Community Views on Now and the Future

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Community Views on Now and the Future

Robert Deaton
Dear all hackers and lurkers (I know you're out there),

With the growing frequency of topics that are frustrated with the way
WordPress is currently moving, especially this post from the forums
list ( http://comox.textdrive.com/pipermail/wp-forums/2006-March/001532.html
), I'm growing curious as to how the hackers community as a whole
feels, so I'd like to throw up a little survey, and find out what some
people honestly think.

- How do you think the Development model of WordPress is now? What are
its strongpoints? What are its flaws? What do you think should be
changed and what should be left the same?
- What are your views on project's leadership? Are they steering us in
the right direction, or are we going downhill? Is community feedback
weighted enough with personal views of the developers? Are we
interacting with people outside the coding community enough to get a
fair view of what could be the best for everyone?
- Do we get too little, just the right amount, or too much feedback
from the developers on things discussed on this list and elsewhere? Do
you think this has a positive or negative impact on the project as a
whole?

I'll leave my views out of this message and answer my own questions
later in the thread.

--
--Robert Deaton
http://somethingunpredictable.com

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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

steve caturan
greetings,

i'm more of a lurker, not a programmer or a web developer. :)

i think the WordPress platform would benefit if it were to undergo a
security audit by an independent contractor like Gulf Tech Research
and/or Netcraft - these folks have eyes that are trained differently
(imho), unmatched experience & have tools that can point out weak points
that can be exploited and overlooked - no, not to undermine the existing
efforts being made. not necessarily a line-by-line code auditing like
the OpenBSD project does.

also, I'm wondering if the project has plans to release patch files as
an alternative to downloading entire packages just to get a bump from,
say 2.0 to 2.0.1 - a simple patch -p0 -s < patchfile would really help
speed up the process for those mainting 100s of WordPress blogs, like
myself. why does WordPress have to include *new* features for revisions?
why not just release something like 2.0.1 to address bug fixes, nothing
more?

i also think the WordPress project should maintain both development &
support channels, separately. and that more core developers & testing
folks should be part of it, at least the ones that can make a genuine
commitment, not just lip service.

in closing, i believe the WordPress codex is one of the best. props to
all the contributors. :) Podz, looking forward to your planned
contributions to Gallery 2 codex, another project I monitor.

Robert Deaton wrote:

> Dear all hackers and lurkers (I know you're out there),
>
> With the growing frequency of topics that are frustrated with the way
> WordPress is currently moving, especially this post from the forums
> list ( http://comox.textdrive.com/pipermail/wp-forums/2006-March/001532.html
> ), I'm growing curious as to how the hackers community as a whole
> feels, so I'd like to throw up a little survey, and find out what some
> people honestly think.
>
> - How do you think the Development model of WordPress is now? What are
> its strongpoints? What are its flaws? What do you think should be
> changed and what should be left the same?
> - What are your views on project's leadership? Are they steering us in
> the right direction, or are we going downhill? Is community feedback
> weighted enough with personal views of the developers? Are we
> interacting with people outside the coding community enough to get a
> fair view of what could be the best for everyone?
> - Do we get too little, just the right amount, or too much feedback
> from the developers on things discussed on this list and elsewhere? Do
> you think this has a positive or negative impact on the project as a
> whole?
>
> I'll leave my views out of this message and answer my own questions
> later in the thread.
>
> --
> --Robert Deaton
> http://somethingunpredictable.com
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> _______________________________________________
> wp-hackers mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.automattic.com/mailman/listinfo/wp-hackers


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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Ryan Boren
steve caturan wrote:

> greetings,
>
> i'm more of a lurker, not a programmer or a web developer. :)
>
> i think the WordPress platform would benefit if it were to undergo a
> security audit by an independent contractor like Gulf Tech Research
> and/or Netcraft - these folks have eyes that are trained differently
> (imho), unmatched experience & have tools that can point out weak points
> that can be exploited and overlooked - no, not to undermine the existing
> efforts being made. not necessarily a line-by-line code auditing like
> the OpenBSD project does.

That costs money.  Maybe Automattic can pay for that, I don't know, but
it's not as if we've got a money printing press.  Regardless of hiring
someone, a community security effort would be nice.  My one previous
attempt to get something going fizzled and died.

