Justin Tadlock who goes by the username of greenshady has started an interesting discussion in the Tavern forum. The idea he presents is to create a website which could be a blog or anything else that discusses on anything and everything WordPress, bbPress, BuddyPress, etc. It could range from quick tips to full-blown tutorials. This is something I’ve thought about for a long time as well. It’s an idea that has any number of possibilities of being put into action.
First, let’s review the system we currently have in place for something like this and that is the WordPress Planet. The WordPress planet is a collection of sites talking about WordPress from across the world. Most of the planet feeds consist of a specific category feed from each website. Most of the people on this list are close to the vest of the project while the other feeds are from other projects such as bbPress, BuddyPress, and the various mobile application blogs. Every so often, a blog post will be published from one of the members on this list that contains bits of code or is a development resource. Not enough in my opinion. I understand most of the people on the planet feed list are head deep in the code of WordPress or various projects and that is where their time is best spent. But with all the people that make up the list, I just think there would be a little more WordPress content than there actually is. More on my idea to revamp of the WordPress Planet in a future post.
While the model may not be perfect, I think it would be good to see how Joomla is tackling this situation with their own community magazine scheduled for a re-launch this month. Here is what the first issue looked like and here is the associated forum dedicated to the project. They have an established team of volunteers for different positions of the magazine including a design team, authors, webmasters etc. Is this something that Matt would feel comfortable having on the WordPress.org domain? Perhaps in a sub-domain? If it’s part of the WordPress domain, it is automatically considered endorsement of the magazine. The good news is, if it were linked to from the WordPress.org website, it would immediately have an established fan base. The bad news is, if it were forced to be a project created from the ground up without the direct support of WordPress.org, there is no telling when the site would have a sizable audience. But, depending on who the contributing authors are, those individuals may be able to use their clout to bring people to the site.
Then there is the big problem of working for free. How could the magazine attract authors to contribute on a regular basis without receiving money? Perhaps the feeling of helping the community by sharing knowledge and being part of a project bigger than an individual by them-self is not enough. Since most of the authors will most likely have their own websites or communities, they can easily link to those in their contributing articles. Depending upon the magazine audience size, this could be a nice return of investment. This magazine would also be good for up and coming members of the WordPress community. Still, it is a tough hurdle to overcome if you already have an established website and your contributing article would help generate views and impressions on your own domain. If money somehow gets involved in a project like this, I believe it will only generate problems. As the saying goes, “more money more problems”.
Should the website publish articles once a month as a typical magazine or should it be run in a typical blog format? A few people within the Tavern forum thread state that a blog format will not work for this idea. Personally, I think if it’s going to be more of a magazine site, the articles should reflect that and not be so time sensitive such as new release posts. Things such as reviews, explanations of functions or hooks and how to use them would make for great monthly content. When asked about being a replacement for the Codex, Justin noted that the site would work in conjunction with the Codex, not replace it. The other problem is how to keep the backlog of content updated. Since the work is digital, it’s easy to go back in time to edit something or update it. But actual magazines don’t have to worry about this problem since after they are printed, that’s it.
I would love to contribute to a magazine dedicated to WordPress once a month with a plugin review or something without any payment other than knowing it will be read by a bunch of eyeballs. That is one of the primary reasons why I loved writing for WeblogToolsCollection.com. Being in front of an audience that large is fun and when you get 30 or so comments on an article, that is good stuff. The magazine idea though has nothing but an uphill battle and will need a large amount of support before launch, during launch, and most importantly, after launch. What would be disappointing is for contributors to write killer articles and have them be buried or never seen.
At any rate, plenty of ways in which this idea could play out and there are a number of things to consider. Feel free to participate in the conversation in the forum or here in the comments.