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The WordPress Mass Exodus

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The WordPress Mass Exodus
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Conversation has been ramping up about who WordPress is for, and who it leaves out. Community members are speaking up about why they are choosing to abandon the CMS for other systems. In this episode, Brian Coords talks to Nyasha Green about how the WordPress market disparity is challenging, but not dismantling, user loyalty.

This podcast was sponsored by LearnDash. Your expertise makes you money doing what you do. Now let it make you money teaching what you do. Create a course with LearnDash. Visit LearnDash.com.

Press the Issue is a production of MasterWP. It was produced by Allie Nimmons. It was hosted and edited 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.

Episode Transcript:

Monet Davenport:
Welcome to Press the Issue, a podcast for Master WP, your source for industry insights for WordPress professionals. Get show notes, transcripts, and more information about the show at
masterwp.com/presstheissue. Conversation has been ramping up about who WordPress is for and who it leaves out. Community members are speaking up about why they are choosing to abandon the CMS for other systems. In this episode, Brian Coords talks to Nyasha Green about how the WordPress market disparity is challenging, but not dismantling, user loyalty.

Nyasha Green:
Hey, Brian, how are you doing today?

Brian Coords:
Good. How are you doing?

Nyasha Green:
Doing well, doing well. It’s almost Friday, so very happy. But I’m very excited to talk with you today.
About one of your articles. You wrote one about the WordPress exodus and it’s called My So-Called
WordPress Mass Exodus. Really loved this article. Really, really, really in tune with what’s going on with Twitter and other social media with people talking about how they want to leave. Can you talk a little bit more about why you wrote the article?

Brian Coords:
Yeah. So when I started writing this article, there were a lot of tweet threads going viral of people
saying, “I’m done with WordPress because I’m trying to do X and it’s not working for me. And I’m out of here.” And so there was this constant stream of just different examples of it. And part of me feels like when things are happening on Twitter, it’s not real life. And it’s always the extremes that you see. It’s always the crazy versions of things that you see. And so I wanted to comment on that. But also I think there is some justifiable complaints, or not even complaints. But just concerns people have. And we’re always wanting to think critically about WordPress and where the ecosystem is going. So that was what stuck out to me.

Brian Coords:
The other piece of it is that I live in California and everyone in California knows that there’s a constant conversation about people leaving. Whether it’s like famous rich people like Elon Musk or Joe Rogan or whatever. Just, I mean, people I know who are constantly getting out of California to move to Texas or Idaho where the rent is a little cheaper or they can have a little more room or whatever it is. So it’s one of those things where it’s a big conversation, but it also like doesn’t affect 99% of your real day to day life. So I just thought it would be fun to bring those two things together.

Nyasha Green:
Well, I love the comparison between a WordPress exodus and a California one. Because I am newer to WordPress than a lot of other people in the community. And I don’t see any big things with the new changes that’s making me want to leave. And I also am a big fan of California and I really want to move there. So are we the ones that are just not in our right minds? What do you think?

Brian Coords:
I love California. I’ve lived in a bunch of different parts of it because California it’s so different. There’s so many like different pieces of it. And that actually is like a good metaphor for WordPress where like living in the Bay Area of California is nowhere the same as living in San Diego or living in the inland desert or there’s these crazy backwards parts of far Northern California that don’t even call themselves California. They have like a different name for themselves and a different flag. So there’s just so many… That’s a whole other topic. There’s just so many different versions of it. And WordPress is the same way. But at the same time, it’s beautiful and there’s a reason so many people want to live here. And so I think the comparison to WordPress maybe is pretty apt.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah, I agree. So we’re talking about a lot of complaints and people talking about they want to leave. Do you think WordPress is stagnant?

Brian Coords:
Yeah. So that was the first collection of things that I had seen. There was a lot of people who just feel like things aren’t moving, things aren’t changing. The tech industry is always meant to feel like whatever you were doing yesterday is obsolete and out of date and you better jump on the next new thing. So we love seeing progress. We love seeing new shiny things. So a lot of people like to complain that’s how WordPress is. I think there was also just through the COVID era, we’ve seen so many different things.

