Discussion: Observations from the WordPress Contributor Survey results

The first WordPress Contributor Survey was conducted in 2015 (here’s the announcement post), but the results were never published. In 2019, an identical survey was conducted, with the survey translated into five languages other than English! The purpose of this post is to invite contributors to share their observations when they review the results of both surveys, as well as to discuss how contributor teams might apply these observations to make their work more effective. 

The purpose of the survey is to help WordPress contributor leadership establish contributor experience baselines so that the organization can observe how things change over time. The survey includes questions about team involvement, recognition, and event involvement; there is also a section about demographics, which helps us identify how diverse our contributor base is. 

Here are the 2015 and 2019 survey results.  Here’s the report in PDF and PPT formats, as well.

Differences in distributing the two surveys

In 2015, the survey was conducted separately from the WordPress annual survey and only offered in English. 234 people responded to the survey. 

In 2019, this survey was offered at the end of the WordPress annual survey. The survey was available in 6 languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and German. 368 people responded to the survey. 

Of the respondents who took the main survey in 2019, 14% say they contribute 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. WordPress project. 6% opted to participate in the Contributor survey.

General observations on contributor behavior 

The majority of WordPress contributors are unpaid/self-sponsored volunteers. Overall, most contributors remain happy with their contributor experience, though the proportion of contributors who are happy with their experience shows a slight 2-point decrease from 2015 (from 85% to 83%).

Since 2015, there is a notable increase in the number of contributors who feel consistently recognized for their contributions. Recognition from peers is still reported to be more important to contributors than recognition from other teams or project leadership.

Most contributions are made whenever people have time, which is consistent with responses from 2015. The majority of contributors still average 0-2 hours in a given week, but many teams have seen increases in contributors who are able to offer substantially more time (15+).

Aside from participating online, 64% of Contributors say they were part of a meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. 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 meetup.com will help you find options in your area. organizing team. Speaking at a local meetup (54%) and attending a local meeting (51%) are also common activities among contributors.

Demographic observations

  • 60% of contributors say they make a living from WordPress.
  • Locations among contributors responding to the survey have shifted significantly across the globe. Europe’s engagement with the survey increased significantly, from representing 37% of the responses collected in 2015 to 46% in 2019. North America responses significantly decreased from 46% to 6% for this survey.  
  • Nearly half (47%) of the contributors say they are White/Caucasian, while 16% prefer not to answer the survey question about ethnicity.
  • The vast majority (80%) within the contributor community identify as male.
  • Nearly three-quarters (74%) of contributors say they are heterosexual/straight, and 12% prefer not to share their sexual orientation.
  • 39% of contributors are 30-39 years of age, while nearly one-quarter (24%) are aged 40-49. Less than one-quarter (23%) are under the age of 30.

Feedback and discussion! 

Thank you to all the contributors who have shared their feedback on the survey so far! I’ve been told that the questions about military service and political views (at least on a spectrum of liberal-conservative) aren’t meaningful to contributors in many parts of the world and appear US-centric. If there are any other questions that you think should be added or removed, please feel free to share them in a comment on this post. 

Apart from feedback about the survey itself, I’d also like to invite contributors to discuss the results that they found interesting and meaningful. Here are some questions to help frame that discussion:

  • Did any results surprise or disappoint you?
  • Does this demographic information match your observations? 
  • Are teams set up to welcome contributors with 0-2 hours per week, as well as contributors with 15+ hours to work? 

Please leave your thoughts on a comment on this post! 

#survey, #user-developer-survey