Follow-up: What I learned at Wordcamp Romania, Codecs, 2009.09.16-17?

On September 16th and 17th I took part to Wordcamp Romania. Here are my thoughts on this.

What did I learn at the conference?

Note: WP = WordPress; CMS = content management system;
Most of the links lead to Romanian pages, sorry about that;

Day 1 (see the pictures I made for day 1)

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Videos for day 1:

Nikolay BACHIYSKI: News about WP
(video I made) (see his presentation online)

– words to describe WP: power, freedom, confusion, income, ladies, gentlemen;
– WP is more of a cultural thing, rather than a software thing;
– WP project started due to sharing;
– WP has a GPL (General Public License);
– sharing has become an integral part of WP community;
– there was a community pressure on WP;
– everyone can make a piece of software, but it is the sharing of contributors that gives WP power;
– Wordcamps are an excellent method of sharing knowledge;
– through sharing, even if you give some of your time away, you will learn more things; you may even give yourself a bigger gift than to others;

– MU = Multi User;
– for blog hosting
– totally open source;

BuddyPress – a social network in a box;

bbPress – forums in WP style;

Backpress – management of software projects (web based);

P2 – when you write something on the blog, it appears in real time (instant blogging);

WP 2.9:
– will allow moving to trash (instead of instant and permanent deleting);
– in the future:
a. better documentation (hand books);
b. photo albums;
c. will try to be a good framework for more development of features;

Lorand MINYO: Hosting for blogs
(video I made) (and another video) (see his presentation online)

Orădeanul (the blogger from Oradea) should have held this presentation;
Webfactor hosts a lot of blogs, even some from Top 10 ZeList;
– WP is of great help to hosting providers;
Cabral shared his user and password in public;
– a lot of people hacked his blog;
– WP is scalable;
– are there problems with updating WP? Solution: the hosting provider should do the update;
– for very popular bloggers there are problems on things such as: hacking, flooding (database interrogations);
– one year ago, less than 1% of web sites used WP as a CMS, now it’s about 40%; most surprisingly – this applies not only to individuals, but to companies (using WP as a CMS);
– what do bloggers want: uptime, performance, scalability, low costs; yes, all four in the same time would be great;
– you shouldn’t use poor plugins;
– you should update WP CMS as soon as possible;
– avoid using WP hacks;
– types of hosting:
a. shared hosting;
b. VPS;
c. dedicated hosting;
– caching data? Perfect solution;

Alexandru NEGREA: How to choose a WP theme?
(video I made) (see his presentation online) (see the author’s thoughts on the event)

– there are a few types of themes:
a. Free themes;
b. Paid themes, but with author rights (links in footer, for example);
c. Paid themes, made exclusively for one blog (no links in footer) – not recommended if you don’t blog professionally;
– for the free themes:
a. there is not a readme.txt (how do I change a picture in the theme?);
b. free themes? Not recommended by Alexandru NEGREA;
c. You usually can’t find a perfect theme;
– today’s free themes are not really that good (design, programming, support);
– premium themes with author rights (links in footer) are an excellent option for users;
– recommended web site:;
– any blogger should have a PayPal account; has great options for buying themes: unique themes (expensive) and generic themes (much cheaper);
– the classical WP theme has no appeal;
– do you have a niche blog? You need a clear visual identity;
– own a personal blog? Your blog needs personality / identity;
– a paid theme has a better structure of information;
– green and orange, used for communication purposes, are very effective colors; (they suggest a call-to-action) – great place to look for themes;
– on a side note, don’t search on Google, it tends to provide results which lack value added; Solution? Search on Twitter;
Alex BUGA sold his blog theme to a museum; the best WP theme in Romania?
– it’s perfectly fine to start designing a theme from the default theme;
– there is a WP plugin that makes a WP theme look great on mobile phones, also;

Andrei ROŞCA: Team blogging
(video I made) (see his presentation online) (his own blog post on the presentation)

