WordCamp San Francisco is one of the largest, annual events, dedicated to WordPress. But is it just another WordCamp, or something else? Eric Mann points out the confusing nature of the event and suggests using a different qualifier.

From an outsider looking in, the only difference between a WordCamp in SF and a WordCamp in Portland is the location. From a sponsor’s perspective, from a new attendee’s perspective, from a new speaker’s perspective they’re the same. But the “official” status of SF changes all of that for those of us who’ve been in the community a bit longer.

Back in 2011, Jen Mylo proposed changing the name of WCSF to WordCon in an effort to officially differentiate it. A community member registered the domain before Mylo, forcing a name change. After thinking of different names, the decision was made to keep it as WCSF with an effort to point out that the event is more than just a local WordCamp.

Eventually, Matt said, “Why can’t it just be WordCamp SF?” And I decided he was right (partly because the owner of wordcon.com had not given any indication of wanting to sell the domain to us). The history of the event and its name ultimately carry more weight than my desire for event naming consistency. We just need to make it clearer that WordCamp SF is special, something more than a local WordCamp. We need to say distinctly:

WordCamp San Francisco is the official annual conference of the WordPress project.

So far, the event is not being marketed or touted as being something special. The WCSF 2014 website doesn’t have any information explaining why it’s different from a regular WordCamp. However, its listing on WordCamp Central specifies it being the official, annual conference. At the very least, there should be an About page with a bit of history and an explanation as to why it’s considered the official, annual conference of the WordPress project. I’d also like to see a list of items that make it special, compared to other WordCamps. It wouldn’t hurt to have specific branding as well. The only people who know it’s a special event are previous attendees and those who hear about it by word of mouth.

@ericmann @jeffr0 I'm with you, Eric. Haven't attended WCSF, but talked w/others who attended. Very different event from "regular" WordCamp.

— DeborahEdwards-Onoro (@redcrew) July 31, 2014

A Real World Example Showing The Need For A Distinction

At a local WordPress meetup I attended, I spoke with a gentleman who recently started using WordPress. He had attended his first local WordCamp and decided that he was going to further his WordPress knowledge. Since he didn’t have a huge budget, he asked me which WordPress conference would give him the most bang for the buck. I told him WordCamp San Francisco. He asked why, isn’t that just our WordCamp but on a bigger scale? Yes, I answered, but it’s different from every other WordCamp. I told him it’s one of the largest WordPress conferences of the year and is organized by the co-creator of WordPress. Developers, business owners, and attendees from all walks of life will be there. If he could only attend one out-of-state WordPress conference, WCSF is it.

You see, he didn’t know about all this. He’s new to WordPress and its community. According to him, WCSF is just another WordCamp except bigger and he didn’t see the value or worth of traveling to attend something he could easily drive to. This is why there needs to be more of a distinction created between WCSF being the official, annual conference of the WordPress project and not just another WordCamp.

I’m not advocating for a name change because it’s already been tried. But short of one, what other suggestions do you have for those new to WordPress and its community to understand WCSF is not just another WordCamp?