Meher Bala – Benefits of being a part of a Community
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Yogesh Londhe: We are enjoying these amazing [00:03:00] sessions and even on stage two, there are some fantastic sessions there.
Lax Mariappan: Yeah. That’s the beauty of online, uh, events like you are free to choose
Yogesh Londhe: So much choice. Yeah. So I will catch up with I’ve. I’ve got some of the couple of sessions that I would love to catch up on a stage two when the recorded sessions already to be able to catch it. Yeah. Lax you want to introduce our next speaker?
Meher Bala: Yeah. Uh, coming up next, we have our speaker Meher Bala uh, she will be talking about the benefits of being part of a committee. Uh, if you are part of, uh, Twitter, our WordPress follow at communities and she’s nothing new she’s well-known.
Meher Bala: So my Meher Bala is a WordPress consultant and a front-end web developer specializing in WordPress. She builds and maintains premium websites for her clients and [00:04:00] delivers them on the tight deadlines with care. She co-hosts the podcast. Unplugged Tech, uh, which seeks to amplify inspiring and fascinating stories of friendly talk, a friendly folks in the tech world.
Meher Bala: And Meher supports the WordPress community as a member of, uh, make teams and contributes to release us, uh.
Meher Bala: Benefits of being part of the community. Hello, my name is Meher Bala . I’m a front-end and an expert at Codeable. I work as a WordPress consultant. And partner at a hosting company, happy post. I’m very active in the open source space.
Meher Bala: I’m a co-organiser of WordCamp Mumbai, WordCamp India, WordPress translation days. I’m, fascinated by the inspiring stories from [00:05:00] the people tech. And as part of that, I co-founded and co-host. Unplugged Tech podcast. This meant very first WordFest Talk. I’m delighted to be sharing this team inspired you to join your local or global community and discover the benefits for you and the wider project. In this talk I will share with you the learnings and the insights of being a part of a tech community during the last seven years.
Meher Bala: Let’s get started with what is a community.
Meher Bala: It is defined as a group of people who interact with one another and share common goals. or vision. It can be anything from a place, from a physical place where people connect or a virtual [00:06:00] space as social media groups and private community platform. I think part of an engaging community can give us a sense of belonging.
Meher Bala: It can help us to share persons, thoughts, and learnings to which others can relate and support the personal growth of each other. As humans, we tend to benefit from being with others. Connecting at a part of the meaningful community is important for their wellbeing and general mental health. In the next three slides, I’m going to share some research data would show how important community engage is.
Meher Bala: That’s have a deeper look at the first data done on open source, engaging. Thank you to nonstop news and [00:07:00] non-stop business support, which led me to the source and let us data from 2018 to 2022 in my talk today, this was such elapsed illustrate the benefit that a community engagement can bring to you. In 2018, 2019, a survey was done with 67% oh, those who replied. Found being a part of an open source community was an important part of the support system in business and local area. In 2000, 2021, the pandemic here, the same survey was conducted when it showed an increase of 89%, the comments shared, examples of how the different committees. Had helped people connect and to take together. This varied from weekly get together [00:08:00] to drop it, to look at a particular issue. Let’s now take a look at the second survey which is related to community engagement.
Meher Bala: In 2000 2018, a survey was conducted where people said what they learned through tech communities. They had learned practical skills that they had put into the work place. The same survey was conducted in 2021. The pandemic here at it showed a decrease in percentage. Do you find the decline was partly due to fluctuating internet access to office and job opportunities during the pandemic.
Meher Bala: People also reported difficulties adjusting to learning environment on video calls, especially with dealing with multiple demands on their time from work at home, online [00:09:00] events can add an extra pressure. We all know that, but by being a part of the community, people found ways to adjust their learning needs and make networks to help.
Meher Bala: Let’s take a look at the last survey, which is conducted for community engagement and wellbeing. We’ve talked about how contributing to a community can help you move forward and be connected, especially during the period of crisis. This has been shown to in many research studies during and after the pandemic, let’s look at 2018 to 2022 research.
