Discussion: Contrib Handbook, Part 2

It’s time for the next round of discussions (but here’s the first round if you missed it)! There’s just one section today, but like last time the comments are open. Please share your thoughts on what works, what could be improved, and what needs correction.

In coming weeks, I’ll also share a a Code of Conduct, a Conflict of Interest Policy, and Code of Ethics for your input.

Please share your feedback in the comments of the documents!

#dei, #discussion, #handbook, #wpdiversity

Discussion: Contrib Handbook, Part 1

My timeline here got very off track but, in the spirit of better late than never, here are the first two handbook sections for discussion. Each section is in a different document and both are open to comments. I’d love if you would share your thoughts on what works, what could be improved, and what needs correction.

In coming weeks, I’ll also share a Diversity and Inclusion Policy, a Code of Conduct, a Conflict of Interest Policy, and Code of Ethics for your input.

Please share your feedback in the comments of the documents!

#accessibility, #discussion, #handbook, #privacy

Removal of the Zamir Plugin

Earlier today, I was alerted by contributors and community leaders to a pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party in the WordPress ecosystem that violated community guidelines. 

I believe that WordPress is made stronger by its vibrant and global community of contributors, users, and extenders. It’s important that folks showed up to hold ourselves accountable as we strive to create and maintain a safe space for our collaborators to gather.

The plugin in question, Zamir, was reported by contributors to promote an icon that is rapidly becoming known as a symbol of support and promotion of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. Many contributors reached out to share additional cultural context around the symbol. WordPress guidelines call for all community members–including plugin authors–to “be kind, helpful, and respectful.” An icon that is connected to an ongoing war and humanitarian crisis upholds none of those values.  

The plugin’s description, “Shows the Z symbol to support Russia,” eluded initial plugin checks. While it is true that there is no current plugin guideline barring plugins that “support” political leanings, this icon symbolizes something more complicated than that. Contributors were right to report this and, with their help and the help of WordPress community members, the plugin has been removed from the directory. 

All contributors, community members, and extenders should feel safe and free from harm in the WordPress project and ecosystem. Neither WordPress, Matt, nor I stand for symbols of hate or violence. WordPress is a community made stronger by global contributors—and we remain committed to building an inclusive community in alignment with our values. Today, we’ve collaborated with contributors to remove a plugin that did not meet those values. I’d like to thank the community for quickly rallying together to engage about upholding our community guidelines and how we hold one another accountable. 

I am aware that this issue leads to natural questions about clarifying our plugin policies moving forward. I’ll work with the community to explore our guidelines and create a clearer framework for how plugins can be evaluated in the context of current events.

A Theory of Technology Adoption in the WordPress Project

WordPress 5.0 was launched on Dec 6, 2018, and the release was the project’s first step toward creating a streamlined site editing experience with blocks (GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/). The year that followed was considered an iterative year for the folks actively building the software. During 2019, WordPress contributors from all teams and companies appeared at every event or podcast we could find and contributed to any newsletter or industry group that would give us a publication date. Partially because we were battling some strong resistance to blocks as a concept and partially because we were in the middle of a key part of technological adoption. Now, after WordPress 5.9, we are finding ourselves in a similar time of post-merge adoption.

There’s an entire field of study about adopting new technologies, which I did not study, but I did study WordPress’ big technological changes. I talked about this constantly at WordCamps in 2018-19, but I’ve never documented it for the public, so I figure it’s time to get it in writing for everyone.

A Few Basic Assumptions

If you’re new to WordPress, everything below will make more sense if you’re aware of the four phases of Gutenberg and the definitions of groups in our community from the Care and Influence post. With those coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. audiences in mind, the following assumptions guide my theory:

  1. Users/clients are the ones that will ultimately drive the adoption of Gutenberg, because consumers always drive technological adoption. Those of us who build our businesses on WordPress (Extenders, theme/pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party developers, agencies) will be more inclined to learn how to build with Gutenberg if our clients make it clear that they want to use it. 
  2. Phase 1 of Gutenberg can be considered a proof of concept that offered Extenders a plausible promise. Outreach during Phase 1’s iterative cycle focused on extenders because we needed to bring them with us—to learn, iterate, and improve—which is something we learned from other 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. projects like ours.
  3. Phase 2 of Gutenberg delivers on the plausible promise of Phase 1. Outreach during Phase 2’s iterative cycle will focus on users/clients because unless they are willing and able to use it, they will not ask for it from the Extenders.

