If you hang around WordPress long enough, you begin to notice that people involved with it – in whatever capacity – often refer to “the WordPress community.”

And maybe I’m alone in this, but if you hang around even longer you begin to ask yourself what is the WordPress community?

Here’s the thing: When I first began focusing the majority of my efforts on working with WordPress, I stumbled into the community of people who are involved with the application.

But doesn’t that sound generic? I mean, what does it mean to be “involved with WordPress,” anyway? And the more time that I’ve spent working with WordPress – or that anyone spends working with WordPress – the more I’ve – and they – will notice that the community is actually made up of smaller sub-cultures, microcosms, or whatever you want to call them.

And this raises a number of different issues.

The Facets of the WordPress Community

I can come up with a handful of sub-cultures all of which are typically lumped into “the WordPress community.”

For example:

  • Core Designers
  • Core Developers
  • Prolific Bloggers
  • Automattic
  • Employees of Audrey Capital (who also work on WordPress Core)
  • WordPress VIP
  • The WordPress Foundation
  • Various User Groups (or Interest Groups depending on how you’ve seen it used)
  • …and so on

The thing is, this doesn’t stop us – myself including – from referring to the collective as the WordPress Community. That is, the one that we love (or hate – though I hope that’s not the case!)

But it’s far too easy for us to make statements about the WordPress community in general, when, in fact, there’s no definitive characteristics as to what the WordPress community really is.

Case in point: Ask an agency who builds sites using WordPress to define the WordPress community and you’re likely to get a far different answer from if you ask the same people who manage any number of blogs, or those or design and build for WordPress.

So What’s The Point?

My point is that I’m a little tired of seeing “the WordPress community” as being this all encompassing phrase that is used to represent a large group of people who having few things in common than a passion for a single piece of software.

The truth is, each aspect of the community has their own opinions as to how the software should be managed, evolved, treated, and developed. Furthermore, they all have their opinions on how products should be built on top of it (specifically, themes, plugins, and applications).

I’m not above this – I’m guilty of this, too.

Despite all of the various opinions, wants, and desires I do generally believe that we all want the best for WordPress, we just have different opinions how to to go about achieving it.

Ultimately, the point is to recognize the “the WordPress community” is made up of a wide variety of different people, opinions, and thoughts on how WordPress should evolve bound together by their appreciation for the application and for publishing.

But that’s really about it.

And This Leaves Us With What?

I recognize that almost any community can be broken down into smaller sub-cultures, units, or whatever term you’d like to use to describe the smaller pieces of the whole, and that they are all related by at least a common thread.

For us, that’d be WordPress.

Ultimately, I think that we need to do a better job of qualifying what part of the WordPress community we’re talking about when we’re, y’know, talking about it.

Are we talking about the designers, the core developers, those who build things for WordPress, those who blog about WordPress, those who work for Automattic, those who work for the WordPress Foundation, or what?

Because here’s the thing: Not properly qualifying who you’re talking about can have you misrepresenting a group of people who actually may not hold true the same ideals that you’re claiming and/or perpetuating.

That can be dangerous stuff, and it’s not fair to those who try to stay either above board or strictly out of the line of fire of potential issues. This isn’t to say that those of us who are tangentially related to an issue should completely ignore what’s happening, but it’s important to pick our battles.

Leave those issues to the areas of the community to which they’re most closely related.

That said, I could stand to do a better job of this. Rather than using “the WordPress community” as an all encompassing way to talk about people involved with the software, I’m going to try to do a better job of speaking directly about the sub-culture to which the topic is most relevant.

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  1. Nice post, Tom. I would like to see all those people who openly declare to “love WordPress”, to be more specific about the nature of that relationship. :) That especially applies to those who are “involved with WordPress” professionally.

    Also, a sidenote: if we take the grammatical-prepositions game a little bit further, there are also a bunch of very smart and interesting people, who work *under* WordPress!

    And by that I mean all those who support big installations of WP and run WP-centric hosting companies — admins, devops — all those “humble workers in the cloud” who lay the groundwork for our plugins/apps/sites to run more smoothly/securely/economically. Gotta love them!

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