About this episode.
The podcast today features Josepha Haden Chomphosy.
Josepha is the Executive Director of the WordPress project, and as such, she has been at the forefront of WordPress’ evolution for many years. For the last six years, Josepha has worked full time on the project, and has been the release lead, as well as being involved with community events.
Many of the WordPress updates that you’ve seen recently have been under her stewardship, and she’s heavily involved in the project’s roadmap, and so talking with her about the past, present and future of WordPress seemed like the perfect topic.
Briefly, the points discussed are:
- Josepha’s discovery of WordPress and its community;
- how she considers that community in the many decisions she needs to make to push the project forward;
- who can be involved and how one can join in;
- the release of Gutenberg and how the turbulence of its introduction into WordPress core led her to rethink how the community is involved in such releases;
- the concern that contributors are sometimes working in ways that are not sustainable;
- how Josepha wants to ensure that contributors have the tools that they need to do their work; and
- how she wants to leverage LearnWP to make it easier for WordPress’ growing audience to make the most of the software.
If any of the points raised here resonate with you, please leave a comment below.
If you have any thoughts on what we should include in future episodes of the podcast, please go to the podcast contact form and tell us what you think.
Mentioned in this episode.
- Josepha’s ‘Big Picture Goals 2021’ post
- Site Editing Milestones
- Making WordPress Releases Easier
- WordPress Contributors Discuss Scaling Back Releases: “4 Major Releases Is Not a Viable Plan in 2021”
- The first episode of Josepha’s podcast, WP Briefing
- Josepha’s personal blog
Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to the first edition of the WP Tavern podcast, which we’re calling Jukebox. My name is Nathan Wrigley and as this is the first ever episode of the podcast, I’m going to spend a few moments, setting your expectations. Our aim here is to create a podcast and transcript for people who are interested in WordPress and the WordPress community.
As a starting point, we’re going to produce one episode each month, but that may change down the road. We’re not bound to any particular subject, so it might be an interview with a core contributor one time and an organizer of WordCamps the next. A panel discussion about a broad subject, such as the future of WordPress or an episode about a very specific topic.
As I say, we’re not bound to anything except that it’s going to have WordPress at its heart.
With that in mind, it would be great to receive suggestions from you, the audience. I’d like to hear from you directly about what you’d like the podcast to feature. That may be a topic that you’re curious about, a person that you’d like to hear from or anything else that comes to mind.
You can do that by going to wptavern.com forward slash contact forward slash Jukebox. And there you’ll find a form to complete. Once again, that URL, wptavern.com forward slash contact forward slash Jukebox, and thanks in advance to anyone who reaches out.
Okay. So the podcast today features Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Josepha is the executive director of the WordPress project. And as such, she has been at the forefront of WordPress’ evolution for many years. For the last six years, Josepha has worked full time on the project and has been the release lead as well as being involved with community events.
Many of the WordPress updates that you’ve seen recently have been under her stewardship, and she’s heavily involved in the project’s roadmap, and so talking with her about the past present and future of WordPress seemed like the perfect topic. We talk about her discovery of WordPress and its community and how she considers that community in her decisions. Who can be involved and how. We also get into the subject of Gutenberg and how the turbulence of its introduction into WordPress core led her to rethink how the community is involved in such releases. Towards the end, we discuss how, in the future, Josepha wants to ensure that contributors have the tools that they need to do their work and how she wants to leverage LearnWP to make it easier for WordPress’ growing audience to make the most of the software. If any of the points raised here resonate with you be sure to head over and find the post at wptavern.com forward slash podcast, and leave a comment there. And so without further delay, I bring you Josepha Haden Chomphosy.
I am here with Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Josepha, welcome to the podcast.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:03:42] Thanks for having me, Nathan.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:03:43] You’re very welcome. Now it strikes me, it is possible that there are some people out there in the WordPress community who don’t actually know who you are and what your role is. So the first question is exactly that. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what your role is in WordPress?
