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In episode 18 of WP Briefing, Josepha Haden Chomphosy displays on a current lecture that she gave to college students at Hendrix College during which she explored the economics of WordPress and the ideas that maintain the challenge’s ecosystem.

Have a query you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@wordpress.org, both written or as a voice recording.

Credits

References

WordPress Showcase

The Value of WordPress: The World’s First Study of the WordPress Economy

Five for the Future

Becoming Better Digitial Citizens Through Open Source

WordPress 5.9 Feature Go/No-Go

Transcript

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:11

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast the place you possibly can catch fast explanations of the concepts behind the WordPress open supply challenge, some perception into the group that helps it, and get a small listing of large issues arising within the subsequent two weeks. I’m your host, Joseph Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:40

So right this moment marks the beginning of Digital Citizenship week. This 12 months in 2021, it’s the week of October 18th, and to kick it off, I need to share with you a bit of a lecture that I gave to a school class final week. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:55

An economics professor teaches this class. And so, somewhat bit, I went to speak about how WordPress is basically a microcosm of international societies. That was largely why I used to be invited to come back and provides the speak. But one of the scholars requested a very attention-grabbing query about economics, and particularly the economics of WordPress. And so, I’m going to take a while to do my greatest to reply that query right here as effectively. But first, we’re going to start out with some large image details about WordPress that I shared with the scholars, after which possibly you additionally don’t essentially know. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:00

So the primary place that we began was with the query of what WordPress is. Most of them had heard of it however didn’t essentially have a very good deal with on what it’s. And so that is the definition that I gave to them. This is a bit of every of the sides of WordPress that we variety of see proper now. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:57

Firstly, WordPress is, of course, a content material administration system, which suggests it’s a chunk of software program that makes use of a copyleft license, which signifies that it’s open supply, and nobody particular person essentially owns the rights to the code. If you get very particular, WordPress is, of course, a FOSS challenge or a free and open supply software program challenge. I do know that there are discussions round when a chunk of software program is free, then what are you utilizing to pay for that piece of software program or to pay on your entry to that software program? And typically, the reply is that you simply’re utilizing your personally figuring out info to pay for one thing generally known as the info financial system. If you’re not aware of that, it’s somewhat bit of a three-pronged effort there. So you submit your knowledge to get entry to the software program, or you possibly can be part of the platform, relying on what it’s that you simply’re working with. That platform or that software program collects your knowledge in order that they’ll construct a profile about what types of content material engages you and in order that they’ll share, basically, viewers cohorts like teams of folks that sort of are speaking about what you’re speaking about, agree with what you agree about, and discover attention-grabbing, the identical types of issues that you simply discover attention-grabbing. And then these corporations promote entry to your consideration. This is one thing that I confer with as the eye financial system. I feel there are lots of startups in the mean time that refers back to the consideration financial system. The most iconic current instance was when the oldsters over at Netflix stated that they weren’t competing in opposition to different streaming companies; they had been competing in opposition to sleep.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  03:54

And I feel which may ring true for fairly just a few of us in the mean time. But anyway, to scoot us again one degree, I had, as I stated, WordPress is free software program. But the distinction with WordPress is that to get a replica of WordPress, you aren’t essentially required handy over any knowledge. You don’t want to present anybody knowledge to get a replica. You don’t want to present anybody cash or knowledge to open up a replica that you simply personal or to construct an internet site in it should you’re simply doing it domestically, however particularly round that knowledge facet as a result of WordPress isn’t accumulating any knowledge, we’re additionally not brokering entry to anybody’s consideration.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:37

Another reply to the query of “What is WordPress?” WordPress software program and the challenge allow practically half a trillion {dollars} of income within the international digital financial system, as we discovered from a current examine from one of the internet hosting corporations contained in the WordPress challenge  – oh, Inside the WordPress ecosystem anyway. And WordPress additionally runs 42% of the net, with some of the largest websites we all know utilizing WordPress. Such websites just like the New York Times, Rolling Stone, many, many others, which you’ll be able to see within the WordPress showcase as effectively. I don’t essentially need to similar to name out all the massive teams that use it. But it’s lots.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:22

 To recap what we simply discovered about WordPress and what WordPress is. It is software program that one makes use of a copyleft license, that means no single entity owns it. Two, it’s accessible for gratis, that means no cash modifications palms so that you can personal a replica. Three doesn’t monitor you, which signifies that you don’t have to present WordPress any personally figuring out info to get a replica. Four is an enabler of a large digital financial system huge portion of the digital financial system even. That, you realize, means their companies, extensions, themes, plugins, all of that stuff. And 5, it’s software program that helps 42% of the net. Practically each different web site you go to makes use of the software program. So that’s WordPress.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:10

