Part 6/Chapter 41

The Community Summit

The first en-masse, invitation-only WordPress community get-together — The Community Summit — took place in 2012. The Community Summit focused on issues facing WordPress software development and the wider WordPress community. Community members nominated themselves and others to receive an invitation; a team of 18 people reviewed and voted on who would be invited. The attendees — active contributors, bloggers, plugin and theme developers, and business owners from across the WordPress community — came to Tybee Island, Georgia, to talk about WordPress.

The main event, held at Tybee wedding chapel, was a one-day unconference. A few informal days for project work were scheduled afterward. In the morning, attendees pitched suggestions for discussion, discussion groups formed around tables, and twice during the day, individual groups shared their proposals for taking action.

The subjects discussed covered the spectrum of development and community issues. Development-specific topics included mobile apps, improving deployments, using WordPress as a framework, multisite, JavaScript, the theme customizer, and automatic updates. They talked about how to deepen developer experience, including better information for developers on UI practices. Broader community discussions focused on the role of the WordPress Foundation, open sourcing, the GPL, and women in the WordPress community. There were discussions about different teams, such as UI, accessibility, theme review, and about improving documentation. Summit participants came from around the world; attendees talked about internationalization and global communities. Business owners raised issues such as managed WordPress hosting and quality control in commercial plugins. Finally, there were discussions about making it easier for both individuals and businesses to contribute to the project.

With so much discussion, many different ideas surfaced. Some proposed ideas moved forward, while others languished lacking contributor support. Summit discussions resulted in:

  • Better theme review process documentation to increase consistency and transparency.
  • A documentation and Codex roadmap ( eventually launched).
  • Language packs included in core in WordPress 4.0.
  • Headers added to the P2 themes to instruct contributors on how to get involved.
  • Published a make/events sub-team list.
  • Automatic updates for core.
  • Individual plugin reviews on
  • Open sourced the base theme.

As well as creating a space for contributors to discuss issues, many contributors met for the first time at the summit, and the in-person talks invigorated the community.

A new team — a plugin repository review team — formed. Up until then, Mark Riley carried the load reviewing plugins for the repository. The community believed plugins required the same rigor as themes. Plugin code quality was raised on community blogs and on wp-hackers. Otto started to review plugins too, and later Mika Epstein (ipstenu) and Pippin Williamson (mordauk) helped conduct plugin reviews. Later, Boone Gorges (boonebgorges) and Scott Riley (coffee2code) joined the team.

The plugin review team faces different challenges than the theme review team. A theme is a specific group of template files with a defined structure. It calls functions, it requires a header, footer, and a sidebar. A plugin can be anything at all, so there’s no way to automate reviews, which can be a lot of work. This review process cleared out malicious plugins, spam plugins, and plugins with security holes. A set of guidelines evolved to protect WordPress users.

Again, a small group of contributors created a team to address a specific project need. This has continued ever since the summit; a team develops training programs for people who want to teach WordPress, a team moderates, and there’s a team of contributors who help to support meetups. The summit allowed people to get together, to talk about their own interests, meet like-minded contributors, and move projects forward. The community got to be together as a community, to get to know one another socially — instead of through text-based, online communication.