Why contribute to WordPress Core?

So why would anyone want to volunteer their time or sponsor staff to contribute to WordPress core?

WordPress logo

WordPress, which fuels over 40% of the web, is an open source project. This means that the core code on which it runs has been created and is constantly evolving through the efforts of its users, a diverse community of people from around the world.


For developers, in the crudest form, core contribution allows them to demonstrate their expertise by saying to clients ‘you can find my name on the WordPress About page’. This is very helpful when a client asks, ‘how do I know that you know what you are talking about?’

Working on core also provides coders with an opportunity improve their skills due to the enforced use of coding standards and constant code review. You can keep up to date about new developments. As a bonus, you also get to know the inner workings of WordPress in weird and wonderful ways.

Contributors have the opportunity to work and learn alongside passionate innovators who are more than happy to share their skills. 

Contribute as an Individual | Five for the Future | WordPress.org

Agencies and other organizations

For agencies, being associated with core development positions you in the top tier worldwide. It creates regular marketing opportunities. Both clients and experts perceive it as validation of an organization’s credibility.

Contributions that improve the WordPress platform help to secure a positive future all round.

Supporting staff to contribute to WordPress core can also be a cost-effective way to offer them opportunities to learn and grow.

For any agency specializing in WordPress development, their ongoing success rests on the ability of WordPress to thrive and prosper. Therefore, it is in their best interests to support its growth.

By becoming involved in core contributions, an organization ‘enters the conversation’. It has at least some possibility of influencing future directions in WordPress. They can also represent the needs of their particular client group.

Participating organizations are able to integrate more deeply into the WordPress ecosystem, while gaining a voice in the ongoing development of the platform.

Contribute as an Organization | Five for the Future | WordPress.org

Core contribution may also provide early insight into what’s coming. This enables organizations to introduce the ‘latest and greatest’ to their clients or users. It may also help to pre-empt potential problems.

For businesses, developing a clear, strategic core contribution sponsorship program benefits both the organization and the individual. It also allows them to respond to the challenge of Five for the Future*.

In any such program, there need to be clear expectations, associated budgets and time allocation. These need to recognize that core contribution can be as much a marketing and training function as falling under the development budget. You can find a short white paper that explores the setting up of this kind of program further on WordPress.org.

Paul’s story

From my first discovery of WordPress in 2006, its community, flexibility and momentum has made it the platform of choice for my work.

Over the years I have been deeply involved with the WordPress community. I have made core commits to every version or WordPress since 3.9. I continue to support the wider WordPress community by speaking and volunteering at WordCamps, most recently at WordCamp EU 2022. I also co-founded a local WordPress Meetup, and regularly mentor others within the community.

XWP sponsorship

In 2021/22, most of my freelance work has been for XWP as part of their WordPress core contributor team. By their own admission in their LinkedIn post, XWP got carried away by the momentum of core contribution. As a result, they found themselves overcommitted. So, sadly, their sponsorship of my time has come to an end. I am so grateful to them for providing me with an amazing opportunity to follow my own passion to contribute to WordPress core in the company of truly skilled and passionate colleagues.

What this has meant for me has been the ability to contribute to much more substantial improvements to WordPress rather than having to focus my efforts into things that I could do in just a few hours. Working as part of a team is both stimulating and stretching. I believe it added value to what I was able to contribute and improved both my visioning and my skills.

Paul speaking at WCEU 2022
Paul speaking at WCEU 2022

XWP also sponsored me to speak at WordCamp EU 2022 and support the Google Performance Lab stand there. This is another aspect that organizations may wish to consider in developing a sponsorship program. It offers an additional means of increasing their visibility, creating marketing opportunities and attracting talent.

A continuing conversation

It goes without saying that I will continue to contribute to WordPress core as time and resources allow.

I am also keen to play a part in the conversation around developing sustainable models for core contributor sponsorship. Based on my experience with XWP, I believe that the benefits to the whole WordPress ecosystem of focused and consistently funded contributor programs are immense.

* Launched in 2014, Five for the Future encourages organizations to contribute five percent of their resources to WordPress development.

WCEU 2022 – WordCamp Europe, Porto

“I’m done with this; I don’t want to do this again. I’d rather just be a recluse!”

