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WordPress Photo Festival 2024, A Five Part Retrospective, Part 2, Volunteers

From February 3-10 the Kerala, India WordPress community hosted an International Photos event, to both boost the number of photos at as well as increase the number of contributors.

In this series we’ll talk with organizers, volunteers, and participants about how the event went as well as the community team, about how this event is a model for the second generation WordPress events.

In this particular we’ll meet volunteers Sadie-Michaela, Chetan, and Yogesh .

This article is available in Video, Audio, and transcribed text.

Audio Edition


[00:00:00] Topher: Welcome to day two of our series on the WP Photos event that happened earlier this month. In this episode, we’re going to be talking to several volunteers. People that helped out to make the whole event happen very smoothly. I was very impressed as I talked to them to learn how tasks were dealt out and how much fun they had doing it.

And how free they were to take part in the event while still being volunteers. We’re going to start today with Sadie. All right, welcome. Could you tell me your name and where you’re from?

[00:00:53] Sadie-Michaela: I’m Sadie and I’m from the Scottish Highlands. Sadie Michaela Harris.

[00:00:58] Topher: Ah, the Scottish Highlands. Is that them [00:01:00] behind you in your screenshot?

[00:01:01] Sadie-Michaela: Yes, right behind me in my screenshot. That’s Loch Glascarnoch just down the road from where I live.

[00:01:05] Topher: That’s beautiful. You are blessed to live in such a wonderful place.

[00:01:10] Sadie-Michaela: I just said it is very lovely, very beautiful. I do feel very blessed.

[00:01:14] Topher: Um, so we’re here to talk today about volunteering for the, um, international photos event that took place recently.

And you were a volunteer, correct?

[00:01:25] Sadie-Michaela: I was a volunteer. Yeah, volunteer for the photos festival in Kerala. Yeah, earlier this month.

[00:01:33] Topher: What were your tasks?

[00:01:36] Sadie-Michaela: I made I moderated photos. And I made a short video about how to for people that were new to the photo directory, and how to upload and start sending in their contributions, I guess would be the way to describe it.

[00:01:52] Topher: All right, that sounds really cool. Little tutorial. Yeah. Oh, yeah, I didn’t know you made videos.

[00:01:59] Sadie-Michaela: [00:02:00] I don’t normally I just they asked could I do it? So I just thought

[00:02:04] Topher: Well, there you are.

[00:02:04] Sadie-Michaela: I had to follow screenshots and stuff to, yeah, screenshots and talk, talk through it and then share the shots on the, on the same, um, blog post that we added it to.

So, yeah, it was, it was an amateurish job. Do pop by and have a look.

[00:02:17] Topher: I will. What do you think? Um, have you volunteered at a remote event before?

[00:02:22] Sadie-Michaela: Oh, sorry. I’ve volunteered, but nothing to do with WordPress. I’ve done other things, but my roles in other things, but nothing to do with WordPress, it was my absolute first, um, first, first opportunity to do that.

So yeah, it was good fun. What did you think? I really enjoyed it. Um, I met obviously the people that I didn’t know before that were part of it chatting behind the scenes, um, the guys over in India and. We had a prolific amount of, uh, photos that were submitted. It’s certainly over, I definitely over 1500. I don’t know.

It was really, it was a really successful [00:03:00] event. I felt and, uh, so many different, um, photographs, you know, as it always is, but, um, yeah, just really good, really, really positive people were engaging on social media or. Twitter mainly that I saw it shared on, um, so yeah, it was nice. People got involved and it swelled the directory for people to use on WordPress.

[00:03:19] Topher: Yeah.

Did you interact much with other volunteers?

[00:03:28] Sadie-Michaela: I interacted more, just a couple, couple of them with the guys that actually were running it. Um, and not so much hugely outside of that because, um, probably to do with different time zones of where we all are. So on times when I had some time to moderate on photos or get involved with things.