Calestous Juma notably said, “Many of the dominant technologies that we take for granted have weathered moments of social tension and threats of succession.” That has certainly been true for WordPress. 

WordPress and its community are both deeply and broadly connected. This makes us incredibly resilient (a real blessing during this pandemic), and sometimes can make us unnecessarily rigid (a common thing in open source). However, as counterintuitive as it is, resistance to change can also motivate; within that tension lies an opportunity to build trust and take more people with us on the journey.

The Three Parts of Technology Adoption in WP

As we head into the iterative part of Gutenberg’s phase 2, there are a few things that we should be aware of that will motivate or inspire our community of users to take a fresh look at the WordPress editor. In my observation, that breaks down into three parts.

  • Apparent usefulness (to the extender) – aka, what does this do for me? And if “nothing,” then what does it do for my clients?
    1. Does it allow me to do things I couldn’t do before?
    2. Does it solve an unsolvable problem?

By making WordPress’ learning curve less steep, we make WordPress less intimidating to noncoders. In turn, Gutenberg offers additional opportunities for Extenders to create products that address their needs as well as their clients’ needs. Extenders are already part of the WordPress ecosystem and highlighting the early explorations of enthusiasts/early adopters could inspire others to follow suit. For instance, the release of the first default blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. theme, Twenty Twenty-Two, in WordPress 5.9 made it easier to see blocks in action, making riffing on them more appealing.

  • Apparent ease of use (to the extender and user) – aka, is the difficulty ≤ the current technology? And if >, then do the benefits to the user balance it out?
    1. Does it make my work easier?
    2. Does it make my work more fun?

WordPress is not easier for quick publishing than Instagram or TikTok, but it is the easiest of all the hard options, especially when looking at the long term benefits to those who use it. As we flatten the administrative experience of a WordPress site, we have to find where the balance of blocks now lies. Does a little extra code by an agency result in more autonomy for the client? Does having a true WYSIWYGWhat You See Is What You Get What You See Is What You Get. Most commonly used in relation to editors, where changes made in edit mode reflect exactly as they will translate to the published page. experience for the client result in decreased techno fear and increased techno joy (<– This is Eddie Izzard, watch at your own discretion)? Every experience of ease or delight for a user is worth noting and celebrating!

  • Apparent trustworthiness (social proof/social sentiment) – aka, do my trusted friends trust this thing? And if “no”, then does that mean I can’t either?
    1. Do the WordPress wonks like it?
    2. Do my business colleagues use it and like it?

With more data and information available to us than ever before, most of us rely on the judgment of those whose opinions we value to help guide our decisions. This is true for technology as well as things like meal delivery services, electric toothbrushes, or the next book you’ll read. We experienced the effects of social proof not being on our side early on in the Gutenberg project, and turned that around through substantial after-the-fact efforts from contributors all over the WordPress project. There is enormous potential to proactively reach audiences who are either unaware of WordPress or have been holding off trying the new editor for whatever reason.

So now what?

For many of us, this post will finally be putting words and concepts to processes that you’ve been participating in already. If that’s you, there’s nothing to change about what you’re doing, but I hope this gives you some insight into why you’re doing it. 

For some, this post reminds us of everything you have already gone through and learned during the Phase 1 merge and iteration cycles. If that’s you, I want to thank you for making this work easier for everyone coming after you. As with anything in WordPress and open source, we are all standing on the shoulders of giants and today you are those giants.

For everyone, it’s wonderful to witness the work that you all have done, and continue to do, to make sure that we are meeting people where they are while also urging them forward. It is unusual, in my experience, to see people who strive to make things better while also being able to acknowledge how far forward their work has brought us. If that’s you, let me clearly acknowledge the powerful impact your work with WordPress has:

The work you’ve done here is empowering people across the world. It enables positive changes for people whom you will never meet, but whose lives will be changed forever. You are providing knowledge and access to people who have felt shut out of this arcane mystery of “the web” for as long as they can remember. And on behalf of all of those good people in the world, I will say thank you. 🙂

Big Picture Goals 2022

During 2021’s State of the Word, Matt revisited GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/’s timeline, what has been accomplished, and what is ahead of us. The project is at something of a halfway point, and I want to offer my unending thanks to everyone who has contributed and welcome anyone who wants to join our efforts. This post contains some goals for the year (and will be updated with links to individual team posts when I start to see them), but there are some things you should know first.

