Issue #199
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Happy Friday! It's December 15 and we're covering the State of the Word, the pause on the Matrix migration, and much more.

This is the last issue of The Repository for 2023. It’s been a big year and I can’t thank you enough for supporting this newsletter, spreading the word, and helping The Repository continue to be one of the top news sources for WordPress.

We're taking the summer off (it’s hot down under 😎🇦🇺) and returning on February 9, 2024 with issue #200.

Happy holidays!

- Rae Morey, publisher

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This week in WordPress

1. Matt Mullenweg delivers State of the Word 2023 live in Madrid, Spain

Spain. Playground. Admin redesign. AI. Data liberation. Portland. The State of the Word happened this week and wowee, there's a lot to unpack.

WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg gave his annual address to a packed room of folks mostly from the Spanish WordPress community, and as investor Joost de Valk writes in his State of the Word recap for Post Status, "The fact that the team chose Spain, which hosted no less than 9 WordCamps this year, was no coincidence."

As far as recaps go, Courtney Robertston's for GoDaddy is the most comprehensive: WordPress State of the Word 2023. We missed former WP Tavern Editor Sarah Gooding's report this year. (Matt Medeiros writes at The WP Minute, "An Automattician volunteered a very biased recap of the event on WP Tavern." Ouch.)

Human Made CEO Tom Willmot shared his enterprise takeaways, noting that "… no other CMS platform is innovating at the pace of WordPress, and in 2024, the pace will only increase."

Here are our top takeaways:

Playground is about to get big. Real big.

Playground, a platform that lets you run a WordPress instance directly from your web browser, is "the closest thing to sci-fi I think we have going on with WordPress," according to Mullenweg. After playing a demo by Playground creator Adam Zielinski, Mullenweg said 56,689 people had used the platform in the past six months and he hopes to see a 10-fold increase in users in the next year.

No doubt more folks will want to play with Playground after watching Zielinski's demo. Playground is also powering the new plugin preview experience in the repository. de Valk posted this week that the "plugin repository's new playground feature is so incredibly nice. Can't wait for this to be live for all users."

Mullenweg wants folks to keep learning (and experimenting with) AI deeply

At WordCamp Europe 2022, Mullenweg urged folks to "learn AI deeply." During his SOTW address, he reinforced this message with a demo showcasing an experiment combining Playground and AI, using natural language to "instantiate and interact with Playground blueprints." In the demo, a simple prompt was used to create a basic WooCommerce website for a shoe store in just a few seconds.

Mullenweg urged folks to experiment with AI and conversational interfaces for WordPress: "Please keep learning AI deeply, and also have AI teach you stuff."

The admin redesign can't come soon enough

Gutenberg Lead Architect Matías Ventura packed a lot into his 12-minute mini "State of Gutenberg" presentation, demoing:
  • New layouts as part of the admin redesign, allowing folks to view pages as a list, grid, kanban and side-by-side. As Ventura put it, "The idea is that everyone will be able to shape WordPress to their specific needs. If you have an ecommerce [site], if you run a plugin with a newsletter, that elements in the admin are relevant to your use case. So the idea is that each WordPress can be unique yet familiar to everyone; that's the direction we're going with these design improvements."
  • New custom field functionality in the Site Editor that connects blocks to fields without having to create custom blocks.
  • A prototype of real-time collaboration in the Site Editor, which folks can test now with the Gutenberg plugin by enabling "Live Collaboration and offline persistence" in the "Experiments" section.
  • The ability to swap patterns that are in related categories, apply theme.jsons to specific patterns, and make content and design changes to patterns that are applied globally.
  • Snappy front-end performance using the Interactivity API, as seen on
WordPress is pivoting to make migrations easier with "data liberation"

"Plans are great, but you shouldn't just blindly follow a plan that you created seven years ago. You should feel free to change it based on market conditions and whatever else is going on," said Mullenweg, announcing that in 2024, the WordPress project will focus on data liberation in parallel with Gutenberg.

Migrating WordPress is "very, very difficult," said Mullenweg, whether you're switching from a different CMS or moving between different WordPress installs. The data liberation project will focus on creating "zero friction" solutions for one-click migrations, an export format for WordPress, and copy-paste functionality similar to patterns in the Site Editor. To top it off, developers who create data liberation tools will have their plugins reviewed within one business day. The current wait time for plugin reviews is 58 days.

At The WP Minute, Matt Medeiros writes in his SOTW recap: "Overall, I think it's a positive direction for the platform, as someone that had to home cook a migration workflow from a simple open source Ghost website to, I welcome new tools for these use cases."

WordCamp US 2024 will be held in Portland

Next year's WordCamp US will be held in Portland from September 17-20 at the Oregon Convention Center, and therell be two contributor days and two days of talks. "Portland is super weird in amazing ways," said Mullenweg. "I'm looking forward to the WordPress community getting to explore and experience it."

Lastly, we couldn't agree more with de Valk, who writes, "The whole State of the Word 2023 was full of excitement that I had been missing a bit for the last few years. COVID was hard for everyone, but it looks like the WordPress project has recovered now and is going full speed ahead."

