EP316 – Discussing a hard week in WordPress – WPwatercooler

April 5, 2019

On this episode of WPwatercooler, the panel discusses a particularly challenging week in the WordPress community. The episode kicks off with introductions from John Brown, who runs a WordPress-focused agency, and Bridgette Willard, a marketing and social media consultant for WordPress products. They touch upon various issues that have riled up the community recently. Carol Olinger’s blog post about stepping away from WordCamp Europe for health reasons and her experiences with the WordPress organization sparks conversation about recent departures from the community, particularly among women. The panel also delves into controversy surrounding Jetpack, criticizing its feature promotions in plugin search results as potentially unfair and possibly a conflict of interest. The panel applauds Jetpack for rolling back some of these changes but debates the transparency and ethics behind it. Additionally, they discuss a theme developer, Pippin, allowing a Killswitch and DDoS attacks. The episode wraps up with a discussion on the user experience in WordPress, emphasizing the need for a cleaner dashboard and less intrusive plugin notifications. Overall, the episode serves as a pulse check on recent developments and concerns within the WordPress community.

00:00 Intro & Panelist Introductions
03:25 Carol Olinger’s Departure & Community Concerns
08:40 Jetpack Controversy
14:15 Jetpack Rollbacks and Ethics
20:00 Pippin’s Killswitch & DDoS Discussion
26:30 User Experience & Dashboard Cleanliness
31:50 Wrap-up and Final Thoughts

WordPress community, we had a tough week, let’s dive in.

Join us on this episode of WPwatercooler by visiting our Participant guidelines page.

WPwatercooler network is sponsored by ServerPress makers of DesktopServer. Be sure to check them out at https://www.serverpress.com


