WPTavern: Original Dark Mode Developer Relaunches Plugin After the Apparent ‘Cash Grab’ of the New Owners
Daniel James, the original Dark Mode WordPress plugin creator, is stepping back into WordPress development after a two-year pursuit of other projects. His new plugin: Dark Mode 2.
It is a response to the recent change to the original Dark Mode plugin for WordPress. Last month, I reported that the WPPool repurposed the plugin to include the commercial Iceberg editor, a feature entirely unrelated to providing a dark viewing mode for the WordPress admin. It is now called WP Markdown Editor.
After the change, several plugin users left one-star ratings. However, its user base was small compared to that of ProfilePress (formerly WP User Avatar), which continues getting drenched in low ratings. Still, the change did not sit well with James.
“After finding out that Dark Mode had been passed on to multiple people, I was disappointed to see so many people say they’d take it on without actually bothering to do anything with it,” said James. “It became even more disappointing when I learned the latest developers to have hold of it had ripped out the original functionality in favor of something completely different as a means of selling a product.”
The Dark Mode plugin was once a feature proposal for WordPress. James began the process in 2018, but it never moved much beyond the initial stage. In 2019, he put the plugin up for adoption. It changed hands a couple of more times before WPPool became the owner.
In hindsight, James said he should have just abandoned the plugin. At the time, he was stepping away from WordPress entirely to pursue other projects, including building applications with the Laravel PHP framework. However, he never stopped using WordPress completely and has kept an eye on the community.
“I think there is more things that WordPress.org maintainers could do, specifically the Plugin Review Team,” he said. “I think more checks need to be done when plugins change ownership and/or are updated. As someone who used to put a lot of time into WordPress, I know how demanding it can be, so having volunteers tasked with more work is always a tricky thing to handle.”
However, he said he did not have the solution to the problem. “When you take Dark Mode and, more recently, WP User Avatar having their code changed for what appears to be a cash grab, all it does is hurt developers, agencies, and site admins.”
The repurposing of his former work was the catalyst that he needed to rebuild a solution from scratch. Now, Dark Mode 2 is on the scene.A New Plugin and a Fresh Take Manage posts screen with Dark Mode enabled.
James says Dark Mode 2 is still early in its development lifecycle. However, he does not think it is far off from where the original plugin would be if he would have continued it. Maybe just shy an extra setting or two.
“I’ve finally got it to a point where it’s ready to be used and replace the classic Dark Mode plugin,” he said. “The great thing about starting again is that it’s easier to style the WordPress dashboard. There is so much going on in the various wp-admin stylesheets that starting over was the only way. It means it supports the latest version of WordPress and cuts out any outdated styling that was previously there.”
The plugin currently only has one setting, which individual users can set via their profile page. It is an option between “Light” and “Dark” viewing modes.Configuring Dark Mode from the user profile screen.
There are several features James is eager to work on going forward. One of the most requested from the “classic” Dark Mode days is styling the WordPress editor. At the moment, the plugin steers clear of it.
“I’ve always been hesitant to do that because of theme editor styles,” he said. “However, lots of themes tend to style the editors in a very basic fashion, so I’ll be looking at adding in ‘support’ styles for those that want a fully dark dashboard.”
One of the other features he is working on is scheduling when Dark Mode is active or inactive. This would primarily work based on a user’s system preferences if they have their OS set up for light or dark mode at different times of the day.
“For something that appears to be quite a basic plugin, there’s so much you can do with it,” said James.
This time around, the plugin developer is making Dark Mode 2 a commercial-only plugin. He is pricing it at £25 (~$35.28 at today’s exchange rate). This includes lifetime updates with no installation limits. James said he wanted to keep the price low and not have people worry about another renewal fee every year while also still being supported for his effort.
“I’m not going to make millions from this plugin, and that’s okay,” he said. “That’s not my goal. My goal is to make a plugin that helps people and makes it easier for them to manage their website. Plus, it’s about time WordPress got a proper Dark Mode!”
So this is an open thread, if you have any question from the talk please drop it in the comments here, and myself or someone in the community will respond! We’ll keep this open for a day or so.
WordPress 5.8 Beta 1 is now available for testing!
This software is still in development, so it is not recommended to run this version on a production site. Instead, we recommend that you run this on a test site to play with the new version.