These are intentionally broad

There is more to WordPress’ success than the code we write or the 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. freedoms we support. While the goals below focus on shippable projects, I understand that supporting contributions (translations, testing, triage, 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), support, performance, etc.) are part of these goals.

These are intentionally incomplete

There are always small projects that arise over the course of the year. And there are big projects to move forward in pieces over the course of multiple years. This project is too big for me to see everything all the time, and I rely on the information from team reps and the vision from project leadership to help navigate any surprises.

If you don’t see a project here, keep in mind that there are many that are still valuable to the overall success of our work. 

The Big Picture

2022 is all about committing to the co-creator relationship with WordPress users.

  1. Drive adoption of the new WordPress editor – Following WordPress 5.9, our focus will be driving user adoption by making full site editing (and its tools) easy to find and use.
    1. For the CMS – Get high quality feedback, ensure actionable tickets come from the feedback with collaboration from design as needed, and ship code that solves our users’ most pressing needs.
      1. Invite more users and extenders to participate in the FSE Outreach program (10-12 calls for testing).
      2. Host regular design-driven user testing (one test a week).
    2. For the Community – Share our knowledge and resources in a way that inspires and motivates our users to action.
      1. Invite more users and extenders to augment their skills through LearnWP.
      2. Turn routine support issues into new evergreen content (10-15 pieces of canonical content using Learn, Docs, 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/, etc).
      3. Translate high impact user-facing content across Rosetta sites (15-20 locales).
      4. Host audience-specific WordPress events (10-12 by common language, interest, or profession).
    3. For the Ecosystem – Prioritize full site editing tools and content across the ecosystem for all users.
      1. Highlight blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. themes and plugins in the directories.
      2. Provide tools/training to learn how to build block themes.
      3. Improve the block developer experience.
  2. Support open source alternatives for all site-building necessities – Provide access to open source elements needed to get a site up and running.
    1. For the CMS
      1. Update new user onboarding flow to match modern standards.
      2. Integrate Openverse into wp-admin.
      3. Integrate Photo Directory submissions into wp-admin.
      4. Pattern creator
    2. For the Community
      1. Ship LearnWP learning opportunities (1 workshop/week, 6 courses/year)
      2. Increase the number of social learning spaces (4 SLSs/week)
      3. Block theme contribution drive (500 block themes in the repo).
    3. For the Ecosystem
      1. Update the theme previewer to support block themes.
      2. Update the content & design across WP.org.
      3. Update Polyglots tools to Improve the translation experience.
      4. Create a developer-focused communications site.
  3. Open Source stewards: Iterate on WordPress’ open source methodologies to guide and sustain long term success for WordPress as well as the overall open source community that we are part of.
    1. For All
      1. 5ftF program expansion
      2. Recruitment of future leaders in the community
      3. Onboarding of current leaders in the community
      4. Upstream contributions to other OS projects (PHPPHP PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML. http://php.net/manual/en/intro-whatis.php., JS, Matrix, or the like)
      5. WordPress Project maintenance
      6. Ancillary programs
  4. Bonus: Preparations for WordPress’ 20th birthday

How can you help?

As I mentioned above, I know that our code isn’t the only measure of our success. If you already know what sort of contribution you’d like to make, you can check out this list of teams (with links to their community sites) and team reps. If you’re not yet sure, here are the areas that each team falls into:

  • Development, Technology, Code: CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress./Editor, Mobile, CLICLI Command Line Interface. Terminal (Bash) in Mac, Command Prompt in Windows, or WP-CLI for WordPress./Tide, Security, Performance
  • Design, Product, UXUX UX is an acronym for User Experience - the way the user uses the UI. Think ‘what they are doing’ and less about how they do it./UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing.: Design, Accessibility, Test, Triage
  • Community, Extending WP, Education: Community, Themes, Plugins, Polyglots, Training
  • Contributor Experience: MetaMeta Meta is a term that refers to the inside workings of a group. For us, this is the team that works on internal WordPress sites like WordCamp Central and Make WordPress., Docs, Hosting, Privacy
  • Communications: Marketing, Support, WPTV

A Note on Specialized Groups

A couple of coordinated efforts provide essential support to the progress of multiple teams.

