Chris Wiegman Chris Wiegman

WordPress is Just Software… and that’s OK

Why are you still in WordPress

There’s been more talk about WordPress and Gutenberg this past week mostly after Paul Lacey’s excellent post on why he is stepping away from WordPress.

Gutenberg has been a huge change for a lot of people and for many, including myself, it has dramatically changed how we work with WordPress and not for the better.

That said, I want to address Jeff’s tweet below, which is based on Paul’s post. In it the quote that “it’s no longer community, it’s just software” strikes me as a sad statement for a number of reasons.

First, I talk about the WordPress community quite a bit. This post from September sums up a number of my feelings on what the WordPress community is. In it I talk about the fact that WordPress isn’t a single community, but many. It looks at these communities from the concept of motivation, namely why people are in WordPress in the first place, but I think such talk, along with that of folks like Paul who are leaving WordPress, makes for an interesting study in what WordPress is.

WordPress is software. It is a tool to build websites with that aims to be usable by a wide range of people. That’s it. WordPress is not, in itself, a community but a tool, lines of code that come together to make the work of its users easier.

I think we, as the community of WordPress users, tend to forget this fact. Particularly as commercial interests continue to shape what the future of the software will look like. When we do so we run the risk of confusing ourselves and our own self worth with that of lines of code designed to bring a profit to the companies which sponsor its continued development.

As someone who has been deep in the WordPress community for a decade this is a very difficult lesson to learn. Like many I have, at times, taken the changes that have come about with Gutenberg and other things personally as if they’re an attack on what I do. When I have I reduce the decade of friendships and actual community building we’ve all done around our work and interests to frustration over how the software works. Doing so is a disservice to myself and those who I am proud to call friends.

This isn’t meant to be a rebuttal to Paul’s post. Frankly I agree with almost every word he said. It’s simply the acknowledgement that WordPress is indeed just software and the community is the people we’ve come to know as friends and, in some cases, family. The two, software and community, are not the same and that’s just fine.