You can test the WordPress 5.8 Beta 1 in two ways:
- Install and activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the “Bleeding edge” channel and “Beta/RC Only” stream).
- Direct download the beta version here (zip).
The current target for the final release is July 20, 2021. This is just six weeks away, so your help is vital to ensure this release is tested properly and as good as it can be.
So what’s new in this 5.8? Let’s start with some highlights.Highlights Powerful Blocks
- Discover several new blocks and expressive tools, including blocks for Page Lists, Site Title, Logo, and Tagline. A powerful Query Loop block offers multiple ways for displaying lists of posts and comes with new block patterns that take advantage of its flexibility and creative possibilities.
- Interacting with nested blocks has been made easier with a permanent toolbar button for selecting a parent. Block outlines are shown when hovering or focusing on the different block type buttons. Block handles are now also present for drag and drop when in “select” mode.
- Introduces the List View, a panel that can be toggled and helps navigate complex blocks and patterns.
- Reusable blocks have an improved creation flow and support for history revisions.
- A cool new duotone block adds images effects which can be used in media blocks or supported in third-party blocks. Color presets can also be customized by the theme.
Patterns can now also be recommended and selected during block setup, offering powerful new flows. Pattern transformations are also possible and allow converting a block or a collection of blocks into different patterns.
New collection of Patterns and an initial integration with the upcoming Pattern Directory on WordPress.org.Better Tools
- New template editor that allows creating new custom templates for a page using blocks.
- Themes can now control and configure styling with a theme.json file, including layout configuration, block supports, color palettes, and more.
- New design tools and enhancements to existing blocks, including more color, typography, and spacing options, drag and drop for Cover backgrounds, additions to block transformation options, ability to embed PDFs within the File block, and more.
- Includes improvements to how the editor is rendered to more accurately resemble the frontend.
Support for Internet Explorer 11 is ending in WordPress this year. In this release, most of those changes are being merged so use the Beta and RC periods to test!Blocks in Widgets Area
- You can now use any block in your theme’s widget areas using the all new Widgets screen and updated Customizer.
- Existing third party widgets continue to work via the Legacy Widget block.
- Not quite ready for a full switch? To ease the transition, users can use the Classic Widgets plugin and themes can call remove_theme_support( ‘widgets-block-editor’ ).
Looking for a change and can’t find it? There are more improvements listed after the break.How You Can Help Do some testing!
Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute.
If you think you’ve found a bug, please post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We would love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac. That’s also where you can find a list of known bugs.
Thanks for joining us, and happy testing!
Full Site Editing
Coming at the end of year
But first, Beta 1
- Improvements to Reusable blocks, Cover block, Table block, List View, Rich text placeholder, Template Editing Mode, Block Inserter, and Top Toolbar
- Query loop block that uses a query/filter to create a flexible post list based on templates. Best used with patterns.
- Parity refinement between editor and frontend, Standardization to block toolbars organization
- Block widgets in the Customizer
- Introducing the Global Styles and Global Settings APIs: control the editor settings and available customization tools and style blocks using a theme.json file.Template editor opens inside an iframe to more accurately resemble the front end.
- Ability to transform Media and Text into Columns
- Embedded PDFs within File block
- Spacing options for Social Links and Buttons, Spacer block width adjustments
- Twemoji has been updated to version 13.1, bringing you many new Emoji.
- Editor performance improvements
- Hide writing prompt from subsequent empty paragraphs
- More descriptive publishing UI
- Added capability to set the default format for image sub-sizes as well as WebP support
- Added widgets block editor to widgets.php and customize.php
- Added block patterns to default themes
- Added ability to mark a plugin as unmanaged
- Enable revisions for the reusable block custom post type
- Enqueue script and style assets only for blocks present on the page
- Abstracted block editor configuration by deprecating existing filters and introducing replacements that are context-aware
- New sidebars, widget, and widget-types REST API endpoints
- Added support for modifying the term relation when querying posts in the REST API
- Site Health now supports custom sub-menus and pages
- Themes now display the number of available theme updates in the admin menu
- Speed up cached get_pages() calls
- Underscore updates from 1.8.3 to 1.9.1
To see all of the features for Gutenberg release in detail check out these posts: 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, and 10.7. In addition to those changes, contributors have fixed 215 tickets in WordPress 5.8, including 88 new features and enhancements, with more bug fixes on the way.
