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Efrain Rivera

It is with a sad heart that I am reporting that Efrain Rivera, a friend and volunteer to the local (and not so local) WordPress community passed on January 28th, 2018. He was 47.

Efrain was one of the longest standing organizers of WordCamp Miami (he is still listed – and will remain listed – on the WordCamp Miami organizer’s page). What Efrain brought to the table was an amazing organization of our Registration system – thanks to him we were able to process hundreds of attendees Saturday morning in the short span of 30 minutes. Not only did he fill that vital volunteer role – he did it with a smile on his face. I never saw him without that smile, even under the most stressing circumstances. Whenever me or another organizer was getting stressed – perhaps with a sudden issue we had to deal with – Efrain was a source of calm.

Efrain wasn’t just a fellow organizer, but also a supporter of the local WordPress meetups. There was no ulterior motive in anything that he did. Never once did he ask for anything – he was just happy to be there and help out. He was 100% about giving back to the WordPress community, but even if the community didn’t exist he would find a way to help out folks.

Efrain wasn’t just a supporter and volunteer. He was a good friend to have – someone you could speak to frankly to.

I am personally still dealing with the news. I am glad that the WordPress community found out before I had a chance to spread the word, and that many people have already given their thoughts and condolences. Although i’m not surprised – if you were ever at a WordCamp in Florida… you would remember Efrain. Always helping. Always dedicated. Always with a smile on his face.

And I believe that’s how i’ll choose to remember him.

For those interested in memorial services, his wife Crystal has asked me to pass this along: https://memorials.serenitymemorialchapels.com/efrain-rivera/3417849/obituary.php

Efrain Rivera and his wife Crystal
Efrain Rivera and his wife Crystal


Snapshot of the registration volunteers, all lead by Efrain, during WordCamp Miami.
Snapshot of the registration volunteers, all lead by Efrain, during WordCamp Miami.

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Tips On Talking With People Whose Names You Can’t Remember

In a few days, i’ll be traveling to WordCamp US before that I would like to share a secret.

I’m horrible with names. And slightly less horrible with faces. I have a “face blindness”. And “name blindness”. And “Twitter avatar blindness”. And “I’ve talked with this person 20 times in the past year via email but still can’t remember this person” blindness. So conference times are hard for me.

Turns out it’s hard for others as well – I’ve had a few admit that to me. But for natural reasons few want to admit that in public or social media. Allow me to be your sacrificial lamb and offer some tips.

Scenario: You are side-swiped as this person approaches. You need a name.

Tip 1: Obvious first move is to look at the name badge. Although the universe is against you and the name badge is covered by a jacket or reversed (this is why as a WordCamp organizer i recommend when doing conference badges to make front match the back for this reason). If by some reason the conference badges print Twitter handles, it gives you an excuse to look and ask “Has That Always Been Your Twitter Handle?”.

Tip 2: Introductions. If you have someone with you that hasn’t met the person (at least that you are reasonably sure hasn’t) allow them both to introduce yourselfs. You’ll get the name that way.

Tip 3: Get into the conversation and make up a reason to ask for their email address or Twitter handle. Odds are good you’ll get something useful from that.

Tip 4: Some conferences have “unique” info on their badges and you can ask to see their badge to see what theirs looks like.

Tip 5: Ask for their business card.

Scenario: You are the one approaching, but you forgot the name (slightly better scenario because you have time to prepare).

Tip 1: It’s harder to get line sight of the name badge from a distance, but sometimes the odds can be in your favor.

Tip 2: Approach said person, excuse yourself for the interruption, and ask them for their Twitter because you want to follow them (or Twitter accidentally dropped some followers – it happens). Walk away knowing you’ll be prepared for your next encounter.

Tip 3: Never hurts to ask someone else. Believe me, everyone has crappy memories. Or mostly everyone.

Tip 4: Ask for their business card.

Wait – Why Don’t You Just Ask?

This blog post is a bit of a parody, because you shouldn’t be afraid to ask someone’s name. All of us endeavour to remember people, but stress and time put a strain on our brains. Especially if we are at conferences outside of our local area. Outside of those with total recall, this effects ALL OF US at some point or another.

If you are talking to someone, be understanding if they can’t recall your name at the moment.

Especially if that person is me.

See you in a few days, WordCamp US.

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A WordCampers Guide To Asking Questions At Conferences

It’s that season again. In a month, a large number of WordPress folks will migrate to WordCamp US (being held this year in Nashville). and other events (i’ll be attending WordCamp Orlando in early November for example). So I thought it would be a timely reminder of how to ask questions at a WordCamp.

There are two times questions are asked at a WordCamp that i’m particularly focused on: (1) at the end of a talk, before the speaker leaves the scheduled time off stage and (2) During the “State of the Word” at WordCamp US where Matt Mullenweg typically takes questions from the audience. This advice applies to both, might apply to other times, some might not be applicable for other situations.

