Issue #202
It's the weekend! It's March 2 and we're covering Automattic and AI, WordCamp Asia, DonateWC, WordPress 6.5 Beta 3, and more.

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Five big headlines

1. Automattic in the spotlight after deals to sell users' data to AI companies revealed

Automattic made headlines this week after 404 Media revealed and Tumblr are finalizing deals with OpenAI and Midjourney to sell users' data to train AI tools.

According to 404 Media's Samantha Cole, internal documents show a "messy and controversial process within Tumblr" involving a product manager who reported the status of an initial data collection process on an internal message board and how it included content that shouldn't have been collected.

James Giroux and Jyolsna J E covered the story for WP Tavern, reporting that shortly after 404 Media's article dropped, Automattic published Protecting User Choice. The statement describes the company's position on content distribution and the rights of all users on and Tumblr to opt out of their public content being included in data shared with AI partners.

On Wednesday, WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy reassured contributors on Make WordPress Slack that the WordPress project was not involved in selling user data or content for AI training purposes. "This has been our consistent stance across the long history of WordPress, even as recently as when I was sharing thoughts for the future of our project heading into 2023," she wrote.

Reporting for The Verge, Carl Franzen wrote that WordPress VIP won't be sharing customer data with AI firms without consent. As Franzen notes, "WordPress powers about 40% of the entire internet, so licensing any part of it for AI training would be, in the words of U.S. President Joe Biden, a β€˜big f***ing deal.'"

Referencing the negative press on Post Status Slack, Daniel Bachhuber, who's running while Matt Mullenweg is on a sabbatical, posted, "Yeah, the negative press and the misinformation on social is a pile of suck." But as Made with Fuel's Jack McConnell replied, "I think most of it boils down to that it should be "opt-in by default.'"

And Morten Rand-Hendriksen, a Senior Staff Instructor at LinkedIn Learning who teaches courses on WordPress, web development and AI, questions Mullenweg's open source principles in Ten Questions for Matt Mullenweg Re: Data Ownership and AI.

The news comes after Mullenweg posted a selfie with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman at the Super Bowl last month.

2. WordCamp Asia's ambition to go beyond regular WordCamps: Q&A with organizer Jon Ang

Hundreds of people sitting in an auditorium behind a sign that reads "#WCAsia".
WordCamp Asia organizer Jon Ang speaks about programming for this year's event, why organizers are marketing to non-WordPress people, and how diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging have been deeply embedded in every stage of the event in a Q&A with The Repository.

Read the full interview: WordCamp Asia's ambition to go beyond regular WordCamps: Q&A with organizer Jon Ang.

In 2019, Jon Ang, Human Made's Director of Sales, wrote the original proposal to get WordCamp Asia up and running. Five years and a global pandemic later, he's gearing up for the flagship event's second annual conference next week in Taipei, Taiwan. More than 2000 people have bought tickets to the two-day event plus Contributor Day, which kicks off on March 7. The organizing team has locked in some big names as part of its invited speaker program, including best-selling author and blogger Tim Ferriss and OSS Capital founder Joseph Jacks.

We spoke with Ang about why the WordCamp Asia organizing team is building relationships with open source organizations beyond WordPress and how the event is differentiating itself from WordCamp Europe and WordCamp US.

Meanwhile, XWP published a local's guide to Taipei, and Do the Woo interviewed WordCamp Asia organizers Andy Saw and Huanyi (Eric) Chuang and 13 speakers.

The Repository is a proud media sponsor of WordCamp Asia 2024.

3. Marcel Bootsman redirects funds from defunct DonateWC to PHP_CodeSniffer

A man wearing a dark hat stands in the foreground and smiles with a group of people behind him waving at the camera.
Kinsta Marketing Manager Marcel Bootsman, who raised €8590.26 for DonateWC after walking 730km to WordCamp Europe 2019, is redirecting a portion of the funds to the PHP_CodeSniffer project after the charity unceremoniously shut down.

Bootsman walked 730km from his home in the Netherlands to Berlin, documenting his journey at Walk to WordCamp Europe before taking to the stage at WordCamp Europe 2019 where he gave an emotional talk about his 32-day experience.

Bootsman donated the proceeds of his walk to DonateWC, a charity launched in 2017 to help speakers and volunteers with lesser financial means travel to WordCamps. In August 2022, founder Ines van Dijk told The Repository that after a dormant couple of years thanks to COVID-19, DonateWC was starting up again. "In the past 2 weeks we've kickstarted the back office again and working on getting back on our feet πŸ™‚ we can use all the help we can get!" she said at the time.

But in an open letter to DonateWC on January 16, 2024, Bootsman said he had not received any replies or updates regarding his donation since December 2020. Following the publication of the letter, DonateWC returned 70% of Bootsman's donation and provided bank statements showing that the remaining 30% had been used to sponsor people who went to WordCamps.

After Bootsman asked van Dijk to remove the donation form from, the site was updated to display a message stating that "Due to unavailability of the volunteer team, DonateWC is no longer active."

Bootsman says he's decided to donate the refunded €5673.52 to PHP_CodeSniffer, a project he says "is of great value for a lot of individuals and companies that develop solutions based on WordPress technology."