> also, I'm wondering if the project has plans to release patch files as
> an alternative to downloading entire packages just to get a bump from,
> say 2.0 to 2.0.1 - a simple patch -p0 -s < patchfile would really help
> speed up the process for those mainting 100s of WordPress blogs, like
> myself. why does WordPress have to include *new* features for revisions?
> why not just release something like 2.0.1 to address bug fixes, nothing
> more?

Creating diffs between subversion branches is trivially easy.  I've
always figured those who can apply patches would generate their own
diffs.  Maybe we can supply diffs.  It's pretty cheap to do even for
such a limited audience.

svn diff http://svn.automattic.com/wordpress/tags/2.0/ 
http://svn.automattic.com/wordpress/tags/2.0.1/

> i also think the WordPress project should maintain both development &
> support channels, separately. and that more core developers & testing
> folks should be part of it, at least the ones that can make a genuine
> commitment, not just lip service.

We already have mailing lists for development and testing and forums for
support.  Do you mean a support mailing list in addition to the forums?

I read the support forums every day.  I don't post very often, but I'm
usually lurking about trying to judge the zeitgeist and seeing what
things are being requested.

Ryan
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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

steve caturan
hi Ryan,

sorry, i meant, the IRC channels. thanks for the quick feedback, that
cleared up a lot of questions I've been withholding since i started
usingthe WordPress platform back in April 2004.

>> i also think the WordPress project should maintain both development &
>> support channels, separately. and that more core developers & testing
>> folks should be part of it, at least the ones that can make a genuine
>> commitment, not just lip service.
>
> We already have mailing lists for development and testing and forums for
> support.  Do you mean a support mailing list in addition to the forums?
>
> I read the support forums every day.  I don't post very often, but I'm
> usually lurking about trying to judge the zeitgeist and seeing what
> things are being requested.
>
> Ryan


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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Ryan Boren
steve caturan wrote:
> hi Ryan,
>
> sorry, i meant, the IRC channels. thanks for the quick feedback, that
> cleared up a lot of questions I've been withholding since i started
> usingthe WordPress platform back in April 2004.

A dev IRC channel would be nice as long as we can keep it on topic.  I
confess that I have to be in a certain mood to join #wordpress and
listen to the rants.  Usually a bottle or two of wine gets me in the
right frame of mind. ;-)

Maybe even three IRC channels.

#wordpress - Community chat, rag on the devs and their egomaniacal
stupidity, discuss impending demise of WP, rant about politics, flirt, etc.

#wordpress-dev - Design and implementation of core WP and plugins.

#wordpress-help - Help users with problems and questions.

Ryan
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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Scott Merrill
Ryan Boren said:
> Maybe even three IRC channels.
>
> #wordpress - Community chat, rag on the devs and their egomaniacal
> stupidity, discuss impending demise of WP, rant about politics,
> flirt, etc.
>
> #wordpress-dev - Design and implementation of core WP and plugins.
>
> #wordpress-help - Help users with problems and questions.

There was a time when #wordpress was the place for help.  Matt has
consistently steered people away from #wordpress because he wants
people to use the forums.  His rationale is legitimate, but Matt's
preferences do not coincide with everyone else's.

Matt consistently refuses to assign ops to anyone in #wordpress on a
regular basis in order to keep it on topic.

How many other projects have a general #project channel with a
separate #project-help channel?

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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Robert Deaton
On 3/4/06, Scott Merrill <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Ryan Boren said:
> > Maybe even three IRC channels.
<snippity>

>
> There was a time when #wordpress was the place for help.  Matt has
> consistently steered people away from #wordpress because he wants
> people to use the forums.  His rationale is legitimate, but Matt's
> preferences do not coincide with everyone else's.
>
> Matt consistently refuses to assign ops to anyone in #wordpress on a
> regular basis in order to keep it on topic.
>
> How many other projects have a general #project channel with a
> separate #project-help channel?
>
Personally, I don't mind the way that #wordpress is for most help
right now. Generally speaking, when someone comes in for help, most
other people have learned to drop their conversation for a few minutes
while that person is being helped. There are, however, a number of
people who haven't gotten that yet, but then again, I suppose that its
not really a requirement, seeing as its "not a support channel" and
thus is not required to stay on topic or help at all, and I think that
if we changed direction a bit and enforced that rule somehow, we don't
need the segmentation of channels (but for the record, I know of just
one channel, #azureus, which has a -help/-support channel, but I do
know some channels who do the opposite, like #gentoo has
#gentoo-chat).

