Meet the European WordPress Communities – Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Greenland

Denmark, Sweden, Norway, GreenlandPoland, Lithuania, and Estonia. Then we talked about the communities from Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia and shortly after that we presented the communities from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Hungary. A couple of weeks ago we published an article featuring communities from Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland and the last one was the amazing story of communities from United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, and France.

Today, we’re presenting communities from some of the coldest places in Europe. It’s time to get to know communities from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Greenland.

Denmark – Building a community brick by brick

Mark Thomas Gazel

Mark Thomas Gazel is the organizer of WordCamp Denmark

The country with the oldest flag in the world (from 1219) is also a home to LEGO – one of the most beloved brands in the world. Denmark has also given us Hans Christian Andersen, author of many children books including “The Little Mermaid”. Its statue is overseeing Copenhagen’s port as the famous Sydney Opera House (designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon) is overseeing the port of Sydney.

In Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, we talk with Mark Thomas Gazel, the organizer of WordCamp Denmark, which finished just 10 days ago (May 28-29). Mark works in a culture house in Copenhagen and has been using WordPress for the past 10 years. He’s also the main translator and coordinator of the Danish WordPress community.

Currently, Denmark’s community has 2 regular meetups, one in Copenhagen and one in Aarhus.

20-40 people attend the meetups in Copenhagen and 10-20 attend the ones in Aarhus. The community is mostly freelancers, developers and bloggers.

To this date, Denmark’s community organized 6 WordCamps and this year’s WordCamp Denmark was held for the first time outside Copenhagen, in Aarhus. It was a cooperation of people from both communities. Since the community is rather compact, there is always a challenge to find speakers and sponsors for meetups and a WordCamp, says Mark, but mentions no other major problems or challenges.

There is one inspirational story attached to WordCamp Denmark, you might come around on Twitter. It is a story of a man name Holger and his fight with Hepatitis C, he got as a young boy. While he was staying in hospital on experimental drugs in 2009, he discovered WordPress which he used to make a living.

Get in touch with the WordPress community in Denmark

Sweden – Thank you for the WordPress

When we say Sweden you say Abba. And to most people, Abba, a Swedish super-group from the 1970’s, is the first association that comes to mind. Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite who later established the Nobel Prize is also well known as well as Stieg Larsson, author of internationally acclaimed novel “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. Sweden is the 3rd largest EU country by size and one of the most progressive – a country that respects all people with children on the top.

From left to right: Jimmy Rosén, Stanislav Khromov, Aloisia Gabat, Niklas Hogefjord

From left to right: Jimmy Rosén, Stanislav Khromov, Aloisia Gabat, Niklas Hogefjord

Niklas Hogefjord is a web developer from the Swedish city of Arvika. He was one of the organizers of WordCamp Norrköping in 2015, and also organizes regular Arvika WordPress Meetup. He’s owner of Krokedil, a WordPress agency specializing in WooCommerce solutions. Jimmy Rosén has been involved in most Swedish WordCamps during the past years. Host and organizer of the WordPress community group in Norrköping, Jimmy also runs Angry Creative, a WordPress Bureau, and occasionally visits other English-speaking WordCamps.

Aloisia Gabat is a WordPress developer, web developer, and marketer. Originally from the United States, she moved to Sweden two years ago after living in France and Belgium. She co-organizes the WordPress meetups in Uppsala. Stanislav Khromov has been using WordPress since 6 years ago and currently works full-time with WordPress for Aftonbladet – the largest newspaper publisher in Sweden. He is a co-organizer of the WordPress meetup in Stockholm.

The Swedish community is rather open and diverse, connecting people with different backgrounds and professions. The Stockholm meetup is the largest with around 1000 members, but other meetups (Norrköping and Malmö) are growing each day. Meetups are mostly attended by people who work full-time with WordPress, but there are a lot of others too.

Stanislav: We have a tight-knit group of people who frequent a lot of WordPress-related meetups and events. There are people who run their own personal blogs, have a photo studio and accompanying website, sell hand-crafted jewellery and much more. It’s great to meet these people and to open them up to a welcoming community.

Jimmy: In Norrköping we’re usually 50-200 people on meetups / WordCamps, but the big scene is probably Stockholm. However, it’s a big undertaking pulling off a WordCamp in Stockholm and it’s hard to get the ticket prices low, but this year I think we’ve managed to pull it off. Stay tuned!

We usually see meetup groups created in larger cities or city areas. This goes for Sweden as well with groups in Stockholm and Norrköping, but there are also groups in smaller cities like Uppsala or Arvika.

