Yoast Care fund: An interview with Torsten Landsiedel

Torsten Landsiedel

Nominated by:
Ralf Wiechers

Today we’re getting to know WordPress contributor Torsten Landsiedel from Germany. He was nominated by Ralf Wiechers. Torsten started contributing to WordPress in 2005/2006, and he’s still going strong. Let’s find out all about his contributions, plans for the future, and more!

Why and when did you start contributing?
It was in 2005/2006 and I was asked to build a new website for a youth media club – I was filming short movies back in the time. I used WordPress and I was excited about this great tool, but self-hosting just for the fun of blogging was a little bit too much for me. So I found WordPress.com and it was exactly what I was looking for. It was free, it was easy, and it looked exactly like WordPress (the self-hosted version). But it was mostly English and had some serious issues, especially for newbies… 

I found the support forums and the translation tool for WP.com – asked some questions, tried to find answers myself and got in contact with some Happiness Engineers. Another guy from the forum and I were asking for an Automattician as a moderator because of unanswered questions and spam in the forums and they asked us to be these moderators ourselves. So I got to be a moderator in the support forums answering questions from other users.

Translating was another task. But some plugins couldn’t be translated on WordPress.com, because the code was on WordPress.org and/or in some plugins. So I got validator rights for WordPress.org as well. And because I am trying to do those tasks very well I tried to find the WordPress.org people to create consistency between WP.com and WP.org.

So I got to a WordCamp in Berlin, became a speaker, found new friends, visited the first WordCamp Europe in 2013, became a moderator for the left alone support forums in Germany, organized WordCamp Hamburg myself in 2014 with the greatest team from our Meetup Hamburg, and accidentally started the reboot of the German community.

Who are your WordPress heroes?
This is a tough question because there are several people and I very much dislike this “people cult”.

At first: I apologize deeply for not mentioning so many people now, this list is in no way objective, this is just a way too short list of people who are important in some way for *me* and maybe just me.

Maybe she doesn’t remember it herself, but one of my greatest heroes is Kirsten Schelper. She trusted me in my first year as a freelancer and the client she redirected to me is still working with me. It was a well-needed start for me financially but also in terms of self-confidence.

Without Ralf Wiechers, Stephanie Wiermann and all the other people from the Meetup Hamburg and the WordCamp Hamburg organizing team WordPress wouldn’t be this great welcoming community for me. These people are the reason why I love WordPress and got addicted to it.

Robert Windisch (from Inpsyde) is a WordPress fanatic and I was honored to have many hallway talks with him in the past years. He will be my hero forever for solving one of my first plugin issues instead of eating his dinner. More commitment is not possible. Alex Frison, Olaf Schmitz, and Frank Bültge, all from the Inpysde agency too, are dear to my heart too. I learned so much from the blog of Frank and they sponsored my visit to the Community Summit in 2015. It was an invitation-only event and I got one from the polyglots team, but the year wasn’t going well financially and I couldn’t afford flying to Philadelphia. They heard it and made it possible. I am still deeply thankful for this help.

Caspar Hübinger started a video chat with me and Ralf after organizing a WP Camp in 2013 to get us started for WordCamp Hamburg 2014 and we never stopped it. We still meet every Monday since and I love the private conversations, the exploration of ideas and the ranting about issues … and Caspar wrote an important open letter to the WP community in Germany which was the starting point for the reboot of it which started at the WordCamp Hamburg.

There is one WordPress.COM hero I would like to mention here: Martin. Or “IQ-Atrophy”. I was working for 10 years with him. He was the second moderator in the support forums and we worked really hard to bring really brilliant translations and answers to the people. We even translated the official documentation to German. For free. We never met, because as a WP.com user he is not visiting WordCamps. And because privacy is very important to him, I still don’t know more than his first name and his nickname/twitter handle. Even after 10 years of volunteering together. It’s hilarious. :)

This answer wouldn’t be complete without Bego Mario Garde, better known as @pixolin, my long-time colleague as a moderator in the support forums and general translation editor. We had so many conversations about contributing and we share so many if not all the highs and lows of volunteering together.

Andrea Middleton is another hero for me. We met at WordCamp US in 2015 after having contact for WordCamp Hamburg in 2014. She is the “grand dame” in WordPress and has the ability to give very thoughtful answers to tough questions without being rude, even in very emotional situations. A talent that is much needed in her position, but also in the support forums or in life generally.

There are soooo many developers out there from whom I learned something, but if I would name one, I need to name all, so I stop here and mention just all the people from the Pluginkollektiv, a group of people who are trying to maintain the plugins from Sergej Müller with me, like Antispam Bee or Statify.

A true polyglot and WordPress hero is Zé Fountainhas for me. He trusted me and gave me permission as a moderator, validator and in the keynote, at WordCamp Hamburg 2014, I got my own mention in the history of WordPress in Germany from him. Although he must share the triumph of having the idea of WordCamp Europe with Remkus DeVries, another “big” hero. ;)

And last but not least I want to mention Morten Rand-Henriksen and Rachel Cherry for doing the WP Governance project. And I can’t repeat this enough: there are so many more heroes in the community …

What contribution or moment are you most proud of?
One of the best moments in my (WordPress) life was the keynote at WordCamp Hamburg in which Zé tried to summarize the story of the German WordPress and the difficulties of being one of the first communities with own solutions (forums, Camps) and therefore the non-visibility of the Germans in the international community and then he mentioned me. The only one they really know and they had contact with (over WordPress.com and my commitment there), was me. I was sitting in the first row and having a big smile – I think there is a picture of it on Flickr … :)

What would you love to do in the future?
I would like to do another round of WordCamp Hamburg. Maybe not as the lead organizer again ;) … and after seeing WordCamp Netherlands happening I am thinking about trying to do a WordCamp Germany. We had smaller WordCamps all over Germany in the past years and I think we can have a big one again which is the “go-to” event for one year if you just have to pick one. The other ones are more for the local community, but this one would be bigger (not WordCamp Europe big, but bigger than the recent camps in Germany). From an organizing team of WordCamps organizers.

Another idea I am thinking about is a Community Summit for Germany. It would be not like a Contributor Day which is focused on getting new contributors, but more for long-time contributors in the German community. A get together with talks about goals and processes for which the time is always missing on WordCamps or normal Contributor Days.

Where can people find you? Online, WordCamps, other meetups?
My website is torstenlandsiedel.de. I’m on WP.org, Twitter, and Slack with my nickname @zodiac1978. I don’t have the time for the support forums or translation anymore, but you can ping me if you have questions and you are interested in my opinion. I try to visit the Meetup Hamburg (not very successful at the moment) and the next WordCamp will be Stuttgart for me.

Do you happen to know someone who contributes to WordPress and deserves to receive the Yoast Care fund? Check out the Yoast Care fund page for all the information you need!