People of WordPress: Jill Binder

You’ve probably heard that WordPress is open-source software, and may know that it’s created and run by volunteers. WordPress enthusiasts share many examples of how WordPress changed people’s lives for the better. This monthly series shares some of those lesser-known, amazing stories.

Meet Jill Binder

Jill Binder never meant to become an activist. She insists it was an accident.

Despite that, Jill has led the Diversity Outreach Speaker Training working group in the WordPress Community team since 2017. This group is dedicated to increasing the number of women and other underrepresented groups who are stepping up to become speakers at WordPress Meetups, WordCamps, and events. 

Jill’s back story

Internship

Jill’s WordPress story begins in 2011, in Vancouver, Canada. Jill secured an internship for her college program, working on a higher education website that was built in WordPress. As a thank you, her practicum advisor bought Jill a ticket to WordCamp Vancouver 2011: Developer’s Edition. After that Jill began freelancing  with WordPress as a Solopreneur. 

First steps in the WordPress community

The following year her internship advisor, who had become a client, was creating the first ever BuddyCamp for BuddyPress. He asked Jill to be on his organizing team. At that event she also moderated a panel with Matt Mullenweg. Then, Jill was invited to be on the core organizing team for WordCamp Vancouver.

Part of this role meant reviewing and selecting speakers. From 40 speaker applications the team had to pick only 14 to speak.

The diversity challenge when selecting speakers

For anyone who has organized a conference, you know that speaker selection is hard. Of the 40 applications, 7 were from women, and the lead organizer selected 6 of those to be included in the speaker line up.

At this point Jill wasn’t aware that very few women apply to speak at tech conferences and suggested selection should be made on the best fit for the conference. The team shared that not only did they feel the pitches were good and fit the conference, but they also needed to be accepted or the Organizers would be criticized for a lack of diversity.

Selecting women for fear of criticism is embarrassing to admit, but that’s how people felt in 2013.

By the time the event happened, though, the number of women speakers dropped to 4. And with an additional track being added, the number of speakers overall was up to 28. Only 1 speaker in 7 was a woman (or 14%) and attendees did ask questions and even blogged about the lack of representation.

What keeps women from applying?

Later that year at  WordCamp San Francisco—the biggest WordCamp at the time (before there was a WordCamp US)—Jill took the opportunity to chat with other organizers about her experience. She found out that many organizers had trouble getting enough women to present.

Surprisingly Vancouver had a high number of women applicants in comparison to others, and the consensus was more would be accepted  if only more would apply.

Jill decided that she  needed to know why this was happening? Why weren’t there more women applying? She started researching, reading, and talking to people.

Though this issue is complex, two things came up over and over:

  • “What would I talk about?”
  • “I’m not an expert on anything. I don’t know enough about anything to give a talk on it.”

A first workshop with encouraging results

Then Jill had an idea. She brought up the issue at an event and someone suggested that they should get women together in a room and brainstorm speaker topics.

So Jill became the lead of a small group creating a workshop in Vancouver. In one of the exercises, participants were invited to brainstorm ideas—this proved that they had literally a hundred topic ideas and the biggest problem then became picking just one!

In the first discussion, Jill focussed on:

  • Why it matters that women (added later: diverse groups) are in the front of the room
  • The myths of what it takes to be the speaker at the front of the room (aka beating impostor syndrome)
  • Different presentation formats, especially story-telling
  • Finding and refining a topic
  • Tips to become a better speaker
  • Leveling up by speaking in front of the group throughout the afternoon
women gathering to discussion presentation topics
Vancouver Workshop 2014

Leading to workshops across North America and then the world

Other cities across North America heard about the workshop and started hosting them, adding their own material.

Many women who initially joined her workshop wanted help getting even better at public speaking. So Jill’s team added in some material created from the other cities and a bit more of their own. Such as:

  • Coming up with a great title
  • Writing a pitch that is more likely to get accepted
  • Writing a bio
  • Creating an outline

At WordCamp Vancouver 2014—only one year since Jill started—there were 50% women speakers and 3 times the number of women applicants! Not only that, but this WordCamp was a Developer’s Edition, where it’s more challenging to find women developers in general, let alone those who will step up to speak.

More work is needed!

