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Juan Hernando (@ciudadanoB)

Web, WordPress, Activism & stuff

by Juan Hernando (@ciudadanoB)

WCEU2020 Online: a different kind of event

Family photo of WCEU

I should be asleep right now after coming back to my hotel room a few hours ago from the WordCamp Europe 2020 After Party in Porto (Portugal). It would have been an incredible week since Tuesday when I arrived, as part of the huge organization team, and I would have been totally exhausted and happy.

But, as everyone knows, the situation changed dramatically.

After months of work, the physical WordCamp Europe had to be canceled. Then, the team decided to try an online version of the event, which has been held from Thursday to Saturday. And as there is no hangover or tiredness, I can write these lines making my little summary of what happened.

WordCamp Europe is, in itself, a different event.

You know I’ve only been to one WCEU in my life last year in Berlin. And if normally WordCamps in Spain mark you in some way (the people, the city, the food, the contacts, the talks, the laughs…), last June’s event totally fascinated me. 3000 people from all over the world under the same roof learning, sharing, and having fun.

I was so excited that I signed up directly for the 2020 event, booked a hotel, and signed up to see if I would be selected as an organizer (which I was).

Even so, a WCEU is quite different from the events we are used to in Spain. People from very different cultures, people who are going to do (big) business, people who are going to see other members of the community with whom they work hand in hand all year round online and have the opportunity to spend a few days together, dozens of sponsorship stands…

The family atmosphere is much more complex to achieve. Everyone has to “work” the WordCamp experience they want to live: forcing themselves to speak English with strangers when they put on a coffee; asking around the stands and talking to the creators of plugin we use every day; stopping a speaker and stealing twenty seconds from them because there are many other people who want to do the same…

Is it possible to bring this experience to the online world?

Contributing on the first day, here is indispensable.

WCEU Contributor Day is the first day of the event. In this case, it was held online on Thursday, from 3pm to 8pm. Before that, each team had shared a short video explaining what they were going to do during the day so we could decide where we wanted to help.

I was hesitant between the Themes team, the Training team (it’s spectacular the number of lessons they have already posted), and the Privacy team.

After talking to Garrett about my last post, I decided to participate in #core-privacy. And, as always, the day of the contributor allowed two fundamental things in this community:

  • To advance the development of WordPress and the community in general, as teams work for a few intense hours on topics of interest, welcome new contributors to the teams, and make decisions.
  • Get to know more personally people with whom you would typically not stop to talk so much since you always think that the rest of humanity will have enough stuff to do to start talking to you.

I would highlight, besides the advice on how to collaborate with the team, the talk between Carike, Garrett, and Jono Alderson (from Yoast) about “informed consent” in the world of marketing, in which we were digressing about what it means and the challenges it implies. The conclusion: scare better than teaching, because fear creates the real movement…

I will probably be involved with this team again because even though I am not a legal expert (nor an expert developer), these are topics that interest me a lot, and it is enriching to receive as many points of view as possible.

The WCEU talks and movement

As in all WordCamps, the first thing to do is congratulate the entire organizing team, who has given their lives and time to make the event work from start to finish without failure. S-pec-ta-cu-lar.

As in the WCES, there were two tracks of talks at the same time, both with simultaneous transcription and some movement in the YouTube chat as a meeting of people at the door of the room when entering, and when asking questions after the presentations.

Many interesting talks, some of which you don’t expect much and they surprise you (either because of the topic, or because of the speaker); some of which you expect more and they aren’t enough (either because of the time available, or because of how it is focused). In general, a little bit of everything was discussed, and interesting topics were touched upon from the community itself to the headless CMS, passing through the new generations or the always exciting conversation between Matt Mullenweg and Matías Ventura about what is to come in the WordPress world.

Also, there were several Zoom rooms for the sponsors – which I didn’t end up entering – and a couple of networking rooms to keep asking the speakers after their talk – which I did enter a couple of times.

Honestly… it was short!

Yay and nay

As I said before, the experience of a WordCamp Europe (and of any in general) depends a lot on how you “work” it personally.

I’m sure there will be people who simply logged in for a while to watch a particular talk and would find it just like a webinar. I know that others were up late at night in different Zoom rooms, meeting and talking with people from many countries about all kinds of topics (or so say Nilo and Yesares, the experts).

It is not the same to live it from inside, organizing (or presenting, as I did in the WCES) than totally from outside. So my opinion is very personal about what I lived and what I did, that’s for sure.

I liked that everything was punctual and on time, I liked the easiness we were given to talk with speakers in the Zoom rooms after the talks, and I liked to see very well known members of the community worldwide participating in the YouTube chat.