As for a -dev channel, no opposition to that here, would be nice to
have a channel to talk about little more than code, and it'd be pretty
neat if we could do similar to #madwifi with their bot that informs of
trac changesets and ticket changes (theirs does wiki changes too, but
we don't use the trac wiki for much of anything).

--
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http://somethingunpredictable.com

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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Brian Puccio
In reply to this post by Scott Merrill
On Sat, 2006-03-04 at 19:49 -0500, Scott Merrill wrote:

> Ryan Boren said:
> > Maybe even three IRC channels.
> >
> > #wordpress - Community chat, rag on the devs and their egomaniacal
> > stupidity, discuss impending demise of WP, rant about politics,
> > flirt, etc.
> >
> > #wordpress-dev - Design and implementation of core WP and plugins.
> >
> > #wordpress-help - Help users with problems and questions.
>
> There was a time when #wordpress was the place for help.  Matt has
> consistently steered people away from #wordpress because he wants
> people to use the forums.  His rationale is legitimate, but Matt's
> preferences do not coincide with everyone else's.
>
> Matt consistently refuses to assign ops to anyone in #wordpress on a
> regular basis in order to keep it on topic.
>
> How many other projects have a general #project channel with a
> separate #project-help channel?

Drupal.
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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Ryan Boren
In reply to this post by Robert Deaton
Robert Deaton wrote:
> As for a -dev channel, no opposition to that here, would be nice to
> have a channel to talk about little more than code, and it'd be pretty
> neat if we could do similar to #madwifi with their bot that informs of
> trac changesets and ticket changes (theirs does wiki changes too, but
> we don't use the trac wiki for much of anything).

That sounds pretty cool.  We don't use the trac Wiki, but much of the
development discussion these days happens in Trac ticket comments,
especially now that we have the trac mailing list.  More of that
discussion should be directed to the hackers list, but having the
comments archived right there in the bug is handy.

Ryan
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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Mark Jaquith
In reply to this post by Robert Deaton

On Mar 4, 2006, at 5:48 PM, Robert Deaton wrote:

> - How do you think the Development model of WordPress is now? What are
> its strongpoints? What are its flaws? What do you think should be
> changed and what should be left the same?

I've actually noticed a positive change in the last 6-12 months.  
When we started the whole "Bug Gardeners" idea, it was mostly just  
Skippy and I using the "bg" namespaced tags to communicate with each  
other and with Ryan and Matt.  Recently, we've dropped the  
namespacing because the entire community has been getting more  
involved with Trac tickets, so the concept of "Bug Gardener" has  
become unnecessary... the workload has been distrubuted.  We now have  
a whole slew of people who are autonomously fixing bugs, submitting  
patches, and having them committed.  Although all patches still go  
through Matt and Ryan, it seems to me that they have become more  
willing to trust other people's patches.  The community has been  
doing a great job of auditing their own patches, so I think that  
helps take a lot of the burden off the main devs.  I've also noticed  
that Matt and Ryan seem to be putting more time into the project...  
the turnaround time for patches has improved greatly.

> - What are your views on project's leadership? Are they steering us in
> the right direction, or are we going downhill? Is community feedback
> weighted enough with personal views of the developers? Are we
> interacting with people outside the coding community enough to get a
> fair view of what could be the best for everyone?

I think we're going in the right direction, for the most part.  To be  
honest, without Matt and Ryan acting as a reality check, a lot of  
"bridge burning" code would be going in (and coming out) of  
WordPress.  That might be fine for us PHP jockey types, but not for  
the general users of WordPress.  WordPress has a huge user base, and  
(perhaps unfortunately), that requires that we always be mindful of  
how our changes will affect existing users.  While I've always been  
open to a more authoritative role in development, I do not envy Matt  
or Ryan one bit for the decisions they have to make for the benefit  
of WP's userbase, against the wishes of the WP development  
community.  It's a thankless job, (and apparently one that's driving  
Ryan to the bottle!) :-D

> - Do we get too little, just the right amount, or too much feedback
> from the developers on things discussed on this list and elsewhere? Do
> you think this has a positive or negative impact on the project as a
> whole?

