Tuesday Trainings: The Foundation Said…

As we start to change up the format of Tuesday Trainings we’re going to try some new things. For the past few weeks I’ve shared a question that I, and other Community Team Deputies, are often asked. This week is a similar approach but to a statement we hear repeatedly that causes some confusion. 

The Foundation said…

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Some history: The WordPress Foundation

The WordPress Foundation is a charitable organization founded by Matt Mullenweg to further the mission of the WordPress open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. project: to democratize publishing through Open Source, GPL software.

The point of the foundation is to ensure free access, in perpetuity, to the software projects we support. People and businesses may come and go, so it is important to ensure that the source code for these projects will survive beyond the current contributor base, that we may create a stable platform for web publishing for generations to come. As part of this mission, the Foundation will be responsible for protecting the WordPress, WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more., and related trademarks. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the WordPress Foundation pursues a charter to educate the public about WordPress and related open source software.

https://wordpressfoundation.org/

Let me sum up, The WordPress Foundation (also referred to as “WPF”) is a non-profit organization created to protect WordPress and the WordPress family of trademarks, and to further education around open source and WordPress. Over the years it acted as a financial and legal entity for WordCamps and Meetups. This meant that full-time Community Team contributors, sponsored by Automattic, were tasked with financial and legal matters for the Foundation (e.g., receiving sponsor payments, making vendor payments through WPF’s bank accounts, acquiring event insurance, and signing contracts and other agreements as necessary for event organizers. 

But with the WordCamp and MeetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area. programs growing exponentially over the years, it came to light that running events under the non-profit organization that was created to oversee trademarks and education wasn’t exactly the right fit. 

In part because it was financially limiting for the events and not really representative of the mission the WordPress Foundation was founded upon. 

What does that mean?

In addition to the technical complications with WordPress Foundation being the supporting entity for events, it also caused some confusion when the community organizers overseeing the WordCamp and Meetup programs would create or enforce expectations. We started hearing a lot of people say that “the foundation” said they could do this or couldn’t do that. And that “the foundation” made this rule or that rule. Or “the foundation” won’t let me do this thing or that thing.

However, the Foundation wasn’t making decisions for events in the WordPress program. Community Organizers, members of the WordPress Community Team, and the WordPress community were making those decisions and still do to this day. What the WordPress Foundation was doing was acting as a financial entity to support the program so that WordCamp organizers were better supported legally and financially. The only items “the foundation” enforced were WordPress and affiliated trademarks, as well as financial regulations imposed on non-profit organizations in the United States of America. As mentioned above, those limiting financial regulations were a part of the reason that it didn’t work for the WordPress Foundation to be the entity supporting WordCamps and Meetups. Because of that, and a number of other contributing factors, WordPress Community Support, PBC (a subsidiary of WordPress Foundation, but its own entity) was formed.

A little more history and the present: WordPress Community Support, PBC

In early 2016, WordPress Community Support, PBC (also referred to as “WPCSWordPress Coding Standards A collection of PHP_CodeSniffer rules (sniffs) to validate code developed for WordPress. It ensures code quality and adherence to coding conventions, especially the official standards for WordPress Core.”), a subsidiary of WordPress Foundation, was founded. WPCS was created specifically to be the financial and legal support for WordCamps, WordPress Meetup groups, and any additional “official” events organized within the WordPress Community Events program. You can check out this post from March 2016 for more details.

WPCS took over all of the financial and legal obligations for events from WordPress Foundation. As a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), instead of a non-profit organization (NPO), it was able to better meet the financial requirements of events including receiving sponsorship, allowing the coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. mission of WPF to remain as it was intended. 

So now WPCS makes the rules?

Nope. WordPress Foundation didn’t make the rules for WordCamps and Meetups, and neither does WordPress Community Support. So I guess here is where we still have a little bit of confusion around WPF, WPCS, and WordPress Community Team. 

WPCS is a legal and financial entity created to support the WordCamp and WordPress events program. It has no employees. It doesn’t even have any volunteers. We have volunteers who are authorized to make and receive payments through WPCS accounts, those who are authorized to review and sign contracts, and those who audit and maintain our finances. But we’re all WordPress contributors. Just like no one works “for” WordPress no one works “for” WPCS or WPF.

Choose your own adventure:

Path 1: Resolution

This makes so much sense! This FAQ really answered all my WPF, WPCS, and Community contributor questions and I’m ready to go out into my day empowered with clear information and knowledge that I feel confident in! 

If you chose path one I hope you have a lovely rest of your day enjoying your well earned knowledge.

Path 2: Wait what?

I have so many more questions. I don’t know this, that, or the other thing. I crave more information!

If you chose path two I hope you know what to do. Leave your questions, comments, and/or concerns in the comments below so we can talk about it and clear up any confusion we still have here.

Big thanks to @courtneypk @evarlese and @kcristiano for their ideas and support with this post.

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