2. State of the Word Q&A takeaways

This year's State of the Word Q&A was a snappy affair, thanks to the anonymous submission of questions via Slido. WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg spent almost 34 minutes answering questions on everything from plugin stats and Matrix to WordPress's market share, Awesome Motive's marketing tactics, and WP Tavern.

The WP Minute posted a collection of Mullenweg's Q&A answers on X/Twitter.
The full SOTW Q&A is up on YouTube and includes a handy list of all the questions and their timestamps.

Here are our top takeaways from the SOTW Q&A (more on the Matrix migration below):
  • Mullenweg had no news to share on when/if plugin authors will get more data from following the removal of the active install growth charts last year. But good news for developers with plugins that have over 5 million active installs: plugin listings have been updated so install count no longer max out at 2+ million.
  • There are no plans to make ActivityPub a canonical plugin. Mullenweg said it only has 5,000 installs, so not enough demand: "The fediverse needs to grow more for people to be interested in it."
  • Awesome Motive's marketing practices have been a hot topic lately and were again spotlighted in a Q&A question. Mullenweg said it wasn't fair to say changes weren't happening as he'd seen the company update several plugins recently to "roll back some things that might have been a little aggressive" after getting feedback from contributors. He said there were opportunities to evolve the plugin guidelines to encourage best practices for displaying notices in the WordPress dashboard. He also raised the idea of building a star rating system into the WordPress dashboard to streamline how plugin authors gather reviews.
  • Mullenweg said he's been too busy to review applications for the two writer roles currently up for grabs at WP Tavern, but plans to hire in the New Year.
Mullenweg also answered a bunch of overflow questions on the Project blog.

3. WordPress pauses Slack to Matrix migration

"The best news I've heard from #SOTW: The switch from Slack to Matrix is on hold," posted core committer Aaron Jorbin, referring to Matt Mullenweg's not-quite-an-announcement during the State of the Word Q&A that Slack will remain WordPress' official communication platform "for the forseeable future."

Since January, WordPress and Matrix contributors have been investigating replacing Slack with the open source federated chat system. In July, contributors announced a new Slack/Matrix bridge, which made it possible to connect Matrix rooms and Slack channels.

Last week, contributors were caught off guard when Automattic-sponsored Matrix contributor Alex Kirk announced that posting to Slack would become limited this month, and the full migration to Matrix was expected to be completed in early 2024.

In the comments, long-time accessibility contributor Alex Stine raised concerns about Matrix's accessibility: "If people are forced to Matrix before an accessible client can be found, I will walk away from the WordPress Accessibility Team. I will not participate in a project where diversity and inclusion is championed only to turn around and restrict communication of a blind member of your own Accessibility Team. Anyone else see the problem with that?"

Following the SOTW, Kirk confirmed on the project blog that the migration from Slack to Matrix had been put on hold. He says Matrix contributors and project leadership listened to concerns regarding accessibility and usability, and also had their own concerns about Matrix's recent licensing changes.
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In other news

WordPress project

> The new Events page at was launched during the State of Word. It lists upcoming WordCamps, meetups and other events, and includes stats and information for new organizers (Make WordPress Community) | The Events page is "a great update to the .org site and a tremendous assist to the community and community team," writes Michelle Frechette, Post Status's Director of Community Relations (Post Status)

> The 2023 Annual Meetup Survey is still open. Organizers plan to use feedback from the survey to gain insights into how to increase the number of WordPress events held worldwide and how to get more people to use WordPress (WordCamp Central)

> Matías Ventura, the lead architect for Gutenberg, joined Jamie Marsland for a fascinating 90-minute deep dive into the project, covering its scope, how development decisions are made, third-party block libraries, negative reviews, and more (YouTube)

> Automattic-sponsored contributor Justin Tadlock's latest update on the WordPress Developer Blog covers the WordPress 6.5 roadmap, plugin previews in the repository, block gap support for the Quote block, and new block-focused chapters in the theme handbook (WordPress Developer Blog)

WordPress community

> Developer Javi Guembe has launched WPTalkLink, a site where WordPress folks can connect, talk, and learn languages with other members of the community (WPTalkLink)

> On the latest episode of WP Briefing, WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy talks about the importance of supporting open source projects adjacent to WordPress, and working together toward a more interconnected web (WP Briefing)

> In her latest column, investor Marieke van de Rakt encourages folks to learn from other open source projects. "An innocent flirtation with another open-source community, though – for education purposes only – that couldn't hurt, right? And it could do wonders for the future of our favorite open-source project," she writes (Post Status)

Business, enterprise & acquisitions

> The State of Enterprise WordPress 2023 report was released this week, bringing together responses from over 100 enterprise brands globally. Among the findings, 56% of respondents believe blocks are easier to use than the Classic editor, a combined 39% host their sites with WordPress VIP and WP Engine, 91% are happy with WordPress and plan to use it in future, and 72% would very likely recommend WordPress to other enterprise organizations. The State of Enterprise survey was the collaborative effort of 11 enterprise agencies, spearheaded by Big Bite (State of Enterprise WordPress)

