Shortly after Learn WordPress launched in late 2020, the decision was made to remove any content that mentioned any brand other than WordPress itself until guidelines could be established to indicate what kinds of brands could be mentioned, and how they can be presented. This was an understandable, and intentionally temporary, move to ensure that the platform remained balanced and unbiased towards any particular product or company.
As Learn WordPress is growing, this is a good time to revisit that decision and work on some guidelines that will help the team make wise decisions about brands being included in training content.
The purpose of creating brand guidelines here is threefold:
- Learn WordPress needs to be home to high-quality learning materials that serve the needs of all WordPress users – from beginners to power users – without being home to commercial interests.
- While the platform is not responsible for the success or failure of any particular business providing services to the WordPress community, it would be great if it could create a fertile environment for plugin 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/theme developers, hosting providers and others to actualize their own goals and make a living while contributing to the community.
- Guidelines need to consider the WordPress.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/ teams and volunteers involved. These contributors who make sure that everything runs smoothly deserve impactful tasks and appropriate credit.
Keeping the above mentioned goals in mind, here is a proposal for guidelines that can be implemented to remain in line with similar guidelines on other contributor teams. See the ‘References’ section below for more from other teams.
Brands can be included in Learn WordPress content if:
- They are relevant to the piece of content in question.
- They respect the WordPress trademark and don’t misuse it in any way.
- They embrace the WordPress licence. Meaning that any WordPress derivatives (plugins, themes, or distributions) they distribute must be licenced under the General Public Licence (GPL GPL is an acronym for GNU Public License. It is the standard license WordPress uses for Open Source licensing https://wordpress.org/about/license/. The GPL is a ‘copyleft’ license https://www.gnu.org/licenses/copyleft.en.html. This means that derivative work can only be distributed under the same license terms. This is in distinction to permissive free software licenses, of which the BSD license and the MIT License are widely used examples.).
Additionally, plugins and themes can only be included if there is a version of their product that is hosted in the WordPress.org Plugin/Theme Directory – this will not only ensure compliance with the licence and trademark guidelines, but it will ensure that any plugins/themes mentioned in the content will be freely and readily available for learners directly in their WordPress dashboard.
When brands are mentioned in training content:
- At least 2-3 options of different brands that provide a similar product/service must be mentioned wherever possible and reasonable to do so. This is in order to keep the content aligned with the purpose of helping people learn how to use WordPress, rather than how to use a particular plugin/theme/service.
- For practical reasons, in some cases it may be appropriate to have a workshop that is focused on a single plugin. In those instances, the content must be clear about the purpose (“How to use Plugin X”) and can only cover plugins/themes that are hosted in the WordPress.org Plugin/Theme Directory – no upsells or highlighting premium features available elsewhere should be included.
- A disclaimer must be added to the content (or possibly in the global site footer) that any brand/product/service mentioned is considered a suggestion and not an endorsement.
- Content must be reviewed and updated if there are any previously mentioned brands that no longer adhere to the trademark/licence requirements above (for example, if they change their licencing or use of the WordPress trademark). A feature for tracking this can be a part of the proposed audit tool.
Regarding the promotion of your own company/brand:
- Company/brand logos should not appear in videos as far as possible – visuals must aim to be product-neutral and unbranded.
- You may not highlight your business or otherwise advertise your own products/services as part of any content on Learn WordPress – this includes individuals who create training content professionally. All videos are accompanied by bios of all speakers, so credit will always be given appropriately to the individuals creating the content.
- The only time where you may highlight your own product when producing content for Learn WordPress is if it is relevant and contextual. For example, if someone who works for Easy Digital Downloads is creating content about using eCommerce in WordPress, then including Easy Digital Downloads as an option alongside other eCommerce plugins would be reasonable so long as it is done according to the guidelines above.
Your thoughts on this proposal along the following lines would be greatly appreciated:
- Do you think the proposed guidelines are a reasonable way to meet the goals outlined above while remaining in keeping with similar guidelines elsewhere in the community?
- Is there anything you would add/change/remove from the guidelines proposed?
Please provide feedback in the comments section. This proposal will be finalised on Thursday, 26 August and will then be implemented for all content hosted on Learn WordPress now and in the future.
In order to help establish the above proposal, the following similar guidelines from other contributor teams were examined.
From the WordPress.tv Submission Guidelines:
WordPress TV is a moderated community and the videos we publish are for the benefit of all users of WordPress. As such, our content is meant to be a reflection of the values of the WordPress project; therefore, videos published to WordPress.tv must:
– respect the WordPress trademark,
– embrace the WordPress license,
– only promote WordPress-derivative works (themes, plugins, and other distros) that are suitable for promotion at wordpress.org,
– and be free of spam, incitement to violence, and discrimination of any kind.
From the guidelines for speakers at WordCamps:
WordCamps are official events. Most attendees see you, a bonafide WordCamp 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. speaker, as someone who represents WordPress. In your presentation, you’ll want to make sure you only recommend WordPress products or companies that honor the WordPress trademark and embrace the WordPress license.
From the Support Forum Guidelines:
For support of commercial themes or plugins, go to the official support channel.
In order to be good stewards of the WordPress community, and encourage innovation and progress, we feel it’s important to direct people to those official locations. Doing this will provide the developer with the income they need to make WordPress awesome.
Ultimately, the vendors are responsible for supporting their commercial product.
Thanks to the following people for their input on this proposal: @courane01, @nao, @angelasjin, @harishanker & @dansoschin .