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Issue #162
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This week in WordPress

Long-time Plugin Review Team Rep Retiring

This week we learned that long-time contributor Mika Epstein will be stepping down from her role as WordPress Plugin Review Team rep on July 1 after more than a decade on the team.

Queue the overwhelming praise for Epstein's commitment to the WordPress project. "If this was a sport they would be hanging your number on the wall of the stadium to retire it Mika. Thanking you for your hard work and having to put up with the small pains and accidents of some, and sadly the jerk-ness of a few others. I wish you the best going forward," wrote Awesome Motive Project Manager David Bisset.

Luehrsen // Heinrich CEO Hendrik Luehrsen commented, "I firmly believe, that you shaped this project for the better, Mika. Your contributions, advice, guidance and presence not only made WordPress and this ecosystem better, but also me as a developer and a person."

Bernhard Kau, a Senior Full Stack WordPress Developer at Inpsyde GmbH, wrote "THANK YOU! There is not a lot more to say. Your review feedback was always very valuable for me as a plugin author. All the best with what's coming next! ❤️"

Long-time core contributor and Awesome Motive software developer John James Jacoby simply commented, "🫶."

Epstein says she's stepping down due to personal reasons, and after informing the plugin review team of her decision last July. She asked folks to be patient while new people are onboarded to the team.

The news comes after Epstein revealed in February 2021 that she had endured years of burnout, harassment and abuse after banning a plugin developer.

Courtney Robertson, an Open Source Web Design and Developer Advocate at GoDaddy, commented, "Thank you Mika for all you have contributed over the years. Continue to care for yourself in this process."

Meanwhile, plugin developer Alan Fuller has published an open letter to the WordPress Plugin Review Team expressing his gratitude for their dedication and hard work in response to ThemeKraft CEO Sven Lehnert's open letter about his frustration's dealing with the team.

Automattic Acquires ActivityPub

Automattic has acquired ActivityPub to make Fediverse integration easier for users, reports Sarah Perez for TechCrunch. WordPress.com and WordPress.org users will now be able to reach visitors on decentralized social platforms, like increasingly-popular Mastodon, while maintaining users' ability to reply with comments.

As WP Tavern's Sarah Gooding reports in Automattic Acquires ActivityPub Plugin for WordPress, ActivityPub had only 700 users this time last year. Now it's grown to more than 2,000 active installs, thanks to Twitter's rapid decline and federated platforms' responsive rise.

Agency owner and WordPress advocate Ravi Soni tweeted: "Congratulations to @pfefferle on the acquisition of their ActivityPub plugin for WordPress by @automattic ! This move is a huge win for the open web and the future of decentralized social networking. Exciting times ahead! 🎉"

"I'm thrilled to see that Automattic is backing the ActivityPub plugin! This is a big deal for WordPress and its future, and it gladdens me to see heavy hitters like A8C contributing to something as important as this," said developer Aled Standiford.

"Great outcome for @[email protected] and the rest of us here. Let's hope #ActivityPub support becomes an integrated part of every #Wordpress installation..," tweeted open source advocate Simon Phipps.

As Gooding wrote in Toot the Word Survey Finds Mastodon Increasingly Important to WordPress' Community of Tooters last week, Mastodon is becoming a second home to WordPress users. Even those who don't currently use Mastodon expect the platform to become even more prevalent in the community over the coming years, according to the survey.

WordPress 6.2 Release Candidate 2 Drops Navigation Section

The second release candidate for WordPress 6.2 was released this week, and in what WP Tavern's Sarah Gooding describes as a "somewhat unusual turn of events this late in the release cycle" the new Navigation section in the Site Editor has been dropped from the upcoming release.

As Gooding reports, the Navigation section was added in Gutenberg 15.1, the last release to be rolled into 6.2, and the one with the least amount of time to be tested. The feature will remain in the Gutenberg plugin for iteration and inclusion in a future core release.

WordPress 6.2 is now less than two weeks away from being released on March 28.

Meanwhile, Mary Baum, who's serving as a Marketing and Communications co-lead on the WordPress 6.2 release team has shared answers to the questions that were left in the queue after the recent live product demo for WordPress 6.2. According to Baum, there were nearly 90 live attendees.

