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

David House dmhouse at gmail.com
Wed Mar 8 16:43:08 GMT 2006

On 08/03/06, Rich Bowen <rbowen at rcbowen.com> wrote:
> I see repeatedly good ideas surface, with people tentatively supporting
> them, while actively supporting them on IRC, but then back off when Matt
> suggests that he's not behind it. That sort of single-personality
> management leads to a lack of new ideas, and, perhaps as concerningly,
> leads eventually to a project where nobody wants to contribute anymore,
> because they're sure that new ideas are unwelcome.

This was certainly the situation as recently as two months ago. Now,
the procedure for Getting Things Done in the WP community is simple:

* Raise the idea on hackers
* If the general feeling is "nice idea", and at least some of those
feelings have come experienced WP hackers, start a trac ticket
* WRITE CODE (really important)
* Get it reviewed by a few senior contributors, like bug gardeners.
* Modify your patch with their input
* Don't get bitchy if we decide it's a bad idea. If you've got to this
stage, that shouldn't happen, but it could.

I've found this method to be quite effective. Any examples of good
ideas being squashed are generally because one of those steps wasn't

As a side note, if your thread gets, say, one reply, it's probably not
going to get in. A lot of bad ideas are proposed by people who simply
don't have the experience to know they're bad ideas (nothing wrong
with that, we were all there once. I still am :)). The people who have
been around here a while have been around long enough to get tired of
these threads, so they don't bother replying to say "bad idea": it
would inevitably lead to an argument which would just end with the
oldie going "you're just going to have to trust me. it won't work/the
cons outweigh the pros/etc". The recent thread proposing a community
edition of WordPress is a good example. It took three days to get any
response whatsoever, and even that wasn't a +1.

In short: no response is a negative response. (aside: please don't
flame me in response to this. There's nothing wrong with a bad idea,
nor having one. How else do you think you'll learn?)

> This isn't to say that the leadership doesn't have good ideas. They
> certainly seem to. But they also tend to disregard ideas from external
> sources, with a really bad case of Not Invented Here.

Another point to make is that there are a lot of people around who
will +1 bad ideas. Doesn't make them good ideas. If you don't get +1s
from the more senior contributors, it's probably a bad idea.

Of course, the inline docs thread was a counterexample to all this.
Clever people like Mark Jaquith and Robert Deaton got behind it and
made trac tickets, but it still got squashed. It doesn't _always_
work. :)

Hopefully that's illuminated some of the inner workings of the WP
development model.

-David House, dmhouse at gmail.com, http://xmouse.ithium.net

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