The upcoming block pattern directory is launching alongside WordPress 5.8 in July. The goal is to make several high-quality designs available for users right off the bat. However, the official submission process will not open until the directory launches. In this chicken-and-egg scenario, the Design team is asking for early contributors to submit their pattern candidates via GitHub.
“The project needs a collection of high-quality, diverse, community-designed patterns to populate it with during development,” wrote Kjell Reigstad in the announcement post. “These patterns will set the tone for quality in the repository and will make the directory useful for folks upon its launch.”
Alongside Reigstad, Beatriz Fialho and Mel Choyce-Dwan have already added several block patterns. They are available through the Gutenberg plugin now.Several of the current block patterns.
The trio has also submitted the majority of the 18 current potential patterns. While they have produced solid work thus far, the directory needs a more diverse set of designs from the community to launch with a bang.
Creating a pattern requires no coding skills. It is possible directly via the block editor. Just design, copy, and submit. The team already has a GitHub template in place for submitting patterns. Be sure to use CC0 (public domain) images if they are a part of your creation.Copying a pattern from the WordPress editor.
I have somewhere between 40 and 50 patterns lying around. You could say that I have been doing a bit of dabbling in the art of block-pattern design in my free time. Many of these patterns rely on custom block styles, so they are not suitable for the directory. However, I have several that are general enough for submission.
As always, I try to pay it forward when possible. Therefore, I cleaned a couple of patterns today using the Twenty Twenty-One theme and submitted them for inclusion.
The first was a three-column section of “about me” or “connect with me” boxes. This has been one of my favorites to play around with.About me boxes.
It is not on par with my original design, but I like how it turned out. If you have read any of my past posts on blocks and patterns, I will sound like a broken record. However, I must say it for those who did not hear the message the first 100 times. The main limiting factor for block patterns is the lack of spacing options on almost all blocks.
Blocks like Group and Column have padding controls, which are a nice feature. However, vertical margin options are must-haves for the directory to be as successful with its goals as it intends to be.
A prime example is in my first pattern. My original mockup closes the gap between the heading and subheading. In my submission, I tightened the space by setting the line height, but I needed an option for zeroing out the vertical margin.
If you compare it to the original idea built with some features not yet available, you can see how much improved the overall layout’s spacing is.Original about me boxes with tighter margin control.
I ran into the same issue with my second pattern, Team Social Cards, between the Image and Separator blocks. The gap there has more to do with Twenty Twenty-One’s inconsistent spacing.
I may revisit the giraffe photo, but it is growing on me. It is fun. Plus, end-users are meant to actually replace it.
I will probably submit one or two more during this early phase, and I will definitely contribute more once the pattern directory is officially open. For now, I want to see our talented design community giving a little something back to the WordPress project. This is such an easy way to contribute that has no coding requirement — just a little time.
Kevin Ohashi has published his 2021 WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks report. The annual report is broken down into six different hosting tiers, from the most economical <$25/month, to the $500+ enterprise level. This is the second year the stats include WooCommerce-specific hosts as a separate category.
Review Signal started using sentiment analysis to capture consumer reviews of hosting companies on Twitter in 2011 and launched in 2012. Ohashi added a WordPress blog but said it never really integrated well with the code and design of the rest of the site. He launched the benchmarks in 2013, publishing the first handful of tests via a simple blog post.
“In 2020 it was dozens of companies, 6 full price tiers of competition, and a separate WooCommerce group as well,” Ohashi said. “It really has become its own product, and creating a dedicated site for them at WPHostingBenchmarks.com is recognition of that fact. It also opened the door for a rebranding effort and a much better presentation of the results.”
Results on the new site are much easier to understand at a glance with honorable mentions and top tier companies denoted by a half star and full star. Visitors can click through to get more specific information about each host’s performance on the tests.
Top tier performers in the <$25 tier included 20i, CynderHost, EasyWP by Namecheap, Eco Web Hosting, Green Geeks, Lightning Base, RAIDBOXES, and WPX, with a handful of honorable mentions. In the Enterprise tier (shown above), RAIDBOXES, Scaleforce powered by Jelastic, Seravo, Servebolt, Servebolt Accelerated, and WordPress VIP capture the top tier spots.
