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How Would You Leverage The WordPress Community?

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October 30th, 2009
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WordPress

One of the most difficult tasks I see for the WordPress project in the next 1-2 years is creating a place to harness the power of the WordPress community into a central location. In my opinion, the WordPress community is like peanut butter, spread across the web really thin. You have to be subscribed to a bunch of different blogs throughout the community in order to get a grasp as to what is happening with the WordPress project. Other than enthusiast sites, you have to know which mailing lists to subscribe to, the developments prologue site, attend the developer chats, and occasionally read a WordPress centric blog post or two from one of the core developers in order to figure out what is going on. I don’t like this situation. Instead, I would love to see a community portal developed on the WordPress.org site that contains the tools necessary to create a collaboration hub.

I hesitate to mention another project on a WordPress focused site but I believe there are lessons that can be learned from how Joomla has handled this situation. Joomla has a site called http://community.joomla.org/. The front page of this site acts as a portal to vital aspects of the project including team member blogs, events, featured articles, translations, etc. It’s as if everything I would need to know or have quick access to is right on the front page housed within this portal.

On the WordPress side of things, you have to dive into the documentation to find the Codex article that discusses WordPress in your language. The site contains one blog, the development blog for announcements specifically dealing with the software. It’s not like the good old days when multiple posts per month covering all aspects of the project would be published here. Now you’re lucky to see two posts or more a month on it. Each WordPress team member has their own blog, most with a WordPress category that is tied into a separate entity called the WordPress Planet that is accessed in the dashboard called Other WordPress News. Not only are the team members added to this site, but so are a number of other projects/sites that are not strictly WordPress related. I realize the team members are busy and some of them contribute to the WordPress project not employed by Automattic but I would like to see more posts published by them focused on the WordPress project. For example, I attend some of the developer chats and I see requests for unit tests or explanations as to how tickets in Trac should be treated yet I don’t see consistent information published to the public explaining this. Sure, the end user facing crowd has no interest in this, but there are a ton of plugin and theme authors as well as enthusiasts who would be. To be frank, I think that if it were not for websites such as Weblogtoolscollection.com and a host of other WordPress centric community sites, a majority of us would have no clue as to the progress of WordPress except for when a release was imminent.

I would love to see is a complete redesign of WordPress.org which served as a portal. A portal that could be visited daily to see posts from team members regarding the project, latest posts in the WordPress forum, upcoming WordCamps, a featured WordPress.TV Video, links to some of the most important pages in the Codex, the 3 or 5 newest themes and plugins added to the repository, etc. This post may be premature though as the best thing that could happen to the site is the redesign, plus the ability to use BuddyPress as a means of creating the collaboration hub of it all. I know the BuddyPress situation is currently being worked on and may end up being a reality some day on WordPress.org but for everything else, there is certainly room for improvement across the board.

What Say you?

First off, what do you think of the current way WordPress.org the project along with the website is laid out? If you had the opportunity, how would you completely restructure the website and team members to turn the site into a collaboration/information hub all about WordPress?

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36
Responses

 

Comments

  1. Ozh (88 comments.) says:

    This kind of page is probably to take off once WP & WPMU merge so that BP really takes off. This will probably foster things. What things, I don’t know :)

  2. Ozh (88 comments.) says:

    (hu, crap CSS styling in comments, links are almost invisible)

  3. Eric Marden (16 comments.) says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. Hoping the use of buddy press on WordPress.org will allow some of the community stuff to flourish there, but until we get more consistent posts from Automattic, Non-Employee Core Devs, and other contributors in the ‘know’ we will only be left with deciphering the codex and reading the svn logs.

  4. Dave Doolin (25 comments.) says:

    Sounds like a great idea to me.

    How would you make it worthwhile for the contributors?

  5. Jérémie says:

    I would start by using a proper official WordPress forum setup. To be short and to the point, the current BBpress is a shame, and the locals are too.

    Too difficult to use. Few answers, if any at all. The official local community (aka the wordpress.org forum) is a shame, more so when compared to smaller projects who are able to have a great support, welcoming, community. In one place, not spread around so thin you can see through it.