Meher Bala: People said involved in open source and open source community had a positive effect on their wellbeing. They felt part of something bigger. This was a case of both of these who described themselves as being on the edge of the community engagement [00:10:00] and regular contributors. In 2008, 2009, the survey showed 34% of the people that believed in this. In 2000, 2021, 7, 3 73% of the people believed in this. And 12% of the people reported no effect or highlighted stress effects from the way of communication had changed in 2021. This was in line with the wider research done by non-stop business support and from other studies global lead showing that active community engagement can aid well-being thank you to [inaudible] for allowing me to include all the research information for this presentation. At the end of this presentation, I will share a link where you can go and vote anonymous. Share your [00:11:00] thoughts on benefits at the community. It will help researchers and aware, rising being done by groups, including unplug tech podcast.
Meher Bala: It will be shared to assist the Big Orange Heart the charity behind this wonderful WordFest event it collaboration is like. This is another example of how people come together in a community for greater participation, diversity, and.
Meher Bala: Now let’s look at how, how you find a community, understand the different communities around you, choose the one which help you nurture, and you feel really where you belong. Community plays an important role in all aspects of our life. We have communities in our friends, our family, our neighbors in our employment. And so many other places, wherever you go, you will find a [00:12:00] community. Being a part of the community can make ourselves feel as though we are a part of something greater, even more reasons to research and find communities where you will feel at home and grow.
Meher Bala: People always ask me this question. Why, why am I an advocate of a community?
Meher Bala: I believe, I believe a community can help each one of us in many aspects of our life, a community like WordPress and give us an opportunity to connect with people, to just search our goals and be a part of a confidence building.
Meher Bala: Before joining the WordPress community, I was asked a few questions.
Meher Bala: Why are you joining the local community? What are the benefits of the WordPress community? [00:13:00] Is it community a waste of time and energy? What help can they provide? It seems to be a few, a woman. How will you survive? These questions did not stop me from finding a local community.
Meher Bala: I wanted to surround myself with value driven people who knew the language of tech and coding and wants to be a part of helping me make things bigger. This led me to WordPress Mumbai community. This is where I attended and wanting to add my first WordCamp Mumbai. Once part of the local community. I got to know there was a WordPress community that stretched around the world events like this means we can share our voices across the globe.[00:14:00]
Meher Bala: Let’s look at some of the benefits of joining an source community, first friends and network, making friends and network who live locally and across the globe. You never know when friends can turn into business or life partners. This is a good way to get to know cultures and different countries around the world. Next knowledge learning and mentorship.
Meher Bala: Join the community to learn from and with others and share knowledge. You will meet different types of people with different views, experience and beliefs, learning from them. Reach insight that we may not have learned in on our own. I can certainly vouch for this
Meher Bala: next collaborating and work opportunities, collaborating, collaborating with people from the community to [00:15:00] work on different and interesting projects, like building websites for nonprofits and support good causes. Everyone loves to it. Right. WordCamps gives us, gives us the opportunity to, with her friends in the community and explore different parts of the country.
Meher Bala: Inspiration in the community you will find many people who inspire and motivate others. Those are the people who you need to follow, and then don’t try to be an inspiration for others. It has been. It is because of the people who have inspired me. And I have had the privilege of being mentored by that. I’m here with you today, able to deliver a talk on an international platform and share my experience with everyone
Meher Bala: next support being a part of the community. And it was asked to give support [00:16:00] to other members. Supporting others and help them feel good about themselves and be more confident with so much stress in busy in today’s busy world. We live in. There’s never been the right time to help those struggling with the physical and what
Meher Bala: the physical and mental wellbeing. Next sharing, chatting activities, ideas, feelings. Reinforces not only a sense of self, but also adds what and value to that community. Indeed. The more the merrier lies in this case,
Meher Bala: the last don’t just take, but give to any community works better, better when relationship with it travels in both direction being apart of the committee. Does not always mean that you [00:17:00] should, you should expect automatically. You should expect people continuously and automatically helping you. You need to make an effort to encourage interact and know people in the community and support them when they need it.
Meher Bala: Remember being a part of the community is a two way street. There may be so many other benefits and fossilized ones, especially to you
Meher Bala: Sharing my top ten list, which will hopefully inspire you to step outside your comfort zone and join the community that that will help you feel braver to. WordCamps, and WordPress events. I attended ,volunteered, sponsored, spoken at different WordCamps and WordPress events. And in [00:18:00] 2019, I was lead organizer for WordCamp Mumbai.