“It also lets me auto generate pages from the data – for example company profile pages,” he said. “I attempted to write a blog post in the past about companies that did well, but it was never really a success. Now, I can display all their historical results, pull up analysis, compare them all by year, etc. So I am happier, companies are (hopefully) happier, and most of all – consumers get better insight into the results.”WooCommerce Benchmarks Expanding
WooCommerce benchmarks have expanded since their first time to be included separately last year. Five out of the 11 companies tested scored top tier results, including Lightning Base, Pressable, Servebolt, SiteGround, and WordPress.com.
Servebolt scored 99.999% Uptime and the fastest Load Storm average response time, along with the fastest wp-login, Buyer and Customer profiles and second fastest Home profile. Pressable reprised its top tier status with perfect uptime and the second fastest Average Response Time on WebPageTest. WordPress.com posted perfect uptime, the second fastest K6 average response time, and a solid Load Storm test. On the WebPageTest results WordPress.com took 10/12 of the fastest response times and posted the fastest WP Bench scores Ohashi has ever recorded and the second fastest PHP Bench.
In 2021, SiteGround slipped to honorable mention status in every other tier where it was tested, with the exception of WooCommerce. Lightning Base maintained its top tier status with a 99.99% uptime rating, very good flat Load Storm and K6 results, and no problems with the tests.
“For WooCommerce I had seven companies participate last year and this year had 11 companies, which is a 57% increase,” Ohashi said. “The traditional WordPress benchmarks grew from ~29 companies last year to 35-37 depending on if you differentiate Automattic brands (VIP, WP.com, Pressable) which is at least a 20% growth in participation.”
Ohashi said he is pleased with the mix of new entrants and companies that have participated for years, but the pandemic has slowed Review Signal’s business.
“It’s been a bit slow revenue wise,” he said. “I don’t sell any products and don’t think I’ve found any advantage during the pandemic to make what I do stand out relative to what’s happening to the world. That is another motivating reason for creating WPHostingBenchmarks.com, I wanted to take that extra time I have and make the biggest change for Review Signal in years.”
Review Signal’s benchmarks are one of the most thorough and transparent evaluations of hosting products in the industry. This is because Ohashi doesn’t accept any hosting sponsorship. Each company pays a small, publicly documented, fee for participation to cover the costs of the tests. These fees are standardized based on the pricing tier of the product entered into the testing. Consumers in the market for a new hosting company will find WPHostingBenchmarks a solid resource for comparing how companies perform at different pricing tiers.
Last week, Dumitru Brînzan announced Nutmeg Plus. It is the latest commercial theme offering through his ILOVEWP brand. Earlier today, the free version of Nutmeg landed in the WordPress theme directory. The theme is built for food and recipe bloggers and is another solid example of building on the block system.
As is typical of his style, Nutmeg rests on a foundation of clean lines and readable typography. It pulls elements from some of Brînzan’s previous work, such as the featured pages section of Photozoom and the two-column intro from Endurance. Reusing code is one of the cornerstones of smart development.
The theme never gets too flashy, nor is it a bold step forward in design. However, it has a timeless layout that is hard to go wrong with.
Where it shines is in its use of block patterns and styles.Recipe post built with Nutmeg.
Sometimes, theme authors surprise me with, in hindsight, simple solutions. Nutmeg’s List block styles had me asking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Last month, I challenged theme authors to build out patterns that are often created as custom blocks. In the post, I showcased an example of how themers could provide pricing columns for their users. The Nutmeg theme is a perfect example of that same concept, only applied to recipes.
The unique aspect is that Brînzan did not make it complex. With a few simple styles for the List block, he had all the makings of the typical “recipe card” seen on many food blogs. Is it as advanced as a fully-featured recipe card plugin? No. But, that should not be the goal. If users need more advanced recipe-related features and functionality, that is where plugins make sense. The theme even recommends a few like WP Recipe Maker, Recipe Card Blocks, and Delicious Recipes for those who need more.
However, for bloggers who are just starting, undecided on recipe plugins, or simply do not want another dependency, the theme has built-in solutions for them. It is tough to discount the value in that.Adding instructions and ingredients.
With a starting point of the Recipe Info, Ingredients List, or Ingredients + Instructions patterns, users can quickly pop these sections into their content. Or, they can go the alternate route of starting with the List block and selecting one of four custom styles.
