One of the points of frustration – or even dismay – that people have when they have a passion for working with WordPress is the fact that they don’t have an opportunity to commit anything to core. Or, rather, they don’t have the time that they wish they had to contribute anything to core.
And it can make you feel a little guilty (though it shouldn’t).
Sure, there are a lot of open source projects that are available many of which will merge a pull request in the same day if you were to offer one, but if you’re someone who uses WordPress daily for blogging, design, and/or development, then you likely have a strong urge to commit a patch to core and to see your name show up in the credits screen.
And no, it’s not for the point of having your name listed as a core contributor or for pride or anything like that, it’s for giving something back to the software that’s given you the ability to make a living, to make a side income, or just to build cool things for cool people.
But the challenge is actually finding the time.
How do you find the time between your day-to-day schedule between work, family, projects, and so on to pour through Trac in order to find something that you’re able to work on, to patch, to submit, and then to hope it gets merged into core?
The easy answer: You make time.
But, c’mon, is that really a fair answer to give to someone who really does want to give back or who feels a sense of dismay that they aren’t able to do so for whatever circumstances?
Start Contributing To WordPress
Like anyone who uses WordPress frequently, I’d love to spend as much time as possible committing as many patches as I am able back to the core software. It’s hard to find the time to do that, though, between work, family life, and so on.
But the thing is, I’ve contributed very, very little.
To be clear, this isn’t saying that those who do commit patches have it any easier. It’s not like that. We all have the same amount of time – it’s just allocated differently. But as someone who loves WordPress and wants to see its continued growth and success, part of me has this perpetual, proverbial itch that wants to constantly give back to core.
The problem is that I don’t currently have the time to devote to that particular task.
So how are we supposed to balance than tension that gives almost a sense of obligation to do something with the fact that we have other things to do?
I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but it basically breaks down like this:
- Every time a new development cycle starts for WordPress, I tell myself “Okay, I’ll get back into committing to core during this cycle.”
- I’ll read all of the development related emails and skim IRC (well, now Slack), and then see if there isn’t something I can work on.
- Find a bug that I think I have the chops to squash and make a note of it.
- Try to schedule a time to work on it.
- Come to work on it to already see a patch has been made
On one hand, it’s great that a patch has been made – it means that one less bug exists and one less thing is going to be negatively impacting users.
On the flip side, I wasn’t able to make the contribution I wanted. It’s not a competition, but it’s a matter of just having a strong desire to give back, you know?
The truth is that we are giving back, just in a different way.
We’re creating things that are pushing the platform forward – be it themes, plugins, client work, whatever – and though we may not be considered “WordPress core contributors,” we’re still doing a lot of good in terms of keeping up with the status of the software, that we can do with it, what we can’t do with it, what’s planned, and we’re still making sure it progresses by building solutions with it.
And who knows: Perhaps the time will eventually align at some point where we’ll be able to make core contributions again.
Whatever the case, don’t let others make you feel bad for not being able to contribute to core on their schedule for whatever reason. We’re all busy for our own reasons and that’s a Good Thing™.
So continue to stay in tune with all things going on with WordPress and then work on it if you, can if not, someone else will – and that’ll resolve the issue – and you’ll be able to keep providing whatever work you’ve got going on for your clients.
Even though you may not get to patch the bug you want, everyone wins. Besides, bugs are never going way. You’ll have the time for one at some point.