Episode 25: Five Cents on Five for the Future

WordPress Briefing Podcast with host Josepha Haden Chomphosy
WordPress Briefing – A WordPress Podcast
Episode 25: Five Cents on Five for the Future

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Learn about where WordPress is going, how we’ll get there, and how you can get involved.

In this twenty-fifth episode of the WordPress Briefing, Executive Director, Josepha Haden Chomphosy discusses future-proofing the WordPress project with the Five for the Future pledge.

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




Episode 25

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:00:00] 

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!

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:00:42] 

I have a non-mailbag mailbag question that I would like to answer for y’all today. Non-mailbag because no one actually emailed me about it and mailbag because Twitter is basically like a giant mailbag. And I do get a lot of DMS about this particular topic. If you want to send something to my actual WP Briefing mailbag, you can send it to wpbriefing@worpress.org

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:01:06] 

But the question that I frequently get asked in my DMS on Twitter is: what is Five for the Future? It’s not always that tidy the question, but that still is the question we’re answering today. So if you take a casual survey of active contributors to the WordPress project, the high-level answer that you’re likely to get to that question is “a way to remind people to give back to the project.” Or, if you run in more business-y circles, you might hear that it is an initiative that encourages companies to give back 5% of their resources. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:01:40] 

And both of those answers are true. So a quick mini-history lesson; the original concept of Five for the Future came from Matt Mullenweg in 2014. There’s a lovely blog post on it that I will link in the notes below, but it was essentially a call to any companies experiencing success with WordPress to contribute back to the project and make sure that the project was a success.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:02:07] 

The initial program then included outreach recognition, et cetera, proposed in 2017 by Tracy Levesque and Ian Dunn. Then that was defined and formalized with the help of the WordPress community in 2018. And then, in 2019, we had our first trial run with entire dedicated teams sponsored by companies inside the WordPress ecosystem.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:02:36] 

So that’s the mini-history lesson chronology of this program. The intentions that informed the work of building the program in 2017 have become a bit lost to the ages. So I’m here to share it with you. The basic heart and soul of the Five for the Future program is to make sure that there is a way to refresh the commons of the WordPress community and ecosystem.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:03:00] 

And as a result, ensure that the common resources of WordPress are available long after we have stopped being available to care for them. If you are familiar with the concept of the tragedy of the commons, Five for the Future was created to help avoid that tragedy. There were two original goals for formalizing the program.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:03:22] 

The first one was to acknowledge companies that participated in Five for the Future by sponsoring contributors to work on the WordPress project. And the second was to motivate more companies to sponsor more volunteers. Either by hiring them and paying them to contribute or by assigning their existing employees to contribute to the WordPress project.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:03:46] 

Of course, it’s hard to quantify participation and hard to qualify what should be seen as an impactful contribution, which is why when the program was originally created, it was in partnership with team reps and community members who were active at the time. There are many posts around that discuss the next steps for this program.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:04:07] 

And as I’m looking through them, the next steps revolve around some of the hardest and most important questions that we have to answer as a project and as stewards of open source. Those questions are things like:

  •  How do we remain true to these gloriously subversive values of WordPress and open source while also finding a way to thoughtfully secure our organization’s future?
  • Does contributing without the expectation of reciprocity hold up when we are looking at how to acknowledge contributors who sustain us?

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:04:40] 

And if you’re familiar with Elinor Ostrom’s award-winning work, Governing the Commons, you may also be wondering how this particular program aligns with her eight principles designed to sustain organizations like ours.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:04:57] 

As an aside to that last question, this particular program does not have all eight principles accounted for, but among WordPress’s many programs, we do account for most of them. Although imperfectly, as is the way with human beings, that’s probably a whole episode unto itself, I did want to quickly answer that particular question.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:05:16] 

So to get back to my non-mailbag, mailbag question, if I had to tell you in the span of an elevator ride what Five for the Future was, this would be my answer. It is a v1 program with a dual goal of boldly declaring the need to refresh the shared resources of WordPress and offering the ways and means for communities and individuals alike to participate in refreshing those resources.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:05:45] 

If you want to learn more about the Five for the Future initiative, you can check out wordpress.org/5. Like literally just the number five. Or, if you want to learn more about the program that has grown from the Five for the Future initiative, you can check out the white paper that’s linked in the notes below.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:06:11] 

And that brings us now to our small list of big things. Number one on my small list, the planning post for WordPress 6.0 is out. I’ve included a link in my massive list of links below. But it includes our best guess at timing, features that we intend to include, and a call for volunteers as well. So if you are looking for ways to give back, that is a clear and immediate option.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:06:38] 

The second thing on the list is if you are a team rep, don’t forget that we have daylight saving time ending and starting depending on your hemisphere within the month. If you move meetings, if you’re in a team that moves your meetings, discuss it now so that folks have time to adjust their calendars. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:06:55] 

And the third thing on my small list of big things is that there’s a suite of Full Site Editing courses that are now available on learn.wordpress.org. I will add that to my giant list of links below, but I encourage you to wander on over and see what all the fuss is about. I think the courses are excellent. They’re great for folks who don’t quite know what Full Site Editing is yet, but then also they give you a few intermediate tips and tricks as you’re getting your legs underneath you.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy [00:07:27] 

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. I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

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