Impressive as those results were, the reason Jill is so passionate about this work is because of what happened next:

  • Some of the women who attended the workshop stepped up to be leaders in the community and created new content for other women.
  • A handful of others became WordCamp organizers. One year Vancouver had an almost all-female organizing team – 5 out of 6!
  • It also influenced local businesses. One local business owner loved what one of the women speakers said so much that he hired her immediately. She was the first woman developer on the team, and soon after she became the Senior Developer.

Diversity touches on many levels

Jill has seen time and again what happens when different people speak at the front of the room. More people feel welcome in the community. The speakers and the new community members bring new ideas and new passions that help to make the technology we are creating more inclusive. And together we generate new ideas that benefit everyone.

This workshop was so successful, with typical results of 40-60% women speakers at WordCamps, that the WordPress Global Community Team asked Jill to promote it and train it for women and all diverse groups around the world. In late 2017, Jill started leading the Diverse Speaker Training group (#wpdiversity).

Dozens of community members across the world have now been trained to lead the workshop. With now dozens of workshops worldwide, for WordPress and other open source software projects as well, there is an increase in speaker diversity. 

Diverse Speaker Training group
WordCamp US 2019

As a result of the success, Jill is now sponsored to continue the program. She’s proud of how the diversity represented on the stage adds value not only to the brand but also in the long-term will lead to the creation of a better product. She’s inspired by seeing the communities change as a result of the new voices and new ideas at the WordPress events.

Jill’s leadership in the development and growth of the Diversity Outreach Speaker Training initiative has had a positive, measurable impact on WordPress community events worldwide. When WordPress events are more diverse, the WordPress project gets more diverse — which makes WordPress better for more people.”

Andrea Middleton, Community organizer on the WordPress open source project

Resources:

Contributors

Alison Rothwell (@wpfiddlybits), Yvette Sonneveld (@yvettesonneveld), Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune), Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe)

This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. HeroPress highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.

Meet more WordPress community members over at HeroPress.com!

WordPress 5.2 RC2

The second release candidate for WordPress 5.2 is now available!

WordPress 5.2 will be released on Tuesday, May 7, but we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.2 yet, now is the time!

There are two ways to test the WordPress 5.2 release candidate: try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you’ll want to select the “bleeding edge nightlies” option), or you can download the release candidate here (zip).

For details about what to expect in WordPress 5.2, please see the first release candidate post.

This release includes the final About page design. It also contains fixes for:

  • Proper translation of the recovery mode notification emails (#47093).
  • Improvements to the way Site Health works with multisite installs (#47084).

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.2 and update the Tested up to version in the readme to 5.2. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure those out before the final release.

The WordPress 5.2 Field Guide has also been published, which details the major changes.

How to Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.


It’s the start of May
and the release is coming.
We all give a cheer!

WordPress 5.2 Release Candidate

The first release candidate for WordPress 5.2 is now available!

This is an important milestone as we progress toward the WordPress 5.2 release date. “Release Candidate” means that the new version is ready for release, but with millions of users and thousands of plugins and themes, it’s possible something was missed. WordPress 5.2 is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, May 7, but we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.2 yet, now is the time!

There are two ways to test the WordPress 5.2 release candidate: try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you’ll want to select the “bleeding edge nightlies” option), or you can download the release candidate here (zip).

What’s in WordPress 5.2?

Continuing with the theme from the last release, WordPress 5.2 gives you even more robust tools for identifying and fixing configuration issues and fatal errors. Whether you are a developer helping clients or you manage your site solo, these tools can help get you the right information when you need it.

The Site Health Check and PHP Error Protection tools have brand new features, giving you peace of mind if you discover any issues with plugins or themes on your site. There are also updates to the icons available in your dashboard, fresh accessibility considerations for anyone using assistive technologies and more.

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.2 and update the Tested up to version in the readme to 5.2. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure those out before the final release.

The WordPress 5.2 Field Guide has also been published, which goes into the details of the major changes.

How to Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages! This release also marks the hard string freeze point of the 5.2 release schedule.

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.


Howdy, RC 1!
With tools this interesting,
I can hardly wait.

WordPress 5.2 Beta 1

WordPress 5.2 Beta 1 is now available!

This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend you run it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with the new version.

You can test the WordPress 5.2 Beta two ways:

WordPress 5.2 is slated for release on April 30, and we need your help to get there. Here are some of the big items to test so we can find as many bugs as possible in the coming weeks.

