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Learning How to Contribute to WordPress: Beyond the Code

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Last time I wrote about contributing to WordPress, I was primarily thinking about contributing to WordPress Core, that is the software itself. This time, let's discuss all the other ways you can contribute to WordPress, besides through code.


1. Documentation

While it's gotten a little more air time recently, WordPress' documentation has often been overlooked as a way to contribute to WordPress. Let's think about it though: everyone who develops for WordPress will need to look at the documentation at some point, probably very regularly, and even more than they look through WordPress' code itself. It's how we work out what's available for us to utilise when we're developing themes and plugins, it may even be how we learn to develop them.

So what exactly are we referring to when we say "Documentation" in the context of WordPress?

  • WordPress Codex - This is the primary reference point for learning how to use WordPress, how to use and build themes, how to write plugins, and how to contribute to core.
  • Handbooks - There are a number of handbooks, and they're all in fairly early stages, but still well worth a look (especially as they mature). Their purpose is to bring someone up to speed, and also serve as a reference point for the process they address:

These documents are always changing, as WordPress changes, and in need of people to assist with ensuring they stay accurate and up-to-date. If you're not a coder, or even if you are, this is a really valuable place to spend time contributing to WordPress.


2. Support

When someone needs help with something WordPress related, whether they're a user, developer, or something in between, they're going to find themselves on the WordPress.org Support forums eventually.

The amazing people that are waiting there to help them could always use extra hands! Even if you're not a developer, but perhaps you've had a lot of experience installing WordPress, installing themes and plugins, or using a particular plugin, these are all things people need help with. Think how much (or how little) you knew when you first started using WordPress. There are many people out there who are in that same situation, and now you're in a position to contribute by helping them.

Also, if there's a particular plugin or theme you have a lot of experience with, why not set up a notification to let you know when someone talks about it? That way, you'll be able to jump in and help, without having to be constantly monitoring the forums if you don't have time for that.

You can have up to 8 notifications for your WordPress.org account, just go to http://profiles.wordpress.org/<your-username-here>/profile/notifications/ (where <your-username-here> should be replace with your actual username), and add a new notification.


3. Events

You may not even know it, but there's a good chance a WordPress meetup is happening regularly not too far from you. Quite a number, but not all, of them are shown on the Meetup.com WordPress page:

If it turns out there isn't one already running near you, the fantastic news is this is actually an opportunity for you. You could start one!

You've probably heard also of WordCamps, but in case you haven't, this is what a WordCamp is according to WordCamp Central:

"WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress.

WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other."

WordCamps tend to happen in major cities, though that's not a rule it just kind of makes sense, and because they're community-organised (like meetups are) you could apply to organise one for your nearest major city too! In fact, if you're a part of a local meetup group, the group could organise a WordCamp.

Whether you run a meetup or WordCamp or even just attend, this is another way to contribute back to WordPress. Simply being there and sharing your knowledge with others is invaluable.


Conclusion

These are just a handful of ways to contribute to WordPress without needing to jump into the WordPress software's source code itself. When you're a part of the community and you want to give back, just look at the knowledge and skills you have to share. The beauty is that there's always someone who's earlier in their WordPress journey than you with lots to learn. There's always someone further ahead than you too, so by being involved and teaching others, you also have a chance to learn yourself.

What other non-core-coding ways of contributing to WordPress can you think of? Is there a WordPress Meetup in your area? Let us know in the comments.

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