to adapt it a bit, but we always learn.
People from the German community often travel within the country or to Meetups and especially WordCamps outside Germany. They are also helping each other as volunteers when organizing events, which is highly commendable. WordCamp Hamburg was “first in line” as the first 2-day WordCamp in Germany which also organized the first Contributor Day in Germany. Torsten recounts the great keynote from Zé Fontainhas at this first WordCamp, which summoned the history of the German community. At that Contributor Day, they rebooted the Rosetta site and started an editor team which is maintaining the site.
Torsten: Caspar Hübinger and his team were helping us a lot and especially Caspar was the one who wanted to make the Camp in Hamburg “official” again. This was a great decision and the work with Andrea Middleton was a blast. Meeting her at WordCamp US in Philly last year was a highlight.
There are a lot of other people involved too.
Torsten: Simon Kraft has taken over the website https://wpmeetups.de/ from David Decker. This is a great portal for all German speaking Meetups, if you are looking for a Meetup. Bernhard Kau has developed the langauge fallback plugin after WP introduced the support for German formal so that plugins/themes without a formal translation don’t fall back to English but to informal German. Bego Mario Garde and some more people from the community re-activated the official support forums, providing quality answers for all levels. Our Polyglots team is growing more and more and at the moment we have a great team that is providing great translation in a very short time. We have created our own (German) planet feed which has a Twitter account too (@deplanetwp).
Get in touch with the WordPress community in Germany
- Fellow organizers: (Nuremberg) Frank Staude, January Teriete, Silvia Goldhammer, Carlos Fernández Fischer, Ralf Koller, Sandra Leyh, Ulf Schoenefeld, Thomas Brühl; (Hamburg) Stephanie Wiermann, Ralf Wiechers, Jan Thiel, Nils Schönwald, Susan Seel, Friedhelm Oja; (Cologne) Fabian Niesen, Harald Wendler, Alexander Reach, Sven Wagener, Steph Baltes, Karsten Geisler, Mikel Victore, Monika Zier, Phillip Roth, Bego Mario Garde; (Berlin) David Stingl, Hans-Helge Bürger, Bernhard Kau, Heiko Mamerow, Esther Nowack
- WordPress Germany
- WordCamps in Germany: Nuremberg; Cologne; Hamburg; Berlin
- List of WordPress Meetups in Germany
- WordPress Meetup Franken
- Twitter (@wpmeetupfranken)
- WordPress Meetup Köln + Community website
- Twitter (@wpcgn)
- WordPress Meetup Hamburg + Community website
Switzerland – WordPress is growing in the country of Helvetica
After an amazing story about the German community, we’re going south to Switzerland to get to know their community. We have all heard about Switzerland, a country of beautiful mountains and lakes, an outstanding economy and banking system which is probably the best in the world. One of the most famous fonts in the world, Helvetica, was created in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger, and named after the Latin adjective for Switzerland, Helvetia. This is the country that has a keen eye for what we today call “modern”. Le Corbusier is a name well known to design community as being one of the pioneers of modern architecture and design.
Switzerland, with its long history of neutrality and being a country that has three equally valid official languages (German, French and Italian), is also a country that has community and working together in its veins.
We’re talking with Karin Christen from the Swiss WordPress agency, required. Karin is an Interaction Designer who wants to bring the thoughts and processes related to user experience and interaction design to the WordPress community. She is also the co-organizer of WordCamp Switzerland.
The Swiss community holds several Meetups across the country, in Zurich, Geneva, Bern and Luzern as well as a WooCommerce Meetup in Zurich. They organized WordCamp Switzerland three times already.
Some of the community members and Meetup organizers did connect to organise WordCamp Switzerland. We managed to organise it in Zurich three times already. This year there will be a WordCamp in Geneva where the community of western Switzerland has the lead in organisation.
A couple of people are very active in the Swiss community and are known in the European community as well. Noel Tock and Pascal Bircher are early pioneers of the Swiss community. Patricia Brun Torre is in the organization of the upcoming WordCamp in Geneva. Were there any problems in the organization of these events?
Since Switzerland and especially Zurich is a very expensive city we had to balance the budget to cover costs with the limited ticket pricing we were allowed to demand. WordPress or Open Source in general is very hard to sell in Switzerland. Although meanwhile almost every web agency in Switzerland is working with WordPress they are not yet keen to talk about it. Thus, it was really hard to gain sponsors for the event.
Although the Meetups are very local events and people don’t seem to travel between them, the Zurich Meetup is the one that gets most traction, mostly because Zurich is the city “where stuff happens”. Nevertheless, people are traveling outside Switzerland to other WordCamps and are occasionally volunteering on some of them. “They are a few people traveling to WordCamps all over the world to speak and contribute,” ends Karin and goes on telling us about the successes of the Swiss community.
WordPress gains more and more traction in Switzerland. Corporate clients are choosing WordPress over other open source or closed source content management systems because of its flexibility and of course the community behind it. In that sense, the popularity of WordCamps and Meetups in Switzerland is already a success story itself. The community really can spread the word. Eventually, potential clients will notice, which will lead them to do more web projects based on WordPress.
Get in touch with the WordPress community in Switzerland
- Fellow organizers: Noel Tock, Pascal Birchler, Patricia Brun Torre
- WordPress Switzerland
- WordCamp Switzerland
- Meetups in Switzerland: Zurich, Geneva, Bern, Luzern
- WooCommerce Meetup Zurich
- WordCamp Switzerland Twitter + WordCamp Geneva Twitter
Take part in European communities article series
While we started to work on the article series about European WordPress communities, we sent emails to all the organizers from various countries and cities. If you still haven’t answered please answer to the survey. If you didn’t receive an email from us but would like to be part of this article series – get in touch with us from our contact page.