Block Editor

The block editor has received significant performance improvements since WordPress 5.1, shaving 35% off the load time for massive posts, and cutting the keypress time (how responsive it feels when you’re typing) in half!

Accessibility continues to improve, too. The block editor now supports your browser’s reduced motion settings. The post URL slug has better labelling and help text. The focus styling for keyboard navigating through landmarks is clearer and more consistent. There are a variety of new speak messages, and existing messages have been tweaked for more useful screen-reader behaviour.

We’ve added several new blocks:

  • An RSS block
  • An Amazon Kindle embed block
  • A Search block
  • A Calendar block
  • A Tag Cloud block

To help you keep track of these blocks, and only show the ones you need, there’s a new block management tool to switch blocks on and off.

Block Management Modal

We’re constantly working on existing blocks, too. There are hundreds of bug fixes and improvements in the block editor, you can read more about them in the Gutenberg plugin releases: 4.9, 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3.

The WordPress Mobile Apps

The block editor isn’t just for websites, either. The WordPress mobile apps now include an experimental version of a built-in block editor. This is still under development, but you can try it out now!

Site Health Check

Site Health Check is an ongoing project aimed at improving the stability and performance of the entire WordPress ecosystem.

The first phase of this project (originally scoped for WordPress 5.1) is now included in WordPress 5.2. For the first time, WordPress will catch and pause the problem code, so you can log in to your Dashboard and see what the problem is (#44458). Before, you’d have to FTP in to your files or get in touch with your host.

In addition, we’re adding a new Health Check tool to your Dashboard. Visit the Tools menu and click on Health Check to get information that can help improve the speed and security of your site.

PHP Version Bump

With this release, WordPress will increase its minimum supported PHP version to 5.6. To help you check if you’re prepared for this change, WordPress 5.2 will show you a warning and help you upgrade your version of PHP, if necessary.

For Developers

  • Plugins can now specify the minimum version of PHP that they support, so you can safely modernise your development practices without risking breaking your users’ sites. (#40934)
  • We’ve added the sodium_compat library, which provides backwards compatibility for the Sodium-based cryptography library added in PHP 7.2. (#45806)
  • There’s a new release of Dashicons, the WordPress Dashboard icon font. There are 25 new icons for you to use! (#41074)
  • You can now pass a label to get_search_form(), improving accessibility. (#42057)

There have been 130 tickets closed in WordPress 5.2 so far, with numerous small bug fixes and improvements to help smooth your WordPress experience.

Keep your eyes on the Make WordPress Core blog for developer notes (which are assigned the dev-notes tag) in the coming weeks detailing other changes in 5.2 that you should be aware of.

How to Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.


With each new release,
bearing multiple betas;
We fix, then we fly.

Contributor Weekend: Global WordPress Translation Day

Global WordPress Translation Day is a one-day contributor initiative organised by the WordPress project’s Polyglots team that is dedicated to helping new contributors who would like to translate WordPress in one of the 160 languages WordPress is available in.

Global WordPress Translation Day will be on Sunday, April 24th, starting at 0:00 UTC and will go on for 24 hours covering all time zones.

What are we doing?

  • Live training: A 24h live streaming of tutorials about translating WordPress in different languages and making your code translatable (30min/1h sessions in different languages including a general instruction and specifics for that particular language). The internationalization sessions will be in English. The sessions will be presented by some of the most experienced WordPress translators and internationalization experts. The Schedule can be found on the website.
  • Local translation contributor days: Groups of contributors gather at different locations and work face to face.
  • Local remote translation contributor days: Current translation teams dedicate time and get involved remotely to do orientation for their potential contributors or work with their current translation teams on translating as many strings as they can.

If you organise a local meetup, why not organise a contributor day for translating in your language?

Join us! Read about the initiative and sign up as an organiser.

Can I get involved if I only speak English?

Yes! Even if you only speak English, it would be great to get involved and check out some of the English locale variants – English as spoken in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa. English has many variants across the globe and you can learn about the differences and why it’s important that users have the option to choose a variant during some of our sessions. And if you’re in a funky mood, you can give translating the interface into Emoji a try! Yes, we have a WordPress in Emoji locale!

Questions?

The polyglots team and the event organisers hang out in #Polyglots in Slack. They will gladly help you out.