EP467 – WordStressed

October 20, 2023

This week on WPwatercooler WCUS 2023 organizer Tom Finley joins us to delve deep into the current state and future of the WordPress community, focusing particularly on its governance, inclusivity, and ethical stances. Topics ranged from the role of Automattic and Matt Mullenweg in shaping the community, to the challenges faced by volunteer contributors feeling burnt out or marginalized. The panelists discussed the implications of hosting companies like Pantheon, which had been embroiled in a controversy over their stance on hosting hate group sites. They also talked about the need for transparency in decision-making processes, the power dynamics within the community, and the complexities of making ethical and philosophical choices as community members. The sentiment throughout the episode was one of existential crisis: a struggle to balance personal ethics with community ideals, weighed down by issues like control, contribution, and the potential for organizing independently of existing structures. The panel ended on an introspective note, questioning the efficacy of their own discussions in either contributing to or alleviating the ongoing crisis within the WordPress world.

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Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] Jason Tucker: This is episode number 467 of WPwatercooler, Word

[00:00:14] Sé Reed: Hey, it’s me! That’s me and Tom!

[00:00:19] Jason Tucker: I’m Jason Tucker. You can find me over at my website at jasontucker. blog.

[00:00:25] Sé Reed: Oh, hey, I’m Sé, at Sé Reed Media on all the things woohoo!

[00:00:33] Jason Cosper: Yeah, and Cosper, sup, present,

[00:00:42] Jason Tucker: Go over to our website and you can go and find us, find all the links where you can go find us and follow us, and you can also go and hang out in our discord

[00:00:50] Sé Reed: I’m laughing because our pre show is so depressing.

[00:00:55] Jason Tucker: I hear

[00:00:55] Sé Reed: like, segwayed into this and we’re like, Whoa, hi, what’s up people? We’re here. What’s up?

[00:01:01] Tom Finley: the blame for that one.

[00:01:02] Sé Reed: It’s not your fault. Okay let me just go ahead and say this right here. It’s not your fault. Okay? It’s not your fault. None of this is your fault.

[00:01:11] We have a guest today. Former I want to mention, because I don’t know how you’re going to introduce yourself, but I want to just clarify that you were one of the organizers for WordCamp US 2023. I want to remind everybody that was in August. And it is now October, so that’s two months.

[00:01:37] Just been a lot in the last two months, but that’s where we’re coming from. The last time I saw Tom was he was running around with his WordCamp gear on being a WordCamp organizer, volunteer, demonstrating his love for WordPress. Okay. Anyway, so with that said, here’s Tom Finley.

[00:01:53] Tom Finley: I think I was paying back a debt of gratitude for after a decade of hiding in the shadows,

[00:02:02] Sé Reed: Look, taking on an organization, a WordCamp organization in general role is not like a low bar that, that buys you a few years and

[00:02:12] WordCamp US since the pandemic and also wanted this giant corporate

[00:02:22] Jason Tucker: to

[00:02:24] Sé Reed: It was a big deal. So yeah, I think you’re yeah, exactly.

[00:02:28] That’s what Scott said. Nevermind.

[00:02:29] Tom Finley: is what I call it.

[00:02:30] Jason Tucker: really

[00:02:32] Sé Reed: and I don’t know what else that said. Drama, trauma, global trauma. We are, our topic today, sorry, Tom, why don’t you actually introduce yourself? So we just

[00:02:44] Tom Finley: Yes, I was a WordCamp US 2023 organizer. I am a WPDC core leadership, core organizer, however you want to frame that person. And I am the owner of Proof Creative. Which is a digital agency based here in the DC area.

[00:03:07] Sé Reed: I like saying proof,

[00:03:09] Tom Finley: Proof. And that’s how I know, that’s how I know somebody is scamming and spamming me, is they call me up and they say, proof!

[00:03:15] Sé Reed: proof

[00:03:16] Tom Finley: You don’t know what an umlaut is.

[00:03:19] Sé Reed: Was there an umlaut? You have an

[00:03:20] Tom Finley: There’s an umlaut. There’s

[00:03:21] Sé Reed: Oh, that’s really cool. There’s not an umlaut in your domain, obviously. So I haven’t seen it in your A smiley face in my old logo, right?

[00:03:30] I have an accent in my name that is really hard for people to do. I’ve always imagined

[00:03:37] Jason Tucker: throw umlaut in there as well.

[00:03:39] Tom Finley: Sé.

[00:03:41] Sé Reed: say? Say! It just makes the E and A. And your umlaut makes your U an O, a double O. Anyway linguistics aside, hi. Linguistics Weekly with Sé.

[00:03:56] yeah, exactly. about, we did say we were word stressed, so I think you did that yourself.

[00:04:04] Tom Finley: Yeah this is us giving ourselves

[00:04:06] Jason Tucker: Next, we’re going to be doing a wordle. Look at us.

[00:04:09] Sé Reed: I am so bad at those games, I don’t even play. I wanted to name this episode WordPress stressed, to just like really drive the point home. But we went with word stressed just because it’s so fun, but I I just… Oh, I’m so WordPress stressed. Y’all,

[00:04:28] Tom Finley: Tell us about it.

[00:04:30] Sé Reed: No, I’ve been talking about it for weeks.

[00:04:32] I’m,

[00:04:34] Jason Tucker: you on, Tom.

[00:04:35] Jason Cosper: And,

[00:04:35] Sé Reed: that’s why we, yeah, we had you on the, so we could talk about your term once

[00:04:38] Tom Finley: Yeah,

[00:04:43] Sé Reed: Yeah. You met this. So that’s what, so I started the episode by saying, Hey, you were a Word camp organizer. Literally this year you’ve been active on what was. WordPress Twitter, which is now dead and just literally gone. It’s, it is dead because it’s not Twitter anymore, so literally WordPress Twitter is gone, like WordPress X, what are we, I don’t even, I refuse.

[00:05:09] Anyway So you are a big part of WordPress, Twitter active, obviously, as an organizer, locally, whatnot. You are passionate. You use it in your development, I’m assuming, for your clients. So you’re coming from a place of passion and… A long relationship with WordPress, right?

[00:05:32] Tom Finley: Yeah and I think it, it also would be a reasonable characterization to say I was one of those people who I existed in the Genesis community space for a long time,

[00:05:44] Sé Reed: Oh my god, Genesis.

