Results From the 2017 WordPress User Survey Are Not Guaranteed to Be Shared

As November edges closer, the countdown to WordCamp US begins. One of the annual traditions that’s part of the event is the WordPress User Survey. The survey is used to gauge who and how people use WordPress. Although the survey says results will be presented at WordCamp US, that hasn’t been the case the last two years.

Astute readers may remember that results from the 2015 survey were not shared. When asked why, Matt Mullenweg replied, “Lots of data to go over, but basically more people are using WordPress, app development is growing, lots of people are making their living with WordPress, and other great trends are showing up,” he said. “We’ll try to do a blog post about it.”

That blog post was never published. Additionally, results from last year’s survey were not shared during the State of the Word or in a blog post.

Thousands of people take the survey providing insight into trends, how people use the software, and demographics. If users voluntarily provide this data to WordPress.org, sharing the results with the public whether it’s a blog post, separate session, or during the State of the Word, would be a nice way to return the favor.

22 Comments


  1. How incredibly frustrating and rude. Did any of the survey questions ask why 75% of website “end-users” or “owners” decide to use something else other than WordPress? While there are countless opinions and theories as to why, survey responses to this kinda question would obviously help determine what’s most important to website end-users and owners. And their opinions are arguably by far the most important since they are the actual “customers.” :)

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  2. I suspect that .org no longer wants to share survey results because the data is not aligned with core devs vision of what WP should be. I can’t remember the year, but on one recent survey, .org found out that 92% of all users were using WP as a full CMS and not just as a blogging tool. Do the math.

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    1. Don’t they want .org to be primarily used as a CMS? That’s all they seem to talk about lately. That x percentage of websites use WordPress.

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      1. Matt keeps talking about gaining market share and making WP a Wix/Squarespace competitor. But he never clarifies if he’s talking about .org or .com.

        Just a friendly reminder, .com is a Wix/Squarespace competitor and that’s where Matt makes his money (along with other Automattic projects).

        Matt can do whatever he wants with .com, but like Robert said, the community wants to use .org as a CMS. It’s pretty clear that the path that Matt wants to take WP has diverged from what the community wants.

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      2. I understand the .org community’s frustrations. However, how many of them would work as hard (and successfully) as Matt has for a free open source service? Many of the folks upset at Matt about .org charge lots of money for their time and services, but are upset that Matt makes money with .com and other projects. That seems pretty hypocritical. As they say, if the product is free, then you’re the product.

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      3. Scott – I don’t think people have any issue with Matt/Automattic making money from WP. The sensitivity, at least for me, is that Matt has a huge say in the course of WP which affects people using .org too. If the .org clients (not the people who provide services around it but the endusers whose sites it powers) have needs and wishes that are different from where .com might need to go then that’s interesting information. It might change core, it might not, but it’s good information to have since it lets us all have a more informed discussion. It also means that some people in the community might find out that there’s interest in a feature set that they then develop as a plugin or as an app on top of a headless WP.

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      4. Hi Matt, I also didn’t mean to imply that people who provide .org services shouldn’t be paid. The problem seems to be that WordPress has morphed into a confusing array of services, at least to the average Joe. It rather quickly, and unexpectantly, went from a free and easy to use blog platform, to a for-free and also for-profit CMS that is one of the most confusing and demanding applications out there. It also requires more plug-ins and add-ons to use than the majority of other applications. For Matt and others, WP seems to have become a two-headed monster (for-free .org vs. for-profit .com). So it wouldn’t surprise me if .com or .org are rebranded so .com can more effectively compete with services like Squarespace. WP isn’t a freemium model, so maybe it doesn’t make sense for them to share the same brand name. But then again, maybe WP could/should switch to some kind of a freemium model?

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    2. When faced with the possibility of a complex conspiracy theory or something just being a stuff up, life experience has taught me to go with the stuff up every time. Others seem to go for the conspiracy theory far too easily IMO.

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  3. I used to enjoy filling this out, looking forward to seeing the trends and how they might impact or enhance my work with clients. But if they’re not going to share the results, which can be beneficial for all concerned with WordPress, that’s really frustrating and doesn’t inspire me to take the survey again.

