HeroPress Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Highlight WordPress Developers

heropress

HeroPress is a new WordPress community initiative with a Kickstarter campaign, created by Topher DeRosia, a developer for XWP. Its mission is to “develop the WordPress heroes of the world by sharing the accumulated wisdom of the community.”

While looking for a way to give back to the WordPress community, DeRosia spoke with hundreds of people, many of whom live in different time zones around the world.

“I began to notice a common problem,” he said. “Many of them felt disconnected from the greater WordPress community – the Western WordPress community. For some it was a language issue, for others location, and still others simply not understanding culture.”

The initiative’s $60K AUD (~$48,000 USD) Kickstarter goal is intended to fund video production, branding, and marketing for DeRosia and his team to film six episodes, spotlighting WordPress developers.

“These presentations will share the wisdom these WordPress Heroes have acquired through their successes and failures with one goal in mind: to provide information, insight, and inspiration to WordPress developers all around the world that will help them become WordPress Heroes,” DeRosia writes in the campaign description.

Turning developers into “WordPress heroes” is a rather nebulous goal that may not easily catch on with the general community. However, the fact that international WordPress developers feel disconnected is a real issue that could use more attention.

Many WordPress professionals who would like to attend some of the larger community events are denied visas or unable to afford the expense. Cultural misunderstandings across borders are quite common in the community, which is growing fastest in the non-English speaking world.

This initiative recognizes a real problem, but the marketing and approach could use some additional refining. HeroPress has already received sharp criticism from one of WordPress’ lead developers for its male-only speaker lineup and use of the term “hero:”

DeRosia has a passion for mentoring people and hopes to encourage developers around the world by highlighting their work and expertise. It’s not yet clear whether video production to highlight “heroes” will resonate with the WordPress community, but the campaign has already received $8,565 AUD of its $60K goal. DeRosia has 24 days remaining to get HeroPress fully funded.

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51 Comments


  1. This “equalism” will not get us anywhere… remember the scandal, when the white 9/11 heroes in the statue had to be replaced with Hispanic and black guys? If there are women on the scale of hero, then it is nice, and I have no doubts that they will be included, but this kind of criticism before project even started is really a sad thing.

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    1. Agreed. This is getting out of hand when someone can’t be celebrated or when someone can’t have their moment to launch something good and kind without criticism of something so out of their control like their gender or race.

      Don’t keep people out of things – either way. Be blind to it and base your motives on achievement, heart, kindness, creativity. I think a King quote works here with a fill in the blank to cover everyone.

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  2. totally agree, an attempt to put down a nice initiative with a comment to parade around as a ‘White Knight’ for women everywhere.

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  3. “Oh, no! The first 6 people lined up as speakers can’t be men! What is the world coming to?”

    We should split the core WordPress committers down the middle based on sex. Then, let’s further refine that by age, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Lead by example if you want “equality” regardless of merit.

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  4. I was a little irked to see men only line up. With the “periphery” theme the different perspectives are definitely needed and not just in a geography or language sense. But for the same reason I get it that it might have been hard to get the peachy perfect lineup right away.

    I do hope lineup improves in this regard and Topher tweeted later in that thread that it’s definitely being worked on.

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  5. Sorry, but this whole thing is nonsense! Why Chris Lema in this list? Many already consider him “a hero”, he surely doesn’t need another feature…

    Also, the direction is wrong in my opinion: we already have millions of WordPress heroes around the globe. The imagination, that the first and real heroes came from “the Wester world”, is wrong.

    And we surely don’t need another genderism debate in the WordPress world, we already had a lot. Enough already.

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    1. I don’t get why is the speaking suddenly for speaker’s benefit here. Let’s ban core developers from speaking at WordCamps? They don’t “need another feature” after all.

      Second, the initial lineup seems to be 1 US, 1 Western Europe, 2 Eastern Europe, 2 India. I find blanket statements about “western world” and “white guys” kind of rude here.

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      1. I find this hero selection a bit strange, but it’s just my personal opinion. Nothing against Chris, this is clear!

        And I second, what I wrote above: for me the direction seems wrong: “we” from the so-called “western world” tell who are heroes and who are not. Nowhere did I say anything about “white guys” don’t know where you found this. Seems strange.

        Absolutely nothing against those selected people, I just find this Kickstarter campaign nonsense. Period.

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      2. Your first comment reads very explicitly against Chris by name.

        “white guys” was someone else in the Twitter thread, sorry I hadn’t made it more clear (writing comments before tea :)

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  6. “Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.”

    This is all pretty ridiculous. People who makes useful software are helpful. But heroes? That involves real personal sacrifice, often with the person’s life.

    I think the women are well out of it.

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  7. Here’s some advice: Focus on people who:

    Provide documentation
    Describe what they have done
    Remember to include features they have promised
    Don’t assume that things are simple when they are not
    Use relevant keywords
    Don’t make customization complicated
    Support their work
    Provide themes or plugins that actually function without having to pay for them when they are announced as free.

