WordCamp Mumbai 2014 on 15th – 16th March

Last month I wrote about the WordCamp culture in India. In it I mentioned briefly about WordCamp Mumbai. WordCamps are basically WordPress informal conferences. The idea is for WordPress enthusiasts from a particular city meet-up and interact with the other WordPress enthusiasts and experts from all over the country. It is ideally an annual event.

WcMumbai_logo

Mumbai will host it’s second WordCamp (first one was in 2012) this weekend (15-16 March, 2014). I have attended a few WordCamps and they usually end up being informative and a lot of fun. It is always a lot of fun to see interesting new ways WordPress is used.

I am personally involved in WordCamp Mumbai 2014 as an organizer. For DW’s parent company rtCamp too, this WordCamp will be a very special one as EasyEngine – a CLI tool that helps users to easily manage their WordPress sites on Nginx will be introduced to the community. Rahul Bansal will be speaking on it in a session.

You can check out the event schedule here.

So if you live in Mumbai or nearby and want to check out WordCamp Mumbai – do register and buy a ticket online here.

Important Links for WordCamp Mumbai 2014

WordCamp culture in India – It is still early days!

Last month on 24th January, along with some friends I attended WordCamp Baroda 2014. This was the second time I was attending a WordCamp in Baroda and overall I have now attended four WordCamps. Will be attending a fifth one but more on that later.

The WordCamp in Baroda, itself was a good one. The venue was at the outskirts of Baroda city. It might have been difficult for some attendees but there were bus pickups arranged from two different points in the city. It meant a big benefit which was, that most attendees came to the venue and left the venue at the same time.

WordCamp Baroda 2014
WordCamp Baroda 2014

The speaker sessions were interesting and a lot of impromptu discussions were held too. These unstructured discussions are one major reason I actually like visiting WordCamps. One such impromptu discussions was actually a self-appraisal of speaker sessions themselves by Saurabh Shukla. The simple question was to ask if some sessions were adding any value to the attendees. This stirred some passions but in the end the tone of the WordCamp Baroda turned from officious to camp like.

The formalities were dropped and the informal discussions ended up being a blessing for healthy debates and a lot more audience participation took place over the two-day event.

As an organizer Rahul Banker did an exemplary job planning and executing WordCamp Baroda. I also must add the team of volunteers who worked tirelessly and diligently behind the scenes were true champions. Any amount of praise to the volunteers is not enough.

I have a lot of respect for WordCamp organizers and volunteers today than I ever did before. That is because I have ended up in the organizing team of WordCamp Mumbai 2014, which takes place on March 15th-16th. In this post more than reviewing WordCamp Baroda, I am taking stock of the WordCamp  and by extension the WordPress culture in India.

Some delusions about meetups in India

There were some arguments made about how tech related meetups do not work in India. I do not mean tech related events but meetups organized by like minded people where entry is free and control over what is discussed is minimal to none. The constant argument made against organizing such meetups are “Meetups do not work in India as India is different from other countries”.

In my personal experience is absolutely untrue. I am part of WordPress meetups in Mumbai for over a year and we might not boast of a large community but all the organizers of WordCamp Mumbai 2014 met each other at meetups and did not know about each others existence before these meetups began.

This clearly shows that India is not any different and meetups can and do work in India. It just requires people to keep having meetups regularly. I have attended meetups with only four people (me included). I have a simple rule to decide if a meetup is successful or not. If I meet someone new, the meetup is successful. :-) In Mumbai we organize meetups over coffee or even dosas which always get decent number of people attending. ;-)

Too many celebrities at WordCamps

I found a disturbing trend at all WordCamps I have attended till now. There is a bit of a celebrity culture around some people. These celebrities are usually popular bloggers. Too many people mob and excessively praise popular bloggers. I won’t blame the bloggers themselves and I think most are a bit embarrassed by the attention.

I think this can be toned down a bit in the future – again back to the importance of meetups – if these bloggers were accessible with local meetups, I do not think there would be too much fawning over individuals.