[00:05:45] Tom Finley: I actually got,

[00:05:47] Sé Reed: Harry Dilsit’s face.

[00:05:48] Tom Finley: from Twitter during that entire period because bosses were always watching, so I couldn’t be on Twitter while I was developing and

[00:05:59] I don’t know, I just, I guess for whatever reason, I just wasn’t out there.

[00:06:03] Wasn’t really active with Make or anything like that, and it was across, really, the arc of the pandemic that I got more involved and opening my big mouth but after following people around for 10 years, and I guess becoming more, I don’t know, socially aware, politically aware in the course of that too, It was very curious to see how things are shaken out, especially post Trump, right?

[00:06:37] Sé Reed: I

[00:06:38] Tom Finley: yeah and one of my missions has been to use my my privilege to speak out in the moment when I see shenanigans. Think you’re the, one of the, one of the kings of shenanigans pointing out.

[00:06:59] Yeah I think that’s really important. I’m not, for anyone who’s not watching or… He’s at Tom is a white man. So I always think my when white men are able to speak up, that is really a a benefit.

[00:07:14] Sé Reed: I think that’s really important. So I don’t think it, again, I don’t think it’s something to be just pushed aside. I think it’s great.

[00:07:24] Tom Finley: yeah, I think we have to pay it forward and as trite as it is, we have to be the change we want to see in the world, right? And so if we’re perpetuating shenanigans and I’m trying to be,

[00:07:36] Sé Reed: I love the word shenanigans. I also love the word kerfuffle,

[00:07:39] Tom Finley: I have my own word for it, but that I coined, but not nearly as PC.

[00:07:47] no but if you’re not, if you aren’t working in some way to curb it, then you are, in fact, benefiting from a status quo in which shenanigans prevail. And I think that’s the climate in which we exist, not only as an industry.

[00:08:07] But also it’s not national, it’s not North America, it’s a global. And one of the things that I would say in my evolution just as a person is, I told a bad joke at a party once. It was about Bill Clinton being a vegan. And it turned out the girl I was talking to was a vegan.

[00:08:31] And so I made the joke at her expense, and she was obviously very nonplussed, and was one of those situations where she’s I’m a vegan, and walked away. And that was that. But shortly thereafter, I made it my mission to stop making jokes at other people’s expense, especially punching down.

[00:08:51] And social media is not proxy for actually knowing somebody. And we bring a lot of our own biases and assumptions into situations. But… If I ever staked out any ground, it would be that I don’t say things to say them at somebody’s expense, if I can help it, right? Unless I’m punching up.

[00:09:16] And usually that person is obviously very guilty of abusing the asymmetry of their station,

[00:09:24] Sé Reed: I think you can probably also punch, metaphorically punch, by the way, because violence is not the answer. You can also sometimes, oh,

[00:09:33] Jason Cosper: sometimes it is the answer, it very much if you’re, if if a fascist is involved if bringing up fascism now, huh? Because I have things to say about that. Yeah, we’re going there this episode, y’all. No, but I was gonna say you can also sometimes punch sideways. Because sometimes

[00:09:52] Tom Finley: Yeah are people

[00:09:53] certainly punch across.

[00:09:54] Sé Reed: who are next to you who need the punch. I have a personal theory

[00:09:58] punches. I’m not threatening anybody.

[00:10:00] There’s no threats. I just a lot of the stuff I’ve been saying these days is getting taken out of context. So I’m just providing,

[00:10:07] Jason Tucker: and you have yeah, I’m just like, metaphorically, you need to understand what I’m saying. Can we segue to fascism? Because I have a segue there.

[00:10:19] Tom Finley: yeah,

[00:10:19] Jason Tucker: haemakers. I don’t have a graphic for it.

[00:10:21] Sé Reed: Yeah, no, don’t put up a graphic for that please. No graphics for that one. Don’t ask AI to make a graphic. Even an, I can’t even just, okay. So the thing that this week is really, so obviously listeners of the show know stuff’s going, stuff spins going on with Matt within the community in general there I, I feel like I’m like experiencing this in some sort of like spotlight on Sé and everything that I’m dealing with is like rife with drama right now.

[00:10:59] And I keep trying to think of that, like Taylor Swift song it’s me, I’m the problem, like applies. And I keep being like, I swear to God, it’s not me. I swear. But the thing really, oh, sorry.

[00:11:13] Jason Cosper: So much drama in the WP, it’s hard being S diuretic E, but you somehow some way.

[00:11:23] Jason Tucker: Nice.

[00:11:25] Sé Reed: Okay Look at

[00:11:27] that was amazing.

[00:11:27] Tom Finley: off.

[00:11:29] Sé Reed: I hope we don’t get copyright infringement for that one.

[00:11:32] Tom Finley: No, it’s fair use. It’s fair use. That’s

[00:11:34] Sé Reed: Very good. Okay.

[00:11:35] Jason Tucker: quite the derivative, so we’re good.

[00:11:37] Sé Reed: Alright,

[00:11:38] Tom Finley: on it and he’s done his rights.

[00:11:41] Sé Reed: This week the the philosophy so much for me in WordPress is about ethos is about what the mission is of open source and specifically WordPress in its effort to wrap up to me, democratized publishing means so many things, but what it really means to me is that people have the ability to make websites or make web presences of any kind on a very low tech basis.

[00:12:19] Server. So that really reduces the barrier maybe not in terms of getting it spun up like it’s like the super easiest thing to do or whatever, but if someone were in a you don’t have to rely on a SAS that can process your There are ways to make local servers happen and there’s ways to create content and exchange information via the internet that doesn’t have to involve paid services necessarily, right? Obviously you’d strip it way down. Yes, Tom.

[00:13:03] Tom Finley: that that you have the ability to actually also influence the direction of that technology. That

[00:13:12] Sé Reed: Yeah, one more. That’s,

[00:13:14] Tom Finley: talking about here, right?

[00:13:15] Sé Reed: that is the that is the, that’s the what’s the word? Dream? Line? Selling point? I’m not sure what word to use there. Yeah that’s the idea of open source and that, right? You can get involved, you can take it. And if WordPress disappeared tomorrow, I could still use that software.

[00:13:37] I could update that software, right? So it really allows… Empowers individuals in low tech, low service areas, and of low service if they don’t, even just economically, if they don’t have the funds for that, right? So it really allows that level of accessibility. And I don’t mean accessibility in terms of disability or reading.