  • Triage: The triage effort happens across multiple teams and has two purposes. One purpose is to make sure tickets are sorted and have all the elements needed for someone to work on them. The second purpose is to determine priority. Not everyone has the information to set priority, but anyone can help sort and replicate reported bugs!
  • Test: The testing effort also happens across multiple teams and has multiple purposes. One purpose is to validate bugs, bug fixes, and new features before they go to users. The second purpose is to bring continuous high quality feedback throughout the entire release cycle. A lot of that coordination happens on make.wordpress.org/test, but there are also calls to test during various points of the release process in the Core channel.

#planning #goals

The Metrics of Contributions

When the Five for the Future (5ftF) program was proposed, one of the big questions I found myself considering was how to reconcile participating in a team with specific outcomes and expectations for work when that team contributes to a larger organization that has impact as one of its coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. values. It can feel like impact should be the primary consideration, but for those who are employed, there is always the pressure to quantify contributions over time.

The following notes are from a two part session with current sponsored contributors, to discuss how this tension appears in their day-to-day and how it balances over time.

General Thoughts

  • High impact contributor work in the project usually gets defined and clarified over time (e.g. the reiteration of priorities, the WordPress North Star, posts that outline goals).
    • Is it OK to have aimless or agenda-free contributions?
    • What is the difference between aimless and agenda-free? Or agenda-free and agenda-aligned?
    • If a contributor’s agenda is too clear, that doesn’t feel right—it is in direct conflict with “agenda-free contribution.”
  • Early contributions can be tricky for sponsored contributors as there are expectations from employers, project leadership, and casual contributors.
    • Goal alignment can be a struggle. What is valuable to the company may not be impactful for the project. 
    • How do you balance and align those expectations and responsibilities?
    • How do you reset expectations with casual contributors who become sponsored?
    • Should we have a different or more explicit onboarding process for company-sponsored contributors vs. self-sponsored contributors?
  • Sponsored contributors ensure that someone will track and execute the operations and administrative side of the project.
    • Does anyone even know about this type of work in the project?
    • Do we need a way to identify those who can do less desirable tasks?
    • Should sponsored contributors have an 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. mission statement that makes the project’s internal goals visible to impactful work
  • WordPress project onboarding necessarily has friction, which is a good thing.
    • A clarifying example is that you don’t hand over the keys to the first person who walks into the Red Cross and claims to have the solutions to all the problems.
    • The friction is going to exist if there is growth and transfer of knowledge. 
  • Being a sponsored contributor tends to come with a change in how volunteer contributors perceive you and your work.
    • The weight of your vote can change as goals align more/less over time.
    • Invisible work becomes your responsibility, but is rarely easy to point to let alone quantify.

Question to Contributors:
What are the things that changed when you shifted from a contributor to a sponsored contributor? Answers anonymized. 

  • I am now more willing to take on the less glamorous (administrative) tasks.
  • I am now expected to take on dropped tasks that are important to goals.
  • As a contributor, adding to the project made me feel empowered, and I think even more so now as a sponsored contributor. I felt like I was mainly guessing, whereas now I have familiarity and context. 
  • Sponsored contributors have more direct interaction with project leads, and extra vision and foresight setting than regular contributors have access to. 
  • When you can work full time on the project without the distraction of other work, you can see the patterns and projects more clearly. That exposure comes when you have a lot of time.
  • I started on the fringes, but saw that the onboarding to the space was steep and I didn’t have the time to invest in that. Having a buddy/guide helped.
  • Once you show up more frequently, people are more willing to offer help and guidance.  

