The WP Minute+

Matt and Mark debate WordPress in 2024. Why open source, who is WordPress for, and should we care? Tune in to listen to the whole "debate!"

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Timestamps
00:00 Welcome to the WP Minute!
00:06 Expanding the WP Minute Audience
00:44 Upcoming Live Stream with Sam Harrison
01:33 Mark's Streamathon and Learning in Public
03:09 The WordPress Journey: Learning, Sharing, and Caring
05:11 Exploring WordPress: CMS, Open Source, and Community
12:18 The Open Source Debate: WordPress vs. Paid Tools
18:35 Contributing to WordPress and the Open Source Ecosystem
22:48 Understanding WordPress Politics and Open Source Challenges
27:23 The Evolution of WordPress and Its Community
27:48 Jetpack's Role and Community Reactions
28:35 Governance and the Push for WordPress Project Bylaws
30:00 The Importance of Open Source and Potential Threats
31:25 The Power of Forking in Open Source
32:00 Commercialization Concerns and the Future of WordPress
33:22 The Debate on Open Source Philosophy and Its Impact
37:18 The Future of WordPress: Predictions and Possibilities
44:24 The Significance of Open Source for Users and Developers
46:51 Closing Thoughts on Open Source and WordPress's Future
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What is The WP Minute+?

For long-form interviews, news, and commentary about the WordPress ecosystem. This is the companion show to The WP Minute, your favorite 5-minutes of WordPress news every week.

Mark Zemanski.

Welcome back to the WP Minute.

Always great to have you.

Matt, always great to be here, brother.

Thank you.

We're publishing this video on
the WP Minute podcast channel.

This way I see what I'm trying to do.

Is get all that attention and awareness
that you bring to the WordPress media

landscape over onto this other YouTube
channel so that we can get more podcast

listeners for the WP minute proper.

So I thank you for your time and efforts.

Hell yeah, man.

Yeah.

I don't, I don't know what, what
traffic I'm driving, but I love it.

I love it.

Just trying to, just trying to talk.

Generally you'll see Mark and I stream
on the WP minute YouTube channel.

Where we talk all things like WordPress,
news, WordPress business stuff.

Also where the, the home of all the
WordPress tutorials go that I do.

But you've been bumped
Mark, next Thursday.

Next Thursday I have another live stream.

With the one Sam Smith.

Wait, did I get his last name right?

Sam Smith.

UK guy.

He is a big Webflow guy.

Ooh, I will be in the chat for that one.

Sam Harrison.

Sorry, Sam.

I've not, I'm Sam Smith.

I think it's a Smith Smith.

It was so easy to just throw in there.

Sam Harrison, he has a
fantastic YouTube channel.

Paul Charlton.

So I saw him mention him in one of
his live streams and I was like,

Hey, wow, this guy, this guy's great.

He's a huge proponent on Webflow
likes WordPress is use WordPress.

So he and I are going to go about
talking about WordPress versus Webflow.

And his points of view,
and it's going to be fun.

So that'll be next Thursday.

Mark, you yesterday
had your stream a thon.

It was about two and a half,
two and a half hours, two hours.

Yeah.

Two 15, two 15 learning in
public, as I like to call it.

So some of us in the WordPress
space build in public.

Hey, I'm, I'm doing this
thing with my business.

What do you think?

What features should I launch?

What do you think about
this call to action?

You're learning in public.

Fun fact.

Which I didn't tell you before we hit
record, I had a lot of people DMing me

being like, Hey, this guy you brought
into the league, he's really going at it.

He's really going at it.

But there was a shared sentiment that
a lot of us have gone through sort of

like what you're going through now.

It's just like poking and prodding
and where are the boundaries here?

Where are the lines?

Who's doing what?

What is this thing?

When you've, you've been doing
this sort of live on Twitter and

on your YouTube channel, learning
all things WordPress community.

open source, what this
thing is, who it's for.

You're not alone in this thinking.

You're just doing it in a hyper
compressed amount of time.

I think a lot of us just
stumbled around 15 years ago,

trying to figure this stuff out.

And, uh, you're just getting,
uh, Shot of steroids from every

direction on where to learn.

And it's a, it's a testament to your
ability to want to do this stuff

publicly and, and, and talk about
it also to the WordPress community.

There's so many more people involved
than there were back in the day

that you must be getting bombarded
by people just throwing in their 2

cents every, every step of the way.

But hopefully it's a, it's a positive
outcome for you in the long run.

Yeah.

I mean, a lot there.

Yeah.

It's, it's been fun.

I mean, one of my life mottos that
I've developed over my course of just

doing other things on the internet
and just in, in, in life in general

has become learn, try and share.

So that's like something that I've
just come to know that about myself

and anything that I, whether it was
like finance when I was trying to learn

how to manage money when I was younger
or just WordPress in general at the

beginning or renovating my house when
we, when me and my wife bought it,

like just all those types of things.

Like now I'm in this space and I'm
trying to take it more seriously because

WordPress is something that I feel, as
I've said, you have to, I feel like if

you're not caring about the news, you're
not caring about WordPress to some degree

and you're building a business off it.

I feel like that's slightly short sighted.

And I've tried to take a more active
role in that, you know, with again,

mentors like yourself, just trying to
understand kind of what's going on.

You guys have been around for much longer
than I am trying to ask these critical

questions to understand for myself.

Honestly, educate others, because I know
there's a lot of other people just like

me that have been in it for a while too,
and just don't know the ins and outs.

I've never asked the
questions, maybe haven't cared.

But now.

Just with, you know, paradigm shifts
in the, in the space and the industry

and the, in WordPress community,
there's a lot of reason to care and

yeah, I'm learning a lot, but I want
to also make some, you know, if I can.

Possibly make a change or just
continue to provoke thought as well.

I think that would be good.

I'm, I'm definitely trying to absorb,
but, but I mean, overall it's been, it's

been a great ride and I've met a lot of
great people just like yourself, Matt.

So I, I'm really appreciative for
everything that all the conversation,

all the good thoughts, and I just
think it's a, it's a net benefit

when we're, when we're talking more.

