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Overlapping efforts in WordPress development

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June 24th, 2004
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This has been a recent trend in WordPress (fringe, casual) development which I think should come to peoples’ attention.
Ever since the start of the MT fiasco (and now the TechTV::G4 publicity), there has been a very large amount of interest in WordPress and consequently in the development of hacks and plugins for WordPress. This increase of interest and manpower is more than welcome but an unwanted side effect of this has been the problem of overlapping code and ideas. There are a couple of very potent examples I can think of. The comment registration/email comment authors idea, followed by the trackback/comment seperation plugins and many others come to mind. These are all great additions and are slightly different in their own ways.
I believe that this energy could be used in better ways. The suggestions here are my personal opinion and do not represent the WordPress dev team or the community.

  • Check around to see if your plugin has been developed or is being worked on already. If it is being worked on, wait a little or ask the developer if you could help in any way. This will prevent overlap and will also increase the TTL of these hacks along with better support etc.
  • Please try not to use other peoples’ innovative ideas and label them your own. If you do use an idea that was first published by someone else, provide the necessary attribution. The code is Open Source for you to do your thing, the proper *thing* to do is to provide the necessary thanks.
  • If you are looking for something to do with your time and would like to get involved with development or with WordPress, come and join us in the forums, IRC and/or the mailing lists and help in developing the core (in your own way and time of course). If you are a developer, look through the buglist for WordPress. There are a bunch of open bugs which are screaming to get resolved!
  • People provide seed ideas on their forums and blogs for feedback and input and not for you to take it and make it your own. If you would like to start working on something, try and collaborate with the author to see if something could be worked out. Collaboration in key in OSS software.
  • Remember that four different plugins which do slightly different things are only confusing for the user that you are developing it for. If a single plugin was extended in functionality with a simple upgrade, it would be infinitely more potent and easy to understand and use than a multitude of similar hacks.

This increase in WordPress’ popularity is incredible! Let us all benefit from our talents.

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  1. Jennifer (2 comments.) says:

    While I do agree with you – just to play devils advocate in a sense – Sometimes a script isn’t exactly the way I want it – so I need to create a different version. You gave the example of the seperating comments and trackbacks… I did that *just for me* – I wasn’t even going to publish it – since I’m pretty sure the html isn’t even valid – but a reader asked me to. There was nothing else already out there that did exactly that. But I’ll also do that sometimes anyway – just to have a place so I can easily refer back to my code. (I started my blog originally more for ME than anyone else – I’m selfish that way. LOL! I wanted a central “storage” place where I could always find my code… because I was always forgetting how to do something I had figured out only a few weeks before)

    But I do agree with you that two people working on the same project is wasted effort. Personally I have more fun working WITH people on the SAME project – but that may just be me. :) Many of my scripts are turning out to be group efforts, where I’m integrating other people’s changes.

    And um… not giving credit where it’s due… is just wrong.



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