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:04:00] Yeah. Well, my name, as you mentioned is Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I am the executive director of the WordPress project. And, I help to make sure that whatever the vision is of the technology and the community and the ecosystem around it has everything that it needs to succeed, and so I look after the people who are here contributing, and I look after the tools that they need in order to contribute, and of course, look after all of our products, our events in person and online, as well as our CMS and all of the kind of design and stuff that goes into it.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:33] So quite a lot. Yeah, quite a lot. About that, what do you find yourself doing on a day-to-day basis other than coming on podcast episodes like this? What typically would you find yourself doing in a normal week?
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:04:45] Yeah. In a normal week, I probably have about 50% of my time is taken up with meetings either in voice or video or on Slack, and a huge amount of my time is helping to make decisions from like the medium to large scale of things. And so, yeah, it’s a lot of talking to people, making sure that I know what they need, making sure that I know how to get them what they need once we get there. And yeah, it’s mostly, I guess, mostly my job is talking, planning and solving problems, which frankly sounds like a fun job to me. I realize not everyone.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:24] No, that sounds good to me. Did you start with WordPress a very long time ago? Is this something you’ve been doing for a really long time? In other words, what’s your path? How did you get to where you are now from where you first made contact with a CMS called WordPress?
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:05:37] Yeah, I think at this point I’m technically considered a WordPress veteran, but I actually have not been in the project for as long as some people have. I first discovered, learned the word WordPress in 2009. My mom actually introduced me to the CMS. In 2010, I started, my local community with a couple of other folks in Kansas City, and then it kind of all grew from there. I actually have been, I just recently passed my six year anniversary with being a full time sponsored contributor through Automattic. So yeah, I think that makes me technically a veteran of WordPress. Matt and I were talking about that during WordCamp India this past weekend.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:06:20] You obviously liked the sort of the FOSS model that we’ve got in the WordPress community. I don’t know if you have a history of working in industry or something like that. Is this the kind of community, the kind of decision-making process that speaks to you where there’s an open way of doing things, which can be different to a more top down approach in business.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:06:39] Yeah. I came into WordPress and into leadership probably from a pretty unusual path. And so there’s that to start with. I’m not a natural born leader. I spent a lot of time learning how to do it. And as I was learning all about how to lead the way that made the most sense to me from the start was leading from within and leading from whatever seat you happen to occupy in your group at the time. And so it’s a lot of this concept of servant leadership and a lot leading groups as they exist as their own organism, as opposed to top down, just like trying to manage them. I really love group dynamics and leading mass groups of people. It is a particular passion of mine. And there are times when you do have to just say, I’m sorry, everyone, I know that this doesn’t make us happy, but we’ve got to do this because we must do this for the health of our organization or whatever it is, you know, like mask mandates to be terribly topical.
In my experience of working with nonprofits and volunteering during the course of my life. There was no other leadership style that really was as sustainable and resilient and brought people into the organization as much as this kind of style of leadership that I have now. And it happens to fit really, really well in open source and for the most part also fits really, really well in WordPress. So I guess I kind of just got lucky.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:08:13] Yeah, it’s a really nice community to be in. And it occurs to me that many people that interact with WordPress will, well, I say many people, I don’t know what the figures would be, but they would go and download the software let’s say from wordpress.org and upload it to their server, and they’re good to go. That’s their relationship with WordPress. They’re happy with that. They use it. New features come out and they’re delighted. It’s great. New features come out and they’re kind of concerned and that’s great. How do things actually get done though? How is the project moving forward? I suppose it boils down to who makes the decisions, but also what is the consultation approach? How does the consultation occur to iterate the project forward? Because I suspect there will be many people listening to this who will have, no conception of how that’s done or how the software got to where it is today, as opposed to two years ago.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:09:01] Yeah. I’m going to answer that question in two parts. The first part I’m going to take is how are these decisions generally made? And that part comes with a big caveat of… in a perfect situation, this is how this will occur. And then the second thing that I want to address in there is the question of how it probably should happen, especially for open source at scale as WordPress is.