The Trac mailing list is one of the best things to happen to  
WordPress in quite a while.  Seriously.  And Trac tickets have now  
become places for in-depth discussions of patches.  Trac tickets no  
longer feel like life rafts hoping that they'll run into a passing  
ship.  MichaelH and Ryan (Boren) had an amazing back-and-forth over  
the course of about 4 days with nearly 30 messages posted and 12  
patch revisions put up!

http://trac.wordpress.org/ticket/2499

Bravo.

As you probably know, I'm not really one to rock the boat.  But I  
really am quite happy with the direction the project is taking...  
definitely happier than I was 12-18 months ago.

--
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http://txfx.net/


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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Ryan Boren
In reply to this post by Robert Deaton
Robert Deaton wrote:
> - How do you think the Development model of WordPress is now? What are
> its strongpoints? What are its flaws? What do you think should be
> changed and what should be left the same?

I'd like codify something I already do, or at leasty try to do.
Sometimes I fall off the wagon during late night coding feasts when I
can't get ahold of anyone.

Every commit must be accompanied by a ticket.  Before commit, the code
needs to be reviewed by at least two people.  One person to do a regular
code review and another to do an integration/architecture review.  These
reviews should be logged to the ticket with a comment and "reviewed"
"arch-reviewed" keywords (or something to that end).  This is similar to
the Mozilla model.

http://www.mozilla.org/hacking/reviewers.html

I always try to get code reviews from one of our regular contributors.

http://wordpress.org/about/

And if it affects an area one of them has expertise in, I try to get an
integration/architecture review.  I go to Andy for tinyMCE, JS, AJAX,
and uploader stuff, for example.  Owen is good for capabilities, JS,
AJAX, plugin API, cron, and just about anything, really.  David and Mark
contribute all over the place and their approval always boost my
confidence in a change.  i18n work from Nikolay always goes right in.

I think this would be facilitated by a #wordpress-dev channel where we
could hang out and review bugs and keep conversation focused driving
development.

Ryan
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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Ryan Boren
In reply to this post by Mark Jaquith
Mark Jaquith wrote:
> I think we're going in the right direction, for the most part.  To be  
> honest, without Matt and Ryan acting as a reality check, a lot of  
> "bridge burning" code would be going in (and coming out) of  WordPress.  

Right now we have a funnel commit policy, and I, for the most part, am
the end of the funnel.  This is mainly to avoid having such bridge
burning arguments happen in the repository rather than in ticket
comments.  But, we have several regular and trusted contributors now,
many of whom I consider authoritative in certain areas of the code.  I
wouldn't mind opening up commit access to them.  I know Matt and others
like having a narrow funnel, even if not necessarily me, but I wouldn't
mind broadening the funnel.

> That might be fine for us PHP jockey types, but not for  the general
> users of WordPress.  WordPress has a huge user base, and  (perhaps
> unfortunately), that requires that we always be mindful of  how our
> changes will affect existing users.  While I've always been  open to a
> more authoritative role in development, I do not envy Matt  or Ryan one
> bit for the decisions they have to make for the benefit  of WP's
> userbase, against the wishes of the WP development  community.  It's a
> thankless job, (and apparently one that's driving  Ryan to the bottle!) :-D

Every feature we've ever added and every decision we've made has been
met with resistance, some of it hysterical and threatening.  I dread
reading my email some days.

It's hard to know if you're doing the right thing.  Sometimes you have
to go for it and be ready to correct mistakes once history shows you
were wrong.  Now where did I set my glass of wine? :-)

> The Trac mailing list is one of the best things to happen to  WordPress
> in quite a while.  Seriously.  And Trac tickets have now  become places
> for in-depth discussions of patches.  Trac tickets no  longer feel like
> life rafts hoping that they'll run into a passing  ship.  MichaelH and
> Ryan (Boren) had an amazing back-and-forth over  the course of about 4
> days with nearly 30 messages posted and 12  patch revisions put up!

