David Coveney

WordCamp UK – Great Stuff + a Little Controversy

I’m just settling in at the office having spent the weekend at WordCamp UK 2010 which was staged in Manchester and is a community event for WordPress users and developers.  I gave two presentations, one about WordPress in Big Media, and another about WordPress in the Enterprise.  These followed on from presentations given at last year’s WordCamp.

The Craic

The second WordCamp UK Logo

Yes, this isn’t the logo actually used, but I prefer this one :o)

I’m going to say now that one of the key elements of a good conference or unconference is the socialising – this is where you meet people, bond with them over beers/food/dancing and form alliances that in the future could prove to be very powerful.  You certainly get to make friends and feel like you’re a part of an actual community, and this happens in a way that you’ll never be able to reproduce with online technology.  As a consequence it’s no surprise that the awesome Thinking Digital conference has been nicknamed Drinking Digital by some wags.

As ever,Tony Scott excelled himself by getting us access to the famous Factory Manchester (FAC251) which also happens to be across the road from a magnificently geeky pub that sells good beers, has various classic 8 bit and 16 bit computers adorning the walls, and classic arcade games on free play.  Awesome.

The Presentations

There was a typically varied range of presentations running across three rooms, along with other folk busy coding up for the WordHack (the fruits of their labours are online).  One particular stream that particularly caught my attention was that of a sequence of involvement from John Adams of the Department for International Development.  He ran a free-form discussion group on testing strategies which was followed by an interesting talk on PHP unit-testing Nikolay Bachiyski of GlotPress fame.  This session showed up some of the lack of structure in general testing of WordPress core code, plugins and themes.  Although the approaches used were probably fine for a publishing platform, they would struggle to gain ISO approval.  In other words, you wouldn’t want to fly on a WordPress powered plane!

Other presentations that I particularly enjoyed were Michael Kimb Jones’s WOW plugins, and Toni Sant’s very underattended Sunday morning slot where he discused the way WP has helped with a range of Maltese websites.

The Controversy

What’s a WordCamp without at least a little controversy?  However, for the attendees of this one, this was a biggie… Jane Wells is Automattic’s Master of Suggestion (seriously, that company has some weird job titles) and she made a suggestion that we shouldn’t have a WordCamp UK, but instead locally organised WordCamps for cities.

There’s a number of issues I have with this:

  1. Everyone in the UK knows that quite quickly WordCamp London would be the big one with all the attention in both media and attendance.  It would quickly dominate – in large helped by the enormous population density of the capital.  A WordCamp UK in London would be fine and popular (also considerably more expensive) but that’s all that’s needed.
  2. Many British cities have intense rivalries whilst we all still stand together as a nation – there are folk in Glasgow who would never attend a WordCamp Edinburgh, but would definitely be more interested in a WordCamp Scotland.  End result?  Cities would have small attendances by and large, and our impressive capacity for indifference for minor events would mean that they’d end up as little more than tiny, cliquey gatherings.  Anyone who’s tried to run GeekUps will understand this problem.
  3. A lot of work, energy and our own money has been spent on building up WordCamp UK.  Is Jane seriously suggesting we should dump that?
  4. What is Jane’s authority on this?  She’s simply an Automattic employee.  We chose WordCamp UK and its structure – it’s ours.  If someone else wants to run a WordCamp UK in the country they’re perfectly entitled and there’s no real reason why we couldn’t have three or four running each year – that would be a huge success.  A highly capitalistic organisation that is just one of thousands of contributors to the project and which plays no part in actually running most WordCamps shouldn’t get so involved.
  5. The UK is also very small – 90% of the population can reach all past WordCamp UKs in less than 3hrs – there is no real problem about accessibility.
  6. None of the UK’s key WordPress community members want to give up WordCamp UK.
  7. Jane admitted only six or seven people had complained to her about the situation, two of which turned out to be in Ireland – which except for a small part isn’t in the UK at all.  She couldn’t confirm whether they were Northern Irish or not, which was actually something of a poor mistake to make in front of 150 or so Brits.
  8. Us Brits are a pretty apathetic bunch at the best of times – actually running a WordCamp in each major city would be surprisingly unlikely to happen – there were only two bids submitted for this year’s event – one in Portsmouth and one in Manchester.
  9. The whole point of the *camp suffix is that it’s all free and easy with no big organisations sticking their oar in.  They are inconsistent and joyful.  They’re fun.  Automattic should keep out.
  10. The WordCamp name is not trademarked, and we’ve been using it in the UK for some time now.  It’s ours!

