Rob Cairns talks to Ryan about the WordPress Dumpster Fire on Twitter,
- Why .com and ,org need to be separated?
- Why a CEO can not be a bully.
- The impact on the community.
- Accusations of people fabricating plugin downloads.
Rob Cairns here and today I’ve got my good friend and monthly co-host Ryan Waterbury with me, and I think we’re gonna have some fun because this week has been a little bit of a shitstorm. Can I say that? Yeah, it’s my podcast. I can say what I want. Are you Ryan?
I I’m doing good today. It’s Friday afternoon. It’s hunting opener tomorrow. It’s cool and rainy. And I’m I’m ready to do this podcast.
Ohh so am I. So am I. And you know, it’s funny. We were thinking about holding it off till Monday and I thought, Nah, we just need to get this one done. So I need to start this podcast off with something I never do. And that’s called the disclaimer and saying the opinions in this podcast are rhymes. My personal opinions. And they don’t affect anybody else. They don’t affect any of our clients. They don’t affect any of our friends. They’re just us talking as two people highly involved in the WordPress community and those who don’t know. I also Co manage a large LinkedIn group of over 10,000 peoples and. And they certainly don’t reflect. Courtney Robertson’s opinion new managers that group with me. So the now that we got all the legalese out of the way, what a freaking week this has been, it has been a week where there’s been ex formally, Twitter storms all over the place. It started off with our beloved and dictator as he self proclaims. Self Matt mullenweg? Talking about pluginsandwhy.com, plugins were ranking higher on searchesand.org plugins and it’s just exploded into the beloved and dictator called Matt Mullenweg, taking shots at who’s who in the committee and causing all kinds of ****. What are we crying?
It’s it’s been entertaining to watch. As a bystander, I have very strong opinions about this and I’ve had them and and voiced them occasionally. I was pretty late this week, just stepping back and watching as. A CEO of a major company that was taking shots at people that have grown the open source WordPress project developed it, grown it in the other platforms and uses and it was really disheartening to see that. And you know, I’d I can. I’m. Imagining where the place that it’s coming from, but it was pretty ugly and Twitter was it was a. It was a **** show this week. There’s no other way to put it, you know, seeing. Long term developers that have hundreds of thousands of installs and you know, putting their free plugins on the repo, getting called out for petty things by automatic CEO was not a very good look for the WordPress community. And you know, that didn’t. Not a good look for, you know, anyone in general but. Yeah, the, I mean the.com.org thing, it’s always been out there. It confuses people and you know as users of the opensource.org software, we understand which is which and and what what’s going on, but people. From the outside one, they usually don’t care about these things or two they don’t know about them, but. Yeah, it’s starting to become a problem. I mean, it’s it has been a problem for a while for.
Years and it’s still going on today. And not only did it take aim at plug-in developers, he took aim at major companies that several of them just sponsored parts of word camp US like how do. You what other CEO has a lack of brains, in my opinion, and you can hear a lot of that today to take aims at the sponsors and they’re giving you money. GoDaddy WP engine blue host like them or not put major money into this community every year sight. Out as well, and he took aim at them and the tweet I read and basically called them all out. Who does that? The sponsor should be telling moan wait to shove it up his you know where and be done with it. And and that’s where I kind of sit a little bit I mean they should be adamantly angry today.
I can imagine there’s going to be very little sponsorship from these major contributors who really do fund the large word camps. Word Camp USA is gonna. I have a feeling it’s going to be tough to pull off without major sponsorship from these individuals. I mean, we’re talking. Hundreds of thousands of dollars that they. Contribute to keep. The cost down for users like us to attend and connect with other developers and have a good time learning and sharing about WordPress. And that’s disappointing that a single person that is extremely influential has, you know, I’m, I’m going to say it possibly ruined that.