Episode Transcription

(00:08) what’s up everyone this is Jason Tucker and this is episode number 316 this particular episode is brought to you by server press makers our desktop server feel free to go take a look at their website over at server press comm that uh let’s go around the room real quick get everyone introduced what the heck John Brown hey hey how’s it going I’m back on I am John Brown I’m back in California for a little bit I’m a full-time nomad who runs a wordpress focus agency called nine scenes we build
(00:40) and sell racemes custom sites plugins all that stuff that’s it Bridgette Willard oh my gosh it’s not even Thursday it’s Friday I know I just wanted to shake it up for Jim Willard I specialize in doing marketing and social media consulting for WordPress products and services now find out more awesome say Reid how about you my name is say Reid and I’m a professor you for press preach WordPress that’s a read media on all the thing Wow do you suppose a day say probably Steve Oh awesome good to have you on how about
(01:32) you Jonathan hey Jonathan hold North Idaho I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing but I’m having a lot of fun doing it so it’s good to be here as long as you get the bills paid it doesn’t matter what you do right I’m Jason Tucker you can find me over at Jason Tucker on Twitter my blog I totally need to qualify that my apologies I mean it might be less drama for me to sell coke instead WordPress products so I’m sure you guys Oh talk about Carol olinger because I don’t think that word press this week
(02:20) needs more coke it needs a little bit of heroin smoke a little pot this week has been a very trying week in WordPress there’s there’s a ton of stuff that’s been going on in it and you know during the pre-show I was thinking I was like you know we we’re not we’re not one of those timely podcasts we’re not like oh let’s talk about the news let’s talk about all the things that we’re going on but when you have so much news you kind of have to or you just kind of look like duty if we did not discuss what was
(02:55) going down we would need four hours to cover all let’s give a brief for those of us not me who have been offline me did you want to be reporter sure so this week we had some issues with make WordPress and we’re press organization the community Carol olinger wrote a blog post it was pretty honest and I’ve had that conversation with her in person and I’ve experienced much of what she said she is no longer going to be with Plesk for health reasons but also discussed why she’s no longer going to be working
(03:39) with work camp Europe she’s one of many women who have or in the recent exodus from make WordPress also jetpack I don’t know what changed today allow search to feature their plugins and there are features if you have that installed which is unfair at a very least probably conflict of interest some people are pre upset about that and number three pit dig a theme developer allowed Killswitch and some DDoS attacks [Music] and that was just this week last week like the weekly with social workers where do we want to
(04:31) start I do want to say that jetpack released a amia Cola as it were – I haven’t looked at the the new dashboard results screen but according to their most recent blog post and their most recent update they have heard the community and have modified those results to only instead of showing things that jetpack that you would have to upgrade to a your version of jetpack 4 in order to get it will only show those things if that is something that is included in the level of jetpack that you have so it’s less of an
(05:07) advertisement more of a surfacing and they have modified the design so that it does not look like a typical search result in the plugins repository so well actually actually look more like an ad yes I mean the dashboard is like a whole other thing that like Jason’s been on the thing about for like a while and rightfully so but I do want to just say I think it’s really important to acknowledge that one the stuff can move really quickly and we do have to acknowledge when in the rare instances in which feedback from the community
(05:45) does results in a change of some sort because I think those need to be applauded otherwise they’re not even gonna happen so the small steps or should be like okay that’s a step you know any other plugin would never be allowed to do this but when automatic does something and it’s like oops I’m really sorry and their skills back a little bit then we have to applaud that well what Bridget said the jetpack got allowed to do this because I think that there’s there’s a couple of important pieces of contact
(06:20) here and it’s fair to say so let me back up so jetpack actually approached the plugin review team and said hey can we do this does this violate guidelines can we do it and the plugin review team that approves all the plugins that go into the repo said yes it’s okay do this and I actually understand while I completely object what happening I understand some of the intent behind it which was it is helpful to users to know a plugin you already have installed does what you’re searching for yes the implementation
(06:51) however which is what jetpack just rolled back which i think is commendable to jetpack was that it looked like jetpack was the first search result because it looked like a search result card when you search for it for whatever you search for and with a plugin like jetpack in particular like that bundles 50 features like they end up being the first looking result for 50 features and I think that is a disservice to all the other plugins and disservice to the search engine that’s saying we’re gonna surface results in a manner that we
(07:22) think is a gala terian towards all plugins there’s been a lengthy discussion so probably the best part of the discussion was that Yoast of all opened up a track ticket and proposed some alternatives trying to take a step forward and saying let’s build this into core in a better way and that is several mock-ups which show already installed plugins are showing above and outside of the search results and I think that’s a better scenario than what jetpack did which was what looks like the first search results card
(07:58) but on the other hand I still object to surfacing these at the top of the search results when they’re not really necessarily relevant like the use cases that come up with our but it doesn’t scale to the entire plug-in ecosystem well for example mark their plugin to come up for a certain search term that’s gonna end up being like the theme repo where it’s like you click you know left sidebar or whatever the I’m like everything in there comes up and it’s a completely useless marker and if you