[00:14:06] Accessibility in terms of being able to… Reach it and use the software. Have access to it, literally. So that’s always what it’s meant to me. And that has been championed whatever dilemmas have come up with how the community is run or what what the priorities are, that has always been there.

[00:14:30] And I have always felt that I am we are all working for the same idea. For the same ideal. And I have been questioning that literally since WordCamp US and specifically since my literal words to try to help out the community and like figure out like how we could actually move forward with empowering the community with SEO, for example being met with like literal being, being shut down literally, that obviously began it.

[00:15:07] But this week it took another level, y’all. And it took another level because Mark Andresen, is that how you say his last name? Andresen, of Netscape fame, one of the original tech, tech bro billionaires who has been on boards and whatever and being paid to get, make money for the last You know, 20 years, essentially.

[00:15:33] Put out a manifesto, a literal manifesto, that says we believe a lot. Like it’s a, like it’s a freaking cult, really reads like a cult document. The techno optimist manifesto.

[00:15:49] Jason Cosper: I wouldn’t even call it a manifesto. It’s a screed,

[00:15:52] Sé Reed: A screed?

[00:15:54] Tom Finley: read.

[00:15:54] Sé Reed: See, we are word stressed, again.

[00:15:56] Jason Tucker: from other people is pretty much what it comes down to.

[00:15:58] Sé Reed: Is it a screed? Or is it a manifesto? Or is it just like actual bonkers? That shit crazy. Manifesto!

[00:16:08] Tom Finley: on the man.

[00:16:09] Jason Tucker: Exactly, Mika. Just like

[00:16:11] Sé Reed: Look, I this is actually terrifying, this thing. I read the whole thing, and I read half of it, and I thought I was almost done, and I shared it with a friend of mine, and then we were dialoguing about it. Yeah, no one should call anything a manifesto at any point. So we were dialoguing about it, and they were like, Wait, what about this part? The reason I sent it to them was because I know in Matt Mullenweg’s talk at WordCamp US, in which he talked about futurism in the form of a hundred year WordCamp I don’t know, 100yearwordpress.

[00:16:48] com whatever that is. Accounts? Policies? Like plans or whatever. Your 100 year plan with wordpress. com. So aside from talking about the wordpress. com in the wordpress. org context he mentioned a phrase during that talk that I noted. That was positive sum capitalism, and I had not heard that term before, and I was like, huh, positive sum capitalism, that’s a really specific term.

[00:17:20] And I’ve been super busy, and not, haven’t had a chance to really get into that, but then I was reading this manifesto, and I saw… In the manifesto it wasn’t positive sum capitalism, it was positive sum markets, is what he wrote. And I was like oh wait, positive sum markets, I remember that, sounds a lot like positive sum capitalism.

[00:17:44] And I sent, I started dialoguing about that. And what I didn’t even realize was my friend told me, wait, you got to keep going. There’s an enemies section. It’s like an enemy section. I hadn’t even gotten to the enemy section. So I’m like, wow, I thought I was almost done. I was not almost done. Okay. I read the rest of it.

[00:18:04] And now I’ve read the whole thing, for which my week has been suffering. And the enemies list not only lists

[00:18:15] Jason Cosper: the WordPress platform. It’s a web based API that’s built on the

[00:18:16] Sé Reed: trust and safety which will be relevant later, but also lists tech ethics, sustainability, And social responsibility as enemies of the ideas of this manifesto. Enemies of those who believe in this manifesto. Which is funny we have a sustainability team on WordCamp that is struggling a little bit to get started, but it is still it’s there, it’s got some sort of mandate. It’s been a little clunky. But so there’s a literal sustainability team. And I think we all agree that WordPress is definitely taking on a mantle of social responsibility with trying to be inclusive.

[00:18:58] We’ve got a DEIB diversity. I don’t remember what all the, inclusion, what’s the E for? Why can’t I remember what the E is for? Something in belonging. I can’t remember what the E is for. If someone wants to tell us in the comments, that

[00:19:12] Tom Finley: You blanked me. I’m looking,

[00:19:16] Jason Cosper: today.

[00:19:16] Tom Finley: I knew it before you said

[00:19:18] Sé Reed: I know, everyone’s wait, what is

[00:19:19] Tom Finley: I got nothing.

[00:19:20] Sé Reed: Yeah, it’s something. We can look it up. But we’re moving towards this. We’ve got a sustainability team. Equity.

[00:19:29] what equity that’s should not be forgotten. Thank you, Jacob. Appreciate

[00:19:35] Tom Finley: And equity is a huge component.

[00:19:38] Sé Reed: It’s

[00:19:38] Jason Cosper: Absolutely. Thank

[00:19:39] Sé Reed: A big deal. So just to wrap this up, right on, say a Festo that’s all well and good. And then there was a blog post, Matt. Mullenweg posted wherein he called the the manifesto exciting, and he said that the only edit he would make is that he would remove trust and safety from the enemies list. Matthew said that? Yes, Matt Mullenweg, the benevolent dictator of WordPress said that the only edit he would think to make to that manifesto is that he would remove trust and safety from the enemies list because he thinks managing spam is important and saves money.

[00:20:30] Tom Finley: Ooh, ooh, can I go?

[00:20:31] Sé Reed: Yeah,

[00:20:34] Jason Cosper: Please,

[00:20:35] Sé Reed: please tell them, cause I’ve got nothing after that. That’s where I ended. And I was like, Hey, I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut and I have no breath. So that’s cool.

[00:20:45] Tom Finley: I’m going to do a little exposition just because not everybody is across everything. Mark and Jason’s company is called A16Z. Automatic officially operates

[00:21:00] Sé Reed: A H C. Yeah,

[00:21:04] Tom Finley: Little bit of a love letter there. To that

[00:21:06] Sé Reed: For the record, A8C came after A16Z.

[00:21:13] Tom Finley: If you go back a few months in the Make Announcements channel it’s locked, only certain people can post to it, and it was in response to Andresen’s post on AI, like, why we should stop worrying about the bomb and love AI,

[00:21:32] Sé Reed: See, that one was definitely a screed.

[00:21:34] Tom Finley: and,

[00:21:35] Jason Cosper: it? Why AI will save the world?

[00:21:38] Sé Reed: Yeah, basically.

[00:21:39] Tom Finley: and worship!