Brian Coords:
A lot of the big name writers and bloggers and WordPress have moved on to different industries. You know, the big push for acquisitions and companies getting acquired every other day has really slowed down. That’s been not a big thing and we’re starting to see layoffs and all that stuff. And so I don’t know if stagnant is the best word, although a lot of people were saying that. But it there’s definitely a shift in the industry that people are feeling very sensitive to. And these shifts come along sometimes and things change. And we’re going to start seeing probably hopefully some new voices and new companies and things take that next wave.

Nyasha Green:
Yeah. Yeah. And I know you talk a little bit in your article about how it seems like this big…. Well, people have talked about leaving in the past when WordPress 5.0 happened, and this is reminiscent of that. What do you think it is? Or some of the things about 6.0 that has people like rehashing their want to leave right now?

Brian Coords:
Yeah. So the 6.0 release, in one way, it’s just another release and that’s a lot of us are trained when we see a big number, like 6.0, we maybe subconsciously expect big things and that’s not how WordPress works. Every release is just the next few months of progress. But a lot of the progress has really been about full site editing. And most of what WordPress does right now is focus on making that experience better. But if you don’t use that tool, which a lot of people don’t. Because it’s a very cool, but it’s not really useful for every situation. It’s useful for a good amount of situations. If you’re not using full site editing your experience with WordPress just looks the same as it did five years ago.

Brian Coords:
You’re basically seeing the same things. The post editor is new and it’s different. But most of the rest of WordPress really hasn’t changed in the last few years. And I think 6.0 was another thing where it was like, “Okay, if I’m doing full sight editing, these are some cool, incremental changes and stuff. But this feature is not done yet. It was supposed to be, but it’s not. It’s way more complicated than we’re all expecting it to be. And it’s a very hard problem to solve and is going to take a lot more effort than I think anybody initially thought. And if I’m not part of it, then what’s really happening in WordPress for me in this latest release. Not to say that there’s nothing. But there’s maybe not as much as sometimes we’re used to.”

Monet Davenport:
Thank you for listening up to this point, Press the Issue by Master WP 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. Master WP is sponsored by Cloudways. Cloudways managed hosting ensures that your sites get the performance boost they deserve. It offers you fast speeds, uptime, and manage security at affordable rates. Learn more at Cloudways.com. Master WP is also sponsored by Weglot. Discover a way to translate your WordPress site that’s easy to install compatible with all themes and plugins implements, multilingual SEO, and translates your site with machine translation with full post editing control, learn more at weglot.com. That’s W-E-G-L-O-T.com. Now, back to the podcast.

Nyasha Green:
I know you also mentioned that it seems like not just getting a little bit out of the actual code and
features. But the community, it seems like a lot of people are just having trouble wanting to stay. Of
course, we know COVID played a big part of that. But also, as you mentioned earlier, we have people leaving publications and then local meetups, you mentioned, we’re having trouble getting people back. How much do you think that the lack of changes or the focus on just specific areas is playing into that, to the community feelings?

Brian Coords:
Yeah. The community one is hard because, obviously, the lack of in-person meetings and conferences
has gotten, has really affected things. I think everybody hit like digital conference fatigue at a certain
point where watching a bunch of recorded videos of conferences just didn’t really do it for people after a certain point. Unless, like WP Engine, you get a DJ to boost up the energy level. So it’s hard to separate that from like what’s been going on. I think there has to be some push to start seeing local meetups, again. Getting people, just talking. That’s really how new people join is they, they go to local meetups and you can ask questions and people are just there to help. And just there to share knowledge and you can go to the smaller Word Camps.

Brian Coords:
Like my local one was Word Camp, Orange County, which hasn’t been around for the last few years. But it was such a great opportunity to just hang out with people. A lot of WordPress developers, sometimes you’re the only person at your job who’s doing this. And all the people you work with are in different departments. And so being able to go to a meetup or something is your one chance to nerd out on WordPress stuff. I mean, we don’t have that issue. We’re luckily a team of developers. But I know a lot of people and a lot of times in my past where I’m the one guy at the organization working on the website. And you just like, “Nobody knows what I do and there’s nobody to talk to about it. And nobody to get excited about it with.” And so I think hopefully we’ll start seeing those sorts of things come back. And there’s just never going to be a replacement for being in the same room with people. As soon as we get to a place where we can do that again.

