Experiment: Coordinating Sponsored Contributor Teams

Edit, 23 Mar 2021 – Josepha answered main topics of concern here: https://make.wordpress.org/updates/2021/03/19/experiment-coordinating-sponsored-contributor-teams/#comment-5208

It’s hard to believe that WordPress has grown to support 40% of the web since its release on April 1, 2003. It’s even harder to imagine that a lot of this growth was due to word-of-mouth marketing, the quality of our contributions, and the strong community behind the project. 

2020 was filled with hardships for many of us in the WordPress community, and we saw a predictable downturn in the level of volunteer contributions. Despite all of that the project continues to move forward, tackling big projects like full site editing, what to do about IE11, and reworking our long-standing contributor tools. This is where pledged time from Five for the Future comes into play.

Since its introduction in 2014, Five for the Future has encouraged organizations that benefit from the WordPress 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 to give back to the project by sponsoring full-time contributors to move the project forward.  When we experience lulls, like we are now, we know that there are company-sponsored contributors to continue mission-critical work.

The Experiment

Most everyone is aware of our contributors who are sponsored full-time to work on the WordPress project. In the near future, you will see a few more sponsored contributors around to make sure we are keeping up with the necessary tasks, from marketing professionals to backend developers. To assist in coordinating, I have created an experimental SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. channel for contributors who are sponsored for 32 hours or more. It is a closed channel, and since I have historically been publicly opposed to this, I have set some expectations for everyone who will be joining.

  • Contributors who are sponsored full-time to contribute to WordPress (as opposed to their company’s product) will be added to the channel, no matter which company sponsors them or what country they work from.
  • I will revisit the implementation post-WP5.8 to make sure it’s useful, focused, avoiding black box decisions, and committing to transparency.
  • Once we are all post-COVID, I will also revisit the implementation to see that it’s our most effective way to build psychological safety.
  • I will clarify group norms that include what should always be discussed in public so that we continue upholding the project’s communication norms..

The primary value of this group is not to have discussions and decisions behind closed doors. It is primarily an opportunity for those who are contributing full-time to WordPress to gain valuable knowledge of how we lead with a global mindset and how WordPress applies open source methodologies in a broader context than software development.

If your organization is interested in learning more about Five for the Future and how to participate, check out the white paper below and feel free to reach out to me with questions!