Theme authors should be able to build unique and complex combinations of blocks with custom styles. Users should be able to just make it look like the demo.Block Patterns Will Change Everything
It was March 2020. The Gutenberg development team had just pushed block patterns into the plugin, but the feature would not land in core WordPress for months. I do not want to call myself a prophet. It was plain enough for anyone to see: block patterns would eventually change how end-users interact with the editor and build their sites.
Patterns were the answer to elaborate homepage setups. Instead of jumping back and forth between non-standard theme options, hoping for the best from a theming community that never learned to entirely leverage the customizer, users could simply click buttons and insert layout sections where they wanted.
Recreating Nutmeg’s homepage demo was easy. By just picking a few patterns and adding some custom images, I was up and running in minutes. No tutorial necessary. No half-hour session of figuring out a theme’s custom options setup.
- Select the custom homepage template.
- Add the Cover with Overlay pattern and upload an image.
- Drop in the Opening Message pattern and customize.
- Insert the Featured Pages pattern and add images.
Simple setup processes like this are the exact thing that theme authors have been repeatedly asking about for the better part of a decade. Except for a powerful Query solution, which is arriving in a limited form in WordPress 5.8 (the Post Featured Image block is the weak point), the tools are mostly in place. The feature set is only growing with each release.
One of my favorite solutions in the theme is the use of the Cover block’s inner container. The plugin has several styles for moving this inside box around and creating a featured section.Customizing the Cover block with styles.
One improvement I might suggest is to provide “width” styles for the inner container here. Core already provides an alignment matrix option. Styles for 25%, 50%, and 75% width (100% being the default) would offer more variety when coupled with the existing alignments.
The only things that felt out of place with the theme were its alignment block styles for Heading and Paragraph blocks. WordPress already provides alignment options for these blocks. I am not sure if there is a use case that I am unaware of for the styles, but they were definitely confusing.
The theme is worth a test run for any food or recipe bloggers who need a dash of Nutmeg to spice up their site.
WordPress is open source software, maintained by a global network of contributors. There are many examples of how WordPress has changed people’s lives for the better. In this monthly series, we share some of the amazing stories.
This month to coincide with WordCamp Europe, we feature Tijana Andrejic from Belgrade, Serbia, about her journey from fitness trainer to the WordPress world, with the freelance and corporate opportunities it introduced.
As a professional manager with a college degree in Organizational Science and a certified fitness instructor, Tijana is nothing if not driven and goal-oriented.
Following her time as a fitness trainer, Tijana moved to work in IT around 2016. She first explored content creation and design before focusing on SEO and becoming an independent specialist.
Tijana was hired as a Customer Happiness Engineer for a hosting company, where she discovered the benefits of having a team. She realized that having close working relationships with colleagues is helpful for business success and accelerates personal growth.
Tijana hopes that by sharing her story, she can help others who are either starting their career or are moving roles. She describes the opportunities she discovered in the WordPress community as ‘a huge epiphany’, especially in the world of freelancing.
She highlights 5 things that helped her to start a new freelancing career. Let’s dive into them.What motivates me?
“Why am I doing this?” is the first question that Tijana asks herself before starting anything new. This self-review and honesty, she feels, allows her to determine her priorities. She also benchmarks options around her motivations of wanting a flexible schedule and to grow professionally.
She lists the reasons to make a particular choice, like being a freelancer, to help her choose the right job, pathway, or identify alternatives.
She recommends that others can take a similar approach. If freelancing is still the best solution after examining all their goals and motivations, Tijana believes a good next step would be to learn WordPress-related skills.Develop WordPress related skills
The next question you may ask: “Why WordPress?”
WordPress is used by more than 40% of websites in some form and offers various roles, many of which are not developer-specific. Tijana highlights a few:
- web developer (coding websites, themes, and plugins)
- web implementor (creating websites from existing themes without coding)
- web designer (designing website mock-ups, editing images, or creating online infographics)
- client support professional (helping people with their websites)
- website maintenance (WordPress, themes, and plugins are maintained and backed up regularly)
- WordPress trainer (helping clients with how to use the platform or teaching other web professionals)
- content writer
- accessibility specialist (making sure standards are met and suggesting solutions for accessibility barriers)
- SEO consultant (improving search outcomes and understanding)
- statistics consultant, especially for web shops
- WordPress assistant (adding new content and editing existing posts)
- website migration specialist (moving websites from one server to another)
- web security specialist
Tijana emphasized: “Another reason why WordPress is great for freelancers is the strong community that exists around this content management system (CMS).” WordCamps and Meetups are a way to get useful information and meet people from a large and very diverse community and get answers to many questions straight away.
