- Canonical/Core plugins
- WordCamp to only support GPL compliant events anymore
- And those are only the first three fights which come to mind for 2010
And with yesterday’s switch from Cutline to Coraline on WP.com the debate has been revived once more.
While in the latter case nothing can be done and I will resist to mention that Splashpress Media the legal owner of Cutline is after the theme and its rights were acquired early 2007, it is important to look further and consider what should be next for WordPress.org and the WordPress community. The protests against Matt himself tend to grow every week more, most of all from the commercial developers community. Words such as sycopath, dictator and others are starting to become more frequent when Matt, the WP founder, is mentioned. In Summer 2007 I rallied for the WordPress trademark to be returned to the Community and a WordPress Foundation to be created. I already mentioned then that there was a mixed interest from Matt’s side and I do stand by these words.
Before I go any further it is also important to also point out that Splashpress Media owns several websites with WordPress in the URL, all of which have been validated by Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic – the company then vigilante of the WordPress trademark and let’s also use the moment to clarify the license Cutline was released under by its creator.
So much though to get some facts and disclosure out of the way before I focus on the real topic of this entry.
What Should Be Next for The WordPress Foundation (and WordPress.org)?
When the WordPress Foundation was officially announced earlier this year the blogosphere and WordPress community generally rejoiced although there were some valid questions, many already stipulated in the announcement post or better even: not mentioned. Other than a philosophy there is no official documentation on-site nor does the WordPress Foundation have a publicly known board. When reading the WordPress Foundation news it is safe to decide that the Foundation an enigma is and the Community no step closer to clarity is. This is what I want to focus on here:
It is time for the Foundation to assemble and publicly announce a board and declare its projects, commitments and roadmap/philosophy for the future.
And I’m going to help the WordPress Community and Foundation by proposing possible members for the WordPress Foundation Board. Let’s be clear up front: this is not about finding people Matt would love to see on the Board but about finding a stable and balanced Board, a Board consisting of members who believe in WordPress, open source and the WordPress Community. A board which at times will argue about the future, argue for the better of the platform and the Community. The WordPress Community.
While I might not always agree with Matt, there’s no doubt that thanks to him the ‘internet has improved’ and I have gone on record saying that I think that Matt a great leader is for the WordPress Community. I still support that statement and we users have to thank Matt for years of dedication to WordPress.
Not only has Matt created WordPress but also his passion for the project and open source in general are beyond dispute and people can say what they want, Matt has grown remarkably as a person over the last years. The rest… live and learn, we all make errors.
Photo Credit/Source: Matt himself.
As a lead developer of WordPress Mark Jaquith does not only take part to the development of WordPress on daily basis but his reasonable tone and willingness to help clarify issues has often been exemplary. The latest proof of this behaviour was Mark’s personal view on why WordPress themes are derivative and thus should be released under the GPL license. While Mark at times might let his passion slightly dominate his opinion he is a great contributor to the Community and a strong believer in open source.
Brian Gardner from Revolution Theme and StudioPress fame, has been a very important member within the WordPress Community theme scene. To say that Gardner revolutionised WordPress theming would be discrediting the work previously done by many a designer who already sold pre-made themes/skins for WordPress but Gardner certainly has contributed, arguably even revolutionised commercial theme licensing when Revolution Theme was released under the GPL. During every storm Brian remains calm and continues with his work, defending his believes in WordPress as a platform and the GPL as a license which allowed him to build a healthy business on.
Not only is Michael Heilemann an integral part of the WordPress history thanks to the Kubrick theme which was the WordPress default theme for many years, only to be replaced with Twenty Ten, the new default theme. There is another reason to invite Michael on-board: he has seen WordPress from both sides – from three sides even. First of all as an insider and actively contributing member, then as a ‘leaving developer’ after the the Shuttle admin interface ‘debacle’ but more even, Michael has seen ‘the other side’ as a core contributor to the Habari project.
Photo Source: Michael’s Flickr.
Michael Torbert is the developer of the hugely popular All-in-One-SEO-pack plugin for WordPress but that is not the only reason why Michael is selected in ‘my WordPress Foundation board room’. Michael is excelled in supporting his plugin and since quite some time the plugin is also available as a paid Pro version. Knowing both sides of the Community, I reckon Michael would make a great addition to the board, also because of his serene tone.
Jane Wells’ career within the WordPress scene has been more vertical than the Petronas Towers in Malaysia. While their might be doubts and questions about this incredible rise, Jane has supported WP awesomely with her contributions to the WordPress 2.7 admin redesign.
Some people might raise doubts about Jane and her stellar career but I will not be the one stating these suspicions. Needless to say though that if someone were to raise questions about this, they need to be answered as soon as possible and in all honesty.
Many will say that I must be on crack to propose Duncan, the founder of The Blog Herald, as a possible WordPress Foundation board member but the truth is that Duncan Riley one of the biggest defenders of open source software is. Although he has called BS on Matt more than once, and before that on Mena Trott from Six Apart, he also is the first one to defend both. When he thinks they deserve the praise.
Over the last week Duncan also has defended Chris Pearson, mainly via Twitter, because Duncan does believe in everything Chris has done for WordPress and as a business owner.
While Duncan might not be the person Matt would want to see on board, it is important to have a neutral who defends and believes in all three elements: the platform, open source and the possibility for contributors to be supported in their actions. Every board needs a ‘beeyatch’ among the members. Duncan Riley is the right person for this role.
In all honesty, everyone who has followed the open source platform WordPress for some years knows that Chris Pearson’s contributions have been numerous and have benefited a huge following. Not only was there the now from WordPress.com janked theme Cutline, but also PressRow (which will also be janked from WordPress.com because Matt Mullenweg “don’t want any of his junk touching our sites” [source], later the Copyblogger theme and now Thesis, a commercial theme now under split license and with more than 27,000 customers.
To refute the importance of Chris Pearson for WordPress would be ridiculous and as a theme creator who now has ‘seen the light’ and relicensed Thesis, Chris certainly belongs on the board of the WordPress Foundation.
What Should The Task of The WordPress Foundation Be?
First of all the future (?) WordPress Foundation Board should define the manifest and philosophy for the Community, avoiding any possible ambiguity and if needed even release the ‘WP-GPL license’.
The Board should also decide over the future of the software platform and be arbiter in situations such as the Capital_P_dangit() debacle or the Sponsored Themes FUD or even which colour the WordPress.org site should endorse. I fully support Brain Gardner if he says that every October WordPress.org should endorse a pink colour scheme.
Let’s not forget that the WordPress Foundation isn’t what Matt wants, what I want, what Splashpress Media would like to see and nor should our believe take over from facts. The WordPress Foundation has to be a balanced vehicle, an organisation representing the whole WordPress Community and all of its users. No matter whether you believe one license might be better than the other.
Author: Franky Branckaute
Franky is CEO, Editor and 21/7 Muppet on Duty at Splashpress Media. Occasionally he even sleeps. More sporadically even he also blogs about the professional online life at iFranky. He also is regular Guest Lecturer on all things blogging and ‘web 2.0’ish’. Follow him on Twitter.