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WordPress And Giving Credit

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June 3rd, 2010
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WordPress

WordPress 3.0 is almost out the door and one of the most exciting developments regarding the new version is the menu management system. This system started as a major contribution from WooThemes with their WooNav code but since it’s integration, the WooNav code has been reworked practically line for line to the point where there is almost nothing left of the original. At the time, WooThemes was heralded as an awesome company for contributing such a great piece of functionality to the core of WordPress. I still believe it’s great they contributed WooNav to the menu system but now things get dicey when it comes to how much credit should be given to WooThemes.

There have been a few posts discussing the credit factor and WooThemes concerning the new menu system. Some people think WooThemes deserves more credit while others think that credit has been given where credit was due. Not only did WooThemes get a lot of press when they made the announcement of giving WooNav to the WordPress core team, but I imagine they will be among the list of all of the other contributors receiving props once WordPress 3.0 goes live.

One thing I have not noticed since my foray into the WordPress community is individuals claiming “I did this” and “I did that” as if it put them on a higher place than everyone else. Most contributors have been just fine with props given in the major release posts. Again, I don’t think credit is the main motivator for contributors, it’s just the icing on the cake. I could be wrong though which I hope you’ll tell me in the comments.

I have a few questions I want to ask to the wider community. For starters, is everyone that contributes to WordPress on a level playing field in terms of making the software better, or are certain people better than everyone else? Secondly, what do you consider to be adequate credit given to contributors. Third, if you have previous experience, why do you contribute to the WordPress project? Is it for personal gain or just to make the software better?

The last question I have, do you think the WordPress project would get along just fine if the entire notion of giving props or any credit disappeared. That way, it’s all about the software, not about the people and their egos. Looking forward to reading your feedback.

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  1. Dougal Campbell (35 comments.) says:

    I think it’s a pretty level playing field. I’m a former core contributor, but I certainly don’t get any special consideration. I’ve made several feature suggestions in the past that have been shot down. When I’ve contributed patches that were eventually accepted, they’ve gone through the normal process of discussion, testing, suggestions for improvements, etc. Look back at my patch for mass-re-enabling plugins, for example.

    That said, I’m sure that some people give more weight to my opinions because of my “Developer Emeritus” status. But it’s definitely not a ticket into any secret club or anything.

    And conversely, if a newcomer has contributions to make, I don’t think they are dismissed out of hand. Granted, newcomers are more likely to (unwittingly) bring up topics which have already been discussed in in the past, or get a little too gung-ho without getting a feel for the existing community first. But good ideas are good ideas, no matter who brings them to the table.

  2. Jérémie says:

    Of course the field isn’t leveled. Some people are better than other at what they does (coding, graphism, design, translation, whatever), some people are better than other for communicating, for working with other people, for pushing the overall good before their own, etc etc.

    And even more so, some people devote more time than others.

    As to the who’s who, I have absolutely no idea and right know I don’t care.

    The tricky part is the right skill at the right time. If you’re pretty good at what you do, works well all around, and gave 100 hours to 3.0, are you better as a php coder, as a translator, as some kind of community guru explaining things downward and moving good ideas upward, as a design specialist or as a CSS tech expert?

    There’s no definite answer. Especially when the WP community… well, doesn’t really exist. There’s no hangout agora, the WP forums being what they are… it’s an aggregation of circles, of acquaintances, of layers…

    But you can’t say I contributed as much to 3.0 with my poor two bug reports as someone who has _fixed_ 100 tickets, there’s no comparison.

  3. scribu (42 comments.) says:

    Similar to what Dougal Campbell said above, I think it’s a level playing field in the sense that we have a meritocracy, based on technical skill.

    Third, if you have previous experience, why do you contribute to the WordPress project? Is it for personal gain or just to make the software better?

    Mostly because I enjoy doing it.

  4. Hikari (26 comments.) says:

    Well, I’ve opened 4 tickets on track. 1 of them (a new filter hook) was accepted and as soon as 3.0 be released I’ll also release my plugin that benefits from it. 1 was a XHTML validation bug, which they didn’t want to fix. 1 was a suggestion to implement plugins dependancy, similar to what we have with JS and CSS being enqueued, but I was noted that it was already being discussed and core developers simply think plugins don’t need to follow a standard and each plugin can deal with dependency itself. The other ticket was the well know the_content CDATA breaker, that nobody with the power is willing to fix.

    What I feel is that may WP developers are overloaded, we lack beta testers, and they fear adding small features or fixing bugs that affect few ppl, and doing so create an even bigger bug.

    I’ve been seeing debates regarding plugin developers crediting, that theme designers can link their sites in footer while plugin developers can’t even leave credit option checked by default.

    I idolize Core WP developers, because they’ve done more to the system than most plugin developers, and don’t even bother to not be credited. There are tons of codes in core we don’t even know who developed them.