A lot of this stuff, when you were
having your live stream yesterday, by the

way, check out Mark's YouTube channel.

We'll have that linked up.

In the show notes, search Mark Szymanski
on YouTube, a lot of the stuff that,

you know, you heard me just type to
you while you were live streaming.

A lot of other people said, Hey, this
is, this is the same conversation

we've seen over and over again, because
everyone has like this, this question

and every few years or so WordPress
always goes through this growth spurt.

Now WordPress is 20 years old.

And, you know, I think one of the
things that you were talking about in

your life during your live stream was
like, you know, what is WordPress CMS?

And what's funny is it's, it's
funny to hear you say that because

that was a very heavy, that was
a big debate like 10 years ago.

Is this really a CMS?

Is this an app framework?

There was a, uh, A moment in its
growth cycle, WordPress, where, and

I'm going to stop sharing this cause
I don't remember if squad cast puts

us side by side, but I want to go
back to the new WordPress website.

There was a moment in time in
WordPress growth cycle where

that was like a year long debate.

Like this debate that we're
having now, is this for builders?

Is this for man?

There was a whole year where people
were debating whether or not this thing

was for making apps online because you
had this framework, you know, and there

are probably still people out there
and you can still do it, but it was

a healthy debate going on for a year.

Is this an app framework?

Because we have a user management
system, but we have themes that, you

know, when custom fields came in and,
and, and people started bringing,

injecting other technologies, you're
like, wow, you could build, there

was a whole app ecosystem too.

There were plugins that were making
apps, people like, oh, this is,

this is something that we can build.

You know, bespoke apps with, and then
that was just like a whole other year long

of what you're experiencing now started
out as a blogging platform where it was

just blogs and just for publishing, you
know, blog posts, then pages, you know,

then custom fields, and then the theming
convention and all this stuff, you know,

really started to, to come into play.

And I think what this is, is an
amalgamation of deck two decades now.

Yeah.

Of just year after year stacking,
you know, what is WordPress, where's

the web going, where's the open web
going, where's WordPress going, and

humanity just injecting lines of code
every year to build this thing and

it ends up being what we have today.

And coincidentally, WordPress.

org launched a new website,
homepage, landing page.

Meet WordPress, the open source publishing
platform of choice for millions of

websites worldwide from creators
and small businesses to enterprises.

And I think that's the key when
we're looking at a lot of this of

figuring out what WordPress is.

Open source publishing platform.

Figure out whatever publishing
platform means to you as the end user.

It's always been that for better or worse.

You know, for better or worse, I think.

And, and I think this new homepage is
setting the tone for like where it's

going, but I don't think it's just
one thing, which isn't probably the

best answer, but it's what we have.

It's definitely, I think if you're
using WordPress or if you've ever

gone somewhere else and came back
to WordPress, you realize that it

is probably the best that we have.

It's not perfect.

Nothing is perfect.

I don't, I think you're kind of
silly if you expect it to be perfect.

But that being said, the one thing that I.

Have kind of, you know, with some of
the live streams and like just talking

different people is sometimes it seems
I don't know constructive criticism

is Is is just met with Maybe it's met
with a little bit more resistance than

I would hope but maybe it's just the
way that it's delivered sometimes and

obviously You know again, it's an open
source project So you you got to be able

to you got to want it to get better and
contribute in some form But you know,

there's many different ways to contribute
So, I don't know it's it's definitely

uh It's definitely the best we have.

It's fantastic.

I don't think, again, if you're on
the platform and you're, and you're

actively like shitting on it, I think
that that's like demeaning it in a

way, like being completely negative.

I don't think that's productive.

But at the same time, I think that
anytime you go into a conversation like

that, both sides need to realize that.

Are we, are we, are we actively
trying to make this better?

Is that our actual goal?

Cause I think in more, more
times than not, that is the goal.

I'd venture to say 99 percent of
the time people that are having

WordPress discussions, unless
they're outside the community.

They want it to get better.

So, and a lot of it is frustration,
I think, because people have certain

ways of thinking, certain ways of
doing things, you know, the page boat

versus the core thing, and they, they,
they, this is literally the case.

I try to stay in the middle
as much as possible with the

page voter versus core thing.

Cause I'm kind of like in both
camps and I see that, and.

And just the, the high level there is
that people have ways of working that

might work in an agency or whatever
and they know it works for them

because they've made money that way.

And then they see a product being
built that is like a part of

their ecosystem, but maybe not
something they use all the time.

And they're like, why is
that happening like that?

Why are we doing this?

But the thing that I had an epiphany
with yesterday is that maybe it

is literally just not being built.

for that audience.

Like it's, it's literally
built for everyone.

Again, I questioned the marketing there in
a way, but, but I mean, it's, it's built

for the, like everyone to use, meaning
that it's basically built for the lowest

common denominator average user, which is
not a demeaning thing to say, but anyway,

it's just means that anybody can pop
in there and do it, which is fantastic.

It's just that the, the question, the,
the, the tough part is that under actually

understanding that and being okay with it.

And Again, I'm just trying to observe
it and see what's going on, but

that's what I'm seeing, you know.

in the trenches, so to speak, you know,
and it just, it causes a lot of mixed

emotions and, and frustration, but at
the end of the day, they're tools and

we shouldn't be emotional about it.

So, yeah, I, you know, and again,
I, I shared all, you know, these

sentiments too, when I first got into
the space, why are we doing this?

I mean, We, I think we talked about this
on the live stream last time, but I was

selling themes years and years ago and it
was the same thing, like bringing theme,

bringing free themes into the space and
you're just met with this weird, here's

this rule set largely put in place by
volunteers, you know, figure it out.

And I had all the same.

you know, questions and concerns
that, that you did or have.

But what I have seen is, and I think that
maybe what a lot of people aren't saying

because we're just not like thinking
about it or whatever, but it's like

when we say, Oh, we've seen this before,
like we've seen this debate before.

We've seen this person come in and,
and want WordPress to go one way when

the whole thing's moving the other way.

And WordPress continues.