Yeah, I agree with you. And I wanted to say that publicly. Ice skate, how did this dumpster fire until last night? We had talked about doing this podcast down the road, so we were gonna do it anyway. This is no shark. You and I have talked about this offline. And then I I posted 2 tweets and they both gotten quite a bit of traction. One was we need to splitupthe.com and the.org site and we’ll get to there. And the other one was and I stand behind this outright, I outright called Matt Mullen like in my personal opinion, again, you’re going to hear a lot of that today. Sorry guys. I think he’s a bully. He acted like a bully. He’s got bullying mentality if you talk. All the mental health experts he shows bullying tendencies, I’m sorry, and he I think he needs to get in my opinion, some mental health help because the way he acted yesterday is not how the CEO of the $1,000,000 company should act frankly and he turned around and he said. He he blocked people and then unblocked him to see what he was saying, then blocked him again. And he’s taking aim at all these people who in their right mind shoots their business model down. The river like this.
And some of the people that he blocked were core contributors to the.org project. And if you have core contributors that are marketing leads, development leads that you’re blocking. And honestly that’s kind of like giving the finger and telling them. I your services aren’t welcome. WordPress.org is an open source project and it thrives and needs people willing to donate their time for development. There are companies like automatic that contribute a lot of money to pay for development to be done on the open source project. And that’s fantastic. They’re not the only company that that pays a lot, pays their developers to work on improving it, because let’s face it, it’s a thankless job. And if you want to compete with some of the, you know, commercial systems out there, you got to have some money behind it. And we all use it. We all benefit from it. But just because you’re you are the largest contributor to the open source project doesn’t give you the right to criticize other people that are doing fantastic development. The the shot taken at the PNP paid membership pro developers when when they, you know, were talking about the ranking of.com should not have a separate directory of plugins. It should be pulling from the same. It’s literally a duplicate. Ofthe.org directory one that’s in poor taste and just a slap in the face to the.org project, saying that you only exist to support.com two seeing fantastic developers like John Blackburn, who has awesome development tools out there in the wild. Or free for us to. Issues, you know, calling out and and then having Matt take shots at. That’s not a good look. And if I were on the other side of that, I would think twice about continuing to develop for the platform. That’s really scary and and makes me worried for the future of the plan.
Form and what I’ll tell you is Matt’s almost been on the liberal side where you see queue, several plug-in developers and this is on Twitter so you know on us it disappears of fabricating the reviews without proof, fabricating their numbers. And nobody knows the true numbers or plug in downloads anymore unless you’re tracking them yourself. Dot com side, sorry on the.org side here I go. Now. They’re they. They’ve changed the way they report plug-in downloads, so that’s part of the. There’s no.
Wait, what? Yeah. What it was was active installs and you know the really bad look for the Gutenberg project. Disabled Gutenberg and classic editor installs were the number one and two plugin installs with millions of installs. For a long time and you know, you look at that and I know that was pointed out prior to. In this I have to say that you know from a PR standpoint that doesn’t look good for your project. The block editor, when you have people just turning it off. And you know, for developers to get an actual idea of how how their plugins are used downloads. It’s one thing, it’s it’s fine. People can, you know, turn it off. But active installs shows you who’s actually running the plugin on your site. That’s a real true. Valuable piece of information and the refusal from the core team, which is largely driven by the biggest. Developer on the team automatic to put that stat back in is a little disheartening, you know.
Where are you?
Have it. You have a huge community that said, hey, we. Need this and. We’re an open source user from the community and to tell the community no, we’re not going to do it because it’s damaging to your project, your pet project, that’s. That, that’s just really in bad taste and just in bad form and not not supportive of the community that helps grow your your software and project.
Yeah, it’s it’s so true. And it it’s not just that it’s just all these comments, like what people don’t understand, those people who are in the business world is a lot of these. Contributors are paid unless they work for a major company like GoDaddy or WP engine. You have to developer advocates. I I have friends that I’m in court Robertsons up at GoDaddy and Marcus Burnett who. All of us in the Community know quite well, and Adam Warner, they’re they’re all paid. And I’m not criticizing them. So guys, don’t don’t take him. And my friend Brian Gardner over at WP engine and other people over who host these are paid contributors. But what people don’t realize is most of the WordPress project. Most of the team leads a lot of that is unpaid people, consultants, freelancers and stuff like that. And they’re contributing to a product that’s making Mr. Beloved and a dictator, as I will keep calling him in this episode they’re making, he’s making over $1,000,000 with this company a year and then some from unpaid people. And for a long time, there’s been discussion that. Certain leads should be paid. There’s been discussion that speakers at core work camps, the big ones, Asia, Europe, US should be paid. I’m almost in that frame of mind right now and I think it’s time we start doing something.