Aloisia: Uppsala is very international and benefits from its close proximity to Stockholm, which is 71 km south and only 40 minutes away by train. While many of us are members of various Meetups like the one in Stockholm, the Uppsala tech community is growing more and more. The WordPress Uppsala Meetup group now has around 110 members. We haven’t had many Meetups but we hope to keep growing the community and do more in the future.

Arvika is a small city with 26.000 inhabitants close to Norwegian border where the community is diverse, with people from both sides of the border—Norwegian and Sweden—are attending the meetup. And this is the real beauty of the WordPress communities – feeling inclusive no matter how big or small the community is.

Niklas: At our meetups we’re usually don’t have more than 10 people. This means that several of the “regulars” have presented more than one time. But we also try to invite people from other Swedish and Norwegian cities to come and participate and give presentations.

Although it’s quite a large country, Sweden is—in terms of jobs—quite centralized. IT jobs in Sweden are usually in the vicinity of big cities so it’s not unusual that the activity is mostly around Stockholm (with Uppsala and Norrköping close by and Malmö close to Denmark, Kopenhagen). Because of that, there are a lot of organizers and attendees of these meetups that visit and help one another. It’s no surprise that the next WordCamp in Sweden will be organized in Stockholm in the late autumn and that the organizers are coming from different local communities.

The situation is a bit different in Arvika since they are much closer to Norway than to Stockholm and they usually attend WordCamp Norway. Nevertheless, they tend to go to Stockholm meetup when possible and will surely attend the WordCamp in Stockholm. Their biggest problem is getting a ticket for Stockholm’s meetup because they get reserved too fast. Partly, that is the result of centralization where the biggest community is in or around Stockholm and one of the reasons for this is that Sweden’s community is growing stronger with every new event organized.

Aloisia: The Uppsala tech community is growing, but we have very few Meetup groups. Being close to Stockholm means that many people work there and are members of the Meetup groups there. Since we also have many international workers or students, some people join our group and then leave Uppsala later on. We have plans to further grow our community, but we are still overcoming these challenges.

Stanislav: Overall, we have had a good track record of growing the community, and our meetup groups are growing at a steady pace. The biggest difficulty has been that WordPress adoption is fairly low in Sweden. This is in part because large companies prefer the peace-of-mind of corporate CMS systems but also because we have some homegrown CMS:es that have a strong local presence, like EpiServer. I see the the sentiments towards proprietary CMS systems changing. Less and less companies are willing to pay huge licensing fees for clunky enterprise CMS systems, and more people are looking at open source.

Adopting WordPress in Sweden is a process that takes time. It can’t be done overnight and people are aware of that. As Stanislav says, the change is happening but there’s definitely a deficit of WordPress developers. That’s one of the reasons why Jimmy isn’t satisfied with Sweden’s “contributor score”.

Jimmy: Regarding contributions we have a long way to go. When looking at translations we’re doing pretty good. We have a couple of superheroes doing most of the heavy lifting. In terms of open source plugins/themes and core patches we have a long way to go. The firms using WordPress usually tend to be around 3 person strong, and it can be pretty hard giving away 5% of your time if you don’t want to put in the extra hours over the weekend (i.e. family time). Doing community events where international guests come and visit has been really important, and my hat is off to all the great people who has come here and helped out. Last year at WordCamp Norrköping we had the most visited contribution day in Sweden thus far, which was great! I would love to see more companies include open source participation in their business model, but developers must also choose to work at these kinds of companies and choose it actively. We’re working hard to get people to learn about the benefits of contributing – both in terms of personal and career development, but also in terms of community development.

Being an open and rather international community means a lot of people from (or working in) Sweden travel to other, mostly English-speaking WordCamps. Community members have spoken, helped organize or volunteered at many events within or outside Sweden. They have even created an internal Facebook group for all Swedes that will go to this year’s WordCamp Europe.
Probably the biggest success story is the continued growth and strength of the WordPress community all over Sweden.

The community is also enthusiastic about hosting the first WordCamp in the capital, which they hope will gather people from across Sweden. And WordPress is growing steadily with a lot of companies now experimenting with it and seeing its potential.

Get in touch with the WordPress community in Sweden

Norway – WordPress in the land of fjords

Christian W. Jansen was the leading organizer of WordCamp Norway 2016

Christian W. Jansen was the lead organizer of WordCamp Norway 2016

Being the European country with the longest coastline (53,199 km) it is known for its numerous fjords and glaciers but also as the country of the most highly-educated people. Norway is the home of the Vikings who were the first to sail to America and were an important factor in creating the medieval culture of Scandinavia, the British Isles, Ireland, France and more. Norway is also home to Edward Munch, very well known for his painting “The Scream” which is an important addition to the world culture.

