The Five for the Future program, an initiative Matt Mullenweg proposed in 2014, may soon be addressing the problem of spam and outdated pledges that appear on the program’s dedicated website. The idea behind the program is that organizations and individuals will contribute five percent of their resources back to WordPress development, ensuring the future of the project.
Five for the Future launched a website in 2019 to display pledges and has always relied on the honor system of self-reporting tools for individual and organizational pledges. In a discussion post suggesting iterations on the project, Andrea Middleton identified two major issues with the program’s current implementation that she said “have kept it from reaching its full potential:”
- Spam or dormant pledges
- Disconnect between contributor teams and pledged contributors
“Two years later, there have certainly been more ‘spam’ pledges than anyone would want, and surprisingly (to me) few reports of fake or spam pledges,” Middleton said. “What that tells me = either people don’t go surfing around in the pledge lists, checking for accuracy, the Report feature is too hard to find (unlikely), or people don’t really care whether pledges are accurate or not.”
Middleton said the existence of spam pledges diminishes the value of active pledges, which necessitates disclaimers on the site if it is to continue without a regular spam cleanup. She suggests starting bi-annual or annual spam checks mediated by contributor team leaders, who would report if they have ever worked with or seen participation from a specific list of pledged individuals. WordPress.org could send absent contributors an email prompting them to re-confirm their pledges are not spam.
Ian Dunn, a full-time contributor to WordPress, suggested automating the effort to combat spam and dormant pledges.
“I think it’d be best to tackle this first, because it won’t matter how good our recruiting docs are if team reps have to dig through hundreds of inaccurate pledges in order to find the 5% of them that will contribute,” Dunn said.
“I worry that a manual approach would add too much work for team reps, and wouldn’t be done consistently, especially after the first 6-12 months.”
He suggests sending all people who are pledged regular emails for re-confirming their commitment, automating props wherever possible, and removing pledges after 6 months of no activity. Contribution tracking isn’t as straightforward for things like Community team efforts but there may be some innovative solutions for these types of contributions.
“As a team rep, I’d love a way to call in contributors that have pledged to the team,” Courtney Engle Robertson said. Robertson contributes 20 hours per week to the Documentation, Marketing, Test, and Training teams. “I’d like them filtered a bit based upon team roles matched with what folks say they are interested in helping with. They could opt out if they need to change their commitments.” This suggestion would help address Middleton’s concern about the disconnect between contributor teams and pledged contributors.
The discussion has been active for a week and is still in the the idea sharing stage. If you have any feedback on the ideas proposed or new ones to contribute, jump in on the comments of the post.