  6. arena says:

    Agree with most of your post. But i believe that as long as wordpress is commercially exploited (wordpress.com) it won’t be 100% open source.

    Is the 2.9 new image management a priority for wordpress community ?
    What is the schedule for BP (BackPress) ? will it become a framework for WP, WPµ, bbPress (which future seems hazardous), BuddyPress ?

    BTW if you need to aggregate several feeds on your dashboard, take a look at my plugin dashboard-last-news

    • Eric Marden (16 comments.) says:

      > Agree with most of your post. But i believe that as long as wordpress is commercially exploited (wordpress.com) it won’t be 100% open source.

      This is one of the most ill-informed opinions I’ve seen in a while. Any open source software worth using is going to be “commercially exploited”. As long as you have access to the OSI-Approved licensed source code its 100% Open Source.

    • Matt (27 comments.) says:

      “Is the 2.9 new image management a priority for wordpress community ?”

      Yes, it was a top-requested feature and most voted on in several polls and surveys, and then discussed across dozens of open IRC meetings and on our bug tracker through several iterations.

  7. Dana @ Online Knowledge (27 comments.) says:

    I am still not familiar with all of wordpress.org content, but i can tell that codex part is really great for me.

  8. Melody: Aseptic Filling (1 comments.) says:

    I agree with the points that you’re making. Available help is on the light end, with the logic being “hey, it’s free so don’t complain.” I would think that Automatic is really passing on a big opportunity to improve value to the user. Granted, providing that value costs money, so perhaps a small fee per user would be necessary. I don’t know whether I’m a heretic for suggesting that, but I love the platform and think that if reliable support could be obtained, there would be no beating it.

  9. Jared Spurbeck (8 comments.) says:

    I say let’s base it on WordPress itself. And whatever additional code we have to write to implement it, release it all under the GPL! Plugins, widgets, themes … everything! That way our community site can be co-developed with the community. ^.^

    Beyond that though, I think basing it on BuddyPress would be a mistake. BuddyPress is like a build-your-own-walled-garden kit … your WordPress.org account wouldn’t be able to interact with anything else. Let’s find open standards and protocols to build on and then leverage them, shall we?

    • Eric Marden (16 comments.) says:

      The decision to use BuddyPress was announced at WordCamp SF 2009, so that should already be underway.

      However, I’m wondering why you think that we should have a need for a WP focused community site working with something else, and what that something else might even be?

      I know BP supports FB Connect, which while not open is obviously an interaction with an outside service. WP.com is an OpenID provider, and we might hope that it also supports that protocol. But beyond that, I can’t think of anything else that would even be useful.

      Should we build our community site to inter-operate with every open source CMS community site? :)

  10. Patrick Daly (6 comments.) says:

    I feel the same frustration of things being dispersed. A problem I’ve run into (and that this post could run into — although you have a lot of WP authority) is that great ideas get lost.

    The thin layer of peanut butter not only makes it difficult to find out what’s going on, but it makes it even harder to be heard. It seems there’s an exclusive WordPress club and unless you’ve made it into the ranks your ideas go unnoticed. For instance, the “WordPress Ideas” section is full of really great ideas that continue to be passed up. My guess is that no one with a loud enough voice made the case to Automattic to implement the idea.

    • Eric Marden (16 comments.) says:

      The ideas section gets ignored quite often, however, it is a great source of inspiration for plugin developers!

      Want to get noticed? Write useful plugins and/or submit tickets with well written patches on Trac.

      • Dave Doolin (25 comments.) says:

        I agree with Eric, write plugins that people like to use, you’ll get noticed.

        Ideas are cheap and easy. I’ve got plenty to spare. It’s execution what’s difficult.

        Dispersion is good. Lots of people writing overlapping content makes it easier to figure stuff out. Someone cracked on the Codex in this thread (iirc); I bashed my head against it myself. Much faster to figure it out and post your own solution than attempt to get something canonized into the Codex. I see the Codex as the “First Word.” It usually but not always tells me what I need. I get the rest from other bloggers solving similar problems.

        • Eric Marden (16 comments.) says:

          And when it doubt, read the code. Since they added PHPDOC blocks to almost everything, this became an easier way to discover the hidden secrets of the platform.