Bootsman told The Repository that he was okay with not getting 100% of his donation back from DonateWC "since most of that has been used for supporting people to go to WordCamps. I hope Ines can precisely tell you what happened to the funds," he said.

The Repository contacted van Dijk but didn't get a reply.

4. WordPress 6.5 Beta 3 ready for testing as excitement grows around Interactivity API

WordPress contributors are onto another round of testing with the release of WordPress 6.5 Beta 3 this week. This release includes more than 45 updates to the Site Editor since the Beta 2 release, including over 35 tickets for WordPress core. The first release candidate is scheduled to ship on March 5, together with the WordPress 6.5 field guide.

As James Giroux reported for WP Tavern, the Interactivity API will make its official debut in WordPress 6.5. Gutenberg Lead Architect MatΓ­as Ventura showed off the Interactivity API's snappy front-end performance, as seen on, during the State of the Word last December. WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomposy also unpacks what the Interactivity API is all about on the latest episode of WP Briefing.

Other features landing in WordPress 6.5 include AVIF support and performant translations.

Leonardus Nugraha, a documentation lead on the WordPress 6.5 release squad, has published a preview of what to expect in WordPress 6.5 for Hostinger.

Meanwhile, at Gutenberg Times, Birgit Pauli-Haack highlights Anne McCarthy's recent videos showcasing the new font library, powerful new views, updates to synced patterns that are coming in WordPress 6.5. For a deep dive into Gutenberg 17.6 and 17.7, mega menus, the Interactivity API and WordPress 6.5, fractional product lead Tammie Lister joined Pauli-Haack on the Gutenberg Changelog podcast.

5. WP Tavern Hunger Games enters final weeks

The seven writers trialing for two full-time jobs at WP Tavern have published 24 stories since the Hunger Games began on February 16. Let's take a look at who is vying to replace long-time Editor Sarah Gooding:
  • James Giroux - Giroux founded TeamWP, an employee experience platform designed specifically for the WordPress ecosystem. He was previously the Director of Brand & Product Marketing at StellarWP and a WordPress evangelist at Envato.
  • Topher DeRosia - DeRosia is best known as the founder of HeroPress, a website that tells the stories of the people of WordPress, and the HeroPress Network. More recently, he founded MediaForge Productions.
  • Toby Cryns - Cryns runs WordPress agency The Mighty Mo! and describes himself as a freelance CTO and WordPress guru. He co-founded the Minneapolis St. Paul WordPress User Group and co-organized the first WordCamp Minneapolis.
  • Jyolsna J E - Jyolsna is the Chief Curator at WP-Content, a weekly WordPress newsletter and podcast. She's also the Operations Manager at awsm innovations.
  • Ronny Shani - Shani is a senior tech content writer at Project A Ventures, a Berlin-based VC. He's also a developer, translator and a former journalist who has worked for various online and print publications, providing content in English and Hebrew.
  • Adam Silver - Silver is a WordPress educator, trainer, developer, and podcaster best known as the founder of and the KitchensinkWP podcast.
  • Brian Coords - Coords is a developer, writer and educator in the WordPress space known for his writing at MasterWP. He is Senior Manager of New Media for The Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation, and was previously Technology Director at Howard Development and Consulting.
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In other news

WordPress project

> Gutenberg 17.8 is now available. With many contributors focused on the upcoming WordPress 6.5 release, this release prioritizes stability and bug fixes (Make WordPress Core)

> A post former FSE Outreach Program coordinator Anne McCarthy wrote about overlapping problems with the Site Editor went viral last week after developer Brian Coords shared it on X (and called for WordPress 6.6 to be a feature freeze). In her post, McCarthy highlighted issues with changing something across your entire site or just for one block, seeing where items are used across the experience, understanding inherited values and options, and understanding what you can and can't edit. They hosted a hallway hangout this week to discuss what makes these problems complex to solve ( | X)

> A new sustainability focus has been added to the WordPress core Trac bug tracker to help contributors easily find and work on tickets to help minimize the environmental impact of the WordPress core code. The first ticket fixed as part of this new focus involved removing an unnecessary process that was running twice a day on every site running WordPress to check if it supported https (Make WordPress Core)

> Matias Ventura, Gutenberg's Lead Architect, recently proposed incorporating some single-block plugins in the Gutenberg GitHub repository (WP Tavern)

WordPress community

> Cory Miller has stepped aside as CEO of Post Status to explore new professional opportunities. Michelle Frechette is now Executive Director, and Mike Klanac has joined the business as a partner and advisor. The news comes after Miller resumed his CEO duties last August after stepping aside for 18 months. At the time, Miller's partner Lindsey Miller stepped in as interim CEO, a role she has taken up again. Miller originally joined Post Status as a partner in January 2020 and became sole owner when founder Brian Krogsgard left the business in May 2021. Joost de Valk and Marieke van de Rakt also joined the business last August as equity partners in August 2023. Miller is best known as the founder of iThemes, a business he ran for 10 years before selling to Liquid Web in January 2018. Miller is also known for this mental health advocacy and is a trustee for Big Orange Heart (Post Status)