> WP Engine is looking to fill 20 new jobs at its culturally award-winning Limerick offices as the company continues to expand across Europe. Earlier this year, WP Engine was named one of the best workplaces in Ireland and a best workplace for women by Great Place to Work (WP Engine)

Conferences, awards & events

> WordCamp Asia has announced the first round of speakers who'll be appearing at the flagship event from March 7-9 in Taipei, Taiwan. Speakers include Adam Silverstein (Google-sponsored core committer), Hannah Swain Løvik (Senior Manager at Automattic, responsible for people management within WooCommerce and Happiness) and Hidetaka Okamoto (Developer Advocate at Stripe) (WordCamp Asia 2024)

> The call for speakers for WordCamp Europe 2024 is open until January 15, 2024. The organizing team wants to hear from folks who are passionate about WordPress and want to share in front of an audience. The event will be held in Torino, Italy from June 13-15 (WordCamp Europe 2024)

> Big Bite and Human Made are hosting WordPress for Enterprise, an online event on 18 January that will feature speakers from WordPress VIP, PMC, The Times and Google sharing case studies on how they use WordPress (WordPress for Enterprise)

WordPress security

> Wordfence researcher István Márton is reporting that over 100 plugins in the repository have been affected by a shortcode-based stored cross-site scripting vulnerability (Wordfence)

> Securi Senior Malware Researcher Denis Sinegubko has published a detailed analysis of the fake WordPress CVE-2023-46182 patch and plugin phishing campaign that has been targeting WordPress admins (Sucuri)

#WPCommunityFeels: Ganga Kafle

A photo of Ganga Kafle
This week, what's inspiring Ganga Kafle, a WordPress contributor at Rank Math and WordCamp Asia 2024 organizer.

Want to nominate someone (or yourself!) for #WPCommunityFeels? Reply to this email and let us know.
A podcast worth listening to: Matt Report explores insights and tips from digital business creators in WordPress and no-code fields, offering valuable guidance on building and growing your online brand. Topics cover transforming WordPress into a profession, effective plugin usage, and assembling a skilled WordPress team.

A concept worth understanding: Around 60% of the global traffic is from mobile internet. So I believe understanding the importance of responsive web design is crucial in WordPress.

An X/Twitter account worth following: For WordPress enthusiasts, following WPBeginner on Twitter is valuable. They consistently share expert tips, tutorials, and updates, making it a go-to account for staying informed and enhancing one's skills in the WordPress ecosystem.

An article worth reading: One noteworthy article worth reading is Ultimate Guide for Full Site Editing, which comprehensively covers the recent technology of WordPress. If you understand Full Site Editing, you can take your website experience to the next level.

A habit worth forming: Regularly backing up your WordPress website and database is a crucial habit worth forming to safeguard against data loss and potential setbacks. By incorporating this routine into your maintenance schedule, you ensure the resilience and security of your online presence.


To wrap up his year, here's a look at our most popular content in 2023.

The most popular stories:
  1. NASA Launches Beta Site; On-Demand Streaming, App Update Coming Soon (NASA)
  2. WordPress Plans Ambitious Admin UI Revamp with Design System, Galvanizing Broad Support from the Developer Community (WP Tavern)
  3. WordPress Kicks Off Admin Design Overhaul with Discussion on Initial Mockups (WP Tavern)
  4. Contentious Review Process Leads Ollie Theme to Remove Innovative Onboarding Features, Amid Stagnating Block Theme Adoption (WP Tavern)
  5. A Call for Accountability: Sharing My WordPress Code of Conduct Report (WPwatercooler)
  6. WordPress Opens 2023 Annual Survey (WP Tavern)
  7. Open Letter to the WordPress Community concerning the Plugin Review Team and the Review Process (Themekraft)
  8. WordPress 6.4 Introduces Twenty Twenty-Four Theme, Adds Lightbox, Block Hooks, and Improvements Across Design Tools (WP Tavern)
  9. Developers Raise Concerns About Plugin Listings Outranking on Google Search (WP Tavern)
  10. What's the problem with Awesome Motive? (The WP Minute)
The most-clicked email subject lines:
  1. WordPress co-founder accused of Code of Conduct violation (#189)
  2. Tech layoffs shake up WordPress community, spark concern and support from the community (#159)
  3. WordPress 6.4 hailed as "one of the most important releases for WordPress (#194)
  4. WordPress Plugins Review Team launches self-check plugin, announces new reviewers (#188)
  5. GoDaddy cuts 530 jobs, 8% of global team (#157)
  6. Joost de Valk leaving Yoast to 'get entrepreneurial juices flowing' (#167)
  7. Automattic sets sights on unified messaging with $50 million deal (#192)
  8. launches unprecedented 100-Year Plan (#185)
  9. WordPress Executive Director outlines 2023 goals for the WordPress project (#154)
  10. Sarah Gooding leaves WP Tavern, search begins for new WP Tavern writers (#196)

The Repository is a weekly email for the WordPress community by Rae Morey. Also on our team: proofreader Laura Nelson and columnist Jonathan Wold (who'll be returning soon, stay tuned!). Thank you to Kinsta, our web hosting sponsor, and MailPoet, our email sponsor.

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