To thrive, grow and, you know, and
scale and get better iteratively slowly

because that's the nature of open source.

I think if you looked at open source
anything, that's just the nature of it.

It's, it's not sexy.

WordPress is probably the sexiest open
source thing that at least that I know

of, you know, If anyone's watching this,
go ahead, drop a comment on what is

like flashier or like more adopted as an
open source thing other than WordPress.

Mastodon maybe as a, you know, cause
everybody migrates, everyone, a lot

of people migrated there when they
weren't happy with Twitter or whatever.

So WordPress, you know, is, is
fantastic, you know, for that.

And the.

Yeah, the thing, it still gets better.

I think what the, what I have issue with
is what, you know, recently we talked

about is when people say, well, oh
God, this other tool is so much better.

Like we'll have this web flow
debate air quotes debate around

web, web flow versus WordPress.

But at the end of the day, you're
paying web flow for that software.

You're only getting
web flow from web flow.

And I think that that's where a lot of
this conversation has to start at the top.

Is do you want open source and your data
or do you just want something else and

that's where I think a lot of people are
missing the on the little adventure map

and all of this stuff is that's where you
have to make your decision because if you

say yes, I want open source in my data.

Then you're going down this path, and
just be ready for this long, arduous

path of open source politics, versus,
yeah, I don't really care, I'll pay for

it, I'll pay for this cool tool, then
you go this way, and then you can say,

Webflow's got all these awesome things,
insert other, you know, Squarespace has

all of these awesome things, and it's
so much easier than, then go that route,

just know that the biggest sacrifice is
open source, which comes with community,

and your data, which means, Hey, whatever
happens at Squarespace, it's there.

Whatever happens at Shopify,
it's there, you know, pay for it.

Better tool.

A hundred percent, you know, yes,
no one's really debating that.

It's just when you say, but I can't take
this, you can't do anything with it other

than go to Shopify Squarespace or Webflow.

And I think that's where a lot of people
have to observe that, observe that

when they're making these arguments.

And then when people really pin down
WordPress for its faults, it's like,

well, Go to another tool then and build.

Yeah.

And then when you go there and
realize, Oh, I do have it kind

of nice in WordPress land.

Well, yes, let's appreciate that
instead of just, you know, getting so

fired up about, you know, things that
are actually being solved by third

party tools, which is a win, right.

Which is a win.

You and I chatted offline about that.

Like it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's,
it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's,

it's, it's, it's, It's a testament to
WordPress and open source that something

is missing in WordPress, somebody built
it, turned it into a thriving business,

and people can buy it and use it.

That's I mean, you, you can't do that
with a web and maybe you can do that with

a webflow if they have a marketplace.

You can do it with Shopify.

They have a marketplace,
but there's a tax.

I don't know.

Like to me, it seems like it's
sometimes we get lost in these

silly debates, myself included.

Yeah, I mean, last part of that, totally
agree with, I mean, my only question would

be, and I've probably posed it before, but
probably not as, not as directly is, is,

is what we're seeing with WordPress then.

And again, I'm, I got a call on people
that have more experience than I do

for, for these types of answers is
what we're seeing with WordPress and

those, you know, like we, like you just.

You know, explain their kind of
those frustrations, you know, Hey,

why don't you go try somewhere else?

And, you know, like whatever you,
whatever you don't like about

this, it's definitely, there's
definitely cons elsewhere.

I mean, my only question would be, is that
just something that's inherent to all open

source projects and WordPress is not, you
know, immune to those, or is this, are

we seeing the best it could possibly be?

There's no way to make,
alleviate any of those.

Cons we'll say, because obviously
it's got a ton of pros, right?

And I'm not, I'm not doubting you
that, Hey, I'm not saying that, that,

um, I'm not disagreeing with the
fact that if you go to Shopify, go

to web flits and maybe like certain
pieces of the tools are better in

a way, but there's still problems.

I mean, like, let's not,
let's not kid ourselves.

So there's definitely still
problems in paid tools.

But at the same time, the
biggest thing is the data, right?

So are you saying though in order
to have the data in order to have an

open source environment These are just
things you absolutely have to put up

with or do you think that there is?

some level of extra, whatever
insert political something here in

WordPress that doesn't need to be
there just because it's open source.

Yeah.

So data and code, right?

Because the code is, is GPL, right?

So you can modify WordPress.

That's how we have themes and plugins
and SAS services that, you know, plug up.

There's just huge, right?

So that's huge.

You also have to like, My background was,
when I was growing up with computers,

I was a salesperson at Circuit City.

Way back in the day and selling computers,
of course, and this is when they still

sold software in boxes on the wall.

And I remember this guy came in and
he wanted the cheapest, cheapest

computer that we had open box.

Didn't care.

I don't care if the
thing is busted, broken.

I mean, as long as it turns on, I'll
take it, but I don't really care

what it is because I'm going to run
this thing called Linux on top of it.

I was like, what the hell
is this guy talking about?

This is Linux thing.

There's another operating system, right?

Besides Apple and windows.

I don't know about this.

And we had it on the wall.

I just didn't know what it was.

And that sort of unlocked my open source
experience into, into open source, bought

a copy of what was called Mandrake Linux
at the time, installed it, did all this

stuff, started to realize that, Oh my
God, there's a whole world of open source

software back then to do different things.

Bulletin boards, like real weird
things on, on the web back then.

So.

So I'm very used to like finding
these things, unpacking them, and

then, you know, further into the,
my career running one of the first

cPanel servers for a web hosting
company that only use windows, right?

So when I brought in Linux, first of
all, you had, I had all these haters in

the room that were all windows admins,
cause they were like, First of all, we

don't know how to admin this and it looks
like you're coming for our job, right?

So, but I was like, Oh no, it's
just this thing, you know, Linux

servers, cPanel runs on top of it.

It's like a fraction of the price that
we pay for, for Microsoft windows.

Like, why wouldn't we do this?

It had.

PHP nuke, which was a framework for
building a website back in the day

before WordPress, a couple other things
that you could one click install.

It was amazing.

When you look at it, the hosting game
hasn't changed all that much, you

know, from 20 years ago, but it was
just amazing what open source unlocks.