Ohh, I agree we shouldn’t pay speakers at those events and you know it. It’s not just covering their travel expenses, but paying them for their time. They’re experts in the field and it’s a benefit to everyone in attendance and they pay for a ticket. It’s not a lot because we have. Sponsors. But that’s where the sponsorship dollars come in to cover the fees of speakers, the event venue, and to subsidize some of that cost. So it’s affordable for small independent WordPress shops I remember. This was uh, late. 20 teens, I think you know, I was reading a study about the average WordPress development shop making around $65,000 a year as a solo developer, and that’s not a lot of money. And even then it wasn’t a a ton of money. It was OK and you know, you look at that. And on on a single individual, that’s one thing, but there’s a lot of people that are so. Individual developers and to have someone you know from the top who’s on the ceo.com and the chairperson at dot Org start dictating how you know the software is going to move forward. And you know, shake the livelihood of these small independent developers who don’t have a team of five to seven React developers to do custom Dev. You know, that’s really. I I think it’s, you know, awful. And so here’s where I’m going to use myself as an example, you know, with nonprofit work, I sat on the board with the national organization that does a lot of good work, and they needed some web and marketing work. I resigned from the board to avoid any conflict of interest and I submit a bid after discovery and I told them please take my discovery and go get competing bids. Eventually they went with mine, but I gave them that opportunity to be transparent and independent of everything for the fact that. It’s a non profit organization that’s out there to to benefit people and that’s the right thing to do. When you start looking at monetary compensation, you need to disassociate yourself from any nonprofit activities. And here’s where I’m going to lead in with weneedthe.com. And.org leadership to be. And I think this is where we start to look at. How do we change the structure there and look at dot org leading the community with contributions from notonly.wordpress.com, but the other the other community members as a whole? That’s just the right thing to do. And good practice that everyone else in the nonprofit and open source space does.
No, I I agree with you. I worked. I think I’m sharing this with you offline, but it’s worth telling. The story. I worked for a psychotherapist and he hired me to do some work on his commercial side of his business. He also had a nonprofit or charitable organization, and my contract actually said I was doing work for the. Paid side of the business and he asked me one day to do some work on the website for the nonprofit, and I actually outright refused and he said, how can you? I’m paying you? I said, actually, my contract says I’m working for the profitable side of the business. I do not want to be in a conflict of interest. The answer is no. And he argued with me adamantly, and I stuck to my guns and I refused. And I never did the work for the charitable side because that’s not who was paying me. And that’s not what the contract said. And at the end of the day, I believe in ethics more than most people. And This is why we got some Gray areas. Is our beloved dictator. Yes, you’re hearing that word a lot today, but that’s my podcast of my life. He needs to step away. I mean, the person that’s quite capable of running the wordpress.org side, as far as I’m concerned, is Joseph, by far she. Would run it. But her boss? To be losing the dictator needs to. Get out of the road and he needs to and we need to set up a separate board of directors for the.org that’s at arms length from the.com site and just split the two down the middle and each time.
I agree with you. And that and that said, you and I are in different camps. We need to tell the viewers and listeners that you’re a Beaver builder guy I made. A move? I guess it’s. Two years this month where I started make a go or I started making my move away from a Beaver builder and I moved to cadence right Cadence seems, which is a block theme and a block editor, but I I’m not out there bashing people are using page builders not at all. I think what we need to understand is blocks is just the built in Page builder. Really. And we need not to take away from that flexibility, cause choice and flexibility is what has always made our community thrive. So you will never hear me stand there and I don’t think you have, right. I’ve never bashed a block user AA page Builder user have I? I don’t think so. I said I I don’t like that page builder like there’s some old ones like WP Bakery that I don’t like for technical reasons and I’ve got sites using those, but I mean. The reality of it all is use what works for you and what our our dictator hasn’t realized this. If you’re a dev shop that’s cut years into Beaver builder element or or any of those, the problem is to get your staff up to speed to switch the box is a major educational endeavor that a lot of their shops on that time.
