Wordcamp Victoria 2009: 25 Reasons it was an outstanding event

wordpress schwagLast Saturday, I was a participant in WordCamp Victoria 2009, held at the Victoria campus of University Canada West.  WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress, the popular open-source blogging software.  WordCamps are informal, community-organized events, organized around the world.  Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.  Paul Holmes of IdeaZone initiated and organized the Victoria event, bringing together speakers, sponsors, venue and 100 participants. Thanks Paul, you did a great job on all fronts!

Impressions of WordCamp Victoria 2009

As a relative newcomer to blogging, and having spent lots of time tweaking or wrestling WordPress (this blog runs on WordPress), I figured WordCamp would be a good learning opportunity, and a chance to connect with some local social media talent.  Sure enough, it was. Reflecting on the event, I got to thinking of all the reasons why it clicked for me, and so with my collaboration hat on, here’s 25:

Event structure and process

1.  WordCamp is owned by the participants; ownership = engagement
2.  A community event; open to all
3.  Inclusive and diverse; intergenerational participation; participants with different backgrounds and interests
4.  The beginning and end of the day started with everybody together = the whole
5.  A good flow; an agenda that nicely mixed structured with unstructured time
6.  Authentic speakers (visit the WordCamp Victoria site for info on the presenters, and much more)
7.  All sessions optional; i.e., whatever works for the individual
8.  Welcoming gathering spaces; e.g., comfy lounge
9.  Range of gathering spaces; supporting small and large group get-togethers
10.  Easy and effective event registration and orientation

Making connections and building relationships

11.  Knew whose who in the zoo even before showing up; speaker and participant profiles posted online = unlike meeting a group of strangers!
12.  Collegial atmosphere
13.  High level of local participation (including sponsors); bodes well for sustaining connections and a strong local community


Learning opportunities

14. Extending (pre-event) online connections to face-to-face conversation
15. Openness to others interests and ideas
16. Real-time curiosity and knowledge sharing encouraged; safe to ask questions, share insights
17. Participants invited to share their gifts; e.g., lead their own sessions (campouts)
18. WordPress-related tutorials and tips from competent and engaging speakers
19. Diverse content; user and technical streams

More little (or big!) things

20.  Good coffee
 Good food
22.  Schwag (as in the photo above)
23.  Real name tags (vs. stick-on labels)
24.  Plenty of draw prizes (always a hit)
25.  Low cost ($40, food included!)

As I mentioned, WordCamp Victoria 2009 owes much to Paul Holmes.  Here’s a short 2 minute video he posted to YouTube covering the big day.  (click here if you can’t see the video)

What if?

Saturday’s gathering felt like a community of practice; the ongoing process of a group of people coming together to learn and deepen their knowledge on their chosen topic (WordPress).  What surprises me is how natural it all felt.  Makes me wonder what if we took the WordCamp model to other professional communities we’re involved with could we make it work?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to my blog. Much appreciated, Ben.

Photo credits: dawvon


  1. This is awesome, thank you for the write up!

  2. Thanks Maya. It was fun thinking of all the good things about the day/event.

  3. Ben – it was great to meet you at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Mixer tonight.

    Even though we were at the same Word Camp, there were so many people to connect with.

    My comments – it’s possible to continue to build local connections made at Word Camp Victoria through Social Media Club Victoria Meetings (normally on the 3rd Tuesday of the month)

    Our next speaker is Ross Dunn from Stepforth (one of the Word Camp presenters).

    In addition to SMC Victoria, we hold regular #victoriatweetup – either morning (a bit more business related) or evening (all about fun).

    The Camp (or “unconference”) model has been applied to:

    Government – Change Camp http://www.changecamp.ca has happened in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and will happen soon in March 2010 in Victoria.

    The Development community –
    Demo Camp and Bar Camp

    Demo Camp has taken place several times in Victoria.

    Thank you for taking the time to post your experiences of Word Camp. I love “unconferences” – they are never boring!

    Janis La Couvée

  4. Hi Janis,
    Nice to meet you too! You are a great connector! Thanks for the follow-on ideas and sharing all this info – I hope others also find it useful – you’ve highlighted so many different ways to connect with others, interested and/or involved in social media, here in the Victoria area.

  5. Hi Ben,

    We met at the Values-Based Business Network breakfast last Friday. It was great meeting you and reading your WordCamp post. Too bad I missed the event, sounds like a really great community. After reading your top 25 reasons it was an outstanding event, I will make sure I make it to the next one!!

  6. Chris, nice to hear from you here, and connect with you at the VBN breakfast. I found your own recent travels and business mighty interesting. You seem to combine an entrepreneural spirit with a compassion for others. I’m sure there will be another local WordCamp soon – the event went off too well for there not to be!

  7. Hi Ben,

    I really like your concept for this post. People so willing to share great info and useful tips. At times, I wished there was a pause button I could press to stop and reflect on what had just been said. But alas, no, just more good info. I also felt there was great energy.

    Let’s try to connect at the next social media event, face to face.

  8. Cindy, thanks for the feedback. And, yes there was great energy (= point # 26!). I too will look for you at the next SMC event.

  9. There is another WordCamp coming up on May 15th in Victoria.

    The details are on the website at http://wordcampvictoria.ca/

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