Equalize Digital Secures Funding From Yoast Founders

"Congratulations!! This is great news, and a massive win for digital accessibility. Rock on, people, You make my heart sing! ❤️" tweeted accessibility advocate Anne Bovelett this week in response to the news that Equalize Digital has received an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from Emilia Capital, the investment company owned by Yoast founders Joost de Valk and Marieke van de Rakt.

According to Sarah Gooding at WP Tavern, the investment will be used to accelerate the growth of Equalize Digital's Accessibility Checker plugin, a tool for auditing websites for WCAG, ADA, and Section 508 accessibility errors.

In Post Status Slack, Joost de Valk commented, "So, @Marieke van de Rakt and I just invested in Equalize Digital, I'm proud to say. @Amber Hinds and team are doing phenomenal work and we're happy to be riding along with them!"

Equalize Digital founder and CEO Amber Hinds tweeted, "I've very excited to have @jdevalk and @MariekeRakt on board as advisors and investors in @EqualizeDigital. 🎉 We're doing big things for accessibility in WordPress, and will be able to go further faster with this investment."

van de Rakt added, "Wooooooohoooooooo! So excited!"

WordPress co-founder and Gutenberg Lead Set to Join DE{CODE}

WP Engine's annual virtual developer conference, DE{CODE}, will feature WordPress co-founder and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg and Gutenberg Lead Architect Matías Ventura as keynote speakers on March 21 and 23.

Now in its fourth year, over 5,000 people are expected to tune into the virtual developer conference, which will be broadcast in three global time zones (APAC, North America and EMEA).

According to organizers, Mullenweg and Ventura's sessions will focus on the radical pace of innovation today, current digital trends including exciting developments like generative AI, and what the next 20 years holds for WordPress within this paradigm. Mullenweg will reflect on the drivers of WordPress' success and what's necessary to maintain a free and open web while Ventura will offer his vision for the WordPress block editor.

WP Engine founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Jason Cohen, tweeted, "Getting excited for @wpengine's DECODE 2023, more 1000s of registrations than ever before and a great lineup of talks on modern topics in WordPress development. Register for free! Videos available after as well."

WPCampus Announces New Board of Directors

WPCampus announced its new board of directors this week. David Dashifen Kees, a software developer working with Georgetown University's web services team, is WPCampus' new president.

The decision to restructure the organization's leadership model was prompted by former Director Rachel Cherry's announcement to step down from her position nearly a year ago. This led WPCampus to reassess its leadership models and establish a board format accompanied by new bylaws.

Michelle Frechette covered the news for Post Status, highlighting from WPCampus' announcement that, "The inaugural WPCampus Board of Directors brings together a group of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences in higher education and WordPress, united by a shared passion for supporting the growth of higher education through the enrichment of its people and its technology."

Post Status also tweeted, "Congratulations to @wpcampusorg! A new board and governance structure is in place, and WPCampus 2023 conference is open for speaker and sponsor applications. And congrats to you, @bamadesigner, on all your hard work!

In addition to the leadership changes, WPCampus is gearing up for its annual conference, which will return in person this year. The event will take place in New Orleans from July 12-14 at Tulane University. The call for presenters is open until the end of March.

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#WPCommunityFeels: Rachel Winchester

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This week, what's inspiring Rachel Winchester, an independent product designer and Philadelphia WordPress Meetup group organizer.
A podcast worth listening to: Underrepresented In Tech by Allie Nimmons.

A concept worth understanding: “Anger is a gift” is a quote in the song “Freedom” by one of my favorite metal bands, Rage Against the Machine. It’s an abridged version of a quote from Aristotle: “Anyone can become angry—that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way—that is not within everyone's power and that is not easy.” As a designer and businessperson, everything I do is about solving problems. But the world is full of them! It’s absolutely daunting. Sometimes I feel hyper-aware of all the problems plaguing our world. Consequently, I’m often aggravated by them. But this isn’t a productive feeling in general. I think about this quote when I want to channel my anger into an actionable and productive solution.

A Twitter account worth following: @JonIppolito. As a professor, curator, and writer, his tweets are very engaging, interdisciplinary, and culturally-aware.