So to answer the first part. The way that I always want it to work. And the way that when things are optimally occurring, these decisions should be made. A good idea can come from anywhere. And so anytime that a contributor brings a good idea to their team rep or to me, or to a trusted fellow contributor, and they want to get an idea of whether it would succeed or not. There is historically this idea of feature proposals, which we do in some of our teams right now, but not in all of our teams where that idea gets a review from the full community, or however many people are showing up on the blog at the moment. And after they’ve had a bit of a conversation figured out the rough parts figured out what the solution, what the problem is they’re trying to solve what the users most beneficial way forward would be, once they figure all those things out, then they bring it to in a lot of cases, Matt, in a lot of cases, me, and then we figure out based on feedback from team reps and committers and major maintainers and contributors, what are the things that we need to know about these proposals to make sure that we get the right decision in place. That is how it should work if everything’s optimal right now, there are a lot of places where people don’t feel like they are able to raise their voice for questions. There are a lot of places where there is not enough support either from the volunteers who are showing up or just from the concept of the overall roadmap, where the people aren’t there to help make the, make it past that first hurdle of, someone help me figure out if this is a good idea. For the 40% of the web that we’re supporting. And so that’s how it should work optimally. It doesn’t always work perfectly well. In cases where anyone gets a proposal or a suggestion that is, has not been discussed in their community, and hasn’t been discussed in the project and we have to kind of figure out ad hoc, what is the right way forward here?
I actually do have a number of the people that I personally speak to, to get advice on the best way forward. I’ve got some technical people who’ve been in the project for ages that I look to for advice. I reach out to some of the industry partners. I hesitate to call WordPress an industry. For some reason. The WordPress ecosystem sustaining partners, we have folks like the people over at SiteGround or Yoast or depending on who I need to talk to any other sort of company that fits in with the questions that I have, and then a bunch of our long-term community maintainers, people like Andrea Middleton or folks like that who can make sure that I understand what all of our benefits are, what all of our risks are, what all the hurdles are like. It’s been a long time since one person could do all of this work, reliably alone. And so I make a strong use of a bunch of really dedicated contributors, I would say people who are really looking out for the community and I reach out to them quite frequently.
As far as how it should go in the future, I do think that most of the lessons in the cathedral and the Bazaar, which is kind of the canonical source of how to do open source were written for much smaller projects than we are. And so I think that, there’s a feeling right now in the community of there is this cathedral and it’s not the community, the community is the Bazaar.
And on the one hand, I think that is true. Like the community itself does represent this beautiful chaotic kind of crackling energy sort of thing that we have. But I actually think our community, as small as it is compared to the number of users that WordPress has is actually that central part of what makes WordPress successful and functional. And the bizarre is actually all of those users that we don’t have any access to. Access to… that sounds really weird. We don’t have any way to talk to predictably right now. And so I think that we are due for a change in our mindsets around that it is, a one percenter thing to be able to contribute to an open source project. And we should not be forgetting that we are building this on behalf of a huge portion of the population,
Nathan Wrigley: [00:13:54] One of the things which seems to crop up from time to time is exactly what you’ve just mentioned. That the user base is enormous, but the community of people who are actually building it is obviously much smaller. And whether there’s a disconnect, in some instances between what the, as you described, the 1% might feel is required, and the Bazaar, if you’d like what they feel is required. And I really, struggle to understand how on earth one would communicate between those two different sides of the coin. If you liked it, we really want you to understand that this is what we’re proposing, this is what we feel is the future for WordPress, but how do we join those two streams together? Over here, the cathedral over here, the bazaar, and I just don’t even know how to square that circle and imagine that’s an enormous challenge.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:14:42] Yeah, it is. So, reconciling the question of building for all of our users versus building for all of our developers or for all of our, what I call our extender community. It’s a really hard task. Every feature that gets put into WordPress, whether it’s the CMS or how we manage a team or how we put our tools together. Every single feature decision that’s made is made with the best knowledge that anybody has at that moment for one, and for two, the closer and closer you get into the really heart of the work being done on the project, the more and more that you are trying to make decisions for all of core and all of the active contributors and all of the theme authors and plugin authors and all of the users of WordPress and all of their visitors to their websites. That is a huge burden. You have to think about so many groups and the community reminds me personally of this a lot. Like it comes up frequently that, we, I’m told, don’t know who our audience is and on the one hand that’s right, we don’t literally know every single type of visitor that we have here. And every single type of thing that people are building using WordPress. And on the one hand, like that’s the beauty of it is that we don’t have to know who you are to want to give you the freedoms of open-source. And on the other hand, it does really bring up a lot of, for a lot of people, some ethical questions of, should we be making decisions on behalf of other people. But I honestly, Helen said it in a core chat a few months ago, when you are making software, you’re always making decisions on behalf of other people.
