Should Learn WordPress contributors be GPL compliant?

In some cases – notably for anyone involved in a 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. in any official capacity – WordPress contributors are required to be GPLGPL GPL is an acronym for GNU Public License. It is the standard license WordPress uses for Open Source licensing The GPL is a ‘copyleft’ license 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. compliant. This means that any WordPress derivatives (i.e. themes, plugins, forks or distributions) that they distribute must be licensed under the GPL or a compatible licence. This isn’t the case for most areas of contribution, so let’s have a look at whether this should apply to contributors to learn WordPress.

The result of this conversation may seem obvious to some, but it’s good to discuss these things out in the open so that we have a documented record of where, why, and how these types of decisions have been made.

First, some precedents

In terms of contributions, Learn WordPress is an interesting blend of speaking and documenting depending on the area of contribution on the platform, so here are some precedents in both of those areas that we should be aware of:

Event speakers

Anyone who speaks at an official WordPress event (WordCamp, meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through 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 will help you find options in your area., etc.) is only allowed to speak if any WordPress derivatives they distribute are licensed with a GPL compatible licence. This has always been the case, and for good reason. Speakers (and organisers) are seen to represent WordPress to their local community, so they need to embody the same freedoms that the GPL affords WordPress users.

Documentation contributors

Anyone can contribute documentation to 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. Docs team handbook doesn’t have any specific requirements listed and allows anyone to get involved. Since documentation writers aren’t specifically representing WordPress in the same way that event speakers, this is not an issue. Also, documentation contributors aren’t directly recognised for their specific contributions in the context of where it took place.

Core contributorsCore Contributors Core contributors are those who have worked on a release of WordPress, by creating the functions or finding and patching bugs. These contributions are done through Trac.

Since CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. is the oldest area of contribution in the project it’s also worth taking a look at how contributors can get involved and are recognised here. Anyone can contribute to WordPress core, regardless of their GPL compliance. All contributors receive props for their contribution directly on TracTrac Trac is the place where contributors create issues for bugs or feature requests much like GitHub., as well as being thanked in the announcement post on Their name in the announcement post is linked to their profile.

OK, so what does that mean for Learn WordPress?

Lesson plans

Lesson plan contributors do not have any GPL requirements – this is much the same as for documentation in that anyone can contribute and specific contributors are not recognised directly on the lesson plans themselves. This seems right to me and is the best way to encourage as many people as possible to contribute.


Currently, all workshop presenters are credited on the workshop page with their name, avatarAvatar An avatar is an image or illustration that specifically refers to a character that represents an online user. It’s usually a square box that appears next to the user’s name. and full bio pulled from their profile (example). Since workshop presenters are a public face of the project in much the same way that WordCamp speakers are, we have also been operating under the same requirements as WordCamp speakers when it comes to being GPL compatible. This also seems right to me and I am of the opinions that we should continue with this requirement.

It is possible, however, for people to contribute content to a video workshop without being the presenter on the screen. This raises some questions:

  1. Do we credit non-presenting content contributors in the same way as presenters?
  2. Should non-presenting contributors have the same GPL compatibility requirements as presenters?

Since one of the primary motivations behind the GPL requirement is to ensure that anyone publicly representing WordPress does so in a way that is faithful to the licence, it makes sense for presenters to have that same requirement, but I don’t think we can say the same for non-presenting contributors.

A proposal

After considering a few ways we could move forward here, my proposal is the following:

  • Anyone contributing text-based content to Learn WordPress does not have to fulfil any GPL compliance requirements, this would apply to lesson plans and any other area that is text/image based.
  • Workshop presenters (i.e. people who appear in videos whether on video or audio) must continue to be GPL compliant just like WordCamp speakers need to be – presenters will be vetted at the time of their workshop application just like WordCamp speakers are vetted.
  • Anyone contributing to workshops who is not appearing in the video itself (i.e. helped to create the outline, script, slides, editing, or any other area) does not need to be GPL compliant.
  • Workshop presenters will still be listed on the workshop page with their name, avatar and bio as they are now, while anyone contributing to the workshop in any other capacity would be listed in a 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. titled “Other contributors” with their name that is linked to their profile, just like in the core release announcements.

tl;dr: Anyone featuring in videos must be GPL compliant, but all other contributors need not be.


Does this proposal sound like a good way to move forward? Please share any thoughts you have and we can discuss it all here.

This post will remain open for comments until the end of the day on Wednesday, 29 September. After that, comments will be summarised and we can formalise the guidelines based on this discussion