WordCamp Nürnberg – The Interview

Lucas Prigge, March 25, 2016

WordPress is more than just a nice CMS. It is also a community of passionate people who enjoy coming together to share their devotion to WordPress. Thanks to these events, WordPress has evolved greatly.

At Savvii we have been active members of this community for years. Not only in The Netherlands but all over Europe. Savvii visits and supports many WordCamps as a sponsor. The next one is in Nuremberg – In this article you get a look behind the scenes.

Today I have the honour to publish an interview with Frank Staude. Frank is a well-known name in the WordPress scene and organizer of the WordCamp Nuremberg.

Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello Lucas, my name is Frank Staude. I live in Neuendettelsau (located between Nuremberg and Ansbach) and am part of the team organizing the WordCamp Nuremberg 2016.

How did you get in touch with WordPress?

That was relatively late, in 2010. WordPress 3.0 was just released. At that time I wanted to create a podcast and our own CMS had no module for it. I had to choose between programming a module for our CMS or using a CMS for the project which already had a corresponding module. So I got stuck with WordPress.

How did you become part of the community?

After I did the podcast with WordPress it was obvious to do the rest of the website with WordPress. After that it was only a small step to realize the first customer projects with WordPress. Therefore it was necessary to build my own themes. Then the question arose how I could get deeper into WordPress. At that time I discovered the German forum on wordpress.org, which was not so easy to find at that time. There I found many questions which were not answered yet. So I had concrete problems with which I worked my way deeper and deeper into WordPress. As one of the few active people I got moderator rights relatively fast.

From 2011 I visited all German WordCamps. So you meet the people face to face who you usually only follow on Twitter or whose blogs you read and so you keep slipping in. Besides moderating in the forum, I have GTE rights for the German translation, whereby my main focus is on BuddyPress and its plugins. Furthermore, I hold several sessions on WordPress on WordCamps and BarCamps and have published a number of plugins (and many more ideas and projects waiting to be realized).

Today I perceive a WordCamp as a kind of family celebration. There are interesting conversations and you meet a lot of people with whom you only communicate via Twitter, Email & Slack for the rest of the year. That’s why the WordCamps I visit are also my highlights of the respective year.

What do you do professionally with WordPress?

First of all I am lucky to have a full time job where I am responsible for WordPress/BuddyPress plug-in development and community contact. In addition, I am setting up a service provider for WordPress administration with Stefan, the lead organizer of WordCamp Nürnberg AdminPress. With further projects we have to see how and in which direction they develop.

Do you organize other events besides the WordCamp Nuremberg?

Before I moved to Neuendettelsau I lived in Hannover. There I founded the PHP Usergroup and managed it for 14 years. I also founded the Arduino group (microcontroller) and the WordPress MeetUp and managed them until my move. After the move I joined the organization of the WordPress Meetup Franken. Most of the members of the Meetup Franken are recruited for the organization team of the WordCamp.

What did you learn from other events where you were a visitor or organizer?

We were very lucky. On the one hand, we submitted our application to the WordPress Foundation (you have to apply there if you want to host a WordCamp) before the WordCamp Cologne 2015, so that we could visit both Cologne and the WordCamp Berlin with the knowledge to host ourselves. We paid a lot of attention to small details. What is good and what is missing? For example: If there is a cloakroom, you can get rid of the beverage bottles in the lecture hall or directly when leaving, or you have to carry them back to the catering area first. All these thousand little things that you normally don’t pay much attention to.

At the Contributorday in Cologne there was a theme table “WordCamp Orga” with the organisation team of the Cologne camp, so that we felt well prepared. Furthermore, we have the organizers of the WordCamps Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin in our organization channel on Slack so that we can fall back on their skills at any time.

What is the focus of the WordCamp Nuremberg?

While the colleagues from Berlin had set up their camp for designers and programmers, we called for our “Call for Talks” to think outside the box. Fortunately, we were heard and a lot of Talks were submitted that had nothing to do with WordPress, but hit us as programmers, designers, users, employees or freelancers. We believe that we have managed to create a very interesting session plan and the feedback we have received proves that we are right.

To give you an idea of what we mean by “thinking outside the box”. We have a company physician who deals with ergonomic posture. We have 5 lawyers who deal with subjects such as printing, hate sowing, self-employment or GPL & commercial software. The user reports to WordPress in the honorary doctorate for fugitive work and of course any amount of typical WordCamp topics.