Even if you do know exactly who you’re talking to. And so it’s not necessarily possible to talk to all of our audiences at the same time and it’s definitely not possible to make all of our audiences, all of our users happy in one go, but the blizzard community pretty famously many, many years ago said we serve a majority group of minority voices and we will always make someone mad and we just want to not always make the same people mad because then we’re making blind choices or at least biased choices. I think about that often.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:12] So when decisions are made which the community, maybe 50% of them are going in one direction and 50% think actually this doesn’t seem like the right direction. Good example may be when 5.0 came along and Gutenberg, I should say Gutenberg because that’s probably more correct, was put into core that obviously there was a real bifurcation of where the community was going at that point to some extent. How do you cope with that kind of thing? How do you tackle when people are disgruntled, when people are bringing things to you where they’re dissatisfied or they believe they’ve somehow been ignored? Is it a question of saying to them, look, you just need to be involved. If you’re involved, then we know what you’re saying. How do you deal with it?
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:17:51] Yeah. Well, I first have to say that I think that communities that are comfortable dissenting, are really healthy. When we see groups of people, when we see communities where people are all constantly, always agreeing and always in the same direction, it looks great on the outside, but from the standpoint of a maintainer of that community, cause I’m a maintainer of the WordPress community itself. That is a really unhealthy organization when I wasn’t hearing anything from anyone except for when they were, shouting at each other on Twitter, that was a sign of real organizational unhealth in my mind. So I think that healthy organizations are ones that are comfortable enough to say I do have worries about this. Cause if we don’t know where the worries are, we don’t know how to make solutions to avoid the worries. But I never did say to anyone and I don’t feel like the answer was well, if you’re upset about it, you should get in here.
I don’t think that’s a fair response, especially because like I said earlier, contributing to open source is a really, really privileged thing to do. You got to have a lot of extra time to do that. And, time is money in a lot of cases. And so I never did say that. I actually, 5.0 merge was really, really hard, that whole process and not a lot of people believed in the way forward on it. And they were raising the concerns, but this was the vision that had been set out. And so what I did was not to say, well, if you’re mad show up and do some work on things, what I did was say, Hey, I know you’re mad and I’m going to come and let you tell me how mad you are. And I actually did a six month listening tour. To hear what everyone was the angriest about. And it led up to a very lengthy 5.0 slash block editor merge retrospective post, where I had spoken to basically all of the committers, basically everyone who was writing code to create Gutenberg, everyone who was writing the core code to make sure that it was ready and a bunch of our agencies in the ecosystem, a bunch of our theme authors and plugin authors. I spoke to a ton of people over those six months just to see what they were the angriest about. And we’ve been since then making changes to fix it. It is fair that they were worried and it’s fair that they had something to say about that. And I don’t think, I never did think, that the right answer was to say, well, If you’ve got an anger, you got a job. That’s not what they were trying to tell me. You know.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:20:28] It seems that you’re concerned with communicating and making sure that communication out to the community is a part of your role, and although I don’t really want to go into this in great depth. You’ve recently launched a bite-size if you like, a short 10 minute to 12 minute length podcast, every couple of weeks, we’ve got two episodes so far, it’s called WP Briefing. Is that an effort from you to try and get the message out in a different way that people can consume. Bite-sized, often, easy to understand.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:20:57] Yeah. So something like this, a way for WordPress leadership to communicate more frequently, and with a little bit more ease has been on my list of goals, list of needs that the WordPress project needs since about 2018. I did not think that I was going to be the one to do it. I was hoping that we would get a more technology project sort of person available, but at the end of the day, I was talking through it with Matt, at sometime last year, sometime in 2020 and we both kind of collectively came to the decision that, yeah, it would be nice to have some technology folks. So the way that I hope that we can do open source in WordPress and the way that I hope that we can, that I can lead a group of people while always remembering their humanity and always adhering to my concept of basic ethical practices at scale. Like why wouldn’t I be the person who should show up and say, hey, this is how I think that… we can do this in WordPress. I think it’s a good opportunity for people to hear what goes into WordPress, because it’s really easy to be like WordPress is free and it’s just available by magic, and you don’t know that there are 2000 volunteer contributors that show up every single week to make that happen for 40% of the web. You just don’t know what you don’t know when you’re first getting involved in WordPress. And so like this, I think is a good opportunity to uncover all of the hard work of the community.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:22:37] I agree. I think it’s a great initiative. I’m going to pivot the conversation slightly because we’ve had Gutenberg for several years now and we’ve got a big year ahead. There’s an awful lot going on. If you’ve been following the roadmap, you’ll understand that this year is a really, really major year. So I’m just wondering where we’re at, what is in store for this year and how you feel we’re aligned to deliver on the things that you hope in your aggressive roadmap. What’s the chances of achieving them all?
