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Current state of WordPress

The first version of WordPress has been released more then 10 years ago and it has have many successes on the road. But there are still thinks going wrong and about those things I’m going to talk now. It’s important to keep in mind that this is my vision and that some things are maybe a bit direct but that’s just how I’m and I have no problem if you respond direct back. I’m just trying to get discussions going on some of the issues.

WordPress development

Till the end of last year I didn’t had lots of issues with how WordPress being development except the obvious that your tickets don’t get much attention and that UI stuff is a pain to work on. During my development on WP_Image_Editor I had some issues with communication but this year was just a pain to find the right motivation to work on core.

It started that I asked why Post formats UI should be in core and expressed my feelings that it is plugin material but I didn’t get much respond on that. And I started wondering why it was on the roadmap to begin with. It seems for an open source project build on the community that this important things are discussed in a small group. Also till this day I still think it should never be in core and I was really happy when it got removed from core. But I was also a bit sad that we didn’t discussed this in the start so people could spent their time on the real issues for that release.

Version 3.7

This is a weird release. We doing a great job in closing tickets but the reasoning why is sometimes pretty lame. I saw situation where tickets got closed because the new media dialog but it didn’t had much to do with that. Also you can still see that dialog.

The most important issue here are the major features. All the features are build by the core team/Automattic people and it’s hard/impossible to help out with it. Also most of the discussions about those features was done privately. Probably because of the possible security issues that it can have.

Plugin driven releases

For version 3.8 features will be developed as a plugin and the idea itself is great. It was already done for a lot of XML-RPC methods that got added in 3.5 and what I currently do for WPDB. You also see feature development by forking WordPress on Github and create patches from that.

However how it currently is structured is really bad and it all started with MP6. I like how it looks but I hate how it was build. It was 0% community driven and only release post where posted on the make UI blog. I tried multiple times to help out but all the times I got ignored and there wasn’t a list with open issues so you could help out. Another thing was what Matt said at his talk during WordCamp San Francisco. He said that most discussing happened on Skype and was unsure if that was a good or a bad thing. To me it is and will always a be a bad thing. Obviously some stuff is fine to be private and specially if it’s design related but it you work on a public product then it should be discussed publicly. Probably because of this some 3.8 plugins are also discussed through Skype.

Another part is that the it’s just an idea without any thoughts on it. When you got an problem you would love to solve then you have to post it somewhere but no clue where. It can be a make blog but it’s hard to get access to most of them and other places can be hard to find for most people. That is also the reason why I posted on my blog, created a GitHub repo and said to the team you can do whatever you want but I’m not going to spend time on this process. It’s just stupid politics.

WordPress.org sites

It’s awesome to see that much of the code has been open sourced but it’s still a pain to help out. On of the issues is that it is hard to get things locally setup. Like a WordCamp site or translate.wordpress.org. In most situation you need to have knowledge or extra code that is missing. So the best thing to have is a sandbox that you can use for this situation or maybe a vagrant box that you can use where a lot of stuff is already setup. I have no problem to help out with that.

Another issue is that some code is still not public and so you can’t contribute back. And that is kind of stupid. Why can’t I see code if I really want to. I contributed back quite a lot of my own time to WordPress. Why wouldn’t I be able to see code what I would love to see. This is obviously a trust issue and something I take personally. I see this as they don’t trust me then. So why would I contribute a lot of my own time to a project if they don’t trust me. And that is something I value really high.

WordCamps

I love WordCamps and this year I will visit my 14th WordCamp. But when it comes on organization or organizing one then I probably don’t even want to talk about. I hate the word guidelines because they aren’t rules so they can be ignored. This because I like equality. Like WordCamp San Francisco is allowed to have such a high budget and WordCamp Europe is allowed to more expensive tickets then allowed.

So last and this year there were discussions about the rules but I think the only outcome was to make the rules more clear. But I can totally be wrong on that. In general there wasn’t much done towards better reasons and till now I didn’t get any responds on my feedback through the survey or my blog posts.

Also the issues about naming is something I don’t get. There were issues a few years ago with WordCamp UK but you still have WordCamp Netherlands and Norway for example. And now you even have WordCamp Europe. And still WordCamp UK was called WordCamp Lancaster UK what is just ridiculous.

And my last thing is that I don’t get when you are allowed to organize one. The rules are more strict then a few years ago but I still can’t find any post about this. Till now I’m not allowed to do so because there aren’t regular meetup in Serbia but still if I organize a meetup there I get more folks then in The Netherlands. Where we also never had regular meetups and still not really have. So if this is a rule then we should also try to apply it on all WordCamps. Existing and new ones.

Team reps

I get why we have team reps and having a site like make/updates is really awesome so you can follow how each group is doing but till now the process didn’t really work well.  The should be an extension to the groups but to me it also looks like an elite group. Nothing personal to any of the people because I do think they do an awesome job. This all started at the community summit where they had two extra days talking about all kinds of subjects and where the rest wasn’t even allowed to enter Jitterbug. To me that is just bullshit. I know hard words but serious I traveled a long distance to talk about WordPress and making things better. Why not having more time to do so. This is also caused by the fact that the summit was only one day.