Organizers need to contribute their experiences

I think people who have organized WordCamps in India, have missed a trick by not writing down detailed posts on what went behind organizing such an event. Explaining how they approached WordCamp Central and what should other budding organizers do would be a lot more helpful.

Hopefully after WordCamp Mumbai 2014 is over, I will write a series of long posts on what exactly happens behind the scenes while organizing the event.

Over to Mumbai!

WCMumbai

As I wrote earlier, I am part of the organizing team for WordCamp Mumbai 2014. There are some very good speakers lined up and one of them is our very own Rahul Bansal.

The big challenge was to make this WordCamp in Mumbai accessible to everyone. We have started that by keeping the ticket prices to a minimum of Rs. 300/-.

Here are some of the useful links for WordCamp Mumbai 2014 (March 15-16)

The WordCamp culture in India is still nascent but I can see it has moved forward since I wrote about my experiences at WordCamps a year ago. It is definitely becoming more informal and approachable. Hopefully it continues down this path. There are several thousand WordPress experts in India and hopefully they do not remain just a talent pool for companies but also end up becoming a thriving community.

Update: Rahul Banker brought to my notice that he had chronicled his experience as a organizer in a post last year.

What’s New in WordPress 3.6 “Oscar”

wordpress oscar

I am using WordPress for the last three years now and I am big fan of it’s features, ease of use and security. When I first moved from blogger to WordPress it was the version 2.3 since then I have used multiple versions of WordPress. A couple of days agothey have also released the new version 3.6 named “Oscar” named after a great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.

WordPress 3.6 “Oscar” went live on 1st August 2013, it can be downloaded from the WordPress.org site or can be updated directly from the admin panel if you are already using WordPress.

But before you install or upgrade I think you might like to look up some new changes in this release, so here I’m listing all the important changes that will affect most common users.

This video gives a quick brief on what’s new in there.

New Theme: Twenty Thirteen

Twenty Thirteen theme

This version is being provided with a new theme called Twenty Thirteen, this theme is a simple theme that has been built specially to make visitors focus on the content without be distracted by anything else on site. It is a single column theme with sidebar and widgets in the footer.

Post Locking

Because of this feature you can always know who else is editing the current post on which you are also writing, with live updates that appear in the list of posts. And if someone leaves a post open for any reason, then you can easily take over where they left off.

Better Revision Browser

easy revision viewer

Every change you make to a post will be saved instantly on server and also locally so you won’t loose anything ever, and all revisions can be easily reviewed through the new side-by-side viewer with changed text highlighting.

Native Support For Audio/Video Embeds

With this feature now you can easily embed Audio and Video files in your article just with the direct file url, you just have to upload the audio or video file to your server or any other server which gives you a direct link to the file with valid extension, such as mp3,aac,mp4,mpg, avi etc.

And then just have to place the url in your post editor where you want the player to appear and the player will be automatically assigned to it through WordPress.

All the Audio and Video that you will be uploading to your server can previewed under Media > Edit page.

Integration with Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud

You can now embed your custom playlists, songs and albums just by pasting the URL from any of these services SpotifyRdio, and SoundCloud.

Menu Editor Enhanced

new menu manager

Although no new feature has been introduced, menu editor has been customized for easier management, now you can also select multiple locations where menu has to be shown.

Improved Autosaves

offline saving

They are now calling it Augmented Autosave, It will be very useful for sites where more than a single author is working on a post. Now every author of the article will have their standalone copy of Autosaves, It will store data locally as well as on server so there will be very less chance of loosing any data ever.

Other minor changes:

  • The ability to change post formats was removed from Quick Edit
  • The Media Library can now be sorted by Author name
  • Removed three default contact methods (AIM, YIM, Jabber) for new installs.
  • Allow any post format to be set as default in Settings

These are the changes which I thought are good, but there are lots more changes has been done you can check the complete list here.

Are you using WordPress 3.6? Tell us what you think about it in your comments.