I liked less those fifteen-minute gaps between talks that made you lose track of what you were doing. I understand that there were many parallel things with sponsors, networking, etc. However, I think an event like this has to be like television. Hooking you up from start to finish, with no time to go to the bathroom (and if you go, make it quick because you’re missing something).

I understand that the technical team needs to have their backs covered in case of a problem, but that’s where the difference between a “professional” event and a community event is most noticeable. Maybe it’s out of pure unconsciousness, but at WC Spain, there wasn’t a second to breathe, and that made the chat more alive, Twitter didn’t stop for a second and it was more challenging to disconnect from WordCamp.

And the truth is, this is the only thing “that I would change.” And I’m sure there will be many people who think the opposite of me. That’s the beauty of it. And as part of organizing teams, I have learned that it is 100% impossible to please everyone.

See you in Porto in 2021!

So the only thing left for me to do is to give my CONGRATULATIONS again to the people who have been organizing this event for months, to the volunteers, to the speakers, and to the sponsors, and hope that it will be the last online event we will be forced to do in this situation.

Hopefully, in June next year, everything will be “normal” again, and we will be able to enjoy another incredible WordCamp Europe in Porto. And that the Sunday after that I will be sleeping, and not writing, which is better… or not!

Buy your ticket now!

Why does WordPress notify Google by default that I’m writing this?

This is a translation of the original post in my Spanish blog: ¿Por qué WordPress avisa por defecto a Google de que estoy escribiendo esto?

Ah! Don’t you know that the WordPress editor has a hardcoded call to the Noto Google Font by default and that you have to touch the core to avoid it?

Roberto Weiko to Nahuai and me last week, making us choke on beer.

I know that many of you won’t care about this because you haven’t understood half of the words written there. I know that many others, although you understand it, don’t care because “the Google Fonts are everywhere, what difference does it make to have them in one more“. And I know that some of you will be as scared as I was when I found out.

The first thing I did was check it out for myself (not that I don’t believe Roberto, but… whaaaat?). I downloaded the WordPress package and there it was in the file wp-includes/script-loader.php on line 738 and following.

I did a clean install and as soon as I tried to add a new post or a new page, there was the call to Google’s servers to tell them “hey, here’s one more website!

I was surprised because a few years ago it was decided to use the system fonts on the WordPress dashboard (in version 4.6) and it was a quite celebrated change, since it made the loading faster (calls to external resources are avoided) and it was more adapted to the experience of each user on their computer with their operating system.

A couple of years ago, on behalf of the GPDR, there was a lot of talk about what Google was or was not tracking with its typography service. It is clear that it has “democratized” and expanded the use of typographies throughout the web, but to think that it does it for nothing, and knowing that the “don’t be evil” is already far behind, is a bit naive. It was never clear, despite their attempts to tell… something.

I was also surprised because having followed the development of the Twenty Twenty theme by Anders Norén and team, in September last year they decided on the recommendation of Garrett Hyder from #core-privacy not to use Google Fonts and to use only the system fonts.

And so I found the WordPress Trac ticket #46169: Use system fonts for the block editor.

I recommend you to read it because it’s all extensively argued and it seems that beyond the “but with Noto it’s nicer“, there are not many arguments in favor of what is happening.

This week I talked to Garrett to find out what happened with this, before starting with the conspiracies… and he told me that it just stood there, without interest from anyone. We need the Gutenberg design team to give their opinion and… that’s it. What we really need is for those of us who are concerned about these kinds of privacy issues to raise our voices a little bit on this issue and get it back on track so that it can be resolved as soon as possible.

So whether it’s for GPDR, whether it’s for admin load speed, whether it’s for aesthetic aspects, whether it’s for feeding less data to the Google monster, or whatever your motivation is, share your opinion and make us heard. We’ll see if it’s true that we make WordPress among all people. I’m confident we do.

Update 13/04 13:00 · Code to remove the loading of the Noto font

Fernando Puente (thank you!) leaves us a code to avoid this load in the admin of our website:

if(is_admin())
    add_filter( 'gettext_with_context', 'remove_google_font_noto',
PHP_INT_MIN, 4 );
function remove_google_font_noto( $translated, $original, $context, $domain ) {
    if ( $original === 'Noto Serif:400,400i,700,700i')
        return 'off';
    return $translated;
}

As long as they don’t change that line, this is going to work, but we’re going to try to get it out of the core anyway, right?

José Luis, Yoast, and the WordPress community

Thanks Yoast!

