I’m very proud to announce that the first iteration of the Five for the Future pledge program is open for pledges! Individuals and organizations can now publicly pledge their time to contribute to WordPress in a centralized place that is public and transparent.
The intent of this program is to acknowledge the organizations and individuals who contribute regularly to WordPress, helping to sustain the project and work on ongoing initiatives. My hope is that this will encourage contributions from the wider WordPress community. Naturally, the same expectations for promotion on WordPress.org also applies to this program.
This program wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and hard work of some amazing contributors! Props to all the people who designed, developed, gave feedback, and tested:
Last year I posted a proposal for a Five for the Future acknowledgement page, which discussed multiple approaches for how to achieve the goal of acknowledging companies that pay contributors to work on the WordPress project as well as motivating more companies to sponsor more contributors. My recommendation was to create a tool companies could use to publicly pledge employee time, with pledges that would link to the WordPress contributor profiles of those employees. Promotion of the program would guide potential participants to a landing page that describes and explains the benefits of the program, featuring contributor case studies.
Based on public feedback and technical considerations, I think the proposed approach from last year is viable, and worth a try.
This post includes a more granular description on how the project could work, including some mockups for easier visualization. Below the slideshow of mockups, you will find explanations and more details.
This page explains the Five for the Future program, outlines the benefits to companies and contributors, and helps individual contributors or companies find their next steps. The marketing team and I collaborated on the spec copy for this mockup.
For freelancers or micro-agencies that would like to participate, there are two options. The simplest is by filling out the Contributor tab on your profile with the number of hours per week you wish to pledge, and the teams you plan to contribute to. Once you click “save,” an automated notification will go to the team’s SlackSlackSlack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. channel, announcing (for example):
“@julialopez just pledged 5 hours a month to work on CoreCoreCore is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. and Documentation! 🎉 Please reach out and help them get involved in a cool project!”
We’d add another field to the Contributor tab of the WordPress.orgWordPress.orgThe 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/ Profile, to make it easier for people who currently contribute to a team on a volunteer basis, and are interested in being hired to contribute to WordPress. If a contributor clicks the “I’m interested in being hired to contribute” box, then some kind of “Hire me!” graphic element will appear on the front end of the contributor’s profile. There will be no messaging capability; we’ll assume that contributors looking for WordPress work have included ways to contact them on their WordPress profile page.
Another method for freelancers or micro-agencies to participate, would be to follow the company prompt; which I’ll describe next.
If, when a pledge is submitted, the organization names one or many contributors, each contributor will receive this email from WordPress.org, asking whether the contributor would like to accept the invitation to link their profile to a pledge.
A company does not have to name contributors to pledge time, and can edit their pledge to add or remove contributors. Every 6 months, the company will be prompted to update their pledge.
Pledges will be displayed (in random order by default) on a Five for the Future page that can be filtered alphabetically, by number of contributors, and number of pledged hours per week.
Based on these descriptions and mockups…
Do you have any concerns about what you’re seeing?
Do you have any suggestions based on what I’ve written about this already?
WordPress profiles now include some additional fields that contributors can use to share how much time they dedicate to the WordPress project, which teams they work on, and whether or not their contributions are sponsored. All of the contribution fields are optional, and won’t appear on the public profile unless the hours and teams fields are filled in.
That little [Sponsored] tag next to “Contributions” will appear on your profile only if the other Contribution fields are filled in, and only if the option chosen under “sponsored” is “yes.”
Hopefully this will be a gentle first step toward some version of the proposed Five for the Future program (discussed on this blog last November — wow, time flies!). I think it will also help with transparency, and might facilitate how teams set internal expectations for how much time different contributors might have to spend on a project or ongoing task.
Somewhat related, jobs.wordpress.net now features a new position type: “Contributor.” Hopefully this will make it easier for companies to find and hire people who wish to become sponsored contributors.
Feedback and Call for Volunteers
This is a first iteration, so if you have concerns or suggestions, please share them in a comment on this post!
Welcoming more sponsored contributors into WordPress teams might happen more gracefully if there were some clearly stated expectations for avoiding conflicts of interest (perceived and actual). If you’d like to collaborate on creating a first draft for this in order to gather public feedback, please also comment on this post! 🙂 #contributors
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 CoreCoreCore 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 SourceOpen 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.
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.orgThe 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:
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 filterFilterFilters 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 (GithubGitHubGitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that 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
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
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?