Not so much beforehand. Um, a little bit with the, the main guy that was, or, um, organizing it that I was interacting with, um, okay. Out there in Kerala. And, uh, he was the one that said, oh, you [00:04:00] know, can you, can you make a video for this? So that was, you know, sort of things that were happening behind the scenes and just messaging back and forth on Slack about what was coming up in the few days that were in the runup to the event.

Yeah. Um, blocks going up and stuff like that. You know, there was a special website for the, for the event. Um. On the Word camp site. And, uh, yeah, it was just, um, people slowly contributing bits of other things. There were other people that had made videos on different kind of topics as well. So, yeah. All right.

[00:04:29] Topher: Um, the reason I’m asking these questions is because in a, in an in-person event, the volunteers often have a meeting at the beginning where they’re all together and then they work together, is in the halls and, and all of that. And it is a very different thing with, uh, a remote event. Um, did you feel well supported?

Like you had everything you needed to do? The tasks that were set before you?

[00:04:51] Sadie-Michaela: Yeah, I think so. I mean, the only tasks really I was doing was that I made the video ahead of time and moderating photos. And I do [00:05:00] that anyway outside of the event for the directory. So I didn’t feel it was, um, yeah, I didn’t feel anything really unnatural at all, I have to say.

Yeah, it was. It was good. Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe it’s I guess maybe it depends on the kind of person you are. And if you need reassurance, I could say that from my own side, I work for my own quite independent. So somebody else might, especially if they’ve been at an in person event, may find it a little bit different, shall we say, but not from I found it fine.

[00:05:34] Topher: Yeah. All right. Um, yeah, I’ve been quite encouraged by all that I’ve heard from from everyone who’s volunteered. Um, it, it went well, um, the post pandemic events and some post pandemic events have really changed how, uh, remote events work, the quality, um, the, the significance and [00:06:00] things like that. It used to be a remote event was kind of slapdash.

You know, everybody get on zoom and we’ll talk for a while and we’re done and they’re quite different. Now.

[00:06:13] Sadie-Michaela: No, I completely agree. Even things, you know, in a smaller environment here where I am, I’m a community counselor and we’ve we held all our meetings because we needed to during the pandemic by zoom.

Um, and we’ve, we’ve continued on because we, we live great distances apart and our area is so big. So especially during the winter months, it’s hugely helped have it going more professional and doing via zoom and teams and stuff. It’s really been helpful.

[00:06:43] Topher: Yeah. Well, that’s really great. Uh, would you do it again?

[00:06:50] Sadie-Michaela: Oh, definitely. Yeah, absolutely. I would. Yeah. I jumped on this one because it was, um, photo specific and I do, you know, I’m a prolific photo taker. Um, So [00:07:00] I like being involved in that. Um, but I would definitely, I wanted to go to a WordCamp and I thought there was going to be one, um, in England actually, although I’m up in Scotland.

But it, it was advertised for a date last year and then it never materialised. So I’m not sure what happened with that. Yeah, it would be lovely to have something like that in Inverness. I would champion. Oh yes. Inverness, yeah, beautiful part of the world. And yeah, plenty of WordPress users up here.

[00:07:27] Topher: Well.

All you have to do is apply. Maybe I’ll You could be, you could be able to eat organizer. Yeah. Maybe I’ll,

[00:07:36] Sadie-Michaela: maybe I’ll, how far in? I found they seem to be quite well planned. I know that those, um, word Camp Europe, for example, um, is Oh, yes. Upcoming. Been in the planning. Well, I guess at least since the last one that, um, took place.

Mm-Hmm. . Yeah.

[00:07:52] Topher: Do you plan WordCamp Europe?

[00:07:54] Sadie-Michaela: I’m, like this, I’m quite busy and it’s quite far away, um, from where I am. So, [00:08:00] never say never, because I don’t ever say ever, but, um, never. It would be fun. It would be fun to make and stay a few days either side. Yeah.

[00:08:11] Topher: Yeah. Uh, well, I very much appreciate your time. I, uh, I’m excited to hear about your volunteering and how it went.