That was exciting and definitely a high point.  I hope we can do more of
that.  It will take discipline from those with commit access (me).
Sometimes I work on something and want to push into the repository  so
people can try it out, especially during the early alpha phase when
we're experimenting and the code is flying.  I need contain my
excitement and make sure others look things over first.

Ryan
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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Robert Deaton
In reply to this post by Mark Jaquith
On 3/4/06, Mark Jaquith <[hidden email]> wrote:
<snippity snip>
> definitely happier than I was 12-18 months ago.

I will agree wholeheartedly with this on the development model. Patch
turnaround time has improved greatly, wp-trac definately helps out as
prior to that list, keeping track of conversation on bugs required a
very loose trigger finger toward rss feeds or a lot of visiting back
to old bugs, which was really a pain in the rear. More people with
trac access has definately helped keep load down on Matt and Ryan
(what are we up to now, 4, 5 people? I have trac access, and I believe
that skippy, Mark, and David have access, did I miss anyone). And so
far the general consesus seems a -dev channel would be nice, so what's
stopping everyone? Join on up, I'll reliquish op status to Matt or
Ryan if/when they come about to register the channel (I'm sitting idle
there right now just so that Joe I-Register-Channels doesn't come
along and register it from under us).

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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Ryan Boren
Robert Deaton wrote:
> And so far the general consesus seems a -dev channel would be nice, so what's
> stopping everyone? Join on up, I'll reliquish op status to Matt or
> Ryan if/when they come about to register the channel (I'm sitting idle
> there right now just so that Joe I-Register-Channels doesn't come
> along and register it from under us).

Everybody jump in the pool.

Ryan
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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Roy Schestowitz-2
In reply to this post by Robert Deaton
_____/ On Sat 04 Mar 2006 22:48:21 GMT, [Robert Deaton] wrote : \_____

> Dear all hackers and lurkers (I know you're out there),


Hi Robert,


> With the growing frequency of topics that are frustrated with the way
> WordPress is currently moving, especially this post from the forums
> list ( http://comox.textdrive.com/pipermail/wp-forums/2006-March/001532.html
> ), I'm growing curious as to how the hackers community as a whole
> feels, so I'd like to throw up a little survey, and find out what some
> people honestly think.


For what it's worth, I saw newsgroups threads that went along that theme
too. One matter is WordPress as-is and a separate issue is the upgrade.
It's the same scenario for usability and stability as it is a feature-wise
argument (alluding to 2.x in particular).


> - How do you think the Development model of WordPress is now? What are
> its strongpoints? What are its flaws? What do you think should be
> changed and what should be left the same?


I know that you will disagree, but WordPress is managed by a collection of
heroes rather than involve a layered delegation of responsibilities. It
makes matters poorly-structured. Can you put together a mental image of
WordPress development, from a social perspective?


> - What are your views on project's leadership? Are they steering us in
> the right direction, or are we going downhill? Is community feedback
> weighted enough with personal views of the developers? Are we
> interacting with people outside the coding community enough to get a
> fair view of what could be the best for everyone?


I happen to agree with many opinions voiced by the 'leadership'. I don't
think there is much place for improvement in that respect.


> - Do we get too little, just the right amount, or too much feedback
> from the developers on things discussed on this list and elsewhere? Do
> you think this has a positive or negative impact on the project as a
> whole?


Feedback has a cost. I remember times when Matt spent much of his time just
catching up with E-mail, mailing lists, the blogsphere, forums and so
forth.


> I'll leave my views out of this message and answer my own questions
> later in the thread.

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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Douglas Daulton
In reply to this post by Robert Deaton
Initially, I thought the narrow commit funnel was a bad idea.  But having
worked on 2 major OSS CMS projects with wide-open commit policies, I have to
say I see the wisdom of the narrow funnel. Loose control leads to spaghetti
code and flame wars over inconsequential issues.

As for the comments on Matt's leadership in the linked post, I've never had
that experience.  Granted, I am not in the code the way Scott seems to be,
but Matt has always been gracious and available to me.   That said, if folks
are unwilling to write docs themselves, they need to be supportive of those
who are willing.  

Also, one of the great things about open source is ... if you think the
project is going in a direction you do not like, you are free to take the
code and, dare I say it, start a "fork" that you control.  Pissing on the
leg of the leadership is not likely to get you anything but ignored.