Of course, there are two sides to each argument.  Here’s some reasons and benefits to splitting up WordCamps in the UK:

  1. If somebody wished to run a WordCamp for their city they may feel that the UK badge is dominating and there’d be little interest as a consequence if it was called WordCamp Bristol, or WordCamp Salford.
  2. A national event called something like WordConf could happen.
  3. Erm…

Thing is – we can’t necessarily win this battle here in Britain.  We don’t control the WordCamp.org website – Matt Mullenweg does (he has the domain registration in his name) so if we fight to keep calling it WordCamp UK there’ll be no ongoing support for the event from Matt and his team if they wish to stop the use of the UK moniker.

Which would mean standing up to them.  Do we want to?  Are we prepared for a fight on this?  What do the likes of Mike Little (co-founder of the WordPress project) and Peter Westwood (a UK based core developer) feel about this?

Interestingly we were told the same thing applies to the likes of WordCamp Ireland which will now face this problem – but I wonder if Matt understands Ireland particularly well (we know Jane doesn’t) and that in that country the dominant WordCamp would quickly become an expensive Dublin event.  You may get one doing well in Cork, but Kilkenny, with a population of just 22,000 and which staged this year’s event, probably wouldn’t be able to sustain an annual WordCamp.

So, Jane has to really allow each country to understand its own social constructs and history and let their own communities choose how they do things.  One or two may complain, but it’s not possible to please everyone.

And we showed off too…

My company Interconnect IT have released, through our Spectacu.la brand, the following plugins which you may find useful:

I couldn’t help using the Discussion plugin to run some live discussion sessions.

And The Thanks

I can’t say thank you enough to the people who make WordCamp UK a success for no personal reward.  Tony Scott leads it up, with Mike Little, Nick Garner, Chi-chi Ekweozor, Simon Dickson and many many more working hard behind the scenes.  Also to Nikolay to letting me play with the fastest 85mm lens I ever saw!  Thank you, you’re wonderful people.

WordPress in the Enterprise Presentation

WordPress in Big Media Presentation

  • http://www.leewillis.co.uk/ Lee Willis

    It’s worth noting that Jane’s approach is neither new, nor anything aimed specifically at WordCamp UK – http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=wordcamp+trademark

    • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

      Yeah, there’s an attitude seeping through there, isn’t there?

      I get the feeling there’s too much of a ‘them and us’ attitude. Dangerous.

      • http://www.leewillis.co.uk/ Lee Willis

        I actually agree that having a WordCamp UK could be intimidating to other people who believe that there is a strong enough local community to warrant / support it. I understand fully how Jane wants to ensure that if the trademark is being used, that it is being used to represent the same thing, consistently across the world.

        I can also understand how it’s in WordPress’ best interests that there *are* multiple groups if there’s the interest to sustain them. If you start having a bloggers / how-to-use-WP track in addition to the traditional “development” tracks I can think of 8-10 cities in the UK that *could* support an annual conference.

        All of that said however. The current organizers of WordCamp UK have obviously done a fantastic job or growing a community, and event for the last 3 years, and I don’t think Jane was suggesting for a minute that the current organisers can’t or shouldn’t continue to arrange WordPress events – I definitely agree that they should continue.

        One idea might be to pick a city, but make a deliberate, and concerted attempt to involve local organisers that would pick up solely the subsequent years event. For example, say WCUK2011 was in Bristol, call it WC Bristol, find some local organisers to get involved with the hope that they’ll hold WC Bristol 2012 themselves, and so on. Aim to do that every six months for the next year or so – I’m sure Jane could put you in touch with people who have expressed and interest and might welcome the support [They might not, but hey ...]

        Another option might be to set up regional events for now – not sure if Jane would support that, but WC UK North, and WC UK South ..?

        Anyway – it seems the only thing the foundation can do is prevent the use of a name, on which subject I’ll quote a good friend of mine from long ago …

        “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
        By any other name would smell as sweet;”

        Well done to everyone involved in a great event.

      • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

        I understand what you say, and there’s always the option that WordCamp UK just gets called ‘WordCamp Whatever City We’ve Landed In’ in the future.

        I think what’s riled folk is that behind it all is an autocracy that has no real interest in what we say or feel – they have their own agenda, for their own reasons, and they don’t wish to talk to us before they set it.

      • http://www.leewillis.co.uk/ Lee Willis

        Just one more thing. Point 10 of your article states that “WordCamp” isn’t trademarked. However the WordPress Foundation does have a pending trademark application, filed at the end of December last year.

        http://www.trademarkia.com/wordcamp-77902996.html

        Not that that should really make any difference to this discussion, but just to clarify.

      • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

        Lee – you’ll find that’s in the US. In the UK I can’t find any trace of the registration – pending or otherwise.

      • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

        Scrub that – as you said on Twitter – it looks like it’s an international trademark that’s been applied for.

  • Chris

    Excellent wrap up Dave of the controversial topic that almost spoiled an otherwise excellent event.

    The US folks are spoilt by their own enthusiam sometimes. Jane said she considered a conference with 50 attendees small whilst I’m sure some UK organisers would consider that number a bit of a triumph!

    A general topic of conversation in the pub afterwards was that 1) this has been blown out of proportion (6/7 people interested in running a wordcamp, how many of them would actually put in the time and effort to get their idea off the ground?) 2) it’s not the name that’s important but the people in attendance. We’d all turn up to “PressGang 2011″ if it meant the same quality of talks and the same great networking opportunities

    • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

      The thing I worry about is that a WordGang conference (or any other non WordCamp name) would get zero support from the WordCamp site and Automattic team – and quite possibly from the core team. That would make it harder and therefore more expensive to market.

      It’s up to us, I guess, to decide how much we need Automattic’s support. I suspect we need it a lot less than we think…

    • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

      Oh, and you’re right about enthusiasm levels! Brits are quite a different type of person to USAnians. We don’t get terribly enthusiastic, as a rule, unless it involves football, perhaps.

  • http://equalwebcreative.com Mark Wilkinson

    Nice summary here Dave. I have to say I agree with you on this one (the controversy). Why do Automattic feel as though they have to get involved with something that it not organised by them at all? It just feels like they are taking control of something that is not theirs.

    The UK is very different from other countries (particularly the US) mainly due to size. Like you say accessibility is not really an issue, particularly if it is a once a year WordCamp. I am sure most people can make the effort for one weekend.

    I would also like to re-iterate thanks to all those that made this years WordCamp UK a success and those that put in the hard work in organising the event.

    • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

      Thanks for dropping by Mark.

      Good point about them trying to take over – that really is how it feels!

  • James

    I couldn’t agree less. I’m glad that WordCamps will be decentralised, if for no other reason than that some other people might be able to take the reigns and do it better. Tickets going on sale two weeks before the conference? Posters, T-Shirts and speaker changes all just a few days before the event, room changes throughout the day? It was mess.

    With regards to your own arguments – you’re incorrect, you don’t own it. What you own, in the figurative sense, is the event and the community itself. Automattic own the WordCamp name. You ask what Jane’s authority on this is: She is head of all WordCamps throughout the world – I’d say that’s pretty sufficient.

    #6 is your most controverial point. You say that none of the UK’s key WordPress community members want to give up WordCamp UK. So on that basis, you must have spoken to every single one of them. Just out of interest, who are they?

    Are you the 3rd most important person for WordPress in the UK?

    Claims like this are dangerous and rarely (as in this case) at all accurate

    • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

      James – I don’t recognise your name or email address. Have you been involved in running the WordCamp at all? You’re perfectly entitled to run your own or to get involved.

      Yes, this was a tricky WordCamp, but for various reasons that were less to do with who ran it (Cardiff was slicker) and more to do with certain legalities that took longer to sort out than expected.

      You have to remember that people give their time freely – and it takes an awful lot of it up. If you want to help or could make it better, get stuck in.

      And there’s no reason why you can’t have your own WordCamp if you want it. I’ve though of running a mini-one, but then I realised how much work even managing 50 people would involve so anything I’ll do will probably be more commercial and under its own moniker.

    • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

      I just realised what you meant by “3rd most important person for WordPress in the UK?” – well, that just negated any validity of your argument – there’s no need for snide little digs like that.

      I don’t consider myself one of the most important anything – I’m just a guy who’s done what he can to support WordCamp, including preparing two bids to host it, sponsorship of two events, attendance at all, and have spoken four times at them.

      What have you done?

      • James

        It didn’t negate anything in the slightest, and it wasn’t a dig. My point was that there is no official list of “key WordPress community members in the UK” and on that basis you aren’t qualified to speculate as to how they might all feel on the subject.

        I don’t need to organise my own WordCamp or justify my own involvement with WordPress to have an opinion on the matter.

      • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

        There is no official list (and never would be), but people like Peter Westwood and Mike Little would be considered by almost anybody to be key members of the community given their core work. They appear to like WordCamp UK as it is.

        And whilst we’re not royalty, we’ve been a significant part in getting the like of The Telegraph onto WordPress. May have happened without us, of course.

