In our final episode of the year, producer Allie Nimmons takes you through the highlights of her favorite episodes, with a glimpse into why they stand out. We really hope that you enjoy our final episode of 2022, and we cannot wait to press more into issues with you in 2023.
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Listen to the episodes mentioned in this episode:
- A Look Back at WordCamp US 2022
- How Other Open Source Projects Raise Money
- Screen Readers and Beyond: How Web Accessibility Makes Lives Better
- Toxic Scorekeeping: The Case Against ‘Five for the Future’
- Is Working from Home a Trap for Women
- Does Market Share Matter?
- How Did the Pandemic Affect WordPress Contributors?
Welcome to Press the Issue, a podcast for MasterWP, your source for industry insights for WordPress professionals. Get show notes, transcripts, and more information about the show at masterwp.com/presstheissue. Press the Issue by MasterWP is sponsored by LearnDash. Your exp...
Welcome to Press the Issue, a podcast for MasterWP, your source for industry insights for WordPress professionals. Get show notes, transcripts, and more information about the show at masterwp.com/presstheissue. Press the Issue by MasterWP is sponsored by LearnDash. Your expertise makes you money doing what you do, now let it make you money teaching what you do. To create a course with LearnDash visit learndash.com. Our mission at MasterWP is to bring new voices into WordPress and tech every day. The new MasterWP Workshop series does just that. Our new live and recorded workshops on everything from code, to design, to business turn WordPress fans into WordPress experts. Find the workshop for you at workshops.masterwp.com. Use the code Podcast 10 for a 10% discount.
Hi, I’m Allie Nimmons, and I’m the producer of this podcast, Press the Issue. We launched this podcast on June 1st of this year, 2022, and in the past six months, we’ve produced 25 unique episodes all about issues that we wanted to explore in WordPress, open source, and beyond. In our final episode of the year, I’m going to take you through the highlight of my favorite episodes, with a glimpse into why they stand out to me. I really hope that you enjoy our final episode of 2022, and we cannot wait to press more into issues with you in 2023.
One of the biggest things to happen in WordPress this year was the first back to in-person WordCamp US since 2019, and so this episode definitely feels like a highlight to me. In it, we took a different approach to our usual episode structure, and had multiple team members weigh in on what made the event so special for them. For me, it felt like a homecoming, so I loved hearing others talk about this event being their introduction to WordPress events. Here’s Devin Egger talking about how this camp was his first, and what that was like for him.
I was really excited to go to this, and the opportunity to meet so many people in-person in the WordPress space was just so exciting and so awesome to meet. So many people that I’ve either worked with online, or met online, or watched their videos, or taken their classes, it was just an awesome opportunity to meet these people in-person. And getting the chance to see everyone face-to-face really sets in the idea that it’s a community, and that we’re all a part of this WordPress community, and a good reminder that we’re really all in this together, and we’re all here because we dig WordPress, and we’re all about the same thing.
So my least favorite thing coming back from WordCamp US actually came after the fact, and when I got home and I realized that all the workshops in the surf room weren’t actually recorded and available for future playback, and I just didn’t have enough time to go see all the things that I wanted to see, and get to attend all the events and the sections that I wanted to go to. And so I was really hoping when I got back home that I’d be able to catch the workshops that I missed, and just a little bit bummed that I didn’t get to do that. But that being said, the ones that I did get to go to and participate in were very educational, and I learned a lot more than I expected going into it. So I’m happy that I did get to go see the ones I got to see, and I’m really excited to go to my next WordCamp.
So much about producing this podcast has been about finding hard questions to answer, and in the WordPress world, we aren’t short on those. I wanted us to look at things like the economics of WordPress, things we struggle with as an open source community, accountability, and all that kind of stuff. So in this topic, looking at how other open source projects make money, is a great summary of what Press the Issue was all about this year. In this clip from the episode, Brian Cords and Rob Howard, look at an example of Vue versus WordPress, and how each one handles producing content and information from a financial perspective.
When you look at Vue, how do you see their ability to be very popular in the open source world, but also very clearly an opinionated private… A lot of private interests in that group. Do you see the similarities or differences between Vue and WordPress?
