Issue #213
Happy Friday! It's May 24 and we're covering plugin auto-redirects, Five for the Future, and more.

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Two big headlines

1. WordPress to restore plugin auto-redirects after "significant impacts" reported by popular plugins


Another minor release of WordPress will ship on June 5 to restore auto-redirects after plugin activation following reports that major plugin companies have been "significantly impacted" since WordPress 6.5 was released.

Core committers Tonya Mork, Aaron Jorbin and Colin Stewart are working on a patch to bring back auto-redirects, albeit with a temporary filter that developers will need to add to their plugins once WordPress 6.5.4 is released.

According to Tonya, plugin companies have reported 18-30% decreases in users moving to the next step following activation. WordPress 6.5 introduced plugin dependencies and removed the three paths that essentially redirected users to continue setting up a plugin following activation. WordPress 6.5.3 sought to fix this, adding a dashboard nag asking users to refresh after installing a plugin. But as Tonya explains, the notice "appears to reduce the impacts, though are still significant."

While Tonya — now an Awesome Motive-sponsored contributor — doesn't name the companies that have reported impacts, the committers are working closely with Beau Lebens (Head of Engineering at WooCommerce), Miriam Schwab (Head of WordPress Relations at Elementor), and Syed Balkhi (co-founder and CEO at Awesome Motive) to understand the impacts on users. They are also testing the patch with Yoast SEO, BuddyPress and Contact Form 7.

On April 18, 16 days after WordPress 6.5 was released, WooCommerce Software Engineer Adrian Duffell reported a 20% drop in users completing WooCommerce's set-up 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," Adrian said. In the same Trac ticket, #60992, Syed said asking users to refresh after plugin activation introduced "extra friction and complexity for beginners / non-techy users."

Tonya notes that the original decision to remove the ability to auto-redirect was "thoughtfully made," with no issues or feedback reported during the calls for testing WordPress 6.5 before its release. "Fast forward to today, feedback has been shared showing the decision is causing a significant impacts," she said.

2. Automattic dominates Five for the Future contributions, accounting for half of total pledged hours


Automattic's sponsored contributions to the WordPress project account for 50% of the total hours pledged by companies to Five for the Future, according to stats released this week when cross-referenced with company pledges.

Naoko Takano, an Automattic-sponsored contributor, published Five for the Future program updates, revealing that as of May 2024, 191 organizations had pledged to sponsor 897 contributors for a total of 7,926 hours.

But when you match the stats with the pledges published on WordPress.org’s Five for the Future site, you get a clearer picture of the companies giving the most back to the project and potentially having the most influence.

Of the 191 organizations that have pledged contributors to Five for the Future, the top 10 companies sponsor 333 of the total 897 confirmed contributors, or 37%. Of the total 7,926 hours pledged, the top 10's sponsored contributors account for 5,030 hours, or 63%.

Automattic is by far the biggest contributor to the project, sponsoring 109 people for a total of 3,969 hours per week across 21 teams. The company's contributors account for 12% of all sponsored contributors.

GoDaddy comes in second with 44 sponsored contributors completing 176 hours per week across 18 teams. In third place, WPDeveloper sponsors 33 contributors who contribute 84 hours per week across 16 teams.

The remaining top 10 companies include Hostinger (29 contributors and 128 hours), WebDevStudios (24 contributors and 47 hours), 10up (20 contributors and 166 hours), YITH (20 hours and 106 contributors), Yoast (19 contributors and 155 contributors), WP Engine (18 contributors and 177 hours), and Aswm Innovations (17 contributors and 22 hours). It’s worth noting that Newfold Digital owns YITH and Yoast.

The latest stats also reveal that 8,102 self-sponsored (aka volunteer) contributors have pledged 114,001 hours to Five for the Future.

The stats follow recent efforts to update Five for the Future documentation to better support organizations and individuals looking to contribute to WordPress. In 2019, contributors discussed creating a page that automatically displays Five for the Future stats, including the total number of pledged companies, contributors and hours. In 2022, contributors also discussed displaying a chart of activity over time on company pledge pages. Neither proposal has progressed.
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In other news

In depth

> Courtney Robertson has questions
Why isn't the DEIB working group an official team yet? And what's happening with the Mobile team since the split from Jetpack? Those are just two of the questions the GoDaddy-sponsored contributor says she's been thinking about lately. "I thought about those questions in light of working on the stats/dashboard initiative and thinking about what each team or working group might want to see/know," says Courtney, who contributes to several WordPress teams and is currently focused on bringing dashbaords to the various Make teams (courtney.dev)

> Behind the scenes: NASA's new website
The 100th episode of the Gutenberg Changelog podcast features Stacy Holtz and Gary Kovar from Lone Rock Point, the enterprise agency behind NASA's WordPress-powered website. The pair talk about the scale of the project, including consolidating thousands of public sites, developing 55 custom blocks, migrating content from Drupal 7, managing over 200,000 redirects, and training the space agency's 456 content creators. The NASA website was recently recognized at the Webby Awards, winning both a Webby award and a People's Voice award (Gutenberg Times)