    First of all, I think we must understand we are in a OpenSource community. Everybody can contribute to the software, but at the same time not everybody contribution can be added, or the software will be a mess. And also most contributions are done totally free. We receive the softwares for free, so we should at least give something back for free to the community. Who doesn’t like this approach, go join ExpressionEngine or some other proprietary software.

    But also, I think contributors as a whole receive little love. We can’t expect everybody to come contribute for free, and also receive top quality code. We complain there are many plugins with ugly code, but we’re receiving them for free… My plugins themselves lack a lot of improvements, simply because I don’t have enough time to spend on them and I never received any money for releasing them, only a few comments, ppl don’t even visit my page that’s linked as donation.

    I have a plugins love page http://Hikari.ws/plugins-love/ , which lists all plugins I use and link to them (and as all other pages in my site, it lacks some attention). I think it would be nice if wordpress.org had something like that, a page where each WP feature would be listed, together with everybody who contributed with patches to make the feature live.

    … but who’d maintain such page for free? :P

  5. Dan Cole (5 comments.) says:

    WordPress 3.0 RC1 has over 180,000 lines of core WordPress code, which is something like $40,000,000 worth of software by my guess. I think members of the WordPress community should take a second and think about what type of person they are. Patiences, kindness, and humility goes a long way and help to make someone’s day better.

    Less than 0.02% of the WordPress community contributes to the development of WordPress code. Why not consider contributing in one of many ways: http://codex.wordpress.org/Con....._WordPress

  6. Nile (18 comments.) says:

    I think they have enough credit. As a developer of a few php scripts myself, being mentioned is adequate enough. The majority of the WordPress project has consisted of volunteers.

    I know who did things, you do, and so do many who care about the progress of WordPress as a CMS.

    I am not sure what type of expectation people are wanting to give WooThemes, but I know pretty much if I volunteer something to WordPress, I really am grateful for even just a simple thank you.

  7. kyleabaker (2 comments.) says:

    1. In the past projects that I’ve contributed to, I believe everyone is on a level playing field. There have been times that I’ve contributed large amounts of code as well as times that I submitted simple typo fixes and one liners. A contribution is a contribution and nothing more.

    2. The only thing that I have ever expected from my contributions in the past is a simple mentioning. Pasting my name in a list of thousands is as good as any to me. The point is that you are recognized. I tend to mention people who contribute to my projects and sometimes add links to their sites as an extra thank you, but the point remains that a mention of your name as a contributor should be sufficient.

    3. I think we all submit code as a “contribution” in an act of greed at least a little bit. I would divide my contributions into 75% greed for acknowledgement and 25% effort to help the project. While that sounds wrong and distorted, I’d be willing to beat that most people submit code hoping for glorious acknowledgement. :P

    4. I think WordPress would continue regardless of giving props or suppressing them, but I think its generally a respectful act to give props to those who are due. If you contribute code (even a single line) then you should be thanked. I’m sure it takes a lot less time to open a file and add “(props: kyleabaker)” than it does to come up with the numerous code patches and contributions that are submitted.

    Community driven software should never cease thanking the community members who drive it and continue to make it better.

    Thats just my 2 cents. Great question!

  8. Andrew@BloggingGuide (90 comments.) says:

    I’m just a reader here and I applaud everyone who did it not for self gain but for really helping out and just doing everything they can to help the wordpress world become better. You will surely be more blessed!

  9. Danny Brown (9 comments.) says:

    I love WordPress and can’t see me using any other platform, either for blogging or websites. Yet I can’t help but think that the developers (the main WordPress ones, not the community) keep shooting themselves in the foot with some of their approaches.

    Anyhoo… thankfully I won’t have to worry too much about the new WordPress 3.0 features, since many of the improvements they’re putting in place I’ve been using for a few months now, thanks to the Headway premium theme.

    Maybe the core WordPress devs should have a word with the whizkid that’s built Headway… ;-)

  10. tom (2 comments.) says:

    Thanks all who have Made WordPress what it is today! It has allowed me to create site that ROCK!! I have learned about the php and server stuff now enough to help others figure out things. I show the how easy /it makes everything to run. “Like a poem with each line written by a different poet” ..lol =)
    Have a great week!

    How exactly do they want to be “rewarded”?

  11. Oliver says:

    The only help I can give is to participate once or twice per week in the support forum, but I do that, because I’m immensely grateful for the piece of software and the “environment” around (the plugins and the people ready to help when the need arises).
    Being a former linuxian (I switched to Microsoft windows as a home-work requirement) helps having this spirit, I guess.

    Regarding the credits : I think it is best that you keep them, otherwise you’ll lose the support of several persons in the future.
    Look : we’re all a Narcissus at some point, even if most of us hate having to insist on having us mentioned. It’s much more comfortable to be hypocrites and not put ourselves forward, letting the others put you forward.
    I don’t say “hypocrite” in a bad manner, I’m including myself in this lot.

    If wordpress gave up on giving credits, you’d lose the support, minor or major, of all these kind helpful hypocrites.