[00:21:42] It’s not an uncommon saying, but in motorcycling we say, where you look is where you go. And I definitely pay attention to people’s reading lists. If you really like fascist fanfic that definitely puts you in a category of red flaggy people for me.

[00:22:06] And I, considering the affinity that our benevolent dictator has for where Mark’s headed I definitely think it merits a lot of scrutiny.

[00:22:20] Sé Reed: I also just want to point out, in the manifesto by Andreessen, he references a Manifesto that was written, he doesn’t say its name, he said it was written at a different time and place, and then quotes it quite lovingly. It’s called the Futurist Manifesto, and it was written in 1909, and the person who wrote it went on to write, wait for it, the Fascist Manifesto. Same person, quoted. In the manifesto,

[00:22:53] Jason Cosper: you.

[00:22:53] Sé Reed: just saying, that’s not that’s not implication. But retweeting doesn’t encourage, retweeting doesn’t of where we are right now.

[00:23:06] yeah, this is literal fascism. That, that is literally what we are talking about here literally quoting and supporting a manifesto written by someone who wrote the fascist manifesto.

[00:23:23] I don’t Is the name being dropped in the comments. But why is it why is this important? We did this a hundred years ago. In the 20s, a plague swept the entire world. Fascism became the dominant form of government across the world, and we all know what happened after that. And… And there was a huge financial crash also at the core of a lot of the problems

[00:23:58] you might recall the Great Depression.

[00:24:02] Tom Finley: There were a lot of people making money hand over fist and a lot of people who got hurt died,

[00:24:09] Sé Reed: of people died. And suffered a lot.

[00:24:13] Tom Finley: And right now there were some wars.

[00:24:15] we have a glitzier form of that happening right now, right? We have Netflix and smartphones, but never never in the past 100 years have we seen this level of squeeze being put on people.

[00:24:31] And when you have technocrats that are out here… Basically name checking fascists or just a step away from that and essentially telling us, like, why we should enjoy being digital sharecroppers for them.

[00:24:46] Sé Reed: It’s


[00:24:48] Sé Reed: That is the best summary. Oh my god,

[00:24:50] Tom Finley: we need to take a long, hard look at what we’re being fed, right? We need to scrutinize the shit, and I am going to say the shit out of everything that is being said by people who have paychecks that will take us centuries. To get people get paid in one year, what some of us, 100 to 500 years to make.

[00:25:14] Sé Reed: Yeah, and

[00:25:15] Tom Finley: we don’t

[00:25:15] Sé Reed: died before, before we get there.

[00:25:18] Tom Finley: worries. And,

[00:25:20] Sé Reed: the

[00:25:21] Tom Finley: I see that the other troubling thing, because you criticize somebody like Andresen or Mullenweg on Twitter, and there’s one person that comes in and be like, yeah, you know what, you’re totally right.

[00:25:31] And there are like 50 guys that are like, you’re just a hater, right?

[00:25:35] Sé Reed: sometimes the person themselves even says that.

[00:25:38] Jason Cosper: I I can’t even believe that there are so many people willing to, pardon my language, dick ride people who don’t even fucking know them,

[00:25:49] Sé Reed: We’re getting real this episode. Yeah, they don’t even know them. And not only that, but not only do they not know them, but they would not value them if they did know them. They do not have a high opinion of the, what are the masses, right? The common people. That’s essentially what we’re talking about here.

[00:26:09] These people are essentially kings, right? They’re kings. They have no accountability to anyone. I’ve been reading about Elon Musk’s CEO, his new CEO, who’s is a name that escapes me at the moment, too. It’s really my

[00:26:28] Jason Cosper: Linda Iaccarino.

[00:26:29] Sé Reed: There you go. That’s why I have, that’s why we’re all here together.

[00:26:32] Strengths. She’s a very Trumpian delivery, too.

[00:26:36] I haven’t even seen, I’ve read a lot about it. And all the articles are like, so she doesn’t know anything about what’s happening at the company at all. And she goes out on like stages and talks and then they ask her questions. She’s okay I have to go now. And then they say, what do you think about what Elon said about this?

[00:26:54] And she goes, oh, I don’t know. I didn’t know he said that we’ll have to check on stuff. And it’s okay, this is obviously just a prima facie set up, right? You’re just like the, what is it? The figurehead that is trying to allow even more flexibility for Elon Musk, because now he’s not even having to adhere to the roles of CEO, right?

[00:27:17] So now he can just do whatever with complete. Impunity. And he is, he also subscribes to these beliefs, by the way. And the idea of futurism and long termism is, should really be concerning to us all. Because what it essentially means is that and the philosophy it’s actually… It’s been tweeted by Elon.

[00:27:43] I don’t know if it’s exactly the philosophy that Mark and or Matt subscribe to, obviously but given the proximity of both their social circles and their language and the things they’re saying it’s the same, it’s the same idea. But the, especially the futurism focus. So the the philosophy is essentially that Whatever whatever costs might happen here in the present day, that they are irrelevant as long as the long term effect of that is beneficial to humankind.

[00:28:23] Not only are they like, whatever happens here, as long as like the people in the future have some capabilities. Them and their ancestors then it doesn’t matter what happens to the people here. Not only is that a problem for everyone alive, but also, that relies specifically on that person’s imagined…

[00:28:44] One, this is singular people’s imagined idea of what a, the future should be, what the future will be, and then them making decisions with their copious amounts of money and putting all the technology companies that they buy up constantly onto these missions where they are literally saying in their philosophies that they are doing it for the future.

[00:29:07] That’s why Elon is all about colonizing Mars and he doesn’t care about, any of the environmental impacts of SpaceX or the satellites or whatever. He’s given up on everything that’s happening here and his whole thing is, the future that I want in a hundred years is more valuable than all of this here.

[00:29:28] Tom Finley: his tech is taught as shoddy bullshit. Look into what’s happening with the satellites, right? His satellites are about to basically, probably end all satellites. And that’s not that’s not speculation. Just

[00:29:39] Sé Reed: Like just the tech, they’re dying or

[00:29:42] Tom Finley: are they’re in an exponential collision course that, that, that cannot be corrected and they can’t get them down.

[00:29:50] Sé Reed: Wait, like collision, like actual…

[00:29:52] Tom Finley: Yeah they have had to make exponentially more course corrections for each of the satellites, and it is becoming impossibly unmanageable to continue to correct their trajectories, and the space agencies have no way to fix it.

