Issue #211
Happy Friday! It's May 10 and we're covering the WordPress 6.5 retrospective, the WPCC and GoDaddy's new initiative, the WordPress 6.5.3 update, and more.

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Three big headlines

1. WordPress 6.5 release team expresses burnout and frustration over leadership and transparency issues


A survey of the WordPress 6.5 release team reveals serious concerns about leadership, a lack of transparency around decision-making, and poor communication, with one long-time core contributor saying they "have never felt as burnt out following a release."

WordPress 6.5 Release Coordinator Akshaya Rane published a recap of the WordPress 6.5 "Regina" retrospective this week and for the first time linked to a spreadsheet with the release team's anonymous raw responses.

One long-time contributor, who has been involved since WordPress 4.1, says they "have never felt as burnt out following a release as I did/do after WordPress 6.5," adding, "This includes a release in which I was the sole tech lead."

The contributor is one of several who point to the Font Library as a source of frustration toward the end of the release cycle. "Another contributor pinged me in Slack on the day of Beta 1 asking me to assist on the Font Library, which I was happy to do, and I found it one of the most frustrating experiences in my history of contributing," the contributor says in his survey response. "There was a complete breakdown in processes as half a dozen contributors with more than a decade's experience developing Core were dismissed on the basis that the location of font files was an architectural/philosophical decision. Requests for links to this decision went unanswered."

A Core Tech Lead on the release team says he was "blind-sided" by WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy's post Unblocking WP6.5 – Font Library and Synced Pattern Overrides. In the March 8 post, Josepha made the call to use wp-content/fonts as the default storage folder for the Font Library.

"It seemed the relevant discussion happened in-person at WC Asia due to convenience more than anything," the contributor says. "Sure, most of the folks are qualified, but this again speaks to the way some things happen in secret, despite efforts and calls for more transparency. Folks are less likely to buy into a decision if they are actively excluded from the decision-making process."

Another contributor suggests updating the WordPress project's philosophies to allow for "rare, extraordinary release delays" or commit to hard deadlines that free contributors to punt features that are not ready, in turn increasing confidence in the final release that's shipped.

The same contributor also suggests the need for "ownership and transparency of 'leadership' decisions," adding that release leads essentially "shepherd" a release and have no say in keeping or punting key features.

Yoast-sponsored contributor Carolina Nymark says she felt "lonely" in her role as Default Themes Lead. "It felt like I was assumed to already know many things. And I am an experienced full-time contributor, I think that someone who is new to being in a release squad would have had a more difficult time," she says.

Another contributor says members of the release team are underappreciated and suggests they should be recognized during the annual State of the Word. "It seems that recent leads feel like they're just filling a role versus achieving something special with agency and reward," they share. "I'm not sure it's compelling for folks to join a squad when all they get is their profile picture on the about page that almost no one sees anymore."

Other feedback includes calls for increasing the major release cadence and syncing releases of Gutenberg earlier and more frequently.

On X/Twitter, GoDaddy's Courtney Robertson posted, "🔄 Controversial in #WordPress 6.5: Calls for more transparent leadership decisions & transparency. How should future releases handle this?"

In reply, David Baumwald, a long-time self-employed core committer who served as a Core Tech Lead on the WordPress 6.5 release, posted, "One thing that they did do when I asked a few majors ago was to share the raw responses from the retro. This is a net positive and helps folks form their own opinion versus the 'soft language' spin of the summary."

2. WordPress 6.5.3 update sparks controversy with new plugin refresh requirement


WordPress 6.5.3 was released this week and includes a contentious dashboard nag asking users to refresh the page after installing a plugin.

As Mindsize Director of Outreach Jeff Chandler explains in WordPress 6.5.3 Released - Plugins Now Require a Manual Refresh After Activation, WordPress 6.5 introduced plugin dependencies and at the same time removed the three paths by which users are redirected to continue setting up a plugin following activation. In WordPress 6.5.3, plugins are activated via an AJAX request. This means a plugin's settings screen and registration hooks are not fired until after the page is refreshed.