        You are, as you say, entitled to your opinion – but if you don’t like something the best way to change it is to get involved. It’s like at the social on Saturday night – lots of people complained about the volume, and I agreed… so it was myself that actually went over to the DJ and asked him to turn the volume down. Didn’t take much from me, but did mean I had to be prepared to take some responsibility for the decision… but in my view a far better course of action than complaining about the volume.

  • http://gingerbreaddesign.co.uk/todd Todd Halfpenny

    Hey all,

    Firstly and secondly thanks for the post Dave and it was a real pleasure to meet you all at what I consider to have been a very valuable and enjoyable weekend.

    Thirdly in relation to the whole “controversy” I think perhaps that we’re in danger of making a mountain out of a mole-hill. If WordCamp.org/Automattic or whoever would like the name of whatever WordCamps take place to be named after the city they’re being held in then I think that no-one has really any concerns and we should embrace this. I think what may trouble us Brits is that we don’t think that there really is enough demand for the number of WordCamps to dramtically increase and that geographically the size of the UK isn’t a limiting factor for something that happens annually. In saying this I suppose I’m worried that if the UK organising team were fragmented then I possibly wouldn’t receive the kind of great experience that I did at the one just gone due to speakers not being available, sponsors not being motivated etc if the events were to be much smaller in scale and publicity.

    I certainly don’t want to stop anyone from being able to organise a WordCamp St Albans (for example, which I’m sure would get the excellent backing from WordCamp.org) but I think in the same mindset that if the “community” within the UK feels that it wants to put an extra “this is the big one for the year” stamp on a particular WordCamp then this will happen regardless due to certain speakers being more influential than others.

    I hope I haven’t rambled too much and that there was a point to be found somewhere in the above ;-)

    Todd

    • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

      Small events would be trickier for sponsors. There’s no point in sponsoring something you can’t attend, and you don’t have more money to offer just because there’s more events going on.

      It’s tricky – I think anyone is entitled to run a WordCamp. Even one called WordCamp UK. They just need to do as good a job as possible.

  • http://tonyscott.org.uk/ Tony Scott

    Good post Dave with some well-made points.

    Here’s an extract from a post I made to the WordCamp UK mailing list I made earlier today

    “I personally doubt the UK can currently support city/location specific WordCamps, for a number of reasons that initially come to mind:

    1. The nature of the UK (nothing to do with WP) would mean that we would probably end up with a dominant WordCamp London which would, in effect, become WordCamp UK.

    2. Are there currently enough people interested enough to attend multiple WordCamps – just to note there is currently only one local meetup group in the UK I’m aware of – Manchester, led by Mike Little (there was a Leeds group until Christmas that now seems to be inactive).

    3. Maybe more importantly, are there currently enough people across the country who wish to organise these separate WordCamps?

    4. Is there enough sponsorship money available to support reasonably priced tickets? Sponsorship money for WordCamp UK was down this year from last year.”

    • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

      Thanks Tony.

      I’m just not sure it’s worth fighting the battle at the moment so the ‘core’ WordCamp UK team could continue to run and market WordCamps across the country, simply changing names as we go along.

      But I’m not sure Automattic would like that either – they state very clearly on their about page that these are meant to be locally run events – a key UK team could be see as ‘off-putting’ too. We’ll see in the long run, I guess, but if I were you I’d think about how much time and energy you want to invest in something else that could also get blocked off by our overlords.

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  • http://www.KevinjohnGallagher.com Kevinjohn Gallagher

    Hi Dave,

    As someone who ‘decided’ against coming down to Manchester this year (mostly due to the late organisation/tickets going on sale etc. – not a dig i promise, we all know what real life is like), and followed with joy at everyone’s updates, I thought I’d share some thoughts.

    A little heads up, I’m in Scotland (though not Scottish, so there’s no rhetoric involved); but that’s where my view points going to come from. I’m also going to directly answer your points above if thats ok, i’ve kept numebrs the same but missed a few out as they were pefectly valid and reasoned out :)

    1. While WordCamp London may be the big one, it is also alot easier for many to get to London than other cities. In terms of Trains, Planes and Automobiles this becomes particularly true once you’re north of the border. If I can take Manchester and Edinburgh as an example. Because of the nature of the “east-coast” and “west-coast” railway lines and franchises, anyone in Edinburgh can make it to London quicker than Manchester – and Manchester’s in the “north”. Edinburgh to Cardiff (which was 2 years ago?? I’m getting old) took me the equivalent of a flight to Singapore (along with 4 changes of train – not counting provincial services).

    Edinburgh to Manchester has 4 flights a day, Edinburgh to Cardiff has 2 flights a day, Edinburgh to London has 23 (probably more with smaller airlines).