[00:30:12] Sé Reed: That’s

[00:30:12] Send us Facebooks up and just bomb them.

[00:30:16] Tom Finley: communications, which would be really interesting.

[00:30:19] Sé Reed: We don’t rely on satellite communications for anything important, Tom. I don’t think, now, and I’ll cop to being, I’m very ADHD, so I see things very macro and micro, and it makes things unmanageable sometimes, but this is all really important because there, there’s an element in this it’s like less wrong, right? Sam Bankman Fried, thank you he made that popular, and with this You mean the guy on trial for massive fraud? That guy? Yeah. Okay, cool.

[00:30:50] Tom Finley: These great visions are being revealed to just be like the selfish designs of mediocre men, mediocre white men. And and they’re incorporating these elements of like stoicism, right? Like just go along with what happens because you can’t really change it.

[00:31:11] The only people that I have heard really pumping that line. Our people that have it made, pretty much, right? They’re, they would prefer for the rest of us to manage our emotions and get the hell out of their way so they can do their thing. But they’re not very good at servicing situations like when they are rightly called out.

[00:31:37] They go on the attack, right?

[00:31:39] Sé Reed: Hadn’t noticed.

[00:31:41] Tom Finley: what is it? Is it DARVO is the acronym for deflect and reverse victimize? But that’s a, it’s a technique the Republicans are using right now. And you see a lot of these tech CEOs use that, right? Like they deflect and they reverse frame who the real victim is.

[00:32:05] And that’s that comes. Full circle back to the enemies list. Like we we have There’s an enemies list. First of all, there’s an enemies

[00:32:16] being consumed with tech ethics, right? Tethyx.

[00:32:24] Jason Cosper: Check it

[00:32:25] Tom Finley: Correct usage of Darbo, Jacob tells me. So yeah it makes, every

[00:32:33] Sé Reed: can I just…

[00:32:34] Tom Finley: Until otherwise verified. And I don’t, I have a mistrust, but verify relationship with.

[00:32:45] Sé Reed: Yes. I have a difficult one myself. I… You just distracted me, because now I’m

[00:32:53] Jason Tucker: on some social media site

[00:32:55] Sé Reed: Yeah, some said some stuff with WordPress leadership. I, Oh, we had a nevermind. Yeah, I forgot what I was going to say. Cause now I got distracted about WordPress leadership.


[00:33:07] Sé Reed: I wrote down was Darvo.

[00:33:09] Jason Cosper: If one if one has a distrust with WordPress leadership let’s talk to Bernie, who is once again, asking you to consider WordPress governance.

[00:33:21] Tom Finley: I am once again asking you to consider WordPress governance.

[00:33:25] Sé Reed: Oh God. I just, I feel with all of this on top of it, right? Like I this is why I prefaced this whole conversation with all of that stuff before, right? Like I always felt that we had these ideals in common. That we were going for that. But I do not understand how the techno optimist manifesto, excuse me, is in any way in alignment with WordPress is WordPresses ethos.

[00:33:54] It feels completely out of alignment. other even so far as to be like technology saves everything. And technology can fix everything, but it feels like in WordPress, we’re often like, really working because we’re working with the code, and so it feels very much like the people are very much a big part of that.

[00:34:14] It’s not since AI came out, or ChatGPT came out in… A year ago, suddenly WordPress development has been made simple, and we’ve solved all the accessibility issues, and they know how to get the font manager in, right? It hasn’t solved all of those problems. It’s okay, tech’s gonna solve all our problems, but, like, when is it gonna do that?

[00:34:38] Eventually? Of course because if we get to Star Trek we’re doing much better, but it’s like, how do we get from here to there? And sometimes I think,

[00:34:47] Tom Finley: to have a third world war and,

[00:34:50] Sé Reed: and then they,

[00:34:51] Tom Finley: have to use a nuclear missile with a dilithium crystal to get the attention of the Vulcans. So that’s just.

[00:35:01] Jason Cosper: Okay

[00:35:01] Tom Finley: That shit ain’t happening.

[00:35:02] Yeah. I’m a trekky.

[00:35:06] Sé Reed: Okay, I was, I am too, and that’s why I enjoyed that so much. So I wanted to bring this back real quick to the enemies list, which I just like that there’s an I don’t like, but I like to remind all of us that there is literally an enemies list. So if that doesn’t sound frightening and authoritative, authoritarian and fascist to you, I don’t know what does.

[00:35:25] Especially since everything on that list was like me, I’m like, cool, so me, I’m the enemy. Awesome. I’m

[00:35:33] Jason Cosper: How many people who give a real a real fuck about the WordPress project are on that enemies list?

[00:35:44] Sé Reed: That’s what I’ve been, the whole WordPress project is on the list. And I am like the one that really obviously sustainability and social response, there’s other stuff on this list that is like, what, why would you, what an enemy? These are ideas that are enemies. It’s Orwellian thought controlled, creepy, awfulness.

[00:36:03] But, how can tech ethics be any, cause, just saying tech ethics does not say what the ethics are. You could have tech ethics that are like Darth Vader. Maybe Darth Vader had ethics. Those were his own ethics, right? There’s not there’s an ethic in the dark side if we’re going Star Wars, right?

[00:36:28] Jason Cosper: He had an ethos, but not necessarily ethics.

[00:36:33] Sé Reed: is what I’m just saying, like just saying tech ethics opens a conversation about what those ethics are. It is not even saying like sustainability is saying we want things to be able to continue to function

[00:36:49] Tom Finley: And you can, and then they say you can fight a person and you can fight a, an army, right? But you can’t fight ideas. And so we’re when we’re in that mode of deliberately framing ideas as an enemy, I think that is some interesting territory. Think it’s terrifying to be honest.

[00:37:09] And then to go a step further with it, if you’re going to take exception to one you’re basically tacitly endorsing the rest of it, right?

[00:37:18] Sé Reed: You say wait. If you say, the only edit I would make is this. You’re not tacitly endorsing the rest of it. You are cleverly, perhaps, not saying, I agree with this entire thing except this, but it is the same thing to say, I agree with this entire thing except this part, than to just say I would just edit this part. It’s the same thing. You could do plausible deniability there but

[00:37:48] Tom Finley: That’s respectability, politics, and action, right? To plausible deniability

[00:37:54] yeah I didn’t actually say that, right? And, but What does exciting mean anyway? If we’re gonna, is it, does it mean it’s exciting? Is bombing exciting? Does that excite people? Does the fact that California has had its A14 It’s an automatic weapons ban struck down. Is that exciting to people?