Meher Bala: Be great to be interviewed by international podcasts, including WP Water Cooler and Do The Woo. Sharing my story with HeroPress to inspire others, to overcome barriers that they may face in their lives and work
Meher Bala: finding opportunities to contribute to WordPress and becoming a team rep for the global WordPress marketing team, all these oppurtunities means I can encouraged others.
Meher Bala: Being a part of the WordPress 5.6 release squad and a contributor to a number of other releases. This is how you can be a bot or the future development of the software. And it’s open to all,
Meher Bala: A, [00:19:00] panelists on the page builder, the summit 2000. Uh, panelist on a page builder summit, 2021, a big thanks to Adam, Maya and the rest of the team at GoDaddy in believing in me.
Meher Bala: Thank you to the Bluehost in your team for asking me to be a jury member for the WordPress creators award
Meher Bala: and the first edition of WordFest, my podcast Unplugged Dot Tech contributed at the media partner. In the second edition, I was selected to be a part of the community interview. Third edition. I was third edition, which is now I stepped up further and applied to be a speaker on the main team for the event and support Big Orange Heart.
Meher Bala: I have partnered with [00:20:00] community friends, opened up businesses and worked together on good projects. But the, for the past two years, I have been a part of the organizing team of WordPress translation day. I’ve supported the event as a developer, as a tech support giver as a marketer, as a translator and as a community advocate.
Meher Bala: I inspired to find the community and get started. I would love to your how, how my story has inspired you and what your journey will be chatting with me on Twitter at @MeherBala via direct message or leave a message on my feed. A lot of people ask me where do you find these active and engaging communities?
Meher Bala: Here are a few names. [00:21:00] I am going to tell you, which you may consider as part of your journey, the local WordPress community. This can be in your local town or area. If you don’t have one, start one, find people who love the software and build a committee. The Big Orange Heart Slack, HeroPress network, ladies of the WordPress. Remote India. This is the largest community of folks working remotely in India and has grown four times in the last two years because of the pandemic.
Meher Bala: Post Status, WooCommerce community and Do The Woo. WordPress product community on LinkedIn. [00:22:00] If you love Facebook, there’s a group named advanced WordPress on Facebook. There’s an other group name, web creators community on Facebook. There’s an other group theme, WP Builds, but not the least. Don’t forget your work for me. It is a codeable for me, it is at codeable with other developers from across the globe.
Meher Bala: I would like to take this opportunity and give a special shout out to some of the amazing people I have met first Big Orange Heart team for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts. Vachan Kudmule a community friend business partner. Abha Thakor for being my mentor and access to training courses. Michelle Frechette, Maja Loncar and [00:23:00] Andrea Middleton for being inspirational community managers.
Meher Bala: I told all my friends globally, I locally for believing and encouraging me. As promised, sharing this bitly link, where you can express anonymously on the community benefits to help for the work to encourage open source participation, diversity and sustainability. Thank you to everyone who came to listen to my talk, ways to connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn @MeherBala, WordPress global marketing channel is @Meher. You can contact me on my website https://meherbala.com. if you have interesting stories to share, come contact me on unplug.tech.
Yogesh Londhe: Meher how are things in Mumbai? And how are you?
Meher Bala: On how are you [00:24:00] back to normal? Full speed. Everything is opened up, so I’m doing what?
Yogesh Londhe: Oh, good, good, good, good, good. And, uh, thank you very much for a fantastic session. And, uh, everybody who knows me knows that Meher is a community person, a fantastic community leader. So we have a few questions for you meher and, uh, I’m just glad to chat with you. So start with, could you share an anecdote, uh, how, what community has benefited you are someone that, you know,
Yogesh Londhe: so first question is, could you share an anecdote how, what birth community has benefited you are someone who is.
Meher Bala: I think one of the main [00:25:00] benefits on the
Yogesh Londhe: Can we have the questions on the screen.
Yogesh Londhe: Did you hear that question?
