Ask anyone who’s involved in the WordPress community – and who has been for sometime – and you’re likely to hear that it’s a great experience not only because of the projects that are being built on and around WordPress, but because of all the people involved in the economy and in the community.
And it’s true: Being a part of the larger WordPress economy and community is exciting.
But, like with anything else, it’s challenging at times. I think that anyone who has stuck around long enough knows that as much we we all want the best for WordPress – I mean, we even enjoy hanging out with our competitors.
On the flip-side, we also get stuck in the typical Internet flame war arguing over what technology should be used for what all the while forgetting some of the larger problems at hand.
We’re only human, so it’s bound to happen, right?
It’s a weird thing, for sure, but it’s the nature of the community – at least for now (and probably for longer, if you’re a cynic) – but that doesn’t mean that you – or anyone else – should be dissuaded or discouraged from becoming a part of it.
But there is something that I’ve noticed in the community, or around the fringes if that’s what you’d like to call it, and sometimes I think people’s desire to be known – or wanting to achieve some type of WordPress fame or notability – outweighs the work, the contributions, and their input into the economy.
And though one could argue there are many problems with that, one of the largest is that the focus is being misplaced for the sake of the individual rather than improving the core product or products around WordPress.
Achieving WordPress Fame
When I was younger – and I’m sure this is true of anyone who grew up on the Internet looking up to fellow programmers, designers, and the like – one of the coolest things was to learn from them.
And you know what I mean: their websites, their books, their forums on AOL, chatting with fellow fans and programmers on IRC, etc.
But, at times, it was also hard not to envy the success they were having.
When I grow up, I want that! I want people to use my software and read my stuff, too!
Here’s the thing: What was the success you wanted to achieve?
Specifically, was it their readership, their following, their products, or what? I mean, did you qualify what you meant?
Admittedly, I think it varies from person to person, but regardless, the point remains.
It’s easy to envy the success that other people have, especially in our industry where we’re all seemingly connected in a common community – or subculture of a larger community – with a variety of blogs, products, meet ups, and so on being released or happening every week.
Everywhere we look, there are a lot of people doing a lot of cool things. They are getting noticed for it, people are talking about it (for good or for bad – it doesn’t really matter), and others are jumping in to help ’em.
Did You See Who’s Here?
I remember the first time that I met someone famous: I was at a concert with some friends festival where a lot of the bands were walking around the park when they weren’t playing. I – and those who I was with – had a chance to go up, talk to, hang out for a few minutes, and get autographs from those musicians who had impacted our life in way or another through their music.
Yeah, there’s a minor case of being starstruck, but no one was crying their eyes out.
And no, the people to whom we look up to in our industry don’t hang out at festivals and they don’t sit on stage and, what, write code? They simply share their work online and try to put something good into the world with their talents.
Sure, it’s cool to go to conference or a meet up and see someone that you know, but they don’t know you (is that the definition of fame?), but it’s even cooler to sit down and meet others face-to-face who you’ve chatted with for years.
But the truth – and perhaps it’s the hard truth – of our industry is this: You’re never there – you’ve never arrived.
You’ve heard it before:
There’s always someone else who knows more than you, done more than you, and has had more success than you.
So where does that leave us? Are the rest of us the all singing, all dancing crap of the world?
The thing about that particular statement and/or idea is that sometimes you are the person who knows more – and in that, you can help others – and sometimes, you are the person who knows less – and in that, you can learn from others.
Permitting you maintain the right perspective, it’s a no lose situation.
It’s Not About Who Knows Who
WordPress and all things associated isn’t driven by just a handful of people. It’s driven by a massive community of people working together on the core application, plugins, themes, blogs, and other tangential things, as well.
And when a lot of people with differing views, backgrounds, opinions, and experiences get together to work on something, there are going to be challenges.
And no, this post wasn’t written because of some single event or one-off conversation that I’ve had, nor is it targeting any particular person or group. It’s simply stemming from something that I’ve noticed: There are people who want to be known in the WordPress community for something.
But if your goal is to be known, then I’d argue that that’s no goal.
I mean, if you’re goal is to be known, then you can go and do something and be known. Just go troll a few blogs or make enough noise until people begin responding to you.
Come on, though. People who really care – that’s not what they’re after.
Instead, work on a project, contribute to WordPress, contribute to someone else’s project, help organize a meet up, educate others through a blog (or guest posting on another site), or so on.
Seriously, though. Why not focus on good work?
Be kind to people, interact with ’em, try to share your thoughts respectfully – whether you agree or not – and you’ll likely be known because people will either want to know you for the work that you’re doing, the work that you’re contributing, or because of who you are as it relates to the rest of the community.