> Support Inclusion in Tech (SiNC) is now fundraising on the Open Collective Foundation's platform. According to founder Winstina Hughes, she wants to sponsor more marginalized WordPress contributors and provide transparency around how funds are raised (WP Tavern)

> WooCommerce co-founder Adii Pienaar recently joined Automattic to work on "commerce things." The serial entrepreneur says he's reconnecting with friends in the WordPress space but is holding off on sharing details of his new role (Adii)

> Birgit Pauli-Haack says she "came for the software and stayed for the community," in an interview with WP-Content. The Automattic-sponsored developer advocate and founder of Gutenberg Times shares her experiences as a WordCamp and meetup organizer, views on women's participation in the ecosystem, and advice for new contributors (WP-Content)

> Learning WordPress is the focus of two recent Press This episodes featuring Jonathan Bossenger (Automattic-sponsored contributor working on the launch of Structured Learning Pathways and a Learn WordPress redesign) and Nyasha Green (a LinkedIn Learning instructor) (Torque | Torque)

> Topher DeRosia is publishing a five-part retrospective on the recent WordPress Photo Festival 2024 hosted by the Kerala WordPress community from February 3-10 (WP Tavern).

Business, enterprise & acquisitions

> Kestrel has acquired seven of Barn2's plugins, including WooCommerce Variation Prices, WooCommerce Express Shop Page, and WooCommerce Shipping Calculator. Barn2 co-founder and CEO Katie Keith says the deal will allow her team to focus on their most popular products. Kestrel is a new venture by the former co-founders of SkyVerge, an ecommerce company bought out by GoDaddy in 2020 (Barn2)

> In his new column for Post Status, investor Joost de Valk writes about how the plugin business has changed over the past 15 years, making it harder for developers without connections to grow smaller plugins in the WordPress ecosystem (Post Status)

> Despite the consolidation happening in the WordPress ecosystem, small plugin developers are making a living flying under the radar of the big dogs, writes Toby Cryns, who shared the stories of seven successful business owners (WP Tavern)

> Daniel Bachhuber has shared an update on how busy he's become since taking over the day-to-day running of Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg handed off his leadership of the business to the software engineer before starting a three-month sabbatical on February 1 (

> Lawrence Ladomery writes about Omnisend's omnipresence in the WordPress space and what business owners can learn from the email marketing platform's strategy to appear in every corner of the WordPress ecosystem (WP Biz Dev)

Conferences, events & awards

> WP Engine's developer conference DE{CODE} will take place on March 19 in North America and APAC and March 21 in EMEA. The virtual event will feature over 40 speakers, including WP Engine founder Jason Cohen and Product Manager Luke Patterson, Equalize Digital founder and CEO Amber Hinds, Code and Theory CTO David DiCamillo, and CRX General Manager Lucky Gobindram (WP Engine)

> WordCamp Canada 2024 organizers have put out a call for speakers, sponsors and volunteers. The country conference is scheduled for July 11-13 in Ottawa (WP Tavern)

> WordCamp US 2024 organizers have updated the flagship event's website ahead of the September 19-20 event in Portland, Oregon (WordCamp US)


> Wordfence has paid over $6,000 in bounties to security researchers who found vulnerabilities in the Ultimate Member and Academy LMS plugins and the popular Avada theme. Avada is one of ThemeForest's most popular premium themes, with nearly $950,000 in sales (WordFence | WP Tavern)

> Patchstack has been selected to join a three-month Google program for startups using AI to innovate responsibly in the Cybersecurity market (X)

This week at The WP Minute

Eric Karkovack β†’
Clearing Up the Confusion Surrounding Block Themes
Eric explores the nuances between Gutenberg, page builders, and the role of block themes in WordPress's no-code future. He emphasizes block themes as essential for using the Site Editor and offers a simplified editing experience across themes without the need for custom coding, and possibly making free themes more viable for users.
YouTube β†’
Will WooCommerce run on Twenty Twenty-Four?! πŸ‘€
Matt Medeiros walks viewers through a fresh install of WooCommerce and Twenty Twenty-Four, exploring how well the e-commerce plugin operates on the default theme. Watch this video to get an overview of front-end features, checkout pages, and what's missing from the site editor.


🫠 Steph Lundberg writes about Matt Mullenweg's "masterclass" on why we have trust and safety teams

🍴 An Nginx core developer recently quit the project and started a "freenginx" fork.

😬 Alex von F has published a takedown of Taylor Swift's WordPress site (after it was publicized that she uses WordPress)

πŸ’Έ Matt Mullenweg says if he ever IPOed something from Automattic, he'd do it like Reddit.

πŸ΄β€β˜ οΈ Mika Epstein writes about the GPL and why piracy is nuanced.

πŸ§‘β€πŸ³ WPBakery has launched Website Cookbook to showcase design and development tools.

πŸš— Syed Balkhi shares his unorthodox wealth secrets, including buying gas stations.

πŸ‘©πŸΌβ€πŸ’» Hostinger is supporting a program to help Ugandan women pursue careers in IT.

πŸ†’'s new Developer website shows off Twenty Twenty-Four.

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