[00:38:15] Sé Reed: It definitely increases my blood rate. It definitely my blood pressure rate, like it definitely creates feelings. I don’t know if I would call them excited, but my my, my synapses are activated. What does exciting mean exactly?

[00:38:36] Tom Finley: Yeah, we should all just be in survival mode, right? As if we already aren’t. But I, I think when you go back to the alignment of, or lack thereof, of these, the manifestos the caping for them and where WordPress is as like a open source project. It’s not out of alignment if you’re running a corporation. And I think that ultimately, like that’s the point that the

[00:39:10] Sé Reed: Technically I run a corporation. Hold on just a second. Technically I run an S corp, so technically I run a corporation, so I always think it’s really important to qualify that with, because there’s a lot of small corporations that are small businesses, so I’m not one to allow the word corporation to be a stand in for a corporation.

[00:39:29] Whatever the hell evil business entity

[00:39:33] Tom Finley: well,

[00:39:34] Sé Reed: I just because then that you start getting, you start people saying I’m a corporate, because technically my business is an S corp, right? So technically I run a corporation. So anyway, I just don’t want to get into that split. So it’s, I think it’s important not to frame it as just like that way just a side point.

[00:39:50] Tom Finley: Let me get to the.com versus.org

[00:39:53] Sé Reed: Get where you’re going, get where you’re going,

[00:39:56] Tom Finley: emphasis is.com then it makes sense. If the emphasis is really having a community driven thing, it doesn’t make sense. And I think there’s a lot of tension there, and honestly, you can’t find it now, but I’ve made a very long post about this.

[00:40:17] This tension resulting in… The project and community being in a flat spin, right? And it’s the point that you were trying to make about the lack of transparency, the lack of really truly knowing who’s driving the decisions behind certain things that materialize on org, like sandbox buttons and annual surveys.

[00:40:41] things, statistics disappearing, right?

[00:40:45] Like that this is not just a thing that’s happened in the past two months, this has been. Years worth I want to illustrate your

[00:40:56] of these decisions. Yeah, go

[00:40:58] Sé Reed: I just want to illustrate your point. So on last Tuesday because of a tweet that I made, because now I apparently am on the lists for what being launched on Twitter a tweet that I talked about where I said that the… I think I mentioned this on the show earlier that the marketing team was not involved whatsoever with the annual survey, right?

[00:41:18] And Giuseppe Hayden Cianfossi came on to said, hey let’s talk about this. Not on Twitter. And I was like, great, come to our meeting. So she came not this past Tuesday, but the weekend, week before that, and had a discussion about the annual survey which was… It’s just oddly tense for one, but there was a really interesting part where, and the discussion is posted, I’ll post a link in the show notes.

[00:41:48] I wrote up a summary on Wednesday, I think, and it was a very long summary because I tried very hard to be objective and thorough. But the thing that stands out most to me is when we were talking about how the community can be involved in the development of the survey. Josefa said she didn’t see a clear path to that, and in another part where I was making a distinction between work that happens within the community structure, make the, make Slack, the P2s, the GitHubs, and work that happens externally, like at different companies, Slack, or in another structure that’s not part of the project structure that is external to the company and her, or that is external to the organ, to the community.

[00:42:37] And her response to that was that Automatic, key thing here is not the WP foundation, it’s not what we’re talking about. We’re literally talking about Automatic. She said Automatic owns this process of the survey and therefore we own the responsibility. And I was, I haven’t really I didn’t respond to that, because there’s not a lot I can say.

[00:43:03] I’m just like, oh you just own it. First of all, I feel like it would be the foundation that should own it if we’re talking about that. But who, who decided that? Who decided that’s owned? It’s really hard to get into that, because that’s just the baseline place that…

[00:43:22] Project leadership is starting from that was not a revelation at all. That was just a statement of fact. Automatic owns this process. Therefore we have the responsibility and no, we’re not going to, we’re open to feedback but we, I don’t know how this would be part of the community, how the community could participate in developing this, which just, I don’t even know, like at a certain point you just have to say, okay that is pretty clear, right?

[00:43:49] That’s not ambiguous. That is making it. Very clear that process is not going to happen in the community as far as that is concerned. Survey, and as far as they are concerned, as far as like official, officially showing up on wordpress. org slash news or whatever it happens to be or on the social medias.


[00:44:11] Jason Cosper: I think I have say I think I have a problem with how many things are being pulled back from the community when for 20 years, or at least for most of the last 20 years the biggest strength of WordPress has been the community, the

[00:44:36] Sé Reed: that’s what we all say in our selling points.


[00:44:39] Sé Reed: That’s oh,

[00:44:41] Jason Cosper: there, but because of I don’t know, capitalism, because of whatever we’re someone who is already rich and just wants to be richer.

[00:44:58] I don’t fucking know. They things just continue to get. Pulled back control continues to be exercised in a way where you know, where someone can pay people to work on this thing instead of the community that makes WordPress great,

[00:45:23] Sé Reed: not even paying them to work in the community, which is a conversation that I would that’s a whole other that’s what we are saying that is. What we are purporting to have happen, right? There are sponsor contributors that are there full time, part time, whatever, that work in the community.

[00:45:41] They’re part of the community. That is a com community. When you take it out of the community, that isn’t sponsored contribution. That’s just employment. That has nothing to do with WordPress. org. That is a separate company. Working on something. I just, I unless it comes through the community at some point, it is not part of it.

[00:46:05] And if any other company was doing that, then it would be not allowed. Like people are not allowed to do that. Not allowed to put those links in, not allowed to use, amplify that stuff. And if this was the WordPress foundation or the WordPress community services, which is a B Corp established underneath the nonprofit foundation.

[00:46:27] I wouldn’t have that’s and if they’re paying through that’s a different conversation. That’s not what we’re talking about. It was not, oh, WordPress community services owns this process and therefore owns this responsibility. No, it was automatic, which they have the license to use wordpress.

[00:46:46] com, but do they have the license to take everything out of the community to run that? What, where’s that? Is that part of the license? Has anyone even seen the license? I don’t even know what that agreement looks like, it’s

[00:47:01] Tom Finley: I think to draw an analogy that we can all readily identify with, at least if you’re based in the US it’s a lot less. It’s like a representative democracy and more like the electoral college, which if you know what the history of the electoral college was, it’s because you could not trust the decision making of the everyday man.

