This is the third article in our series about European communities. We started this series by presenting the communities from Poland, Lithuania and Estonia. Last week we presented the communities from Turkey, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia, and today we’re going west to present you the communities of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Hungary.
These four countries have a strong historical connection, with people living in the same Austro-Hungarian Empire less than 100 years ago. This lasted even longer in the case of Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia as they were part of Yugoslavia, a country that broke down in a horrible war just 25 years ago. But today, older people could learn a valuable lesson from these “young forces” that work together to build communities on top of the most popular open source software in the world: WordPress.
Slovenia – WordPress between the Alps and the Adriatic
We start our journey in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Slovenia is a rather small but technologically advanced country. Slovenians are sports–oriented, so you could see them climbing the Alps or hiking through the beautiful scenery that Slovenia has to offer. If you follow winter sports—especially ski jumping—you’ve probably heard about Peter Prevc, a Slovenian ski jumper and one of the most successful contemporary athletes in the sport. He currently holds the title of the Ski Flying World Championships, and is a former world record holder, being the first athlete in history to land a jump of 250 meters (820 ft). But since this is an article about communities, we want to tell you a story about the Slovenian community.
To do that, we talked with Primož Cigler. Primož is a web developer and business owner from Ljubljana that says of himself, “I love to give talks and hack around WordPress”. The Slovenian WordPress community started in January of 2014 with their first Meetup in Ljubljana.
We put together a Meetup when the team of organizers is ready, or there is an initiative from the community. We don’t really have a schedule.
It all started, says Primož, when he wanted to organize a local WordPress Meetup at the end of 2013.
We tend to focus in various topics, so we cover as wide topics as possible. From development to SEO or design.
The Slovenian WordPress community consists mostly of developers or “newbie developers”, as well as bloggers or people in marketing. Occasionally, people travel to other Meetups and WordCamps, such as WordCamp Europe, London and Croatia to name a few.
Get in touch with the WordPress community in Slovenia
- Fellow organizers: Primož Cigler, Samo Bračič, Matevž Golavšek, Lena Gregorčič, Natalija Hočevar, Rok Britovšek
- WordPress Slovenia
- WordPress Meetup Ljubljana
- Slovenian WordPress community Facebook group
Croatia – a community that started after the first WordCamp Europe
Many of you have probably been to Croatia on holiday. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, with such beauties as medieval Dubrovnik (or King’s Landing if you’re a Game of Thrones fan); Hvar, the most sunny island in the Adriatic; and the historical city of Split with its beautiful “Riva”. Maybe you have been to the west, in 3000 year-old Pula with its preserved Roman amphitheater, or in one of the natural parks like the Plitvice lakes. Beyond its booming tourist industry, Croatia has an active WordPress community, which started organizing events after the first WordCamp Europe at the end of 2013.
We’re talking with Meetup organizers from Zagreb, Split and Rijeka. Lucijan Blagonić is a designer living in Zagreb and is the organizer of the WordPress Meetup in the Croatian capital. Ivan Blagdan is the organizer of the WordPress Meetup in Split, and is currently the lead organizer of the upcoming WordCamp Croatia. He built his first website in 1997 and sees WordPress as a great tool that allows him to be quick and efficient with both small and big projects. Zoran Ugrina is the organizer of the WordPress Meetup in Rijeka, and was one of the key organizers of the first WordCamp Croatia. Zoran is a developer who has worked with WordPress for the past 7 years. We ask them to tell us about their local communities.
Zoran: I live in Rijeka, where we had our first WordCamp Croatia which was attended by 150+ people. Our goal is to have a Meetup in Rijeka every few months.
Lucijan: I’m one of the organizers of the WordPress Meetup Zagreb. We have an active community with 60-70 people visiting each meetup on average. The Meetup is organized every two months with 3-4 speakers.
Ivan: The WordPress Community in Split is small but certainly a vibrant one. There’s plenty of companies and individuals that make their living here with WordPress and everyone seems keen on giving something back in their own way. A big driver for websites around these parts is tourism and there are a lot of people using WordPress to start their business – many of them have zero technical background.
Meetups are visited by all types of people, from users to senior WordPress developers, from designers to people working in the media. From what we’ve gathered talking to these community leaders, the situation in Croatia is pretty centralized. For now, the Croatian community organizes Meetups in 4 cities – Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Pula and the first WordCamp Croatia was held in Rijeka, which helped promote WordPress across the country and make everything less centralized.
Ivan: All of the WordPress communities in Croatia are in contact with each other and work together, that’s a very important aspect of how we drive our local communities. Speakers travel between the cities, help and experience is being shared and a good degree of WordPress support in various places such as Slack or Facebook groups. Being a small country, we see this level of cooperation as an important factor in achieving healthy long-term user groups.
Both Zoran and Lucijan agree, saying that this “connection” between more “locally focused” communities is crucial to building a stable and prospering national community. But, are there any problems?
Lucijan: I think that one of the biggest problems is getting people on board into contributing to the community. We have an active online community on Facebook, but it would be great if we could get more people involved with organizing Meetups and other events. There is no easy way to achieve that, but with WordPress popularity growing each year, I’m hoping we’ll get there eventually—with more Meetups organized around Croatia and more WordPress users and developers contributing to their local communities.
There is a strong connection with communities from Serbia and Slovenia, with speakers from the region (including Bosnia and Herzegovina) regularly visiting Meetups. What about traveling to other Meetups and WordCamps?
Zoran: People from our community travel to WordCamp Europe and other WordCamps and Meetups. Some of them also held talks at those events which I think is great for our community.
