63% of WordPress Core Committers Are Not Employed by Automattic

In 2014, we wrote about the trend of more people receiving commit access to WordPress core. Fast forward to the beginning of 2016 and a total of 35 people can commit code to the core of WordPress. Helen Hou-Sandí, WordPress Lead Developer, published the stat on Twitter and notes that 22 out of the 35 committers are not employed by Automattic.

Aaron Jorbin, WordPress Core Developer, published additional statistics on Twitter.

  • Automattic employees made up 20.4% of all commits
  • Employees of 10up represented 18.8% of all commits
  • Scott Taylor represents 18.7% of all commits
  • 13 people had more than 100 commits
  • Self-employed folks represented 9.7% of all commits

Here is the same information in a colorful pie chart:

Core Committer Pie Chart by Aaron Jorbin
Core Committer Pie Chart by Aaron Jorbin

A WordPress core committer is someone who has access to merge code into the WordPress code base, used by millions of people. It’s an enormous responsibility and a recognition of trust, quality, and activity.

In WordPress’ early years, the number of people with commit access consisted of just a handful of people. In 2010, Matt Mullenweg, Co-Founder of the WordPress project, started the process of expanding that number, “One of the goals for the team in 2010 is to greatly expand the number of people with direct commit access, so the emphasis is more on review and collaboration,” he said.

There are a myriad of titles given to people involved in the WordPress project. Here are the main titles used to describe those contributing to core.

  • Release Lead is a temporary title given to those who are leading a WordPress release cycle.
  • Lead Developers are those who influence the project’s direction and are highly involved in the decision-making process.
  • Core Developers are permanent committers.
  • Contributing Developers are guest committers, feature plugin lead developers, and other contributors highlighted by the release lead.

In addition to increasing the number of people with commit access, it’s important to recognize the employment of those individuals. In WordPress’ early days, some people were concerned that too many Automattic employees with commit access meant that the company owned and controlled the project. WordPress development only served the commercial interests of Automattic.

Hou-Sandí’s statistic that 22 out of the 35 core committers are not employed by Automattic is proof that this isn’t the case. It also disproves the theory that Automattic owns and controls WordPress. To say that Automattic is WordPress is false and a slap in the face to the countless number of people who contribute to the project.

If you’d like to be part of the awesome statistics shared above, check out Nacin’s post on the qualities of a great WordPress contributor. Also, if you ever want to know who the people are creating WordPress, visit the About page in the WordPress backend and click the Credits tab.


4 responses to “63% of WordPress Core Committers Are Not Employed by Automattic”

  1. Wonderful post and evermore reason for WordPress core to stop over-emphasizing (read: aggressively promoting) Jetpack and other shoddy applications being hawked by Automattic which are nothing more than an investor-backed abuse of their position to further their corporate WordPress.com profits. Core commits should be focused on open-source benefits and what is “best for the community” and not jerry-rigged hacks that are designed solely for WordPress.com functionality (a proprietary site owned by Automattic).


    TL;DR: time to kill XML-RPC, and Mullenweg needs an attitude check.

    • I kind of do agree with your statement if it wasn’t also meant to attack people while making it. You don’t insult Matt only now but also all the core committers.

      Also as I explained last time XML-RPC doesn’t have to be killed. It’s no as insecure as you make it to be. Instead you and your team should look and see how it can be more secure. You are a host and you see first hand what hackers are trying to do.

  2. *Reads comments. Laughs. That’s so cute. Has more coffee.*

    Thanks Jeff, this was very informative. I think that it’s also useful to see that the other teams in WordPress are also not primarily from Automattic.

    Yes, they do provide a lot of resources. But in Support, Training, Docs, etc. there are so many other volunteers. The whole project really is driven by the community*. You can get a feel for that when you attend Contributor Day at a WordCamp.

    It’s always tempting for people who have a disagreement about or related to WordPress to bring out the “Matt/JetPaCk/Rule The World/EVIL EMPIRE” meme but articles like this help set the record straight.

    *NOTE: Matt and the folks participating are also part of the community. People don’t need to be excluded or treated differently because their employer’s name starts with an A and ends with a C.


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