In the latest episode of the WP Briefing, titled “Five for the Future’s True Intentions,” WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy responded to recent public criticism the program has attracted.
She referenced a conversation she began in May where she sought to make a clear distinction between ecosystem contributions and core project contributions. More recently, MasterWP editor Rob Howard characterized the program as “toxic scorekeeping” following Matt Mullenweg identifying GoDaddy as a “parasitic company” and an “existential threat to WordPress’ future.”
“The 5% in Five for the Future is aspirational,” Haden Chomphosy said. “Contribution to open source is a question and indication of privilege. So the 5% is not a requirement, but rather it’s an aim. It could refer to 5% of your time or 5% of your resources, or just any amount of your time or resources around. Regardless of how you’re defining it, it is an aspiration, not a requirement.”
Haden Chomphosy also said that pledges indicate contributors’ intentions but any amount they are able to offer is always welcome.
“No one is out there checking for 100% completion of the hours that you intended to give back to WordPress versus the hours that you actually succeeded at giving back to WordPress,” she said.
“There are so many volunteers that make sure that this project is running and functional and has plenty of people knowing how to get things done and how to teach others how to get things done. It’s all coming from generosity of heart.”
In Howard’s case against Five for the Future, he highlighted the disparity between Mullenweg’s recent remarks and Haden Chomphosy’s communication about the program. He proposed WordPress scrap the current pledge data and “stop keeping score.”
“If WordPress and Automattic were really able to follow Josepha Haden Chomphosy’s example and treat the five-percent target as a fun aspiration without consequences, perhaps it would be valuable as a general guideline,” Howard said. “But Matt Mullenweg and other major company leaders clearly watch the scoreboard, and there is a risk that if your contribution is ‘not enough,’ it can be brandished against you.”
In today’s WP Briefing podcast episode, Haden Chomphosy said the initiative is directed at celebrating “a culture of generosity” and collaboration towards WordPress’ long term health and stability. She clarified that her recent communications about the program were aimed at better identifying contribution activities and automating the process of giving props.
“For what it’s worth that discussion then also raised a third question that I don’t think we’ve even started to tackle, which is what about the activities that are not in the contributor network, but still do move WordPress forward?” Haden Chomphosy said. “Because there are so, so many of those things and it’s a great question. I don’t have an answer.
“The reality is that we won’t be able to see every contribution to WordPress, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t valuable. And it doesn’t mean that they don’t matter.”
In light of conflicting messaging, Haden Chomphosy has an uphill battle in attempting to reframe the program as part of a culture of generosity and bring it back to its historical roots. She concluded by encouraging listeners to embrace the program as she envisions it.
“For me, it’s not about assessing the worthiness of people or companies or any of their contributions,” Haden Chomphosy said. “For me, it’s about reinvesting in the shared commons of the WordPress ecosystem, by finding a way that our economy can entice folks to put back into WordPress, something close to the benefit that they receive from it.”