And I’m excited to hear that you liked it and, and we’ll come back. Uh, do you have any advice for anybody else? Uh, both, both for bonus events and just regular remote events, uh, for

[00:08:32] Sadie-Michaela: volunteering. I would just say jump in and get involved and enjoy it. You’re sure to enjoy it. Um, yeah. Friendly, just jump in, have a go, give it a go would be my, my advice.

[00:08:46] Topher: After I finished talking with Sadie, I talked with Chetan from India. All right. I’m here with Chetan. And, uh, did you tell me your, your full name and where you live?

[00:08:59] Chetan: Hi, [00:09:00] I’m Chetan Trizavati. I’m living in Ahmedabad, it is in India.

[00:09:05] Topher: All right. Um, how far from Kerala?

[00:09:10] Chetan: It’s like, uh, around two hours flight from here.

[00:09:14] Topher: So, yeah. All right. That’s quite a ways. And, uh, you were a volunteer at the photos event?

[00:09:23] Chetan: Uh, yes, uh, I was a volunteer. I was helped to write the content in our local language. So people in our local language can understand how to contribute in Photo Festival.

[00:09:35] Topher: Sure. I heard that a lot of the documentation was in many languages.

Yeah. Um, and you’re the first person I’ve met who actually wrote that. Um, what language was it? It was in Gujarati. Okay. Um, that’s really, that’s really cool.

[00:09:50] Chetan: That’s one of the things I admire about this event is that it was mostly people know, uh, they want to contribute, they don’t know how to start. So it will [00:10:00] help a local contributor

as well.

[00:10:03] Topher: Sure. Um, what other roles did you have? Or was that it?

[00:10:12] Chetan: So, uh, I was, uh, like, uh, contributing to our, uh, community as well. So I, uh, more about the local community. They can participate. So, uh, I was, uh, like, uh, helping other contributors as well. Okay.

[00:10:30] Topher: Um, I was, uh, this is, this is a virtual event and at, at, um, in person events, a lot of times the volunteers are near each other, they hang out, they go to dinner for, you know, to get together.

That doesn’t happen with virtual. Did you spend any time working with any other volunteers? Or were you just on your own most of the time?

[00:10:52] Chetan: Uh, uh, in virtual we don’t spend as much time like in physical event. But, uh, whatever you have a question, we directly [00:11:00] ask in our chatting or like we facing this issue.

How can we help? So it is more like a connection on our messaging. Okay. That makes sense.

[00:11:13] Topher: Um, I, I am a strong proponent of both in person and virtual events for different reasons, and they both have their benefits and drawbacks. And I think one of the drawbacks is that the volunteers don’t get to assemble in one place and share and things like that.

Um, but it still sounds like it was a good event. Did you, did you have a good time and, and you would take place again? You would do it again?

[00:11:38] Chetan: Yes, definitely. Because it’s a nice initiative to contribute so people can, they can upload whatever their creativity. Also, they want the good price. So they’re more encouraged by their contribution as well?

[00:11:52] Topher: Yes. Uh, did you contribute photos? Yes, I did. How many?

[00:11:59] Chetan: Yeah. [00:12:00] Yeah. I, I.

16 photos were, uh, selected and with the WP Kerala because there are many photos in pending. So people are running with the photos. So we have to wait for our photos. Uh,

[00:12:19] Topher: right. Yes. Yes. Yes. Um, did you seek out the role of volunteer or did someone come to you and say, please, will you volunteer? Um, um, did you go seeking the role of volunteer?

Or did someone come to you and ask you to be a volunteer? Uh, uh,

[00:12:42] Chetan: actually the lead organizer was, uh, asked me to help. How can, uh, how can we help? So I said, I definitely can help. So, uh, in our local community, because we have one of the large community in India. So it was, uh, uh, very good opportunity to [00:13:00] contribute for them.

I ask them, whatever I can do, I’ll definitely

help them.

[00:13:08] Topher: Excuse me. It sounds like they did a really good job reaching out because they reached out to me as well, and I know they reached out to other people around the world and I think that’s kind of kind of key, rather than wait for people to show up and say, here I’m going to work.