  1. Keep it short. I think this is the #1 rule, regardless what you do. Most questions do NOT require a complex backstory or history… and if they do, then being live in front of an audience with only a few minutes left for questions isn’t the time to ask perhaps. What i find to be effective many times: Ask a question that might get you close to an answer (or pick something easy to respond to) and THEN you can ask the speaker if you send them a longer version in printed form. Maybe. But keep your question short if nothing else then to be considerate of other people’s time.
  2. Prepare in advance. I think some of the more awkward questions are from people that think of questions on the spot. Which is fine, but not everyone can do this. Put your refined question on a card – that would allow you to be as articulate as possible.
  3. Don’t make it about you. Ask the question in a way others listening can benefit. You’ve heard this before: someone asks a question that there’s no way any other person (at least in the room) would have that same exact problem. Some go as far as basically asking for tech support in their “question”. Stop yourself and ask – can i ask this after the talk or at another time?
  4. I’ve seen people try to fit in as much questions as they can (“my second question is…. my follow up question is….”). Sometimes this is logical, other times it looks selfish to be honest. Speakers and others asking for questions are most times expecting ONE question per speaker. Sometimes that’s all they can focus on honestly.
  5. Allow others to ask a question. If nobody else has questions and there’s time, then perhaps ask your additional one.

I care deeply about audience participation during WordCamps. But there are some respectful and logical boundaries.

I would highly encourage WordCamps to adopt the practice of having the speaker be available in a location (such as the happiness bar or a private room) to answer additional, perhaps more private questions where the person asking has the opportunity to ask a little longer, more personal question.

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Top Ten WordCamp Miami Swag Items

2018 marks our 10th consecutive WordCamp, so I thought a couple of posts honoring that were in order. My first in this series is something that actually has been requested – for someone that’s been involved in all 10 WordCamp Miami conferences…. what swag stood out most in my mind?


I think out of all swag and items we’ve made to thank our volunteers, speakers, and attendees… shirts is probably the category I take the most pride in. It’s really great to go to other WordCamps and see people wearing WCMIA shirts (we try not to date all of our shirts for this reason). We were among the first to offer women’s sizes standard, and we managed to also produce shirts for kids along the way – some of which became so popular parents wanted to buy them for themselves (someday you might see Wapuu shirts in the swag store!).


These were speaker gifts and very impressed how they came out. We did three versions (fitting in with our 80s theme): Miami Vice, Back To The Future, and Stranger Things. Back To The Future was the most popular, in case you were wondering.

Wappu Uno Cards

This was a surprise hit that year, and looking back it’s easy to see why. We took advantage of the Wapuu designs in Github and each cards represented a unique, colorful Wappu (at the time we covered most that existed in Github). This also happened to coincide with Wapuu’s 5th anniversary, which made it even more cool. The Wapuu cards are open sourced and available on Github. Someone even made a mobile app based on our cards.

Speaker Cards

Relatively cheap to print, but takes effort to extract information from speakers (some speakers are particularly choosy about their photos) and make the cards. This first appeared during WordCamp Miami 2012 (I think). Literally had people not attending sessions trying to trade with other attendees to get the cards. It was (and still is) a great networking tool. Also we had comments that people liked the cards just so they had speaker’s name and Twitter info. They’ll be back in 2018 for sure.

Wapuu Dominos

These speaker gifts were a natural progression from the Wapuu Uno Cards and the box gives off a great Miami/Cuban vibe.

Happiness Bars

These were an “easter egg” in WordCamp Miami 2016. Cheap to print. If there was a candy bar of WordPress then “Happiness Bars” would be it. The covers are open sourced and available on Github (wrap them around a Hershey bar and you’re good to go). Of course, please the Happiness Bars in your WordCamp’s Happiness Bar… mind blown.

Playing Cards

Simply a deck of playing cards but each card had a different WordPress function and a description of that function. Anyone who was a coder loved these.


Pins have been a trend recently, especially among those who visit multiple WordCamps. WordCamp Miami tries to come out with one or two unique ones each year and gives people a chance to try to collect them all. Kids especially loved the Wapuu ones – although we produced numerous pins over the past 10 years.

Drinking Containers

For a WordCamp organizer, drinking containers might be like children… you publicly state you love them all… but there’s always a favorite. Ok, scratch that… my kids might read this someday. In any case over almost a decade I think we pretty much touched on almost any kind of drinking container in our limited price range.


For the past 3 years, we’ve been using pretty cool custom badges – kinda have to see one in person. Water proof, very well printed. Highly customized – they are as much a swag item as a button or pin. For 2018 we are upping the customization with a new design.

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