Should we have another WordUp Whitehall?

Over the last couple of months, numerous people have got in touch to ask if there’s going to be another WordUp Whitehall this year. And although I didn’t initially think it was a good idea, I think I’ve been persuaded.

For the past two years, I’ve organised WordUp Whitehall as a kind of ‘WordCamp’ for civil servants who are already using WordPress (or are seriously considering it), and the developers/agencies they’re working with. It’s mostly a series of ‘show and tell’ sessions, aimed at sharing experiences, stimulating ideas and spreading good practice. I also try to persuade a special guest or two to come along.

Recognising that it’s a workday event, and that departments have been generous enough to offer conference facilities at no charge, we’ve enforced fairly strict rules of engagement. UK central government only, with limited numbers from each department. Outsiders by invitation only. Guaranteed confidentiality where requested. And no sales pitches. They’ve been beautifully observed, for which I’ve been most grateful.

Both previous years, we’ve had about 50 places… and both times, we’ve ‘sold out’ within 24 hours. Various senior and influential people have gone on to explicitly credit the events with helping them rethink or rewrite their digital strategies, leading in many cases to major new projects being done on WordPress. (It’s also been, ahem, flattering to see other countries and CMS communities subsequently starting to run very similar events.)

But I wasn’t sure about doing it again this year. Previously, we’ve had a handful of obvious flagship projects for people to come along and present: Health, Transport, No10, GCN, etc. But the past year or more has been dominated by the development of GOVUK, and its imminent consumption of all departmental sites. We simply haven’t had any ‘big bang’ WordPress launches post-GDS. And that made me wonder if we had enough to talk about.

I’ve subsequently been persuaded that there’s definitely an appetite for another event… but perhaps a slightly different one.

We’ve already been offered a much larger venue than in previous years: so it’s probably the perfect time to extend the event beyond Whitehall – local government, arms-length bodies, perhaps friends overseas.

And if we’re short of ‘flagship’ projects to present, maybe it’s time for a slightly different agenda. Perhaps a greater number of shorter presentations, focusing on specific (little) things we’ve all done. I’m not sure the beautiful chaos of a multi-track, self-organising BarCamp / GovCamp style event is quite right, but perhaps it does.

Some things won’t change, though. It’ll still be free to attend. It’ll still take place in mid to late Autumn. Most of the ‘rules of engagement’ will still apply. And yes, there will be donuts.

So… it’s over to you lot.

I’d love to hear what you, the potential attendees, think.

  • What level of interest is there beyond Whitehall?
  • Are there any ‘flagship’ projects I’ve missed somehow? Perhaps beyond Whitehall?
  • Does everyone have a ‘little thing’ they could present?
  • Do we prefer structured or chaotic?

Please leave a comment below, and let’s see where the consensus lies.

8 thoughts on “Should we have another WordUp Whitehall?

  1. As someone in the ALB/NDPB camp I’d be very interested and can think of quite a few others who would be. We might not use WP for the ‘flagship’ stuff but we use it alot and I’m always keen to learn from others…if need be I could probably rustle up something to show as well.

    I prefer a little more structure to be honest – I think the Mailcamp format has been pretty successful..

  2. Definitely interested from The National Archives. We’ve got our blog, Labs site and media hub on WP – v keen to see what other people are doing.

    Also a vote from me for at least a little bit of structure.

    Thanks!

  3. Echo the comments above – yes to something with broader scope, keep the show and tell where examples exist, but also short sessions on hints and tips – pecha kucha anyone?

  4. I’d think that it’s a definite ‘yes’…

    I expect that the scope for WordPress use is increasing, rather than decreasing, and hopefully will be a bit less reliant on the guerrilla tactics necessary in the past.

    I’d certainly be keen to come along, even though I’m much less directly involved in deployment these days.

    Cheers,
    Simon

  5. Yes! Yes! Yes! And unsurprisingly I’d like to see more on buddypress. Use in gov, mainly for internal stuff is definitely rising. Can and will pass on details to those I know…

  6. Yes from the Design Council (no longer an NDPB but still funded by government). We’re about to launch a WordPress blog and would love to share our experiences and find out how others are using theirs. Do keep us posted!

  7. A lot of govt types are having deep thoughts about how they do the stuff that will fall outside core GOV.UK, which might actually end up being more interesting than the flagship stuff. I’ve enjoyed your curated approach in prev yrs. So yes.

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