[wp-hackers] Community Views on Now and the Future

Mark Jaquith mark.wordpress at txfx.net
Sun Mar 5 17:49:32 GMT 2006

On Mar 5, 2006, at 11:32 AM, Scott Merrill wrote:

> Robert Deaton wrote:
>> - How do you think the Development model of WordPress is now?
> I think it's largely a cathedral, versus the more traditional open
> source bazaar.  A privileged few drive most of the development.

In terms of new features?  Yes.  Mostly because these are the people  
coding them and submitting them, or suggesting them on wp-hackers.   
See: Andy's work on TinyMCE/JS, and Owen's work on the Role/Cap  
system.  In terms of bugfixing, that's more likely to come from  
diverse sources.

> Contributions from new (or unprivileged) participants are often  
> rejected
> without any kind of positive reinforcement to encourage future
> participation.

This is very obviously a bad thing, and something I'll be looking for  
on Trac.

> A lot of people are using Trac, and a lot of things are being marked
> "wontfix" with only terse explanations.  That's not helpful to the
> original reporter: they took the time to file a ticket on something  
> that
> was important to them.  Curt rejections do not encourage  
> participation.

I agree.  I always try to give a meaningful reason, but have probably  
failed to explain thoroughly enough in some instances.  What might  
seem like a reasonable explanation to me might seem like a brush-off  
by the person who submitted the ticket.  Again, something I'll work on.

>> - What are your views on project's leadership?
> I think there's not much leadership.  I think there's an autocracy,
> whereby one person (Matt) makes the bulk of the policy decisions.   
> Matt
> doesn't inspire participation.  He doesn't participate much on the
> mailing lists, when people are struggling with things that  
> specifically
> need "official" response (see Robert Deaton's plea to squash the
> security rumors); but he has plenty of time to let us know he's  
> going to
> hand out tee shirts at conferences.

WP would definitely benefit from more active involvement by Matt, but  
absent that (he seems to be very busy with many different projects)  
it would be good to see a little more authority delegation.  It might  
be nice to have someone in charge of PR.  For example, that person  
could have communicated with Owen, Robert and me about the recent XSS  
report that turned out to be bogus.  We could have told him/her that  
it was bogus.  Podz could have told him/her that people were bringing  
it up on the forums, rattling the gates asking for a patch.  The PR  
person could have then worked with Podz and the forum crew and the  
code jockeys to write a post for the wp.org blog, and it could have  
been posted.  That could have been accomplished in 12-48 hours, easily.

Now, I very much understand the need for "funnels"... and I'm not  
suggesting that we make WordPress into a democracy.  That would be  
chaos.  But as it is, we have only two funnels for commit access, and  
one funnel for PR-related issues (wp.org announcements, etc).  When  
Matt is away at SXSW or is otherwise occupied, we're down to one  
commit funnel, and a complete block on the PR front.  So I'm not  
suggesting that the "funnel" idea is flawed... we just need a few  
more funnels so we don't get clogs! :-D

>> - Do we get too little, just the right amount, or too much feedback
>> from the developers on things discussed on this list and elsewhere?
> I think most technical issues have reasonable discussion with Ryan,
> Andy, and a few blessed outsiders (Mark, Owen).  On the whole, the  
> level
> of information sharing has increased in the recent months, with a  
> marked
> decline in the number of things that are being added without the
> introduction of a corresponding trac ticket first.

Definitely an area where improvements have been made.  But I don't  
think this is an exclusive club ("a few blessed outsiders").  Anyone  
can get a forum account and comment on Trac tickets, or participate  
in wp-hackers discussions.  Hopefully the new Trac mailing list will  
make it easier for people to get involved with these discussions.   
It's certainly helped me.

> I'm clearly in the minority in thinking that much of the above  
> hurts the
> project.  I'm discouraged from participating further, and likely will
> make no efforts to do so.

While I may disagree as to the severity of the problems you've  
outlined, I don't dismiss them outright.  I've been (albeit gently)  
pushing for more openness and more delegation of authority as well.   
I think it's getting better, generally, but there is still much  
progress to be made.  I'm very sorry that you feel discouraged from  
participation.  Your efforts will definitely be missed.  If nothing  
else, I hope that your departure will serve as motivation for more  
openness and inclusion in the future.

Mark Jaquith

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