WordPress Powers 18.9% of the Web

Over a year ago, there was a survey done that showed that 48 of the top 100 blogs in the world were running on WordPress. That showed how the big blogs preferred WordPress as a platform it did not explain how much of the web used the platform. A couple of days ago, Matt Mullenweg (Founder of Automattic) gave a speech at WordCamp San Francisco 2013. He shared an interesting bit of statistic, which was that now 18.9% of web was running on WordPress.

Some WordPress Stats over the past 10 years.
Some WordPress Stats over the past 10 years.

Here are some of the interesting stats about the last year.

  • Over 46 million downloads of WordPress happened.
  • 336 themes were added to the library in a single year.
  • There were 6,758 plugins were approved which takes the total over 26,000 plugins in all available on WordPress.
  • And finally, about 18.9% of the web runs on WordPress.

Future WordPress Updates

There was also an outline of future updates planned for WordPress. This included WordPress 3.7 version that is scheduled for early October. WordPress 3.7 will apparently be a version where major cleanup of the platform will be done. WordPress 3.8 is scheduled to be released in December this year. You can keep a track of WordPress version road-map here.

(via Venture Beat)

Monetize Your Blog with Disqus Commenting System

I am sure most users think of Google AdSense when they think of monetizing their blog. But many new bloggers might not be lucky enough to get AdSense approval but they might like trying out Diqus Discovery. Disqus discovery shows links from your blog and from other sites as related underneath your post and before the comments section. It also has a useful WordPress plugin that can be used.

Ad blocking on browsers has reduced many monetizing methods for the bloggers these days. Disqus discovery being less spammy has yet to be filtered by the adblockers. You can use this opportunity to monetize your blog with Disqus promoted discovery.

promoted disqus
Example of how related links from around the web show with Disqus Discovery plugin

It seems that Disqus is using the related content feed as a way to show sponsored CPC ads. It also includes e-commerce affiliate linking in feeds, which also helps boost the revenue.

How Disqus Discovery work?

  • Disqus commenting platform has asynchronus content service which doesn’t affect the loading time of your blog. Your content loads first and then Disqus makes the call for loading the discovery ads and comments.
  • Anyone can use Disqus promoted discovery feature as It is included in the comment platform and there are no publisher requirements.
  • However the promoted discovery feature works good on medium to high traffic blogs with visitor engagement. When you add the disqus comment system on your blog, It gives you option to apply for the discovery promotion feature. You can enable and disable the feature in your admin dashboard.

Working with Disqus WordPress plugin

  • Register your site with disqus. Install Disqus WordPress plugin and add your login credentials into it. After that you can add the short name of your blog to enable the Disqus commenting system.
  • Now go to Admin page of your Disqus.com dashboard.
  • Click on your website profile and then go to settings. Select the discovery tab to edit the settings related to your website profile. You can set the discovery level to high and low, depending on your monetization needs
disqus_dash
Using Disqus.com Dashboard settings
  • If you do not want external affiliate links in your discovery feed, you can uncheck option.

disqus_payment

  • I suggest unchecking this option If you use other affiliate links of your own inside the content.
  • We cannot compare Disqus revenue with Google adsense and other CPC networks. Disqus is unique with its sponsored listing on blogs. Disqus pays you via Paypal or Wire Transfer, once your earning reaches $100 every 30 days.

There is one thing to note that the promoted discovery sometimes shows off-topic sponsored listing (similar to AdSense).

disqus_revenue

You may not earn much revenue from less relevant sponsored listings. However, It does have the potential to make good money on high traffic blogs with comment activity.

If you run niche blog with limited revenue potential but more comment activity then I suggest you to check out Disqus promoted discovery.

Link: Disqus Discovery | WordPress Plugin for Disqus

Official Google App Engine for WordPress Plugin Released

Google App Engine, the cloud computing service platform has recently started support for PHP. WordPress is probably the most popular PHP based software used, so it is no surprise that an official WordPress plugin for Google App Engine was released. The plugin is mainly useful for functionality like sending email using the Mail App API and also uploading and serving media from Google Cloud Service.