And, you know, that's, that's
always been a part of me.

And the same is true, you know, in the
WordPress space, all of the advantages

And this is why I'm so, I'm so strong on,
you've got to keep WordPress thriving.

It doesn't mean you have to commit code to
it, show up at all these hallway hangouts,

but you, you want to be a fan of it.

You want to be able to promote
it, especially as if you're in

the third party space, because
you don't want that to go away.

You want this thing to keep rising
because it's only going to help you.

Now, are there like, pain
points with this stuff.

100%.

Look how long it takes, right?

Look at the ambiguity, the stuff
that you're trying to figure out.

Okay.

There's open source contributors that are
being sponsored by, let's say, automatic,

the largest of the sponsorship pool.

And one starts to say, well,
boy, that must mean that there

is automatic influence here.

Yeah.

Yes.

There's no one.

I think we're all over that.

The fact that, yes, that is.

Yeah.

That is a thing.

People will go further and say that,
you know, it's, it's just a means for

people to get free labor, to build into
WordPress so that it funnels up, it

shoots up to automatic and wordpress.

com.

It ain't happening because
I have a wordpress.

com account.

I have a website on wordpress.

com and it's the same thing.

It's not any better over there, right?

It's not like they're like, Oh, I get
this free labor and now wordpress.

com is so much better.

It's not, it's the same exact.

problem.

It's not any better.

And then yes, there, everyone
points as you have seen that

it's, it's owned by Matt.

Largely this whole thing is directed
by Matt much broader these days.

Cause he has a lot on his plate.

If you go like, I just really sent
out the newsletter for WP minute.

It's about looking ahead to WordPress 6.

6.

He's the release lead again.

He's always the release lead, right?

He started WordPress, right?

Him and Mike little.

And now he, he, and remember WordPress
open source came before automatic.

It wasn't like automatic was formed
and they released a little open source

project for people to build on WordPress.

Open source started first and then he
made automatic in order to fund the

project fund or run a profitable business.

You can take that either
way, but automatic pours a

ton of money into WordPress.

And that's his frustrations.

And maybe a lot of other people's
frustrations is why don't more people

contribute to WordPress so that it's
not just automatic, you know, and I'll

say this last thing I was watching our,
you know, friend of the show, Jonathan

Denwood is watching the tonic and, you
know, they brought a blue host, blue

host, thank you for being a sponsor of
the WP minute, web hosts, tough game.

I was in the web host industry.

I know there's a sentiment behind
big conglomerate web hosts.

Largely because people who complain
about those web hosting accounts are

paying for the cheapest of the cheap.

And when there's issues, there's a lack of
maybe support, response time, resources,

but you've paid, you're paying 5 a month.

What did you expect?

And there's, you know, watching his last
episode and he was talking about, Oh, you

know, blue host, you know, would never
use them, wouldn't trust them, yada, yada.

They're all this, whatever, you know,
there's a, Oh, why does Matt always

talk about blue hosts and have them
connect on the partnerships page?

Because they're the second.

Most second or third most contributor to
WordPress and they've been doing it for

years and they sponsor events That's why
they're good stewards of of open source.

And I say that not just because they're
my sponsor, because that's what they do.

You just look at the
chart, look at the people.

John Deroges used to work for
me when I started my agency.

He's the lead, one of the
lead contributors to core on

WordPress, works at Bluehost.

They pay him to just work
on Blue on, on WordPress.

You can't, you can't complain about
companies with money on one hand, and

then, you know, just disregard the
fact that I don't know how much money

they pour into it, but millions into.

Supporting WordPress.

Yeah, that's why Matt says, thanks
Bluehost and puts them on hosting pages.

I'm sure there might be other
products out there that compete with

them that one might say is better,
but they are putting in the work.

And, you know, and that
happens across the board.

It's not just Bluehost.

There's other organizations too.

The politics, like we just talked
about, that's the part that's,

that's hard with open source.

People have written books about it.

You know, way smarter than me, you know,
shared multiple governments is what

this is shared multiple governments
across, you know, web technology.

That's you know, that's what we're,
we're dealing with everything that

you, that you maybe wrestle with in
your local governments, your local

politics, quasi the same thing.

But this time we're talking
like PHP and JavaScript, you

know, and who gets credit here.

That's, that's, that's what
it is, at least to me anyway.

Hmm.

That was a lot.

I don't know what you want to
hook onto with that one, Mark.

I know.

It's good stuff.

I don't know.

I, I mean, the way that I respond to
that are, as you're talking about all

that, I have a lot of thoughts and
really it, it boils down to two avenues

is, does it, does it, does it matter?

Is it a good idea to kind of like,
like probe into that whole apparatus

that you just, Lay it out at a
high level, or does it not matter?

It's kind of like the root of the question
that I first just asked and I don't want

to I don't want to say does It not matter
as in oh, we shouldn't care about this

shit because I still think we should care
about this shit But I'm saying like that's

the part where I think that I've talked
to a lot of people and they've, they've

started to do what I've, what I've kind
of like done here, you know, again, hyper

focused and last, you know, so much, so
many times, and I've gotten the response

of, hey, there's a lot of bureaucracy, a
lot of red tape, can't really do anything,

dah, dah, dah, whatever, and I'm not
saying those are right or wrong, I'm

just saying those were people's opinions,
and To me, it's, you know, at a certain

point you do have to ask yourself the
question, is this a good use of my time?

Not just from a money standpoint
or whatever, you know, and not just

saying if you should or should not
contribute to WordPress, if you're

benefiting from it, it does make sense
to contribute in one way or another,

like a hundred percent, but I'm just
saying like at the core of it, I'm a

type of person that likes to understand.

Like, when I get into something,
obviously, I like to go all the

way in and just, like, fully
understand it as much as possible.

And to me, you know, the, the, again,
that, that apparatus is something

that I would love to dive into and
I would love to learn more about.

And, like, literally, I think you and
I have talked about this before, almost

like a documentary or just, like, an
infographic of how everything works.

I'm sure it's out there in some ways, but,
like, actually, you know, present that.