As for the the commercial interests at play, I disagree with the assertion
that they are hurting the project.  I personally do not like Askimet and the
whole wp.com key structure.  I've said so on this list.  However,
alternatives are readily available and disabling Askimet is as simple as
deleting it from my plugins directory.  If/when commercial tie-ins are
buried deep in the code and their removal cripples WP, then we have a
problem.  Until that day, the exposure and stability provided by the
underlying commercial enterprises hurt more than they help.

WP is very extensible and this is it's strength.  The core should always
remain lean and contain only essential and relevant core modules.  From
there, we can, and should, "roll our own" custom distros with all of our
favorite plugins in place.  And, if there is functionality which does not
exist but you think is critical, write it as a plug-in.  If it becomes
ubiquitous and everyone screams for it in the core (like back up) it will
find its way in there.

Finally, I'll agree that WP could benefit from an independent security
audit.  But I'll disagree with the idea that Matt and company need to pay
for it.  Their only obligation to pay is for the code that runs their
commercial businesses, and even then it is their call.

If the community wants an independent audit, we need to come out of pocket
to get it.  If someone wants to lead that effort, tell us how much it is,
set up a paypal or other account to pay for it and I will gladly donate.

Regards,

Doug



On 3/4/06 2:48 PM, "Robert Deaton" <[hidden email]> wrote:
 
> http://comox.textdrive.com/pipermail/wp-forums/2006-March/001532.html
>
> --Robert Deaton
http://somethingunpredictable.com
> _______________________________________________
> wp-hackers mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.automattic.com/mailman/listinfo/wp-hackers
>

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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Jason Salaz
In reply to this post by steve caturan
steve caturan wrote:
> i also think the WordPress project should maintain both development &
> support channels, separately. and that more core developers & testing
> folks should be part of it, at least the ones that can make a genuine
> commitment, not just lip service.

I don't want more wordpress IRC channels.  I absolutely LOVE #wordpress.
It's not overly active, but there is almost always someone in there
talking/gauking/working/commenting/etc.

Oh, and it's not nearly as elitist as a lot of other freenode channels.

There is no reason to make more channels because:
1) Everything you're suggesting can (and has) been answered in #wordpress

2) If you're going to create these 'official' channels, you need bodies.
Bodies that are ready and willing to provide quality answers alllll day
to the best of their ability.
I really do respect Podz for doing what he does.  Podz, and all the
other hugely active members on the WP.org forums.
You *cannot* get that same thing on IRC.
That is, you cannot get this officially.  Peers and other users power
#wordpress, and they do a damn find job of it IMO.

3) IRC is not a good outlet for the resurgence of help questions.  What
is *is* good for is special cases when the flow of
information/discussion/questions will continue occurring for a period of
time.
i.e. something that is too fast for forums, too slow for a phone call.
IRC support is akin to AIM/Instant Messaging support.
Who does that, and who will do that? Surely you realize that more people
use instant messengers than IRC, IRC is 'too complicated' for some users.
Won't you OBVIOUSLY instead set up help channels on multiple IM networks
to help?
Or install a JAVA chat app (home-hosted, not an IRC client) into the
website? Have at least one operator 'available' to answer questions all
day out of the kindness of their heart?

I am whole heartedly against multiple channels. Time and time again they
fail under other projects ( #phpbb had a #phpbbchat channel, *poof* it
went ) that don't merit the kind of fragmentation and split channels.
Multiple channels is good for huge things like Gentoo/Operating Systems
where there are literally TONS of fine grained topics that lumping them
into one single channel would be chaos.

Wordpress does not have anything remotely close to this.

Long story short:
[User] has joined #wordpress-dev
<User> Can anyone tell me how to make my own theme?
*10 minutes later*
[User] has joined #wordpress

Why not just cut the crap and let things go the way they already do?