    The above would help a lot of people.

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  8. I think Nacin’s statement is focused more on the Hero Worship element than the male cast (I mean he put that in parenthesis afterall). The Hero Worship element is a real issue with this campaign and seems to contradict it’s actual purpose. But I think it can be easily overcome as well.

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  9. Perhaps I misinterpreted the whole thing, but when it comes to stuff like this I want to try to believe the best rather than assume the worst (and I’m a pessimist).

    I’m not saying anyone is assuming the worst either, so don’t read too much into that last statement :).

    The way that I’ve interpreted Topher’s video and the ultimate goal of all of this isn’t meant to inspire hero worship for those who are already notable WordPress developers, but to take those who *are* notable developers and have them teach valuable skills to those who want to level up to become WordPress heroes.

    As far as the concerned of women being participants. I think that’s a vaid concern, but I know Topher well enough to know that it’s a matter of time.

    Anyway, I don’t think it was in any way meant to inspire hero worship – but the exact opposite: To inspire people to become heroes.

    It’s still early, though. Let’s give this thing some room to gain some traction.

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    1. Based on my own reading and conversations directly with Topher, I believe you are spot on, Tom.

      This is a campaign that is striving to help people become better and to aspire to bigger and better things. Not everyone is blessed with equal access to valuable resources and this project is working to provide another set of information to help people strengthen their skills.

      Why do people have to dive in and focus only on negative assumptions? Let’s focus, instead, on the fact that a group of individuals are trying to help others.

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      1. Fine, but let’s not call that heroism.

        I am fortunate enough to know, and to have known, real heroes. Putting someone who might one day write useful code for WordPress on a par with someone who risked his or her life for the benefit of the rest of us is, quite simply, ridiculous.

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      2. When did the definition of heroism change to mean that someone must risk their life? It’s hard to keep up these days.

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      3. Try reading that again, Justin. I didn’t say that someone must risk this or her life to be considered a hero. Indeed, earlier in this thread, I said that that was true “often.” (By the way, my OED confirms that interpreation. It was published in 1995. So it really is time you caught up.)

        But I can spell it out this way:

        What would you call someone who risked their life for the benefit of others?

        Now what would you call someone who writes good code for WordPress? (I’d certainly agree that someone like Alan Turing is a hero. But a WordPress developer?)

        Maybe you are happy to apply the same label to both.

        I see application of the same label as a demeaning trivialization of the former’s conduct, and an unjustified aggrandizement of the latter’s.

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      4. Your OED is a bit dated. :)

        I didn’t say that someone must risk this or her life to be considered a hero.

        No, you didn’t say that directly. I figured it didn’t hurt to draw my own conclusions about what you said since you did the same with HeroPress.

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      5. In other words, Justin, you haven’t found another dictionary that says different. Good to know :)

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      6. No, I was simply making a joke. I even put a little smiley next to it so that you’d know I was joking in case the true nature of the statement didn’t come through in the text. It obviously didn’t in my first reply. Hence, the smiley in my second reply.

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      7. Next time my 4 year old son tells me that I’m his hero I’ll make sure to tell him: “Hey, NOT COOL, MAN. Serious people on the internet have had the privilege to know real hero’s.”

        Then I’ll turn on QVC and buy him an OED.

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      8. Why isn’t that cool? He’s four. You’re not.

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  10. It seems people have forgotten how to read in recent years. Read a headline or a blip and cast judgement.

    The whole premise isn’t about elevating the speakers as “heros.” It’s about bringing collective experience from successful people and turning people all over the globe into “heros.”

    From the Kickstarter page:
    “one goal in mind: to provide information, insight, and inspiration to WordPress developers all around the world that will help them become WordPress Heroes.”

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  11. The real problem here is this (and IMO, it’s way simpler than we’re making it out to be): It’s their responsibility to write copy that helps us understand 1) why we need this and 2) what they’re providing. I think they just did a poor job writing their copy and need to revisit it, based on a more standard sales page formula (what’s the pain point you’re addressing, how are you going to address it, who are you, and what do you want us to do). If they had really done that well, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. And the thing is, I bet they KNOW all of that stuff.

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    1. Interestingly we put a ton of work into the copy. Perhaps we over thinked it. We’ve already made adjustments based on feedback, and I’m sure we’ll make more.

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      1. Hi Topher – I LOVE what you’re doing, BTW. I hope you do exceedingly well with it.

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  12. Is this going to showcase the usual “top 10 WordPressers” that are always on every article/podcast about WordPress or will “lesser known WordPressers” be showcased?

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    1. Had never been on WordPress podcast in my life. ;)

      Seriously though, the first 6 speakers are listed on kickstarter page, would you say there is too much “rockstarness” going on? It wasn’t my impression.

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      1. Rarst, don’t take this sentence personally but: Before you commented on this post, I didn’t know you even existed.

        I clicked on your name link to your site, looked at it, even read the “visa requirement” post.

