WCEU 2017 preview WordCamp Europe

We had so much fun in Vienna last year that our whole team can barely wait to relive the WordCamp Europe experience again this summer! Thankfully, in less than two short weeks, we’ll get the chance to head off to Paris to do it all over again – here comes WCEU 2017!

But before you hop on a plane or train to Paris, we want to introduce you to what you can expect at WordCamp Europe 2017, as well as some general insights into the WordCamp atmosphere.

WordCamp Europe 2017 introduces a few tweaks from previous WordCamps, so even if you’re a seasoned attendee, you still might want to read on to learn exactly what to expect from this year’s WordCamp.

WordCamp Europe – WCEU 2017 by the numbers

Before we dig into the structure and talks, here are some basics about WordCamp Europe 2017.

Let’s start with the when and where. WordCamp Europe 2017 will take place from June 15th to June 17th at Les Docks de Paris, in… Paris (obviously). The after party will be very Parisienne, so to speak. So pick your most elegant clothes out of your wardrobe and bring them with you in the capital of France because, after the conference (Saturday, June 17th), all the fun will move to Pavillon d’Armenonville, a green oasis in the middle of the city.

And since we know you guys love hard data, here’s a quick picture of the statistics behind WordCamp Europe 2017:

  • 3,000 participants will come to France’s capital in June – a massive 1,000 more people than last year. So, brace yourselves, this conference is going to be huge! Check out the full list of the attendees here.
  • 42 speakers will talk about a variety of topics, grouped into 31 sessions and 2 tracks, all scheduled over 2 days (Friday and Saturday). There will be 26 long talks and 16 lightning talks.
  • 50 people around the world are involved with organizing the event. To manage such a big event, you definitely need a ton of human resources. The organizers are themselves grouped into 10 teams: leads, communication, community, content, design, local, sponsors, volunteers, PR, photography.
  • 250 volunteers from all around the globe (not only Europe) will help the organizing teams to offer attendees the best possible WordCamp experience. Registration desk, door guard, swag store, mic runner, social media, photography, happiness bar… these are just a few of the things volunteers usually do at the conference.
  • A total of 350 people (speakers included) are involved in making this event happen.

All those numbers add up to this being the largest WordCamp Europe to date! At this point, regular ticket sales are closed. But you can still attend as a Microsponsor by clicking here.

A new WordCamp format

Two tracks instead of three

Breaking tradition from the three-track format that all big WordCamps used to have, there will only be two parallel tracks of talks in Paris. So now, instead of choosing one of three talks going on at a time, you’ll only need to pick between two. Still a choice, but not quite as difficult now!

The two-track format was introduced because people asked the organizing team several times in the past for more time to talk to each other, something that couldn’t really happen with such a busy schedule. And it’s not just the tracks – the time between the talks will also last longer so that attendees can chat more.

Bonus: Sponsors track

But there’s still a third track scheduled, it’s just that it is different from what we saw in any other WordCamp so far. It is an additional track where the sponsors of the event take the microphone and host 30-minute workshops about various topics or product demos. The track will be kept only by Admin and Super Admin sponsors: Jetpack, WooCommerce, Mojo Marketplace, Bluehost, Plesk, and SiteGround.

The WCEU 2017 organizers shared with us some details about this “special” track:

The sponsor track is an additional track we introduced this year for the first time. It’s an opportunity for the WordCamp attendees to get to know the sponsors and their products better.

The sponsors have been asked to do workshops, or product demos followed by some Q&A. The workshops planned are very exciting, everything from creating a website with a new theme, to website localization, sneak peak at new features, client communication and getting to know the community.

The sponsors track won’t be as formal as the normal ones, it will be more like a discussion where the attendees can easily reach out to the speakers and talk to them. Each sponsor will be allowed at least two workshops, so you have plenty of time to organize your agenda so that you can attend their presentations and meet them in person.

WordPress Community Summit

This year, the WordPress Community Summit will convene right before WCEU 2017. This event gathers the WordPress core team and various WordPress contributors from around the world who, together with Matt Mullenweg, will discuss the present and future state of WordPress.

What will be the structure of the event? Each contributor team prepares a list of the things they want to discuss in the meeting and nominates attendees who can back up their story/topic. Our CEO – Ionut – will be there too, as a part of the theme development group, where they will talk about ways to improve the repository review process, among other topics.

The topic list is already public and contains the following items (in short): global involvement in the community team, WordCamps and money, marketing & engagement, paying for speaker travel, regional camps, improving deputy training, code of conduct & harassment reports, and supporting other event types. But these are just broad headlines, check out the detailed list of debates here.

A different Contributor Day

Another change at WordCamp Europe 2017 is the date of the Contributor Day. Contributor Day will now take place before the event, rather than after the conference. So, on Thursday, June 15th, get ready to contribute to WordPress by attending the Contributor Day. And, in another piece of news, the event will not only include the well-known contributor teams but will also include talks and workshops, which is (again!) a new thing.

Check out the full schedule for Contributor Day here.

WCEU 2017 workshops

Tracks and talks – my subjective roundup of the most interesting stuff to attend

There are two types of people who come to WordCamps or other similar events. One group comes to hear the speakers, attend as many talks as possible, and learn new things from the experts that they can then apply to their own business. Another group is more dedicated to the social aspect of these events… they come for meeting people, making friends, having fun, and eventually exchanging words about their businesses. In a nutshell – networking.