    Besides, there’s no shame in making business, and companies like Woo Theme know their success depends on the success of wordpress. But when they do *more* than just surfing the success wave, and share with the community improvements they could have kept for paying customers, I think it would be natural to show gratitude and give credits to Woo Themes. Maybe they’ll get more customers that way :
    – it’s natural to be thankful and give credits when they could have kept their Woo Nav as a premium item
    – hopefully, more big developers (because they’re commercial) will be interested in helping WordPress for free in the future, following the example of Woo Themes

    More than that, stopping giving credits would appear either selfish, or ungrateful, that would negatively impact the image of WordPress.

    Here’s for my opinion on these subjects :)

  12. Lisa (4 comments.) says:

    I think Jane Wells explained it in Raleigh at WordCamp when she said that WordPress core development is based on a “Meritocracy” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meritocracy) – meaning that the more one person contributes, the heavier their weight is in the core community. Likewise, the higher the quality of your contributions will also increase your weight in the core community, as far as WordPress is concerned. Merit is based on the frequency and quality of contributions.

    That ‘Merit’ is demonstrated in different ways – – those with higher merit have more of a say on what features get committed; or those with higher merit are more likely to have their commits considered stronger than another individual without as much merit. (example: Mark Jaquith has more of a say on what goes on than any member of Woo’s team because his contributions are more frequent and are of consistent high quality, etc)

    In terms of credit being given to individual contributors – that list is hella long. Contributors get credit in the release blog post… I think that’s pretty cool.

  13. Grant Hunt (2 comments.) says:

    I am using WP 2.9.2 and I am quite satisfied… But seems 3.0 is way better…

  14. arslan (1 comments.) says:

    As a developer of a few php scripts myself, being mentioned is adequate enough. The majority of the WordPress project has consisted of volunteers.

    I know who did things, you do, and so do many who care about the progress of WordPress as a CMS.

    I am not sure what type of expectation people are wanting to give WooThemes, but I know pretty much if I volunteer something to WordPress, I really am grateful for even just a simple thank you.

  15. Maurers (1 comments.) says:

    I think Jane Wells explained it in Raleigh at WordCamp when she said that WordPress core development is based on a “Meritocracy” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meritocracy) – meaning that the more one person contributes, the heavier their weight is in the core community. Likewise, the higher the quality of your contributions will also increase your weight in the core community, as far as WordPress is concerned. Merit is based on the frequency and quality of contributions.

  16. Brad Jones (1 comments.) says:

    The WordPress world has always seemed a bit defensive, feelings on the shoulder and competitive. I have to admit that many times it was to much so for me to be able to take and has made me hesitant more than once to ask a question or contribute information.

    I do believe this has been steadily improving over the years. As to the question is everyone on a level playing field or are others better than others? That is a lot like asking is everyone in life on a level playing field or are some better off than others….there are those that have benefits that others do not, they have money, training, people working with them or for them to help them etc….others are just regular people sitting at home creating a new design, developing a plugin for personal use that happens to catch on like wild fire or whatever, everyone has the same opportunity in the WordPress community to be allowed to contribute, but some are better equipped to do so.

    Should credit be given WooThemes? Of course it should, though their base code may no longer exist their idea and initial code was the contribution the formed what is the new system, just as much so as if someone contributes a new database back up plugin that gets implemented into the base code….should they be heralded as the ones that created the new WordPress navigation system? I wouldn’t think so, listing them among the others that have contributed I would think would be plenty….for ego sake a mention of thanks is enough…for reference sake…that same reference on such a large project is enough as well I would think….this is just my opinion…

  17. bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

    Personally, I see WordPress as a GPL Open Source project, which should follow under those same rules. When an individual or company adds to an any open source project, that group or individual doesn’t, or shouldn’t, get credit because that person or company contributed to that project by their own volunteer basis. WHen you do something as a volunteer, to help people or a project, you don’t contribute to get credit, you do it because you WANT to. Personally, I think this whole issue must revolve around “money” in some way, otherwise why would they care? Its just like, I never understood why theme authors or plugin authors demand credit for their work either. What do they think we use our blogs to make money? I don’t think so!! I don’t use blogging software for personal gain in any way, to do so would be considered unethical in my humble opinion…. but then I’m still a big contributor to the notion that everything over the internet should be free, and unfortunately thats not the case anymore.

  18. Ajay (11 comments.) says:

    Nav system in 3.0+ is an awesome feature. I liked it a lot and have been using it in all my blogs. Before reading this article I didn’t realize that this feature was taken from WooThemes. I’m great fan of WooThemes and I’ve been using it quite a lot, specially the free ones.

    On my own blog I’m using WooTheme and once I upgraded to 3.0 I saw the nav system which looked pretty similar to the WooTheme’s nav system. But it didn’t occur to me that WordPress took it from WooThemes.

    I think WooThemes does deserve more credit.



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