          • Dave Doolin (25 comments.) says:

            Absolutely! PHPXRef is my best friend. I don’t even know php very well either… I end up sort of translating into C or C++: “If this were written in C, what would it be doing?” Then deal with php idiosyncrasies. Like “extract().” *cough*.

            I need to add PHPDOC comments to all my code as well. I’d like to say I write totally literate code… and I have been complimented on my style from non-coders, but there’s always room for improvement.

    • Mattias (32 comments.) says:

      I agree with Patrick here.

      Some parts of the WordPress community is also very disorganized. And as mentioned here, everything is wildly scattered and difficult to grasp, especially for beginners.

      The community needs to be more welcoming to new users and it needs to be better organized to allowing all kind of users to be a part of it, not just targeted to developers like it is most of the times.

      • Eric Marden (16 comments.) says:

        This is a larger problem with Open Source in general, but one that is more a matter of misconception than with actual reality.

        It may seem that the community is unwelcoming to newcomers when a new user or non-developer user can’t understand why their pet peeve feature request was denied from being add to the core software. In other words, if you’re not a developer and want WordPress do to something it doesn’t do out of the box then you either need to get your hands dirty in the code, or hire some one to do it for you.

        Non-technical people would do well to remember that open source software is usually created to “scratch the itch” of the developer, which just also happens to solve their problem too. WordPress only exists because Matt loved blogging with b2/cafelog and didn’t want to see it die. Its grown into a great piece of software with the help of lots and lots of folks. Could it better? sure. But its pretty damn easy now.

        Besides, anything worth doing always requires effort.

  11. Frank Lucas says:

    Great idea!

  12. kerwin says:

    Well said!

    I know wordpress will be alarm on your post but it is so informative to new users like. I have been on the blogging world few months ago, and this post made a difference from all the blog that i am following.

    Keep it up! Believe on what you want to say and I am your back to support you.

  13. Jane Wells (2 comments.) says:

    I agree with almost everything you say, but then again, the problem isn’t that people don’t think it all needs improving, the problem is that there isn’t a plan with dedicated resources assigned to it. Just as the trac tickets that are strictly UI don’t tend to get attention as readily as the cool/challenging PHP ones, re-doing a web site isn’t most developers’ highest priority (and the users who rate it higher are often not able to participate in things that require solid PHP coding skills).

    The answer will have to be a prioritized plan with responsible people assigned to tasks in order for things to get accomplished. I’ve set up a session at WordCamp NYC to jump start some discussion (I know you’ll be there, Jeff), which can seed further online discussion, voting, and sign-up for participation.

    • Eric Marden (16 comments.) says:

      Let us know how that goes. No matter what gets built, if Automattic, Core Devs, Plugin Authors and other contributors get behind it and use it as the central point for disseminating information it will be wildly successful.

      Its not so much that the community is spread thin, its that information from those in the know are not coordinated in anyway. Its not like we need to set Matt or anyone else as a figure head, but if communications from the core group was done in more of a systematic way a community portal may be less of a concern.

      Either way, I can’t wait to participate in the process.

  14. kerwin says:

    What if one of us make a blog having all our queries or suggestions to improve wordpress? Make a record of our plan to have it on file. This will serve as reference and hope to be develop in the future. All of us here will be happy as wordpress progress on its capabilities.

    • James Tryon (3 comments.) says:

      I would be happy to help in any way I can. I’m more of a front-end coder and designer. We also don’t want to piss off any one, So first step is To ask if they need help. Have we tried that. With a real phone or in person. Not threw e-mail?

  15. James Tryon (3 comments.) says:

    I concur with most of every thing from every body. Good job!

    I would like a good Feature list of all the default things wordpress can do.

    Good release notes for all the updates and a heads up before new releases come out.

    • mark (1 comments.) says:

      “Good release notes for all the updates and a heads up before new releases come out.”
      That point would be very helpful for someone like myself. As I’m still maturing in both BP and WP, a heads up before “it” hits the fan is always very welcomed in my camp!

  16. S.K (23 comments.) says:

    A comprehensive aggregator as part of the WP portal, similar to what Darren Hoyt has built will be of great help:

    http://www.wptopics.com/

    S.K



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