Simon talks with Josepha Haden Chomphosy about her role as an Executive Director of the WordPress project, the plans for restarting the WordPress community after the pandemic, what the next big step is that the WordPress project needs to take, and how the chances are for a sustainability Make team.
What does an Executive Director of WordPress do?
- In short: »responsible for the overall health and wellness of the WordPress project and ecosystem«.
- Digging a little deeper:
- Making sure there are enough resources for the various economies in the WordPress project.
- Figuring out how to solve problems that are raised out of the community, for example, problems with onboarding people, enough documentation, plugins, or security. And to do the fundraising for those things.
- Translating the strategic plans that will work best for WordPress based on information and advice she gets from people.
How did Josepha become Executive Director?
- Matt Mullenweg appointed her to the role.
- After organizing Meetups and WordCamps, and moving forward in her WordPress career, she was hired by Automattic in 2015 to work on Meetup organization.
- Over the years she took over more responsibility, and after Jen Mylo left the project, she took over the role in 2019 to fill the vacuum.
Is there a plan for restarting the community after Covid?
A current problem with the community in Germany is, that many Meetups are struggling to get people to meetups again in person after the Covid pandemic. Is there a strategy or plan to solve this?
- There is the meetup reengagement program, where the Community Team works on new ideas to bring people together again.
- Josepha thinks we need to be pragmatic in what we are offering people. The way how the event is organized sets the tone for how people are going to participate and connect.
- Going right back to the old version of Meetups is probably not the way to go now.
- Instead of doing an event like »Learn everything about WP Admin«, it might be best to start with »We start this back up«, and have a few very low-barrage and low-knowledge networking events, to let the people get to know each other.
What’s the next big step the WordPress project has to take?
- Besides Gutenberg and getting back people together: the contributor tools spent a lot of time without enough attention. So we need to figure out which tools can be improved versus creating completely new tools.
- The other area is to figure out what the evolution of word-of-mouth marketing for WordPress is. People who are building a business on WordPress don’t have an enough dignified positions in technology. We need to get away from the outside view that work that is done with WordPress has to be almost free.
How do we get a Make team for sustainability?
- Two parts to that question: logistics and reality.
- The logistics part is easy: every team that wants to exist in the WordPress project has the same process. You identify a project to work on and host routine meetings for a certain amount of time, posting agendas, meeting notes, and team members showing up and for new people, it is clear how to get started. If that happens and it looks like it’s still more work to do, a working group can become a team.
- The difficult part is how we come up with the first sustainable project that requires a working group, and find someone to lead it. The work the performance team does has connections to sustainability, but it lives with the performance team, so a sustainability team for that would be redundant. Josepha thinks that sustainability should be a working group inside the performance team.
- Simon says, besides the sustainability of WordPress Core, the whole »event ecosystem« has an environmental impact, so the topic could be hooked up with the community team as well.