I I would, I would agree with you. So I think I think we need to separate the two entities and get a board and the boardof.org should have some high profile community members on that. And I mean that was one of the reasons why I sort of sat back and watched this dumpster fire on X. For my Twitter for a couple days before I commented because I know between being a podcast host and running a large LinkedIn group, the minute I jumped into that mess. I better have my ducks in a row, so that was kind of part of part of the big reason why I took my time jumping into this disaster. And I mean disaster.
Yeah, when it really turned into a disaster when the attacks were petty and personal and, you know, a lot of people. And this is the the you have to realize that. There’s a large and this was just on Twitter. There’s a large portion of the WordPress community that from their political leanings, when Elon purchased, it took their ball and went home or to Mastodon. So we’re seeing a sliver of how the community is being slighted on. Acts slash Twitter and the fact that we’re more of those community members more active. Of on XI think we we would have seen even more complaining and discussion and heated discussion that there are some things. There were some things that that were said that I don’t think can be walked back from to be honest and I think that’s what sparked you know my interest. In in this topic for this podcast. And that, you know, we need to put the idea out there about the the real division between the nonprofit open source and the for profit.com and and make sure there’s a clear understanding publicly that they are different, different things and they should be very different things. That work that should work together.
MMM. And I want to put this out there and I kind of didn’t talk to you before I did, but I’m gonna stick my foot in my mouth and put it out there anyway. If Matt Bowen wig or Giuseppe have the nerve to come on this podcast and sit down and talk to Ryan and I, we’ll be glad to have you. We’ll have that conversation with you. We promise we’ll release it on edited, but let let’s see what you 2 stand. Do you even care about this community? I suspect the answer is going to be no. But I’ll put it out there right now. Like let’s let’s issue a challenge because they can come out here and do they really care about the community? Do they care about respect to people? Do they care about what people do there it is, right?
Yeah, I you know, I would welcome that. And you know, I words are one thing and you know, on a public platform sitting behind a keyboard but having a a civil discussion in a podcast format, I think that would be good to, to move forward. And you know, we’re certainly talking from one side and my personal side. Being a Community member and not a $8 billion company CEO, you know I’m I’m completely the other side. So it would be. I would welcome that challenge. And just to see where it went. I can tell you that from what I see when they release new pieces of the core project, here’s another personal opinion that. Like the dashboard redesign, it sometimes some of these things are clearly done without any consultation of the Community there. You know, I I see developers doing admin, you know, tools to redesign the admin and they have looked at you know some of these things and said. Wow. You didn’t talk to anyone who’s been doing this for years to get any input on what users actually want. There’s a lot of data out there from community developers that’s just being thrown out, you know, with the core and and the Gutenberg development team. And that’s really unfortunate. You know, user studies are an important thing for me. I found out the hard way even after beta testing with a a recent launch. People completely went around a process that I developed. It so not involving the community and decisions is that that’s kind of where I put my foot down too.
Agree with you. So I think we’ve kind of hit this one on the head. Did you have anything else you wanted to add before we wrapped this one up?
No, I think we’ve summed up, you know, some of the some of the community frustration, some personal ones that I’ve had and may not have voiced. Locally, but wanted to to get them out there so other people can hear them. Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. But yeah, I don’t have anything else to add.
And if anybody else wants to add to it like we can get them on the show too, please reach out. We’d be glad to have you, Ryan. I know this one’s a tough one. We’re both a little PO off to say the word today. That’s, you know, I’m trying to be nice here, but it’s been a couple of days. I don’t think the weekend is going to do anything to. I shake this one off. I think this some of the stuff that’s been said, there’s some long lasting effects and I think as a community we just got to figure out how we’re going to come out of this one because I think it’s a. Bit of a mess right now. And Ryan, thanks for your time as always and have yourself an amazing weekend and your office staff must be quiet because I haven’t heard one peep for 1/2.
They’re getting ready for running through the woods tomorrow morning and being extremely tired by the end. Of the day.
Priorities have a good weekend, my friend. Appreciate your time as always.