Issue #74
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This week in WordPress

Accessibility advocates sign open letter opposing overlay technologies like accessiBe's

accessiBe is back in the news after more than 420 people with impaired vision, accessibility advocates, and software developers signed an open letter calling on companies that use automated overlays, like accessiBe's, to stop.

"We will refuse to stay silent when overlay vendors use deception to market their products," the letter states. It includes signatures from people at WordPress VIP, Microsoft, and the European Commission.

WPTavern's Sarah Gooding says a major part of the complaint is that overlay products are often marketed as quick-fix solutions that will make a website ADA compliant and immune from legal action. She also reminds readers that accessiBe recently "gained notoriety in the WordPress world" after WordPress.org remove a collection of fake reviews from the company's plugin page. accessiBe has strongly denied publishing fake reviews.

Karl Groves, founder and president of accessibility as a service company Tenon.io, and whose signature is the first on the open letter, tweets "Happy that the fight is getting exposure in mainstream media, but the overlay problem extends far beyond @AccessiBe. Their commercial success is the only thing that makes them noteworthy, but all such companies/products are a problem."

But as Lucy Greco, the head of web accessibility at the University of California, Berkeley, tells NBC journalist April Glaser in Blind people, advocates slam company claiming to make websites ADA compliant, while other companies have similar products that have many of the same technical issues accessiBe's does, it "stands out because of its rapid growth, heavy marketing and defensive style of engagement with blind people who claim it hasn't worked for them."

accessiBe CEO Shir Ekerling has responded to the NBC article, which he claims is misleading, ignores facts, and has deliberately left out the voices of accessiBe's supporters. "We are not naive. We know that journalism has its engine and that controversy is much more interesting than facts," he writes.

Web host Liquid Web acquires fundraising plugin GiveWP

Web host Liquid Web has acquired GiveWP, reports Sarah Gooding for WPTavern. The team behind the plugin will join Liquid Web as part of the asset sale, which includes the whole company, products, and leadership.

GiveWP is one of the most popular donation and fundraising plugins for WordPress, with more than 100,000 active installs. As of May 2021, the plugin has helped its users raise more than $1 billion in online fundraising, co-founder Devin Walker writes in GiveWP Joins the Liquid Web Family of Brands.

On a combined episode of the How I Built It and WP Review podcasts, Walker tells host Joe Casabona the acquisition will allow GiveWP to take its brand to the next level while continuing its mission to "democratise generosity."

"Very excited about today's news of adding GiveWP to our Liquid Web family. Excited to have @innerwebs, Matt Cromwell, and employees and contractors join the Liquid Web team. Great things ahead - stay tuned!," tweets Liquid Web CTO Joe Oesterling.

Chris Lema, VP of Product at Liquid Web, also tweets, "For founders of #WP products, what's critically important to know about the @LiquidWeb / @GiveWP acquisition (like our others), are these three things: 1. Products stay in the market 2. Leadership stays in place 3. Innovation stays a priority."

Genesis Framework will soon be freely available

StudioPress has announced the Genesis Framework will soon be available for free as part of an upcoming overhaul over the company's themes and marketplace. WPTavern's Justin Tadlock reports that StudioPress will soon no longer sell individual themes, and will instead make a selection of themes available only through a Genesis Pro, WP Engine hosting, or Flywheel hosting account. ProPlus customers will gain access to the Genesis Blocks Pro and Genesis Custom Blocks Pro plugins.

StudioPress Marketing Director at WP Engine, Chris Garrett, says the changes are aimed at providing more value to Pro Plus customers, improving the way third party theme providers/users are supported, and will allow the company to focus its product and engineering efforts on preparing the Genesis community for Full Site Editing.

StudioPress was originally founded by Brian Gardner in 2007, and acquired by WP Engine in 2018.

Could WordPress be more environmentally sustainable?

Should WordPress use its marketshare to help create a more sustainable web? WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg and Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomposy were asked what it would take to really integrate environmental sustainability into all areas of WordPress when they joined the latest episode of the WP Café podcast this week.

As co-host Keith Devon pointed out, "with a project the size of WordPress, you can make small changes that make a massive, massive impact." But as Ben Gillbanks says in the latest MasterWP newsletter, "From the answer [Mullenweg gave on the podcast], I get the impression this isn't something that has been thought about. Matt suggested that developers should always take sustainability into account developing but I don't think it's top of their minds."

While sustainability might not be a priority for WordPress, Mullenweg adds that it's "an area where I feel more connected to my activism outside of WordPress." He sits on the board of both Grist and ecoAmerica.