Jeff notes that since a Trac ticket for the AJAX plugin activation issue was created four weeks ago, there have been more than 90 comments, which "usually doesn't happen so soon after a release unless something is causing a lot of people problems."

Commenters in Trac include Adrian Duffell, a software engineer at Automattic, who reports that WooCommerce has experienced a 20% drop in users completing the plugin's setup flow. "This is concerning to us because it means a large amount of users never truly start their journey with our plugin despite their intention to do so by activating it," he says.

Awesome Motive CEO Syed Balkhi has also raised concerns about the confusing onboarding experience for beginners.

"Hopefully the #WordPress core devs will listen to one of the most successful commercial plugin owners in the world. I agree with @syedbalkhi wholeheartedly," posted Bertha.ai's Andrew Palmer on X/Twitter.

Core contributors are now working on a solution to provide a framework for plugin onboarding experiences, led by long-time core committer Aaron Jorbin.

For more of the back story, Jyolsna JE covered the issue last month for WP-Content: WordPress 6.5.3 to Address Ajax Plugin Activation Challenges From WordPress 6.5.

3. WP Community Collective and GoDaddy join forces to boost underrepresented voices at WordCamps


The WP Community Collective and GoDaddy have launched a new program aimed at helping underrepresented speakers get to regional and flagship WordCamps.

The GoDaddy WC Fellowship will host up to three Fellows per WordCamp who publicly identify as underrepresented via any public professional directory (for example, Underrepresented in Tech). Fellows will receive promotion, networking opportunities, and up to US$1,500 to cover their travel costs.

It's the WPCC's first corporate fellowship (and not entirely a surprise given co-founder Courtney Robertson is a GoDaddy-sponsored WordPress contributor). Applications are now open for speakers looking to attend WordCamp US 2024 in Portland.

Adam Warner, Global Field Marketing Director for GoDaddy, says the program isn't just about funding, "it's about fostering connections, offerings visibility, and ensuring that our community reflects the broad spectrum of people who contribute to WordPress."

WPCC co-founder Sé Reed said she was thrilled to be working with GoDaddy on the program. "There are some amazing folks in the WordPress community whose voices can't always be heard, and the more of those folks we can amplify, the stronger the WordPress community's collective voice will be," she said.

On X/Twitter, Adam posted, "I'm so proud of the work we're enabled to do @GoDaddy and of this @GoDaddyPro crew and our @thewpcc partner. This is the culmination of many months of work and I couldn't be happier to have this finally announced and ready. #WordPress - we're better together :)"
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In other news

WordPress project

> Gutenberg 18.3 was released this week and includes 157 pull requests from 44 contributors. Release lead Jason Crist, an Automattic-sponsored contributor, says the release generally focused on polishing features and addressing bugs, with significant activity again directed towards improving documentation and code quality (Make WordPress Core) | WordPress 6.6 Test Lead Anne McCarthy has published a look at some of the design tools coming in the next release, due out on July 16 (Make WordPress Core)

> The ability to set preferred languages in WordPress has been flagged for inclusion in WordPress 6.6. Google-sponsored core committer Pascal Birchler resurrected the eight-year-old Preferred Languages feature-as-a-plugin this week, posting that the intention had always been to merge it into core one day and "Now the time is finally right to do so." As Pascal explains, "Internationalization and localization is a core part of WordPress and relevant for more than half of all users. That's why this functionality belongs natively into WordPress core and not in a (canonical) plugin." (Make WordPress Core)

WordPress community

> Have you completed WP Includes' Gender Equality in WordPress Businesses Survey? Co-founders Siobhan McKeown and Francesca Marano are seeking 500 responses ahead of WordCamp Europe 2024, where they will share early insights. As Francesca explains, "If you haven't taken the survey yet, please do! And tell your team and friends about it. If you are part of a local Meetup, dedicate one minute during your next event to telling attendees about it." WP Includes is hoping to get 1,000 responses overall, which will inform the upcoming Gender Equality in WordPress Businesses Report 2024, due out later this year (Survey Monkey)

> The latest episode of Gutenberg Changelog covers WordPress 6.6 and 6.5.3, Gutenberg 18.1 and 18.2, and the Create Block Theme plugin. Host Birgit Pauli-Haack and Automattic-sponsored contributor Sarah Norris's conversation is a must-listen for anyone involved in the WordPress project (Gutenberg Times)