In the past year, these events have been primarily online. However, the contributors who run them continue to make an effort to provide an experience as close to in-person events as possible. The biggest advantage to online events is that we can attend events from across the world, even if sometimes during these difficult times, it is difficult to get enough time to deeply into this new experience. Since Tijana’s first Meetup, she has attended many WordPress community events and volunteered as a speaker.Plan in advance
Becoming a freelancer takes time. For Tijana, success came with proper planning and following her plan to ‘acquire or improve relevant skills that will make you stand out in the freelance market.’ She strongly believes that learning and growing as a professional opens more business opportunities.
If you are considering a freelance career, she advises improving relevant skills or developing new skills related to your hobbies as ‘there is nothing better than doing what you love.’ In cases where no previous experience and knowledge can be used, she suggests choosing ‘a job that has a shorter learning curve and builds your knowledge around that.’
Tijana started as a content creator and learned to become an SEO expert. However, she highlights many alternative paths, including starting as a web implementer and moving to train as a developer.
She suggests to others: “It would be a good idea to analyze the market before you jump into the learning process.” She also recommends people check the latest trends and consider the future of the skills they are developing.
Visit the new Learn WordPress.org to see what topics are of interest to you. In this newly established resource, the WordPress community aggregates workshops to support those who want to start and improve their skills, provides lesson plans for professional WordPress trainers and helps you create personal learning to develop key skills. There is also material on helping you be part of and organize events for your local community.
Tijana highlights that there are many places for freelancers to find clients. For example, the WordPress Community has a place where companies and individual site owners publish their job advertisements – Jobs.WordPress.net.Hurray, it’s time to get a first freelancing job
As a pragmatic person, Tijana recommends: “Save money before quitting your job to become a full-time freelancer. Alternatively, try freelancing for a few hours per week to see if you like it. Although some people do benefit when taking a risk, think twice before you take any irreversible actions.”
She shared some possible next steps:
- use a freelancing platform
- triple-check your resume
- professionally present yourself
- fill up your portfolio with examples
- use video material
“By using video material, your clients will not see you like a list of skills and previous experiences, but as a real person that has these skills and experiences and that provides a certain service for them.”
She adds: “Have a detailed strategy when choosing your first employer. Choose your first employer wisely, very wisely. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is”.
When Tijana took her first freelancing job, she considered the following:
- how was the employer rated by other freelancers who worked for him previously
- how does the employer rate other freelancers
- how much money had they already spent on the platform
- the number of open positions for a specific job and the number of freelancers that have already applied
“The first job is not all about the money. Don’t get greedy on your first job. If you get good recommendations, your second job can pay two to three times more. And your third job can go up to five times more. That was my experience.”Take responsibility as a freelancer
Tijana reminds us: “Freedom often comes with responsibility; individual responsibility is key when it comes to freelancing.”
She advises others not to take a job if you can not make a deadline and have someone reliable who can help you.
Missing deadlines will cost your client money and affect the review the client will be willing to leave about your job, and this can have a big impact on your future opportunities or freelance jobs.
She adds: “This can start a downward spiral for your career. However, we are all humans, and unpredictable things can happen. If for some reason you are not able to complete your work in a timely manner, let your client know immediately so they can have enough time to hire someone else”.
Tijana emphasizes the importance of making expectations clear before accepting a job, both what the client is expecting and what you can expect from the client.
Lastly, she points out that if you are working from home, your friends and family should treat you the way they would if you were in an office. She advises: “Let them know about your working schedule.”
She hopes that these basic guidelines will be useful in launching freelance careers, as they did her, even though there is no universal recipe for all.
Tijana highlights: “It’s just important to stay focused on your goals and to be open to new opportunities.” Freelancing wasn’t the only way she could have fulfilled her goals, but it was an important part of her path, and it helped her be confident in her abilities to make the next big step in her life.