I can’t start this post without acknowledging the impressive work Yoast is doing inside the WordPress community. Maybe you know that they are the go-to reference in any SEO-related thing. But also they’re involved in the Five for the Future initiative, and they’re helping many people with their community funds (Yoast Diversity Fund and Yoast Care Fund). Yesterday they published the interview with my friend José Luis Losada, who has received their Care Fund after I told them about him. Please take a look at it and then come back here to learn a little more about him. This post is what I told them about José Luis and why I thought he deserved it.

The Nomination Motivation

I’m the organizer of the meetup of WordPress Pontevedra, a city in Galicia, in the northwest of Spain. I still remember when I met José Luis. An old man, with a long white beard and long white hair, with a hat, with two walking sticks to help him walk, came one hour early for our monthly meetup. ‘Hi, can I help you with something? If not, I will sit here and wait’. There wasn’t much to do, so we talked a lot (José Luis talks a lot, that hasn’t changed).

That was a bit more than two years ago. I think he fell in love quickly with the WordPress community and its core: helping other people, no matter their level, their skills, their background. He wasn’t a developer. He had lived in Galicia, in the Canary Islands, and many years in Venezuela. He had worked as many things in his life. In his family shoe company. Driving trucks. Fixing old computers. As an electrician. He was ill. He had surgeries. He was happy with his life, but he had a rough accident while working at a hotel. He couldn’t work anymore. He was retired. That was shocking for him, I’m sure.

He came back to Galicia, and he somehow wanted to help a cousin that needed help. With a website. With its SEO. He found that there were meetups. And then, he appeared in one. Since then, he started to help us. He helped the Galician community to grow from 1 meetup to 6 in the main cities of the region. Do you want to go to any of them? He’ll pick you up and drive you there. We encouraged him to go to a WordCamp. He went, as a volunteer, to help. He doesn’t care much about the talks. He only cares about the people. ‘Can I help you with something?’ is his motto.

In 2017 we were younger…

I can’t do a chronology of the WordCamp he’s assisted, but I know he’s been in Santander, Bilbao, Irun, Zaragoza, Valencia, Madrid, Granada, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Sevilla… In some more than once. He’s been invited to sleep in other organizer’s houses, they’ve shown him their cities, had dinner with him, listen to his stories. He’s been in Portugal too, in last WordCamp Lisbon. He was a volunteer for the first time this year in WordCamp Europe, where we organized a trip from Galicia to be there for our first time. He started answering stuff in the WordPress official forums. He learns how to do things so he can solve other people’s problems.

We convince him to do a talk in our meetup about how to ask the right questions and give proper answers. As it was almost Christmas, he went with a Santa costume. And this September, finally, he’s giving his first WordCamp talk. In the Contributor Day, no big lights and flashes he doesn’t want. A conversation about how he’s taken advantage of the WordPress community. We’re waiting for it because we can’t imagine what he’s going to say. Because it’s been the Spanish WP community, the one that has taken advantage of his big (and a little grumpy) heart.

In 2018 I was a good boy…

So, we know that he’s going to spend the Yoast Fund in petrol for his old car to go to more meetups to help. But any help we can give him, won’t be enough. He doesn’t want sponsorships because he wants always to be genuinely himself. Still, we’d love you to help him, and more of that, spread his story, so he gets the recognition he deserves. We’re proud of him.

Really, I could add as a reference every WordCamp organizer from Spain, and even from Portugal, and not only WC organizers, meetup organizers too. His devotion to the WordPress community and his effort to help in everything he can is incredible. He’s made friends all over the world, thanks to WordPress, and he’s gained a place in the heart of this large community. And he keeps doing it, not only in person but in the forums too. And helping us organizing WordCamp Pontevedra. And our meetups. And so many more stuff. Anything he can help with.

The last anecdote of this post

The smiles of the crowd while José Luis gave his talk at WordCamp Pontevedra

Since I wrote this, José Luis gave his fantastic talk during WordCamp Pontevedra’s Contributor Day (if you know Spanish, you can watch it here). This was the second edition of the event, and everything went smooth. Last year, when we were preparing the first edition (I was responsible for sponsorships), we were a bit worried about if we would get all the money we needed. We went to WordCamp Porto, and I had planned to talk with someone from the Yoast team about the possibility of them sponsoring us.

He quickly went to the first one he found with the Yoast t-shirt and tried to explain the situation. José Luis wanted to help! I would have killed him right there! He was talking to Alain Schlesser, a fantastic developer who was giving a talk there and went to the event sponsored by Yoast. He obviously didn’t know what was going on.

In the end, I explained to him during the after-party what happened. I also talked during the event with Marieke and Judith, and not only they sponsored our WordCamp but also gave us some discounts for our meetup. I hope they can repeat it in 2020!

Thanks again, Yoast, and thanks, Samah, for all your help with everything!