Yeah, to actually reach out and ask.

[00:13:23] Chetan: Yeah, because sometimes people don’t know how to contribute because if, uh, if he had the, I don’t know, there is voluntary as well, because mostly in what you live in the, we hardly find volunteers, but he come to me that he needs help to promote the event. So it was really good.

They need to do the core guys can contact all the people to help them.

[00:13:46] Topher: Sure. Yeah. My, my talk at WordCamp Asia last year was, was titled the power in the asking. Um, yeah, there is power in asking people to help. That’s always help. Yes. Yeah. [00:14:00] That’s always help. Yeah. Um, do you have any advice? Do you have any advice for people doing just virtual events, working, working virtual events?

[00:14:12] Chetan: Uh, for that they have to communicate like, uh, Uh, creating a post that they can, uh, get idea what is going to happen on each day with it. Because in virtual people, uh, don’t get usually the focus on the time, but for example, physical there are physical available in virtual, they can live in between of the time.

So the, they have to be some, uh, good ideas, some good creativity so they can, uh, attract more. How can that, that even get helpful or they can even contribute for themselves. Okay, that’s great. For example, for example, the photo festival, they have a good prizes. So people increase more, they can contribute as more as photos.

So they can, in reward, they can also [00:15:00] get some prizes.

[00:15:02] Topher: Okay. Do you have any advice for someone who might do another photos event like this? So imagine if it were not done at Kerala. Some, some other groups that were going to do the same thing. What would you tell them?

[00:15:14] Chetan: Oh, yeah. So, uh, in one they have to, uh, ask, uh, many volunteers.

They can, uh, help to approve photos because in the, uh, in this event we are faced like a lot of people are waiting to approve their photos. Also, some sometime takes, were notating adding, but we all know that this is contributor as a volunteer because we have to wait as well. So in advance, if we can ask other people to contribute to like, uh, approval photos.

So they can have a good amount of people they can help to upload photos so other people can contribute. So in less time they can get approval for the photos as well.

[00:15:53] Topher: Okay. That’s pretty great.

[00:15:56] Chetan: Um, I’m excited to see more [00:16:00] photo events. Uh, I think it’s pretty ideal for a virtual event. Um, and I’d like to see They have almost 12, 000 photos submitted in this event.

[00:16:10] Topher: Ah, yeah. Um, I like that it was based in a city but not Only in that city. So this one was Kerala. I’d like to see one in, uh, Sydney, Australia, or I’d like to see one, you know, any, any other city, um, and then see a bounce around the world to see how each city presents sort of like the Olympics or, or a global work camp.

You know what I mean?

[00:16:42] Chetan: Yeah, it is like a city, but, uh, in Kerala is state. So, uh, for example, Kochi has a word game, but at this time, Yeah, this is the Kerala Photo Festival, so it is based on the street, but, uh, it is virtually one, so anyone can participate, [00:17:00] so mostly people have participated as much as they can.

[00:17:06] Topher: Yes. Well, thank you for your time. This has been really helpful. I’m excited to include you in my story. Thank you so much. My final volunteer for this episode is Yogesh. Hello there, can you tell me your full name and where you live?

[00:17:24] Yogesh: Okay, my name is Yogesh, Yogesh Londe. I live in Bangalore, India.

[00:17:31] Topher: And where’s Bangalore, generally speaking?

North? South?

[00:17:35] Yogesh: Bangalore is south of India. It’s like right in the middle of the southern, towards the southern tip of India.

[00:17:43] Topher: Oh, okay. The warm


[00:17:46] Yogesh: Lovely, yeah. It’s warm part, but because of our altitude, we have cooler weather. Whenever it rains, whenever we have humidity, it’s lovely weather. It’s the city of perpetual springs.

Ah, [00:18:00] well, that sounds like a great place to visit. You should, yes, definitely.

[00:18:05] Topher: All right. Well, we’re here today to talk about your role as a volunteer in the recent WP Photos event. Um, so let’s just dive right in. What was your task as a volunteer? What did you volunteer to do?