The Super Bock Arena, venue for WCEU 2022
The Super Bock Arena

It’s probably not too surprising that these were the first thoughts I had when initially I arrived at WCEU 2022 and wandered around Porto’s Super Bock Arena.

Since March 13, 2020, when we made it home from a vacation in Antigua just as Canada battened down the hatches, we have welcomed only three guests inside our home. Living on a lake in rural Ontario, Covid seclusion has been remarkably easy and comfortable. Our social life has mostly consisted of chatting to neighbours from across the road or the end of the dock. To go straight from this to an event attended by over two and a half thousand participants was bound to be a shock to the system and more than a little scary.

I find it very liberating to give myself permission to have no real agenda; not to tour the stands and chat and pick up swag; only to attend talks that really interest me; not to talk to anyone if I don’t feel like it!

‘. . . the community is where the heart is’

It is also unsurprising that what gently reeled my back in was what I have always valued and admired about WordPress; its strong sense of community, of connection and affirmation. Milan Ivanovic summed it up perfectly in his opening WCEU 2022 Track 1 presentation, Why we community?

“The code is poetry, but, the community is where the heart is.”

I found particularly moving and powerful his reflection on the way in which the WordPress commitment to inclusivity and diversity broke down the barriers he personally had put up against ‘otherness’ growing up in a small Serbian village.

The code is poetry, but, the community is where the heart is.

A WordPress user and blogger, I have some technical knowledge. But who I am is rooted in facilitating change, connecting people – to each other and to information – and the creation of community. WordPress has not been my career focus. But I have volunteered at and attended WordCamps in the past. I also co-founded a local WordPress Meetup.

I don’t know what it is about ‘community’ people. There seems to be an extraordinary, instinctive, gravitational pull that draws us together. There was a heartwarming hug from Josepha, a longstanding community team friend; a lively dialogue with Community Engagement Specialist, Cate, at the WordPress Community Booth; and, out of the blue, a lunchtime conversation with Julia, a Community Steward, that ran so deep it could have gone on all day. I found re-connection, new heart-kin, and so many kindred spirits of all kinds throughout the passing exchanges of the two days. This was a timely reminder of the riches such interactions can bring.

The other sessions I attended, on partnerships and acquisitions, also reinforced the values I associate with the building of strong communities; resilience, curiosity, openness, mutuality, providing a positive and consistent client experience; and appreciation of employee and volunteer effort.

Support, affirmation, inclusivity, and connection

Some of the XWP Team
Some of the XWP Team

My husband and business partner, Paul Bearne, spends about half his time working for distributed agency XWP. They currently sponsor him to work on WordPress Core. I found it heartwarming that the sense of support, affirmation, inclusivity, and connection seemed so much greater with the XWP team (for both of us) than almost any work environment I can remember. Paul suggests this is because people need to have a special kind of energy to be self-motivated enough to work in a distributed setting. They may also have to make a much more conscious effort to build connection. And, of course, this is backed up by the WP ethos of community. Whatever the reason, it made for a positive and life-affirming re-emergence into the post-Covid world.

‘Finding your WordPress lifestyle – insider insights from a veteran coder’

Honestly, the prospect of attending Paul’s talk was much too nerve-wracking for me! I sweated with him over creating the slides and we will review the video recording together on WordPressTV if he is planning to deliver it again.

For someone who is much more accustomed to giving tech talks, this kind of ‘lifestyle’ topic was quite a challenge. Paul’s XWP colleagues were most generous in contributing their time to helping shape and refine his content and delivery. I’m glad to say there was a lot of positive feedback – people seem to have found it genuinely useful and interesting. As well as recording a podcast interview for WP Tavern, he was interviewed by HubSpot. His insights are now featured on their Blog, which reaches over 1.3 million readers a month. A good day’s work.

Everybody needs a Gina! (slide)

The talk brought me some degree of personal notoriety. Standing in line to pick up a coffee when I arrived that day, the person to whom I was chatting glanced at my badge and said, ‘oh, you’re Gina!’ A gracious acknowledgement of my back-up role, the slide ‘Everybody needs a Gina!’ emphasized the importance to remote workers and freelancers of effective support.

