The WordPress project has made great strides this year thanks to its contributors. As WordPress enters an exciting new era of growth in 2023, it is time to examine how Five for the Future can best support the project and the people behind it.
This post shares research on the contributor journey for individuals and organizations committed to the Five for the Future initiative. Your feedback will be valuable in further refining the contribution experience for pledged contributors.
Self-sponsored Contributors and Pledging
At this time, individual self-sponsored contributors can edit their wordpress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ profiles to update and share the number of contribution hours per week towards their chosen contributor teams. However, after pledging contribution time towards their respective teams, the onus is on the contributors to follow up on their commitments. Below is a flowchart representing the current contributor journey for self-sponsored contributors in Five for the Future.
As depicted in the flowchart, many contributors pledging their time to Five for the Future tend to drop off. Based on conversations with contributors, I identified some reasons why this may be happening:
- Self-sponsored contributors do not get any direction on navigating the project or identifying contributor teams.
- There is no onboarding for self-sponsored contributors pledging their time to the Make/Teams of their choice.
- Making the first contribution can require a lot of coaching and guidance, which is currently not available to self-sponsored contributors.
- Pledged contributors frequently do not get any additional guidance or support on making ongoing contributions to the project.
- There is a lack of clarity on what constitutes a Five for the Future contribution.
When a contributor making a recurring time commitment to a big project like WordPress lacks guidance on how they can honor their commitment, their contributions could stagnate. In other words, at this time, the journey of a pledged contributor is not very much different from a non-pledged contributor.
Companies and Pledging
Companies have a more nuanced relationship with Five for the Future. They are listed on the Five for the Future website with dedicated profiles, which include lists of the Make/Teams they contribute to, linked contributors, and the total number of hours pledged. However, like individual contributors, once a company commits time and resources to Five for the Future, they frequently also lack direction or guidance on contributing.
You will find below a flowchart representation of the current contributor journey for companies. As you can see below, in an ideal world, when a company pledges to Five for the Future, they should go on to make ongoing contributions to WordPress and build a mutually successful relationship. At this time, companies have to figure out the nuances of contributions themselves and put in extra effort to provide ongoing contributions to the project. If they are unable to get that support, their contributions could stagnate.
Companies and organizations that have grown alongside WordPress or that already have experienced contributors may be able to navigate through the process more efficiently. However, many companies in the program (especially newer companies) could have a tough time figuring out WordPress contributions. Some of the issues faced by Five for the Future companies include:
- Lack of guidance on the next steps after pledging (Ex: How can a company start contributing to a Make/Team – example, Make/CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. or Make/AccessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessibility))
- Missing direction for companies navigating their Five for the Future contributions (Ex: How does a company build a Five for the Future strategy? How do they effectively make contributions as a company? Are contributions aligned with company goals and WordPress project goals?)
- Significantly less ongoing support for their contributor journey.
- Little or no awareness of how companies can benefit from Five for the Future
These issues could potentially lead to some companies reducing the quantum of contributions or even dropping off the program.
How Can We Improve the Five for the Future Contributor Journey?
As @chanthaboune mentions in Episode 35 of the WordPress Podcast, Five for the Future intends to foster “generous collaboration toward the long term health and stability of our project for the future.” While the program has made great strides since its formal launch in 2019, starting the journey to the next iteration of Five for the Future will make that vision a reality. With improved onboarding and better cross-team communication between companies and contributors, that reality will also enjoy an unmatched contributor experience that benefits both the WordPress project and contributors alike.
- What do you think about the existing contributor journey? What are our successes and pain points?
- How can we improve the contributor journey for Five for the Future contributors and sponsoring companies?
- What more can Five for the Future do to help its contributors?
- How can Five for the Future contributors best support Make/WordPress Teams?
Please share with us in the comments on this post! Your feedback will go a long way in shaping the contributor experience of our favorite 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.
Additionally, if you are an existing WordPress or Five for the Future contributor or work closely with Make/WordPress Team, @angelasjin and I would love to chat with you. Please express your interest in the comments of this post, pingPing The act of sending a very small amount of data to an end point. Ping is used in computer science to illicit a response from a target server to test it’s connection. Ping is also a term used by Slack users to @ someone or send them a direct message (DM). Users might say something along the lines of “Ping me when the meeting starts.” @angelasjin or myself (@harishanker) in the Make/WordPress SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/., or simply drop a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can schedule a conversation based on your availability.
This post was jointly written with @angelasjin.