(08:31) don’t do that for example if these cert those results those surfacing results as opposed to like search results are being done by for example the plugins team that’s putting a huge burden onto them to do that so the question then is how are those short test results going to be different like how are those going to be decided upon is that just a new search algorithm kind of deal where it’s like searching your own stuff and who decides what ranks for that so it does lend it does open up even more problems the thing is we
(09:06) should have been having this discussion prior probably to that being launched but the thing is truth like you know there’s that old adage like you know better to ask for forgiveness than permission which is obvious later it’s kind of our main models there was a discussion relative to this when the plugin review guidelines got revised about I’m bad with timelines a year or two ago and because spearheaded that and there was a lot of feedback and a lot of people wanted stricter guidelines that said no to advertising and it was
(09:49) loosened up with the idea that the plugin review team mica and Sam would be the arbiters of that and for me it’s really not like I immediately said I hate what Jeb X doing but then on the same token jetpack asked permission to do this and God okay the review team in the guidelines should have prevented that and they didn’t and yeah you can say like jetpack shouldn’t even ask in the first place but I think that there was intent there to make a better user experience of making sure people are aware that plugins they already have
(10:20) installed do a certain thing I get the intent there I don’t like the implementation I think you sit Yosuke Volks implementation is better I think that my suggestion on that same track kick at 4-6 7-6 3 is even better where you just highlight the card in the place it shows up in the search results if the if the search result is for XML sitemaps and your plugin shows up third it should still show up third it shouldn’t pop to the top because it’s already installed but it should have a stylized card that
(10:52) says the third result is already installed this is the first time jetpacks got in trouble I don’t the first time but they were the only one that would allow you to buy in within their plugin premium themes mmm so jetpack does stuff they may ask but I know for me and the experiences I had a while office on the make repress marketing team there’s a lot of things that happen that there’s other things that are happening and people who have financial investment and those plugins are really the ones who say what actually happens I
(11:38) mean I think that if we are able to separate you know I think a lot of the time jetpack gets a has a bad rep because people are like oh it’s automatic and therefore it’s like you know there’s this kind of like merge into that because of it’s everyone’s kind of always expecting automatic to come take over everything and I think everyone’s like hyper hyper sensitive to that which yeah I don’t necessarily think is right because I think it should it should definitely be more of a collaborative experience like because I
(12:13) know that’s how automatic used its contribution to WordPress as collaborative but that is not how it’s necessarily viewed from the community knowing that jetpack should probably take extra steps to avoid that as opposed to you know asking you know what is essentially two people right cuz PR and marketing which which and they’ve continued to be terrible at in it we’re just making you something though that they I’m not saying that this is exactly we’re saying something there were some malicious intent here right I know may
(12:55) or may it may or may not have been right it could just be that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing right what happens in launch organizations that I think it’s not saying that I honestly do and I think that there is a I don’t necessarily think that obliviousness should be an excuse but I do think it’s part of the problem because people in their silos and they’re doing their thing and everyone’s not checking what everyone else is doing and that’s the case for a lot of plugins and a lot of
(13:27) people like a lot of players in the WordPress ecosystem are not like pay attention or actively being you know you know stewards of entire community so I are just single jetpack out thank you they just know who to ask and they have the pathway to ask those people so in a regular plugin developer wouldn’t be like hey plug-in team can we do this yes and have that like kind of slightly back-channel conversation you know versus you know a normal regular plug-in developer so there is that but I don’t think that it’s malicious in my opinion
(14:05) okay so the thing is one of the things that comes back to here is that the plugin review team approves these things it allows these things in the dog repo which to me is representation of an extension of WordPress right so when we let plugins in it doesn’t matter whether it’s WooCommerce which does at a time or jetpack which does at a time like you commerce advertising their extensions as admin notifications jetpack advertising backups as admin notifications monster insights advertising their premium stuff
(14:36) as admin notifications all of this the dashboard a horrible experience and that makes people not just hate the single plug-in because most users don’t differentiate they’re like I’m installed this WordPress thing WordPress sucks because there’s 700 admin notices advertising 12 different things I’m sick of the noise I’m sick of all that’s like more and more that’s what I hear from average users is WordPress is frustrating there’s too many notifications there’s too many updates
(15:03) it’s always asking me to do stuff like click here and click here and app I accept this and dismiss this like the plug-in review team and the repository both for theme review and plugin with you although it here it’s clearly plugin review like ought to have stricter guidelines and not allow plugins that are distributed through org to provide such a bad experience and I think hijacking the search results is like the final line in a long line of that shouldn’t be allowed I think I’m just gonna say so I represent a ssin
(15:37) really matters and we’re oppressed we talk a lot about diversity what we don’t talk about is to be taught yeah the pugna EU team is too small and what not and so what you have is like this echo chamber the bro code people whatever you want to say all these podcasts with 30 to 45 year-old white males sitting around agreeing with each other and the confirmation bias I’m telling you what my friends are saying okay no that’s not true because Jason has this podcast I’m on the other one with them and we’re
(16:18) 5050 and I’m 46 so I’m not in the bro code okay but my point is that when you have people volunteer and they go to make a difference because they know that spending their time in make WordPress is something that they could do in order to change things and then they are maliciously or discouraged from offering their opinions or were railroaded or roadblocks every time they try to make a change then you have what we will we’ve seen this exodus of people who get treated as if they are these terrible