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  4. Hey Jeff, thanks for raising this issue! The results of the 2015 and 2016 surveys never got published, which was an unintentional oversight. You can expect a post on WordPress News with data from those surveys before the end of the year. :)

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    1. That’s good to hear. I figured if this year’s results are published, it would be a good time to publish the previous years as well. Then everything is ok dokey :)

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    2. Can you please share ALL of the data (Not identifiable stuff of course) but the raw data? Charts etc summarizing the trends are cool, but I know that I’d love to analyze the data in ways that you might not do.

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      1. It might be possible if we take out the free-form survey answers, which might have personally identifiable information, and just left the more quantity-based numbers. Sorry again for the delay, it would have been easy to just put the raw CSV up from Polldaddy but I personally blocked that because of concern of revealing info that people taking the survey might have considered private.

        We’re also open to suggestions if there are any OS projects or tools we can put the data into that allows people to play with it that still protects individual response privacy.

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      2. Yeah, I wouldn’t care about the freeform responses anyway. Obviously, I’d scrub most or all address info (state level location *might* be interesting).

        I’m thinking that it could be helpful to be able to see the raw response data for quantitative things and might help the community understand things about itself. Almost no matter how well one summarizes data from a large survey something gets left out – it’s the nature of the beast. Another option (and this is after a single cup of coffee so I might be missing something) would be to put the data behind a BigQuery project or something similar so people couldn’t get at the data itself but still could analyze it.

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  5. If the survey is run by Automattic, it’s likely a shareholder obligation. If a company collects proprietary information that could be used against Automattic by other companies, Matt & Co have a duty to shareholders to keep the information private.

    I can understand Matt not wanting to see corporatist and put it that bluntly, but it is the most likely explanation that I can see.

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  6. Has anyone noticed the promise on the intro to the 2017 survey?

    It says:
    “Your answers will help lots of people in the WordPress community, and results will be presented at WordCamp US in December.”

    I guess I’ll take and look for the results!

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  7. <- adds a comment in the next free form area of next survey suggesting that they add a radio button to check and allow my freeform comments to appear publicly unedited, and check a second box to agree that I have removed any personally identifiable info from said freeform box.

    having a second freeform box that is private, not to be shared, like the vbulletin support forms would be nice as well.

    quietly wonders how many people actually read my last free form comments, noticed none were ever published, and much like buddypress not much has changed.

    Understands the dev cycle has priorities that may not align with mine, wishes others could consider my feedback publicly and perhaps make something that would work with those thoughts – so if they were published that could happen.

    In the past year found two plugins that make WP into static files, have now deleted a dozen WP installs that no longer need updating or get hacked – already saved days of this life. Glad comments appear at the tavern at least (well most of my comments ;)

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  8. It would be disappointing if results from surveys launched on WordPress.org weren’t publicly shared. We who contribute to the project expect transparency in all our work, with the goal to democratize publishing by sharing WordPress across the ecosystem from source code to documentation and other resources.

    The WordPress Marketing Team has published it’s WordPress Usage Survey Report polling agencies and their clients, along with web hosting companies and enterprises, about their use of WordPress and their perspective on the web platform. We released the report in our handbook as a takeaway PDF with a CC0 license for the public domain, which is the standard for documents on WordPress.org (at least according to @otto42 on the Meta team).

    We had to edit out comments mentioning companies, products, and services other than WordPress as the subject of the survey and in line with the Privacy Policy. We knew and expected that with any open-ended questions. I suggest that whoever manages this WordPress User Survey follow our example, and freely share the information they are collecting as appropriate.

    Here’s the announcement to access the WordPress Usage Survey Report:
    https://make.wordpress.org/marketing/2017/11/02/wordpress-usage-survey-report-published/

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    1. Hi David, thanks a lot for the link. I’m doing some research to improve my Meta Box plugin and it’s really helpful!

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      1. Your welcome Anh. Thanks for the feedback!

        With all the discussion about the direction of WordPress around the Gutenberg project, it’s very important to look at how the platform is used as a CMS, and how developers like you are working on that across the ecosystem. Seems to be an assumption that WordPress primarily serves bloggers, maybe that’s a confusion about WordPress.com versus WordPress.org.

        We don’t have big data that analyzes how WordPress is used across the spectrum, but who does? We do see snippets about it’s growth and about the Community, but there’s much more to dig in to and learn. Marketing WordPress doesn’t have the resources to address those larger questions, while we do hope that tapping a dedicated focus group can help understanding of the professional usage of the platform.

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