How To Contribute To WordPress Themes Community

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How To Contribute To WordPress Themes Community

WordPress is built by volunteers. People from all over the world collaborate to create the core software, write the documentation, provide support, translate WordPress, organize events and generally keep the project running. Individuals work on WordPress in their free time, and companies ask their employees to get involved.

Part of WordPress’ success is that the community consists not only of developers, but of designers, user experience experts, support volunteers, writers, users, accessibility experts and enthusiasts. This diverse input strengthens the project. It also means you have more space to get involved. Whatever your skill set, the WordPress community has room for you.

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A bunch of WordPress contributors.

In this article, we’ll talk about the different contributor groups and how you can take part. I spoke with the current team reps and project leads, who have offered advice on how to get started with their contributor groups. But first, why should you get involved with WordPress?

Why Get Involved?

I had a chat with Matt Mullenweg, one of the founding developers of WordPress, about contributing to the project. We started off talking about the mix of people who contribute to WordPress. There are contributors who are sponsored by businesses that use WordPress, such as Automattic, Dreamhost and 10up, and then there are passionate individuals who dedicate their own time to the project.

“People who use WordPress are passionate about open source, want to democratize publishing and like to learn. I would say that’s the number-one biggest characteristic, because contributing to open source, and particularly the WordPress project, is probably one of the best learning opportunities on the Internet.”

matt mullenweg
Matt chats about the future of WordPress at the WordPress Community Summit 2012. (Image:konsobe)

For Matt, this is the greatest benefit you will get from contributing. You get to be part of a large, supportive community that has an impact on the lives of millions and millions of people. Something you do in an afternoon can have an effect on people all over the world.

“You can’t knock on the door at Google and say, “Hey, do you mind if I help you out with your home page? I have some ideas for you.” But you could come to us and say, “Hey, I have some ideas for your dashboard, and here are some patches.””

A number of challenges face the WordPress project:

  • Contributor balance
    Currently, the number of contributors is skewed towards people involved with code. Plenty of opportunities lie in other areas — support, documentation and marketing, for example — but not so many people are getting involved.
  • Mobile
    Not enough people are getting involved with mobile. Most of the people involved with mobile are currently sponsored by Automattic. Because mobile is fast becoming the way that people interact with the Internet, this is a crucial group and currently has a dearth of contributors.

With that in mind, let’s look at the ways you can get involved with WordPress.

Core

Mark Jaquith is an independent developer and one of the lead developers of WordPress. These days, he is a jack of all trades in the project, working closely with younger and newer developers, helping to point them in the right direction. He was also the release lead for the 3.6 release cycle. The core team comprises all sorts of developers and designers — PHP and JavaScript developers and front-end developers and designers. These are the people who build the WordPress that you install on your server.

mark jaquith
Being a lead WordPress developer makes Mark Jaquith happy. (Image: Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine)

I asked Mark how the the core contributor team works. He describes it as a set of concentric rings:

“You have the leads in the inner sanctum, and then you have the people with permanent commit access, and then you have the people to whom we give temporary commit access for release, and then there are the people whose patches are implicitly trusted and go in without too much inspection. It just keeps going out from there. Those are very fluid boundaries, so people flow between them.”

CHALLENGES

As much as possible, the core team tries to work by consensus. Issues are discussed, publicly if possible, although anything contentious may be addressed in private discussion.

One of the biggest challenges facing WordPress is that not everyone is on the project full time. Even Automattic employees have other responsibilities within Automattic. This means that people can contribute varying amounts of time. If a lot of people see a dip in their free time, this can cause problems for the project. The core team tries to mitigate this by having more contributors and more people who can commit. However, a balance has to be struck because if there are too many committers, no one would know what’s going on.

GET INVOLVED

You can start getting involved in a number of ways:

  • Live chats
    Tap into the weekly live chats (Wednesdays 21:00 UTC, irc.freenode.net, #wordpress-dev). Before diving in, you should gauge at what point in the release cycle the project is at:

    • Early stages
      Planning the next release.
    • Middle stages
      Guiding the features and checking on progress.
    • Final stages
      Bug scrubs.
    • After a release
      Mostly an open forum, a good time to ask for advice on moving your ticket forward.
  • Firehose
    You can subscribe to trac notifications and get notified of every comment in every ticket. It’s a lot of data to process, but you should get an idea of how the project works, various people’s roles, how much authority they have, and best practices.
  • Ideas
    If you have an idea for a feature or anything else WordPress-related, a good place to start is to write a blog post about it. There is an ideas forum, but it’s not very well used. If you have a concrete idea, with a vision of how to implement it, a blog post may well get you more traction. It will give you space to flesh out the idea and provide an opportunity for other community members to comment on it.

Ready to get involved with WordPress core? Other than development skills, I asked Mark what skills someone should have:

“The number one skill you need for just about any job, but specifically working on open source, is communication skills. You need to have clarity, consistency, compassion, relatability, a little bit of a thick skin and a decent sense of humor.”

from : http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/08/27/a-tour-of-wordpress-4-0/

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