(17:00) I’m really not happy with the adjectives I’ve heard people discuss with when it comes to me on rip bill Corolla her Heather burns like they’re hysterical like whatever I might mind change I think I did a better job of like I’ve heard people say that to me a person like oh well they’re just too much or whatever like I woke up one day and I got an email that said Yost was in charge of the marketing team I thought I’ve been leading for almost three years that was super awesome right so then I’m
(17:35) like what the f okay so I mean I don’t know a lot of money on time and energy fighting and fighting and fighting for something that you think should be right building something and everything and then you get to a certain point where it’s just like you’re hitting a head you’re hitting you know and I talked to these ladies personally I know them and I know what it’s like to be doing something and then the only one who ultimately proves everything is Matt Mullenweg so whatever you think about
(18:12) that that’s the reality so if these women aren’t aren’t going forward in their volunteerism there is a huge top-down culture issue and make WordPress totally good but I want to talk about your personal situation for a second let’s dig into it could what you just said you woke up one morning you got it you got an email right looking at that objectively first just saying I’m not saying this is the case do you think that that was done personally toward you as an attack do you think that was malicious or do you
(18:44) think it was it was an oversight and I’m asking me honestly million I’m Julian I think that we like to say it’s not malicious I think that I know that Yost knew that email is coming I mean that blog post you know you get them email notifications from the update let me ask you a different way is there a problem between you and man where he okay no there was no key my handler was Josefa and Yost and just stuff up both knew for a week and nobody bothered to tell me okay my team it’s that we read about on
(19:26) the internet right so it was handled like [ __ ] right it was human totally it also something a woman built really well and it just handed over to a man to lead I’m not just happy I’m not just continuing that I was gonna stay it’s not this you cuz I’ve built it to leaks I knew I’d have a hysterectomy but the point is that that’s what it looks like from a marketing standpoint we’re talking about the marketing team totally I get it I understand the optics I understand i underst how it felt all of that everything
(19:59) you’re explaining is valid it’s correct you know I’m not discounting any of it I’m just trying to just trying to explore whether this is malicious intent throughout because that’s sort of the the running theme of what I’m hearing here is is there’s a lot of things happening and I’m not sure if it’s if it’s got specific targets if it’s malicious or if it’s just dumb oversight or lack of over center permission which you know from from a standpoint of running an organization the power is 33%
(20:34) of Internet at best is incompetence at best again I’m not defending man I’m not defending any of the decisions that were made I think these are all shitty right everything they haven’t a shitty right it’s and you’re right the optics of all this is crap there’s a difference between things that happen that are shitty and things that are malicious that’s right you know I have not read anything about this other than you know her post which I take at its face value to be what an accurate assessment she
(21:13) seems like she’s not coming from a place of malice just telling what her experience was she was actually asked to plead to keep specifically based on the work that she had done through the previous two years and then didn’t find out until after the organizing team had been announced she had been rejected from a position that she had been specifically asked to take on so that that that’s not Matt’s fault right that’s not Matt had nothing to do with that likely I mean I don’t know but I’m
(21:44) assuming right the problem here is a disconnect of the communication across the board I think blaming this is is is just using him as a scapegoat and I don’t think that that is actually any way to to solve the problem because the real problem is and I may comments like this on Twitter this week is that you know Morton was saying at more 10 you was saying that you know the problem is there’s a lack of this clear path forward right but the devs for every conversation I have with the devs every conversation I have with the core
(22:25) team what everything that Mac says everything that they’re pushing there they do have a vision the problem is is that the community is not part of that decision and so when things get handed down they feel like they’re edicts as opposed to a decision that the community who has so much at stake has participated in this incidentally that specific stuff is why Morton and Rachel cherry have started the repressed governance project which literally every single person who works in WordPress and is concerned about this should be a part
(22:59) of because all of it it’s doing right now it’s documenting the situation and what’s happening and try and to understand it and until we have this mapped out it’s only going to be well these little snippets on Twitter these little pylons until you until it’s like what we were talking about earlier on the pre-show right if you don’t map out tray take your daily temperature and present your daily list of symptoms to your doctor they’re gonna be like you’re full of crap we don’t know what you have you’re full of
(23:28) it right if we are able to document this process and be like look this is a pattern this is not just a one time instance or a personality issue with two people or one leader or lead of a group this is a community-wide ecosystem wide issue and it’s not just top-down it’s infused throughout the thing and that is I think more dangerous because there isn’t a quick fix there isn’t a like well this person is the problem if you get rid of this person you get rid of the problem getting rid of one person
(24:03) you know putting you know Matt even removing himself and putting Josefa in as executive director that’s not solving the problem that doesn’t change the culture and thinking that one person is the problem and therefore one person can be the solution is the problem so we’re seeing results so the results that we’re seeing now of different decisions that are being made for things showing up in the dashboard stuff showing up as notifications stuff showing up as top search results for you know for plugins is it because of the