An article worth reading: My all-time favorite article is “Sculpture in the Expanded Field” by Rosalind Krauss (October, Vol. 8, Spring 1979). I first read it in college and it completely changed the way I view the world. You can find it on JSTOR if you have access; if not, message me and I can send you a PDF.

A habit worth forming: “Eat the frog." Do the task you hate the most first thing in the morning. If it has to be done, don’t build any more anticipation than there needs to be.

Join the GoDaddy Team at WordCamp Phoenix!

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Hey, WordPress folks who also love shooting hoops! Come to WordCamp Phoenix and join us, the GoDaddy team, in Arizona!

It's not your average conference, it's a basketball-themed event packed with tons of fun, insightful talks, and networking opportunities with your fellow WordPress fanatics.

In addition to some fun goodies we’ll be giving away, come hang out with the GoDaddy crew to get the inside scoop on what’s new. And, if you’re an ecommerce fan, don’t miss our own Marcus Burnette speaking about Your WooCommerce Starting Five. Whether you're a code wizard, design guru, or content king/queen, there's something for everyone.

So, will we see you there? Join us at WordCamp Phoenix and let's have a blast together!

Learn more here: Phoenix WordCamp 2023
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In other WordPress news...

  • Gutenberg 15.3 brought with it a new ‘Time to Read' block that—you guessed it—approximates how long it'll take to read any given page. Users can add custom CSS to the Time to Read block, but it only includes alignment controls for now.
  • Thijs de Valk is stepping down as CEO of Yoast. de Valk, who joined Yoast in 2012 as one of the SEO company's first employees, led the SEO company through its first year following Newfold Digital’s acquisition. According to yesterday's announcement, de Valk is leaving Yoast to pursue other dreams.
  • The first batch of tickets for WordCamp Europe 2023 have been released. The three-day conference will be held in Athens, Greece, at the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre from June 8. There are two ticket options: Standard €50 tickets and €150 Micro-sponsor tickets.
  • The WP Minute's Eric Karkovack brought on HASH CEO David Wilkinson last week to talk about the Block Protocol plugin. This plugin provides an open standard for block-based apps with the hope of making blocks ‘platform-agnostic.'
  • WordCamp Entebbe, the first flagship WordCamp on the African continent for 2023, was a glowing success. Organizer Arthur Kasirye—who was named a recipient of the Yoast Care Fund last year—has written a recap of his experiences for MasterWP.
  • CertifyWP founder Talisha Lewallen joined WPTavern's Jukebox podcast to discuss WordPress certification. Lewallen touched on what a third-party certification process would look like, whether the community is ready to integrate such a process, and more.
  • WP Fusion's Jack Arturo has published an annual 2022 recap for his business. The post reminisces on 70 updates to the core WP Fusion plugin, newly-supported CRMs, updated plugin support, and other developments.
  • This week's WooCommerce 7.5.0 release introduced three new blocks for the Product Archive templates. The update also expanded support for global styles, making it easier to customize the Product Button, Product Rating, and Product Price blocks in FSE.
  • WPMarmite has updated its Full Site Editing study with new stats showing that 10% of theme shops now offer block patterns (previously 6% in January 2022 and 3% in May 2021). Also, 33% of theme shops now offer custom Gutenberg blocks, up from 25% in January 2022.
  • Underrepresented in Tech released a new podcast episode titled ‘Luck Has Nothing to Do With It.' Hosts Allie Nimmons and Michelle Frechette discuss why it can be harmful to tell people they're lucky to enjoy the things they've worked hard to achieve.
  • WordPress vulnerability researcher István Márton reached out to WordFence's Threat Intelligence team last month to disclose a vulnerability in Cozmolabs Profile Builder. Cozmolabs released a patch just a week later alongside WordFence's firewall rule to resolve the vulnerability.
  • Industry analyst Robert Jacobi, who's also Director of WordPress at Cloudways, has walked back from a prediction he made in 2020 that Automattic would go public in 2021. "Well, I've been solidly wrong about the two big elephants in the WordPress ecosystem for over two years!" he writes in his latest blog post, Where are the WordPress IPOs?
  • Celebrate WordPress' 20th anniversary by styling your very own party Wapuu! You can win one of three WP20 swag kits by submitting your custom Wapuu to WordPress' anniversary contest, which closes April 17.
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