WordPress Turns 15, and Strangers Gather to Celebrate

Two bloggers, an insurance salesman, a husband-and-wife duo who run a nonprofit and a business student gathered on a rainy Sunday morning. They were members of an unlikely party of several dozen at the Le Pain Quotidien on Broadway and East 11th Street, seated at a long table set with white linens and potted orchids. They had come together to celebrate an anniversary.

This crowd, many of them strangers, were celebrating the anniversary of WordPress.

Winstina Hughes, one of the organizers, joined the WordPress community when she began a blog called “A Perfectly Planned Town,” which focused on city planning. For her, a blog can extend from the web to real life.

“The software brought us here for brunch,” Ms. Hughes said. “Creating that blog made it possible for me to meet with people one-on-one.”

Dozens of groups held meetups all around the world to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the content management system on May 27, and they will continue to do so in the coming weeks.

Lisa Leid, who organized the event with Ms. Hughes, said the WordPress community is tight-knit, and there are always people available help. Though Sunday’s brunch was focused on celebration, it also included a bit of problem solving.

Avi and Peggy Farah began a nonprofit called the BTF Movement, which aims to strengthen the conversations families have about drugs. The nonprofit followed the May 2018 fatal overdose of their son Benjamin Tofik Farah.

While showing others their website, some noticed that on the mobile version, a few icons on the homepage were layered on top of each other. Kelly James, an insurance salesman who runs his own site called Integrated Senior Benefits, was able to give the. Farahs a solution.

Dozens of groups held meetups all around the world to celebrate the 15th anniversary of WordPress, the content management system. Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech/NYT Institute

It is friendly and educational interactions like these that draw Mr. Kelly to meetups.

“I was looking to meet people who probably knew more than I did, see if I could pick their brain a little bit,” he said. “And then help people who needed my help.”

This anniversary celebrations began just ahead of the introduction of a new editing interface, called Gutenberg. WordPress, says the new editor is meant to be more user-friendly. It allows users to customize their sites without having to code by using drag-and-drop blocks, making the experience more tactile.

Mr. Farah said he is looking forward to the update, but is a wary of how it will affect existing websites like his own. He remains optimistic and said he believes that through Gutenberg, WordPress will remain one of the leading content management programs.

Ms. Hughes, who has been a WordPress meetup organizer since 2016, appreciates being a part of the WordPress family and said that it will always be a part of her.

“Once you realize that this is a very welcoming space and it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re in WordPress for fun, whether it’s your career, that you can always be a part of the community in any capacity that you want to,” Ms. Hughes said. “You know, then it kind of empowers you to stay.”