Screen-Shot-2013-06-13-at-5.23.09-PM

This plugin is not meant for general WordPress users as they will need to know how to deploy PHP applications on Google App Engine. The plugin will over-ride some core WordPress functionality, mainly the email and media upload functionality.

Useful Links

The plugin’s code has also been uploaded to GitHub.

A perspective on the WordPress community in India

27th May is an important date for all WordPress enthusiasts. It’s the 10th anniversary of the most widely used CMS in the world. From a simple blogging platform to a pretty flexible CMS that drives many complex applications, WordPress, the application has evolved, tremendously.

I think of it as an apt occasion to present to you a story. It is the story of the evolution of the WordPress community in India. It is just my perspective and a point of view.

A brief history of WordPress in India

I’m one of those users that hopped on to the WordPress bandwagon, quite early in the 2.x series. This is the time when WordPress was still a blog and the dashboard menus were horizontal. I know of a lot of users who were fiddling with WordPress, around then, but there weren’t many. These were days when everybody wanted to open a portal (like Yahoo, Indiatimes, Rediff, etc). That’s why Joomla was the most peddled platform, everywhere.

The bloggers and the entrepreneurs: the Users

Somewhere down the line, blogging started becoming the “in” thing and the focus started shifting from portal like information centric sites to content centric, magazine/blog style sites. Blogger had just become a hit.

Further ahead, blogging started becoming a business. People who were professionally serious and/or passionate about blogging wanted more control on how their sites looked and behaved.

At the same times, elite small businesses were looking for better and cheaper ways of building their microsites. Coupled with better internet access, everyone was looking for a solution that was not as overwhelming as Joomla or Drupal. And I guess, logically and naturally, all these people gravitated towards WordPress.

The Developers and the Designers: the providers

There was another scene developing gradually, in the background. A lot of new developers, designers and small agencies were discovering freelance marketplaces. The global demand for WordPress development was flooding the job posts on these sites. A lot of these were low-priced simple tasks that anyone could google the solution for and fix.

This system of SMEs outsourcing to SMEs propagated the ease with which WordPress sites could be designed, developed and deployed. These agencies then started proposing WordPress to the local customers, as well.

Popularity means a lot of people

Beyond that, the reasons that made WordPress the most popular CMS in the world, also worked in India. Maybe, it was just a global trend and India just joined it.

This is a heady concoction: entrepreneurs, passionate bloggers, DIY developers (with no formal qualifications), designers and tinkerers. When a large number of such people start working with a single platform, they are bound to have opinions, views and insights. That gives birth to a need to share: give and take. To share, one must communicate. And, a lot of people spread across geographical areas, talking to each other, sharing knowledge and resources, is exactly what makes a community.

The seeds of the community: WordCamp Delhi ’09

The best communication is face to face communication. In spite of virtual communication, unless a community gathers together, the energy and the buzz of the community is never felt by its members. That’s why we have festivals, celebrations and other social events. In the case of WordPress, the shrewd business logic already had a system of meetups and most importantly, WordCamps.

wcindia

A WordCamp had to happen in India, sooner or later and so it happened. The first WordCamp in India was called WordCamp India and was an important affair. Held in the national capital, it boasted of sponsors like Adobe and Automattic and was organised by the Delhi Bloggers’ group. The highlight of the event was the presence of none other than Matt Mullenweg.

Beyond that, I personally know nothing about this event. This was before Indians had taken to Twitter or Facebook, as enthusiastically, as now. Besides, googling did not yield much about the event.

 

WordCamp Jabalpur ’11

wcjabalpurCompared to the previous WordCamp, this one was more widely publicised and talked about. With participation from across India, WordCamp Jabalpur featured, for the first time, some of the current WordCamp regulars like Rahul Banker, Gaurav Singh (the organiser), Amit Singh, King Sidharth, Aniket Pant, Puneet Sahalot and Jaydip Parikh. Devil’s Workshop had interviewed Gaurav Singh, post the WordCamp.