And I'm just not sure if that matters,
because, like, I don't know if that,

uh, Is productive, I guess, is a
word that everybody likes to use.

So like, I don't, that's kind of my
next thing is like, I'm not sure.

Cause that's all good info, but at the
same time I hear that presented and

it's just, well, either we look into
it more or it just doesn't matter.

And we just still just try to
continue to do the other things.

Cause I don't know, I don't know
if it does matter or not, like

from a productivity standpoint.

Yeah.

So.

I've built a career on that after, you
know, when I, when I launched the Mat

Report podcast, which was a podcast I
did before this, that was largely to just

find out how, who are as, who is everyone
in the, in the community, how do I get.

like projects.

And again, you have to remember 15 years
ago, different landscape people were just

jumping into like big companies, jumping
into WordPress because it was the best

alternative to paying literally millions
of dollars to, to launch websites.

And I wanted to grow my agency.

I just want to figure out how to,
how I meet people so I can do the

same thing as a non developer.

And.

After, you know, after a while, after,
you know, the business was up and

running and, you know, really started
to turn to the open source side of

it and more like being critical of
leadership in WordPress, mostly Matt,

because, you know, I have this sort of
like tagline, the blue collar digital

worker, people who are just like rolling
up their sleeves, building websites.

They're not trying to be like a 10
up a web dev studios, you know, doing

millions and millions of dollars a year,
trying to grow a team of 500 people.

They're just, Hey, I
want to run a, an agency.

A couple people, maybe it's just
myself, want to do good work, want to

get customers, do good work by them
and get paid reasonably well, right?

And observing like where
WordPress was going at the time,

I was looking at a few avenues.

It was the dawn of jetpack, which at the
time when that landed, it was like, Whoa

boy, now we're going to get a commercial
version for a commercial plugin from

automatic that competes with all of us.

Right.

At the time, you know, Pippin
Williamson, Gravity Forms, like all

these people were just like getting
their businesses off the ground.

And then here comes Jetpack,
which, you know, everyone called

the Trojan horse of WordPress.

This is not, this is not anything new.

They were like, wait a minute.

Cause Mullenweg was, was against a lot
of the commercial side of plugins and

themes, especially if you went up against,
you Like the GPL or if you were selling

it under the guise of oh, you're buying
software You're not buying software in

GPL because you can't you can buy the
support or the licensing and you know

There's some terminology in there for
smarter people but that's where you saw

him butt heads against like people like
Pearson from thesis and a lot of people

in the community because There was a major
growing point for WordPress tons of money

theme forest the marketplace was massive.

I mean, printing money for
WordPress back in the day.

And then Jetpack came
along and you saw that.

And I remember, uh, that's how
Matt and I first interacted was.

You know, him saying something that
the growth of WordPress was thanks

to, was thanks to Jetpack, loosely
paraphrasing him, but it was pretty close.

And there was an article written
on the Tavern about that.

And I was just, and I think my comment
was like, that's a slap in the face to

all of the plugin and theme developers
that are out there because WordPress

growth has been built off the back
of everyone that's been promoting

WordPress, everyone, whether you're
selling a commercial plugin or doing

a free one, it all helps WordPress.

And ended up getting on, that's how
we, he and I first came together on my

podcast or whatever, again, years ago.

So, I think it's important that
people continue to question and

have a watchful eye over how
this piece of software evolves.

Bias, because that's what I've been doing.

Years after that, Maureen Hendrickson,
who's now at LinkedIn, along with Rachel

Cherry, I forget where she's at right
now, they were strongly advocating for

I'm forgetting the actual words that
they, that they, that they use, but to

have a, not a constitution, but like
bylaws for how the, how the WordPress

project is being governed governance.

That's what it was,
the governance project.

I mean, a huge push people, contributors,
you know, pushing hard and it ended up

dying out, not enough energy behind it.

Not enough people wanted to, you know,
continue to, you know, push for that.

and very hard.

And even Matt brought it up a few times,
you know, considering it a little bit, but

that would mean that he would either have
to be removed or have some means of, I

don't know, rotation or voting in and out.

And it gets super complicated.

And at the end of the
day, that lost steam.

And there's been countless
other Things along the way.

And so, you know, a long way of getting
to know, I think it's important that

we all keep an eye on it because it's,
and this is my opinion is why I do it

is because it's for, it's huge, massive
amount of people use the software and

whether you realize it or not, open
source is important and the government

who is the steward for WordPress is
important because I said this a million

times and I never want it to come true.

Salesforce is one of
Automattic's biggest investors.

If Automattic, if Salesforce was
ever, if WordPress was ever run

by Salesforce, we're all screwed.

Forget all this stuff.

Like what we're debating today will
be a luxury if it's ever owned by

Salesforce or a commercial entity.

I mean, like maybe an entity like
a Salesforce that would just chop

it up and be like, we just want
to make money with this thing now.

Hmm.

So We got a we got a hope that
the torch is always carried.

Yeah, like the torch is always
passed on and carried Yeah, and

and I think automatic and Matt are
still the best people for that That

doesn't mean you can't disagree.

That doesn't mean you can't have you
know, criticism I've never gone into the

levels of criticism other people have
and said some outlandish stuff about him

You know, I don't care about how much
money he is Has made or is worth and

people shouldn't bring that in either.

Like it's just, it's not relevant
to open source WordPress because

he, he doesn't own it per se, cause
you can literally take it right now

and go do something else with it.

Not saying that's easy, but you
couldn't do that with Microsoft windows.

You can just grab it and be
like, mine now you're done.

Yeah.

You know, you're going to get sued, but
you could literally do that with WordPress

and just do something else with it.

Yeah.

And there is, there's classic, uh, classic
press, I think is the, the project when,

when there was a group of people who, when
the Gutenberg was built into WordPress,

they were like, no, we don't want this.

And we're going to continue to,
we're going to fork WordPress

and try to maintain it and keep
classic press with no Gutenberg.

That's a project that's still running.

Not a lot of people it's there.

And it's again, another Testament
of it can be done to what degree it

depends, but you know, it's possible.