[00:47:24] So it’s essentially an inbuilt override.


[00:47:28] Tom Finley: And I think we need some clarification around that. Now, I don’t have eyes on what the historical levels of control and or monetization from automatic to project. org. I don’t, I have no idea, I can’t speak to that, but I have a distinct sense now that there is so much money interlinked between the two that it is also driving some of the tension,

[00:47:58] Sé Reed: Yeah, I

[00:47:59] Tom Finley: And that every time we scratch at the community ownership angle, We are getting close to, too close to some element of money scarcity Yeah. Agenda.

[00:48:17] we, yeah and agenda and my, the theory that I put out there was that the attrition rate is, has got people scared and that is

[00:48:32] Sé Reed: rate from WordPress or from the community? From the software or from the community?


[00:48:42] Sé Reed: Woo hoo.

[00:48:43] Tom Finley: With the level of cash that is being infused into org, the entitlement and almost obligation to steer things in certain directions that are being deemed like important to return those things are being seized. Or at least that would be my theory.

[00:49:05] Sé Reed: Yeah,

[00:49:05] Tom Finley: know shit

[00:49:06] Sé Reed: It’s called seizing the means of production.

[00:49:10] Tom Finley: yeah, so I it’s

[00:49:12] Sé Reed: Someone wrote about that at one

[00:49:13] Tom Finley: You can only infer, you can only infer these things because it’s not being spoken about, right? And it’s not being spoken about honestly. We know we’re being deflected.

[00:49:22] Sé Reed: speaking about it, honestly, finally, Tom. I’ve been speaking around it for a really long time, but at this point, I got nothing to lose. I I’m already being ostracized from the community. I’ve been doing this the nice way for a long time. I have been having these conversations behind the scenes actively since 2018.

[00:49:42] Like… At some point I’m just like, I don’t, I there is no other place to have the conversations, right? There is no place to have the truth this just has to be had out here, right? That’s, otherwise there’s, again, no accountability here. What, where, who is holding who accountable? Nobody . There’s there’s, there isn’t any, and maybe that should be a foundational thing like the WordPress Foundation and the literal financial enmeshment that is happening should be a concern if it’s really all a matter of how much do we care.

[00:50:20] And is it, how important is it that this is a true open source project that is owned by all of us, as opposed to owned by a single company and we get to like work for free for that company. Because I was never feeling, I never felt that way before, again, because I felt that we were working towards a shared ideal.

[00:50:41] This week has obliterated that idea. And there was already problems with Jordan Peterson in there, and some problematic associations, and of course, behaviors, and flipping out on people’s never great, but do we talk about lobsters making beds in the morning? I must have missed that one.

[00:51:05] That’s a Jordan Peterson reference, FYI for folks who don’t know. Yeah who we are not endorsing. Mentioning in this case is anti endorsing, just for the record. Just so we’re clear that should also be, you know what, that should, to my mind, that should also be an easy, no, I don’t, do not agree with no, I’m not a Nazi, no, I do not follow Jordan Pe no, I do not subscribe to the ideals of Jordan Peterson that basically says that women naturally prefer to be homemakers.

[00:51:35] Just, we’re just meant to, it’s just natural. Fact, they found out this week that based on historical what was it, DNA evidence or archaeological finds, that women are not the gatherers that they were portrayed to be, that they were out hunting as well. Go figure.

[00:51:56] Yeah, turns out humans needed to use human resources for things and some people are good at hunting and some people are good at watching kids and some people are good at cooking food. This is the same that it has been for a long time. We just like to put all of our philosophies on it.

[00:52:14] So here’s the thing, speaking of philosophy this has become philosophical and that is. Complicated, because now it’s not just, it’s not just software. It’s not just community. It’s literally I guess it’s like the, is it Pantheon? The Pantheon conversation? I think Pantheon has a whole scandal issue in so far as that they came out and they said they are not going to ever kick anyone off of their hosts, no matter how, if they’re listed on the anti hate they’re, they have no problem giving a home to what is it?

[00:52:48] What does that list? The Anti Defamation League. hate group list, right? Something like that. It was about a year ago that they became embroiled in that. And I

[00:53:01] yeah, and that has, they’ve been making a comeback across all the different conferences this year. And they’ve actually been given multiple slots at different conferences to talk about this type of thing and freedom of hosting and whatever. So they’re literally being given not just a free pass, but also entry.

[00:53:21] Let’s talk about why you’re right, Pantheon. And this is if you… If it’s like you want to give your money to someone who is actively okay with supporting hate groups or whatever that’s a clear line, right? They’re hosting it. They’re saying, yes, we’re going to associate this.

[00:53:43] It’s okay I will move my hosting. Like when GoDaddy was killing the elephants the CEO guy was out there killing elephants and everyone’s this is just not okay. Like you’ve got to stop. Thank

[00:53:55] Tom Finley: Scott’s telling us in the comments that they they recanted just this month on that.

[00:54:02] Sé Reed: Oh! Yay! That’s the same type of thing. Probably because they were losing a lot of customers. Because people were like actually, really, these are bad things and they don’t need a home on the web, and I don’t want to be associated with them, right? Same reason, like, why companies don’t want to advertise on the thing formerly known as Twitter, if they’re going to be next to hate group posts, right?

[00:54:26] If they can’t… and they have to move their money elsewhere. So in that sense, this is like you move your host thing, you change your money when we’re talking about philosophy. And you’re talking about philosophy that has plausible deniability because of words like exciting and retweets or non endorsements or whatever.

[00:54:47] We’re having to make philosophical choices about where we put our time and our energy and our knowledge. Where we’re putting our energy in terms of like our clients where we’re contributing, where we are participating in general, right? That’s something we’re contributing.

[00:55:09] And it’s so if we are doing that and the ethos are not, we’re actually just fueling wordpress. com, we’re fueling Matt, we’re fueling whatever. This is where I’m at. Like I am in like a massive existential crisis because. Even the WordPress 6. 4 process, like it’s run by automaticians. Like it’s, it is there’s not, there’s a lot of other people who help and they are awesome and wonderful and whatever, but that process is definitely.