From recluse to WCEU 2022 party animal

Part of the appeal of WordCamps is the opportunity to interact in person with colleagues from all around the world. In many cases, these are people you may have known for years yet never met. It was a delight to see Paul recognized by so many, often greeted with a hug (a bit scary as an emergent recluse) and with obvious affection.

Paul embraced the party spirit to the full. For him there was an XWP Team Day with a scavenger hunt around Porto and Douro boat trip, a Codeable dinner at the Baroque Palacio di Freixo on the banks of the Douro, the WCEU 2022 Speakers’ Dinner at the cruise ship terminal, as well as the traditional WordCamp After Party held at the Super Bock Arena. I attended about half of these. This suited me fine as I still found that many unmasked people (for eating and drinking) in indoor spaces a little daunting.

Yes, remaining a recluse certainly has its attractions. But WCEU 2022 was a welcome reminder of the joy and energy that can be generated when like-minded individuals are able to spend time together. Perhaps Covid may have given us an opportunity to understand that, in the best of times, both have value. It doesn’t have to be either/or.

If the WordPress culture of community has caught your attention, you may be interested in this 2019 blog post, The WordPress Community – Passion and Participation

Words have power – removing exclusionary language from code

Originally posted on the Matador Jobs blog, August 18, 2020

Words Have Power

Thanks to the incredible conversations the United States and World are having right now about race and inclusion, it has come to our attention, as software developers, that some of the phrases we use are based on historically racist or classist terms and that our continued use of these terms is insensitive, unwelcoming, and exclusionary.

While insignificant in the giant list of things that need to be changed to bring about true equality and inclusiveness, we at Matador Jobs nevertheless feel we can begin to impact change by stopping our perpetuation of these negative language constructs in our software.

Our changes to exclusionary terms

Based on useful and interesting discussions with other developers around exclusionary language, we found that the items below are the biggest targets for adjustment. In many cases, these changes that can be made are actually more descriptive! Here are the key adjustments we are making in our upcoming releases:

  • Changing whitelist/blacklist to “allow list”/”deny list” to explain lists of explicitly allowed or disallowed items
  • Replacing master and master/slave to main and primary/secondary to explain relationships where one is an authority or primary source to a backup or secondary source.
  • Removing the use of “grandfather”/”grandfathered” to describe backwards compatibility or rights or access given automatically to a legacy user of a feature.
  • Instead of “whitespace” use “empty space”, “blank space”, or a more descriptive term to describe areas that are purposely empty, blank, or clear for readability or design, ie: a “line break” could describe space purposely used to improve readability of code or text.

In the case removing of “whitelist,” we needed to engage our partners at Bullhorn, as one of our uses of the term is derived directly from their official API implementation documentation. After very positive discussions with Bullhorn Support, they are prepared to initially fully support our removal of the term from our documentation and code and are exploring how they too can strike it from their own documentation and code.

Most of these changes will be behind-the-scenes and specific to advanced integration a developer may do with Matador. But, since “whitelist” was a key part of the Bullhorn Connection Assistant, the following change will affect all users. The changes are:

  • “Whitelist” or “Whitelisted” (used as a verb) will become “Register” or “Registered”
  • “[API Redirect] Whitelist” (used as a noun) will become “Allowed API Redirect List”

Our next hotfix release, 3.6.2, of Matador Jobs, will include these changes, with further changes behind-the-scenes in following releases.


Resources we found helpful in considering these issues include:



The WordPress Community – Passion and Participation

Wapuu - Community; Bring People Together

A major part of using WordPress involves relying on and interacting with the WordPress community at large, which has the reputation of being genuinely friendly and helpful. After all, as an open source platform it has been built and maintained by that community!

Although the members of our local WordPress Meetup are by definition a part of that community, few were aware of the range of opportunities available within it.

So, for our last session before the summer break, we chose this as our topic. I put together a slide presentation covering the kind of resources and experiences the WordPress Community can offer you and the ways in which you can contribute to WordPress.