With this huge free software program, you could be pondering to your self a pair of issues. The very first thing you could be pondering is, “Well, that sounds impossible.” But if that’s not what you’re pondering, chances are you’ll be pondering, “how is it possible that a software that is technically owned by no one and takes no money or data to obtain –  how is it that a software like that can power 42% of the web.” This brings me, of course, to a subject that I focus on, which is how WordPress is made. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:45

WordPress is, by now you realize, constructed by a worldwide group of contributors. And it’s partially contributors which might be self-sponsored or giving of their very own time freely, and partly sponsored volunteers, people who find themselves paid by Five for the Future initiatives inside numerous corporations. I’ve stated many instances, most just lately at WordCamp US, that I’ve a great ratio of about two to at least one in that sort of volunteer or self-sponsored versus corporately sponsored set of voices. And additionally, as I stated, at WordCamp US, we’re not essentially attending to that excellent ratio proper now as a result of of the character of the best way the world is in the mean time. However, this group capabilities virtually like a tiny little digital society. There are methods to get your voice heard methods to tackle management roles; there’s a little bit of gentle governmental construction. And as with every society, any group like this, there’s a relationship inherent there. There’s virtually a transactional aspect that takes place if you’re taking part totally. Although I do know that for the WordPress challenge, particularly for open supply generally, there’s a reminder that we must always at all times be contributing with out the expectation of reciprocity. But even in case you are contributing with out the expectation of reciprocity, you continue to are participating in an present group, which suggests that you’re fostering a relationship with the group or with the people who find themselves additionally taking part locally with you. It’s simply inescapable when you have folks round and dealing collectively. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  08:38

So two ideas actually knowledgeable my work to future-proof the WordPress challenge. And the primary one is digital citizenship, which is why this explicit WordPress Briefing suits right this moment. And the opposite is the Tragedy of the Commons, particularly how we go about refreshing these commons. So digital citizenship, I talked about it a bit within the final WP Briefing. But it’s nonetheless true right this moment that that’s essential. And the factor that actually issues to me as we’re working by how you can make it possible for WordPress is transferring ahead collectively. But most discussions of citizenship are location-specific, which makes a lot of sense. However, with so many cell gadgets and broader entry to some degree of web, we have now growing alternatives to be linked as a result of of pursuits or talent units. And even the issues that we aspire to or aspire to be with a group like WordPress, which has no residence workplace or fundamental location. Of course, it’s crucial that every one of the leaders in WordPress, all of the staff reps in WordPress, are proactively participating with the folks of their groups and of their parts of the group as an alternative of ready for like happenstance operating into folks. We additionally use a bunch of social stuff to get folks collectively: twitch screams, not twitch screams as a result of it’s not that Halloweeny! Twitch streams, hallway hangouts, occasions which might be each on-line and off. Everything that the Learn part of the group is doing with their dialogue teams. There are so many ways in which WordPress proactively engages with one another and engages with itself. And that work is all actually essential to retaining the group concerned, which is essential to any group’s long-term success, and definitely is true for WordPress as long-term success. Because when your group or your group or your society is engaged and invested in your collective success, then you might be (prepare for a listing) one, extra prone to see obstacles early and be capable to overcome them, two extra prone to see upcoming traits and put together for them, three extra prone to see what’s damaged and be capable to restore it earlier than it’s a main difficulty. And 4, you usually tend to be a resilient and fruitful group lengthy after any single member has stopped taking part. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  11:10

The extra linked to the group you might be and the extra lively, the larger your affect and the flexibility to have an effect on modifications additionally grow to be. And so, not solely is it essential for us to stay linked as a group simply to make it possible for all the pieces goes effectively. But additionally, it’s one of the first ways in which people who find themselves giving again can type of have extra of a chance on this explicit ecosystem. In open supply, anybody can acquire affect by serving to others by serving to the software program and by retaining the trains on the tracks. And so, one of the one lasting limits to long-term potential in an open supply challenge is how good you might be at seeing past your self and seeing what good motion could make past simply your personal advantages. I perceive that there are additionally particular hurdles to contribution in your free time that I’ve devoted a pair of totally different podcasts to, so I don’t need to neglect that actuality. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  12:19

I’ve present in my expertise that one of the limiting elements that generally can’t be unlearned isn’t with the ability to see variety of a broader scope, a broader perspective than what you’re already bringing into it. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  12:34

So being a very good digital citizen, that’s a very essential half of retaining any society collectively any group collectively and transferring ahead. But particularly is within the context of digital citizenship, is true for WordPress. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  12:48

