Recognizing Contributions and Acknowledging Challenges

🔍 Introduction

Table of Contents

Tracking and recognizing all contributions in WordPress helps assess the project’s health by diversifying input, lowering risk through broader engagement, and improving onboarding and acknowledgment systems. This approach aims to keep WordPress robust and thriving for many more years.

Assessing project health is at the source of stats/dashboard initiative.

🤝 Contributions from Various Entities

In the context of WordPress’s “Five for the Future” initiative, various contributors from different professional backgrounds play a crucial role by dedicating a percentage of their resources to sustain and enhance the platform:

  • Companies in Plugins and Themes: These contributors range from developers enhancing functionality to marketers expanding awareness.
  • Webhosts: Their support includes technical assistance, training by customer success teams, and community sponsorship.
  • Individual Contributors: These include freelancers who code, design, and engage in community forums, enriching the ecosystem.
  • Agencies: They contribute through direct work on coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. contributions, community leadership, and organizing local events.
  • Community Members: These include hobbyists and enthusiasts from all walks of life.

🔎 Challenges in Transparent Contribution Recognition

  1. Transparency and Traceability: While contributions such as code commits are visible and traceable, other contributions, such as contributing to the design, facilitating events and meetings, or providing support and commenting on posts, are less traceable.
  2. Quality and Impact Measurement: Assessing the impact and quality of contributions, especially in areas like support or training, is subjective and lacks a standardized measurement framework. This makes it difficult to recognize and reward these efforts officially.
  3. Documentation and Acknowledgment: There is often a gap in documenting the full range of contributions from various entities, especially those that do not result in direct code or product changes. Ensuring that all types of contributions are acknowledged requires a comprehensive system that tracks and values diverse forms of involvement.
  4. Decentralization and Scale: WordPress’s large-scale and decentralized nature makes maintaining consistency and visibility across all groups challenging. This complexity can obscure the decision-making process for many community members.
  5. Informal Structures: Unlike many open-source projects that use formal charters to define the roles and powers of different teams, WordPress operates without such structures. This flexibility allows for dynamic adaptation but can sometimes lead to unexpected changes, such as the recent discontinuation or pivot of the Marketing Team. While this decision may align with broader project goals, it underscores the need for clear communication about team functions and project direction.
  6. Lack of Formal Proposal Processes: WordPress does not typically use Request for Comments (RFCs) or formalized processes for making and approving proposals. This can sometimes result in decisions that, while maybe well-considered by project leadership, lack broad-based input from the community.

👥 Where Does WordPress Happen?

Each team within WordPress uses a combination of tools and platforms, from GitHub for code contributions to Slack for communication. Recognizing where these interactions take place is crucial for any analysis. For instance, the Core team utilizes Trac and SVN for tracking changes and version control, while community events are coordinated through tools like Meetup.com. I’ve organized a spreadsheet, WordPress Happens Here, to see where teams collaborate.

Tools exist that can help us aggregate the data we have. In doing so, we can better see what parts of the broader WordPress project need contributions.

Contributions to WordPress extend beyond coding and event management to include diverse content creation and revision forms on 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/ sites, which is crucial for community engagement and project sustainability. Currently, no solutions are apparent to track WordPress creation and revision activity, nor TracTrac Trac is the place where contributors create issues for bugs or feature requests much like GitHub.https://core.trac.wordpress.org/.. To include these would involve custom development.

📈 Data Points and Metrics

Key metrics1 to consider include the number of commits per contributor, issue resolution times, the bus factor, and participation in discussions across different platforms. These metrics help understand current engagement levels and identify areas needing more support or resources.

👂🏾Community Feedback and Iterative Improvement

Engaging with community leaders and contributors for feedback is crucial to ensuring that the metrics and dashboards developed are truly useful. This iterative process helps refine the tools and methods used, ensuring they remain relevant and valuable while surfacing team needs.

🙋🏻‍♀️ Get Involved

We want your input. In the comments below, answer as many of these questions as you’d like:

  1. What has been your experience when deciding where to contribute?
  2. What type of details are important to the health of WordPress, 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. project?
  3. Are there areas of contribution that go untraceable or unrecognized?
  4. Do you have any recommendations for tools?

Props to @harishanker and @peiraisotta for proofreading.

  1. See CHAOSS Community All Metrics ↩︎