    Given that Scotland’s population above Glasgow (in the west) is very very sparse (under 5%), the amount of travel for anyone north of Edinburgh to get to a WordCamp “uk” is quiet considerable. As daft as it sounds because it’s further… London is a lot easier than Manchester (or really anywhere on the west coast) for 2/3s of Scotland.

    2. While I agree that a WordCamp Scotland would have more support than an Edinburgh or Glasgow one individually, I also think you’re overstating the old peroquial battle lines. I doubt there are people in Portsmouth who would rather come to Edinburgh than Southampton; nor Scousers who’d rather go to London than Manchester etc.

    While I think that society has changed for the better as a whole, I also think that we’re talking about people who are going to a (lets face it) rather geeky weekend of looking at each others code. It’s hardly a Celtic vs. Rangers game ;-)

    3. Although 3rd (4th/5th) hand, that wasn’t the impression I had gotten. I think that Jane is one for bouncing around ideas, and if memory serves me correctly she laughed at the fact that I had to travel through 2 different countries to get to a WordCamp in “the same country” for the Cardiff WordCamp. I feel, and this might upset some people, but that the “UK” (big inverted commas) is really only looked upon as the “one nation” by people in England. Apologies, apologies. But I’ve been in the UK for a long time, having lived and worked in all of it’s countries (and northern Ireland), and that’s my overriding impression.

    5. “The UK is also very small – 90% of the population can reach all past WordCamp UKs in less than 3hrs – there is no real problem about accessibility”

    I would LOVE to know where you live, or how on earth 90% of the UK lives within 3 hours of Cardiff. I live 1 mile outside of Edinburgh, and its more than 3 hours to York.
    If that’s true, and y’know it might be, surely the same argument could be then made for London – other than the difference between Edinburgh to London and Edinburgh to Cardiff is monumental. I’d guess the same would be the same for people in Newcastle? (he says in an attempt to make it not just about myself)

    7. No part of Ireland (the landmass) is in the UK. Not being political, it says so on the Passport. It’s not part of “Great Britain”. It’s a region, an add-on (been like that 1920 mate). It’s also not a province, and many call it (the Province is Ulster, but that includes Donegal, which is in Eire under the Free State law of 1922). If we’re having a wee “dig” about inaccuracies, I think we can give the nice American lady a break given that she’s just as wrong as some “Brits” :) Were these “Brits” who had a problem with Jane’s comments English or living in England? One might suggest that it’s a matter of perspective. I’m going to go out on a limb here my friend and suggest that you might be English? And Living in England. Happy to be wrong though.

    Also, and in attempt to lighten my above sentences, when I worked for Macromedia we held a conference in Belfast in the earl 2000s. In my welcome pack it had some really lovely detailed instructions… Which informed me to drive to “turn left at Carlisle” and drive straight for 500 miles until I hit Larne (which is over the Irish Sea). This went out to about 300 people in Scotland, Wales and England. Thankfully most stopped for the Ferry (and possibly chips at Troon). No-one decided to swim. Even the Americans who flew over. One even laughed, bless him. The other blamed Microsoft ;-) Seriously, not for the error, for the Irish Sea!!!

    I do think this raises an interesting point though, at a higher level. “we” are unique in the world in that “we” are one “country” that actually encompasses 3 separate countries and an semi-autonomous region (that’s had it’s sovereignty and ability to govern/self-govern re-defined by law 6 times in the last 100 years), one of which is not connected by land. Forgetting that Jane’s comment was poor to the “Brits” in the audience; it does give some visibility to the difficulty that some people who fall under the WordCampUK banner face.

    For example, when I told my Senior developer that he’d have to deal with the support queries directly if I took the Friday off to go to the WordCamp he replied “WordCamp UK? UK? Ha. Where in England is it?” The emphasis being UK=England. Obviously, we all know it aint like that. I’m not suggesting it is in anyway. I don’t buy into that thinking, especially among people like ourselves who view the world in a more… I dunno just “Better” viewpoint; but it is my experience that folks from outside England do have that viewpoint (at least on some level).

    8. I agree completely that “one per city” is unlikely. But one per region or even a north/south, or one per ‘country’ might be a better solution. Of course it might not. I like the idea of 100+ of us getting together. It’s like a mini holiday to me. I’ll save for it.

    But I’m not sure you’re aware of the difference in travel times availible from each location. For example, the last train to Edinburgh (or anywhere in Scotland) from London is at 6pm. While the last train to Newcastle (50 mins south on the train) from London is 9.30. If you don’t drive, getting to a WordCamp and not having it take up 3.5 days (minimum) can be a bit of a pain.

