What does “governance” mean to you?

The goal of this project is to define what governance can look like for WordPress. An important part of that process is to clearly define what “governance” means in a WordPress context.

A good place to start that conversation is by discussing what the term “governance” means to each of us. When you hear someone say the word “governance”, how do you understand that term?

Let’s have that conversation. You can leave your thoughts in the comments below, or write a blog post on your favored site and leave the link to your thoughts in the comments below.

What does “governance” mean to you? Share your thoughts and see what others think!

Join the Conversation


  1. Control over the decisions and who makes the decisions.

    WordPress.org is about democratising publishing. I hope the WP Governance project can democratise WordPress.org

    I hope that we can break the taboo and talk frankly about Matt Mullenweg’s / A8C’s control and influence on the WordPress.org project.

    Let’s build healthy relationships with flag-pole sponsors but retain autonomy. Let’s build a roadmap for the future with transparency and accountability at its core. Let’s have the community lead this project.

  2. Governance means the procedure for making decisions, who gets to make decisions, how decisions are carried out, and what happens to people who don’t abide by the decisions or otherwise disrupt the community.

  3. Governance is how a person or group chooses to run a project. It’s also the structures and processes they set up to make various goals possible.

    I believe good governance should achieve the following goals:

    Make rational decisions that are good for the long-term health of the project, rather than short-term, reactionary additions and fixes.

    Encourage the project’s leaders and contributors to act positively and intentionally rather than reverting to instinctive, tribal, or otherwise negative modes of thought, communication, and action.

    Onboard new contributors, finding the right place for their talents and making them feel welcome.

    Provide ways to report issues with these processes and structures if they fall short, so that they can be improved.

    Be obvious about all of the above. Almost all areas of the project should have clear, accurate, and public answers to questions about how they get things done, or how they’re structured and why.

  4. I think governance at it relates to the WordPress community is treading/breaking new ground. A distributed project which is trans-national, cross-cultural, cross-language and much else is not only ambitious but comes with complex cultural baggage. Governance traditionally has some natural scope, and WordPress governance goes well beyond that. So traditional governance models may need to be extended, modified and even created for the purpose of WordPress.

    Governance in the traditional sense means making decisions in a consistent, well-documented, transparent and democratic way. Governance also allows for a change process to occur that is also well-documented and transparent.

    I think it is also instructive to identify what governance is in the context of an open source project, and what it is not.

    Governance takes time and patience. It can feel like a development process like coding, but sometimes there isn’t a binary “this works” or “this doesn’t work.” This may explain why developers hate the idea of governance, as many feel “code is law” rather than actual law.

    Governance deals with nasty human issues like equality or addressing unfair/unsafe practices. Good governance can literally save people from death. Bad governance can create red-tape and unnecessary bureaucracy.

    But to me governance for WordPress means creating an innovative way to ensure that people in the volunteer base of WordPress (coders, community organizers, evangelists, etc) are treated as an extension of the WordPress development process. Something that is just as important as the code (if not more so in some cases) rather than a necessary “bottleneck.”

    I am sure many will agree it is the WordPress community that got WordPress where it is, rather than quality or the innovation of the code base. The community has to be involved in the continued evolution of the code, the marketing, the use cases and the adoption path. And that means the WordPress community has be at the table, appropriately represented in the decision making process all along the way, and be able to be appropriately promoted/rewarded for participating.

    With the technology we have at our fingertips, and the international breadth of the community, the opportunity for such global governance of such an important movement in publishing is an opportunity too good to pass up.

  5. In lay terms, Governance is most easily described as the political processes (small P) that exist in and between formal institutions. The issue here though is in and between formal and informal institutions.

    So, is the word “Governance” the correct description of the problem you want to solve?

    Or, is it just a portmanteau word for trying to figure out what’s currently going on in the WordPress ecosystem, and perhaps the thought that several elected heads managing the public interest element, might be better than none?

    Either way, I would like to get a clear understanding of what you mean by “Governance”, and why you thought it a good idea to lead us in this direction.

    What do you think needs Governance, and what do you think can be accomplished with it, and what form of governance is necessary for that outcome?

  6. Governance is alway present, even implicit. Governance is amoral. None way/form of governance does guarantee good results. Governance is not new.

    Governance is about decisions. Is the structure that facilitates the implementation of the decisions, and is the way to how the decisions are made.
    Not is about democracy (but could include it), not is about representation (but could include it), not is about analysis / paralysis, (but could include it).
    Governance is The Agreement, is the way we agree how we collaborate, behave, support, WordPress.

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