Nyasha Green recently published a post that covers a few issues she’s seeing within the WordPress community and offers solutions on how to fix those issues.
One issue she calls out is that the community relies on free labor:
Paying people for their labor is simply not what the spirit of the WordPress community stands for, or so I am told. I wanted to take this opportunity to say this in a nice way: The community is not long for this world if its members want to depend on free work, a lack of inclusivity, and echo chambers. I for one will not fight for a spirit if that spirit is spiritually bankrupt.
I am not as closely linked with the WordPress community as I used to be. There was a time where 100% of my income came from using, developing, or selling WordPress solutions. And while I do make some money on WordPress from time-to-time (hello Cypress) my salary does not depend on WordPress.
However, I did get a glimpse of how this is currently going recently. There was an open call to help bring Tumblr into the indieweb on Twitter. Matt Mullenweg, who I know and respect (though, like everyone who has ever lived he isn’t perfect) extended an offer to compensate for the work to be done. I threw my name into the ring because A) I likely have the skills and experience to do this work B) I really like Tumblr C) I really like the Indieweb. But that offer was never followed up on. Matt is likely far too busy. Instead, the work has shifted over to Mastodon and – alas, the work is getting done for free.
I don’t think it is a bad thing that someone is doing the work for free. Not at all. If someone feels strongly enough about something to help out using their time, resources, and skills for free – that is totally their prerogative. But, with Automattic being a company with a valuation in the billions and Tumblr being a currently closed silo (meaning, the source isn’t open yet) and a paid service – it is tough to swallow if someone is doing work for them for free.
I don’t even know if this experience I saw relates directly to what Natasha is pointing out. And perhaps I am just a bit bitter because I wanted to work on this project (but I couldn’t do so for free). Either way, Natasha’s points are valid and should be heard. Be sure to go over and read the rest of her post.
Update: I misspelled Nyasha’s name in the original publication of this post. I didn’t have enough coffee this morning, apparently. Sorry Nyasha!