More recent issue was the 3 month overdue elections and how those elections went. Some of them went private like Polyglots and that is never a good thing to do. Elections should be the same for all groups and always publicly posted. So that they can move someone forward and people can respond if they agree/disagree. This should always happen on their own blog.

People & Groups

The last thing I want to discuss is how people get a position without any involvement to WordPress. I do have to admit that all those people work for Audrey or Automattic. But in general it’s a wrong thing to do. Everyone should have the same change to get a certain position. If WordPress needs a UX person for at least 10 hours per week then we should post that some where like a job board. I’m pretty sure somewhere I or someone else can help out too. Together we build WordPress. Not by a few but by many.

The other thing is groups being started and how they getting lead. The one in my mind is the training group that got started last year and stopped in 3 weeks because of no reaction. I saw the message but I was busy with the release of 3.5 just like many others and totally forgot about it. And it gotten merged with the outreach group what I still think was a stupid move till this day. Now the group getting started again and still no response at all. I think the main problem with new groups is that they are managed by people who are well known by the core team. This means American people and so me as an European will never have a change to help out starting a new team. And from all what I just wrote this is probably the one that I hate the most. If there is a new idea or group then it should be discussed in the group and not being decided by one or a few people. But this is something that not only here goes wrong.

Conclusion

In this post I talked about some of the issues WordPress has and hopefully some can be fixed. And doing so we make this project really community driven instead of doing work for a small group.

10 Replies to “Current state of WordPress”

  1. Scott Basgaard -

    Just wanted to touch on WordCamp Norway. I don’t see the issue here TBH Marko. There has only ever been 1 application for a WordCamp in Norway. When there are multiple applications/locations the name will change.

    Reply

  2. Ben May -

    Good post, Marko. Pretty much agree on all your issues you listed. Indeed tough pain points to solve.

    Reply

  3. Mattias Tengblad -

    Good post Marko. Where I have followed the discussions or myself been involved, I agree with you completely!

    Polyglots have been a mess the last few months. Core ignore important questions/requests 8 times out of 10, and if you point that out openly then you are a bad team member. I have tried several times to get through changes for polyglots, but there is always someone from core or Automattic bulldozing your suggestions, without open discussions.

    As of 3.7 beta 1, there is no way for language teams to translate 3.7 yet (facilitated by org), this because of the changes of core development from 3.7. Core wholeheartedly promised that everything would work before 3.7, the teams would have at least a month to translate 3.7. At best we’re getting a couple of days, if it’s even fixed before the release of 3.7.

    Just a horrible situation, no one gives us information or answers our questions/requests.

    Reply

    Milan -

    Polyglots have been a mess the last few months.

    These days it will be sixth year since I started translating WP and consequently joined Polyglots, and I can tell that they were always a mess. Yes, there were many improvements but that happens with huge time periods and in meantime it is just one side project that’s not taken care of properly.

    Reply

  • Daniel Bachhuber -

    Pretty sure the solution here is to move everything to Github.

    Tra la la la!

    As a former Automattician, I won’t touch anything related to core with a ten-foot pole. There was a time I was frustrated by problem X with WordPress.org, problem Y with WordPress.org, and problem Z with WordPress.org. Now, not so much.

    Someone once tweeted that open source is 10% code and 90% politics. What I know about politics is that success isn’t merit-based; success is some combination of cronyism, nepotism, and behind-doors deals. Not wanting to behave that way, I simply choose to spend my time elsewhere.

    Fortunately, there’s plenty of other cool things to hack on. Plus, knowing all of the workarounds to deficiencies in core keeps ones skills in high demand.

    Reply

  • Ryan Hellyer -

    I actually think things have improved in relation to this sort of thing over the past few years. I find there are more avenues to figure out what is happening behind the scenes now and less sudden out of the blue changes than before.

    Reply

    Daniel Bachhuber -

    I agree. My comment was intended to be more of an observation of a general truism, rather than pointing out something I wish would be fixed. It is what it is.

    Reply

  • Bryan Petty -

    I’m not sure I agree with the sentiments expressed in regard to WordCamps or team reps – I’m sure they have room for improvement, but I don’t see anything terrible happening there.

    However, I do feel the same way you do about the feature plugins…

    I feel like MP6 was a black eye to the open source community, and I’m still frustrated and annoyed that this model is already being copied for numerous features now. Every last one of the plugins feels like an entire fork of the project off in their own world. I can’t even imagine how teams dedicated to one overall task like translators, testers, and others are expected to be able to follow development like this.

    Not just that, but so far, on the plugins I have been able to briefly keep up on, since there’s still not currently any way to even submit a patch for review, the teams are just handing everyone commit access that asks for it, and actually *expecting* everyone to just commit changes directly so it can be reviewed! That’s one backwards development workflow. I know this is something that is supposed to be fixed a bit with feature plugin components in Trac eventually, but they still aren’t there now, and I’m still not sure it’s going to help much overall.

    So not only has this process been terrible for open communication and collaboration, it’s detrimental to a quality code review process, and discourages admirable programming practices. I don’t even need to play along with this feature plugins experiment any longer to tell that it’s not working out, and we need to find a better way. This just isn’t the appropriate way to develop software.

    Reply

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