It's your fave WordPress weekly email, now at issue 110!

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Welcome back to MasterWP Weekly, your weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals 👋 

What we’re up to:

Alex is very quickly back into the swing of things: pretty crazy I published my first WPShout post ten years ago this week!

Ben profile picBen is just back from WordCamp London and now going to spend some time with his wife and son.

What’s coming up: a special issue this week, recapping what went on at WordCamp London this weekend. Ben spent two hours when he got home linking all of the talks to timestamps on the YouTube videos: see all of those here.


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WordCamp London 2019, an organiser’s perspective

Alex on organising his first WordCamp

This weekend was WordCamp London! By all accounts, it was a very successful event! People seemed to enjoy themselves, the talks were excellent, and everything ran smoothly. As mentioned last week I was on the organising team, and it was my first time doing so.

Nearly all of the team was new to organising, but fortunately with the same venue as last year we were able to build on the excellent work previous organisers have done. We focused on changing two things: content and sustainability.

The content theme aimed to get people out of the hallway track and into quality talks. There are long breaks between the sessions so there’s plenty of time for chatting, but there’s a strong trend to not attending many talks when you go to a WordCamp. I’m pleased to say we did fix this, with a really really good speaker line-up – and those speakers delivered! One of the tracks was consistently overflowing with people having to watch on a TV screen outside!

The second theme was sustainability, and we copied most of this from WordCamp Brighton, one of my favourite WordCamps. We encouraged sponsors to produce swag they could re-use, gave everyone a reusable water bottle and coffee cup in place of a t-shirt, and even had trees as our speaker gifts! This was very well received, and we even had a sustainability workshop at the Contributor Day which I’ll write up soon, and hopefully that can inspire other WordCamps to do the same thing.

Here’s the other side of this: organising was a lot of work, and I was totally exhausted in the weeks running up to this and over the weekend. I knew it was lots of work, but I didn’t quite appreciate how much work it is to organise a big WordCamp.

Real talk: I'd never let a client project dominate my life in the same way WordCamp London has: late night meetings, last minute urgent requests, and no pay! People being nice to me on Twitter is cool, but spending time with my fiancée, or friends, or family is – I hope nobody who's tweeted me minds me saying – better.

Yet, I'm already seriously considering doing it again – I certainly feel a sense of duty to the UK WordPress community who've done so much for me over the years, and organising is an effective way of giving back to that. Despite the rollercoaster ride a lot of the organisers have already said they want to do it again next year.

I’m proud of the event we put on this year. My organiser colleagues did a phenomenal job, especially so for the co-leads Dan and Babs. The same goes for the volunteers – I found at the end that David Artiss, for example, who saved me on live tweeting a track we couldn’t otherwise cover, hadn’t even signed up to volunteer!

Thank you to everyone who spoke to me or Ben at the weekend and said nice things about the newsletter: we really appreciate it, and I especially love the reminder that the words I draft in Google Docs each week are actually read by real people who are taking time in their busy lives to do so.

Also: I arranged an impromptu chat for marketing people and it was one of my favourite parts of the weekend. It was essentially a "tribe" meetup – I can highly recommend it! - Alex

Fireside Chat: Building a Culture of Safety

Josepha Haden on safety in the WordPress project

Unfortunately I was assigned elsewhere for this talk, but have just caught up on the livestream: based on a recent blog post with the same name, this was a Q&A discussion. Josepha is Executive Director of the WordPress project, so it was particularly interesting to hear what she had to say.

There were some tough issues discussed! I was impressed with Josepha's willingness to discuss and deal with issues like sexism in WordPress, with personal attacks; insisting "we have to be intolerant about intolerance" and "we're rapidly approaching the point where... when you're harassing people who do the work [on WordPress]... you are no longer allowed to be here."

I'd love to see what comes out of this, and hopefully have some progress moving forwards. - Alex.

An Introduction to WP-CLI

You think you know something, and then you see a talk at a WordCamp

I saw a talk about WP-CLI at WordCamp Bristol a couple of years ago, and I’ve been using it since. It’s a really handy tool, but I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do.

I’ve been using WP-CLI for things like installing and activating plugins, and updating WordPress. Relatively simple things. But it turns out there’s a lot more you can do.

In this presentation Pascal Birchler runs through using the command line to speed up your workflow. I know a lot of designers resist using the command line (I do at least), but for things like this it really can be useful.

A few of the things I plan to try now I’ve seen this talk include optimizing featured images, controlling remote sites with aliases, and generally automating more stuff.

I find the aliases particularly interesting. At the moment I don’t update my sites as often as I should. I keep core up to date, but my less frequently visited sites sometimes get behind with their plugin and theme updates (I know that’s bad).

I do have a free ManageWP account, but I often forget about it, and it only holds 3 of my sites. But I have at least 6.

With aliases I could write a shell script that updates all of my sites for me, and then I will only have to run a single script to update everything. It should save me a lot of time and effort. - Ben.

In time for WordCamp season, get your hands on a MasterWP t-shirt! Currently Alex and Ben have these, and that's it. Join the exclusive club.

These are made in the UK from organic cotton, printed in a renewable energy powered factory, and have an ethical supply chain. We get a small cut of the sale: you're mostly helping us by wearing the t-shirt!

Check out the full range →

How Can The Open Source Principles of WordPress Impact Society?

Remkus de Vries on building the future of open source

This was the first talk of the conference, and a good place to start: Remkus touched on a number of issues, including how we ("we" being the WordPress community) talk about WordPress to the wider world, and the impact this has; but also how we go about contributing to WordPress. 

I studied Politics at University (or, College) and the similarities here are remarkable: Remkus made the distinction between building coalition and momentum within a project versus being "outside" and banging at the door, asking for change. He didn't quite say this, but very rarely in WordPress does the latter win. We talked about this after and I suggested he write it up further – I'd love to read more, and we can link it here. - Alex.

Going To The Dark Side, They Have Cookies

Hmmm… Cookies

Tim Nash’s talk on hacking and security was interesting for a few reasons. It was fascinating seeing the types of tools hackers may use to break into WordPress websites. Surprisingly, for many of these hacks there was very little technical knowledge required.

In fact it reminded me a bit of the tv show Mr Robot, and how Elliot does a lot of the hacking by tricking people into doing things for him - rather than abusing insecure code.

There were also some interesting scripts shown - including wpscan.rb which can be used to scan your website (or that of someone you “want” to hack) for known vulnerabilities. But then Tim also showed a couple of methods for finding out the login info for users even when there are no actual vulnerabilities.

Fascinating stuff. - Ben.

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