tl;dr: let’s increase the number of companies that dedicate employee time to WordPress by building a tool that allows companies to make public pledges of dedicated time.
In 2014, @matt launched the Five for the Future initiative, saying that “organizations that want to grow the WordPress pie (and not just their piece of it) should dedicate 5% of their people to working on something to do with CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. — be it development, documentation, security, support forums, theme reviews, training, testing, translation or whatever it might be that helps move WordPress’ mission forward.” WordPress-based organizations responded by contributing more dedicated time to 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, which has helped WordPress grow to power 31% of the Web.
A discussion was held at the 2017 WordPress Community Summit about how we could encourage more companies to contribute more dedicated employee time. @liljimmi suggested that if there were a page where all companies participating in Five for the Future were listed, then smaller companies would see that they could have an impact too. This got a lot of people thinking about outreach to companies of all sizes, and how we could encourage participation in Five for the Future.
A year or so later, here’s a proposal that takes this concept and runs with it! Main collaborators on this program proposal include: @chanthaboune, @hlashbrooke, @_dorsvenabili, @iandunn, @angelasjin, @coreymckrill, and myself. Hand-sketches are from me; other mock-ups by @iandunn and @mapk.
Props to Tracy for the idea that sparked this, and thanks to the many people who gave early candid feedback.
Exceptionally long proposal after the jump!
- Acknowledge companies that sponsor volunteers to work on the WordPress project.
- Motivate more companies to sponsor more volunteers.
- Defining the kind of contribution that would “qualify” for this.
- Identifying what contributions come from people whose work is being sponsored by a company.
- Deciding what qualifies a company to appear on the page (minimum number of hours, licensing practice, company size, etc).
- Holding companies accountable, if we think that’s important.
- Defining how we treat companies and sponsored employees 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/.
How do other projects do this?
How do other open source and/or volunteer organizations acknowledge and recruit contributors, specifically support from companies? We looked at the following organizations in a comparative analysis:
- Established open source projects, such as Linux Foundation, Mozilla, Joomla, Ruby on Rails, Wikipedia, Node JS, Nextcloud, PHP, Python, and Drupal
- Non-profit organizations that work with volunteers, including: Doctors Without Borders, New Horizons, Habitat for Humanity, UNICEF, and Red Cross
- Nearly all of these organizations make an appeal to contributors with the promises that their contributions will have a powerful impact, that they will be recognized for their work, and that their work will help the project/organization thrive for years to come.
- Most open source projects place more emphasis on individual contributors, and don’t directly acknowledge companies that support the project by sponsoring contributors. Drupal is a notable exception to this practice.
- Gamification is common. Badges are very popular, as well as being able to filterFilter Filters are one of the two types of Hooks https://codex.wordpress.org/Plugin_API/Hooks. They provide a way for functions to modify data of other functions. They are the counterpart to Actions. Unlike Actions, filters are meant to work in an isolated manner, and should never have side effects such as affecting global variables and output. by the most commits (GithubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. https://github.com/ is a very common tool for this). Python even gives cash awards to noteworthy contributors.
Option 1: The activity stream firehose
One option would be a completely automated system. All volunteers would share what company, if any, sponsored their contributions. Contributions could be shown in an activity stream, in which activities are grouped by company, and sorted by the most recent contribution. Additional sorting and filtering options would be available.
Advantages: No administrative work/moderation needed.
Disadvantages: Information overload; company visibility is low.
Option 2: Curated case studies
Another option would be a page that shares the goal and vision of the 5ftF program. Included would be rotating examples of participating contributors, like case studies curated from a broad cross-section of the open source project.
Advantages: compelling content, lots of useful information.
Disadvantages: selecting contributors to highlight could be contentious; limited number of companies acknowledged; lots of administrative work to maintain content.
Option 3: Pledged contributions
Companies make a public pledge to dedicate a certain amount of time to the open source project. Then their employees complete and confirm the information about intended team and intended time. All pledges would be public and listed on WordPress.org.