[00:18:20] Yogesh: Yeah, as a volunteer? Um, as a volunteer, uh, for the photo, uh, WP Photo , I was, my only task was to al uh, the attendees on the Zoom call at the inaugural and at the, it’s a tiny task, but I love doing it because it was, I was contributing to.

That’s fantastic event that we sure.

[00:18:49] Topher: Yeah. Something I noticed on the, on the page for volunteers. There are many, many volunteers and from the ones I’ve talked to, they each had a very small job, which I kind of like because. [00:19:00] Yeah, it allows volunteers to, to be full attendees and not have to work the whole time.

Um, but why did you get, why did you, uh, did you get selected for that job or did you choose that job?

[00:19:13] Yogesh: I chose that job. I volunteered, uh, to do something for the WPS and I was, I was selected for this. Okay.

[00:19:28] Topher: All right. Um, have you volunteered at a remote event before?

[00:19:36] Yogesh: I did volunteer, uh, remote event before with you.

One of the events was with you. The. Yes. Uh, word Fest Live, which went Yes. Word

[00:19:50] Topher: Fest. Yeah,

[00:19:52] Yogesh: word Live twice. And, uh, I was an organizer at Word Camp India, uh, 2021. It was [00:20:00] online year, remotely.

[00:20:01] Topher: Oh, I remember that. Yeah. Um, how does, how does this event compare? ’cause those are, well, I guess, uh, one was a word camp word dress was not a camp.

Um, although it felt like one, um, how does it compare?

[00:20:17] Yogesh: Oh, well, this one is a very unique event. The focus was only on contributing to WordPress photo directory. And that’s a fantastic way to contribute to an open source project, especially, specifically WordPress. So the entry bar is quite low, so anybody can participate, anybody can take a lovely photo and, uh, share it with the world saying that I took this photo and you can use it the way you like.

And that’s the only condition to contribute to WordPress photo directory. [00:21:00] And that was, um, that was what the whole WP Photo Kerala was about. So. That way, the, the, the aim of the program was, uh, contributing to WordPress Photos. So that way, the work that I was supposed to do was very little, minimal work, and it was very easy, but enjoyable.

[00:21:26] Topher: I’m really glad to hear that. Um, you know, I’ve been working on this story for a week and a half now, and I’m just now realizing how non exclusive, how inclusive this event was, um, a word camp by its very nature is exclusive. You pick 20 speakers and everybody else. Doesn’t take part. But with, with this photos event, every single person who showed up could [00:22:00] totally take part.

[00:22:02] Yogesh: Everybody is… it’s everybody’s event. My event is organized this event. I, I also clicked some photos and I contributed during this event. Um, yeah,

[00:22:13] Topher: well, that’s really cool. Um, was there, uh, what was internal communication like? Between volunteers, between volunteers and organizers, et cetera. Was there an organized system or was it just kind of track people down as you, as you need?

[00:22:38] Yogesh: Um, I, I’m not sure I was not on any of the, I, I’m not sure if the organizing team has their own Slack channel or anything, but, uh, I am, I communicated with the organizing team over, uh, uh, make WP Slack. And [00:23:00] whenever they need it, they will get in touch with me over WhatsApp or phone call because I’m, uh, I’m regularly in touch with them.

And so I was given a primer what my role was. This is what you’re supposed to do. And if you need help, just contact me. And since my task was very minimal, so I didn’t need the specialized training or anything. And so I was just doing that task with Marshall. Muting or, uh, asking them to, you know, uh, turn on their microphones.

So those, those were simple tasks, which I am already well aware of. So I did not need much.

[00:23:45] Topher: All right. Um, I’ve been, as I’ve been watching the event, that’s like. I didn’t watch the event very well. I was ill, but I’m looking back at it and I’m trying to think about, [00:24:00] um, what was done and why and how, how it might get done better.