    Maybe have, for example, 1 in the south (portsmouth/southampton/london), 1 in the ‘middle’ (manchester/liverpool/leeds – yes I know it’s the “north” but there’s still 60% of the landmass above there ;-] ), and one in the ‘north’ (edinburgh/glasgow/newcastle/dundee). Would each get less people? Yes. Would each be more capable of convincing people who wouldn’t go from Dundee to Cardiff to come to Glasgow? Yes. Heck we could spread them throughout the year, incase people could make 2.

    9. I agree that it’s definitely more of a “fan feel” to these events, but I don’t think Jane was overly putting her oar in as an “automattic” person, merely as someone who’d been approached with feedback. Sometimes, and please don’t take too much offence, but English people from England, especially those from cities that are well connected (trains + planes), might not appreciate fully the difficulty that non-English people have sometimes in communicating that just because we’re in the UK, doesn’t mean it’s all hunky dory.

    For example: Did you know that I have to change my money to English notes if I go to England for more than 2 days? Scottish money, while legal tender, is apparently “foreign”.

    ===================================================

    Look, there’s a bit too much country-based stuff in my comment, but i don’t think it’s coming from the people (nor myself). But there are certain logistics about going cross border…. even when the border doesn’t really exist.

    For me, with any train ticket into England costing £100-150 if bought within 6 weeks of the date of travel (especially at the weekend), a combination of late organisation (again, no disrespect intended at all) and location put the brakes on my coming. Maybe we should all discuss this once the dust settles, incase anyone’s feelings get hurt.

    Kev

    • James

      +1,000,000

    • John

      A minor point maybe but if you going to play the get your facts right card you might want to check yours first. The UK is an abbreviation for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (it’s even on the passport).

      On the issue of organisation sadly because of the world we live in I’m glad that they have now got the structure in place to provide for at least 1 UK based wordcamp whilst ensuring those putting it together do not become overly liable in their own right. Hopefully with this now sorted out we can have the tickets/dates etc available and known about much sooner ensuring we’ll all be able to get better deals on travel and accommodation once the location is sorted. On the subject of location I would say that the 90% within 3 hours is not an unreasonable generalisation as in your case Edinburgh to Manchester is a 1 hour flight, Cardiff 1h 15 and Birmingham 1h 10.

      To help get over the it’s always England sentiment might I submit that you would find it worthwhile putting together a wordcamp in Edinburgh. I for one would appreciate the excuse to go there.

      Regarding Jane’s comments it was rather more the attitude and approach rather then the name issue that I feel struck a cord especially as threatening to enforce an apparently non-existent Trade Mark [It would appear that it hasn't been granted yet in the US and there isn't one even applied for in Europe which would suggest that the application wasn't done under the Madrid System] can hardly be seen as community spirited and was rather a shame to be honest.

      • http://www.KevinjohnGallagher.com kevinjohn gallagher

        Hi John,

        Thanks for the reply. Well, I’ll hold my hands up and apologise if I’m wrong on that one (and i’ll take your word on it); i truly thought the definition of the UK was re-drafted so as not to include the commonwealth countries or NI as part of the Good Friday agreement. Anyway, I digress…

        My point on that was more, maybe we could give Jane a “pass” on not fully understanding the Ireland / Northern Ireland issue. I’m confident if we’re to swing a cat, we’d hit at least one person from “these isles” who’d get it wrong too.

        I’ll also take your word on the tone / inclination. I wasn’t there, and gladly admit that my info was “3rd (4th/5th?) hand”. Is the WordCamp trademarking a shame? Yes, but it’s also not a shock given the landscape of the last 2-3 years.

        I have an idea. Mostly bourne out of worry regarding appearing anti-england or anti-english (neither of which are true). Why don’t we have a census? In a casual way. Over the next few months – no rush. Find out where people live or work. Lets ask folks who made these wordcamps and couldn’t. If you couldn’t, lets ask why.

        Will it help? i dunno. Will it be more hassle than it’s worth? i dunno. I’m in Blue Sky mode (sorry for that phrase).

        And finally, John you’re not wrong about flights being an hour from really anywhere in the “uk” to anywhere (please don’t hate me if you’re in inverness); but flights kinda require lots of notice, getting to airports etc. You’re also at their mercy time wise, and from smaller/provincial places that might require a whole day of work etc. Either way, its moot until next year. I suppose my statement is this:
        Manchester, while near and central imo, would have needed me to take Friday off work, and possibly Monday or leave insanely-sharp/early on Sunday; simply due to the imaginary border. Its not anyone’s fault, well maybe Maggie Thatcher, its definately not anyone involved in WCUK’s fault, i’m just not sure that it’s something you lads knew about; and why that to me strengthens at least the need for a discussion on some form of split.