If you’re part of the first group, this section is for you. Let’s talk a bit about the schedule and talks. While all the talks have their value, these are a few that specifically caught our eye:

Friday, June 16th

Saturday, June 17th

  • Let’s freshen up for the second day of the conference with some code. Andrew Nacin will host the first presentation of the day, called “People Over Code”
  • What are you using WordPress for? If your main goal is not seeking revenue with it, you should attend this talk by Sasha Endoh, “Using WordPress for Good”. It will be a presentation about non-profit and cause-based organizations. The main idea of this topic is to use WordPress to help others too and not just for the economic aspect of it.
  • If you’re interested in getting more involved with the WordPress community or simply curious about how certain groups become communities, go to “How WordPress Communities Are Built” by Andrea Middleton.
  • Eat well during the lunch break and prepare for Matt Mullenweg‘s apparition in a 50-minute interview hosted by Om Malik (the founder of Gigaom) and a 20-minute Q&A session with the audience. It will be live in Track 1, Pullman, and also streamed in Track 2, Eiffel.
  • Next, Michael Arestad will tell you what is it like to design in an open source space nowadays. If you’ve ever experienced with communication difficulties, tech limitation, slow implementation times, complex developer tools, lack of design process, you might find the “Big Design Troubles in Open Source” interesting.

But these are just my picks. Feel free to make your own agenda by checking out the full schedule.

Volunteers, don’t forget that your Thursday, June 15th, is booked. You have a bonus party: the speaker, sponsor, and volunteer dinner! Anyone involved in making this event possible will gather at Le Concorde Atlantique, a fancy venue installed on a ship on the Seine river! If you’ve haven’t confirmed your spot yet, you still have a few days to do it.

Tribe Meetups and Speed Networking are back

WordCamp Europe 2016 speed networking

Speed Networking at WordCamp Europe 2016

Nothing surprising here. I remember from last year when I was volunteering, and the Leopold Museum in Vienna was almost full during tribe meetups and speed networking.

So, the popularity of these two mini-events convinced the organizers to add them to the agenda again. This time, there will be even more sessions than in the previous two WordCamp editions. So, get ready for ten Tribe Meetups and three Speed Networking encounters.

In case this is your first time hearing about these two events, here’s a quick overview:

The Tribe Meetups are meant to help people with the same interests connect with each other. During the meetups, there will be different groups, each with a unique theme, that you can join based on what you’re interested in. For instance, if you are into content, you’ll probably get the chance to meet other writers and chat about the things you have in common.

Speed Networking is a fun event where you can meet people in a fast mode. You have 2-3 minutes to meet someone in the room, then switch to somebody else when you hear the signal. This is more like a game, with the goal being to help you meet people you wouldn’t have met otherwise.

But before you attend any of them, you have to fill out a form that you can find here, along with the schedule of both events.

Unfortunate visa troubles

Problems with being allowed to enter France? It seems that attending WCEU 2017 caused some trouble for people coming to Paris from around the world. Several WordCamp Europe attendees (and many yet to be interviewed) were rejected for their visas on the grounds that “the ticket was too cheap to justify an international travel,” believe it or not.

So far, the organizing team received 60 requests for invitation letters from the attendees, which caused them (the organizers) to take a step forward and help their fellow WordPressers by sending an open letter to the French president Emmanuel Macron that explained the situation to him.

The letter went viral in the WordPress community.

The organizers’ statement regarding this action was:

We hope the President of France can help “unblock the situation” for the remaining attendees who are still going through the visa application process. We are aware that the chances of the open letter being read by anyone with the power of changing anything are small, especially since the French government went through a major change last week.

We didn’t write it to get an official response, as it is an open letter, but we hope to send the message about the importance of being inclusive and accessible – what WordCamps are, mainly because of the small ticket price.

WordCamp Europe 2017 on social media

But, despite the visa incident that caused disappointment and mixed feelings among the foreign participants, the overall WCEU 2017 mood is in full swing. At least on social media, where people are expressing their excitement for heading to Paris. The community is communicating via the #WCEU hashtag on Twitter and everyone’s sharing their status regarding the upcoming WordCamp.

I selected some of the most interesting (and funny) ones we found on Twitter:


Meet our team there!

For the second straight year, most of the ThemeIsle team reserved their mid-June for WordCamp Europe. And we won’t be there just as attendees, but we are also involved in a few interesting “departments” in order to help the organizers as much as we can.

ThemeIsle volunteering WordCamp Europe

(A few of) us in front of Museums Quartier in Vienna after a long day of volunteering at WCEU 2016.

First of all, just like last summer in Vienna, we will all be volunteers.

Being a full-time volunteer makes you see things from another perspective and puts you in the center of everything. We had an awesome time volunteering a year ago, which we talked about right after we got home. So here we are again, willing to repeat that beautiful experience and walk in those shoes again.

But, apart from volunteering, ThemeIsle is also a media supporter in Paris.

WCEU 2017 media supporter

This means that we will have access to the organizing teams, sponsors, and speakers. In other words, we will have some privileges that we’re excited to take advantage of. Follow us on social media and on the blog for more news about these goodies during the conference.

And that’s not all. We are even sponsoring the WordPress Community Summit that will take place right before the conference, on June 13th and 14th. Ionut will participate in the debate, with Matt Mullenweg and the WordPress core team, as a member of the theme development team in the WordPress community.

And that’s it for our preview! How are you preparing for #WCEU? If you know of any other great events happening in Paris during WCEU 2017, please share them with us in the comments section below so we can have fun together. And, by the way, if you come across us at the conference, don’t hesitate to say hi! We are very friendly people.