How the PHP community stays engaged

How PHPeople stay connected and have fun

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Photo by Jon on Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

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Why would you spend your free time contributing to open source, especially in the PHP community? Doesn't it seem boring to spend hours every week, or sometimes hours every day putting your time into a project, or into community work? Well, my answer is no! There are endless reasons why it is so much fun to be part of a community, and how we keep each other entertained to keep the sparks lit up in an open source community.

When it comes to being part of the PHP community, I do many community related contributions, such as organizing the Seattle PHP Meetup, organizer of the Pacific Northwest PHP Conference, and I am a frequent speaker and attendee at PHP conferences. I've also appeared on several PHP related interviews in the past year. You can find a list of my press and speaking related stuff on my personal website.

Social media

This has to be the biggest one. Everything happens on Twitter and Facebook. If it wasn't for Twitter, I would most likely not be part of the PHP community.

It all started out with me being an attendee at the Seattle PHP Meetup many years ago, and the organizer at that time, Jeremy Lindblom, recommended I followed a list of prominent PHP community members and start being more involved in the community. He even recommended I go to a PHP conference, but I was like "nahhh”. After I followed these members for some time, I realized how much fun the community is. They interact with each other on a daily basis sharing funnies, updated technology related material, all types of software releases, and thoughts on different programming concepts. Soon after, I decided I wanted to meet a lot of these people I've been following on Twitter (I think I waited a year), I finally decided to go to my first conference in Utah called SkiPHP. Let me tell you, I would highly recommend this as a first time conference. It's always a bit nerve—racking to join a community at first, but people were so welcoming to newcomers that I felt immediately part of the crowd.

Fast forward many years later, my Twitter now consists of software engineers and web developers from all over the world that I get to keep in touch with every day. They are such a fun crowd, I couldn't trade this for anything. You can try it out for yourself by following @phpc, which retweets and favorites many PHP members.

Chat tools

Different open source communities use different tools to stay in contact. Since Twitter isn't the best place for private messaging, and not everyone adds developers and software engineers to their private Facebook friends list, we needed to find a chat tool that everyone can easily access and use. Wait, everyone knows what IRC is. And it's been around for over a decade. Why not IRC? Yes, that is where the PHPeople hang out to chat.

You can use Freenode, which is browser based, or any kind of IRC client to join channels: #phpc and #phpwomen (which is open to anyone).

"Follow community members on Twitter and IRC and see what cool projects they're working on or new tech they're playing with using PHP." —Matthew Turland

As you can see, these are the best ways to stay in constant communication with our community, and I hope to see more people join over time.

Pushing things forward

"I'd have to say it's the people who want to push things forward that keep me interested. PHP developers want to get things done, but they're not satisfied with the status quo. The language itself continues to evolve, the leading practices evolve, and there are lots of people actively trying to push the community forward. PHP is never stagnant." - Larry Garfield

When the leaders of the community have so much belief and ambition to push the software forward, you tend to build trust with the community that the PHP language will only improve and keep getting better. As these leaders are some of the greatest programmers, with some representing developers from top name tech companies, I have a lot of respect for them. It's always exciting to see what new news they have to bring to the table, especially on social media.

Constant learning

"I guess my greatest reward is to see happy members eager to get started with what they've learned. Getting positive feedback on what we do makes us do it more often. And by doing more, we improve as well giving our peers a better experience which results in even better vibes. It's a self-improving cycle where we merely bring talent in front of others. But because we take that step, we lead the community." —Michelangelo Van Dam

When you are keeping up with the PHP community, there is no end to learning. Everyone is excited to improve their personal development skills to help with their projects and business. How do I stay on top of the current trending or emerging technologies? Thanks to the PHP community making sure we are all informed with important information. I find myself addicted to reading tweets and soaking my brain up like a sponge. If you're not learning something new everyday in the web development field, you need to rethink your career. Web development evolves at such a high pace that you need to keep up with the speed. And why not do it in a fun way by using social media to learn?

The PHPeople

So the people in every community have nicknames. Joomlers for the Joomla community, and PHPers or PHPeople for the PHP community. Yes! What keeps us entertained in open source? The people of course.

"This community is full of very different personalities, but I feel we have an amazing sense of humor. We're comfortable making fun of ourselves, and generally don't take ourselves too seriously. I think that's part of why PHP events feel like family reunions more than conferences." —Samantha Quiñones

As everyone is so different, we seem to, at most, get along and we understand each other's sense of humor. It feels like one big second family to me. All someone has to say is "I love PHP," and they are in the crowd automatically. Never hesitate to be part of this community. We are all open arms, especially me. Follow me at @tessamero, and I'll be happy to introduce you to people to follow that will make a significant impact in your career, whether it's for knowledge, motivation, or encouragement.

About the author

Tessa Mero - Tessa Mero is the Developer Evangelist for Cisco. She spends her extra time contributing on a leadership team for the Joomla! Project and has been involved with Joomla for the past 5 years. She runs the Seattle PHP Meetup and is the organizer of the Pacific Northwest PHP conference. On her free time, she likes to play video games, snowboard, and eat Korean food.