Yoast as a company believes deeply in giving back and in the principles of open source software development. We talk about this regularly and have been doing that for close to a decade. In 2020, we decided to form a WordPress core team. A team that now consists of 5 full-time employees. The team gets help from several people in the company who have a number of hours every week to work on WordPress core. This blog is the next step on that path. We’re sharing with the community what our team does, which steps we take and why we take them.
Our team consists of several people that hold “positions” in the WordPress community, formal and informal ones. Together, we bring decades of WordPress experience and spend hundreds of hours working on WordPress core, every week. That’s a form of power, and that power needs accountability.
Transparency of why
A lot of what happens in the WordPress community is transparent. What is not clear, sometimes, is why people in the WordPress community want something. Of course, it’s not that people hide this, it’s because we forget to talk about it. On the make.wordpress.org blogs you can follow along with all the proceedings, in the WordPress Slack channels you can follow the discussions. To breed a sense of community, transparency is paramount. This quote by the Dalai Lama could not be more true:
A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.Dalai Lama
So, while the process is fairly transparent (and I think we can improve on that as well), the why is often not as clear. I think asking that why question more often, is something that we owe to ourselves, to better reflect and also, to build better solutions. For example: we’re working on a Full Site Editing project. Why? What is the goal of that project? Which problems does it solve and for whom? Answering questions like that and then translating it back to goals for the project is important. As a result of that I hope and expect many posts here will be followed up and/or preceded by posts on make.wordpress.org blogs.
Let me give you an example. The Yoast team is collaboratively going to work on a project to improve the WordPress updater. We announced this on make.wordpress.org/core in November. That post touched on the “why now”. But, I think it would be better if we outlined here, on our own site, why it matters to Yoast that those problems get fixed. You see, one of the powers of open source is that if everyone fixes the problems they run into, while keeping the larger community’s needs in mind, we get the best possible outcome. In short: process, decisions, planning; all of that goes on make.wordpress.org. Opinions, our “why” pieces, background: that’s what you’ll get here.
Transparency of evolving thought
In politics, changing your position on something is often deemed weak. As WordPress grows bigger and some of its stakeholders are becoming larger and larger companies, some of these processes inherently become politicized. Thus, changing your position on something might start to be looked upon as weak within the community. We disagree with that notion entirely. Thought evolves over time, and that’s fine. Which is why we want to document our thoughts on decisions we inevitably make. We want people to be able to challenge them. Then, we can have discussions about that, and maybe change our mind.
Because thoughts can evolve, it’s also good to raise awareness about issues we see and discuss them. I’ve found that doing so in blog posts, preferably well-construed ones, is a great way of reflecting on those issues. It’s a good way of opening up for discussion. I hope it will lead to us bringing things to the table that we can then discuss with the wider community. Those discussions can happen in the comments here, on Twitter, on Slack, after which we can determine plans of action.
So what is this blog named?
This blog has a name: WordPress core development blog. You’ll probably refer to it as “Yoast’s core blog” or something like that. It’s important that we give it a specific name for our internal communications but also to distinguish it from our SEO blog. And we like to give things descriptive names. That’s our SEO background I guess. Does that mean we’ll only cover WordPress core development? Probably not. We have people in almost all of the WordPress core teams, as you can see from our 5 for the future pledge page. However, the vast majority of the work we do is in and around WordPress core, hence the name.
I’m looking forward to what this blog and our WordPress core team can help us all accomplish, I hope you do too!