I am against IRC as official support
I am against multiple channel for unique wp topics

[/soapbox]

P.S. I'm now looking forward to seeing ML stats for March 2006 :-).
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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Jason Salaz
Oh, and by the way.
I am, however, all for an SVN commit bot, trac ticket announcements and
such.
So, more or less, just a trac changeset announcer bot.
It would be the 'second' announcerbot, however, the first being wpbot
(once known as infobot) and heralding users onjoin.
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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

David House
In reply to this post by Robert Deaton
On 04/03/06, Robert Deaton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> With the growing frequency of topics that are frustrated with the way
> WordPress is currently moving, especially this post from the forums
> list ( http://comox.textdrive.com/pipermail/wp-forums/2006-March/001532.html
> ), I'm growing curious as to how the hackers community as a whole
> feels, so I'd like to throw up a little survey, and find out what some
> people honestly think.

I tried responding to each question individually but I ended up just
writing a bitty essay, so here's my general feelings.

What we've got:
* A large community with a lot of good ideas and the skills to implement them
* A lot of people willing to give up their time to code, testing, docs
and support.
* A decent product that hundreds of thousands of people use

Where the flaws are:
* Matt's low participation in WP discussion.
* Lack of vision/long-term roadmap
* No release schedule

To expand in order:

Matt's commits are few and far between, to put it lightly. We also
don't see many of his words on hackers, and he has confessed he
doesn't read many of the threads. Yes, I know, he's a busy man, he
gets X amounts of emails per day. So perhaps its time he took a step
back from the development scene and became the project's
publicist/leader instead. He'd do a great job as the latter, being
tuned into the current blogging zeitgeist and getting invitations to
all kind of fancy conferences.

---

Skippy was totally right when he said we need a vision. I'm apparently
one of the "contributing developers" and I haven't seen any kind of
plan for 2.next (I presume the devs have now read through the various
2.next threads and decided what we want in it).

In terms of long-term mission, we have Matt's explanation of the
WordPress mission statement:
http://comox.textdrive.com/pipermail/wp-hackers/2005-April/000765.html.
But that doesn't hold up to much scrutiny:

"You say you focus on web standards to produce something unique, but
how does coding in XHTML make your software any different from the
hundreds of other modern blog systems?". All the other buzzwords
dropped in that email don't seem to bear any relevance on day-to-day
discussion on the lists. When was the last time we said "ah, no, lets
not do that, that's not very semantic"? We say we're focusing on web
standards but things like Atom 1.0 recieve little attention.

---

We still have no kind of formal short- and medium-term roadmap. People
say stuff like "2.02 is coming soon" with no indication of when that
will be. Are the due dates on trac's Milestones set in stone? For
example, there's a due date of the 7th (Tuesday) for 2.02. Will we
stick to that? If not, when is it? This applies to major releases more
than minor ones. Can we set up some kind of timetable like the
following?

- Major release
- Subsequent security releases if applicable
- 1 month's debugging
- Minor bug-fixing release
- Subsequent security releases if applicable
- 4-6 months' development
- 1 month's testing
- Final RC for plugin authors
- ~ 1 week, 10 days
- Major release

Then rinse and repeat. This is a 6-8 month timetable, which I think
sounds reasonable. People have been supportive of this in the past, I
feel it would relieve some of the tension around major releases.

(This is kind of unrelated, but didn't really fit in anywhere else.)
I'd also like to get some kind of formal review on tickets for
bg|commit status. As I see it we need five bug levels: 1) new 2)
confirmed 3) fix available 4) fix confirmed 5) commit. We'd move 1 ->
2 when someone can replicate, 2 -> 3 when someone posts a preliminary
patch, 3 -> 4 when someone confirms the patch works, and finally a bug
gardener or someone with similar seniority (e.g. a committor) would
move 4 -> 5 if the posted patch looks like a _good_ solution.

---

Finally, I'd like to add a couple of words regarding a recent success
the community has had. Speaking as a code-wrangler, I have to say I've
been encouraged by the last few weeks of activity. Ryan seems to have
put a lot of time into committing and coding, removing the committing
bottleneck. I've also been encouraged by attempts to improve WP's
quality of code, like http://trac.wordpress.org/ticket/2525.

Current opinion: we're improving.

--
-David House, [hidden email], http://xmouse.ithium.net
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Re: Community Views on Now and the Future

Scott Merrill
In reply to this post by Robert Deaton
It's easy to complain and criticize.  As I review what I've written, it
might be easy for someone to think I have a personal vendetta against
Matt.  I don't.  I don't know the fellow personally.  I'm sure he's a
charming, intelligent young man.  My comments below are strictly about
WordPress and Matt's participation with the same.

