WordPress Theme Review Team Works to Address Bottlenecks in Review Process

photo credit: pollas - cc
photo credit: pollascc

The WordPress Theme Review Team published an action plan today, summarizing the team’s consensus on moving forward to address bottlenecks in the review process. The queue is currently backed up with hundreds of themes waiting to be approved.

“The Theme Review Team is aware that we currently have problems,” Tammie Lister said before introducing the proposal for changes, which was signed off on by the admin team. “The objective of these changes is to reduce queues and make reviewing easier, both for those being reviewed and those doing the review.”

The team is proposing scaling back reviews to only cover the essentials, instead of keeping them in the pipe until every requirement is checked off.

“Our role as a team should be to check that the theme has no licensing, security, or ‘breaking’ issues,” Lister said. “Any issues beyond those three categories should be dealt with after the fact, not during review. We all want to do more, but without ensuring we provide the minimum review to themes in a timely manner, we aren’t succeeding.”

The proposed changes to the structure of the team removes the admin role and divides the team into key reviewers and reviewers. Key reviewers would be given the authority to manage tickets and have access to the make.blog. The team would focus its efforts on specific projects linked to WordPress releases to maintain momentum with a set of definitive deadlines.

Some of the most vital changes that are pertinent to resolving the continual blockages in the queue are proposed as part of an overhaul to the “Review Flow” process. These changes include:

  • Get the process as close as possible to the plugin review.
  • A ticket is not assigned to one reviewer.
  • The reviewer going through the queue replies to author.
  • Tickets aren’t just allocated to one reviewer. Anyone can review and then pick up a ticket if reviewer doesn’t respond.
  • Keep response time to seven days for both reviewers and those being reviewed. However, anyone can review.
  • Tickets with no response from a reviewer after 24 hours will be moved to the “new” queue; this change makes it easier to dive in and help.

Improving the review flow process and reducing the theme requirements to restrict only those that have security, licensing, or breaking issues will provide a dramatic improvement in the queue. The team plans to include other requirements for themes that are automated so that less manual checking is required. Any review that has multiple prefixing issues or multiple security issues will be automatically closed. This frees up reviewers to continue pushing the high quality themes through to approval.

The proposed changes in the action plan are open for comment on the make.wordpress/themes post. If the team is able to implement these changes soon, theme authors who have been waiting for months on a review may soon see a breakthrough.


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