Yeah, I mean, I think from a code standpoint, they largely are similar in their philosophies and what they’re building. And I think, again, there’s this just acceptance within the vue.js world, that, “Hey, we have sponsors paying for stuff, here they are. We want you to be a sponsor, here’s where you can type in your credit card number to be a sponsor.” So they make it just very easy. Again, the approach of accepting money, it just makes everything more efficient. But of course, the flip side of that is then once you accept that money, you have to have a mechanism for accounting for it in a way that the community can accept as fair. So I think that probably is maybe the hardest part psychologically, is saying, “Okay, if somebody gives me a million dollars to help with WordPress, now I have to show that I’m using it in a way that is legit and fair.” And actually, there’s quite a bit of work associated with that.
One of the biggest problems facing WordPress right now, from my perspective at least, is how we handle accessibility. I’ll give an honorable mention to our How Accessible is WordPress episode, which basically took an hour to say not accessible enough. But something that I wanted Press the Issue to do is to pose solutions to problems as much as it identifies and asks questions about them. Here’s Teron Bullock and Devin Egger’s Screen Readers and Beyond, How Web Accessibility Makes Lives Better. In this episode, they talk about the issues with WordPress accessibility, and the work still yet to be done. So let’s listen to a bit of that.
Why can’t I just maybe make the website black and white, or puts a button in there that toggles the experience or something? Why isn’t that enough? What would you say to that particular web developer? Do you think that the tools, and thinking about it basically from the bare minimum mindset is enough?
I don’t, because first of all, there’s a lot more work to be done. I think that’s one of the bigger points is that I don’t think we’re ever done thinking about accessibility, and… Just for example, in my article, I talk a lot about website accessibility, but that’s not even going into the idea of authoring tools being accessible, and one of the people’s qualms with WordPress, is that it’s not exactly very accessible as an authoring tool. I didn’t have time to get into that in the article because it was already way too long, but there’s a lot more work to be done.
And if we’re always taking a retroactive stance to it instead of a proactive stance, so if we’re always playing catch-up, then I don’t think we’re really doing anything justice, because we’re not really thinking about it in the right way. And I think the right way to think about it is just to look at your website that you’re building. And again, whether you’re a designer, or whether you’re a content writer, or whether you’re a developer, there’s a chance for you to sit down and look at the thing that you’re creating, and go, “Well, what if I couldn’t use my arms? What if I didn’t understand things quite as well as people…”
The disabilities that are more overlooked, such as cognitive abilities, or learning abilities. Like I said earlier, it’s easier to just close your eyes and think, “How would I interact with this website?” But if you’re making a website that has this crazy design, that one thing’s over here, and one thing’s way over there, and the typical buttons are not in the typical places, and this button is really small, or whatever, those are all things that we don’t really think about in typical website accessibility, like adding alt tags, or adding visually hidden elements that are screen reader only elements. The organization and the structure of the website is not something we always think about, but it’s also very important.
The MasterWP team has come under a bit of fire this year for attempting to kind of shatter some rose-colored lenses when it comes to WordPress. In this episode, which was honestly a bit nerve-wracking for me to publish, myself and Rob Howard discussed the case against the Five for the Future Initiative. I’m really proud of this episode, because I think we tackled a complex problem, and pick apart our issues with it, as well as pose resolutions that sit right with us as invested community members. Here’s a bit of that episode.
It’s very difficult to unpack and navigate even who works for whom in a lot of these situations. So I think that that is not necessarily an issue that is at all solely related to Five for the Future, but I think that that need for more clarity all around also applies to this question of, well, is this 5% number an appropriate thing for us to be measuring and keeping track of?
Yeah. And I think about it too like, “Is this Five for the Future thing appropriate for everyone?” I think there’s value in an individual looking at it like, “Okay, yeah, this is something that I can work toward. If I decide I’m going to start with 1%, then next month I’ll try for 2%, and something to build toward as far as making the time to contribute.” That’s not the same experience as a giant company like GoDaddy to look at, and say, “Well, maybe we should do that too.” Sometimes I wonder if Five for the Future should be something that is aspirational to individuals, and there’s maybe a different system of accountability for larger companies and organizations, because I think what we owe to WordPress is different.
As a woman who has worked from home since 2016, I feel very attached to, and fond of this next episode. It’s Nyasha Green and Sammi Sim, Is Work From Home A Trap for Women. It’s an extremely thoughtful and introspective episode about some of the emotional aspects of being a woman in tech in 2022. This episode helped me understand a lot about how working from home benefits me, and makes my life harder. So here’s a bit of Nyasha and Sammi sharing their thoughts about how culture affects women and their work.
