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Benoît Catherineau Interview

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Benoît Catherineau (@benkenobi07) is a human resources administrator, a mountain biker, and inline skater who is active in the French WordPress community as a Community Manager with WordPress Francophone. In this interview, he shares a bit about the growing community of French-speaking WordPress users, and what he’s learned from working with and being part of this vibrant community.

How did you get into working with WordPress — and why have you stuck with it over the years?

I stumbled upon WordPress in 2004 and I have used it regularly since 2005, first for my personal website…then in all my projects. When I discovered it, I knew it was exactly what I needed. I’m not a developer, I’m a user. I needed a tool which is easy to use, and WordPress gave me that. I’ve stuck with it over the years because I haven’t found any other tools like it — everything is easy with WordPress. I’ve tried other CMSs such as Mambo and Joomla, etc., but I haven’t found software that’s user friendly like WP.

For nearly 10 years now I’ve used WordPress. I’ve also learned to edit a theme to adapt it to my needs. Like I said, I’m not a developer, but now I know how to edit .php files. WordPress is perfect for me to use to publish online.

You’re active in the French WordPress community — tell us a bit about your involvement. What has working with the WordPress community taught you?

When I joined the staff of WordPress Francophone (WPFR), I started with forum moderation. I had some free time to help WordPress users. The community helped me first, so it was a pleasure to help the community.

Today, with Xavier Borderie, Amaury Balmer, and Marie-Aude Koiransky, I’m a staff member. We manage the website wordpress-fr.net, including the support forum, blog, planet, showcase, etc.).

I have the role of Community Manager. I’m active on social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and our blog. For five years, I have been publishing a weekly WP news review.

Also, another mission which is very important is the organization of WordCamp and barcamp. Every member of our team has a specific mission — I manage speakers, from first contact by mail or phone to their arrival on site. I try to answer their questions, I give them all the information they need, etc.

What have you gained, personally, from being involved in the community?

Personally, I’ve gained because I have met some people I would never have known otherwise.

WordPress is for me a hobby — I don’t run a business with it. I’ve met many people with a WordPress business but I’ve also met many other people like me. I meet people who are passionate, whether they are a developer or not — people who only want to contribute in the community without other interests. WordPress is not just an app on the web, it’s a community made of real and nice people.

My participation on the staff is also an extraordinary chance I have because I can participate in an awesome project from the inside.

In the community section of wordpress-fr.net, the tagline reads: La communauté, c’est vous qui la faites! (loosely translated as “Community, it is you who do!” Tell us about this invitation to participate.

WordPress is an open-source project. We want to create the same open-source spirit in our community. WordPress is made by the community, so the French community is made by French WordPress users. Participation is the heart of WordPress. We wish for it to be the same in our community.

WordPress Fr (WPFR) has a dream: to be the central area for “French-speaking-people” who are using WP. We don’t really create things, we try to be the place where users can find help or documentation or resources…for WordPress…in French.

For example, today our forum is managing with moderators, but the majority of users help others with or without moderators. I think our community is very active.

What are the three biggest challenges to growing the French WordPress community?

In my opinion, the three biggest challenges to growing the French WP Community are the following:

  • To grow local communities. WPFR was the first WP community in the French-speaking world, and therefore became WordPress Francophone — the community of all French-speaking people around the world. This has always been our mission, but we do not want to block the creation of local communities because of our weight and the fact that we are mostly Paris-based. There are now more and more new local communities in France. Several towns have their own local community: Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux, etc. While WordPress Francophone aims to be the central community for all French communities, communities organize their own meetups, barcamps, and other events to help users to meet each other.
  • To open our organization to French users. For now, our non-profit is an entity we’re using to organize our Parisian events. We are only a handful of people, and we feel the need for more voices, ideas, and fresh blood. Since this spring, we have been working on updating the statutes of the organization to reflect that. This is an opportunity to create a network of French WP users and/or developers — a real platform to exchange knowledge and experience. It’s a long-term project, so there is still work to do.
  • To continue to organize our staple events. We organize a WordCamp and a barcamp each year and want to have more monthly meetups in between. And we hope to motivate local users to have their own events too, so that WordPress is not just a Parisian thing.

You mentioned that you do not have a WordPress business — tell us a little about yourself — what you do for a living? In addition to contributing your time to the WordPress community, in what other ways do you spend your free time?

Indeed, I’m not a professional working with WordPress specifically. I’m working in administration, specifically in Human Resources. In my job, I organize things for workers — I manage everything in relation to the worker’s training and career, etc.

I spend my free time participating in sports such as inline skating, slalom skating, hiking, and mountain biking with my friends.

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