        P.S. As much as you’d like to come to Edinburgh, I’m sitting here listening to some Sally Cinamon gutted at missing going to FAC251. Love how crap their website is, and how they still blame the Happy Mondays (course, they’re not wrong)

    • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

      I’m surprised it’s so hard for you to get from Edinburgh to Manchester. Admittedly it’s just over 3hrs to get to Edinburgh from Liverpool, but that’s still not too bad.

      I know what you mean about transport links, however. I’m lucky enough to be able to choose between a car, train or even plane. But I live where I do because of the excellent communication links.

      Cardiff would indeed be a bit of a schlep for you. But don’t forget that the UK population is largely concentrated in England… and of that, the biggest concentration is in the South East. So London ends up dominating England, and England ends up dominating Scotland and the rest of the UK and so on. But Wales has already had a big WordCamp UK (and I think it was the best so far) and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it went to Scotland next. All it needs is someone willing to make the sacrifices to make it happen.

      If WordCamp Whatever comes to Liverpool (I won’t bid for a while, Manchester was close and other regions deserve their share) then I’d do our bit in our own way – each city that holds WordCamps still gets to apply their own flavour to the event. Liverpool’s would have been shinier and slicker and probably bigger, but more expensive too – and price is important and that’s why I withdrew our bid.

      If you want to see a WordCamp in Scotland you can organise your own from scratch, or you can use the excellent infrastructure Tony, Mike et al have set up and offer to host an event next year. It would be hugely popular – I’d LOVE to go to a big WordCamp in Edinburgh or Glasgow – it’s be awesome. Anywhere else in Scotland would be fine too, though I’d want plenty of notice for that one – it’s a loooong way away.

      I’d have gone to WordCamp Ireland as well this year had it not been for preparations for the new baby + a lot of work going on.

      • http://www.KevinjohnGallagher.com Kevinjohn Gallagher

        HI Dave,

        A bit of spam brought me back to this post, which is excellent as I’d lost the link.

        The point I really wanted to get across, and possibly failed, is about this:

        “But don’t forget that the UK population is largely concentrated in England…”

        Yes, but it’s not THOSE people who had spoken to Jane, which lead to this. Its the others. I truly believe the solution would be to have a WordCamp North and WordCamp South at 6 months intervals. A % of people would attend both – probably more so if we could plan it in advance.

        Either way, I do feel that the larger issue here is that transport, when outside of the centre of England, works very differently. It ends quicker, costs more, and takes longer. Thats no-ones fault; but its not intrinsically understood by people who don’t face this problem regularly.

  • Johan

    It was a great event!

    Trying to be sober about the nationality “issue” I guess Jane (WordCamp/WordPress) have a valid point and I’m pretty sure noone wants to stop anyone from setting up more WordCamps, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (or anywhere else for that matter). What happened was unfortunate and should probably be digested a bit more and something good WILL (must?) come out of it.

    My gut feeling though is when the stick is brought out and words like “protecting trademark” people become apprehensive. I’ll try to hold my peace on this “issue” further, since I’m not even from the UK (though from a region that would probably not sustain more than a “national level” WordCamp).

    Loved the weekend, hope to come back next year, in whatever form it may be!

    One credit I haven’t seen has been to Jonathan Harris for his graphic design! The T-Shirt was pure genious!

    • Johan

      .. and, yeah, Dave, I agree that loo was the better one too! :)

      • Johan

        Bah, need to catch up on sleep, spelling is worse than ususl :)

        That *logo* was the better one (imho)

    • http://davidcoveney.com Dave

      Oh, their opinion is totally valid. My irritation was the very obvious disdain for the opinion of everyone else. I know for a fact that Jane didn’t bring this up with organisers prior to the event or over the weekend – it just popped up, right at the end, that WordCamp UK was an unacceptable name.

      But I’ve given up now – I don’t want a fight with anybody.

  • http://astrotalkuk.org Gurbir Singh

    This post is a shorter and modified version of the one I made to the WordCampUK mailing list I made earlier today.

    Thanks for your support to WCUK and the two informative presentations. I am disappointed by the absence of a proper liverpudlian accent Are you sure you are from Liverpool? I’ll comment using your three categories.

    The Craic
    For those who’s first language is not English (this includes the Americans:) and are not familiar with the term “Craic” – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craic.

