Diverse Perspectives at WordCamp Thessaloniki 2018

WordPress is diverse and so are WordCamps! Inpsyder David Remer traveled to Greece to attend WordCamp Thessaloniki from 15th to 16th December 2018. Gain an insight into the community and their multifaceted perspectives on important topics!

From 15th to 16th December the WordCamp Thessaloniki took place. I had applied with a talk about acceptance tests for the WordCamp and I was very happy that my talk has actually been accepted! In this small recap, I’d like to summarize my impressions of the camp – even if a little late – and, above, all, I’d like to thank the organizers for their great work!


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Thessaloniki lies in the north of Greece and is the second-largest city of the country. After there had already been several WordCamps there, it was obvious to let the event move on to Thessaloniki and to involve the local community more closely.

Because this was my second talk at a WordCamp and my first talk in English I was accordingly nervous. On the evening before the camp the so-called Speakers Dinner took place. In many conversations with the people there, I found out I wasn’t the only one who felt like that. That helped me a lot!

The next day we started at a quarter past nine. Altogether there were two tracks and alongside every talk in Greek, there was also one talk in English taking place. I was surprised at how many members of the German community came! Besides Ralf who describes his impressions here our globetrotters, Michaela and Florian were in on it, too.

About Diversity in WordPress

The first session I joined was about “WordPress and the problem of Diversity” and was held by Maziar Firuzmand. For me, this talk was the highlight of the camp:

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Maziar originally comes from Iran and founded Artbees who offer the popular JupiterX theme on Themeforest among others. I knew the name Artbees and remembered this theme darkly. I think I came across it once or twice during my time as a freelancer. Because I was never more involved with Artbees the people behind it could just as well have been from Idaho. It was fascinating to hear about the difficulties they had just because they come from Iran.

About Teaching and Gutenberg

The talk by Lena Lekkou about the information architecture in WordPress was also very exciting. Unfortunately, I couldn’t follow it myself – my Greek isn’t that good. But I was able to have an extended conversation with Lena at the Speakers Dinner. She teaches web development at the SAE Athen and we talked deeply about the difficulty of teaching students WordPress or web development in general. To be honest, I wouldn’t know where to start with this.

We also talked about Gutenberg. From Lena’s point of view the launch offered two problems: On the one hand, it is hard enough to teach PHP to beginners with the help of WordPress. A completely new architecture doesn’t make things any easier. On the other hand, Lena was apprehensive of the rising difficulty to acquaint her students with programming when you can easily create highly complex designs with the help of blocks without opening an IDE (integrated development environment).

The exchange with Lena opened up completely new perspectives on WordPress and Gutenberg for me that I haven’t thought about before. Above all, it is far beyond my imagination how to teach todays web development – the whole package consisting of HTML, CSS, Javascript+++, PHP or others and CMS – to students in only one or two years.

Acceptance Tests in WordPress

After Lena’s talk, it was my turn to talk about acceptance tests in WordPress. I already described in this article how we offer acceptance tests at Inpsyde. As a member of the Pluginkollektiv I additionally could draw on our experience with Antispam Bee and tried to condense the idea of Behat and our setup in Antispam Bee to about 30 minutes. I hope I was successful:

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On the WordCamp Thessaloniki Contributor Day, I focused by the way on Antispam Bee to try out some of the ideas I had in mind. I was particularly happy that I could win Fotis Pastrakis to translate the plugin to Greek!

Gutenberg in Retrospec

Later there was a panel discussion about Gutenberg. Besides Lena and Maziar also Stefanos Togoulidis of Automattic and Gerasimos Tsiamalos, co-founder of CSSIgniter, participated. That turned out to be an interesting combination! So, with Gerasimos and Maziar we had two theme developers besides Stefanos as representative of Automattic. And Lena contributed the perspective of teaching to the discussion. There were numerous contributions from the audience. For example from Konstantinos Xenos who has passed the events concerning Gutenberg in review through his eyes as a long-time WordPress contributor. Konstantinos is one of the developers who promote the Privacy Project in WordPress and work on the GDPR-Tools.

Conclusion: WordCamp Thessaloniki

Overall, especially the conversations with speakers and organizers, with the members of the Greek and German community stayed in my mind from WordCamp Thessaloniki. It was great to talk deeply about diversity in WordPress with Maziar, Babek and Rouzbeh. And I was particularly pleased to finally meet Evangelia, one of the lead organizers of the WordCamp. Furthermore, it was simply great to see again close acquaintances like Takis, Aleksandar, and Gerasimos who I already knew from the WordCamp in Athen, or Fotis who I got to know at WordCamp in Belgrad.

In a recap of such a great WordCamp, it is difficult to prevent things to go by the board. So, of course, I forgot to mention thousands of people and things. Therefore, my thanks go to the organizers of this wonderful two days. In May, the WordCamp in Athen is going to take place. I don’t know if I can manage to come to Greece this time. I’d be very glad if I would find the time and money for the journey. At this point many thanks to Inpsyde for bearing my costs for travel and accommodation for WordCamp Thessaloniki in 2018!