Nyasha Green:
Playing off that, because I know we talked about community is very important in being around likeminded people. Do you think part of the reason people are feeling like they need to leave is that the target market is too big.

Brian Coords:
Yeah. That’s been another topic that people have where they say WordPress is trying to be so many
things to so many people. That at a certain point, you hit whatever 40% of the internet is WordPress. At a certain point, that’s going to stall out because you can’t be all things to all people. You can’t just be this thing that is going to solve everybody’s problems. And what we’re seeing is that there’s these very specific things that are really good at solving one problem that are doing really well. So it’s Shopify for ecommerce stores. And it’s Substack for newsletters. And it’s Ghost for content creators. And these very specific platforms can do really well because they are proprietary. They’re completely controlled by one company. They can just funnel tons of venture capital money into growth, those sorts of things.

Brian Coords:
WordPress just doesn’t work that way. WordPress is open source and it’s owned by everybody who’s a part of it and that wants to contribute to it. And so at a certain point, we’re going to see all these different directions that it wants to go. But the beauty of WordPress is when it pulls that off well and you can use it for anything. But it may not be the best solution for that one thing that you’re trying to do.

Nyasha Green:
So with that being said, do you think WordPress is still the best choice for a development agency?

Brian Coords:
I would say that in 99% of situations, WordPress is still going to be the best choice. Because the thing about WordPress, I think, that’s the most important part of it is not really the actual core software of WordPress, which is great and is useful. But it’s really the ecosystem and the community. And if you were to walk away from WordPress and go move to some other platform and stuff, it’s like leaving where you live or it’s like leaving a religion or something where you’re just now you have to come redo everything from scratch. Whether it’s how you do contact forms to what hosting companies you use to all this stuff.

Brian Coords:
And there’s so much that is so good about the entire ecosystem and all the relationships and all the
community things that you join and the online groups and the blogs and all that stuff. And it’s to walk away from all of that, just for a few better features or a little bit of better performance, to me, is just not worth it, at this point. I would much rather just stay here and try to make it better and find ways to energize the community and just stand up for WordPress.

Nyasha Green:
Awesome. I agree. I have my issues with WordPress, but I have no intention on leaving and I am coming to California. I know you mentioned Trader Joe is getting crowded. We could just carpool. We’ll make it work. We’ll make California work. We’ll make WordPress work. I’m ready. I’m ready for it.

Brian Coords:
I think all of WordPress is coming to California for Word Camp US this year. So I’m definitely looking
forward to that. They picked San Diego, which is in my opinion, the best part of California, by a long
shot. I think I could never go to Los Angeles again. But San Diego where I used to live there and it’s the perfect city. So I’m super excited about that. So we’re going to flood California with some WordPress energy.

Nyasha Green:
Yes. And it’s going to be so great. And so what you’re telling me is I should house hunt at Word Camp too, like after hours. That’s what you’re telling me.

Brian Coords:
Yeah. If you can house hunt in San Diego… Yeah. Good luck. Oh man. But yes, you should definitely. I’m going to show you all the best neighborhoods. The best part about San Diego is there’s the nice big downtown tourist neighborhood. And then there’s the real San Diego and there’s so many cool
neighborhoods and coffee shops and craft breweries and all that outdoor patios and all that great stuff. So yeah, definitely we’ll house hunt. We’ll craft beer hunt and we’ll find one of the classic donut shops or something.

Nyasha Green:
Great. Great. I can’t wait. Well, Brian, it’s been so great speaking with you today and I’m ready to see
what WordPress does and I’m ready to see if people will stay, leave and I’m ready to see what happens next.

Brian Coords:
Thanks. It was really great talking to you.

Monet Davenport:
Thank you for listening to this episode. Press the Issue is a production of Master WP 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