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:23:05] Yeah, firstly, I do see all of the flags being raised about my aggressive timeline and my incredibly full set of goals for the WordPress project for the year, and there is a lot out there and I know tha. I am fully prepared to say that, at the end of the year, we’re going to look back and we will have missed some of those goals. And that’s going to be fine too, for a lot of things. Now, the one that is really, really raising, some eyebrows is this full site editing merge, and the merge process. Last time, you know, it took us a whole year, and so the idea that we can say at the start of 2021, we’re going to get it in by the summer has been really, really shocking to folks because it cuts that time in half. And on the one hand yeah, it is, it’s really aggressive, but on the other hand, I know absolutely that the community can rise to that challenge. Like we always do. It’s a lovely group of people that really show up to make the best solution for the WordPress users that they can, and I have been really pleased to see all of the work that’s gone into full site editing over the last 12 months already and longer technically, but definitely the last 12 months it’s made huge strides.
So I want to clarify for all of your listeners that like the first primary target date to look out for is that April 2021 date. That’s what I am considering the go, no go date because I will never take something that is super duper broken and users can’t use, and say we’re getting it in to 5.8 because I made a promise to myself. Like I’m not going to ship a broken tool when I can help it. And there is probably, I think if my guess is right, there’s going to be a Gutenberg plugin release on the 17th of April and then the 23rd of April as well. And those will be our two moments when we can say we believe we can do this.
And there’s been a lot of discussion around okay, but what is the MVP that you think is going to get in there? And I have been directing people to these milestones that there’s this ticket that has the milestones for full site editing, and we did clear one of those milestones and are getting it ready for testing right now. And this is an unofficial concept of the MVP, but I do think I’m right about this. The guiding question that I have been asking myself as I am watching full site editing, kind of get pulled together is could I using the blocks available, pull together the major functional parts of a campaign landing page.
That is what I’m using as my guiding light for do I think this is ready or not? And, you know, campaign landing pages, that’s like the smallest sentence of a smallest viable sentence. It is the I am of websites. Right. Like, you’ve got your header and footer. You’ve got your hero image. You probably have a button on the hero or a slider if you’re feeling fancy and then you’ve got text, you need to have a form you need to have a way to have a call to action. It is a functional website on its own. But it is the smallest version of a website. And so the question that I have is can you without code, pull that together? And I don’t know if that is, for instance, like Mathias Ventura. I don’t know if that is the guiding question that he’s asking himself as he’s looking toward what makes an MVP possible, but it’s hard to build software in the open, right? And so like you have to have a big enough goal so that you can display a plausible promise, to the users so that you can say this is what we believe this is going to look like, but not so big that you have gotten so far ahead of them that they don’t feel like they can catch up and finding that really narrow space between far enough that you can tell what it’s supposed to be, but that you don’t feel overwhelmed by how much has changed is really hard to get to. And so that’s why I’m bringing us into some really clear focus around like we’re driving to April so that we can ask ourselves as we go, those really poignant questions of does this get us closer to the MVP? Does this help us solve this problem for our users? Because honestly, full site editing is this intersection of the promise of the technology and the promise of the philosophy. This is where the rubber meets the road on what we’ve been saying about Gutenberg for so long, all of our promise lies in here. And so, it’s important to get the tool right, but it’s also important to get the proper landing area for the first foray of the tool, right.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:57] Okay. So I’ll link in the, in the show notes that we put together for this I’d link to your big picture goals, 2021 article, which promoted the debate about the MVP, but I’ll also make sure to link to the site editing milestones GitHub piece as well so that people can figure out exactly what’s going on.
