WordPress Openness (was Re: [wp-hackers] UI development for 1.6)

Matt Mullenweg m at mullenweg.com
Thu Jun 23 09:15:22 GMT 2005

Mike Little wrote:
> My point was that, once again, there is NO visibility to discussions
> (if any) about the design. Instead the code is *already in* WordPress.
> That looks like a decision made to me.

Terrance seems to have started a great discussion here. If by "decisions" 
you mean working code instead of kvetching on a mailing list, then yes, 
decisions are made constantly. That *does not* mean that the hour of work 
I checked in for people to play with is the One True Way and everything 
has already been set in stone, in fact nothing could be farther from the 
truth. Experimentations in a version clearly marked as alpha is a call for 

I believe that it's MUCH easier for people to discuss and critique 
something people can see and poke, rather than a bunch of academic 
theorizing which has seldom proved productive on this list.

> *Now*, there is some discussion about the nuances of this new
> interface. *You*, Matt,  may have been following along on the mailing
> list you set up for the Shuttle team, but no one else to my knowledge
> saw any of this before the decision was made and the code committed.

AFAIK, Shuttle is a few designers who throw photoshop comps back and forth 
to each other and are very good at creating hype due to their popularity 
within the community. If you would like to join the Shuttle group, please 
contact those folks, I don't control it. I don't know why they chose to 
keep it private, and I don't think that's the best way to do things. 
However if you want to discuss WP UI, this list is the place to do it.

> Similarly, there has been a interesting, constructive discussion on
> this list about
> overhauling the user permissions system [1] over the last week or so.
> There has been no contribution from you Matt, yet you have been
> *committing changes to the user system*. Are these changes related?
> Have you taken any of the ideas raised on board? Could you at least
> contribute to the thread? "Hey guys, I've already started implementing
> your great ideas" or should it be "Don't bother discussing it, I've
> decided what I'm doing."?

Have you looked at what the changes actually were? The usermeta system has 
been planned forever (it was explained and originally planned for 1.3) and 
its development is independent of any changes regarding user levels. I 
haven't particpated in the user level discussion persanally because I 
don't have anything to add to it at this point and I'd rather see where 
the ideas go without my participation. I think it would be interesting to 
survey good and bad user access systems and try to find the patterns which 
work well between them. This week I've been travelling and only in front 
of a computer for 30 minutes or less at a time, so I don't have any 
bandwidth to do that sort of thing.

> I didn't see any discussion about removing the textile and markdown
> plugins, but they are gone. You claimed "Far too few people use these
> for them to be included by default. To possibly be replaced by more
> useful plugins after a survey."

Alternative text formatting languages are a fairly advanced concept and 
the the plugins weren't pleasing anybody. Newbies were confused, as 
activating the plugin wouldn't change anything in the WP interface but 
suddenly the text you write does funky things you may or may not expect, 
and the advanced users who rely on Markdown and Textile were unhappy that 
it wasn't the version they wanted and if they know enough to use those 
things they know enough to get the plugins themself anyway. I think the 
"official" plugins we bless with distribution should show off the 
capabilities of plugins a bit more and provide functionality people 
*actually ask for*, like stats or 3rd party integration points.

> Where do you get the figure of "far too few" from? Perhaps it would
> have been better to have the survey *before* the decision is made.

It was informal, but since I obsessedly read hundreds of posts about WP 
and track a lot of trends in the community, I think I have a fairly good 
feel for the pulse of things. I don't claim this is perfect and I'm don't 
mind people offering evidience to the contrary. There have been several 
threads about plugins on the forums which had great responses.

> But when I see major decisions made with no visible discussion, when
> long constructive threads on design and future direction seem to be
> ignored, and when I know that some of the other original developers,
> myself included, were refused commit permissions to the new subversion
> repository. I can no longer kid myself that this is anything other
> than a one man development project (sorry Ryan).

No final decisions have been made for 1.6, it's all open to discussion.

Everything on all these lists is read. And blog posts. And IRC 
discussions. And forum threads.

Committing != community status. It simply is a way to ensure that all the 
code that goes into the core is reviewed before being distributed to the 

Many original developers, yourself included, haven't contributed enough 
code lately (the past year or so) to warrant commit access. Most patches 
that come in still require a fair amount of editing. (There are exceptions 
like mdawaffe, and Ryan back in the day.) Adding lanes to a highway 
doesn't make traffic any faster, and having everybody and their brother 
mucking around directly with the core would not make development any 
faster. (This is a separate issue from having modules or sections that 
people take ownership for, which we need to do more of.)

I noticed you did not complain about the hundreds of thousands of WP blogs 
that link to you out of the box.

Matt Mullenweg
  http://photomatt.net | http://wordpress.org
http://pingomatic.com | http://cnet.com

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