Maybe it’s perfect. I have noticed some things that are just really spot on and, and couldn’t be done better. Um, so I’m trying to decide if better communication is needed. And it sort of sounds like no, from the volunteers I’ve spoken to, like, no, I just, I was told what to do and I did my thing and, and it’s all good.

[00:24:25] Yogesh: Communication was just enough, just enough. So it was not overload of, you know, just enough, but, uh, even their, uh, communication over the website was fantastic. That was fantastic. Tell me about that. Attended was fantastic. You know, the, the blog posts on, uh, WP Photos Kerala were, um, was actually how to contribute to WordPress Photos directory.

In many Indian languages. So, they had Maharashtra, [00:25:00] Tamil, Bengali, Nepali, Marathi. So many languages. So they’re like, you know, as you said, it was inclusive. Anybody who could, who wanted to learn how to contribute to what this photo directory, they could just go to the website and say, Oh, there is already a post in my own language.

So if I don’t understand it very well, I could read that post in my own language and understand, yes, that’s so easy. What am I supposed to do? How do I do it? What are the conditions? And that’s, that makes sense. So. It’s, it’s, uh, it’s fantastic at many levels. Number one, it makes it inclusive. Everybody’s welcome.

No matter what language you speak, which part of India, what language you speak, everybody’s welcome. Number two is they got the community involved. The people who do only translation, polyglot community. They don’t do anything. I mean, they might not have the skills to do a [00:26:00] photo edit, uh, photo approvals, uh, other, uh, coding, other things, but they were involved and they became part of it.

Yeah. And, uh, so they got people excited about, uh, contributing to WordPress by translating, which is interesting. So it went across. Disciplines. Yes. Cross discipline collaboration.

[00:26:29] Topher: So I have a question for you. Um, I’ve made content in the past, targeted at India, and I’ve considered translating it. But I’ve been told by many people, I think maybe even by you, that English is all we need.

Oh, yes. People speak English, that it’s not needed. What made this special?

[00:26:49] Yogesh: So, okay. Now, that’s, you’re right. So English is all we need when we come to WordPress dashboard. Or, uh, website menu, or, uh, [00:27:00] contact us page, or, uh, about us, uh, con, contact details. But when you want, when you want to tell the story, or when you want to give detailed instructions, uh, there are people who will benefit reading it in their own mother tongue.

So, as, as, uh, as I, I’m saying. In case of Heropress, there are some essays which are already written by the author in their own mother tongue and in English. So, I like to read the essays, for example, in Marathi. I like to read the essays, for example, in some of the languages, like Persian. So, those essays, as you said previously, when people write in their own mother tongue.

There’s no accent. Or when I’m reading in somebody’s mother tongue, that essay is without any accent.

[00:27:55] Topher: Yes. There’s no accent when you write in your own mother tongue.

[00:27:59] Yogesh: That’s true. [00:28:00] That’s true. That’s true. So I enjoy reading stories when people tell stories, narrate stories in their own mother tongue. That’s special.

Same way, um, the documentation should be in the mother tongue because there are terms which people understand better in their own mother tongue. So for me, yes, I, I would read documentation predominantly in English, my first choice would be already English because I’ve always been doing that.

[00:28:32] Topher: So, right.

There are many people that makes good sense.

[00:28:42] Yogesh: And so that, that way that it did make it special this time, yes.

Yeah. And I, you know, I’ve had other people say that even if their English is excellent, knowing the other person took the time to translate it for their convenience [00:29:00] is special. Oh,

yes. Oh, yes. Yes.

[00:29:10] Topher: All right. Uh, I don’t have any more questions for you.

I really appreciate your time. Thank you for coming. Thank you for taking part in the photos project.

[00:29:18] Yogesh: Uh, lovely chatting with you. I have enjoyed talking to you.

[00:29:23] Topher: Yeah. And that brings us to the end of day two of our series about the WP photos project that took place internationally. Today, we spoke with volunteers tomorrow.

We talked with some attendees and find out what it was like to go to an event where you didn’t necessarily rub elbows with anyone else, but everybody was there. See you tomorrow.