Advantages: Company/volunteer reported & verified; would not require much ongoing moderation.
Disadvantages: Potential for abuse/misrepresentation.
After considering these three possible structures for a Five for the Future program, I think the most effective method is a pledge program: allowing companies to publicly declare how much dedicated employee time they plan to donate to the WordPress project.
This approach would work towards key goals for the Five for the Future initiative:
- Recognize the companies that sponsor volunteers to regularly work on the WordPress project.
- Ensure a stable contributor base, by motivating more companies to sponsor more volunteers.
The program would allow companies of any size to submit a pledge indicating the number of hours they intend to commit to the WordPress project. After making the pledge, the company notifies its contributing employees, who then edit their WordPress.org profiles to indicate the company that is sponsoring their time. This will allow a contributor’s sponsored time to be credited to the company that is enabling them to contribute much more time than they (presumably) could give, if unsupported.
On their profiles, all contributors will be able to share how many hours a week they dedicate to the project, and on which team(s). If a contributor’s work is part of Five for the Future, they will be able to link to their company’s pledge on their individual profile.
Privacy note: The intent here is that a contributor must intentionally link their individual profile to a published pledge. No matter what a company pledges, the individual contributor won’t show up on that pledge unless they link to the pledge and save. Then the company contact associated with that pledge will have to accept the link — active consent should be required on both sides.
This will help contributor teams identify what people have been pledged to work on their projects, which should help with recruiting people to work on specific, possibly longer-term, team projects. Once a pledge has been made, companies and individuals will be encouraged to keep their details up to date as needed.
Historically, we have recognized individuals for their contributions
to WordPress, without connecting that work to their companies, even if
their time has been sponsored. By asking companies to make a pledge of
time, we hope to offer increased recognition to all parties who actively
participate in the Five for the Future initiative.
Companies that have made a pledge will be listed in a public, searchable, and filterable archive that displays:
- company name & logo
- company size
- number of contributing employees
- number of hours pledged
- teams contributed to
Here’s an example:
As we receive more information from Five for the Future companies, we
can consider whether we recognize companies further by publishing
individual company pages. We hope that this will also encourage
additional companies to make their own pledges and commit employee time
to the WordPress project.
Companies and sponsored contributors will be expected to update and resubmit their pledge after a period of time – this will make sure that the page remains current at all times. For privacy reasons, individual contributors won’t be listed on a pledge unless they choose to link to the pledge. Companies that wish to make a Five for the Future pledge will be asked to agree to follow project etiquette and meet our expectations for promotion on WordPress.org.
And another thing…
Despite the disadvantages of the curated case studies idea, that’s still a great way to show organizations what kind of impact their participation in Five for the Future can have. If possible, we’d like to include a case study or two on the Five for the Future landing page on WordPress.org, which would also include some persistent content like: “Why donate employee time to the WordPress project?” and/or “Convince your boss to donate your time to WordPress.org.” For case studies, we’d want to rotate the content at least every 6 months. We may want to feature contributors who are doing some of the less “glamorous” or visible work that nevertheless has a strong positive impact on WordPress.
How will we know this is making a difference — what can we count?
- number of people whose paid time was pledged to the project
- number of companies participating
- percentage of teams with at least 1 sponsored contributor
- number of pledged hours
- number of people sponsored at least 20 hours/week ; number of people sponsored for 40 hours/week
We’d love your thoughts on this approach to Five for the Future
acknowledgement! Here are some specific questions, but please ask about
anything that concerns you, in a comment on this post.
- Should we require users to be logged in to wordpress.org to be able pledge? (This would stop spam and make editing easier in the futur.e)
- Should we auto-publish pledge submissions, or should a moderator review them first?
- Should we set a minimum company size for participation in this pledge program?
- Do you think this might help teams find people to work on less “glamorous” contributions?