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EP11 – International Community Growing – How Taco Verdonschot Unites Volunteers at WCEU – Community Connections
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Show Notes

Community manager for Yoast (joined them in Aug 2013 as a developer), and current volunteer lead for WCEU. The very 1st WCEU was held just a few months after Taco joined Yoast. He got to meet a lot of people at the after-party, and was impressed with how friendly & welcoming everyone was – has loved the community since the start!

His main task is managing the support team at Yoast (they answer most support requests within a couple of hours!)


It’s really about the ‘personal’ connection. It started with just Joost as the face of the company, but now it’s a bunch of people.  They greatly value being very visible to the community.


This year, Taco will be a co-organizer for WCEU (WordCamp Europe)! Ever since his first camp he’s been able to travel to every single WCEU. He’ll be leading the volunteer team this year.


Bridget: It’s said that a lot of developers are not “people” people. Do you have advice?


Taco’s advice: We probably need to stop telling ourselves that devs aren’t good with people. Perhaps if we change the perception, it will help a lot.We may also need to also make sure devs have something to do in social situations like WordCamps – ie. helping with volunteers.


Volunteer deadline for WCEU 2018 is March 31


Taco is getting married soon! May 24! (he scheduled the wedding around WCEU!)


They had their 2nd Yoast-Con last year and he thinks they will have another within the next year (early 2019?)


Yoast is a 100% open-source focused company – everything they do is open source. They “breathe community”. Their entire culture is based around helping everyone achieve what they want to achieve (their goals).


Bridget: Being in proximity with other people is so important – is that a part of the Yoast culture?


Taco: that is absolutely true.  A number of the teammates will get together for trivia nights or rock climbing, surfing, etc.  Being a part of Yoast means you get a lot of new friends!! (both local and abroad!)


Bridget: It’s my mission to inspire my friends to “get their butts to meetups”! We need to be around other people who do and love what we do!

Taco mentioned that a lot of employees of Yoast are young. They try to actively encourage them to engage in Meetups and to attend WordCamps whenever possible.  (It only takes about 1.5 hours to cross the country!) Everything in Europe is really close – this year they will have 4 WordCamps in the Netherlands, which means they are all reachable by car.


WordCamp Rotterdam is happening for the first time this year! Yoast is bringing 17 people!


Yoast gives their team time during work hours to contribute to WordPress. As Bridget mentions, it’s nice to be able to give back to the project that enables you to earn an income!


Today is #InternationalWomensDay!  Bridget and Jen started an international meetup movement called WomenWhoWP that now has meetups all over the world!


Taco organizes a LAN party with friends twice a year (since 2002)!


Taco also works as a first aid provider (did a training course on providing aid to people)


How do you balance your work and life? (especially when volunteering is part of your job)

Taco: that can sometimes be hard! It helps a lot that Joost is a family-person and understands the demands and the need to do sanity checks.  He feels very lucky with his fiance and that she enables him to do a lot of what he is doing and manages the house and takes care of their daughter while he is gone.


Yoast cares a lot about their community – Part of their ‘community’ is the world that they live in. At the end of the year, they wanted to figure out what cause to give to. They did two polls to help decide (picked a coupled of charities). Both internally at Yoast, and publicly, the same cause was selected! They donated a very large sum to the Ocean Cleanup!


Pinball machine – the thing in the office that has broken and repaired the most! An Indiana Jones pinball game 🙂  Taco says he’s bad at it! They also have two foosball tables. (they are super competitive with foosball! If you lose 10-0, you have to crawl under the table! … they post the videos on social media!)  They’ve already had their first Yoast tournament and are planning a 2nd!


WCEU travels every year, unlike WCUS which lasts 2 years in the same location. WCEU will be in Belgrade this year, which means this is your only chance to experience a WCEU in Belgrade!


Bridget recommends learning some of the Serbian language! There’s such a stigma that Americans in foreign countries are jerks or disrespectful – if you’ll just try a little to learn some of the language, it makes a big difference!!


Bridget plug for Marketing Team – they are “on fire” right now!! Join in! She can’t wait for contributor day at WCEU!

Belgrade, Serbia (pricewise) is a lot cheaper than many other locations, very accessible and well worth it to make the trip to WCEU! And you get to meet so many people from different countries (that may not make it to WCUS).


Bridget loves that Contributor Day is first at WCEU because you are fresh and rested, and you still feel like a person! It was a smaller group of people and they were able to work together all day long – it made it feel like a small camp because they would run into the people they contributed with throughout the camp!


If you sit together and work on one project, it really builds that connection between you and the rest of the team. At the end of the day, we’re all humans and we need each other.


Taco: Can I ask our audience to post the twitter handles of the their favorite women in WordPress (celebrating #InternationalWomensDay) in the video chat – he would like to create a super long list so all conference and WordCamp organizers can look at that list and pull those names!


Show Notes:

Cheryl LaPrade @YayCheryl

Sherie LaPrade @HeySherie




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Avatar of jen miller Jen Miller says:

Love working with you too, Jason! Thank you for being an instrumental part of #WomenWhoWP.

Avatar of cheryl lynn Cheryl Lynn says:

Awww, love these ladies! ???? (and you too Jason!)

Avatar of sherie beth Sherie Beth says:

They’re the best!! Love y’all!! ????

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