Asking hard questions and working to answer them at WordCamp for Publishers 2018

WordCamp for Publishers is a community-organized event for people who build, manage publications using WordPress. In its second year, the event attracted professionals from higher ed, agencies, and both tech and content teams from national, regional, and hyper-local media organizations.

This was my first time attending the event, which moves host cities every year. This year the event took place on the shores of Lake Michigan at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in downtown Chicago.

The theme of this year’s event, and the challenge put out to potential speakers by the organizers was “Taking Back The Open Web”. Inspired by Drupal founder Dries Buytaert’s blog post “Can We Save the Open Web”, the organizers asked for sessions that discussed whether an open web ever existed, it’s current state, consequences of a closed web, and how publishers may exist moving forward.

The result was a plethora of amazing sessions that delved deep into many aspects of the topic, and how it ties into WordPress and publishing. The presentations ranged from technical topics like designing and developing for the new WordPress Gutenberg editor, to case studies and panels about paywalls, implementing large networks of sites, and sustaining hyper-local newsrooms.

I was humbled to be asked to speak and kicked off the second day with a technical session on implementing vocabularies for structured data and current best practice meta tags in WordPress.

This session presents a whirlwind, two fisted, no holds barred, data filled session that has almost too much information. I present how to implement and test schemas, and current meta tag best practices in WordPress to gain search features in Google and enhance the look of your content on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. I even got to introduce the new Speakable vocabulary for which Google announced support just a few days before, and discuss Google’s support for Datasets, HowTo, QAPage and FAQPage all of which are especially pertinent to publishers.

All of the sessions from the event were recorded and can be found online at I have a newfound respect for those working on balancing the need for independent journalism with the need to make a profit. Publishers and the tech teams that work with them cover the full gamut of types of stories, editorial workflows, business models, site and app performance, search engine optimization and more. Each one of these things can make or break a site or company. WordCamp for Publishers gives a unique opportunity to come together to listen, discuss and learn from unique voices in the publishing industry. I will be sure to keep an eye on which city the event moves to next. Thanks to all the volunteer organizers for their professionalism in putting on such an amazing and informative event!

Jim Birch, Senior Drupal Engineer
Jim Birch

Jim helps Kanopi clients turn business needs into manageable digital solutions, and turning Kanopi''s great designs into a reality. Jim is an internet professional who can bridge the gap between...

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