One of the best things about using WordPress is the opportunity to build relationships with all the awesome people who use it. All across the world there are WordPress groups gathering in person on a regular basis. These WordPress meetups are an opportunity to meet and connect with other WordPress fans in your area. In Uganda, Jinja is the third town to be granted an official WordPress Meetup, part of the global WordPress community.
In 2012, WordPress.org published a blog post entitled “Year of the Meetup”, where community members were encouraged to host more meetups and create more community-based support around WordPress.
During the recently concluded WordCamp Kampala 2019, I led a session on WordPress Communities in Uganda in which WordPress meetups in Kampala and Entebbe were talked about.
We discussed the history and relevance of WordPress meetups in Uganda and also appreciated the need for growing the community by starting more meetups. Check out the session slides and those for other sessions here.
At the end of the session, I went ahead and promised to initiate a meetup in Jinja where I work (at Jinja Campus of Makerere University) after noticing that many of the attendees had crossed the Nile Bridge all the way from Eastern Uganda to attend a WordCamp in Kampala.
Starting an Official WordPress Meetup Chapter
The first step for Getting a Meetup group added to the chapter program is an application to WordPress.org Community Team. However, before applying as an organizer you need some of the following prerequisites because they are used to vet WordPress meetup organizer applications:
- Your WordPress Dot Org Profile: Your profile on wordpress.org contains a record of all your contributions to WordPress ecosystem, including activity in the support forums, any contributor badges, and how long you have been a member. As an example, check out mine at profiles.wordpress.org/mrogers4christ/ and that of Laurence Bahiirwa (WP Kampala Lead) at profiles.wordpress.org/laurencebahiirwa/
- Your presence online: How long you have worked with WP, and how active you have been in the WordPress community. Your social media including LinkedIn, Meetup, Twitter, Facebook, about.me, and personal blogs. should not have discriminatory behavior and you should not have any trademark or GPL violations.
- The the 5 good-faith rules: You need to have a clear understanding of the 5 good-faith rules that all WordPress meetup chapters follow. They are listed at https://make.wordpress.org/community/meetups/
- Venue and Aim: You need to have a clear plan on how you will acquire a venue, an idea about the number of WordPress users in the area and how you will reach out to them, and what exactly motivates you to organise the meetup. Such questions will be asked during an online interview the WordPress community deputies will have with you when reviewing your application.
- Slack Account: You also need to open up an account on Slack. The WordPress project uses Slack as its main real-time communication platform, and it is advisable to join the community team on slack in order to get in touch with other volunteers on the team.
When you feel that you are ready to make the application, then its time to submit the Meetup Interest Form! After submitting the form, you have to wait for a few days or weeks, following the WordPress Community Channel on Slack as you track the status of your application on the meetup applications page. When your application passes the initial review, an online interview with one of the WordPress Community Team Deputies will be scheduled. For me the Deputy who interviewed me was Mr. Aditya Kane of Pune city, India. We used Slack to chat before he started a Google Handouts video call. See screenshots below.
After passing the interview, it is also good to start reading the meetup organizer handbook for more ideas on getting started with the meetup in case your application is finally approved.
Four days later, I received an email from WordPress.org that our meetup group at https://www.meetup.com/Jinja-WordPress-Meetup-Group/ had been created! Celebrations!!!. I was requested to join the group on meetup.com and then get back to them to promote me as a co-organizer in the group so that I can get rights to start customizing the group and scheduling meetups . WordPress Community Support PBC takes care of payments of meetup.com dues and is listed as the primary group organizer. The applicant is listed as co-organizer.
I was also requested to send my mailing address so that they could ship a little WordPress swag pack (buttons/badges and stickers). The swag was shipped via DHL on Jan 17th from United States of America and it arrived Makerere University Jinja Campus on 18th January 2020.
More about WordPress Jinja Meetup
Jinja is the source of the mighty River Nile, the world’s longest river, which winds its way from here through Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean – and recently, a magnificent Nile Bridge was commissioned on the Jinja – Kampala highway.
There are very many institutions and university campuses in Jinja town. The students in these institutions are the main target for our new meetup here, but also other website designers, developers and bloggers are much welcome to join us!
So far we have got permission from two institutions to host our meetups, and we hope to get more on board within Jinja and other nearby towns.
Makerere University Jinja Campus is an external campus of Makerere University set up in February 2010, offering a number of programs such as Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Bachelor of Information Technology, Bachelor of Development Studies, Bachelor of Tourism among others. Recently, the campus started offering National Diplomas and Certificates examined by Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB).
KAWA Institute of Technology and Hospitality Institute (KITH) is a new Institute located at Nile Gardens near the New Vision office in Jinja Town. This Institute which earlier started as hub for sharing space and promotion of start ups has grown to offer short courses. There is a section specializing in hotel, hospitality, tourism, food production and house keeping courses, all based on technology to bring in the best ingredients.
Tomorrow’s Maiden Meetup
Our first meetup is happening tomorrow and so far, 37 attendees have registered on the event page on meetup.com. We shall do brief introductions, after which we shall dive straight into serious work. Our topic of the day will be about the technology at the heart of the web pages, and that is HTML.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the primary language that makes up static web pages. WordPress is a content management system that dynamically creates web pages and allows users to design websites even with no prior coding knowledge. However, a basic understanding of HTML can help you get more out of your WordPress website.
During this introductory meetup, which is also our maiden meetup for WordPress Jinja Community (https://www.meetup.com/Jinja-WordPress-Meetup/) we shall look at how HTML and WordPress work together. There will be free swag to be given out to all members who will make it to our maiden meetup.
Here are some resources you can read ahead of the meetup:
We shall meet in Lecture Room 3, at National Water and Sewerage Corporation Building, Jinja Plot 7 Bell Avenue Jinja. Call 0776960740 or Join Our WordPress Group for directions and real time updates.
Members from Kampala and other towns are much welcome to Join Us! and we birth this new Jinja meetup!