Christian W. Jansen is 28, lives in Oslo and works at Dekode – the biggest WordPress agency in Scandinavia, also a WordPress VIP service partner. Christian was the lead organizer of WordCamp Norway 2016, a co-organizer of the 2015 edition and currently serves as the organizer of the WordPress Meetup in Oslo.

This year, WordCamp Norway took place on the 20&21st of February and welcomed 182 people. Norway’s community is not a big one as Christian says, but it’s growing fast.

It is clear that the market is changing and more and more major players in Norway open their eyes to what WordPress can do.

There is an obvious setback in the Nordic communities, especially in Sweden and Norway, where there are other CMS solutions that are used a lot but nevertheless, WordPress is taking its rightful place.

Norway now hosts 4 different meetup groups (Oslo, Stavanger, Trondheim, and Sandefjord), an amazing achievement considering that not so long ago there was only 1 meetup group – in Oslo. Besides Christian, Scott Basgaard is also an important and valued member of the community, as he organizes the meetup in Stavanger.

Community members both travel and volunteer at WordCamps across Europe.

Get in touch with the WordPress community in Norway

Greenland – a WordPress meetup on the top of the world

Rocío Valdvia and Pierre Minik Lynge organize Greeland's only WordPress Meetup

Rocío Valdvia and Pierre Minik Lynge organize Greenland’s only WordPress Meetup

Greenland is one of the most hostile places to live and also the world’s largest island. Inhabited for more than 4,500 years, for centuries, Greenland was part of the European cultural circle, especially with Denmark and Norway.  A part of Denmark in the past, today Greenland is an autonomous country within the Danish realm. With winter lasting for many months, Greenlanders had to adapt to the weather. And they adapted, but not only that – they also host the most northern WordPress meetup in the world. It’s probably the only WordPress meetup where you can see the northern light and polar bears!

The Greenland community is a young one, with the first meetup taking place about 4 months ago. In the meantime they organized 5 meetups and have seen a steady community growth – from 6 people on the first meetup, they are now a group of 18.

To learn more about this interesting community, we talk with Rocío Valdvia from Spain. She moved to Nuuk just last year. In the Spanish community, Rocío is known for being the author of “WordPress para Dummies” but also a speaker at WordCamp Europe 2013 and 2014, and more than 20 other WordCamps. She is a Community Wrangler at Automattic. Rocío is not alone in the effort to build Greenland’s WordPress community. With her on this journey is Pierre Minik Lynge. Pierre works at the capital municipality (Nuuk is also the capital of Greenland) and once a week works as a WordPress consultant.

Having a community in Greenland is more challenging than you can imagine because the one resource we take for granted — internet connection — is so hard to get in Greenland that it’s a major commodity. Rocío explains:

Rocío: Finding free internet connection in Nuuk is very, very difficult as it’s still an expensive service. But we were very lucky of finding a sponsor who offered their office with free connection and everything we need for our Meetups. We’re really thankful to Michael Binzer and for supporting us from the begining!

Having a place to meet was the first step and the second one was getting people to attend. But, people were enthusiastic to go talk about and learn about WordPress.

Pierre: We’ve held 5 meetups and it has been great seeing people come back and be eager to learn more about WordPress. Everything has been smooth and people are really enthusiastic. One of the days we did a whole website from scratch in 2 hours while everyone was learning. It was intense but we came out with a multilingual website of our community called
Greenland is one of the most hard to reach places in the world. Because of that, community is mostly locally focused.

Nevertheless, Rocío and Pierre managed to travel to WordCamp Denmark, that took place little more than 10 days ago.

Pierre: It’s quite a long travel from Greenland but it was a really good and interesting weekend with a lot of great people to connect and have fun with.

Enthusiasm is something we see in almost every WordPress community, but this is especially important in places like Nuuk. Working on solid grounds helps to spread that enthusiasm, to build something from scratch.

Rocío: We have several members in our Meetup who have created and published their own website during our workshops. It’s very motivational to see so much nice energy around this group of people learning and teaching each other from the very first day. We’re very enthusiast about getting more people involved with the group and who knows, maybe a WordCamp Nuuk in the future? It would be awesome if this group could make the first WordCamp in Greenland one day.

Get in touch with the WordPress community in Greenland

One thought on “Meet the European WordPress Communities – Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Greenland

  1. Our recent WordCamp Denmark inspired action among the community and we soon have 3 monthly meetups in Denmark. The new being held in Viborg, covering a big part of the country not previously exposed to WP.

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