There were some obstacles in the organization of the WordCamp. What were the challenges and how did you solve them?

You are probably referring to the location of the WordCamp. When we met at the WordCamp in Berlin in the autumn of 2015 and discussed Savvii’s interest in becoming a sponsor in Nuremberg, our WordCamp should take place at a different location. We had received a very good quote for the spaces, but there were delays, the contact changed and at one point the final contract was available, which was quite far from the offer, so with the best will in the world it was not possible for us to keep the event there. Unfortunately this took 2 months and we were able to discard all web design, logos and language because it was related to the location. The current location, the Georg-Simon-Ohm Technical University, was only visited the week before Christmas. But the member of staff there had a lot of understanding for our situation, so we got the promise relatively quickly that we could organize the WordCamp there.
The building of the university we are now visiting is relatively new, the lecture halls all have daylight, it is very centrally located and is only one Subway away from Central station.

What did you learn from the organization of WCNürnberg?

First of all, the search for a suitable location was more difficult than expected. We planned for 350-400 participants. That means a hall where 400 people fit in, plus 3 more rooms for about 100 people each, if you want to do 4 tracks parallel like we do. In addition there is room for the catering and the sponsors – then the whole thing has to be affordable. There are guidelines from the WordPress Foundation what a WordCamp may cost for the participant. The rest has to be financed by sponsors. There won’t be many places left where you can do such a thing.

The choice of caterer was also more difficult than expected. Many (often also social) institutions we knew as caterers from other camps canceled because it was too big for them. On the one hand this is a pity, but at the same time I am glad that they communicate this so honestly. It is no help to anyone if the caterer only has the €-signs in mind, but does not get it handled properly. At the same time it has to be affordable.

What do you expect as a highlight for WordCamps Nuremberg?

I don’t think there’s the “one” highlight. Everyone has different expectations, experiences, knowledge levels and different socialization. So I can only tell you my highlights. You and probably every reader will make a different assessment for themselves and that’s fine.

I’m very excited about the keynote and how it will be received – even though I won’t tell you who the speaker is yet.

I am also very much looking forward to the sessions with RA Chan-Jo Jun, as I have made long, very pleasant phone calls with him for the WordCamp and I am also very much looking forward to Jessica’s session on introversion. A subject we were very happy with. And for the neighborhood party on Saturday night we also have some surprises in store.

Do you still have tips for WordCamp and Meetup organizers?

Let’s start with the Meetup. For the German-speaking countries, it’s best to check out wpmeetups.de to see if there’s anything in your area. If not, just reserve a table in a pub/restaurant/CoWorking space, publish the date on forums and social networks and see what happens. The WordPress Foundation provides help (e.g. registering on Meetup.com or renting rooms), publishers and some software vendors offer support for user groups. At the German WordCamps it has become established to hold a Meta-Meetup Session. There the makers of Meetups meet to exchange experiences. So if you are thinking about starting your own Meetup and coming to Nuremberg, the Meetup Session will take place on Saturday, April 16th at 11 am in the room “Martin Behaim”.

For a WordCamp you also get support from the WordPress Foundation, there is a lot of material with recommendations and best practices and you get a so called deputy assigned to accompany you in the run-up.

And no matter if WordCamp or Meetup, it is always a good idea to exchange ideas with the creators of the other camps/meetups – to communicate actively with the community. We don’t bite, on the contrary, we are happy with everyone who wants to contribute something and support them to the best of our ability.

Finally, what are your tips for visitors to WordCamp?

There are still tickets available and thanks to our partner hotel.de we can also offer a voucher code Wordcamp-NBG-2016, with which the overnight stay gets €10,- cheaper. People who are able should definately come one or more days earlier. On the one hand, Nuremberg is a really beautiful, old city where there is a lot to discover and on the other hand, the WordCamp is part of the Nürnberg WebWeek (11th to 18th April), for which around 50 web-related events take place in Nuremberg and the surrounding area. It’s definitely worth taking a look at the programme.

I’m delighted that we’re seeing each other in Nuremberg, Lucas, because Savvii is one of our silver sponsors – many thanks for that. And I am also happy about everyone who buys a ticket and is our guest in Nuremberg. See you at the Technical University Georg-Simon-Ohm in Nuremberg on April 16th and 17th!

We at Savvii thank you very much for the great interview and are looking forward to welcoming you in Nuremberg.

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