        Every “WordPress Rockstar” was an unknown at some point. I would like more WordPressers around the world to be interviewed/highlighted.

        WordPressers from Switzerland, Croatia, Ukraine, Peru, Egypt, and more.

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      2. Our intention isn’t to highlight the speakers. They’re not the Heroes. Our intention is to ask people who know the answers to specific problems to speak to those problems. The heroes are the people who are listening. They’re already awesome, they just need some info, direction, and wisdom. Then we get out of the way.

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      3. Ah, I forgot to mention that we already have some future speakers in mind or already committed in Pakistan, Egypt, Bulgaria, and other places.

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  13. What is the difference between HeroPress highlighting WordPressers and WPTavern writing about them or Jeff incluing WordPressers in the podcast?

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  14. It all sounds great to me – I don’t pick up on the hero “worship” angle at all. In fact, I think it seems pretty inspirational. I do agree that some gender diversity is needed, and there’s definitely no lack of awesome women in the WordPress community. Right off the top of my head, here are some WP Hero’s I’d like to see on the list once the project gets moving –

    – Mika Epstein
    – Helen Hou-Sandi
    – Tracy Levesque
    – Tammie Lister
    – Caroline Moore
    – Sarah Gooding
    – Michelle Schulp
    – Suzette Franck
    – Andrea Middleton

    – those are all people who’ve inspired or moved me in some way, whether through their work, their writing, through hearing them speak, or through their contributions to the community.

    Looking forward to watching this project grow!

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    1. I’m flattered to be included on a list of people (women specific) that were able to inspire anyone in some way. That always makes me happy to know I made a difference. I think we’ve all got great stories of those people that were able to bring us into the community and nurture us into the people we are now, I know I do!

      That being said, in keeping of the spirit of this project I think it would be more interesting to hear from women outside the north american region, especially with the context of gender and technology careers in different cultures.

      In terms of heroes, I like to think of it in the way people say “my mom is my hero” or “my teacher is my hero,” not because they fight fires or invented a cool thing or defend our country or somehow “saved the day” (though those things are all awesome and important) but because they were able to be personally inspirational to someone else to help them achieve things. In that sense I think we should all strive to be heroes to each other!

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  15. Yeah, I interpreted the video the same as Tom. The “heroes” of the title does not refer to the speakers, but to the people that he hoped to reach and inspire to become a more active part of the community.

    The representation of the set of speakers is certainly something to consider and critique. But people are ignoring the much more important representation of the audience. The goal of ensuring the videos are well translated and accessible across languages/cultures is actually a pretty cool move, and a really important thing if WordPress’ global expansion is not going to end up with a bunch of splintered communities and dev tracks.

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  16. The focus of this project is to educate and encourage developers around the world. Those are the real Heros in WordPress, and that’s the reason the project has been named as such.

    I am excited to see the potential in this idea. Thousands of people around the world will benefit from this, and I see no overt or covert plans to exclude any demographic; in fact, that appears to be the entire point of this project.

    There is a clear calling in the WP community these days for all of us to do what we can to contribute. I think we need to applaud people working to help the community, and look for ways we can do it more in our own lives.

    Let’s stop being critical of those willing to take big risks with big ideas and look for ways we can contribute to multiply their potential.

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    1. Criticsm is part of free speech and how we all evolve.

      My criticism is that I don’t want to hear from just the “usual suspects”. I want to hear from others across the world.

      Maybe a Klingon or two.

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      1. Tell those Klingons they need to watch their mouths. This is a family place!

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      2. @Miroslav, you’re exactly right, and I feel the same way about “the ususal suspects.” Perhaps in my last paragraph I shouldn’t have used the work “critical,” as constructive criticism is a way that we can contribute to the growth of any idea. I guess I meant more along the lines of “attacking.”

        I get the impression that the precise mission of this project is to expand to hear from others across the world. Especially with the conversation going on right now about HeroPress, I imagine that there will be an even more varied group of speakers after this initial round of episodes.

        Frankly, I’d like to hear from some Bronies myself. :D

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  17. While the copy on Kickstarter leaves a bit to be desired, it’s definitely readable and understandable (the video is much better). It seems a number of people either didn’t read the copy or watch the video.

    Then there are folks who get caught up on the wrong things. What if it was called “NinjaPress” or “Rock-starPress”? Would we be arguing about ninja worship or rock-star worship? I actually like the term “hero”. There are some true heroes to me in the WordPress community. These are people who have shaped my life both on a personal and career level. The idea behind this project is to help others become heroes. What does it matter if the people it helps never become heroes to the community or the world? Maybe those people will become heroes to their children or their local communities via their work with WordPress.

    What really set a number of people off is a lead WordPress developer publicly putting down a project that seems to be, in all honesty, trying to do something beneficial for others. This can be a death sentence for such a project.

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  18. It’s a case of very poor word choice, not exactly an anomaly within the cult of WordPress. Even the kickstar uses terminology like “You really believe in the power of WordPress” .. Reality check anyone?

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