  • Meetups
  • WordCamps
  • Community Forums
  • The Community Deputy Program
  • Contrib to Core
  • Component Maintainers
  • Contributing/ reviewing plugins and themes
  • Freelance/ remote working opportunities
Overview slide from presentation on the WordPress Community

For quick reference, I also put together the following useful resource links:

WordPress Statistics

Most Marvelous 100+ WordPress Stats & Facts (2019)

WordPress Stats: Your Ultimate List of WordPress Statistics (Data, Studies, Facts – Even the Little-Known)


Meetup Program Basics

Kingston WordPress Group Code of Conduct

Kingston WordPress Group Good Faith Rules

WordPress 2018 Meetup Survey Results


WordCamp Central

You may also want to read my account of attending WCUS 2016, WCUS – passion, democratization, accessibility, community

Contributor Days – an example (US WordCamp 2018)

WordCamp Schedule

Don’t forget to keep an eye on your WordPress Dashboard for news about local events!

WordPress Resource Sites

WPBeginner – mostly how-to guides for simple tasks

Torque – more editorial content, from development to light pop culture

WPTavern – editorial content, mostly about the project and open sources

WPMU DEV Blog – some free content, some by subscription

WPShout – mostly developer-focused content, with in-depth tutorials

Online WordPress Forums

27 WordPress Support Forums That Have All The Answers – useful article, including a comprehensive list of WordPress Facebook Groups

WordPress Support Forums

WordPress Slack

WordPress Codex

WordPress Stack Exchange – you may also want to see the Stack Exchange Tour for step by step instructions.

Contributing to WordPress

The Community Deputy Program

Make WordPress – If you want to get involved in WordPress, this is the place to be, with blogs for each contributor group, general news, and upcoming events.

Contib to Core – see also this helpful Developers Guide to Contributing to WordPress Core from Delicious Brains

WordPress Core Components

Submitting Themes

Theme Review


Leaving a WordPress Plugin review

Freelance and Remote Working Opportunities

Useful articles from codeinwp:

20+ Sites to Find Remote WordPress Jobs + 5 Great Companies Hiring Right Now

Remote Work for WordPress Professionals: How to Work From Home (And Stay Sane)

Virtual Agencies

Outsourcing Marketplace

Job Boards

Privacy and your WordPress sites

Last night our local WordPress Meetup group hosted a round-table on privacy issues and the implications of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into force on May 25, 2018.

I think all of us rapidly became aware of how little we know and how complex it is becoming!

As a brief summary, GDPR is legislation that aims to protect the privacy of all EU citizens. It is a system of principles, rights and obligation which everyone who has a website needs to be familiar with.

If you have a website at all, it is very likely that you need to make some changes to it to comply with the legislation.

If you fail to comply with GDPR, you could be fined for up to 20 million euros or 4% of your yearly turnover, whichever is higher.

Key principles

  • Personal Data must be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the individual
  • You must be honest, be open about who you are and what you are going to do with the personal data you collect
  • personal data must be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner incompatible with those purposes
  • personal data must be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which it is processed
  • personal data must be kept in a form which permits identification of individuals for no longer than is necessary for the purposes of the processing
  • personal data must be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the data using appropriate technical or organisational measures

You may think that this doesn’t affect you or apply to your website. But if you ever ship or sell products to the EU or offer a digital service that’s used by EU-based customers, then it is likely that it will.

Examples of things to consider

  • You should already have a page that sets out your privacy policy on your website, but this in itself is not enough. Privacy information must be clear, concise and explicit.

Best practice suggests a ‘layered’ approach, with headings that can be expanded to provide more detailed information that is backed up by a dedicated Privacy Policy page.

Perhaps an even better alternative is clear pop-up notices whenever you are asking a user for personal information, explaining how this will be used and linking to further information. For example, if you collect an email address on a contact form, you might add an explicit message as to why you need this information and how you will use it, e.g. ‘to allow you to access your account and so that we may contact you with important information about any changes to your account’.

  • The default for any ‘opt in’ box must be un-ticked. Individuals must actively give consent.
  • If you use cookies, you will need users to opt in explicitly.
  • If you have pages, say on a blog, where people can comment, you will need to get their explicit permission to retain (store) a connection between their comments and their identity in the form of their email address.
  • If you are using analytics, there may be implications about what data you can legally collect and store.
  • If you are running an e-commerce store, you will need to be clear about what information you may legally hold. This gets complicated in that most countries require that you retain a copy of all invoices for a certain length of time. So you may find you have to delete copies of orders, but retain copies of invoices for the prescribed time, with an effective process for deletion when that time expires.


