Issue #37
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This week in WordPress

Big WordCamps canceled until 2022

Just when you thought 2020 couldn't get any worse, the news this week that 2021 is going to be just as depressing. WordPress Cancels All In-Person Flagship Events Until 2022 is the headline at WP Tavern.
Sarah Gooding covers WordPress community manager Hugh Lashbrooke's announcement that applications for new flagship events in 2021 will not be accepted, and any existing events — WordCamp Europe, WordCamp US, WordCamp Asia, and WordCamp Centroamérica — will need to be online.

"With the continued progression of COVID-19, there are serious concerns regarding the safety of our community at flagship WordPress events in 2021," Hugh says in Announcement: Flagship Events in 2021. "… these large scale events that typically host more than 1,000 individuals could become ‘super-spreader' events if a single infected person attends."

The announcement comes after WordCamp US was canceled last week due to overextended organizers and online event fatigue.

With many conferences going virtual in 2020, and the general sentiment that folks miss the connections and friendships they make at in-person WordCamps — "I know we can all still attend virtually, but it's just not the same, you know?" tweets freelancer Travis Lima — the Community Team is "strongly" encouraging flagship organizing teams to be "creative" in how they run their WordCamps.
As Sarah points out, "This challenge forces organizers to proceed only if they can knock it out of the park in terms of creativity. Otherwise, it's simply hosting another online conference in the same tired format for the sake of tradition."

"We better come up with some better ways to congregate from afar for the next 18 months because I MISS EVERYONE SO MUCH!" tweets Reaktiv Studios project manager Chris Ford.

WordPress 5.5 slated for release next week

It's almost here: WordPress 5.5 Release Candidate 2 is now available for testing. The full release of WordPress 5.5 is expected to ship on 11 August. If you're a developer and haven't tested your plugins or themes against WordPress 5.5 yet, it's something you might want to check off your to-do list this weekend.

With the WordPress 5.5 development cycle about to wrap up, the WordPress Core Team has opened up the call for features in the WordPress 5.6 release. Automattic chief of staff and WordPress community steward Chloé Bringmann has asked the community for feedback in WordPress 5.6: What's on your Wishlist?

While components of full site editing are at the top of the WordPress goals list, folks have left dozens of comments asking for a huge variety of new features and updates — click through to the post to have a read — as well as for old tickets to be finally resolved.

In other news, "This morning our team published this guide to the new plugin auto-updates feature coming in #WordPress 5.5. The post has been well received by the community. Really clear simple easy to read explanation," tweets Mark Maunder, CEO of Defiant, which runs security plugin Wordfence. He links to WordPress Auto-Updates: What do you have to lose?

A Big Orange Heart opens 2020 mental health survey

"Can we ask for 3-4 minutes? The data allowed us to save lives last year," tweets A Big Orange Heart, linking to the mental health initiative's Well-being & Mental Health Survey 2020.

WP Tavern helps promote the survey in Big Orange Heart Opens 2020 Remote Work Wellbeing and Mental Health Survey. Sarah Gooding highlights some sobering findings from the 2019 survey, including that 8% of the WordPress community had suicidal thoughts in the 12 months preceding the survey.

A Big Orange Heart founder Dan Maby tells Sarah the finding led his team to undertake more training in suicide prevention. He says this year's survey will similarly help his organization understand the extent of mental health-related issues within the remote working community and inform various initiatives they plan throughout the year.

Got 3-4 minutes? Complete the survey anonymously here. It asks fairly broad questions about your mental health and the support you have available.

Critical security flaws found in Elegant Themes products

Another week, another security vulnerability. This week, Elegant Themes users are being urged to update to the latest versions of Divi, Extra, and the Divi Builder plugin after Wordfence discovered a critical flaw that let malicious users run code on a vulnerable site's server.

According to threat analyst Chloe Chamberland in Critical Vulnerability Exposes over 700,000 Sites Using Divi, Extra, and Divi Builder, the vulnerability allowed authenticated attackers with contributor-level or above capabilities to upload arbitrary files — including PHP files — and then run code remotely.

Elegant Themes developers released a patch on 3 August in version 4.5.3 for all three products.

Page builders faster than WordPress sites from expensive agencies, according to Convesio research

"This is a pretty wild read; the load time of sites built with Elementor, Divi, or Themify Builder are faster than a WordPress website built by an ‘average' WordPress agency listed on Clutch, a popular agency review site," writes Ellipsis Marketing founder Alex Denning in this week's MasterWP newsletter.
He links to Page Speed: What We Learned By Analyzing 1,500 Agency Websites on the Convesio blog. Marketer Lawrence Ladomery analyzed the hosting performance of 1,486 agency websites and found they are building faster sites compared to the rest of the web, but they're still too slow.
As Alex points out, "Performance is obviously only one part of a site, but page builders let you build a pretty nice looking site and it's exciting but also a little scary for WordPress in 2020 that a DIY solution can stand up against a $XX,000 project."
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In other news...

  • – Journalists all too often confuse WordPress.org and WordPress.com. So Caspar Hübinger, who works as a digital marketer at Human Made, recently pushed for Automattic to update its press page to clarify the distinction between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Caspar tells WP Tavern's Sarah Gooding that he often finds himself "angry" when the name of the open source project he has dedicated most of his digital career to is confused with a commercial service built on top of it.
  • – The WP Notify project, which aims to create a better way to manage and deliver notifications n the WordPress admin, has moved into the project build phase. The project team has finalized initial requirements and core contributor and Castos lead developer Jonathan Bossenger has put a call out for feedback on how best to move forward in WP Notify – next steps.
  • Samir Shah, the developer behind the popular Disable Comments plugin, is auctioning off the popular project. In Disable Comments Plugin Looking for New Owner, Highest Bid Goes to Charity, Samir tells WP Tavern's Justin Tadlock he no longer has time to work on the plugin, which has over 1 million active installs, and wants the highest bidder to donate payment for the plugin to Effective Altruism Funds.
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