New User Profile Design Coming to WordPress.org

While many WordPress GSoC projects have focused on improving the core, Mert Yazicioglu submitted a proposal for enhancing profiles on WordPress.org. Although other aspects of WordPress.org have received design and feature updates, the profiles haven’t quite kept pace. As a plugin developer and core contributor, Mert wanted developers to be able to fully represent themselves using their profiles on WordPress.org. He also wanted to make it easier for developers to follow each other’s work and connect with one another through other social networks.

Mert Yazicioglu
Mert Yazicioglu
Enhancing profiles.wordpress.org requires the ability to work with bbPress, BuddyPress, Trac and WordPress. This was not a problem for Mert, a regular WordPress rockstar who was able to jump in right away, despite being relatively new to BuddyPress. “It was really easy to pick it up and I had no trouble working on it back again after more than a year,” he said. “I believe if you’re familiar with WordPress, you’re pretty much already familiar with its sister projects. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of having a quick look at the Codex or the source files.”

Before we get into the details, here is a quick preview of updates Mert has made as well as the new design. The design is still subject to changes but this gives you a general idea of where profiles will be going.

Enhanced Activity Stream for WordPress.org

User profiles on WordPress.org show a person’s involvement with the WordPress project and their activity on site.

For Mert, the most challenging aspect of the project was building the activity stream and creating a design that works well with users of varying levels of activity.

The activity stream took the most of our time and effort so I think that was the most challenging part of the project but if we put the obvious aside, I think the hardest one is to prepare a design that works and looks good with users that have no content and the users that have too much content.

The new profile activity streams track participation on the following:

  • Activities on Plugin and Theme Repositories
  • Support Forums
  • Tracs
  • Make.Wordpress.org Blogs

Mert wrote new plugins that bring instant tracking to each user’s activity stream so visitors can see at a glance what the user has been up to lately.

After deciding which activities should make it to the activity stream, I started writing plugins for each of those platforms (bbPress, Trac and WordPress) that trigger whenever an action takes place and immediately post an activity to the user’s activity stream. So now we can track activities on Plugin and Theme Repositories, Support Forums, Tracs and Make blogs. That means if I release a new plugin, receive props in a commit message, reply to a topic in an international support forum or publish a new blog post in the Make WordPress Core blog, it automatically gets published on my activity stream.

The Possibility of Adding Gamification to WordPress.org Profiles

The enhanced activity stream will provide the groundwork for the possibility of other features that Mert was hopeful to include, such as the ability for users to follow each other, showcase their work and earn recognition for activity on the site.

Initially, my plan regarding the activity stream was more along the lines of just making it more readable. When we started discussing my proposal, Nacin made a really good point saying that being able to collect and store good, sane data is crucial and the other features such as Gamification, Following Each Other and Profiles Homepage should be our next steps. So we decided to build a real activity stream from the ground up as the current one is simply gathering activities from different sources, making it impossible to use as a base for the follow-up features I have just mentioned.

When the new activity stream goes into place, it will be time to discuss which new features to prioritize for making the profiles more social. Mert believes that the WordPress.org community can benefit from adding the dynamic of gamification. Whether that would come in the form of points, badges, progress bars or some kind of virtual currency has not yet been decided. There’s no doubt that gamification is a strong possibility for the future but it will probably be a ways off.

Mert hopes to continue working on profiles as this GSoC project was merely the beginning of what he had hoped to bring to WordPress.org. He said, “I strongly believe that profiles on WordPress.org have great potential and can be the center of the whole WordPress community just by making some simple additions here and there to help people better represent themselves.”

Mert is a student from Ankara, Turkey who is currently pursuing a B.S. degree on Computer Technology and Information Systems at Bilkent University. He is a FOSS enthusiast and an avid WordPress developer who currently works at Izlesene, Turkey’s leading local video network. During his GSoC internship he had the chance to contribute to BuddyPress 1.8 and looks forward to having more time to contribute to the WordPress core. Now that his 2013 project is complete he plans to update WordPress Move, which was his GSoC 2011 project.

I spoke with Scott Reilly, one of Mert’s mentors, who said that the new profile changes should be live on WordPress.org very soon. There will be a transitional time, however, wherein the activity stream section will still be in the old style.

Profiles on WordPress.org are long overdue for some love and it’s exciting to see how they are evolving. An enhanced activity stream on profiles is bound to inspire more connection and collaboration between developers, which strengthens the community and helps us to work faster. What do you think about the new design? Would you be interested in future updates that allow you to follow developers and create a showcase? Do you think gamification can benefit WordPress.org activity and increase contributions?

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