State of the Word Idea: Remembering Those We’ve Lost in the WordPress Community

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Later this week, nearly 2,000 people will be in Philadelphia, PA to attend WordCamp US, the annual conference devoted to WordPress. One of the event’s highlights is Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word presentation. In it, Mullenweg shares data on WordPress’ growth throughout the year and gives insight to where the project is heading.

About a week before his presentation, Mullenweg asks members of the WordPress community for feedback. Questions include:

  1. What are the things you’re most proud of WordPress or people in the community doing over the past year?
  2. Have there been people who you feel have influenced the project in a big way, including yourself, and how?
  3. What do you think we should focus on and work on the most in the next year?
  4. Any stories you’ve heard with or around WordPress that you think deserve being highlighted?
  5. Anything else?

This year, the most important question he asks is number five. Each year during the State of the Word, Mullenweg highlights new and existing contributors and we as a community cheer and celebrate them. This year, we’ve lost some incredibly talented and important people in the community.

I suggest that Mullenweg adds one slide to his presentation that remembers the lives of those lost in the community this year. The slide should have Gravatars or photos and the names of those who passed away. Here are a few people who would be on the slide.

If you’re in favor of this idea and know someone in the WordPress community who passed away this year, please leave a comment with their name and if possible, a link to their obituary.

WordPress is a 12-year-old open source software project that will likely survive long after the people who help maintain it pass on. Adding a slide to the State of the Word that remembers contributors who passed away during the year is a small price to pay. It also humanizes the software and serves as a reminder that without contributors, WordPress wouldn’t exist.

20 Comments


  1. I think this is a GREAT idea… I expounded on the “Digital remembrances” many times… when I learned of Alex King’s passing and reading some background bio, I thought of the “Hello Dolly” plugin. I thought it would be nice to have some similar remembrance (i.e. continuing his works, bio, etc.). The ‘humanity’ quote, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” from Albert Einstein came to mind when I read this.

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  2. I think this is a wonderful idea Jeff. I think this has been an impactful year when it comes to losses in the WordPress community. Of course projects are going to lose people, but to lose four in one year is a hard thing. I personally knew Kim, and so I took that one really hard. I also took Alex’s passing really hard because Alex had a huge influence on WordPress’s growth in terms of accessibility. He was never officially part of the accessibility team, but he advocated for accessibility both within the WordPress project itself and within the wider community. I think a slide during the State of the Word address isn’t asking too much.

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  3. I never heard of Clint Warren & Jacqueline Jiminez.

    Maybe he should highlight contributors from around the world? When was the last time you heard about anyone from the WP in Croatia? Serbia? Kosovo? Iran? Peru? Mozambique?

    I mean, outside the annual WordCamp…”hey, xyz is having a wordcamp” “wrap up of wordcampxyz”. That’s all you ever hear from outside the members of the WP community from “popular countries”.

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    1. It is for WordCamp USA, so I think in this context that would seem somewhat out of place.

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      1. Not diminishishing anyones loss but well its State of the Word. Aint that suppose to be global and not US centric?
        I thought State of the word was a global all inclusive thing for the WP community as a whole.

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    2. If you will start new blog about community from Mozambique just keep in mind, that in that country just about 5% of population have access to internet so you have probably to travel there with pencil and paper and make interview like that ;)

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  4. Jacqueline Jiminez. All I know about her (Right now) is a twitter status. I will google her and Clint Warren after typing this.

    I think Jeff could (and Matt as well) do a post once a week or a month about members of the WordPress community, outside USA/Canada/UK/the Justin Tadlocks/the Andrew Nacins…nothing against Justin and Andrew.

    If I was to list the top WordPress community members…both Justin and Andrew…what about people in the community that DON’T make it to the list. Get my idea?

    AGAIN, NOTHING AGAINST JUSTIN AND NACIN. THEY ARE BOTH WONDERFULLY AWESOME.

    What about talking about some of the members of our community that are not the popular ones? The “top” / “popular” members of our community started as nobodies who worked up to the top of those lists.

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    1. Isn’t HeroPress already doing a good job of this? Not saying we can’t chime in as well.

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      1. In that train of though…out of the 100 blog posts we see about the new WordPress version coming out, #2-#100 shouldn’t be posted?

        HeroPress, you, everyone else has their own perspective.

        Also. how many people can HeroPress highlight a week? If WPTavern did it, more people can be highlighted during that same week.

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      2. Maybe you can start a new blog to highlight other contributors from around the world?

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    2. Her name is actually Jacqueline Jimenez, you can find her profile in Google Plus, Instagram and Facebook as well.

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  5. WordPress lives because of the community behind it. Without all the people who create, evolve and give it love, it would just be software. There is a reason WordPress won the battles between other CMS like Movable Type, Blogger and endless others. It gets support, that means people not Google or financial.

    I’m surprised there isn’t already an annual memorial. It should become a tradition every year.

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    1. why don’t YOU start? I want you to go create a post on people in the WordPress community that helped you be where you are at. who made you who you are (in the WP sense).

      Double spaced, single side of the page. 5 pages minimum.

      Use pen, not pencil.

      aaaaaaaaaaaan GO!.

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  6. I was friends with 2 on the list, but knew all 4 on some level. I worked on projects with Jackie in 2014, and she was always really nice when we talked on the phone. After Kim Parsell’s passing, this was a tough hit for me. Karla Campos, as soon as I heard of Jackie’s passing (from a mutual friend), I reached out to her as they were good friends, and I met Jackie through Karla.

    There are many bloggers and internet marketers that have passed, that were well loved in their niche. There are some that are fighting cancer or AIDS at this moment, that are WordPress users. Mentioning a few, like the ones above who’ve contributed, and then recognizing those that haven’t been brought to our attention, is not a bad idea.

    This is the time of year that can sometimes be hard on a freelancer or someone who works out of their home. I know… I’ve experienced some dark times years ago during the holiday season of the year I got divorced, until the point I was scared, and I got the help I needed.

    These days, I’m thankful for the members in the community who encouraged and supported me back then, and even today. 12 years… wow. I was a college graduate and just had my son right before. The memories…

    Again… not a bad idea, Jeff. :)

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  7. I for one am for this idea. People who have had an impact great enough on the platform that without those people the platform would probably not be where it is today do deserve a farewell.

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  8. Many of us who knew Jacqueline (Jackie) were hit hard when we lost her. Shocked us all.

    She helped many people in the South Florida WordPress community to learn about WordPress and social media. She was active in Social Media Club South Florida, Spoke at Social Media Day Miami and organized WordPress meetup groups.

    Jackie’s Facebook page is still up. Jackie was a beautiful person who is still found in many hearts.

    I love the idea of remembering members of the WordPress community who have moved on to the next life.

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    1. May I add she also had a weekly show where Jackie and a group of other professionals would provide assessment on websites. She always had the time to help out others.

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  9. Just wanted to leave a comment here to document that at the beginning of the State of the Word 2015, Matt Mullenweg held a moment of silence to remember Kim Parsell and Alex King. It made me extremely happy to see him do this.

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