> DEIB advocate Birgit Olzem is crowdfunding to cover her travel costs to attend WordCamp Europe 2024 – and is calling on WordPress companies to help active contributors, not just speakers, get to WordCamps. She says as a non-sponsored contributor who leads the WordPress DEIB working group, "the financial reality of attending WordCamps, especially international ones, hits hard." (Coach Birgit)

> Have we forgotten how to online event? Veteran WordPress contributor Tammie Lister posed the question in Post Status Slack this week, shining a spotlight on the "passion" she's seen for flagship WordCamps lately and the inability of folks with lesser financial means to attend them. As Tammie explains, "I do wonder if we are maybe forgetting some incredible lessons and inclusion from the pandemic." She says despite being unable to leave her house for more than a year, she felt more included at online WordPress events that she had ever been in years past. Tammie adds, "… how do we get back what we have lost with our focus back on flagships being a need to go both for contribution and being there?" (Post Status Slack)

> Do you use gulp.js? The team behind the open source JavaScript toolkit has launched a developer survey and wants to hear from WordPress folks. They're seeking responses from everyone: current users, previous users, professional users, new or interested users, and all folks in between. Feedback will inform future directions, features and long-term sustainability. The survey closes on May 31 (Medium | Survey Hero)

> Applications are still now open for the WordPress Foundation's Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded each year to a woman in the WordPress community to help fund their travel to WordCamp US. Applications close May 30 (WordPress Foundation)

> In the lead up to WordPress turning 21 on May 27, GoDaddy has marked the milestone with a look at how the company is contributing to the open source project. The company now sponsors 44 staff contributors and three individual contributors, who dedicate nearly 200 hours per week across 18 teams to the WordPress project. In recent years, the company has turned its attention to accessibility, sponsoring initiatives such as WP Accessibility Day and the WordPress Accessibility Meetup Group (GoDaddy)

Business, enterprise & acquisitions

> StellarWP, the umbrella brand for premium WordPress solutions at Liquid Web, has acquired WisdmLabs' LearnDash add-ons. In a press release, Zach Tirrell, General Manager at StellarWP, said, "We're thrilled to include the WisdmLabs products as part of our LearnDash brand. The plugins and add-ons that WisdmLabs brings will help us continue to innovate and provide valuable LMS solutions for educators using WordPress natively or LearnDash Cloud." The add-ons include Instructor Role; Reports for LearnDash; Group Registration; Ratings, Reviews & Feedback; eLumine; and Content Cloner. StellarWP acquired LearnDash in September 2021. WisdmLabs was established in 2012 and also offers WooCommerce products and custom WordPress and WooCommerce development (LearnDash)

> What does Envato's acquisition mean for marketplace authors? James Giroux, Envato's former Author Engagement Lead, shares his take on Shutterstock's $245 million deal and what it might mean for WordPress businesses like ThemeFusion and Mailster: "It is quite telling… that even in their press release, Shutterstock didn't capitalize the 'P' in WordPress. Code is not a core strength of Shutterstock. With the gutting of Envato's author-focused department having already taken place, there are very few voices left within the company who can advocate on behalf of WordPress authors." James adds, "With a new management team taking over that is unfamiliar with the storied history of Envato and its relationship to WordPress, it's unlikely that the needs of code-based authors and code-based products will be considered." (James Giroux)

> Did Automattic and the WordPress project coast while Matt Mullenweg was on sabbatical? Not a chance, says The WP Minute's Matt Medeiros. With Mullenweg now back after three months "off," Medeiros explores some of the big changes that happened: the WP Tavern hunger games, Woo.com's migration back to WooCommerce.com, the return of the wp-admin dashboard to WordPress.com, the Beeper acquisition, the launch of Studio and the waiting list for Big Sky (The WP Minute)