Meher Bala: Yes. I heard it. Yeah. One of the main benefits I think anyone gets is friendship because that’s where the bond is created. That’s where the communication goes. If it’s for me, it’s the different friendships around the world, but I own the local community because that is where it makes a person strong.
Meher Bala: For example, if I give my example becoming a part of the local Mumbai community, I met so many different people. It made me go around different words. It made me travel. It made me meet people like Yogesh and a lot of other [00:26:00] people Rahul and a lot of other people around India, which by not joining the community, I may not not have met you.
Meher Bala: Oh, by joining the international community, I met amazing people around the world. I’m sure if I travel anywhere, I am going to have one person, at least in the WordPress community who will be a part of that city or that country. And I’ll get to explore the local place, not like a tourist, but like being a part of the city because a lot of times like tourist, you miss a lot of great cities.
Meher Bala: So for me, community is. First friendship and then everything.
Lax Mariappan: Yeah, that is great. Like communities help you grow your, uh, you know, grow your network. And that network opens the door to [00:27:00] many options. And then it can be your new job or like you may meet your new client and in your talk, you mentioned you may meet you, you know, um, friends, even business partner, or even like partners. It was great.
Meher Bala: Yeah. Actually, because I have seen recently you do meet your life partners as well in the community.
Lax Mariappan: Yeah. Like minded people. Yeah. That, that ignites the spark. It’s nice. Nice to, uh, and so, so, um, how about the five for the future? Like, you know, it’s a community driven event, so can you share us like, uh, you know, maybe some of us who are watching this may not know about five for the feature and a lot of people assume that it’s for, only for developers are like, you know, contributing to the code or, uh, like, uh, and maybe other ways to contribute.
Lax Mariappan: Right. So please tell us about. It can be a part of the community and [00:28:00] contribute in the five for the feature works.
Meher Bala: So being a part of the WordPress community doesn’t mean you need to be a developer or you need to know code, or you need to know, you know what all, you know, you just need to know PHP or, uh, any coding, like.
Meher Bala: If you are a market out there, a space for you. If you are a translator, there is space for you. If you’re a designer that has space for you, if you are a community manager, there is space for you. There is space for everyone in this community to five for futures, not only for sponsored contributors, but for sales, sales, sponsored contributors as well.
Meher Bala: Give. Some part of your time to the software, which is helping you on your bread and butter for some people. Because when you spend time with the software, that’s [00:29:00] because indirectly the software, if you help the software grow, you’re growing yourself as well. So that’s why five for future helps and anyone is allowed to join.
Meher Bala: Everyone is allowed to join. Everyone is encouraged to contribute to different aspects of the community. If you’re hesitant joining the global community, start with your local community, start with, you know, if you don’t have a local community building. There is ways and means to get people together. Like nowadays everyone uses with WordPress.
Meher Bala: A lot of non developers use WordPress has set up this shop, set up the, uh, websites and all, get them together, start a local community and encourage people translate in your own language. That’s the best way to get started.[00:30:00]
Lax Mariappan: Great. A lot of people assume like they have to be a coder.
Meher Bala: Yes. Even when I joined the local community, I felt only coders are required. And once I joined the community, that thought went away because I joined the marketing team. I have a strong background of coding, but being a freelancer marketing also is my, is there in me, so I didn’t join the code, but I joined the marketing.
Meher Bala: So, so,
Lax Mariappan: uh, can you hear me now?
Meher Bala: Yes, I can still hear you.
Lax Mariappan: Okay. Great. So I have a question. This is, uh, maybe a difficult one, but not little controversial, but still, you know, cause I never felt this one. So you are also from India, like from Asia. [00:31:00] So how diverse and inclusive the WordPress communities are because I I’ve seen you are part of communities in your experiences like 15 plus years with WordPress and you are part of communities.
Lax Mariappan: Not just a participant. You are a volunteer, you are, are a lead organizer. So what do you think like, is that any discrimination or the people are not inclusive in terms of maybe race, community identity or whatever language, or I think that
Meher Bala: I have not seen the inclusive, exclusive as of now. Yes, though participation of women is a bit less. You cannot stay back because of that. Because when I joined the Mumbai community, there were hardly any women, but if you were not going to be the first woman to step up, someone needs a familiar face. Someone needs familiarity in the crowd. And [00:32:00] that’s where I think one needs to take the initiative.
