WP Briefing: Episode 69: Reflections on State of the Word

In this episode, WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy reflects on the recent 2023 State of the Word, which took place in Madrid, Spain, and some of the highlights of the work across the WordPress open source project.

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@WordPress.org, either written or as a voice recording.


Host: Josepha Haden Chomphosy
Editor: Dustin Hartzler
Logo: Javier Arce
Production: Brett McSherry
Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod

Show Notes


[00:00:00] Josepha: Hello everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing. The podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go.

[00:00:28] (Intro music) 

[00:00:40] Josepha: We wrapped up State of the Word earlier this month, and while I was sitting there being the only person to clap for the love of cake, I realized just how much we have been able to accomplish this year. And on the one hand, I shouldn’t be surprised.

After all, progress is radical over time yet incremental in time. But all told, 2023 has been a big year for WordPress. There’s been some radical progress in a few places. There are the things you know because you’ve heard them all year. You heard them in State of the Word.

We turned 20, for instance. We shipped three on-time releases. We had three well-organized flagship events, and we prototyped essential parts of phase 3. But there’s a lot of work that happens outside of flagship events and software releases, and I’d like to highlight a few examples of operational excellence in our community and ecosystem.

[00:01:31] Josepha: First highlight goes to the contributors who are building community. Going back to 2021, we’ve been working to bring people back together in person.

And in that year, we had 19 events. In 2022, we had 24 events, so a modest increase of just over 30%. But then, in 2023, the WordPress community banded together on a campaign to reignite passion in our Meetup groups and encourage playfulness in our WordCamp planning. And not only did we see a 57% increase in active Meetup groups, But we also saw a 116% increase in WordCamps, 54 WordCamps in all. That’s about a third of the way to our all-time annual high of 142.

And to complement these in-person opportunities, Learn also shipped 104 pieces of new content and hosted 258 online workshops because location should never be a barrier to entry for joining WordPress. 

[00:02:32] Josepha: Second highlight goes to the contributors who are managing our directories. We do have a lot of directories. We have Plugins, Themes, Photos, Block plugins. We got a lot.

And I’m sure that everyone saw the consistent and borderline pleading calls to join the Plugin team this year. And for folks who’ve been around a bit, you probably recall a similar set of consistent and pleading calls to join the Theme team a few years back. Concurrent with the work to refill that contribution pipeline, folks over in Meta and across the project generally, were working on automating as many checks as possible, loosening guidelines where it was reasonable, and modernizing as many processes as we could.

I’m happy to share that the theme wait time is at a historic low, with their longest wait sometimes just at a week. And as anxious as I am about the plugin wait times, we’re actually seeing a lot of progress there as well. As we follow a process similar to the one that we did on themes, I imagine it’s only gonna get better. So, in 2023, we’ve onboarded six new team members. And since September, the number of plugins awaiting initial review has been cut in half.

And then coming up in Q1 of 2024, we’ll have a project focused entirely on automating as many checks as possible. So I still need you, but I also need you to know that your work there matters and is having an impact.

[00:03:55] Josepha: The third highlight goes to the contributors who are doing outreach. This year, we launched a mentorship program with an 89% completion rate because we’ve seen time and again that our most prolific contributors had someone at the start that they felt safe asking dumb questions with. We launched and nurtured the developer blog, which was a need identified by the community because there was no place for intermediate and advanced developers to get excited about their cool explorations. And there were 53 posts there this year with thirteen thousand views, which is a 251% increase for the record, which is a ridiculous increase, but it’s a lot. Thirteen thousand views is a lot.

We have focused on documentation as we suggested in Porto of 2022. And marketing, I know not always our favorite topic, but marketing, our ability to talk about ourselves to more than just ourselves, has increased dramatically this year. 

Not only have we started rolling out a modern design across our website, but we also are present and engaged on eight different platforms with 20-plus episodes of this very podcast and also video content that netted us seven and a half million views this year. That’s a lot of numbers, and there’s a post that goes with it.

[00:05:10] Josepha: Check out the show notes. But if you’re not gonna check out the show notes because you listen to this on Pocket Casts or Google or something, go to make.WordPress.org/project, and it’ll be over there. But the point is, it’s been a banner year for the software, and I am grateful for every tester, designer, and developer that showed up for it. But I also know that what makes WordPress truly irreplaceable is our ecosystem, and it’s contributions like this and the contributors who do them that make our ecosystem vibrant and responsive and thriving on into the future.

So, thank you all for the contributions you make to WordPress. Thank you for the shining example of how to do open source at scale, and thank you for another great year together. 

[00:06:04] Josepha: Which brings us now to our small list of big things. It is indeed a small this time. First up, I would like to introduce our enhanced content safety features on Openverse. By default, search results now exclude openly licensed media containing sensitive textual content. But this new feature adds additional filtering based on titles, tags, and descriptions of the work as well.

[00:06:27] Josepha: The second thing on our small list of big things is that there is just a general alert. There’s a WordPress security team impersonation scam that’s going on out there. The team is aware of multiple ongoing phishing scams impersonating both the WordPress team and the WordPress security team in an attempt to convince administrators to install a plugin on their website which contains malware. I’ll include a link to that post just in case you have anyone that you think might need to be aware of that, but also all of our site administrators know. Like, WordPress is not gonna email you asking for passwords or anything ever. 

[00:07:02] Josepha: And item number three, I would like you to join the Plugin review team. I know I just said it in the body of the episode. But, the Plugin review team is looking for new members still who believe in our mission of guiding plugin authors in responsibly transforming their innovative ideas into reality and ensuring a great WordPress plugin experience for end users. There is a deadline to apply; it’s December 31st. And so you can get that done over the holidays, over a glass of eggnog if that’s how you choose to celebrate whatever it is that you do. 

And that’s it for your small list of big things. 

Don’t forget to follow us on your favorite podcast app or subscribe directly on WordPress.org/news. You’ll get a friendly reminder whenever there’s a new episode. If you liked what you heard today, share it with a fellow WordPresser. Or, if you had questions about what you heard, you can share those with me at wpbriefing@WordPress.org. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. See you again in a couple of weeks. 

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