> Convesio has acquired Growmatik, a WooCommerce marketing automation platform. According to Convesio, the acquisition marks a "significant step" in the hosting company's strategy to "expand its technology stack and improve its market positioning by integrating comprehensive marketing automation capabilities into its suite of services." Roozbeh Firoozmand, CEO of Artbees, creators of Growmatik, said, "Growmatik has been a leader in omnichannel marketing automation for WooCommerce, and Convesio is the ideal company to advance this mission." Artbees is also behind the popular JupiterX theme, one of the most popular themes on ThemeForest (Convesio)

> WPShout (formerly CodeInWP) has published its 2024 WordPress Hosting Survey, with Hostinger winning the annual popularity contest. More than 1,800 people participated in the survey, which found folks are generally happy with their web host and value customer service more than price (23% vs 12%). According to author Karol Krol, the survey asked WPShout readers to access their "actual long-term experience" with hosting companies because "while most web hosts seem great at the beginning – offering smooth installations and functional sites – the real test is what comes later." (WPShout)

> More than half of all leadership positions at Hostinger are held by women, according to Hostinger's latest sustainability report. The report, which covers 2023, also shows the hosting company has made progress toward lowering its greenhouse gas emissions, with the total renewable energy share across its data centers growing by 7% to 42% (Hostinger)

Plugins, products & themes

> Anders Norén has released Pulitzer, a free minimal blog theme, after spending a weekend alone at home building in public. Anders shared his process on X/Twitter, taking just two days to create and submit his theme to the WordPress.org theme repository. "The best intro to block themes I've seen, you should write a blog post!" posted full-stack software engineer Stanislav Khromov (X/Twitter | X/Twitter)

> The WP World now has an "Explore" tab. The feature is designed to help WordPressers get recommendations on where to eat, drink, and be merry while at WordPress events around the world. Creator Marcus Burnette is calling on folks to submit recommendations (The WP World)

> On the WP Tavern Jukebox podcast this week, Paolo Belcastro, Head of Product and Operations at Jetpack and .blog at Automattic, shares how his team is making decisions about what to develop in Jetpack AI (WP Tavern Jukebox)

Conferences, events & awards

> CloudFest USA 2024 kicks off on June 5 in Austin, Texas. The full schedule is out and features an impressive speaker line-up, including Vint Cert (VP and Chief Evangelist at Google and co-inventor of the internet) and Matt Mullenweg (WordPress co-founder). Guildenberg is offering a generous $200 off the ticket price when you book via their Eventbrite link (Eventbrite)

> Tickets are still available for WordCamp Europe 2024. This year's event, from June 13-15 in Torino, Italy, will feature 40+ talks, lightning sessions and workshops across three tracks. New to this year's schedule is "WordCamp Connect," a space to discuss topics critical to the WordPress project, including sustainability, democratizing opportunities, community engagement and mentorship (WordCamp Europe)

> StellarWP is hosting Stellar Spark, a new virtual conference for the WordPress community, on July 19. Fifteen speakers will "spark" ideas for growth, creativity, collaboration and more. Speaker applications close May 15 (StellarWP)

> Page Builder Summit 7.0 will be held from May 20-24. This year's speaker line-up includes WPTuts owner Paul Charlton ("Rapid Website Development With Bricks Builder") and PootlePress owner Jamie Marsland ("What WordPress can learn from Wix"). Organizer Nathan Wrigley says the event isn't just about page building — there will be talks on marketing, design, WordPress customization, full site editing blocks, business management and more (Page Builder Summit)

> WordCamp Canada organizers are looking for volunteers and sponsors for this year's inaugural event, scheduled for July 11-13 in Ottawa. As they put it, "We are looking for organizers of the WordCamps (past and future) all across the country to help us organize, reach out to one of us ASAP, Eh!" (WordCamp Canada)

> Support Inclusion in Tech is hosting a masterclass in networking at WordCamps on May 13. Learn tailored strategies for building strong connections, expanding your network, and unlocking new opportunities (Open Collective)

> The Uganda Website Projects Competition 2024 will be held on July 5 at the National ICT Innovation Hub. The unique event, which is part of the WordPress Community Team's push for NextGen WordCamps, will give primary through to university students the opportunity to pitch projects that address real-world challenges for a shot at winning in-kind awards and cash prizes. Community organizer Mukalele Rogers says, "These pioneering events represent more than just the evolution of WordPress gatherings in Uganda; they signify a commitment to advancing the digital landscape and fostering a new generation of WordPress users and developers." (WordPress.org | WordCamp Central)

WordPress Community: Ruth Kalinka

A photo of Ruth Kalinka.
This week, what’s inspiring Ruth Kalinka, a content strategist, UX consultant, connector and coach at Ruth Kalinka Designs. She’s also a WordCamp Europe 2024 organizer.