I think a lot of how I feel and what I do is because of my upbringing. Some people may relate, but for me, culturally, the expectations started at an early age. I think we were always just taught that we always needed to tend to household chores, cooking, cleaning, while still always taking care of everyone around us. It becomes overwhelming, because it just seems like it’s out of habit, you can’t help but to naturally feel this way.
Yeah, I definitely understand that. Just a little bit about me, I was raised in… I still live in the Southern United States, so the culture here is that women do household chores, women take care of children, some women don’t work, but in this day and age, especially financially, you’re expected to do all of that and your household chores and taking care of people, and things like that. And ever since I was a child, it really did seem like a trap for me, watching my mother work 12-hour shifts at a factory, and still having to cook, bathe us, do our hair, watching my grandmother, or listening to stories of her be a full-time housekeeper while raising nine children, especially when my grandfather passed away, it just always seemed like a, “No, I don’t think I can do that.” To me. How much of your culture do you think played into that?
I think a lot of it. Even now as an adult, I think those expectations still sit very high, especially from the men in my family. I still get up, and make sure I get my kids ready, bring them to school, and I come home and I do a little bit of chores. I log into work, I’m working, and then I still have to make sure I have dinner. It’s almost like it’s expected of me, and if I wasn’t doing it, I’m not doing what I need to do as a mother, as a wife.
There are things I know a lot about when it comes to WordPress, and there are things that go right over my head. When it comes to economics, market share, business, all those sorts of enterprise level, long-term businessy focused topics, I struggle. But thankfully, because we share the load here at Press the Issue, there are other people, aside from me, ready and available to talk about these things with a level of expertise. In this episode, Rob and Brian team up again to discuss whether market share in WordPress really matters. Here’s a bit of that episode.
It’s really hard, so if you look at Shopify, they were zooming during the pandemic, everybody thought that they were the future. And in many ways, that’s true, they did have a ton of success, they still have grown a lot, but if you look at their stock price, because their growth has slowed down, everyone started selling their stock. So even if they have the correct mindset, they’re still constrained by this need to grow fast so investors buy your stuff. So I think that is just one of the downsides of being a public company. Certainly WordPress benefits from, number one, not having too many public companies who were stuck in that quarterly mindset.
One of the main goals when we started this podcast was to take a wide sweeping view of WordPress topics in more highly produced editorial style episodes, as opposed to the more common conversational style. This episode was the first one that we did in that style, and it’s probably the episode that I’m personally most proud of. The editing by Monet Davenport and Teron Bullock absolutely shines in this episode, and I’m able to explore a seriously important topic with other members of the community. Here’s veteran WordPress developer and event organizer, David Bisset, sharing his perspective on how the pandemic affected WordPress events, and what we can learn from that experience.
So how did the move to virtual affect people’s relationship with creating and using WordPress software?
I had someone tell me that, “Thanks to seeing people from Taiwan on the meetup.” And the people from Taiwan giving comments that they would… These people, it helped them appreciate that the plug-in they were developing or writing, they maybe should add some additional translations or features to make it easier to use, just because they heard other WordPress people on the meet-up from another country.
What kinds of effects, in terms of challenges, came to organizing within the pandemic experience?
So while there is a drop-off on our meet-ups, there’s always the same core people that you see every time, some of them only have one or two hours to spare a month just to be there sitting and listening. As a volunteer and an organizer, I don’t think we should ever take that for granted. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any challenges, however, I would probably say that virtual meet-ups there, there’s a struggle sometimes some of the instructional experience, some tutorials and walkthroughs from speakers could be better in-person. But on a positive note, thanks to the virtual meet-ups, organizers are able to secure speakers that specialize in skills. So the person that wrote this plug-in, or the person that’s worked on WordPress core, they can virtually speak to the meet-up.
Thank you so much for listening with me. Please let us know on Twitter what your favorite episode of Press the Issue was this year, what kind of topics and issues you’d like us to explore next year, and we’ll see you in 2023.
Thank you for listening to this episode. Press the Issue is a production of MasterWP, produced by Allie Nimmons, hosted, edited, and musically supervised by Monet Davenport, and mixed and mastered by Teron Bullock. Please visit masterwp.com/presstheissue to find more episodes. Subscribe to our newsletter for more WordPress news at masterwp.com.