And I've had these same things.

Like I, I wrote about, or I vlogged about
it on my other channel when automatic

released a professional services started
with a 5, 000 website, then a 500 website.

And I was like, here we go again.

The title of that video is I spell
it WordPress now with a lowercase P

because you know, it's always, you
know, it's that same thing, right?

WordPress, capital P.

Okay, I get it.

You know, it's just like every version of
WordPress had hello dolly in it for years

That was Matt's like placeholder plug
in and everything is oh, it's so cute.

We leave it in it's like nostalgia
get it out Get it out of here.

All right, we did it a couple versions
get it out, you know And the word first

capital P thing is like, oh, you got to
respect the name I get it But when the

name isn't respecting us and they're
doing something like this I feel like

it was you know a slight in you know,
To the builders out there that have, you

know, brought and promoted WordPress.

I was wrong about that because
it didn't really go anywhere.

Didn't impact the freelancers
for sure because it's a services

business just like everybody else.

So, you know, it's not like they wiped
the, the, you know, wiped the deck

with everybody, but, but still it's
like one of those things like, Hey

man, we're here, we're the blue collar
digital workers of WordPress and.

If you come up against us, like we'll,
we'll push back, you know, where we can.

So, yeah, I don't, I just, I just
think there's a lot of, there's

a lot of intricacies to it.

I don't know enough about the
history of open source and other open

source projects, but I would just
still wonder if like other ones are

similar in that regard, it does seem
like there's like a, um, a mixture

of almost like lobbying and then.

Commercialism mixed into it, and
regardless of if it actually has a

tangible impact on it or not, definitely
has an impact on the perception of

the use that the users have on it.

Again, just people in the comments all
the time, in the live streams and things,

and I'm just like, I'm the one kind of,
you know, trial by fire with me, you know,

talking to People and like yourself and
all that, and just trying to get all that

information, and then I'm just trying
to regurgitate, regurgitate what I'm

hearing and other people are like, yeah,
you know, I've always thought that too.

Like, why is, why is it like
set up like this at the top?

Obviously it's for some, for good reason
in certain cases, it's just the mixture

of obviously open source doesn't mean
like completely like it's more based

on the, obviously the licensing and
the code and stuff like that, but just

like the nature of that mixed with.

You know, like when you're saying
you don't like that automatic kind

of swoops in and try to, tries to
undercut people basically, or whatever

on the service side, it's similar kind
of on the software side when it's,

okay, now we have paid, you know,
commercial companies contributing.

And is that, is that like kind of a form
of, we're going to get a say in that?

Cause we've had other discussions
where we'll make, what if, what if

other companies want to do that?

And it's well, okay.

We only want the good
guys to do that, I guess.

But what happens is that.

Other guys, we don't do that.

And it's, that just seems, I mean, I'm
not, I'm not, I'm not posing a solution

here cause I don't know the solution right
now, but I'm just, I'm just bringing these

things up because I still think there's
a lot of, there's people that don't care

and then there's people that like do care
and it's just, it's still a little foggy.

So yeah, at the end of the day, it's
still like all the, the majority

of problems that WordPress has
are human problems, less about.

The software and get, well, those
things happen a hundred percent.

I mean, plenty of times I say plenty
of times, nothing is coming to my head,

but there are times where, you know,
Matt has come out with decisions and was

like, where, where did that come from?

Like you guys were, nobody said
anything about that, you know, and

you know, there are countless times
I'm sure people could chime in that

haven't, you know, heard about all,
you know, all the different things.

I mean, just the recent stuff with,
you know, who controls the WordPress,

the WordPress Twitter account.

I mean, Yeah, I'm sure you saw that when
he tweeted out about getting support for

the San Francisco Bay Bridge project or
something like that non profit and he

tweeted it out and people are like, wait
a minute, why is the, why is the WordPress

Twitter account tweeting out, you know,
I Save, uh, save the bay project and he

was just basically, he was like, I, cause
this is my account, you know, it's okay.

And, but you know, that was, yeah,
nobody likes it and it blew up.

But those are the, the, the
things that, that happen.

And those are the human things.

Yeah.

You know, contributions, people start
to know each other, start to each other.

I don't really think anyone
is, I've never seen anything.

There was one time, maybe again, somebody
could jump in when Google released AMP.

Okay.

Wait, I don't know if you remember
that Google amp, there was

like a big push to have that.

And I think it was in
WordPress core or in jetpack.

I forget what it was.

It was like this whole
thing that was unfolding.

That was a pretty big
like technical debate.

I remember that from back in the day and
you know, they were a sponsor or whatever.

So I remember that being kind of
like, Oh, you're trying to get that

in there because you're at Google.

So maybe there are a few times that
have, you know, that has happened, but

I've never really seen anything like.

Go into WordPress core that just
benefited some other like organization

Certainly nothing like you see in
commercial software You know like a

default web browser that you can't
change or pre loaded apps on phones that

is like rampant Imagine if WordPress
came with you know pre loaded plugins.

Holy shit.

People would lose their minds.

I do Think that that's where it's
going to head for automatic to survive

in the future I think what we will
see is when you go to wordpress.

org, it will be Download wordpress
with jetpack the best experience for

wordpress and then below that with
no shiny icon in little text download

free open source WordPress you got to
clip that well because it's a crazy

prediction How else will automatic?

Has to make money at some point and
there's nothing wrong with that I actually

wouldn't mind if we just got there sooner.

So people could just be like,
okay, here's the line in the sand.

Jetpack is the way they make money.

And then we have free WordPress.

Fine.

As long as it's not, you know, as long
as it still remains open source, which

it will, because that's why he, and
that's what you have to do is zoom out

and look at it from that perspective.

He, Matt could have said, we're
going to, instead of making Jetpack a

standalone plugin, I'm just going to
build these features into WordPress.

And then give you.

A feature a WordPress with these features.

And I would WordPress an open
source without these features.

He could have done that.

But he didn't.

He decides to jetpack.

There's other reasons like integrating
with other web hosting companies probably

saw that thought that was a better play.

He's a better play probably.