Lucijan: Several people are traveling to other WordPress related events in the area. Serbia has an active community as well and some of us visit WordCamp Belgrade and their Meetups. A lot of people from Croatia will be visiting WordCamp Europe in Vienna as well.
Mark your calendars, WordCamp Croatia is planned for the first week of September in the beautiful city of Split. And take your bathing suits with you – it will still be swimming season there!
Get in touch with the WordPress community in Croatia
- Fellow organizers: Emanuel Blagonić, Lucijan Blagonić, Ivan Blagdan, Goran Šerić, Zoran Ugrina, Borko Livić, Tomislav Negulić, Jurica Zuanović
- WordPress Croatia + Community website
- WordCamp Croatia
- Croatian WordPress community on Meetup.com
- Croatian WordPress community on Twitter
- Croatian WordPress community Facebook group + WordCamp Croatia on Facebook
Serbia – Meetups the size of WordCamps
We leave Croatia to go east, to Serbia. If you have been to Serbia you probably didn’t stay hungry. Serbians pride themselves with their cuisine, especially with local delicacies like ćevapi, pljeskavice, sarma or (very tasty) Karađorđeva šnicla. Serbians cherish friendship, and what can seal a true friendship more than Šljivovica (alcoholic drink made from plums)? Let’s get to know Serbia through their WordPress community.
In Belgrade we spoke with Milan Ivanović, a well–known figure who can be seen at many WordCamps. Milan works for Devana Technologies (the company behind ManageWP) and has been the lead organizer for WordCamp Belgrade for two years in a row. He has also volunteered at several WordCamps, and is a fellow organizer of this year’s WordCamp Europe. We asked Milan to tell us more about the Serbian community, which officially started in March of 2013.
So far we had only one WordCamp Belgrade in 2015, with the number around 200 attendees and this year we will try at least to double the number of speakers and attendees. Meetups are huge here, and whenever we have them, they are like small conferences: from 150 to 200 attendees, 3-4 talks (25 minutes each).
For now, there are no other Meetups in Serbia other the one in Belgrade, but Milan says that they are planning for other cities to have Meetups as soon as possible. The community mostly consists of developers and soon-to-become developers. There are business owners, hosting providers and designers in the community as well. Milan answered our questions on the very day Belgrade hosted its 10th WordPress Meetup! We asked him about their speakers and community volunteering.
I guess 95% of speakers at our events broke the ice and continued to give lectures and talks on other dev conferences. That is huge. The very first WordPress Meetup that was back in 2013 had 30 attendees and we expect 200 people tonight. WordCamp Croatia had volunteers from Serbian community and WordCamp Europe is something that we like to be part of as volunteers.
Serbia has strong connections with Croatia, says Milan.
We have a strong bond with Croatian WordPress community and almost every WordPress Meetup in Belgrade, there is someone from Croatia coming to Serbia and vice versa.
And there is an opportunity to know the Serbian community even more, by visiting WordCamp Belgrade 2016, which will take place 3 weeks before WordCamp Europe on June 4th and 5th at Singidunum University in Belgrade.
Get in touch with the WordPress community in Serbia
- Fellow organizers: Milan Ivanović,Marko Heijnen, Milan Dinić, Nemanja Aleksić, Aleksandar Savković
- WordPress Serbia + Community website
- WordCamp Belgrade
- Serbian WordPress community on Meetup.com
- Serbian WordPress community on Twitter
- Serbian WordPress community Facebook group + WordCamp Belgrade on Facebook
Hungary – WordPress in the country of paprika
Rubik’s cube, something a lot of us have played in our lives, was invented by Hungarian architecture professor, Erno Rubik. Hungary has one of the largest numbers of Nobel prize laureates in relation to its population, but it is perhaps best known as the home of paprika, which is a prominent national product that goes in most of the dishes Hungarians made – gulyás (a soup similar to goulash) being only one of them.
One of the organizers of WordPress Meetup in Budapest is Jeremy Herve, a Frenchman living in Hungary and working for Automattic as a Jetpack Mechanic. We didn’t ask him how he likes Hungarian cuisine, but rather to tell us more about the Hungarian community that officially started in November of 2014.
It’s a small community, with a core group of regulars that come at every Meetup. There is usually about 15 of us at every Meetup. Our meetup.com group has 300 people. We started it because there wasn’t any WP meetup group at the time, and we were looking to meet other WP users. Our Meetups are all in English, and that’s most likely slowing our growth a bit as many Hungarians come once, and never return because they feel a bit less comfortable chatting in English.
Unfortunately, there are no other WordPress communities in Hungary as far we now. Meetups are usually attended by developers and sometimes marketers and product managers. The biggest problem for Hungarian WordPress community is the lack of time.
We still have trouble scheduling Meetups. Three of us are in charge of organizing each meetup, and when we’re too busy the meetup tends to be on the back burner. To solve this, we’d like to try to stick to a regular schedule, with one meetup a month, so attendees know what to expect, and us organizers have to move quickly to schedule the next meetup.
Some of the people attending WordPress Meetups are also organizers of other non-WordPress Meetups in Budapest, but people usually don’t travel to other WordCamps and Meetups outside the country.
A couple of us travel to other WordCamps from time to time, but most people in our group have never been to a WordCamp. Most attendees, however, regularly attend other Meetups, on other topics.
Get in touch with the WordPress community in Hungary
- Fellow organizers: Jeremy Herve, Bora Yalçın, Peter Szalontai, Ahmad Alagha
- WordPress Hungary
- Hungarian WordPress community website
- Hungarian WordPress community on Meetup.com
- Hungarian WordPress community Facebook group
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.