Just turning away from the full site editing thing, as much as I want to keep talking about that. There’s more going on, isn’t there because in the near future, you’re highlighting a couple of other things, the need for LearnWP to become a real resource for people to get up to date, upskill their interactions with WordPress, and also contributor tools, and although we haven’t got a lot of time for those, maybe pick one of those and tell me why you’re so bullish about those.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:28:38] Gosh, let’s go with Learn. I’m bullish about contributor tools because I desperately want our community to have tools that are easy to use.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:28:45] Okay. That’s good. Yeah.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:28:48] I’m really excited for the work on Learn for a number of reasons. For one, we are a global project and right now, so much of our training about how to even get your bearings in WordPress before you are able to get to the 101 content that’s out there happens at an event. And in order to get to an event, you have to pay basically three ways. You have to pay with your money in a lot of cases, you have to pay with your time. And for any entrepreneur, you’re also potentially paying with an opportunity cost. All the time that you spend there, not only are you not working, but you’re also not working to fill your funnel. And so finding a way to take that training opportunity and remove as many barriers as possible and make it available online for anyone who needs it, to be able to get to no matter where they are, that is so important to me and so compelling. That’s my big picture, hope there. And right now there are still quite a few barriers to entry. We mostly have English based workshops and tutorials there. And so if any of your listeners are interested in joining that effort, we need a lot of translations. We need a lot of workshops\ in other languages and various things like that. But I really believe that this is a space where WordPress can be really forward facing in owning the fact that we know how to use our tools the best and that our community is the best group of people to tell each other and to tell future community members what can happen and not happen with WordPress, they are the people who know what is needed. They are the subject matter experts of their own business and their own plugins that they needed to do those things. And so getting that opportunity with as few barriers as possible, but, to really be able to say we are a canonical source of good information about how to use this, especially when you don’t know even remotely what you’re doing yet. I think that’s a good step forward for you.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:30:52] Yeah. With any software with just about any product, in fact, in the world, having fantastic documentation that you can understand and consume, and there’s one, as you said, canonical source that you can go to and if it’s not exactly there, you may well pick up another path to finding exactly where it is, and so, I just think that’s such a great thing now that we’re hitting 40% of the internet, this seems like a really valuable project.
With time being limited. I’m going to pivot once more and talk about the longer term, the things that are off in the horizon. And it’s a very broad question because I don’t want to stifle you. What are the things in the longer term, after this year that you’re getting excited about in the WordPress space?
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:31:33] Gosh, you asked me a really big question and I have 20 answers. I’m going to tell you some of the things that I’m super excited about. I am for one super excited about really continuing to remove these barriers to entry for future WordPressers. I define our community as anyone who has interacted with WordPress, whether they know it or not. And at 40% of the web, it is increasingly true that the people in the, don’t know, they interacted with WordPress group is also getting bigger and because the work of all of our contributors, all of our entire community that shows up to help get this done, no matter which team they get it done in, because every time they commit changes to the work and to the greater collective project that they’re working on that change and their name with that change and their work lives in the entire history of that. They add, they take 17 years of learning that came before them add in a new learning based on new information we have today, and then they are forever in the history of what made WordPress successful and getting to a point where our 40% of the web, just websites, and also the people who interact with that 40% have some concept of what goes into that work and this community that is behind it. The more and more that they have a deep understanding of that just like wine appreciation or something, jazz appreciation. The more that you understand that the more that you see the value in what is happening here with open source. Cause you know, open source is a contentious kind of space in the world. If you look at it and how it applies to businesses and how it applies to in some cases, governmental structures and things like that. And I really feel like the more that we dignify the work that goes into this tool, and the more that we can subvert that feeling of WordPress isn’t secure because of whatever reasons, like the more that we can change those narratives, the more that we dignify the professions of all of the WordPress contributors that show up in their very tiny spare time, because they’re giving back to a project that gave them so much in the work that they do today.