But you know, it could've
gone, it could be a lot worse.

I think.

Help me.

Help me for a second though.

So you, you I've heard you the Jetpack,
you know, prediction there, which

like makes sense to me, but how.

In that prediction, is
Jetpack a paid tool?

I've never specifically used it.

Are you saying that like you
would be forced to download

WordPress with Jetpack or you could
still get the regular version?

Obviously this is hypothetical, but I'm,
we're saying from a business perspective,

how is that generating revenue?

What, what's the, help me there.

How would that be?

So Jetpack is a product by Automatic
that enhances the usability of WordPress.

It basically has a, uh, It's a dozen
plugins and features in it in one,

one plugin, all the feet, like if
you go and sign up for wordpress.

com, all the cool features that
they talk about at wordpress.

com, it's all jetpack.

If you look at pressable, another
sponsor of the show, all the

features in their backup security
scans, statistics, it's all jetpack.

That's the value add.

It's to say, Hey, you don't
need any other plugins.

We have it all here inside Jetpack.

So somebody could just
put a contact form in.

Do they need to go and buy gravity
forms, which supports my family?

No, because it's inside Jetpack, right?

So it's built to enhance
the experience of WordPress.

So it's how they make money.

It's one of their, You know,
revenue makers aside from wordpress.

com and, and VIP and WooCommerce,
which are their, probably

their leading products.

I don't know their revenue.

I would say that Jetpack is probably
either third or fourth place

in the automatic lineup in the
automatic stable of, of revenue.

And there will be a point where
automatic instead of just continuously

going out to get investment from VCs,
how do we make money with this thing?

And it's going to be.

Looking at the millions and
millions and millions of websites

that are not being monetized.

Can you imagine having a million
Facebook profiles that didn't run ads

and Facebook being like, Oh God, how
are we going to monetize this network?

You know, freaking run ads.

That's what you're going to do.

You're going to go to your million users
and you're going to run ads against them.

That's what you're going to do.

And the same thing's going to happen.

That's my prediction
in order to make money.

The same thing might happen where
WordPress has Jetpack built in.

Do you think that there would be a
change to the plugin and theme situation?

No, I don't.

No?

No, because again, open source, it's like
freaking water in your basement, right?

You know, water starts seeping up.

And you're like, let me
plug the hole over here.

Water comes in another way.

Let me plug that hole.

Water comes in another way.

And then you're like, I got to just build
French trains around this thing and spend

10, 000, wrap the walls and put a sub
pump in, you know, it, as long as, as

long as it remains open source and it's
thriving, everything is moving forward.

You may, it might not be in
the direction you want it to

go, but the framework is there.

You'd still be able to
do what you need to do.

In a third party ecosystem might
look different, might mean there's

less contact form plugins in the
space, you know, but you're, you

know, you already see that happening.

You see web hosts, acquiring
plugins, awesome mode of acquiring

plugins, wordpress, automatic,
you know, acquiring plugins.

I don't think it drastically all
of a sudden there's no options.

What happens to, what would
have to happen for wordpress

to not be open source anymore?

Matt would not have to be, Matt
would not be in the picture anymore.

Which is a scary outcome, you know,
talk about really wiping off an economy.

That would be, you know,
that would be huge.

Imagine having, imagine license every
light you would have, it would be now

again, WordPress is being published.

This is, this is why the GPL and
open source is important because

it's not like boom, all of a sudden.

This thing is wiped off the face of the
earth, all of that code being licensed

under the GPL right now could be
forked and turned into something else.

So if there was like this catastrophic
event where suddenly they were like,

we're bringing WordPress in house, that
last version of WordPress is open source

and you would have, and this is why open
source is great because as long as you can

rally the humans, the humans would come
in and say, we're starting a new project.

Right.

And this is actually happening.

I'm not super educated on it, but Sarah
Gooding, who used to write for the tavern,

she's now writing for another company.

I'm forgetting the name right
now, but Redis, which is

a, I just heard about that.

It decided to, you know, pull out
of the open source software and now

I don't know what licensing they're
on, but that's massive, right?

That's massive.

Any other company would be like, I'd love
to make 1 from every website would be an

immense amount of money because of how
expansive the WordPress ecosystem is.

The, the only, I don't know, I don't
know where to go with this, but like

the only other thing I would say
there is like, how many people in like

the WordPress ecosystem of the one
point, how many, how many we got now?

A billion?

We're not 800, 800 million was
the number recently of websites.

Yeah.

I don't remember what article I think.

I think I saw 800 million and then,
and then maybe some of them are dead.

So maybe there's six or 500
million or something of all those.

What percentage of those do you think
people are using WordPress for because

it's open source versus just using it?

Because what percentage of those people
you think actually care about open source?

So if it went to, that's a crazy event,
but I'm saying that that part of it's

interesting to me, just like the same
thing of like, how many are DIY wires

versus agency based built sites.

And I'm sure the number for
DIY wire is a lot higher.

And, and obviously that, that
triggers a lot of the, the decision

making and the, I don't want to say
marketing necessarily, but like the

actual positioning of the platform
because it is for everyone, right?

It's democratizing it.

So those, those types of numbers and,
and stats are, I think can be extremely

eyeopening because I think somebody
like me, I, I don't, I didn't realize

until recently, there's probably a lot
more DIY websites out there than, Yeah.

I guess this goes full circle
back to, should you care?

This is why I say the, the, the
adventure has to start at, do

you want open source or not?

Because what happens is, is people,
so let me answer your question.

How many people who use WordPress
actually care about open source?

Probably 10 to 15 percent that
know it, who are responsible

for all of those sites.

But the other people who are
using it are, they don't know.

That is open source.

What they do know is that they pay
five, let's say 5 a month from a big web

host or 10 a month from a big web host.

And the only reason they can
pay 5 to 10 a month is because

it is free and open source.

So it's the web hosts that really,
web hosts are largely the ones who

are responsible for getting WordPress
into the globe, across the globe.

Because they do it in mass and
they do it affordably, right?

But they will know, the end users will
know that their bill is going to go

from from 5 to 10 a month to 30 a month.

