Issue #63
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This week in WordPress

Mika Epstein reveals 2+ years of burnout, harassment and abuse

It's Friday and if you're feeling burnout after a long week at work, spare a thought for Mika Epstein. The Plugin Review Team rep shares the horrendous abuse she has endured since November 2018 after banning a plugin developer in When It's (Not?) Burnout. It's a shocking read, and you've got to remind yourself that MIKA IS A VOLUNTEER, she doesn't even get paid to deal with this crap.

Unrelated but also related: "What's your favorite thing in WordPress right now?" tweets The Matt Report's Matt Medeiros. "The outpouring of love and solidarity the WordPress Community has for Mika due to her public sharing of the harassment she has endured for the past three hears in her blog post," replies ShePress founder Michele Butcher-Jones.

And it's an outpouring alright. "I've seen you weather a lot. I've seen you stand up on behalf of all .org users in a way I've been awed by. Still...the extent of this is far heavier than I imagined. I'm so glad you're well-supported by friends, family. Consider me in your court. Anytime, always," tweets Impress.org Partner and COO Matt Cromwell.

And this awesome tweet from Bouncingsprout Studio owner Ben Roberts: "I'm so sorry Mika. I remember my first email from you, that you had approved my first plugin for the repo. That email started my career, and gave me the confidence to turn a weekend hobby into a business. Sending every hug possible from the UK 🙏🏼."

Bluehost misuses WordPress trademark

In less disturbing news this week, Bluehost has been called out for misusing WordPress' trademark. As Sarah Gooding at WPTavern explains, the WordPress Foundation prohibits the trademark's use in advertising.

The advertising in question, which lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) instructor Morten Rand-Hendriksen captures and tweets, features the line: "There's a reason WordPress officially recommends Bluehost more than any other hosting service." It's not the first time the hosting company has been caught out breaching the trademark rules, with Raidboxes Internationalization & Global Strategy Lead Caspar Hübinger tweeting evidence from 2018.

The incident has reignited concerns about the closed process in place for selecting the companies featured on the WordPress Web Hosting page.

"Recommended hosting is a controversial area for #WordPress. This article is an excellent overview of how it works & a checkered history. SiteGround is great, I've not used Dreamhost. I won't talk about Bluehost but best WordPress host? @kinsta, hands down," tweets freelance ecommerce and website designer Simon Harper, linking to Sarah's article.

As former WPTavern editor Jeff Chandler tweets, "In 2021, I don't think there is much lost if WordPress.org removed the recommended hosting page."

In other somewhat related news/views, LearnDash co-founder and CEO Justin Ferriman asks Should You Use "WP" in Your Business Brand? "Thanks for the great post. And what can I say, it has worked for me for a decade 😉" comments Bob Dunn from BobWP.

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WordPress 5.7 Field Guide and Release Candidate now available

WordPress 5.7 is slated for release on March 9. But first, the WordPress 5.7 Field Guide is out, just in time for the WordPress 5.7 Release Candidate.

WordPress Core Team rep and Whodunnit CTO, Jb Audras, who is leading Docs for this release, runs through what to expect. For users, new features include a refined block editor UI, lazy-loading iframes (read more at WPTavern: Native Lazy Loading Support for iframes Coming To WordPress 5.7), streamlined migration from HTTP to HTTPS, standardized colors in the WP Admin to a single palette, and a new Robots API and media search engine visibility setting.

For developers, there are 66 enhancements and feature requests and 127 bug fixes. Jb also highlights the ongoing clean up after the update to jQuery 3.5.1.

WPBeginner has published a nice overview of What's Coming in WordPress 5.7 (Features and Screenshots) and Cloudways also shares What to Expect From the Upcoming Release.

After the fanfare of the WordPress 5.6 release and its all-women release squad, the crew leading WordPress 5.7 is a small and experienced release squad.

WordPress.com does deal with Spotify

WordPress.com announced this week it has partnered with Anchor, a Spotify-owned podcasting platform, to convert blog posts into audio. The provides text-to-speech conversion for bloggers, ensuring posts can be "podcast-ready" in a few minutes.

The initial reaction from WordPress.com users has been positive, with many already started to repurpose their blog posts as simple podcasts, if the comments below the announcement are anything to go by. Professional podcasters, on the other hand, say the deal is bad news for podcasting.

"I couldn't think of a more ‘what the podcasting industry doesn't need' than automatically shipping your WordPress.com articles to a text-to-speech Anchor podcast," tweets The Matt Report's Matt Medeiros, adding, "Do I want to listen to ‘Siri' reading me a podcast? No. Do I want to give up ownership of my content to Anchor? No. Do I want to put out absolutely lifeless content, just for the sake of killing two birds with one stone? No."

Podcaster and course creator Joe Casabona explores Why the WordPress.com / Spotify Deal is Bad for Podcasting. He says the move will lead to bad quality podcasts and will minimize the hard work of making a great podcast. "I teach podcasting. I consult on podcasting. And I make podcasts for other people. I know how hard it is to make something worthwhile," he writes. "WordPress.com and Spotify benefit because it's a value-add for them that probably improves algorithms on both sides. And they are selling you coal and telling you it's a diamond."

We'll leave the last word to historian and blogger Jason Loch: "WordPress sent me an email touting the fact that you can now use Anchor's text-to-speech capability to transform blog posts into podcast episodes. I'm intrigued, but I'm not sure how it would handle the footnotes in my posts!"
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In other WordPress news...

  • WordPress 5.6.2 is now available. This maintenance release includes five fixes for bugs affecting WordPress 5.6.1, so upgrade when you can.
  • ICYMI, WooCommerce Live is partway through its third season. The weekly 30-minute show aims to help merchants succeed. This season is focusing on the tactical aspects of creating customers for your eCommerce website, ranging from free-style website reviews and improving your checkout to design, email marketing, and payments. RSVP on Meetup.com to join the live show each Wednesday at 9am PST/12pm EST/5pm UTC.
  • Yoast recently shared what it was like Working at the SEO company during the COVID-19 pandemic. And this week, CPO and founder Joost de Valk tweeted the company's latest happenings… "So yeah we did an online @LEGO event with the team @yoast today. A 105 people building LEGOs over zoom, across 4 continents and I don't know how many countries, combined with a LEGO quiz to get to know our colleagues better :-) I love our team."
  • Michelle Frechette, the Head of Customer Success of GiveWP, has committed to getting the Big Orange Heart logo tattooed on her wrist as part of a fundraiser for the mental health and wellbeing charity. At the time of publication, she was $405 away from her $1276 goal. "This is giving on another level! @michelleames's big fundraiser for Big Orange Heart. Will you be the one to take it over the finish line?" tweets Big Orange Heart.
  • Anne McCarthy, a developer relations wrangler at Automattic and program manager for the Full Site Editing (FSE) outreach experiment, has announced a second round of testing for the Full Site Editing (FSE) Outreach, reports WPTavern's Justin Tadlock. The call for testing asks that users build a homepage using the Gutenberg plugin's site editor. Feedback is open until March 5.
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