My name is Jeff Chandler and I’ve written about and have covered the open source WordPress project for 7-8 years. There is little difference between myself and those who have just entered the WordPress community. Just like any community of people, there are unwritten rules, things you must do to become well-known throughout the rest of the community. That’s just the way it is.
Unlike a lot of other people you may meet, I’m forgiving and willing to listen to your pitch and discover why it is you’ve chosen this path. However, if you decide to enter the WordPress community with guns blazing, be prepared to suffer the consequences. Like many other communities, there’s an inner, middle, and outer circle of influential people. Those who are closest to the WordPress project I feel are most influential.
If you enter the WordPress community these days with guns blazing, chances are that you’ll fail. The recipe for success is pretty simple. Sit outside the ring and observe how the WordPress community interacts for at least a year. There are nuances that people will have to understand and abide by, that’s just the way it is.
If you think you’re going to enter the world of WordPress and change the rules, you’re mistaken. Kudos if you think you’ll be able to radically change the direction things are heading, but it doesn’t work that way.
Learn how the WordPress community speaks, acts, views various opinions, and observe as well as follow the rules put into place before you enter the WordPress community.
It might sound like I don’t like those who show up unannounced and expect the world to change around them. How can anyone appreciate someone like that? If you enter the WordPress community, do your research, don’t act like you’re god.
Respect the decisions and guidelines that have been set forth before your time. If you disagree with them, use the appropriate channels but try not to fuck up things for everyone else.
6 thoughts on “Advice for Those Entering the WordPress Community”
Thanks for this post, Jeff. I feel that you are addressing an important point for newcomers (myself included). Participation in the wider WordPress community has its benefits, and is important. But it should be done right. Its almost like joining a guild. I like the line about “observing for at least a year”. Agreed. That’s kind of what I’m doing.
My best advice, as I was able to enter rather quickly is to genuinely enter wanting to give back, and not out to make money. Also, make friend in various circles so that they can vouch for you.
Wait for a year?
I respectfully and politely disagree.
Honestly, this is not high school where you have to curry favor with the popular kids to be in the ‘in crowd.’
This is real life, and real life is a meritocracy.
Having been here for years and years does not by definition make me or anyone else ‘better,’ smarter, or more ‘valuable’ than you or any new person to the community.
If you are polite and mild-mannered (i.e. not a flame-thrower) and you have good ideas, opinions, or comments to contribute, then forget about waiting a year, but jump right in and share what you have with the rest of us. We WANT to learn from you, as much as we’re sure you want to learn from us.
Just my opinion… worth what it cost (probably less!)
I believe most people strive for a meritocracy, but in just about all human interactions (not just high school), the reality is anything but.
It’s not just about “having been there for years and years”…it’s about building a certain level of trust, and It just takes time. There simply is no shortcut for that.
I think this post is in response to a certain WP company that recently burst on the scene from seemingly nowhere and bringing drama regarding certain WP Foundation guidelines. Apparently nobody knows who they are and they have been less than forthcoming about what their product offer actually is. So it’s natural and only human that many in the WP community would view their motives with suspicion. This is the way it works in any community of people.
Well said Jacob. True on all points.
Try and volunteer on a regular basis for the first year and focus on helping out on a product forum you really are passionate about.