Meher Bala: WordPress is welcoming to everyone. It doesn’t discriminate based on color or gender or any other thing. It’s an open, welcoming community. I have been welcomed by people who have never met. I have interacted with people who have very down-to-earth people. It’s not that, you know, just because there are no women or just because, you know, there are very few moments where you should not participate.
Meher Bala: No. If there are few women start creating a group start encouraging woman. That’s how women in WordPress woman in WP got developed, got created.
Lax Mariappan: Uh, that’s good, like, uh, that will help inspire other women to join. Like you [00:33:00] pointed out be the first, like in WordPress, our default comments, right. Are like, are WordPress.
Lax Mariappan: We will say be the first one to review something, like be the first one to join. So that will help. And it will bring, like, for example, if Meher joints, maybe her friends might be interested in. So it might be like they might be using WordPress, maybe shy or hesitant to join. Or then if someone joins there, they have a familiar face and it brings more women to the community.
Lax Mariappan: And it’s like also I personally like, um, uh, bringing tech to women, uh, they can be users and, uh, they can be like, um, you know, giving the feedback, like any sorts of contribution is welcome. And, uh, especially when you teach a woman, it’s like, you’re teaching your whole family that. So saying in our language, it’s like, you know, cause see some others, she’s a sister.
Lax Mariappan: Like she is going to teach and spread the word and that’s how things work. Uh, so [00:34:00] women who are watching this
Meher Bala: hello
Meher Bala: from 2016, till now every WordCamp I used to go, we used to take out a group photograph of all the women. I think if you go compare each photograph, you’ll see the increase in the number of women attending WordCamps. And to me, it is like you creating a network. You’re creating comfort zone. You’re creating familiar faces.
Meher Bala: So yes, women need to be encouraged. Women need to be.
Meher Bala: So I would encourage all the women out there participate. If you are hesitant, talk to someone, there are a lot of known faces out in the [00:35:00] community who will be happy to talk to you. If you want to talk to me, you can reach out to me on Twitter or my website. I’ll be happy to.
Lax Mariappan: Yeah. And here I would like to highlight or something that we do for every WordCamp or meet up in everything.
Lax Mariappan: Cause we have community rules just like when you join a Facebook group, they have rules rights or something like that. So every person who’s joining or participating in the WordPress or any WordPress event, we have, um, almost local or international communities. They have, uh, uh, like any harassment, violence related or like anything, something that.
Lax Mariappan: Uh, inappropriate behavior or whatever. Like you can report that as well. So it’s like, not because of some, uh, I don’t know how to call them. Like, it don’t have to be, uh, or read or like you don’t have to step away just because of someone bad. So there are a lot of good people out there. So you might get, find your new employer, new job in, like, there are many good [00:36:00] opportunities that came out of WordPress.
Lax Mariappan: And for me, it’s like, I got this, um, clients and also I met a lot of new people, friends, and I got me new job. Also, everything is related because I know somebody in the community and I get to know more about them. I meet them, learn them, learn from them. So things like.
Meher Bala: Yeah. Eventually when you’re a part of the community, when you interact with community, I think slowly steady, everything falls into place.
Meher Bala: But as I said in my talk community, this two way street, if you only expect the community to give you every information and you don’t reply, or you don’t engage with people, how would people come to know that you are a part of the committee? You also need to make that effort. I understand people are shy.
Meher Bala: Even I was shy. I’m not going to say no. The first two meetups, I did not come in together to anyone, but it was great. It was, [00:37:00] I made an effort to break the barrier and start talking to people. I made that effort. So it is a two way.
Yogesh Londhe: So nice chatting with you, Meher. Um, any, any advice you have for, uh, the WordPress community is a budding WordPress community is new WordPress communities to thrive?