> Making local government websites accessible
For the WP Minute, Eric Karkovack interviews Equalize Digital's Chris Hinds about the U.S. Department of Justice's new rule mandating that state and local governments adhere to WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility standards. According to Chris, regulatory changes such as the DOJ's recent ruling and the European Accessibility Act are "clear indicators" that best practices are increasingly becoming a requirement, and not just for government projects (The WP Minute)

> Creating tech opportunities for Ugandan women
This week, Do the Woo spotlighted Groundbreaker, an initiative providing scholarships in software engineering to young women from financially constrained communities in Uganda. Founder Leoni Rossberg talks about the organization's mission to diversify the tech industry by connecting talented women in Sub-Saharan Africa with job opportunities, and Yoast Principal Architect Alain Schlesser discusses his year-long role as a mentor (Do the Woo)

WordPress project

> The WordPress Sustainability Team has launched a new Project Health Working Group. GoDaddy-sponsored contributor Courtney Robertson says the group will build on recent discussions around tracking and recognizing contributions to the WordPress project and exploring measuring contributions via team dashboards. The working group will host a series of online hangouts next week to discuss team health, individual contributors, organizational stakeholders, and project stakeholders. Courtney and Automattic-sponsored contributors Hari Shanker and Isotta Peira are currently trialing Bitergia, an analytics platform, to determine whether it's a good fit for measuring contributor activity on GitHub. Automattic is currently footing the USD$1,000 a-month bill to trial the platform (Sustainability)

> Gutenberg 18.4 is now available. Release lead Alex Lende, an Automattic-sponsored Gutenberg contributor, says 58 people worked on this release, which includes improvements to the Grid block, the ability to group blocks with a keyboard shortcut, and useful features for extenders (Make WordPress Core)

> The WordPress Themes Team's Slack channel will be renamed #themes under proposed changes reflecting the team's evolution since the introduction of block themes. Automattic's Maggie Cabrera says the expanded role of theme contributors now includes theme creation, maintaining default themes, and contributing to community themes in addition to reviewing themes submitted to the WordPress.org theme directory (Make WordPress Themes)

> On the WordPress Developer Blog, Automattic's Justin Tacklock's monthly update covers the new Blueprints Gallery, the WordPress 6.6 roadmap, and style variations for color and typography. At the Gutenberg Times, Birgit Pauli-Haack notes that Justin's article also includes "a ton of information on user-facing updates themes builders would need to know about." (WordPress Developer Blog)

> Plugins hosted at WordPress.org can now show over 10 million active installations. Audrey Capital-sponsored meta contributor Samuel "Otto" Wood made the change this week, raising the maximum active installation count from 5 million set in 2017. Elementor, Yoast SEO, Contact Form 7 and the Classic Editor now each show 10+ million active installations (Making WordPress.org)

> The WordPress Community Team is proposing updating the WordPress event venue policy to permit venues owned by institutions with religious affiliations, as long as they are not used for religious worship and maintain a policy of openness to hosting events for all, without discrimination. Automattic's Julia Golomb says the change aims to broaden the options available to organizers dealing with higher venue costs (Make WordPress Community)

WordPress community

> The Plugin Review Team has reduced the plugin queue from a historical high of 1,400 to 379 (at the time of writing), with a wait time of 22 days for an initial review. In a behind-the-scenes look at how the team operates, Hostinger-sponsored contributor Paco Marchante says documenting theme review processes to ensure high standards for both plugins and contributors, improving tools and methodologies, and working together as a team has helped contributors manage the enormous backlog (Hostinger)

> Bob "BobWP" Dunn celebrated 500 episodes of Do the Woo this week. Bob says since the podcast started in 2016, he's had 440 guests and 24 hosts (and six past hosts). Do the Woo started as a WooCommerce-focused podcast and has since grown into a community-driven network of 11 shows. On a recent episide of the podcast, Bob said he'll be making a big announcement at WordCamp Europe 2024 (Do the Woo)

> Rich Tabor has published an open call for folks to "ask me anything" about WordPress. The Automattic-sponsored design contributor, who's leading the design work on WordPress 6.6, says he'll follow up on any question put to him, whether it's about the block editor, site editor, building blocks, designing themes, creating patterns, or just using WordPress (rich.blog)

Business, enterprise & acquisitions

> WP Engine has refreshed its branding. Regina Yuan, the hosting company's Head of Brand, said the new look was designed to unify WP Engine's 20+ brands and involved nearly 100 interviews with members of the leadership team and acquired brands, and customers and partners. "We wanted our brand framework to reflect who we've become—a global web enablement company and leading WordPress solutions provider trusted by millions of users and customers around the world," says Regina. WP Engine was founded in 2010 and now has over 1,000 globally distributed employees. According to the company, roughly 9% of people online visit a WP Engine-powered site (WP Engine)

Plugins, themes & products

> Software company Greyd has launched its first theme in the WordPress.org theme repository. The aptly named Greyd theme is accessible and designed for any use. CTO Jakob Trost describes restructuring what was originally a classic theme into a Full-Site Editing theme as a "challenging undertaking" that ultimately helped strengthen the company's primary product, Greyd.Suite. In Post Status Slack, Luehrsen // Heinrich CEO Hendrik Luehrsen says Greyd may have found an upsell channel not (yet) shunned by theme reviewers: marketing text in patterns. "I find the possibilities of this quite interesting. Popular themes getting paid to include brand messages into patterns is a nice (but frankly quite dystopian) thought," says Hendrik. (Greyd | Post Status Slack)

Conferences & events

> 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) (Eventbrite)

WordPress Community: Ohia

This week, what’s inspiring Ohia, owner of Ohia Design & Development.