If you compare the sessions and the speakers, WordCamp Jabalpur was a definite progression on WordCamp Delhi. The topics were more advanced and varied, the speakers differed in professions and the range of talks was wider. I wasn’t there for even this one (I had just begun freelancing). However, my friend and colleague, Rakshit Thakker attended as a speaker. This was a good event, but the community was still struggling to find its baby steps.

WordCamp Cuttack ’12

cuttackUpdate: This wasn’t there in the original article.Amit brought it to my notice in the comments. The text below is almost verbatim.

This WordCamp was smaller in scale than the others. Held over just a day, it was organised by Soumya Pratihari. In first half there were user focused talks. The last two hours were focused on a workshop for creating plugins. This ended up being a two hour long discussion on WordPress development, plugins, themes, security and how to troubleshoot issues.

Compared to all other WordCamps in India, turnout was lesser. However, this resulted in better interaction between attendees and speakers.

WordCamp Mumbai ’12

wcmumbaiOrganised by a group of students, in the financial capital of India, this WordCamp courted some disasters. A couple of speakers were sponsors who talked about irrelevant stuff. A sponsor spoke in detail about the intricacies of off-page SEO and pay-per-click advertising to WordPress developers.

It was a sound meetup for marketing, developing Android apps, Windows 8, apart from a few important things about Google. Primarily, it was about the business of search engine optimisation and marketing on social networks. Except for a couple of talks, the event didn’t add any value to the community.

Attendees (including, yours truly) who felt let down, registered their protest, but were ignored for a decent amount of time. Eventually, apologies were issued.

The organisers had in fact, done a huge service to the community. Observing the fiasco in the background were two people who  understood that WordCamp Mumbai was a lesson in ‘How not to organise a WordCamp’.

WordCamp Baroda ’13

wcbarodaOne of the two people I indicated above is Rahul Banker, a young professional blogger from Baroda. Picking up the thread from Jabalpur and passing over Mumbai, he organised a WordCamp in Baroda.

This WordCamp had a higher relevance to WordPress and excellent speakers presented some complex topics in simple, easy to understand details. Being held in Gujarat, the hotbed of SEO/Social Media and other forms of digital marketing, the marketing influence was there but not at the cost of relevance.

Attention was paid to minute details like numerous charging points everywhere, fast and reliable internet connections, etc. Everything was well orchestrated and the event was held without any hiccups. This was a prime example of event management.

Also, there were ample occasions for attendees and speakers to mingle informally and discuss things: the true aim of a community event. In the backdrop of Mumbai, WordCamp Baroda was a greater success and according to the regulars, the best WordCamp they had attended till then.

There is a post on Devil’s Workshop that pretty much sums up the mood, post WordCamp Baroda.

WordCamp Pune ’13

wcpuneThe second person who was quietly taking notes and preparing his own event was Amit Singh. With a bare minimum of sponsors (compared to Baroda and especially Mumbai), his team, according to a lot of people who attended the event, delivered India’s best WordCamp yet.

The event wasn’t as fluid as Baroda was. It lacked a bit in event management. However, that is excusable in favour of its content, enthusiasm and a genuine interest in the actual reason for a WordCamp. This one had something for everyone. From absolute novices to experts, there were more than one session that were useful. Bloggers, developers, marketers and entrepreneurs, all benefited from the event and were all praises.

This WordCamp was also unique for the Workshops that were conducted. These ran parallel to the speaker sessions. Workshops were practical training sessions on using WordPress. They were meant for the benefit of students and novices, and were well received.

Another factor that went in favour of WordCamp Pune was that by then, there were some veterans of previous WordCamps. They were great mentors to the newbies. Questions flew thick and answers were aplenty. Doubts were raised and solved. People disagreed and fought. People agreed to each other too. It was a warm and exciting event.

Speakers were more interactive, drawing more participation from the listeners. In all, a proper community buzz had begun shaping up.

The scenario now

wphub.inPost WordCamp Pune, there is a definite community that interacts regularly on various online platforms. A facebook page and a site from an initiative called WPHub have sprung up to coordinate and boost the growth of the WordPress community in India.