There is a great deal of good information available about GDPR and how to tackle compliance. Below are some links to resources we have found useful, including information about the work WordPress is doing to help users with compliance.


Site Owner’s Guide to GDPR – a really excellent resource manual is available, whether or not you download the plugin it supports. (Codelight)

GDPR: How to write a Privacy Notice – Best Practices – very helpful article with some practical examples. (Hashed Out)

Worried about WordPress and GDPR? Start Here – a good starting point (Pagely)

GDPR Compliance Tools in WordPress – what WordPress is doing to support users with GDPR compliance. If you want to see a bit more of the background to this, you may want to look at Roadmap: tools for GDPR compliance




WordTechCon! Toronto 2018


I’m delighted that WordTechCon has just announced that I will be speaking at their conference in Toronto, on May 4 2018.

WordTechCon describes itself as “a new premium conference that will allow WordPress Theme and Plugin Developers as well as hosting services to learn from industry leaders at a relaxed pace in a wonderful location”.

I will be be speaking on a pretty fundamental issue for all coders;

How can I know I am writing secure WordPress code?

WCUS – passion, democratization, accessibility, community

It was almost with trepidation that we took off for  WCUS in Philadelphia at the end of November 2016. In the wake of the Trump election victory, even before his inauguration and what followed, US travel already seemed somehow less appealing.

Justice, equality and freedom of the press

The Liberty BellIn the event, I am really glad that we were there in that moment. It was a reminder of so much that is good in America. To stand beside the Liberty Bell was particularly poignant. To read of past success in the struggle against injustice and inequality was a heartening reminder that there always have been and still are many who will fight for the best of what it is to be human.

We had a day together in which to explore. The Liberty Bell was a ‘must see’. Benjamin Franklin’s printing press resonated well with our attendance at WCUS. After all, WordPress specifically seeks to democratize publishing. Franklin’s grandson’s statement on the freedom of the press is as relevant now as it as ever been.

His Press Shall be Free

WCUS itself was a fascinating experience for someone who functions at the edge of the WordPress community. What stays with me is the depth of commitment to making WordPress accessible to all. In 2016 there were 115 WordCamps in 41 countries, with close to 90% of the costs (though not the travel) covered by sponsors.

WordPress is available in 50 languages and there is a strong push for internationalization and accessibility. All this exists in the context of a code-base  written by volunteers (Paul has ‘core commits’ in a number of WordPress releases).

The third day of the conference was ‘Contributor Day’. Hundreds of people gave a full day of their time to coding, bug fix, testing, review, documentation, translation and more. In five years, the WordPress market share has grown from 13% to 27% of the web and this effort is what underpins it. What a fantastic model for social co-operation!

While Paul focused on the more technical sessions and networking, I tapped into the wider content. Topics included ‘Version Control Your Life’, ‘Five Newsroom Tips for Better Website Content’, ‘Care and Feeding of Your Passion’, as well as a really helpful session on releasing a WordPress product.

‘Darth Vader wins over Yoda every time!’

Perhaps most pertinent to world events was a great talk on ‘The Dark Side of Democratization’. It seems that content that elicits emotional response is what goes viral, particularly if it arouses anger (hence the headline quote!). Therefore we all need to cultivate an ability to evaluate both our emotional response to content and the ‘facts’ in a post-truth world. An interesting suggestion was the importance of monitoring ‘news’ from sources that reflect the people who don’t think like you, engaging with understanding and tolerance, not judgement.

You can find’ the full 40 min session at https://dennis.blog/democratization/,  together with a great set of resource links including fact checkers.

Partying with dinosaurs

WCUS - partying with dinosaurs at the Academy of Natural Sciences

The ‘corridor stream’ is always a key element of any WordCamp and the after-party is a fun extension of this. In this case, we partied with dinosaurs at the Academy of Natural Sciences, making some useful contacts while were were about it!


(This review of WCUS 2016 was originally published as part of a longer article on Gina’s personal blog.)