Get to know the folks behind WordCamp Europe 2024! The Repository will feature organizers every week ahead of the June 13–15 event in Torino, Italy.
A podcast worth listening to: The School of Greatness - YouTube. The titles are clickbait, but the content is profound. Lewis Howes hosts in-depth interviews with extraordinary individuals who share their personal and professional experiences to provide incredible insights for deepening our abilities to live with greater meaning, more robust health, deeper connections, profound joy, limitless gratitude, and inner peace.

A concept worth understanding:
Joy and Gratitude. Happiness is not something that happens to us from the outside. It is a choice from within. Tune into your gratitude vision every day to see how wonderful your life - and your uniquely imperfect path - really is. You may be surprised, especially during challenging times, how many beautiful, funny, and delightful reasons you have for being grateful and how this energy uplifts your life and touches those around you. This practice also gives you the tools to find inner peace, spark joy, clear your mind, expand your creative energy, and make space to welcome serendipity.

A Twitter account worth following:
The WordCamp Europe (@WCEurope) communications team reviews and publishes content from all the organizing teams. We have a lot of great content in the queue to showcase the people and places involved in this year’s event in beautiful, historic Torino. This isn’t just an outbound communication channel. We’re listening, and we’re here to help!

An article worth reading:
Grand Torino: why the ‘cacophonous and intoxicating’ Italian city is a must-see - The Guardian. This article from The Guardian is an exciting summary of Torino as a vibrant, multi-faceted Italian city. Watch our WCEU social media, too, as we have been collaborating with the Local Team to produce a series of travel posts to help our WordCamp community explore the city during WordCamp Europe 2024.

A habit worth forming:
Meditation. This word is often misunderstood as one specific method with a pass/fail outcome. There are many ways to meditate, and it is always practice. Choose a style that resonates with you and tune in throughout the day. Gratitude is a simple, yet powerful, centering practice. A few minutes every day makes a huge impact.

Classifieds

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Ready to level up your website building game? Learn from 35+ super smart industry leaders at the Page Builder Summit 7.0. May 20-24. Get your free ticket. P.S. We need sponsors too!

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Meanwhile...

Support


🧡 Independent core committer Aaron Jorbin is seeking sponsorship (GitHub)

Read


🤔 Do more than 40% of websites need what WordPress is offering? (Brian Coords)

🏔️ Have we reached "peak" WordPress? (James Giroux)

⛔ Should WordPress.org offer premium plugins? TL;DR: No (Half-Elf on Tech)

🗺️ The design journey behind the WordCamp Asia 2024 branding (WordCamp Asia)

🔮 Prediction: AI featured snippets are coming to Google Search (Ellipsis)

🔍 Finding speakers, sponsors and volunteers for WordPress events (StellarWP)

Listen


🧠 Scenarios and possibilities for WordPress' evolution (The WP Minute+)

☕ Bud Kraus on teaching, dancing and the folks he admires most (WPCoffeeTalk)

🎙️ Davinder Singh Kainth on swag, overwhelm, and working in an English world (WPCoffeeTalk)

💰 Why salary transparency is good for job seekers and companies (Underrepresented in Tech)

Watch


🎲 Exploring the Interactivity API (part 2) (viewSource)

🤼‍♀️ WordPress.com's Studio vs. LocalWP (Brian Coords)

🦾 Anne Bovelett on the thousands of hours she's spent on accessibility (Go with WordPress)

🏌️‍♂️ Jamie Marsland recreates the Manchester United's iconic grid layout website (WordPress.com)

Play


🎮 Can WordPress run Doom? Of course it can (Dwi'n Rhys)

🌗 A new dark mode toggle block (Rich Tabor)
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