Cuba And The Goal Of WordPress

I was reading an interesting post today published on GlobalPost.com regarding the work of a few individuals that were trying to bring the digital revolution to the people of Cuba. Yoani Sanchez has a six-month blogging academy course where she teaches people of all ages the likes of Twitter, WordPress, and Wikipedia in a cramped classroom that is not even hooked up to the internet. There is no degree for completing the course but it opens up the minds that there is more going on in the digital world that the island fails to allow access to. It’s awesome to see this happening not only in Cuba, but in other parts of the world where the freedom of speech is not so free and where opposition to ones ideals can get you killed.

One of the tools being used in the class was WordPress. Now, I’ve been pondering this question for the past week and I can’t decide on what the answer is. What is the mission statement or the end goal of the WordPress software? Is it specifically to allow anyone’s words to be pressed into the digital realm as in the Cuba example up above? Or is it to just be the best publishing software known to man? Is it to become the best Content Management System or is it to become a platform that is so versatile, the only thing stopping you from accomplishing something is your imagination?

If you visit the WordPress.org website and browse around, you’ll notice that there is no end goal described. There is no mission statement that everyone involved with the project can rally around. Sure, WordPress development has been going pretty well despite the lack of a defined goal or mission statement but I wonder if in the chaos of things, would it not be better if everyone involved had a focused idea as to what they were trying to accomplish with their contribution to the project? To try to accomplish something that is enormously bigger than themselves, something that is not accomplish able unless you add up the sum of its parts?

Or, on the other side of the coin, is it better that there is no defined focus or goal of WordPress. Allow things to continue as they are since they don’t appear to be broken and allow people to contribute to each little part of WordPress that they see fit in order to make it that much better as a piece of publishing software.

During my interview with Paul Kim, he mentioned that while working with Mozilla just after the release of FireFox 1.0, that one of the things he learned was how important it was for the project to have a strong leader, a leader that would lead the project to accomplish its defined goal or mission statement. Now, I think Matt is a good leader. Just look at where WordPress is today which is a testament to that fact. However, where is he leading us?

While I think the answer to that question is best served by Matt as he is project leader, I’d like to hear your thoughts on what you think IS or SHOULD BE the mission statement or goal of the WordPress software.

13 Comments


  1. I don’t think that having an overall goal is really necessary. Although WordPress wouldn’t be what it is today, if people didn’t have “mini goals” improving bit after bit of WordPress.

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  2. @Darren – So I’m guessing the mindset there is that if a mission statement or goal was defined, that it would inherently limit the scope and appeal of WordPress, perhaps even from a volunteer development stand point because if they didn’t agree or stand for that goal, they wouldn’t contribute?

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  3. It’s push button publishing for the people, right? The focus is ultimately on the user experience and making it easy for anyone – ANY person, regardless of circumstance to have a voice.

    That’s why I love it.

    As long as everyone keeps the end user in mind, and all the possibilities, then the sky really is the limit. No other goals need defining.

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  4. I agree with 37Signals and their views on Mission Statements. Don’t bother with one. 99% of the time they are useless words on a page and nothing more.

    WordPress is something different to different people.

    To me WordPress isn’t some grandiose world changing thing. It’s simply a content management system (yes, it is a content management system) that I really enjoy working with.

    To other people it is bigger than that. That’s okay. That is the beauty of the community. It’s means different things to different people. There is nothing wrong with that.

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  5. WordPress is code and code is poetry. Much like poetry is open to the interpretation of how it fits in the world, WordPress is open to it’s users interpreting and finding uses for it.

    Is WordPress blogging software? Sure, if you want it to be.
    Is it a CMS? Sure, if you want it to be.
    Is it a framework for building applications? Sure, if you want it to be.
    Is it a platform for overthrowing governments? Sure, if you want it to be.
    Is it an elephant with a rainbow trunk? Well maybe that’s a bit hard, but given enough time and enough plugins; Sure, if you want it to be.

    Why limit what people think they can do when you can empower people to do what they want?

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  6. @Aaron Jorbin

    Why limit what people think they can do when you can empower people to do what they want?

    This is becoming increasingly clear to me from the comments published already. In an open source environment/World, Mission statements can act as barriers rather than a focus point?

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  7. @Jeffro

    In an open source environment/World, Mission statements can act as barriers rather than a focus point?

    Put a period on that rather then a question mark and I think that should be published as wordpress.org/missionstatement

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  8. My stab at the mission would be:

    It is the mission of WordPress to develop tools that improve the community’s ability to easily publish and manage online content, while inspiring the community to be kind, temperate, and diligent in every regard.

    My thought when writing that were:
    WordPress is about:

    Making online publishing easier.
    Making website content management easier.
    Promoting Open Source Freedoms.
    Promoting kindness and charity.
    Giving the community the privilege to guide its development.
    Constantly improving.

    I used the word “kind” to refer to the GPL Freedoms. I used “temperate” to refer to community-controlled. I used “diligent” to refer to core, plugin, and theme developers, as well as other contributors.

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  9. Hi Jeffro, I know you love WP, I love WP, but WP is only (and no more than) a simple blogging platform and this is the WP’s stronger point. Any soft-weak-political-generic mission or goal is not appropriate. WP is like a single tool; it’s not even a sophisticated one.

    I’m pretty sure WP has a main mission as a key part inside the overall Automattic’s strategy.

    Unfortunately, the Yoani Sanchez case is a really bad example with a strong political bias (the link to GlobalPost.com article is gone BTW). If she teaches WP’s usage like the content she writes…hmmm.

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  10. Like I commented in the thread. Goals are better than mission statements.
    37signals missions statement comment ain’t really viable in the WP case. 37 signals is a small close knit company where each individual have a good grasp of where the tools are going. They develop for themselves rather for their customers. They want to make the best tools that fulfills their own needs and requirements.
    WP should not be everything for everyone. WP should have a focus point, WP should have a goal. Otherwise its just bland and nonprovocative, in other words somewhat boring.

    WP consists of v nvr of code contributors, x nbr of idea makers, y nbr of actual code comitters. z nbr of final decision makers.
    Having a goal for WP releases is a good thing I think. It prevents arbitrary dislikes of ideas because the disliker doesn’t think WP should do that. It also could get almost everyone behind one single unified goal. If people don’t like it they can work on something else. Not fork it =). I’m saying this as a harsh critique of WP politics. But most of my critique would be pointless if WP actually took a stand instead of releasing smokescreens.

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  11. @donnacha | WordSkill – He most likely had a an idea and a goal. No one embarks on that without a goal. And a bunch of types, a paperweight and paper is also not that very complex. The paper is complex to make though but he didn’t invent the paper.

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  12. I like when a citizen of Cuba is able to get the word out about their failed nation. WordPress, Blogger, etc. can be a huge part in helping them tell their story. The more people inside Cuba informing others about software and services that they can use to reach the outside world the better.

    Yoani Sanchez’s blog is banned in Cuba and she uses WordPress. So it’s good that WordPress is being used to promote ideas of freedom in a land that tries to deny them.

    A nice mission could be to help people the world over promote ideas.

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