Get to know the folks behind WordCamp Europe 2024! The Repository is featuring organizers every week ahead of the June 13–15 event in Torino, Italy.
A podcast worth listening to: I’ve been listening to The Way Out Is In since its inception. I try to infuse the Plum Village Tradition and the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh into my life. This podcast is like a weekly supplement that helps me to keep the practice of mindfulness present in my life at all times. It’s aimed at helping us to transcend our fear, anger, and suffering so that we can be more engaged in the world in a way that develops love and compassion.

A concept worth understanding: Active listening. This skill rooted in compassion and patience, is the profound and purposeful act of being fully present when you are listening to someone. It involves wholeheartedly immersing oneself in the speaker's narrative, embracing their emotions, and respecting their journey without judgment. It can take a long time and a lot of work to cultivate this ability. In a conversation many people are just waiting for the other person to finish so that they can talk. Active listening fosters an environment of empathy and acceptance, allowing the speaker to unfold their thoughts and feelings at their own pace. Patience and genuine curiosity become the guiding forces, encouraging a space where each word is valued, every pause honored, and every sentiment acknowledged. In this way, active listening becomes a sacred exchange, where compassion and patience intertwine to nurture profound connections and mutual growth.

A Twitter account worth following: Fadi BouKaram (@CedrusK). If you love the etymology of words this account is for you. My first language is English but I’ve been learning Spanish for many years. Both of these languages are powerful tools in our world. Living in Andalucía, I often see a strong influence from the Arabic language in my environment. It’s easy to become curious about the root of words and it's fascinating to see how they have evolved differently to take their place across many languages in current vernacular.

An article worth reading: I started working with populations that experienced trauma about 20 years ago and have been interested in neuroscience and neurobiology ever since. I think society is beginning to accept the idea that neurodiversity is not just something problematic nor is it binary, it runs along a spectrum like almost everything else we encounter during our existence. I would love to study neurodiverse populations in our little world of website making. How something like sensory overstimulation translates well into being able to focus on writing code or creating a great UX. I personally work at breaking down the stigma around ADHD, CPTSD, and other diagnoses and try to bring light to the fact that sometimes these things can be like super powers in the creative and technological world. I could go on about this forever but instead here are a couple slightly dated yet interesting articles on the subject: Sensory Processing Sensitivity: A Review in the Light of the Evolution of Biological Responsivity by Elaine N. Aron, Arthur Aron and Jadzia Jagiellowicz, and User Experience Design for HSP/SPS by Eric Kolotyluk.

A habit worth forming: Being active in the mornings. I think one of the healthiest times in my life was when I was living in Lugo and I got up and did yoga every morning and then had a coffee. Also I gotta give it up big time for the entire country of Spain for adhering to a structured meal schedule. I really think that's a big part of the reason the life expectancy here falls in the top 10 highest in the world. Consistency people, it will change your life!

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Meanwhile...

Read

🕸️ Blogger Dave Winer on why WordPress is "a perfect time capsule of open technologies from the early days of innovation on the web" (Scripting News)

🤸Emilia Capital's Marieke van de Rakt on gender stereotypes and letting go of prejudices (Post Status)

🧡 Community lead Angela Jin on discovering WordPress and believing in the power of resilient communities (HeroPress)

🤔 Developer Aurooba Ahmed on the conundrum of working when you're not at work (Aurooba)

🍃 Wholegrain Digital's Tom Greenwood on AI and digital sustainability (SUX)

👨🏼‍💻 Jos Velasco on why he's a WordPress developer and super user, not a programmer (Jos Velasco)

✈️ Robert Nolte on the logistics behind bringing teams to WordCamps (Freemius)

Listen

🍵 NitroPack's Svilena Peneva on the value of attending WordCamps for personal and professional growth (WPCoffeeTalk)

Watch

🏗️ Jessica Lyschik, who co-led the development of Twenty Twenty-Four, kindly stepped in to help Newsletter Glue's Lesley Sim after she posted about her struggles with the default theme. Jessica recorded her process of turning an Adobe XD design for the new MailerGlue website into a WordPress block theme (YouTube)

🖼️ YouTuber Jonathan Jernigan on how patterns are about to get way more powerful (Jonathan Jernigan)

Play

📑 Automattic's Ryan Welcher built a to-do app with the Interacitvity API and live-streamed it (YouTube | GitHub)
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