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