I just… this is going to sound really sappy is the honor of my career to be doing this work with WordPressers, and the fact that the general public has a tendency to say Oh, well, WordPress is terrible because it’s by volunteers is just not fair to them and it’s not accurate to what they’re doing either and so I feel like the sooner that we can really shore up this concept of yeah, it is volunteers, but they are all absolutely experts in whatever field they’re in and in their spare time, they give back to something that made them so good. The sooner we can do that for the community as a whole, I think the better just dignifying the profession of being in WordPress.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:42] I’m going anchor my reply to that, to an article that you posted recently called making WordPress releases easier. I’ll link to it in the show notes and on some of the points that you drew out in there, marry perfectly to what you’ve just said, because one of the concerns that you were raising in the longer term is the idea of things like this discussion can came up in the context of the release cycle and whether or not we should be trying to go for a specific number four releases per year, or whether there should be some flexibility there, whatever that number may be. But you express concern for things like developer fatigue and the fact that we need to realign the number of core developers that we’ve got and the number of designers, who are helping in the system. So what were you meaning when you were describing your worry about the developers that were currently using exhibiting signs of fatigue and so on?
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:35:30] As with every single time I talk about the deepest parts of my work… have to start by saying like my whole job is identifying our risks and our most weak places and finding ways to make them stronger and finding ways to steer around the risks that we have, and so sometimes what I say sounds super duper dire, but yeah, in general, I think that WordPress is in a really good space right now. It’s in a really good position, especially considering that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. And so that general context for what I’m about to say, which is going to sound a little dire. We have a number of committers and a number of maintainers that show up to do this work every day. And that is not only for the code, but also for the design work. It’s also for our translations, it’s for folks in the support forums, like all of our 25 teams or something, everyone who shows up to do that work every day. It’s really hard in a global pandemic situation to keep everyone feeling resilient and feeling like everyone around them as a human being and keeping them mindful of the fact that they are also a human being.
Everything is really stressful for the world and for them and for our users and people who are trying to, replace their income by coming up with a WordPress site, using a WooCommerce solution or whatever it is. And it’s… on the one hand true that we would have had a little bit of difficulty with fatigue with our maintainers and committers even before this, but especially right now, especially in the context that we find ourselves in, it’s really hard for people to recharge and all of the work that would have needed to happen in order to get us to four releases this year should have happened in 2020, but we were all really, really focused on pivoting an entire arm of our community into a space that we are not necessarily terribly familiar with online events. It’s just not something that we as a project did a lot of, and so I guess my overall concern is we have two major projects that go at the same time at the same pace and the more and more people use WordPress and Gutenberg, the more and more we have tickets that are opened. And we have roughly the same number of people who can help us to make the decision, write the code create the design, whatever it is, and then review it, test it, commit it. It’s the same general number of people right now as it was in 2019. And it’s getting harder and harder for me to find ways to reliably feel like they’re getting themselves recharged and practicing sustainable self care work.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:24] Is this a job of recruiting more people in or trying to, like you have obviously have been doing trying to get more people in the community involved. Is it a bums on seats to use a crude analogy? Is that what’s required?
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:38:37] I think it’s a bit of both. I think it’s a little bit… Get more people in here who can help us do the work, which is hard to do in a normal setting and is also harder to do when we’re not seeing each other in person. I have a whole thing about that. Um, many, many thoughts, but it’s a little bit getting people in here. And also it’s a little bit making it very clear to the people who are using 100% of their spare time. Like they have two hours a week. And so they did a patch and they showed up and they’re like, please take my patch. And if they know that we don’t have it about 110 people reviewing and testing and committing things, we really have 30. It can help to give those 30 committers a little bit more space because people don’t expect that 30 people can manage 300 new tickets every hour or something. Just to kind of uncover the mountain that we’re working with, I guess, to give everybody a little bit more breathing room, I guess that’s it.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:39:42] Well, Josepha, I know that your time is valuable and I know that I’ve consumed probably already more of it than was allowed. So just I’d just like, say thank you. I know that you have an awful lot sitting on your shoulders, certainly from my part greatest appreciation. Thanks for all the work that you do and thank you for coming on the podcast and talking to me today.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy: [00:39:59] Thanks for having me. I thought this was really fun.
Congrats on the new Podcast Nathan and WPTavern :) We’re expecting great guests like this episode.