– you should take community very seriously;
– team blogs and niche blogs may be more valuable than a personal weblog;
– this is a great world (nice blogs and Web 2.0 are based on this) – but all these require a community:
a. open society;
b. unrestricted access to knowledge;
c. unplanned and uninhibited association of men for its furtherance;
– in order to make money from blogging, you have to have good quality publishing;
– it will be very hard to make money from a blog if you’re alone;
– there is a book exchange initiated by BookBlog in a lot of counties;
– from many perspectives, an online business is similar to an offline one;
– what would the value of BookBlog be? A blog with a similar content, with no team, with no board, could cost from 80,000 EUR;
– the price for a paid book review on BookBlog is 80 RON (this is the amount authors receive);
– types of incomes for BookBlog:
a. advertorials;
b. RSS advertising;
c. banners;
d. paid book reviews;
– (gotta love this) efficiency means doing things with a good result (good performance), while efficacy means doing the right things;
– you shouldn’t tell your team about money; it’s all about goals, and values, and dreams and future;
– it’s great to have offline meetings for online teams; you can’t force people to be friends, you can only provide a context;

Cristina ANDREI: SEO vs. Copywriting
(see her presentation online)
– normally, you shouldn’t have to pick between SEO or copywriting, they should coexist;
– copywriting is a persuasive text (used not only for banners and ads) that should convince readers to read the text (i.) and forward it (ii.);
– in the Romanian blogosphere there are some misconceptions:
a. Keyword stuffing (in titles, meta description, h1, ALT, link title) is fine;
b. Link exchange;
c. SPAM comments;
– you should comment on blogs with relevant ideas, rather than spamming with comments;
– how to promote a blog post? Twitter, ProBlogger, FTW;
– recommended plugin: All in One SEO pack;

Costin COCIOABĂ: Niche blogs
(video I made) (see his presentation online) (thoughts on this)

– journalists, TV stars, singers, even responsibility actions – they are the ones with the most traffic on ZeList;
– magazine styles WP themes – make a blog similar to a big publisher;
– a niche blog can attract the right audience;
– when you have a blog, you’re actually a publisher;
– in Romania there are not good niche blogs: auto, finance, etc.;
– tips on making money out of a blog: RSS advertising and affiliate marketing;
– if you want to become a successful publisher, you have to be informed;
– niche blogging require permanent testing;
– there was no plan behind;
– main communication theme for – objective communication;
– you should use tags on your blog – mostly for people and actions;
– motivations based on money are not that important;

Day 2 (see the pictures I made for day 2)

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Videos for day 2:

WP Themes
(video I made) (see his presentation online)

– I can’t work 10 hours a day for a theme, so in two weeks time I can do a WP theme for scratch;
– there is an open forum with help for themes; We answer 2-3 times per day to the topics;
– the reason our themes are bought is mostly customer support, but also the unique design (the theme won’t be common on other web sites) and functionality;
– IE (Internet Explorer) 6 has some rendering problems with themes;
– we offer 25% commission to our affiliates; there are 300+ other blogs that mention our new themes; the affiliate system is very good for us;

Alexandru NEGREA
(video I made) (see the author’s thoughts on the event)

– it’s a great thing to be able to live out of selling themes;
– freelancing may be a good method of doing things;

(video I made) (author thoughts)

Strategic web site needed a CMS;
– we tested Drupal, Joomla! and WP as CMS; WP was best;
– the main requirement was ease of use to non-technical users; this should also be the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of WP in front of other CMS;
– clients need specific solutions from WP, and this is the thing you should sell;
– WP is free and it’s not fair to ask for money for it; Instead, custom services are great;
– you should sell WP as a CMS, rather than as a blog;
– case studies are great solution when selling something;
– you should use tags a lot;
– web site architecture should be incorporated into design, rather than programming;
– a web 2.0 approach – using tools from other providers;
– rather than selling WP installing (done easily), you should sell custom themes and programming;
– put some emphasis on hosting and security;
– when asked for supplemental security, you should require an extra payment and provide hosting with firewall, for example;
– on a side note, it may be fine to start a company in Cyprus, due to fiscal laws in that state;

