The hot topic in the community over the weekend was a post published by WPCandy.com that talks about the DevPress deal for WordCamp Organizers going down in flames thanks to the WordCamp Guidelines, specifically dealing with giveaways. Unfortunately, the way in which the WordCamp Central team went about correcting the issue blew up in a sea of heated controversy and discussion. This sort of thing has happened on different occasions over the past four years, where a specific guideline is created or changed or some other major change is noticed without a succinct explanation given as to WHY leading the community to discuss, argue, debate and rip things to shreds as we tried to figure out what exactly was going on. I’ve been thinking about all of this over the weekend and wanted to write a long post detailing my thoughts but I think the comment by Norcross sums up how I feel beautifully:
Norcross – Like most of the drama that has arisen lately in the WP scene, the reactions have far exceeded the issue. Amanda makes good points (and knowing what she’s done to plan camps, I respect her point of view). But it’s always the cover up, isn’t it? Instead of the foundation coming out, in the open, and saying “hey, we didn’t think about [insert issue here] because it never came up before. So going forward, we have to handle it this way, and here is why”, they attempt to influence back channels and conveniently change policy without mention. If a rule needs to be changed / enacted, so be it. But doing so without transparency and open lines of communication will only cause more problems.
It’s that simple. The way in which this should have been handled is the WordCamp Central folks or the foundation should have published a post which succinctly explained why the guidelines were violated with regards to the offer by DevPress to WordCamp Organizers. The guideline could have been highlighted, explained, and changed if necessary while leaving a note stating that since things were already under way with WordCamp Philly and the DevPress offer, it would be allowed but not allowed for future WordCamps. Then we as a community could have had a mildly moderated discussion on that post discussing our disagreements or follow up questions concerning the guideline. At least we would know where the Foundation or WordCamp Central is coming from with their line of reasoning without having to guess or debate out in the open. This would have also provided their side of the story since for the most part, we read and reacted to what was published on WPCandy. I think the WordPress Foundation or WordCamp Central owes it to all WordCamp organizers present and future to publish that information on the WordCamp Planner’s blog.
I don’t understand why some things are not brought out into the open such as guideline additions or changes. It’s as if they (whoever they are) are afraid of communicating with the community or don’t feel the need to do so. History as I remember it has shown the same communication problem occurring time and time again. We as a community notice a change that we don’t agree with that is not communicated very well leaving us to discuss, debate, make things up, assume and get so upset until we run out of energy to the point where we just don’t care about it anymore. Pretty unhealthy if you ask me.
Here is another comment that makes the same points.
Amanda – I think a major issue (though lord knows there’d always continue to be issues, just not these issues) is that the foundation/camp thing needs to work more like core does. Transparency, meritocracy, traceable explanation of the WHY. Frankly, the why is often so simple that if explained succinctly there’d be far less of THIS going on. Its not present because of a conspiracy, its not present because of a lack of manpower and hours in the day. That’ll be remedied in the near future from what I understand.
Transparency, meritocracy, traceable explanation of the WHY. Is this too much to ask? Can we at least have that as a starting point before we dive into head splitting next time?