In the last two years, I’ve had many private conversations with people in the WordPress community about WordPress core’s leadership.
A phrase I’ve often heard during these conversations is, [I just don’t want to get crucified by insert name of core developer here.] It doesn’t matter who is saying or thinking it, it only matters that it’s occurring.
There’s this mindset that the people on the core team are able to walk all over anyone and there’s not a damn thing that person can do about it.
It’s disappointing that a growing subset of people are thinking and feeling this way and it’s preventing them from getting more involved with WordPress. At some point, there needs to be an open, honest, conversation about the culture, attitude, and mentality of the people at the top that are driving WordPress forward.
How and when did WordPress’ core leaders reach a point where they’re instilling fear into people? Why are people feeling this way?
On the surface, we discuss compassion, empathy, and understanding but down at a personal level, there are grudges, alliances, and interactions that are the complete opposite. There is a growing contingency of US vs THEM which doesn’t seem like a good way to run a software project.
This is a taboo topic for the WordPress community because it’s ugly, it’s personal, and no one wants to talk about it for fear of retaliation, whether it’s subtweets, making someone’s job or life more difficult, or ganged up on by multiple members of the core leadership team.
While we encourage you to share your experiences with us, this is not an opportunity to bash the core team. Please refrain from mentioning specific people by name. This is not an opportunity to drag people down but rather a chance to figure out where these feelings of fear and intimidation are coming from and what we as a community can do about it.
It’s very healthy for the future of the project that you’ve raised this for discussion. I hope that we get comments from both folks who feel pushed out and from the core team.
I suspect that community-driven (free software) projects are at high risk of running into these situations. When there’s money involved, the “users” have a very strong leverage to get the “developers” to listen. When it’s free, the development team needs to set some practices that would avoid us/them mentality from creeping in.