If suddenly there's some licensing
model behind WordPress, then they will

care, which is going back full circle.

This is why I keep talking about freaking
open source and WordPress, because I

want people to appreciate what WordPress,
what WordPress open source affords them.

It affords them a tool that they
can publish their website or their

thoughts and their blog with.

They can move it around
from web host to web host.

You don't like that web host, you pick
it up, you move it to another web host.

They give you more, you
know, give you more features.

They charge you less, whatever.

You can't do that.

I can't take my iOS and
put it on another phone.

I can't take my Apple phone
and put another iOS on it.

I'm locked in.

That's commercial software.

With open source software,
I have that movement.

I have that affordability.

I have that movement.

It just comes with a
cost of a learning curve.

Right.

It's not sexy.

It's tough.

It's difficult, but it's ours, you
know, and that's why like, you know,

My local area is like federal federal
politics the news the global news I'm

like man, you gotta focus on these
people that are right here in front of

us Let's focus on this and fix this first
and that's how I feel, you know about

open source Like you should appreciate
not you directly mark, but we should

appreciate open source Yeah, obviously
A lot of benefits To open source.

I don't know.

I yeah, I mean just a
lot of thoughts there.

I mean, I don't know if you have let
me go What one more step and then we'll

wrap it up because we're hitting the hour
This is why I'm such a huge proponent

on podcasting because of RSS RSS got its
ass kicked by all the big tech companies

and now you consume content on platforms
platforms that run ads that that mine

your data and You know resell to other
people and lock in that content Imagine

if RSS won, which, which, and the point
of me bringing this up is Matt is a

huge proponent to democratizing the web.

Again, you can get on the fringes and be
like, Oh, you know, does he really, you

can break it down, whatever, but he does.

That is one of the core things.

And it's why I still respect
what he has done and what he

continues to do in that department.

because he is a huge proponent to
understand whatever freedom of speech,

freedom of publishing, you know, I know
you brought up the data portability

project, our data liberation project.

Like that's not, you know, I know on the
surface you look at that and you're like,

Oh God, like they just want to, they
just want to take it from everybody else.

Yeah.

But it's also both, it's both ways.

It is both ways.

He's a huge proponent on that.

So RSS open publishing, very important.

You know, for, for humanity, because then
where do you get your, your information

from if it's all just in Facebook,
Twitter, and social media platforms,

what that doesn't do any of us any good,
there'll, there'll be an algorithm,

there'll be a price of the entry, there'll
be a filter on it, and we're all screwed.

Again, that's why WordPress is so
important because WordPress, every website

has an RSS is built in by default, still
to this day that you can just subscribe

to any WordPress site with an RSS reader.

You know, it's, it's,
it's freaking amazing.

Imagine the world goes dark.

The only way you can communicate
is through a low latency, a low

bandwidth network is going to win.

It's like the QR code had its heyday
come back when the pandemic hit.

Can't touch anything, gotta scan it.

Thank God for the QR code, everyone's
shit on the QR code for years.

That's so stupid.

Look at that thing.

It's ridiculous.

Who's ever gonna do that?

And then the QR code came back.

Remember me?

Like, you guys can't touch these menus.

You gotta scan this thing.

Right?

RSS is like the same thing, man.

It's, it's there and it's gonna be
one of the most important things.

It's the most important thing
in, in, in podcasting for sure.

But it should be back
in content publishing.

Fediverse, etc, etc.

Again, I'm not this diehard.

About it because it's a
lot of technical stuff.

I don't know, but I know I, I vote
with that because it gives us the most

freedom and movement as humans with
our content and our communication and

our communication speechless, man.

I mean, I mean, that has nothing to
do with, you know, can I make money

with my WordPress business this way?

But again, this is why it all
starts up up here for me picking,

do I want an open source thing
or do I want a commercial thing?

Go commercial if you do it, you know,
if, depending on what it is that you

need, I get, I'm excited to know about
Webflow next week with not Sam Smith,

Sam Harris, and a lot of, I guess her
friends at 10 up and Brad Miller and

he hit me up the other day, he's like,
you want to be in the Webflow group?

I'm like, no, I want to be in the Webflow.

I don't want to be in the Webflow group.

What the hell do I want to
be in the Webflow group for?

And he's like, Oh, we've been
using Webflow at 10 up and

it's a, you know, it's a great
solution for certain customers.

Okay, well that's telling.

Hmm.

You know, if a open source agency
built off a lot of historic things

in the WordPress space is starting
to explore Webflow makes sense from a

business, but I love my open source.

I'll be really interested
to hear that perspective.

I've watched some other Webflow content
and I know some agencies that have

kind of adopted it here and there makes
sense from a simplicity standpoint, but.

In certain ways, but yeah, I'm in the
open source side of it, you know, not

so sure, but again, I mean, at a high
level to wrap like the, to wrap kind of

like a lot of, you know, what you said
and what we talked about here is like,

if WordPress is going that way and like
with core and Gutenberg and everything

like that, and we're building for, you
know, you know, that editor at its core

kind of is being built like pseudo for
DIY and obviously simple, but extendable.

Then I think if we just understand that
too, as agencies and other users of

WordPress, then there's always going
to be other tools to use, you know,

Elementor, Bricks, Divi, whatever, XYZ.

I, I think that's still going to be a
win, you know, it's going to be still the

best platform for a long time, assuming
none of those things that we kind of,

you know, those crazy events that we
talked about here change, you know, and

I'm, I'm definitely optimistic on it.

It's just, I always wanted to
see it continue to get better.

And that's the only thing I would
say is a lot of times when people

are critiquing, I think we're,
we're doing it from a place of.

Love, ultimately, and, and goodwill,
even though if it's not presented,

always the best, and Yeah.

That's just, I don't know.

I'm excited to see where it goes.

This is a great community
to be a part of, for sure.

Mark Szymanski, where can
folks find you to say thanks?

If you just go to MJ Bio, it's kind of
like a, all my links there, my socials,

and sign up for my newsletter if you want,
if I ever send anything out of there.

Working on a website.

So, more content coming soon.

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