[00:55:37] Ushered through and that you can see that in the fact that Matt himself was the release lead for the past, I don’t know, like 10, 10 releases or something, or like something Mattias was in there once. Even though he wasn’t actually active in leading the release, it’s just or like ultimate control power.


[00:55:57] Tom Finley: And I don’t think that, that institutional knowledge and guidance isn’t necessarily bad, right? It’s the transparency around the process. I think that, that tends to be at least for me is.

[00:56:10] Sé Reed: but it’s not just guidance, it’s control. That’s the difference. It is not. It is not we’re all here together. There’s elements of that. And individually, most people have that approach, but it’s not how it works in reality. And the, again, I’m not trying to vilify any individuals.

[00:56:30] It is the structure by which we have, this is just where we are. This is just the structure as it’s evolved because perhaps Josefa doesn’t feel that we can burden volunteers, which is what she said with the survey, like that she doesn’t want to create work for volunteers, for contributors, but that’s what everyone is there for.

[00:56:48] So for example, in the marketing team, if we don’t have work to do, everyone leaves. Because there’s nothing happening, right? And so it’s been a nightmare to try to get people to come into the marketing team to do anything. Because everyone’s burnt out and tried that and it’s you can’t do anything anyway.

[00:57:06] And so then the people who are there, there’s a couple people, and then there’s sponsor contributors who don’t help with anything that’s community based. They only work on the stuff that they have control over. What are we even doing? I just I don’t even I,

[00:57:22] Tom Finley: And that’s why, and that’s why I made the comment that we’re in a flat spin, right? Cause that’s what that is. We are literally chasing our tails in circles, trying to figure out what the lay of the land is. And there are some great things coming out of the project, like on the pre show I am a booster of full sight for all the frustrations.

[00:57:42] It, it is, it’s been a game changer for me and I want to see that go somewhere. And see a lot of people do meaningful things with it. But on the flip side of that coin, I am not going to, I’m 43 years old, I’m old enough now that I’ve finally figured out to spend my energy to show up authentically where I know I can make a difference, and where I know it’s not going to be this intellectually or emotionally painful.

[00:58:13] Process for me, right? And I I’ve held enough jobs in toxic situations where I it’s very canary in a coal mine, like six cents for me. And this canary has fallen over in the cage and died. I think that. I can’t speak for you, but the last time we had this conversation, and I think I was on this show in the comments advocating for a contributor strike, you shot that down.

[00:58:44] But

[00:58:46] Sé Reed: it’s been a time, man.

[00:58:48] Jason Cosper: I still

[00:58:48] Tom Finley: say the temp has changed on that?

[00:58:50] Sé Reed: I, I think that it might not matter so much because I think that there, the sponsored contributors have been placed for that. I think it might actually make everybody more happy. We all just leave. I did get unmasked on someone saying it is open source. In theory we could, not fork, but just organize. I’m a big fan of organizing we have the WPCC is a framework if we want to use it for anything. It’s just that I can’t do everything by myself. I have a kid you have a kid we would need people to do that. And then also you start getting fought with, right?

[00:59:29] And discredited, which is what has been happening to me. And at a certain point are we fighting for those ideals? Is this because we want WordPress, the open source software, to be available to other humans to use? Or is it to just for idealism’s sake, or like what, I think that’s really the problem.

[00:59:54] Is it easier just to let Matt do his thing and just turn it into software and it’s just another Squarespace? And then of course there’s this whole like, just because we’re so privileged to be able to opt out of this discussion. Because it doesn’t we have other choices. Other people don’t have other choices.

[01:00:13] And so they’re gonna stay in and keep fighting, and we’re just like, this is too much for me, I gotta bail. And it’s yes, you have to protect your own mental health, but at the other side what about the community and the bonds and the strength that we’ve created there? And what I don’t know how to weigh these things.

[01:00:32] I genuinely do not know. And I think so much is. It’s playing out right now, but we’re definitely at this crisis point, and we’re at this crisis point. We see what happens in the world when there’s a crisis point for a long time, and then it can erupt into something really painful for everybody.

[01:00:51] And I don’t want that to metaphorically, or maybe that is metaphorically what’s happening to us here. It’s like we’ve been at this crisis point for a long time, and now it just can’t handle it anymore, and it’s just gonna… Evaporate. I don’t know.

[01:01:10] Tom Finley: And there may be something to be said for the fact that we actually, we may be part of the crisis point, which is with every paradigm shift in mass communication comes a mass hysteria. And I think that it’s entirely likely that some of this is driven by our own activity.


[01:01:34] Sé Reed: I think for me, and I will wrap this up, I swear is that I, no, I don’t even know how to wrap it up, actually. I don’t I just, I still don’t know. I really still don’t know. I just know that I don’t want to do the thing where you just throw good money after bad, or whatever that expression is, where you just keep going with something, because it’s sunk cost.

[01:01:57] That’s what it’s called. I don’t want…

[01:01:58] Jason Cosper: cost analysis, yeah


[01:02:00] Sé Reed: Don’t want to be in that world that’s a certain point if you’re in an abusive relationship or if you’re in a bad situation and it’s not working you gotta extricate yourself from that. But I don’t know how to tell the difference between that and fighting for something that you believe in and trying to make change and rallying in that sense for the community. So if someone has an answer, please tweet at me and don’t tweet me. Just, I don’t know, yell into the

[01:02:34] Jason Tucker: feel free to go hang out with us in our discord. That’s where you can come and hang out and talk with us about this stuff. It’s a safe space. We welcome you over there.

[01:02:44] Sé Reed: Yeah. And if you’re not, if you’re not talking, just tag us,

[01:02:47] Tom Finley: Hey, this is a good segue of wrapping up. Post a link to the Discord because I don’t have it.

[01:02:52] Sé Reed: get in there.

[01:02:53] Jason Tucker: com slash discord. have it in the notes. We’ll talk to y’all later. You have a good one

[01:03:00] Sé Reed: I want to tell us your

[01:03:02] Jason Tucker: We really appreciate it. Thank you

[01:03:03] Jason Cosper: take us home, Tucker.

[01:03:05] Jason Tucker: Alrighty, here’s our outro. Hey, go to our website at apywatercooler. com slash subscribe, where you can subscribe to our podcast over there.

[01:03:15] You can go and watch us live as well as after the fact on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn as well, so feel free to go do that. And thank you very much for coming to hang out with us. We’ll see you over on our Discord. Talk to y’all later.

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