Openverse and open content on the web

Openverse is good for WordPress and the web, opines Justin Tadlock. He dissects the latest episode of the WP Briefing podcast, in which hosts Josepha Haden Chomposy and Matt Mullenweg talk about CC image search joining the WordPress project.

He says Operverse could be a game-changer in two regards: as a direct integration into the media library, and by providing another avenue for people, even those who are not developers or designers, to contribute to the open content of the web. One of the biggest takeaways from the podcast, he says, is what Openverse could mean for the web.

Meanwhile, Haden Chomposy officially announced this week that CC Search is now part of the WordPress project, writing, "I hope that this will provide a long-term, sustainable challenger to closed source photo libraries and further enhance the WordPress ecosystem."

WordPress security release patches one flaw, plus Patchstack prize pool

The WordPress 5.7.2 Security Release is now available. It features just one security fix. As Wordfence Threat Analyst Ram Gall explains, the release patches a critical object injection vulnerability in PHPMailer, the component that WordPress uses to send emails by default.

In other security news, Patchstack Head of Marketing Agnes Talalaev has announced a $1300 USD prize pool for security researchers who report vulnerabilities to the company's database this month. In April, Patchstack paid out $1100 to researchers who reported 156 security flaws in WordPress plugins and themes.

Web host Cloudways, who is contributing to the monthly prize pool, tweets, "We've partnered with Patchstack's Red Team to help make the web a safer place 🔐"

New features for the Hub on the GoDaddy Garage

When we first started building the Hub by GoDaddy Pro, we envisioned a platform that would help our members not only manage websites but other key aspects of their businesses. Today, our members report saving an average of three hours each month for every client website under their management.

But we're only getting started. Each month, we release new features for the Hub and report them on our Hub Updates corner of the GoDaddy Garage. Here are some of the development highlights so far:
  • Shared shopping carts — You can shop for clients using that client's GoDaddy account or by sharing a shopping cart filled with the desired products.
  • Speed boost — The overall speed of the Sites dashboard has been improved for users who add more than 100 websites.
  • Code snippet tool — You can execute custom code right from the Hub, without signing in to a website. This time-saving feature eliminates the need for plugins to run commands like list files, check file readability, remove default widgets and more.
  • Site maintenance packs — You can now upgrade sites individually to get site maintenance packs, which include an array of automated tools including backups, performance checks, security checks and uptime monitoring.
The Hub is one benefit of becoming a GoDaddy Pro member. You'll also receive a significant discount on GoDaddy products and services, and you'll join a community of like-minded peers who share advice and offer support. If you still haven't joined GoDaddy Pro, get more out of your workday by signing up now.
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In other WordPress news...

  • If you're interested in universal themes, a group of folks working on block-based themes will be having a virtual hallway hangout today (Friday, May 14 at 14UTC). Universal themes aim to work in either classic (WordPress Customizer) or Full Site Editing contexts. Core contributor and Automattic designer Jeff Ong says while the format and agenda will be loose, the goal will be to have an open conversation about the idea of universal themes and talk about theme code.
  • GoDaddy Pro is proud to announce a partnership with WordCamp Northeast Ohio, running May 21 to May 23. It's a fantastic opportunity to network with some of the world's most influential WordPress designers and developers. Get tickets now. Sponsored link
  • Yoast's Readability Analysis is celebrating its 5th anniversary. CEO Marieke van de Rakt, who came up with the idea for the feature, says Yoast SEO was the first SEO tool to incorporate readability into its software. Over the past five years, the company has worked with linguists to make the readability analysis available in over 15 languages. van de Rakt and linguist Irene Strikkers explain how the readability analysis came to life and what's coming next on the Yoast blog.
  • WordSesh 2021 is on soon, with organizers tweeting this week, "#WordSesh is back with a new edition! Join us the weeks of May 24 and June 1 for some powerful sessions on block development, headless WordPress, security, accessibility, client services, and more! Check out the complete schedule and register today." Developer and Post Status curator David Bisset adds, "Looks like a diverse schedule is spread across timezones so you won't need to watch it all as it happens."
  • Industry analyst and strategist Robert Jacobi has joined Cloudways as Director of WordPress. Jacobi will lead the web host's WordPress business unit's strategic partnerships, building community engagement, and helping establish new channels for outreach and building brand equity. "We've been discussing the future of Cloudways with Robert for months now," says Cloudways co-founder and CEO Aaqib Gadit. "The more we shared each other's visions for the future of cloud and managed application hosting, the more it became clear that he would be a perfect fit as our Director of WordPress." Founded in 2012, Cloudways's managed cloud hosting platform hosts over 50,000 servers globally.
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