WP Development & Plugins
Cristi BURCĂ
(video I made) (see his presentation online) (thoughts)

– taxonomy is a way of classifying things (both blog posts and blog pages); it refers to making some compartments for easy finding of information later on;
– in WP there are two types of predefined taxonomies: categories and tags;
– in WP you can have multiple set of tags;
– for advanced use of WP as CMS you can use advanced taxonomies; there are plugins dedicated to that;
– the permalinks look great on taxonomies;
– taxonomies are nicely stored in WP database;

(video I made) (idea 1 , idea 2)

– custom fields are not that complicated;
– custom fields are neither tags nor categories;
– instead they are additional fields used for adding extra information;
– for a real estate web site, you can add custom fields with information about each property;
– you can adapt the WP dashboard to use your very own custom fields;
– custom fields are easy to use, a lot of them can be added to any post, they are store in a personalized way, they can be shown everywhere (even in feeds);

(video I made) (see his presentation online) (his own message on the blog)

– you should give your themes an easy design and coding;
– coding things in a good manner right from the start means less work later on;
– less plugins? Great! Lesser server load;
Piticu has a slow server due to a widget in the sidebar;
– you can edit the plugins to get only the code you need it;
– WP is so easy, anyone could learn how to use it;

Ciprian TURCU
(video I made) (see his presentation online) (blog message)

– WP recently hit 50 million downloads recently;
– WP is an extraordinary environment for designing web sites;
– if you have knowledge with PHP, MySQL, CSS, HTML, you will have an easy life with WP;
– when designing plugins, there are ways to call already written functions (hooks) for a lot of things;
– there are a lot of plugins only compatible with early versions of WP – this is a problem, but also an opportunity (you can do an updated version of an old plugin);
– when working at a plugin, you should take into account name functions – giving original names for functions (FTest48Original3name), rather than generic ones (FunctionName) would help prevent compatibility problems;
– there might be version problems with other plugins or with WP;
– a lot of plugins might encounter problems with design – there are differences in the CSS of the blogs, sidebar width, things of this sort;
– there is little feed-back to plugins – why someone uses a plugin? It’s not that easy to register at WP, creating an account, posting a question; you can’t post anonymous comments and feed-back;

Călin DON: WP MU
(video I made) (see his presentation online) (see more about Călin DON) (see a blog post on this)

– initial server configuration (1+ year old) held 10 active blogs: 196 MB RAM, Apache server, PHP Fast CGI configured;
– current configuration includes 1.2 GB of RAM, nginx, PHP FPM;
– the current configuration requires few RAM (8 MB of RAM can process 1.000 queries);
– some requests can be processed via a caching system;
– you can send files in accelerated method (they are sent automated by the web server);
– PHP FPM (PHP’s Fascia) works as an application server (you can separate the web server from WP); it allows running process with different rights (per blog for instance);
– we try to fully use the system resources of the server;
– recommended plugin: WP Super Cache; you can run up to 30 times more requests from the server;
– we also use APC;
– we started the blogging platform as one made for our friends; when the user count become too large, we installed WP MU;
– our current version, we have a svn-core (for WP installation), svn-plugins (WP plugins), svn-mu-plugins (plugins specific for WP MU), svn-themes (the themes users can pick);

Managers blogs
(video I made) (see his presentation online) (thoughts 1 & thoughts 2)

– in 2006 I started reading some blogs I liked; I liked Zoso’s blog; I had only a few posts;
– in 2007 I started writing more for the business area;
– June 1st 2007 gives the first link from Orlando NICOARA;
– on August 1st 2007 I got on a first fight with Zoso;
– today I have a big influence, and not that great traffic;
– I earned no money from blogging;
– personal branding might be a very good reason to start a blog; it’s one good reason to start a blog;
– most of the money in blogging will come from the networking starting from the blogging;
– it’s very cheap to get press coverage via a blog that has a good readership;
– you can easily be taken into account by important players in the online world;
– blogs can make relations between humans more personal;
– competition will also take a look on your blog;