    The Controversy
    It was unfortunate the weekend ended the way it did. I did not detect anything sinister in Jane Well’s suggestion to replace the nomadic annual WCUK with a Wordcamp_cityname equivalent. It is true the WP community is growing but is it big enough to sustain multiple WCs of the format in Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester? I don’t think so. Certainly, not yet. If we did go that way, say by next year the WCUK experience will be diluted, probably unrecognisably so.

    City based WC across the UK won’t happen. Here’s why. Many have already highlighted this. Individual’s who may have contacted wordcamp.org about WC in UK cities don’t understand what is required in setting up a WC and/or lack the motivation to proceed to anything more than the initial email to Wordcamp.org. Please prove me wrong – I would be delighted. No amount of egg on my face would be too much for multiple cities setting up successful WCs around the UK. It can only be a good thing for the community.

    Lee Willis I think captures the essence. “One idea might be to pick a city, but make a deliberate, and concerted attempt to involve local organisers that would pick up solely the subsequent years event. For example, say WCUK2011 was in Bristol, call it WC Bristol, find some local organisers to get involved with the hope that they’ll hold WC Bristol 2012 themselves, and so on.”

    Who would “pick a City” or find “some local organisers” – Tony/Core group? It is inappropriate to ask Tony/Core Group to do this. Isn’t it? Venues have to be offered not chased.

    I would particularly like to hear the views of the 6/7 (Jane’s figures) people who contacted wordcampuk.org direct. What do you think?

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  • http://twitter.com/glueckpress Caspar Hübinger

    Two years later I come across this post, and it seems the issue in general has not been solved at all. 

    This year (2012) we “forked” a WordCamp in Germany, meaning we changed the name and called it a “WP Camp”. We did so mostly for reasons of time management, because we had seen the name had been branded meanwhile, there are guidelines in place and we thought we don’t want to risk delays due to communicating forth and back with instances overseas. So we simply renamed it, thinking of nothing political at all – but we did feel we had to explain ourselves, so we published our reasons on our About page.The wording of that page admittedly must have sounded a little offensive (there were words like “bureaucrats” in it), but as the event itself was addressed to a national community, we hadn’t thought we would gain any attention beyond German spoken countries whatsoever.Wrong. ;) Zé took us on here: wprealm.com/blog/when-is-a-wordcamp-a-wp-camp/ 
    Though the discussion was over soon, it got me thinking. Looking at it from today I learned a lot about diplomacy in general (although I still fail to implement it from time to time) and the role of WordCamp Central for international communities in particular. I learned we had not been the only event that (only potentially even) had run into trouble with the guidelines and/or authorities at the Foundation—though we unwillingly might have been one of the more radical ones given we had opted out of guideline compliance from the very beginning by re-branding the whole event.What I cannot seem to wrap my head around is what is really going here? What in detail is the agenda of the folks in SF concerning WordCamps, and why? Because if it was clear what they really want to achieve by controlling international communities the way they seem to, maybe there would be a way to work it out and collaborate better. All I can see for now is a set of guidelines (that is being reviewed now) and an often sad way of implementing them. If the Whys were communicated more open and clearly, I think the Whats could follow more easily.

    • http://davidcoveney.com/ David Coveney

      Hi Caspar,

      The big issue is that no matter what people at the Foundation say it is not, and apart from the early days never has been a community project. It’s an Automattic/Audrey Capital project that accepts contributions from the community.

      Not unlike my company’s own open sourced projects. You can contribute, but you have no power… nor can you really gain it. Core contributors only really get a word in edgeways if they become a core commiter, and most of those work for Automattic or Audrey. Plugin and theme developers may find themselves being asked for their opinions, but there’s little guarantee they’re listened to. There is no transparent decision making process.

      In some ways that’s good – dictatorships tend to be pretty efficient. So long as those same dictatorships avoid hubris they can last a long time and do pretty well.

      I’d like a proper foundation that I can, as a company, contribute to and expect to be listened to. At the moment the only way to buy in to being listened to is probably through stumping of $25k and becoming a VIP Partner.

      At the moment it’s not a massive issue – things, for the most part, work pretty well, and our business is never short of work. But if changes start to threaten our client base then we’ll need to have a think. That includes how WordCamps are managed.

      In the UK there are now WordUps, which are like WordCamps but could never comply with the rules. Simon Dickson ran the first one, I came up with the name, and somehow it stuck. I’d like to see the idea spread. There are no rules to running a WordUp – you do as you please, there is no central organisation, funding or assistance. Pure anarchy :-)

      • http://twitter.com/glueckpress Caspar Hübinger

        Thanks for responding. WordUp—I like the name! Depending on how things go in 2013 you might see your creation being spread over here. :)

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