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So a Joomla! Guy Walks in to a WordCamp...

So a Joomla! Guy Walks in to a WordCamp...

This month I had the opportunity to go to a tech conference and talk about Joomla!, Open Source Communities, and Education – nothing unusual for me, I do that all the time at colleges and Joomla! events around the United States and elsewhere. But this time was different, because I was showing up to an event I’d never been to, a WordCamp. The most common questions I got almost non-stop for two days? “Why in the world are you here?” and “Isn’t this ‘enemy territory’ for you?” Here’s what I said, and why I went, and why I’m definitely going to go to more events in other Open Source communities.

“Why In the World Are You Here?”

The short answer? To learn, and to talk!

Many months ago, as an organizer for this year's Joomla! World Conference, we had many discussions about what the theme and focus of the conference would be. One of the points we quickly agreed on was that we wanted to continue a growing theme we saw in Joomla! of encouraging interaction and collaboration with other Open Source communities.

This resulted in us being able to invite and see several members of our Open Source cousin CMS communities join us, including Matt Mullenweg and Andrew Nacin from WordPress, and Angie Byron from Drupal, resulting in several days of great discussion and conversation, and even a great keynote from Matt on how WordPress has grown and changed both as a software and a community.

Check out Amy's great WordCamp Raleigh recap blog post, mentioning opportunities for our communities to work together

But in order to continue these conversations, and to start new ones, the Joomla! community has to do the same - visiting and learning from other Open Source communities, opening dialog to allow conversation and collaboration with other software developers. So this last weekend a couple other Joomla! community members from Polished Geek and I went to WordCamp (and DrupalCamp, on the same weekend), where we were able to have dozens of great conversations about our respective communities and softwares, and even found ways to share knowledge and effort in everything from event organizing, to opportunities for Open Source software to be used in higher education.

“Isn’t This Enemy Territory For You?”

This was a fun one to get. I didn’t get it quite as often, since a lot of folks I talked to immediately recognized the opportunities for cross-community collaboration, but many (including a couple Automatticians) were still under the impression that the only reason that we would be attending events and talking to people from other communities would be to “spy” on each other.

The truth is, with over 65% of the internet not even using a CMS, other Open Source CMSs, including WordPress and Drupal, aren’t our enemies, they’re communities that we share a lot of similarities with, and that have differences that we can all learn from, and any opportunities that we might have to collaborate, or share our knowledge, are lost if we ignore each other.

Why I’ll Be Doing This More

Well, for starters, it’s a lot of fun! Meeting the WordPress community, learning from them, talking with them, it’s always fun to talk to other Open Source enthusiasts, and compare notes.

But more importantly, the potential for our two communities to collaborate, and the ideas and opportunities that came out of just spending a day and a half at WordCamp shows that this needs to happen more often. Both of our communities can grow, opportunities that wouldn’t be possible alone can appear as we share our knowledge and experiences, and besides, I’ll bet you get to meet more cool people, and you’ll probably learn a thing or two while you’re there!

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