Bogdan Theodor OLTEANU
(video I made) (see his presentation online) (blog post)

– why blog?
a. experimenting social media
b. know online people;
c. learn communication techniques;
d. an extend pool for recruiting;
– in PR (Public Relations) it is important to have a good team;
– choosing WP as a blogging platform was the decision of an IT person;
– via social media you can transmit information about the company team, team culture and managing style;
– thousand of potential employees have social media accounts; you can see a person’s behavior online;
– in five years time, PR might move online;
– there is no such thing as total sincerity, neither online nor offline;
– if you are realist, you realize there are masks that people wear;
– especially multinational companies use social media, mostly due to an overall direction given by mother companies;

(video I made)

– Adriana IORDAN said that there are things to be said on a blog; they belong neither in a personal blog, nor in a company blog;
– in Romania it would be useful to have a community of IP (Intellectual Property);
– IP is a business with exponential growth, compared to the invested resources;
– in software development, internet dot com portals, social media – after an initial investment, it is very easy to grow;
– in Romania there are three examples of successful companies which are frequently provided: BitDefender, Softpedia, GeCad; but the list is much longer;
– online advertising in Romania? It had a premature death, perhaps it even didn’t start;
– ideally, you should find another way of monetizing the blog, rather than by advertising;
– blog to read: Marriott on the Move – Bill Marriott‘s Blog;

Company blogs
Silviu TOMA
(video I made)

– you can’t really tell what would be people’s reaction prior to launching a blog;
– a good approach to negative comments would be solving the presented issues;
– it would be useful for a whole team to be present on a company blog;
– campaign – „Write something so that you will receive a book”; main idea – promote Nemira’s values; the campaign helped raising awareness of the blog; in 3 months a community of both commentators and bloggers was created;
– prior to starting a blog, you should create a good atmosphere in the company regarding blogging itself;

Paralela 45 worked hard for a new blog;

Adriana IORDAN
(video I made)

– how can you attract with your marketing campaigns the trust of some companies? Tricky question; Another one: how can you promote the implementation of an IT solution in a company?
Avangate offers software vendors an eCommerce platform;
GECAD ePayment is an online payment solution;
– on the international market there was a lot of competition;
– how to promote a business solution? Become an expert in your niche; the expertise of someone can be easily spotted;
– we did some SEO for keywords;
– our focus was content marketing;
– we identified online communities that could help promoting our business;
– after a good online presence, we found good ideas about some blog articles to create;
– cool blog: MyAdobe; Also Balsamiq Blog;

Other readings

About this event others have written:
Dupa bloguri, Ziua Constanta, Mihai IRINEL, Cod Rosu, Chinezu, Auras MIHAI, Lamaie, Sorin RUSI (+1), me, w2 (+1), Stiri IT, Marius TUDOSE, Razvan CRANGANU.
Also, see the Twitter page of the event and a Twitter hashtag.

About the event itself – feed-back to the organizers

What I liked about the event?
Wordcamp Romania had good speakers, nice room for the event, plenty of participants.

What would I do better next year?
Longer days, better presentation systems.

Who were the top speakers?
1. I liked a lot Adriana IORDAN’s speech; Imagine hearing a person talking on SEO (search engine optimization) using white hat techniques, natural growth, all that on a large company; With results, a good case study, funny speech; About this speech – content (of the speech) was king;
2. I also like Costin COCIOABĂ’s speech; Funny, straight to the point, with key facts and real life examples; Very entertaining, he went for some raise of hands; About this speech – a lot of courage;
3. 3rd place is shared equally by Radu GEORGESCU, with good good and valuable information, and Andrei ROŞCA, with a very pleasant to see speech and in the same time good content.

Would I recommend you to participate next year?
Yes, Wordcamp Romania was a very nice event overall.

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