I’m up at 4 a.m. contemplating the idea of this post. Regardless of if I ever publish it, these things need to be said. The community I love is crumbling around us, and all of us are at fault. If something isn’t said, it’ll ruin us all.
A few years ago, I fell in love with the WordPress community, as I have spoken about. Even my wife sees people she has never met, as family. The people I have had the pleasure of meeting in the WordPress community have made a dramatic impact on my life, and I thank you all, but some of you have become the thing I dread each day.
You know, I used to enjoy checking Twitter and see what many of you are up to. Now, I scroll through occasionally; only to usually see some kind of bullshit labeled as #wpdrama. Some of you are nodding but haven’t the slightest clue of what I’m talking about. I’m not protesting those who bring up controversial topics. I’m protesting those who slap a #wpdrama label on something and sweep it under the rug.
You have made me feel exiled
The community that once made my day is now one that makes me feel excluded. It seems that so many folks in the WordPress community are more focused on their appearance than who they are. Look at the people whom you consider big players in the WordPress community. Do you work with them? Do you even know what they do with their days?
Everyone seems so caught up with their appearance, and trying to prove that they are a big shot, that they have lost sight of what makes this community great. Personally, I on’t give a shit about how much money you make. Show me your code. Show me your accomplishments. Prove it.
I was brought up in an environment where your word didn’t mean a thing unless you can back it up. If you say that your code shits cupcakes and rainbows, I want to see the pot of gold at the end. I judge people by their results; not their statements.
I’m just a guy getting by. I like writing code. I like helping people. In my world, advice is always free. Someone simply asking for advice should never pay. How many of you have I provided advice to, or even taken control and fixed your issue without ever mentioning anything in return? How many of you have provided me with advice in how I should handle something regarding business, design, or anything else that I will openly admin that I suck at?
I chose the path of open source for a reason. Since the day I picked up my first HTML book, I have believed in open source. Unfortunately, the open source community that I fell in love with has become a monster.
We all have opinions
It seems that in all of the community concepts, one thing has been overlooked: opinions. The beauty of open source software such as WordPress is that anyone from any walk of life or skill level can provide something. Open source and the community surrounding it, is what has made me what I am today. Now, I see far too many trying to stick to cliques. The WordPress community’s biggest pitfall, in my opinion, is being far too closed-minded; the exact opposite of what open source software means.
Somewhere in the business aspect of things, focus has been lost. Why are we arguing over minor things that prevent an entire project from being completed?
Not long ago, I had a conversation with someone at Rocketgenius that really has stuck in my mind. I was told to stop paying attention to the details and just get it done. I needed to stop worrying about squeezing every last bit of horsepower out of the project, and just get the damn thing running. Nitpicking how something is done rather that commending that it was done is entirely counter-productive. In this case, I was the one critical of myself, but how often do we criticize others because minor details that don’t matter?
Yes, like you I was taught that if I’m going to do something, to do it well. I still live by that every day. Tragically, that has bee interpreted as doing something perfectly, when in reality, it’s just making sure you covered your bases. The screw doesn’t need to be completely flush; it just needs to be secure.
To put it bluntly, I’m sick of people being crucified for having a differing opinion or perspective. If I provide you with a solution, I did everything I could to help, even when I have nothing to gain but pride. When a solution that I worked hard on is shot down because of semantics, my pride is tarnished and I’m just picking up the pieces of my shattered ego. Far too many times have I seen open source communities crumble only because of differing perspectives to an issue.
Look at the Linux kernel development community. While quite a bit of effort has been put forth to reunite it (and many swallowing pride to admit fault), there are scars there that can never be rebuilt. Learn from their mistakes. We already know that WordPress is the best platform on the planet. We have data to show for it. Now let’s have pride in showing how we all work together.
Stop the witch hunts
Seriously, fucking stop it. Are you a child? Do you need to hold a grudge and ruin somebody’s life to prove that you’re right?
One of the primary reasons that I have stopped paying as much attention to my Twitter feed is because of the constant attacks. Don’t get me wrong. Those of you who follow me know that I absolutely love a good argument, but never at the expense of someone else. Arguments are great because they stir up discussion, but is your pride really worth destroying someone else’s?
It seems that the WordPress community is still hiding behind anonymity to an extent. Little is it realized that your attack towards someone can have a dramatic impact on their lives. You really just never know the impact you might have on someone; good or bad.
When I was younger, a close childhood friend killed himself. After finding out, the first thing that came to my head was that I had been meaning to chat with him, but pushed it off. Little did I know, I would never have the chance to talk to him again. I make an effort to ensure that I never disregard someone, and urge you to do the same. That argument about if Yoda conditions isn’t worth it being the last thing you said to someone.
Don’t just preach it. Live it.
Every one of us in the WordPress community will tell you how awesome WordPress is. It has made careers for many of us, and lifelong friends for others. I will proudly credit the WordPress community for making me the individual I am today.
Somewhere between my entrance to the community and now, we’ve lost touch. We push how great open source is, but criticize others because their opinion on how something should be done differs from own. We’ve gained a a pack mentality without the understanding that every wolf pup needs to learn to hunt. Do we want this project to die with us, or pass it down as part of our legacies?
I challenge you all to be more accepting of others. Maybe I’m insane and should get some sleep, but what if I might be right? Hell, I’m on the inside of things. It might even be worse than I envision it.
Whatever the case may be, we have some changes to make as a community. Perhaps we’ve just grown too fast and need to take a step back to see the flaws in our masterpiece. Perhaps we’re just too young to know the difference. Whatever the case may be, we need to change or face imminent failure.
The choice is yours. Don’t let me down.