Appreciating the Unsung Heroes of WordPress


The rise of open-source software has been one of the most impactful things to happen to the web design industry. Just think about all of the apps – large and small – that have made life easier for designers and developers. And perhaps none have had an impact quite as large as WordPress.

Many of us have used the massively-popular content management system (CMS) for our projects – and have made a living doing so. Then there are the countless theme and plugin developers who make up the WordPress ecosystem. And let’s not forget web hosts, marketing experts and individual bloggers. We’ve all leveraged the software for publishing and profit.

However, this doesn’t all happen out of thin air. It takes a lot of talented and dedicated volunteers to keep WordPress moving forward. They build the core software, ensure theme and plugin quality, offer tech support and share their knowledge. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

That’s why it was so disheartening to learn about what members of the Plugin Review Team (responsible for making sure plugins are secure and follow guidelines) have endured. Harassment, threats of physical harm and other improper conduct have forced team members to send communication with plugin authors anonymously. Just to ensure their own safety and peace of mind.

Odds are that this type of situation isn’t limited to just a single person or a particular team. This got me thinking about calling further attention to the matter and showing some appreciation for these volunteers. In many ways, their work goes unnoticed by the average WordPress user. Let’s change that.

Touching Every Facet of WordPress

Volunteers have a hand in virtually every aspect of the WordPress project. Some contribute on their own personal time, while others are sponsored by their employer as part of the “Five for the Future” initiative. Either way, they are responsible for an incredible amount of work.

To get a sense of what types of tasks they handle, check out the Make WordPress website. It provides an exhaustive list of the places where volunteers spend their time and make an impact.

These folks work on everything from ensuring that WordPress is accessible to translating the software into just about any language you can think of. They also have a hand in documentation, testing, design and keeping the theme and plugin repositories running smoothly.

Skill-wise, WordPress contributors run the gamut. Some are expert designers or coders, while others may identify as everyday users of the software. Each brings their own unique skills, perspectives and life experiences to the project. Together, they help to make WordPress the success that it is.

The Make WordPress home page.

Sharing with the Community

Just as importantly, you’ll see and hear from many of these volunteers at events such as WordCamps or local meetups. These are great opportunities to get to know them as people and benefit from their knowledge.

Personally, I’ve interacted with a number of contributors at events. Some, like Aaron Campbell and Joe Casabona, were even kind enough to do Q&A’s with me. Even those I haven’t directly spoken with have still made an impact via compelling presentations.

If you can’t get to an in-person or virtual event, many contributors are also active on social media or through their own personal blogs. It’s another great way to interact or simply watch and learn.

Of course, not every contributor has a large community or online presence. Thus, they may not be “household” names. But their efforts mean just as much and should not go unnoticed.

Thank You, WordPress Contributors!

Sometimes it can feel like the work we do is thankless. Whether you’re a web designer or a parent, you put in a lot of effort and don’t always feel appreciated. The same can be said for WordPress contributors.

Some may only hear from the larger community when there’s a problem or disagreement. Others toil in anonymity (chosen or not) without receiving public praise for a job well done.

To all of you who contribute to the WordPress project, I say a heartfelt “thank you”. Your efforts have helped me and so many others continue to thrive in this industry.

As for those of us who use WordPress each day, let’s take a moment to think about the people who make this software possible. They’re volunteers from all walks of life and are willing to share their talents for the greater good.

This is important to remember as we both use WordPress and interact with those working behind the scenes. A little appreciation and understanding can go a long way.

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