Meher Bala: If you’re just started and you’re not getting the people, you’re not finding people, don’t lose heart, give it time. Give it energy because initial stage of starting is difficult for any group to go ahead, but don’t close heart, better people who will support you just keep on building and you will grow to a very big community [00:38:00] even, I think Yogesh can agree with me with when he started WordCamp Bangalore community from a small community. It became large. Like when I started WordCamp Mumbai, I didn’t start the WordCamp Mumbai community. But when I joined, I heard that the WordCamp Mumbai community was started by, two people sharing one big dosa and today’s a very huge community. So don’t lose hope if you’re just getting started.
Yogesh Londhe: I had talking to two south Indians and we know the magic dosa can do.
Yogesh Londhe: Dosa can make anything possible.
Meher Bala: Yeah, [inaudible] three people.
Yogesh Londhe: Uh, the influence of south India is not the power, the soft power, the culture, [00:39:00] the style. Lax?.
Lax Mariappan: Yeah. So was actually, uh, wondering about, uh, for example, if I have a local community, like, I like to say like WordCamp Chennai or maybe WordPress Chennai, something like that.
Lax Mariappan: I have a. Uh, some part of remote village or somewhere in India or something. And how can I, uh, connect with what comes central or like WordPress central thing, like a local community, how they can interact with international community and how, how things go, uh, like, um, it’s going to be difficult or is it kind of welcoming or how it works
Meher Bala: No, it is welcoming, uh, to join the international community, come on slack, coming to community channel. Put your, uh, credit. There are a lot of people who will help you. There are a lot of people in India who are there, the international slack as well. You know, you will get [00:40:00] it. You’ll get every help needed, whether it be local or international, you’ll get every help needed. So just reach out to people on slack.
Lax Mariappan: So great. So it was actually nice talking to you. And when you see Meher’s profile on WordPress, it’s like she got almost all the badges. That’s no
Meher Bala: No, I have not got all the badges.
Lax Mariappan: Oh, what is missing? Uh, I’m just curious.
Meher Bala: Lots. I think design is missing,
Lax Mariappan: but you are a designer, you are a content person.
Meher Bala: Yeah, that team I still have to collaborate with, but there are other teams that I have contributed to,
Meher Bala: but it’s not the badges only. It’s just contributing and doing and seeing the software grow.
Lax Mariappan: [00:41:00] Yeah. But it’s like a badge, just like a, we can take it like a recognition or like something that’s like. Uh, you know, milestone or something that motivates others like to do. That’s why we, we to gamification. So that’s why we gamify it.
Meher Bala: Partly yes, I agree. Yes.
Lax Mariappan: Yeah. Thank we are out of time
Yogesh Londhe: Thank you, Meher. Thank you very much for a fantastic session and a very interactive, uh, uh, discussion at the end.
Meher Bala: Thank you everyone. Thank you to the entire Big Orange Heart team organizers volunteers. Y’all not doing a great event and sponsors.
Yogesh Londhe: Of course. Yeah.
Yogesh Londhe: Thank you. So here we go. Thanking our sponsors.
Yogesh Londhe: Meher thank you very much, and it was fantastic having you here. So our thanks to sponsors Bluehost, Cloudways, GoDaddy Pro, Nexcess, Yoast and Weglot. [00:42:00] Please be sure to visit the tents and chat with them. You might even win some prizes. Don’t forget to get your photo snap at the photo booth and tweet it out with the hashtag WordFest Live.
Yogesh Londhe: Also thank you to our media partners and micro responses, Lax.
Lax Mariappan: Yeah. So we talked about the community tent. So if we go to the community tent on the, in your minutes, so you can see Cloudways Cloudways is now having, uh, with a special guest and they are having a giveaway event for this hour. So don’t miss it.
Yogesh Londhe: So now we have a one hour break or I don’t know how. A few minutes.
Lax Mariappan: Yeah. And then it starts, it goes to Europe now. I mean, it goes to Africa, Africa.
Yogesh Londhe: Yeah. So bye from Asia, um, you all make our Big Orange Heart full.
Lax Mariappan: [00:43:00] Yeah, and we, we appreciate your donations and if you are not yet donated, consider donating, so visit our, uh, click the donate button and be gracious with your, it helps the community. And now we all, again, once again, we thank over organizing. Uh, volunteers sponsors and everyone who’s participated.
Lax Mariappan: Thank you. .