Final Thoughts

It comes down to balance:

  • Aimless contribution vs agenda-free contribution (& if working toward goals works against that)
  • WordPress goals vs Company goals (& when they don’t match)
  • WordPress needs vs Company value (& when they don’t match)
  • Project work vs admin work (& setting expectations w/ contributors)

Resolving these conflicts is multi-tiered. We need to get better at welcoming organizations into a Five for the Future arrangement where the stakeholders, impactful work, and responsibilities are made clear at the start. We need the information to be clearly received by 5ftF contributors, while also making sure the same information is readily available to any contributor.

Five Proposed Solutions (+ pros and cons)

  • TagTag Tag is one of the pre-defined taxonomies in WordPress. Users can add tags to their WordPress posts along with categories. However, while a category may cover a broad range of topics, tags are smaller in scope and focused to specific topics. Think of them as keywords used for topics discussed in a particular post. sponsored contributors.
    • We have this tag but it’s unverified (honor-system and self-selected).
    • Can it be reframed to the lens of a contributing vs staff writer.
    • At what point should there be a closed selection component to contribution? 
    • Cons
      • It would be easy for that to carry too much weight/power.
      • We can’t opt-out of certain contributions.
  • Clarify the difference in the expectations. 
    • What are the differences and how do we keep people accountable?
    • When you are clear about what you are doing, it’s easier for people to work alongside you.
    • It can bring stability to sponsored contributors and level set their own expectations.
    • Cons
      • Could alienate other contributors.
      • That level of clarity could feel antithetical to OS methodologies for all contributors. 
  • Clarify the steep learning curve and trust-building for this type of team
    • The work of building trust, context, and rapport should be explicit to support personal and organizational expectations (6-12 mos).
    • Being sponsored does not immediately mean we are trusted with a decision.
    • Cons
      • No cons found.
  • Dedicated 5ftF onboarding process
    • What does that look like?
    • Do we change the metric from hours to perhaps contribution or event participation? 
    • Automated greenhorn system for 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/.?
    • Cons
      • Could alienate other contributors.
      • That level of clarity could feel antithetical to OS methodologies for all contributors. 
  • Should we have a specific 5ftF mission statement?
    • Having one could clarify the expectations for sponsored contributors.
    • Does a mission statement make it clear who can work on what, or is it divisive?
    • Current 5ftF White Paper

But there are so many questions

You might have noticed that there are twice as many unanswered questions as there are answered thoughts in this discussion. And these aren’t even all the questions I have!

Yet, the most important thing to me is how the project can support sponsored teams (and how those sponsored teams can support the project) transparently and with as much care as possible.

#5ftf

Welcome to make.wordpress.org/project

When the Make WordPress network was created back in 2012, every team that existed at the time got its own blog to use for transparent communication, collaboration, and coordination. An Updates blog was also created to be a place each team could use to report on their activity to other teams, and beyond.

The number of contributors and teams has grown in the nearly-ten years since, along with the user base of WordPress itself. As organizations expand, more coordination and communication work becomes necessary to keep everyone connected and working together. We’ve always used the Updates blog for this, because it was our only contributor-focused, cross-team space. 

As more contributors get involved in cross-team efforts, I have heard complaints that it’s distracting or confusing when the Updates blog is used for announcements (like this one) and discussions (like these).

The last thing that I want is to create confusion or distract from the way teams keep each other informed, so I think the best solution is to create a new blog for all-project communications and cross-team collaboration. This blog should make it easier to host and find discussions that affect all teams, and make WordPress project “back-office” work more transparent.

This blog is not associated with any one team but rather with all the teams, and may be used for topics ranging from short-term initiatives to long-term maintenance work. User permissions will be closed-selection, with the list of people who can author posts listed on the sidebarSidebar A sidebar in WordPress is referred to a widget-ready area used by WordPress themes to display information that is not a part of the main content. It is not always a vertical column on the side. It can be a horizontal rectangle below or above the content area, footer, header, or any where in the theme.. Since the work accomplished on this blog exists across all teams, contributions won’t receive an additional profile badge. Once the work on here feels more settled, we can all take a look to see if a specific badge is needed.

P.S. – From an 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. perspective, this idea might sound pretty “business-y.” A simpler explanation might be that this is similar to the work done by our MetaMeta Meta is a term that refers to the inside workings of a group. For us, this is the team that works on internal WordPress sites like WordCamp Central and Make WordPress. team: creating and maintaining the tools, infrastructure, safety, and processes that make contribution possible and more successful.