[wp-hackers] Putting the P in WordPress

Chip Bennett chip at chipbennett.net
Wed Jul 7 15:16:57 UTC 2010

On Wednesday 07 July 2010 9:44:05 am Matt Mullenweg wrote:
> On 7/7/2010 9:11 AM, Stephen Rider wrote:
> > I laughed when Matt said we were approaching Godwin's Law. :-)  Some of
> > the rhetoric is getting a bit overwrought, but for the most part I think
> > it's remained pretty civil.
> We are -- someone is comparing the capitalization of the letter P with
> removing the sacred freedoms every WordPress user is given by the GPL.

If you want us to believe that you are being sincere and empathetic, and not 
snide and dismissive, it would be incredibly helpful if you would refrain from 
misrepresenting others' positions.

I never said that a filter to capitalize the "P" in WordPress was comparable 
to removing the sacred freedoms... given by the GPL. Rather, I said that 
adding to core a filter that editorially changes the end user's content 
without the user's knowledge or consent is diametrically opposite to the 
philosophy of free software, which states that in all matters it is the user's 
purposes that matter, and not the developer's purposes.

By changing my words, you (intentionally or unintentionally) present a straw 
man. By pre-emptively invoking Godwin's law, you attempt to discredit the 
straw man you have thus presented.

It would be far better for you to address my actual assertion, rather than 
waste your time demolishing straw men.

How does putting this filter into core act to serve any end-user purpose 
whatsoever? Under what justification is this filter anything other than an 
exercise in forcing the developer's purpose on  - and as superior to - the 
user's purpose?

I find this argument unpersuasive:

> > *******
> > *** What do we really actually gain from this function? Seriously?
> > *******
> The correct capitalization of WordPress all over the web. A small easter
> egg that makes the people who care about such things happy. (It also
> increases participation on Trac.)

If *end users* were concerned with the correct capitalization of WordPress all 
over the web, then they would have installed Ozh' plugin sometime during the 
past three years. Or they would have added a rule to their spell-checker.

> If you're someone who is frequently personally attacked, lied about,
> having cartoons drawn about you, etc for trying to protect that freedom
> it pushes it too far. There is a huge magnitude of difference.

My statement that your defense of this filter being added to core is 
hypocritical in no way compares you to Hitler or in any other way represents 
ad hominem. I understand that you have been the object of much criticism. I 
also understand that such criticism has been both deserved and undeserved. I 
understand that you are very likely weary of and sensitive to any such 
additional criticism. Anyone in your position would be, also.
> The rest of your message is a bit long to respond to individually, but
> in summary:
> Core development is a meritocracy. People pay their dues by working on
> *hard* issues that matter to end-users, like widgets, upgrades, speed
> and performance, and then they're then trusted with increasing rights
> and responsibilities.
> The more attention paid to a trivial issue 

Here's where the huge disconnect exists: users and developers do not consider 
either arbitrary breakage of content, or undisclosed and unapproved 
editorializing of user content to be trivial issues.

Again, it is the slippery slope: if the core development team would change 
some content without disclosure or authorization, then the probability 
increases that, in the future, the core development team would similarly 
change other content.

(Or do you think that the WordPress project is immune to the ethical downslide 
that befell the "do no evil" Google?)

This is not a trivial issue; rather, it is a *serious* issue  - primarily due 
to your response, which represents an absolute disregard for the stated desire 
of the community, and for the philosophical concerns being expressed.

Bottom line: changing user content without disclosure and authorization is 
BAD. If you would recognize this principle, then this issue very much could 
return to being trivial.

> If you're lucky, the people that withdraw from forums and mailing lists
> just focus on code. If you're unlucky they find another pursuit that's
> more fun and has less politics.

The developers that I've heard discussing this issue only mention withdrawing 
in the context of doing so because they have lost trust in the direction the 
WordPress project is taking, because of leadership decisions represented by 
this would-be trivial issue.

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