As a freelancer, she was missing close relationships with colleagues and teamwork, which she has now found in her current firm. Her colleagues describe her as a: “walking-talking bundle of superpowers: sports medicine and fitness professional, SEO expert, blogger, designer and a kitty foster mum”.
If you are considering starting your career as a freelancer, take the courses offered at learn.wordpress.org, reach out to companies that you would be interested in working with, and remember that there are a whole host of opportunities in the WordPress project.
The WordPress.org Teams – what they do, when and where they meet
Learn WordPress resource – free to use to expand your knowledge and skills of using the platform and learning about the community around it.
Thanks to Olga Gleckler (@oglekler), Abha Thakor (@webcommsat), Chloé Bringmann (@cbringmann), Surendra Thakor (@sthakor), and Meher Bala (@meher) for working on this story. Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune) and also to Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe) who created HeroPress. Thank you to Tijana Andrejic (@andtijana) for sharing her #ContributorStory
This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com. It highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.
Meet more WordPress community members in our People of WordPress series.
To Agree, disagree, and everything in-between. In this episode, Josepha talks about forming opinions and decision-making in the WordPress project.
Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to email@example.com, either written or as a voice recording.Credits
Editor: Dustin Hartzler
Logo: Beatriz Fialho
Production: Chloé Bringmann
Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeodReferences
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:10
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of some of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project and the community around it, as well as get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Joseph Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:40
For anyone who has ever organized something, whether it’s a social event, a school project, or an annual family gathering, you know that there are many different opinions. The more opinions you have, the more likely people don’t see eye to eye. And before you know it, you’ve got some disagreements. Some things make disagreements worse, like imbalance of information, lack of showing your work, and sometimes just “too many cooks in the kitchen,” to use a regional phrase. Frankly, sometimes it seems like the second you have more than one cook in your kitchen, you’re going to get some disagreements. But I think that’s a healthy thing. WordPress is huge. And there are huge numbers of people contributing to WordPress or any other open source project you want to name. So there’s a lot of stuff available to disagree about. If we never saw anyone pointing out an area that wasn’t quite right, there would probably be something wrong. If you, like me, think that a healthy tension of collaborative disagreement can be useful when approached thoughtfully, then this quick start guide is for you.
Step one, prepare to host a discussion. This is, by the way, just the hardest step out there. You have to take a little time to figure out what problem you’re solving with the solution you’re suggesting, any goals that it relates to, and then figure out what the bare minimum best outcome would be and what the wildest dreams magic wand waving outcome would be. And you have to be honest with yourself.
Step two, host the discussion. The venue will be different for different discussions, but you see a lot of these on team blogs or within the actual tickets where work is being done. Wherever you’re hosting it, state the problem, state your idea for the solution and ask for what you missed. If you’re hosting a discussion in person, like in a town hall format, this can be hard. And generally, hosting discussions in an in-person or voice call or zoom call kind of way is hard. So if you have an opportunity to start doing this in text first and level your way up to in person, that’s my recommendation.
Step three is to summarize the discussion and post a decision if possible. So organizing a big discussion into main points is a really good practice for the people you’re summarizing it for and yourself. It helps you to confirm your understanding, and it also gives you the chance to pair other solutions with the problem and goals you outlined in step one. If a different solution solves the same problem but with less time or effort, it’s worth taking a second look with less time or effort. There’s something that I say to WordPress contributors frequently, and that is there are a lot of yeses. There are a lot of right ways to do things and only a few clear wrong ways to do things. So be open-minded about whether or not someone else’s right way to do things could still achieve the goals you’re trying to accomplish with your solution. A note on step three where I said, “and post the decision if possible.” Sometimes you’re the person to make that decision, but sometimes you are not the person who can give something the green light, and so you’re preparing a recommendation. Whether you’re making a decision or a recommendation, sometimes you may experience a little decision-making paralysis. I know I do. So here are a few of the tools that I use.
If you’re avoiding the decision, use the 10/10/10 rule; it can help you figure out if you’re stuck on a short-term problem. If there are too many good choices, use the Eisenhower Matrix that can help you to prioritize objectively. If there are too many bad choices, use the Maximin strategy. It can help you to identify how to minimize any potential negative impacts.