(24:40) lack of the oversight the lack of the the governance part of it is it is it that they’re policemen yeah isn’t the right the you know we’re not doing the right way of going about police a self policing arson you know the types of things I think there are a lot of people out there Carol Ryan others who are super passionate about WordPress I’m super passionate on WordPress and I get frustrated when people don’t listen to me and I appreciate them feeling frustrated that people didn’t listen to
(25:09) them I appreciate they did good work I didn’t see most of it I’m not gonna weigh in on it because it’s not the part of WordPress I pay a lot of attention to but at the end of the day the WordPress community and the governance of needs to figure out how to tap into this passionate community the passionate community members more to encourage them promote them and support them because I think that it’s easy in the open source world to be very vocal in to be at the same time feeling like you’re not heard
(25:41) because it is open source right everybody has a say but that doesn’t mean that ever gets listened to so there’s a disconnect there and I think that that comes back to the government governance side of it and so I just just did a quick google search for the WordPress value system and found a section called action I’ve never even with these before I’m gonna read you this section right so under etiquette it says the word pressed open source community cares about the person we strive to maintain a welcoming
(26:14) environment where everyone can feel included by keeping communication free of discrimination incitement about violence promotion of hate and unwelcoming behavior that’s right as a community we’re not putting up through our own stated values and and so we either so as a community either need to to revisit this right so either either start living up to this or change that language a value system isn’t right or wrong right doesn’t doesn’t say good or bad or right or wrong it’s just the things that
(26:56) we value and this is written in each of the values on their website and the team’s not practicing because this is what we purport to be this is what everyone who starts in it’s like yeah you can contribute and then if you get ceases to be true and listen this is that disconnect specific and that’s why this field I think that’s why this feels so this feels malicious or unethical or you pick a word it feels like an attack because these values are just these are just words on a webpage they don’t mean
(27:33) anything because they’re not being practiced that’s my thing I think whoever it is on the team is in charge of this page or these values or wherever these come from needs to revisit this say one quick thing about the plug-in guidelines and this the fact that they’re guidelines is part of the problem these are just like guidelines like these are suggested ideas and what ends up happening is literally and I adore mica I think she’s an amazing human being and I also think that Otto is just really smart and does a ton of
(28:07) great work right like and works really hard and I do not begrudge them their roles in the slightest but having two people interpret the guidelines for the entire freaking world of like 34 percent of the Internet is insane it’s insane to expect them to do that and it’s insane to expect two people to be able to enforce and interpret all of those guidelines it’s it’s too much for them like it’s just too much it’s it’s not inclusive by virtue of fact that it’s two people so these should not
(28:40) necessarily be guidelines right maybe we have some actual rules that are like hey this is a rule and if you violate this rule these are the consequences and like we have to go to conduct but what happens like there’s a lot of like suggestions with our ethics and everything like that whatever you want to call it our values our ethics but when something happens like with Carol where she was suggested to do such as such who does she appeal to right because no and it’s not all Matt but what I’m saying is a lot of the people who work
(29:14) on the community team work for automatic so whoever’s in charge of that doesn’t matter the point is there is a culture problem in the make WordPress organization which filters out to work camps and meetups and it affects all these areas of our lives so I don’t know I don’t know what the solution is but I know that it needs to be discussed without framing the people who are whistleblowers lack of a better term a term that’s used in the real world without framing them as crazy and saying hysterical overzealous or whatever
(29:50) negative words have been used to describe these people who are done just totally done by being constantly shut down I mean [ __ ] I had all those words used to describe me this morning Carl Hancock from gravity forms put on Twitter this morning where he’s like I’m being accused of personally attacking Yoast in this case I’m just done like I’m sick of it and and Carl didn’t like he’s the same I am with the track ticket trying to be constructive talking about the code and the actual decisions being
(30:32) made not talking about the individuals I don’t I didn’t have a problem with George I had a problem with something jet-packed is right like the words though I think personally it’s active I’m like I’m not I swear I think that’s I think that’s really hard all these people yeah it’s such a personalized community that sometimes it’s messy to people or one person is in the thing and then someone’s like this woman and there may be like take it personally because it’s their thing
(31:00) that’s just how it’s gonna be yeah that’s why I keep pointing back to better governance over here it and at least in my partner California so I want to say guys we’re hanging out really appreciate it this stuff’s hard this stuff’s hard I I know this is not gonna be the last time we talked about this this is definitely not gonna be the last time we talk about this but I will the folks that come to this show and they want to know like what’s our favorite plugins what’s all the cool stuff that’s going
(31:30) on all those things those are gonna happen but we also have tons of archives of this stuff as well go over to our website add a park or calm you can find all that stuff that’s over there and if you want to be on the show you want to be here and you want to actually talk to us do our record our comm / subscribe that page on there has a whole bunch of ways of being able to get ahold of us and be able to get a get get added into that mix of what’s going on here in Dayton water coil and talk to you later
(31:54) you have a good one

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3 responses to “EP316 – Discussing a hard week in WordPress – WPwatercooler”

  1. I started reading the transcript but I couldn’t get past “hi my name is say breed I make her breasts eat requests preach repairs on savory media at savory media”. ????

    Jason Tucker ????????‍????????????
    Jason Tucker ????????‍????????????

  2. Oh wow.. those are pulled down from YouTube programmatically.

    Claire Brotherton










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