Robert Deaton wrote:
> - How do you think the Development model of WordPress is now?

I think it's largely a cathedral, versus the more traditional open
source bazaar.  A privileged few drive most of the development.

> What are its strongpoints?

The end result is largely consistent, because the privileged few driving
development are mostly "on the same page".

> What are its flaws?

There is no publicly defined vision.  There is no documented roadmap.
The "same page" used by the developers is not shared with anyone else in
a meaningful way.

Short of bug fixing, it's not clear how new people can meaningfully
contribute.

Contributions from new (or unprivileged) participants are often rejected
without any kind of positive reinforcement to encourage future
participation.

This has long been a problem.  Way back in the 1.0 days, I submitted an
ugly patch directly to Matt to provide per-user posting level support
(like the view levels plugin now).  Rather than say "Thanks", or
encourage me to rework the patch, Matt's word were, quote, "Does it have
to be so complicated?".  That was my first attempt to really contribute
to the core code, and it was rejected out of hand.  I should have
stopped participating right there, in truth.

My second real attempt to contribute found me working with Ryan.  He
pointed out to me specifically where I needed to pay attention to stuff
in the get_next_post() and get_previous_post() functions.  My patch
evolved, with Ryan's encouragement, and was added to the core.

A lot of people are using Trac, and a lot of things are being marked
"wontfix" with only terse explanations.  That's not helpful to the
original reporter: they took the time to file a ticket on something that
was important to them.  Curt rejections do not encourage participation.

> What do you think should be changed and what should be left the same?

I'm not entirely sure about what suggestions I could make; but I'm
pretty well sure than any suggestions I provide will be dismissed or
diminished.  My views are clearly in the minority.

> - What are your views on project's leadership?

I think there's not much leadership.  I think there's an autocracy,
whereby one person (Matt) makes the bulk of the policy decisions.  Matt
doesn't inspire participation.  He doesn't participate much on the
mailing lists, when people are struggling with things that specifically
need "official" response (see Robert Deaton's plea to squash the
security rumors); but he has plenty of time to let us know he's going to
hand out tee shirts at conferences.

When disagreements arise, it seems to me that Matt's side usually wins.
 I don't recall (m)any examples of Matt conceding an issue.  I have not
the time to read through all my archives to determine whether this
impression is accurate.

Leadership implies vision, which further implies being proactive, or
ahead of the trends.  I don't think there's any doubt that Matt has
technical leadership, but as a _project_ leader I think he's extremely
deficient.  He was opposed to the implementation of a bug tracker
originally.  He failed to appoint anyone to tend to the bug tracker
until it became full of stale tickets.  There's not been much
_proactive_ leadership for the non-technical, mundane day-to-day aspects
of the WordPress project, and it is from that that much of my complaints
arise.

> Are they steering us in the right direction, or are we going downhill?

The leadership is steering us in the direction they wish to go, which is
not clearly defined or documented.

> Is community feedback weighted enough with personal views of the developers?

In my opinion, no; but then I've consistently been on the losing side of
every argument on this mailing list.  I suspect that people who are on
the winning side feel differently.

> Are we interacting with people outside the coding community enough to get a
> fair view of what could be the best for everyone?

I've no idea.

> - Do we get too little, just the right amount, or too much feedback
> from the developers on things discussed on this list and elsewhere?

I think most technical issues have reasonable discussion with Ryan,
Andy, and a few blessed outsiders (Mark, Owen).  On the whole, the level
of information sharing has increased in the recent months, with a marked
decline in the number of things that are being added without the
introduction of a corresponding trac ticket first.

Administrative issues vary wildly.

Matt's participation in the mailing lists these days has been mixed.
It's my perception that he refrains from giving definitive answers,
which oftens creates even more consternation in the midst of an on-going
discussion looking for leadership.

> Do you think this has a positive or negative impact on the project as a
> whole?

I'm clearly in the minority in thinking that much of the above hurts the
project.  I'm discouraged from participating further, and likely will
make no efforts to do so.

--
[hidden email] | http://skippy.net/

gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 9CFA4B35
506C F8BB 17AE 8A05 0B49  3544 476A 7DEC 9CFA 4B35

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