31. Goodbye, Marketing Team


With the creation of the Media Corps Team, we bid farewell to the Marketing Team after 9 years of operation.

Remember that you can listen to this program from Pocket Casts, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts or subscribe to the feed directly.

Program transcript

Hello, I’m Javier Casares, and you’re listening to WordPress Podcast, bringing the weekly news from the WordPress Community.

In this program, you’ll find the information from April 29th to May 5th, 2024.

Officially, on December 14, 2015, the journey of the WordPress.org Marketing Team began. The last 3 years had already been a working group at various Contributor Days, and their first project was the Security White Paper.

The team’s initial steps were to brainstorm to determine possible projects or information that should be communicated from WordPress. Proposals included comparisons with other CMS, the benefits of open source, and country-specific showcases.

Shortly after, weekly meetings began on Slack where different paths were opened, such as “I Love WordPress”, page redesigns, more WordPress Days, creating more white papers, and expanding the conversation about open source…

The first significant step was taken in person at WordCamp Europe 2016 where a working group of more than 20 people adopted a clear motto: here we are all volunteers and we give back what we receive. That WordCamp generated the so-called “Four Horsemen of WordPress.org Marketing” where the four pillars of the project’s marketing were defined: one group consists of developers; a second group includes agencies and clients; a third group comprises end users; and a fourth group is the community itself.

The Marketing Team was created from the community for the community and currently aims to promote WordPress to users and contributors, amplifying campaigns to promote the project.

When the marketing team started, WordPress’s market share was around 25% and it is now above 45%, so the strategy seems to have worked.

Although the tension in the atmosphere had been present for some time, the last public tense moment began on January 13, 2024, when, initially, it wasn’t clear whotweeted inviting crowdfunding to restore the lighting on a bridge in San Francisco. The team usually in charge of social networks had their moment of stress until it was known that someone with direct access to the account posted the entry without discussing it with anyone else. Matt Mullenweg later posted on Slack that he has direct access to all accounts because he started the project, that they are delegated in the Sprout tool, and that the marketing team’s rules only affect those with access to Sprout.

Many people questioned whether a personalistic use of social media was the best option for the community, and even the manuals on the breach of asking for money through social media accounts were reviewed… and the responsible group got a probably unexpected response: the social media accounts of WordPress are not of the community but are lent out for their use.

This last situation, among several others made public, had made it clear that what the Marketing Team plans for the project’s communication and what the project direction wants, are on very different lines, leading to the moment of the new proposal.

In March, Josepha, the executive director of the WordPress project, proposed the creation of the WordPress Media Corps with the goal of dedicating efforts to grow WordPress’s market share, which has stagnated. One of the statements made it crystal clear: as it has become evident that volunteers and sponsored individuals cannot effectively collaborate together, a new team will be created.

Primarily referring to sponsored media and podcasts, it was proposed that a “media partner” should have 80% of content about WordPress, a high journalistic level, follow community guidelines, and comply with information embargoes. The discussion was long and broad, both in the article’s comments and in the Slack channel, where a special meeting had to be held to clarify why there would be embargoes or what having a high journalistic level means, when most of the content generated by the community is not made by journalists.

And, what was a proposal, is now a reality. This experiment will go ahead to provide reliable content to an independent team of marketing and media to produce high-quality content in less time and with less effort.

For this experiment, the majority of the team will be from Automattic to literally avoid a call to collaborators without a clear concept of what is being done or why it is being done.

Meanwhile, work will proceed in 4 steps:

The first will be the creation of the entire new structure of Slack, Make, team, manuals, documentation… and other necessary elements to have a Media Corps Team. This step has already been taken.

The second will be the closure of the current Marketing Team. It will be archived, although this last week’s meeting has already not been held; it seems that GitHub will remain open for some functionalities that, still, it is not clear who will manage, such as the Showcase or the amplification of information on networks.

The third is the creation of the minimum viable product which will be led by Reyes Martínez, a member of the Marketing Team, by Automattic.

And, as a fourth element, open the doors for everyone to subscribe to the new site and be in the Slack channel.

Undoubtedly, all the volunteers who have participated in the Marketing Team are left with a bad taste by the transition from a team that was created from and for the community, to a new Media Team that is created from Automattic for a group of media that not everyone will be able to access and with exhaustive control of the information, which some think goes against the very philosophy of open source, as can be read in the comments of the entry.

And the first steps of this new team are already underway. The roadmap for the Media Corps Team is already underway with the clear goal of creating high-quality independent production.

The project is divided into four phases. The first, between May and June 2024, will focus on finding candidates. The second, between July and November, will be the implementation phase with the preparation of information and work meetings with collaborators. Concurrently, in phase 3, which will be carried out between July and November, there will be monitoring and analysis of metrics. From December 2024, an analysis of what happened will be conducted, to define the plans for 2025.

In any case, WordPress continues with the preparation of WordPress 6.5.3 scheduled for release on May 7 with, at least, 8 fixes in the editor and 11 in the core.

Also, the roadmap for WordPress 6.6 has been launched with the key aspects of the future version.

The main changes seem to be focused on the user experience in the design of the new admin panel, easier creation and management of patterns, and seeing the inheritance of CSS styles. The editor and its tools will also have their own focus with an iteration of the font tools and style variations, the improvement of the Grid Block, and the possibility of extending pattern management to classic themes.

The iteration of various APIs, such as the Interactivity API, Block Hooks, or HTML API, in addition to boosting the Custom Fields and Block Bindings API, will be key in this version.

The Core team has announced what the next steps of the Data Liberation project will be, which aims to facilitate the import and export of content between platforms easily. It is not a project to migrate websites, but of their content, which includes both from one WordPress to another WordPress and from external platforms to WordPress.

The first step will be the creation of a plugin that concentrates all these new functionalities and that WordPress Playground will be helpful in managing these migrations.

The biggest challenge we have is the conversion of classic content to blocks, work that would involve reinforcing the HTML API integrated in the latest versions.

The project has a roadmap for this 2024, between January and November.

WP-CLI Hack Day has been a success with the completion of 15 tickets and the advancement of 6 more, with participation in this event by more than 15 contributors.

The Meta team has announced the launch of the new visual template in the Plugin Directory, available for a few days now, with the same functionalities, but a completely renewed style.

The Training team is working on several projects in different areas.

To start, one issue is visual, with an update of the designs of the WordPress courses. The lessons will have a more modern design adapted to screens, in addition to following the new design line of all of WordPress.org.

Another project that is coming is the second edition of the Learn WordPress Course that, between May 2 and July 4, will focus on synchronous training of a topic so that several students do it at the same time. In this case, the course “Develop Your First WordPress Block” will be used again.

The last project is the creation of digital voices with artificial intelligence for videos. The system is quite simple, as the videos focus on showing the contents, but the voice does not require being recorded by a person. Even so, this would involve a change in the guides, as it requires modifying the information about the background investigation of the person making the video.

A security update has led to the release of BuddyPress 12.4.1, which everyone is urged to update as soon as possible. The Dynamic Members, Friends, and Groups blocks were vulnerable to a Stored Cross-Site Scripting attack which has also been corrected in versions 9, 10, and 11 of the plugin.

And finally, this podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons license as a derivative version of the WordPress Podcast in Spanish; you can find all the links for more information at WordPress Podcast .org.

You can follow the content in CatalanGermanSpanish, and French.

Thanks for listening, and until the next episode!


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