Meetups have started happening more often. More Indian organisations are building products around WordPress. Still, the only time the community truly comes together is in a WordCamp. By far, the only yardstick that I could find to measure the growth and evolution, is a WordCamp. Although, more WordCamps are being planned, until the next one actually happens, it’d be too early to pass a judgement on the maturity of the community.

 

A hope for the future

The next WordCamp can only be better than the last. Everyone has higher expectations. People have tasted the benefits of community behaviour. More people who will share knowledge will be discovered. More people will hop on to the ride.

It is guaranteed — the shift is only progressive!

What happened on 27th May?

On the 10th anniversary of WordPress, meetups were organised across the world. I was at the Pune meetup, which had a moderate turnout. We cut a cake and generally chatted. How was your meetup? Do share with me in the comments.

Celebrate 10th Anniversary of WordPress: Meetups Across India

WordPress users around the world will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first WordPress edition by organizing several meet-ups across the world. The anniversary falls on May 27, 2013.

WordPress 10th Anniversary Meetups

The meetups will take place on 27th May in many cities. If you are interested in meeting up with local WordPress enthusiasts then look up this list of meetups being planned.

If you find none in your city, you can even plan create your own meetup for your city or town.

Why are meetups important?

Meetups are very important for WordPress communities. Especially in India, where a lot of WordCamps have started to take place but very few small WordPress meetups are happenings. Being an open-source project no company is going to put a lot of resources in marketing events to get local developers and bloggers together  Hence such meetups organized from ground up are very important.

I will be attending the meetup in Mumbai and hopefully will meet some fascinating people from the WordPress community in the city.

Do drop in your comments.

Link: WordPress 10th Anniversary Communities | WordPress.org Blog

[Contest] Review BuddyPress Media plugin and win upto $500

Cross-posted from rtCamp Blog

WordPress will be turning 10 years old on 27th May, 2013. Also, our parent company rtCamp’s BuddyPress Media plugin has also crossed 50,000 downloads recently.

To celebrate these events, rtCamp is running a contest where you can write a review of our BuddyPress Media plugin and can qualify for a prize worth US $500.

buddypress-media-contestHow to participate?

  1. Review BuddyPress Media and/or its addons in a blog post. Bouquets as well as brickbats are welcomed – just let it be an honest review.
  2. Post a link of the blog post in the comments section here.
  3. We will announce the prize winners on 28th May in celebration of WordPress turning 10 years old.
  4. The winners will be selected on the criteria of originality, correctness, presentation and influence (more details)

Prizes

Grand Prize $500 worth of rtCamp store credit
1st Runner-up $250 worth of rtCamp store credit
2nd Runner-up $100 worth of rtCamp store credit
3 x Special prizes $50 worth of rtCamp store credit each

The credit can be used on the rtCamp Store. The credit is transferable and winners can pass them on to friends, readers and users. 

As I mentioned earlier, the contest is run by our parent company rtCamp. So for further resources and help do visit the contest blog post as reference before you write the review.

Useful Links:

Contest closes on 27th May 2013 – while winners will be declared a day later on 28th May 2013. All the best to all participants.

Link: BuddyPress Media Review Contest

Global Brute Force Attack on WordPress Installations

wordpresslogo2Almost all major web hosts are reporting a global brute force attack on WordPress installed websites. The attack is define as “well organized and very distributed with over 90,000 IP address involved in the attack according to HostGator.

The attack is not simply limited to WordPress but even Joomla installations have not been spared. Over all its seems WordPress centric mainly because of the sheer number of websites hosted by using WordPress.

This botnet with over 90,000 IPs is trying to loging multiple times with using different usernames and passwords. The simplest way to break-in would be a weak password.

What can you do for your website’s safety?

Make sure you have the latest updated WordPress version for your website. Also make sure all your plugins are updated regularly. Finally the importance of having a good password and changing your admin password regularly cannot be over-emphasized. Make sure the password is complex and a mix of alphabets, numbers and special characters.

You can also refer to WordPress security guide on WordPress.org Codex.

Related: Check how strong your password is with this Microsoft Tool