WordPress Governance Project Launch

The WordPress Governance Project kicks off on January 15, 1600 UTC with a one hour meeting in The WordPress Governance Project Slack channel. The meeting will be conducted and moderated by provisionary team leads Rachel Cherry and Morten Rand-Hendriksen.

What is the WordPress Governance Project?

First announced at WordCamp US 2018, the WordPress Governance Project is an initiative spearheaded by Rachel Cherry and Morten Rand-Hendriksen.

The purpose of this project is to explore:

  1. the governance of the WordPress open source project and its various community components, and
  2. WordPress’ role in the governance of the open web including representation in forums where decisions about the web platform and the Internet are made.

The scope of stage 1 of the WordPress Governance Project is WordPress and its communities. Stage 2 of the project will focus on how WordPress can take part in the governance and evolution of the wider web through policy and representation.

Why is this necessary?

The WordPress Governance Project will aim to answer who “we” are and who “we” represent.

WordPress powers +32.7% of the web. Every decision made by WordPress is a decision made on behalf of those users and has a significant impact on the web as a whole. Because of this footprint, the onus is on WordPress and its contributors to ensure decisions are made in a transparent and accessible way and that governance structures are concrete, transparent, and understandable. In short, it has to be possible for anyone to find an answer to the question “who are the deciders”.

To be able to take part in the larger conversation about the governance of the web platform, the open web, and the Internet, WordPress first needs to clarify its principles through an exploration of what necessary conditions need to be in place for it to meet its goal of “democratizing publishing.” With such principles in place, representatives can be selected and sent to decision makers (governing organizations like W3C, government representatives, etc) to speak on behalf of WordPress and its millions of users.

To claim our seat at the table, we must first know what we stand for and where we want to take the web and the Internet.

For more context, view the announcement of the project as part of @mor10’s session at WordCamp US 2018.

How will this project unfold?

The goal of the WordPress Governance Project is to propose a governance model for WordPress at or before WordCamp Europe 2019 or the 2019 Community Summit (if such an event takes place).

The project will research existing governance models from within the open web community as well as local and international organizations, corporations, and government.

What is the scope of this project?

The scope of the WordPress Governance Project, stage 1, includes:

  • Propose a set of principles based on, and defining the necessary conditions for, the core philosophy of the WordPress open source project: To democratize publishing through free, open source software.
  • Propose a leadership and governance model for the WordPress open source project and its communities.
  • Propose a model for electing or appointing representatives to speak on behalf of WordPress and its users in forums where decisions are made which impact WordPress and its users.

The project will provide a model for policy making, decision making, oversight, and accountability within the WordPress project. This may include solidifying existing governance structures in teams, introducing new governance structures for parts of or the entire project, and / or creating new governance roles and responsibilities.

The scope of the WordPress Governance Project does not include replacing or reducing existing leadership or introducing democratic voting on features and other decisions within the WordPress project or community.

Will WordPress governance mean someone can make decisions about what I can and cannot do with WordPress?

Short answer: No.

Long answer, WordPress is an open source project published under the GPL which grants you the Four Freedoms. This will not change.

The WordPress Governance Project aims to introduce transparent and accountable governance structures to the WordPress project to make it more accessible and bring clarity to decision making processes. It also aims to create the necessary structures for WordPress and its users to be properly represented in the many groups and spaces where decisions are made which directly impact you as a WordPress user.

Can you impose a governance model on WordPress?

Once the WordPress Governance Project puts forward its proposal for governance of the WordPress project, it is up to the current leadership, and the community at large, to decide whether to adopt the new model.

Join the Conversation

6 Comments

  1. Since WordPress.org is a nonprofit corporation, governance is also up to the IRS and the state government where incorporated. There are many strict laws and regulations that concern nonprofit corporations, especially when there are overlaps with for profit activities (as is the case with WordPress and its ecosystem of creative agencies, theme builders, plug-in developers and hosting companies.

    1. Hi Graham! If successful, you would’ve received a confirmation email as it is a double opt-in mailing list. Check your spam folder. If you didn’t receive an email, I’d try the form again.

  2. very good to hear this, i recently made a video on this topic on my youtube chanel and claimed that matt and his developers shouldnt be making these decisions quite simply because it involves too many websites, it needed to up to more people and a higher panel. Really glad to hear this

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