It's your fave WordPress weekly email, now at issue 131!

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Welcome back to MasterWP Weekly, your weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals 👋

Hello from Alex! If you’re free later today, join me for a webinar with GoWP on marketing your WordPress business. I’m also gearing up for a lot of travel in the coming weeks: I’ll be at PressNomics next week, and we’re bringing the Ellipsis team together for the first time the week after at WordCamp Nijmegen. If you’ll be at either and want to chat, let me know! I’m or @AlexDenning.
Hello from Ben! No travelling for me. I will be mostly focusing on Toolbelt and Jarvis for the next week or two. Toolbelt is coming along great, and now has 14 modules of privacy focused helpers.


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StandardJS Ends Controversial Funding Experiment

How should we fund WordPress?

A major theme this year has been the steady beat of acquisitions in WordPress. Off the top of my head this year we’ve covered: Prosspress, CoBlocks, Zero BS CRM, Caldera Forms, Tumblr (!), and I’m sure there are more. The comment at the end of all of these is always: there is more money coming into WordPress than ever before, and there will be “winners” and “losers” from this.

We’re starting to see this play out; the tension between the money, and WordPress as free, open source software built by a contributor community. Here’s a quote from the Tavern article I’ve linked above, by Feross Aboukhadijeh, the maintainer of StandardJS. Feross was in the news for ending a funding experiment which saw ads inserted into the terminal whenever Standard 14 was installed:

“The dirty secret of open source is that much of it is powered by maintainer guilt,” Aboukhadijeh said. “A lucky few manage to land day jobs that allow them to work on open source. But most folks have to be more creative – squeezing in time after work, secretly doing open source maintenance at work, or opting out of normal society completely.”

For some, contributing to WordPress is part of a job, or something that can directly financially benefit them. Yet, for others it’s not. A frequently cited post on this is Daniel Bachhuber’s 2016 WordCamp Europe talk: “My condolences, you’re now the maintainer of a popular open source project”. In this, Daniel talks about the burden of maintaining a popular open source project. It’s demanding, and people don’t really thank you for it. For some, something like this can turn into financial opportunities – but for others it won’t. This is the tension we’re seeing here, and this tension will become more prevalent as some parts of WordPress receive ever-more funding.

We’re also seeing more discussion of “who can afford to show up” being important. This was seen most clearly in the response to the proposal to auto-update old versions of WordPress (Tavern coverage here). This is a wider discussion about privilege, and what users consented to when they installed WordPress.

The proposal has the honourable intention of updating those on versions of WordPress with known vulnerabilities, with the intention of avoiding the sites becoming hacked. But, those arguing against it cite the lack of consent from those site owners to auto-update – something which could break their site. The proposal has an opt-out rather than opt-in, which really isn’t getting consent from the site owners. Those site owners will be notified to their admin email, but many commenters note these emails realistically won’t be looked at.

Dare I suggest, a lot of the criticism stems from people saying “no, this is the context in which you end up with an out-of-date site”. And, a lot of the alleged faults come from not understanding the context those WordPress users are in. As some of the “winners” from the changes in the WordPress ecosystem get rewarded, they’re more likely to continue to contribute in the long term. That’s fine and good, but the community may lose some of the valuable input from people with totally different situations and perspectives. That may result in poorer decisions being made, and that’s sad. I really don’t know what the solution is, but this is one example of the impact of funding WordPress, and it won’t be the only one. - Alex.

Why I Moved From WordPress to Statamic

Common frustrations and developers departing?

Curtis Mchale has recently changed his blog over from WordPress to Statamic, and this seems to be a common trend recently.

Over the last couple of years, in particular with the new editor, I have watched WordPress developers I follow slowly move away from WordPress to other platforms. Often that’s Statamic, or Gatsby; and I wonder why this is. One obvious answer is Gutenberg and the dislike for the new editor. But Curtis doesn’t even mention the G word.

It seems Curtis is still using WordPress for work, but he’s not as interested in it as he used to be. He gives 2 key reasons for this.

  1. Ads
  2. Deployment

If you use any moderately complex plugins from the WordPress repository then you will likely be inundated with ads. In particular Curtis picks on the recent WooCommerce and Jetpack controversies; but there’s plenty of plugins and themes that add obnoxious notification bars.

Personally I have a low tolerance for these notifications, so I understand Curtis point of view.

Deployment wise, I don’t have any experience with this. Since I build WordPress themes I don’t have to worry about specific content, or copy content and settings from staging to production. However, I can totally understand that working with a static file based system makes deployment more straightforward. Being able to commit content to Git and then have it copy directly to the staging site is simplicity. It makes using a database feel antiquated.

Another reason I think people are moving to other platforms is that I wonder if WordPress is being built for people who aren’t developers. We are no longer the audience. WordPress has always been relatively easy to setup, and now that many web hosts install through a control panel for you it’s becoming increasingly unnecessary for users to need web developers. You can buy a theme, or use one of the thousands of free ones, and be up and running quickly. And with Gutenberg and a block plugin like CoBlocks, you can build the website too.

I wonder now what the opportunity is in WordPress for commercial enterprises. There’s a lot of room to innovate in Gutenberg, but since it’s evolving rapidly there’s also a big chance of being Sherlocked.

It’s an interesting time for WordPress. Curtis says that Statamic is fun - suggesting WordPress isn’t anymore; and in many ways I agree, but equally there’s a lot changing. WordPress today is going to be very different to WordPress this time next year; so I plan to stick around and see what is coming next. - Ben.

Pricing WordPress Podcast

Featuring Ben!

Pricing WordPress is a new podcast by Keith Devon from Highrise Digital, and I was interviewed for the first episode! I’ll be honest, I cringe when I hear myself speaking so I haven’t actually played it – but there’s currently three episodes available and I know there’s more to come.

Pricing is a unique subject for a podcast, and something that is really hard to get right. So if you sell digital products or services then there’s a chance you will learn something; or get some new ideas for how to price WordPress things. - Ben.

Tech Communities are Good

Be Positive

There’s a lot of negativity in the world at the moment, in particular on Twitter, so it’s nice to get a reminder that things can be good.

I think it would be nice if we could all be a bit more grateful – I am certainly going to try to be: Help people when they get stuck. Thank them for the things they make or do. And call out or report those who are being negative. - Ben.

What happens when you launch Google Chrome for the first time on a Windows 10 machine?

Quite a lot happens

This is a remarkably detailed tweetstream showing what happens when you launch Google Chrome for the first time on a Windows 10 machine. Quite a lot happens, and it’s all set up to track you. The author’s also done them for other popular browsers: after reading that, I may need to switch my browser to Brave. - Alex.

Quick Links

MasterWP is a free weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals, written by Ben Gillbanks and Alex Denning. Thank you to the people who make it happen: Peta Armstrong formats the newsletter, and Barbara Saul, Monique Dubbelman, and Laura Nelson kindly copy-check for us.

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