The second factor that’s actually essential to me is this idea of the Tragedy of the Commons, which is, of course, an economics time period, open supply has borrowed. We have talked about it on this podcast previously. And right this moment, I particularly am speaking about how WordPress works to constantly be refreshing the commons. So the speculation of the Tragedy of the Commons says that every one societies can stand up to a sure quantity of free-riders. A sure quantity of individuals who reap the advantages of that group’s society with out essentially placing something again into it. And that’s no totally different in open supply than in another place the place you’ll apply this idea. The explicit catch for WordPress is of course, that it’s free, freely accessible and has no particular copyright holder. And so in these circumstances, it’s extremely straightforward for a small group of folks to keep up the software program whereas the entire world makes use of it without cost. And not solely is it doable for a small group of folks to keep up it, however should you’re not cautious, it’s additionally straightforward for a small group of unpaid folks and unacknowledged folks to keep up one thing ceaselessly. And on the quantity that WordPress operates at, that’s a very dangerous alternative. It doesn’t assist to assist these folks; it places the long-term stability of the software program in jeopardy. And on the finish of the day, it simply doesn’t assist to replenish the commons to make it possible for all people retains attending to have the advantages of this ecosystem in the long run. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  14:39

As many of you realize, there’s this program known as Five for the Future. And that program is basically modeled after a tithe. So the invitation to this program when it was first launched in 2014 was that should you or your organization or your group is made higher or made doable by WordPress, you need to give again to the WordPress challenge 5% of your assets. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  15:07

It is an aspirational 5%, of course, and a few teams give again their time whereas others give again with their cash. But virtually anybody who desires to present again has some talent that WordPress wants. That explicit program has actually grown in leaps and bounds because it was launched. I don’t know precisely what number of staff members had been thought-about Five for the Future contributors when it was first launched in 2014; it was somewhat earlier than my time. But in the mean time, it’s about 150 those that I’m routinely conscious of or involved with, which continues to be a small quantity contemplating how many individuals use WordPress. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  15:52

However, many companies who’ve seen essentially the most profit, together with, you realize, the corporate that I work for (Automattic), and lots of different internet hosting corporations within the ecosystem, all do a very good job of refreshing the commons in order that WordPress continues to be usable for companies of all ranges. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  16:11

I need to depart us with one ultimate large image considered open supply. This goes to be a callback to at least one of my earliest episodes on this podcast. But I feel that it’s at all times price remembering. We’re going to speak about this actually standard phrase in open supply tasks “free as in speech, not free as in beer.” And for WordPress, as you realize, it’s somewhat bit of each. It’s actually free. But additionally, because it’s open supply, it has a free as in speech part to it as effectively. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  16:46

The 4 freedoms of open supply as specified by the 90s. So 10 years into the open supply motion, are mainly that you’ve got the liberty to run this system for any function, the liberty to check how this system works, and alter it in order that it could possibly do your computing as you want, the liberty to redistribute copies in an effort to assist your neighbor and the liberty to distribute copies of your modified variations, giving the group an opportunity to be taught and profit from the modifications that you simply put into the software program.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  17:22

I don’t bear in mind if I stated this in my unique podcast, however I’m going to say it right this moment, free speech has lots of duty, similar to being an element of a group. Governments or communities, or in our case, this software program is constructed by the individuals who present up. For WordPress at 42% of the net, each small alternative we make could cause big modifications in how folks expertise the net right this moment and tomorrow. And that, to my thoughts, is absolutely no totally different than taking part in any type of civic infrastructure. The modifications which might be made right this moment, or the errors that we forestall, set the tone and the circumstance and the potential to thrive for everybody who comes after us. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  18:17

That leads us into our smallest of large issues. I simply have a pair of issues for you all right this moment. Firstly, on the time of this recording, that is previous to the Go/No-Go demo assembly for WordPress 5.9. So I don’t know what’s occurred. But by the point this podcast has been launched, we may have had the Go/No-Go assembly and now have shipped the publish that summarizes what occurred, what we hope to alter within the subsequent basically dash in order that we will confidently transfer ahead with a transparent set of options for the 5.9 launch. I’ll embody a hyperlink to the notes beneath within the present notes. Kudos to everybody, props to everybody who participated in that assembly. And additionally props to all of the individuals who have been serving to us as we head into this ultimate launch of the 12 months and all of you who’re going to assist us make it efficiently to the top. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  19:15

The second factor I already variety of alluded to on the high of the podcast, it’s Digital Citizenship week; two or three years in the past, the WordPress weblog had a collection about digital citizenship and what it means to be a very good digital citizen, what it means to try this within the context of WordPress. I’ll drop a hyperlink to these posts within the present notes as effectively. They are very effectively written and crucial, and pretty evergreen content material. If I feel that there’s something price updating, I’ll replace it earlier than placing it within the present notes. And that’s your small listing of large issues. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  19:57

Thank you all for tuning in right this moment for the WordPress dash. I’m your host, Joseph Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you once more in a pair of weeks.


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