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

Douglas Daulton apakuni at gmail.com
Sun Mar 5 18:41:27 GMT 2006


My earlier email was largely a response to your post which Robert linked to.
The first post read as knee-jerk frustration.  Your current post is much
more pointed and much less passionate ... both are good things.  In short, I
get where you are coming from and no longer see it as an angry rant.

This has me thinking.

What prevents the community from doing a "rebuild" project.  For those
unfamiliar with the idea, check out CentOS.org.  CentOS is an open source
rebuild of the Red Hat Enterprise License.  The dynamics would be a little
different.  CentOS is a "free" competitor to RHEL, but is essentially the
same code, repackaged a little bit differently.  With this in mind, let me
float the idea for WordPress "Community Edition" (WPCE).

WPCE would have it's own SVN trunk and independent project managers. The
group would set their own vision for WPCE and post it publicly.  They would
always work against the latest stable release of WP and build new
functionality into plug-ins whenever possible.  New functionality which
requires core changes would be written in a modular, OOP fashion to reduce
overall impact to the "Matt/Ryan" trunk.  Changes to core DB tables would be
kept to a minimum, unless adding new tables all together.  Again, this is a
modular approach.  If the community wants to raise funds to pay for a
security audit, we do it on the base "Matt/Ryan" trunk before we begin other

The idea is not a fork.  Rather it is parallel development free of the
funnel approach which has some folks feeling slighted or restricted.  If
project leads from the WP and WPCE remain on friendly terms, then WPCE
becomes a skunkworks or proving grounds for the core product.  The WPCE
vision/roadmap is sure to be read by the core team.  Perhaps it will inspire
more formal planning from them.  As features are added and tested at WPCE,
demand for them will surely be driven back to the WP team.  And, once proven
in WPCE, the new feature is very likely to get a warm reception in WP.

To be clear, I am fine with the way things work now.  But, I hear your
concerns and think they are very valid.  And having lived through this with
both Postnuke and Xaraya, I am trying to offer a solution before this thing
turns into car wreck and I have to watch another great open source project
divide it's energy inappropriately and cause the overall project to stumble,
fall and perhaps never rise again.

If folks do not think that is possible in WP.  Think again.

If you think WPCE cannot work, think about Firefox and Mozilla.  Yes, the
Mozilla browser "died" but that was just a branding issue.  We'd do the same
thing, but move all of the changes into WP over time.

The keys to the WPCE concept are:

1) Both project teams remain on friendly terms, follow one another's
progress and support/respect one another.

2) Both work on a common core, with WPCE coding in a way that makes grafting
their work back into WP a simple thing to do.

So, chew on that idea for a while and tell me what you think. :D  If folks
are interested, I will certainly participate.



On 3/5/06 8:32 AM, "Scott Merrill" <skippy at skippy.net> wrote:

> It's easy to complain and criticize.  As I review what I've written, it
> might be easy for someone to think I have a personal vendetta against
> Matt.  I don't.  I don't know the fellow personally.  I'm sure he's a
> charming, intelligent young man.  My comments below are strictly about
> WordPress and Matt's participation with the same.
> 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.
>> What are its strongpoints?
> The end result is largely consistent, because the privileged few driving
> development are mostly "on the same page".
>> What are its flaws?
> There is no publicly defined vision.  There is no documented roadmap.
> The "same page" used by the developers is not shared with anyone else in
> a meaningful way.
> Short of bug fixing, it's not clear how new people can meaningfully
> contribute.
> Contributions from new (or unprivileged) participants are often rejected
> without any kind of positive reinforcement to encourage future
> participation.
> This has long been a problem.  Way back in the 1.0 days, I submitted an
> ugly patch directly to Matt to provide per-user posting level support
> (like the view levels plugin now).  Rather than say "Thanks", or
> encourage me to rework the patch, Matt's word were, quote, "Does it have
> to be so complicated?".  That was my first attempt to really contribute
> to the core code, and it was rejected out of hand.  I should have
> stopped participating right there, in truth.
> My second real attempt to contribute found me working with Ryan.  He
> pointed out to me specifically where I needed to pay attention to stuff
> in the get_next_post() and get_previous_post() functions.  My patch
> evolved, with Ryan's encouragement, and was added to the core.
> 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.
>> What do you think should be changed and what should be left the same?
> I'm not entirely sure about what suggestions I could make; but I'm
> pretty well sure than any suggestions I provide will be dismissed or
> diminished.  My views are clearly in the minority.
>> - 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.
> When disagreements arise, it seems to me that Matt's side usually wins.
> I don't recall (m)any examples of Matt conceding an issue.  I have not
> the time to read through all my archives to determine whether this
> impression is accurate.
> Leadership implies vision, which further implies being proactive, or
> ahead of the trends.  I don't think there's any doubt that Matt has
> technical leadership, but as a _project_ leader I think he's extremely
> deficient.  He was opposed to the implementation of a bug tracker
> originally.  He failed to appoint anyone to tend to the bug tracker
> until it became full of stale tickets.  There's not been much
> _proactive_ leadership for the non-technical, mundane day-to-day aspects
> of the WordPress project, and it is from that that much of my complaints
> arise.
>> Are they steering us in the right direction, or are we going downhill?
> The leadership is steering us in the direction they wish to go, which is
> not clearly defined or documented.
>> Is community feedback weighted enough with personal views of the developers?
> In my opinion, no; but then I've consistently been on the losing side of
> every argument on this mailing list.  I suspect that people who are on
> the winning side feel differently.
>> Are we interacting with people outside the coding community enough to get a
>> fair view of what could be the best for everyone?
> I've no idea.
>> - 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.
> Administrative issues vary wildly.
> Matt's participation in the mailing lists these days has been mixed.
> It's my perception that he refrains from giving definitive answers,
> which oftens creates even more consternation in the midst of an on-going
> discussion looking for leadership.
>> Do you think this has a positive or negative impact on the project as a
>> whole?
> 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.

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