Okay, so you’ve considered your position. You’ve discussed everything. You summarized the big points. Maybe you also worked your way through to a recommendation or a decision. What about everyone who disagreed with the decision? Or have you made a recommendation, and it wasn’t accepted? How do you deal with that? That’s where “disagree and commit” shows up. This phrase was made popular by the folks over at Amazon, I think. But it first showed up, I believe at Sun Microsystems as this phrase, “agreeing, commit, disagree and commit or get out of the way.”
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 05:34
Disagree and commit as a concept works pretty well when everyone agrees on the vision and the goals, but not necessarily how to get to those goals. We’ve had moments in recent history where folks we’re not able to agree, we’re not able to commit, and so then left the project. I hate when that happens. I want people to thrive in this community for the entire length of their careers. But I also understand that situation shows up in the top five learnings of open source when you no longer have interest in the project and handed it off to a competent successor. So there it is – disagreements in open source in WordPress.
As with so many of the things I discuss on this podcast, this is incredibly complex and nuanced in practice. Taking an argument, distilling facts from feelings, and adjusting frames of reference until the solution is well informed and risk-balanced. That is a skill set unto itself. But one that increases the health of any organization. I’ll share that list of references and general materials in the show notes, including a link explaining each of those decision-making tools that I shared. I’m also going to include the contributor training module on decision-making in the WordPress project. It’s got excellent information. It’s part of a series of modules that I asked team reps to take and sponsored contributors. I don’t require it from anyone, but I do hope that it is useful for you. Also, speaking of useful for you, if you are just here for leadership insights, I included some hot takes after the outro music for you. It’s like an Easter egg, but I just told you about it.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 07:33
And that brings us to our small list of big things! First off, WordCamp Europe is happening this we; I hope that everybody has an opportunity to attend. If you still haven’t gotten your tickets, they are free, and I think there are still a few left. I will include a link in the show notes as well. There’s going to be a little demo with Matt Mullenweg and Matias Ventura on the WordPress 5.8 release that’s coming up. And then kind of a retrospective discussion between Matt and Brian Krogsgard. I encourage you to join; I think it’s going to be very interesting.
There’s also WordCamp, Japan coming up June 20 through 26th. I mentioned it last time – it has a big section of contributing and contribution time. So if you’re looking to get started, some projects are laid out, and I encourage you to take a look at that as well.
The new thing on this list, and I don’t know how new It is, in general, I hope it’s not too new to you, is that WordPress 5.8 release is reaching its beta one milestone on June 8th, so right in the middle of WordCamp Europe. I encourage every single theme developer, plugin developer that we have, agency owners that we have to really take a look at this release and dig into testing it. It’s a gigantic release. And I have so many questions about what will work and will not work once we get it into a broader testing area. We’ve been doing a lot of testing in the outreach program. But it’s always helpful to get people who are using WordPress daily in their jobs to really give a good solid test to the beta product to the beta package. And put it all through its paces for us.
So, that my friends, is your small list of big things. Thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing. I’m your host Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 10:09
Hey there, you must be here because I told you about this totally not hidden easter egg about my hot takes on organizational health; I have three for you. And if you’ve ever worked with me, none of this will surprise you. But if you haven’t worked with me, hopefully, it kind of gives you some idea about how I approach all of this a bit differently. So, number one, critical feedback is the sign of a healthy organization. And I will never be dissuaded from that opinion. A complete lack of dissent doesn’t look like “alignment.” To me, that looks like fear. And it goes against the open source idea that many eyes make all bugs shallow.
Tip number two, a bit of tension is good, a bit of disagreement is good. The same thing that I say about women in tech, we’re not all the same. And if we were, then we wouldn’t need to collaborate anyway. But diversity, whether that’s the diversity of thought or of a person or of experience, just doesn’t happen without some misunderstandings. It’s how we choose to grow through those misunderstandings that make all the difference for the type of organization we are.
And hot take number three, changing your mind isn’t flip-flopping or hypocritical. I think that’s a sign of growth and willingness to hear others. I like to think of my embarrassment at past bad decisions – as the sore muscles of a learning brain. And I, again, probably won’t be dissuaded from that opinion. Although, you know, if I’m sticking true to changing your mind some flip-flopping or hypocritical, maybe I will, but you can always try to, to give me the counter-argument for that, and we’ll see how it goes. Thank you for joining me for my little public easter egg.