In this episode, WordPress’s Executive Director, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, answers two recently asked questions. Tune in to hear what those questions were and her response, in addition to this week’s small list of big things.
Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to [email protected], either written or as a voice recording.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:10
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:40
So I was in a meeting recently, which I realize isn’t saying much for me since I spend a quarter of my time in meetings. But in this particular meeting, I was asked a couple of questions that I absolutely loved. The first question was, “if there were one thing you could change in people’s minds about WordPress, what would it be?” And my answer, predictable though it may be, was that I want to change the idea that WordPress is just a blogging platform.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 01:06
WordPress has grown into a lot more than that. But the idea of a content management system, even now, sometimes gets a mental shorthand where content is a stand-in for the word writing or words. If you’re using WordPress today in an enterprise context, or as part of a governmental agency, or if you use it in a classroom setting, you know that your content cannot be confined that way. And if you’re supporting or building anything to hand off to clients, you know that timely, easy-to-ship changes on a site are considered a vital part of any overarching brand and marketing strategy. And when was the last time that any marketing strategy was literally only about the words?
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 01:51
So that was the first question. And also my first answer. There is also this kind of annual, not fear, necessarily, but this annual question that is sort of related that is raised to me and has been asked of me recently, that I’m just going to give you a small answer to. One annual worry that I get every year around November and December is, “What are we going to do about the fact that the term blog and blogging are declining in search popularity?” And I was gonna say it’s been a while since I answered that in any sort of public format. But I think maybe I’ve never answered it in a public format at all. And so I’m just going to answer it here. Because I think maybe a lot of people have that same question.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 02:36
So number one, I think that the way that people search now is different. There’s a lot more semantic cognition. This is not the way to answer this — search engines are smarter now. So like, it used to be the case with early search engines that yeah, there was a lot of just like, individual search terms that were looked for. But now, people are asking full questions; they have, essentially, an entire sentence that they are searching for. And then, search engines are able to parse that information better and get more high-quality answers and information for them. So like, that’s one thing that I’m already not worried about. If people are searching for individual words anymore, it’s so that they can get a definition of that word. So I’m not specifically worried about a decline in search volume for the word blog or blogging for that reason. But the answer to my first question, if there is probably the real reason that I’m not actually super worried about any decline in search volume for the word blog, or blogging, is that WordPress has really moved beyond that. And since we have moved beyond that, then it doesn’t necessarily make sense for WordPress as an entity for WordPress as a project to get overly hung up on the idea that the term blog has gone out of fashion.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 03:52
Okay, now that I did my first question, and the answer, and then an additional question that only ever gets asked in private and is being answered by me for the first time in public, I will tell you now, the second question that I loved, someone asking of me, and that question is this: “What is one thing you’d like people to see or experience, right when they first land on wordpress.org?” Now, I often don’t get asked questions about the wordpress.org website, like administrative tasks, things that we need to update, move around where they should go. Sure. But like, “Josepha, what’s the point and purpose of this site?” Never. I’ve never been asked that, and so I was really excited that someone asked me, and I’m going to give you a heads up. I think some of you might disagree with my answer.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 04:40
So the primary thing that I want people to see or experience when they first get to wordpress.org, the website is the depth of WordPress. Not which audience segment they should belong to or that we believe they should belong to or raw data about the CMS or even how much we care about the freedoms of open source. Now the first thing I want people to see on that site is that WordPress has not only 18 years of learned knowledge that every single new user benefits from, but that it also has 1,000s of really smart people making sure it works and gets better every day, now.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 05:19
WordPress is a Goliath in its field. I know that we cite this bit of context. Frequently, we say that we are 42% of the web. And that is true that is the percentage by usage. But in its field, which is websites that are using a content management system, we actually have a 65% market share. This is very easy to find. It’s on the W3Techs website: I can put a link in the show notes, but you could find it just by searching for it.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 05:46
So WordPress is a Goliath in its field of websites that are run using a CMS. Because we have always brought our learnings forward with us with the understanding that knowledge, when shared grows rather than diminishes. But open source, the heart of what defines this project, open source is not a Goliath; it’s barely even David somedays. Even though the web is built on scads of open source software, there’s a pervasive public perception that it is built by and for hobbyists or that it is inherently risky, and that if there were if it were worth something, then people would pay something. And I just know that if the first impression of WordPress, we’re, “we’ve got 18 years of experience and learning that brought us to today,” the rest of the sale to adopt software that protects other people’s freedoms would take care of itself. And I guess, to quote John Oliver, at this point, “And now this.”
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 06:59
Alright, that brings us now to our small list of big things. There are actually quite a few big things on this small list today. So number one, we have reached the beta phase for the year’s final release, which means that WordPress 5.9 beta one is happening tomorrow, Tuesday, November 16. And then seven days later, I believe on the 23rd, if I recall correctly, comes beta two.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 07:24
The second thing on my list is that team rep nominations are happening all over the project right now. I’ve got a post that I will share in the notes below that I believe all the team reps have put their team’s nomination posts on. So if you have had an interest in learning more about that and what it means to help keep teams kind of running in the WordPress project, then this is a great opportunity to check those out.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 07:49
And the third thing, this last thing actually isn’t in the next two weeks, but it is very important, nonetheless. Matt’s annual State of the Word is coming up on December 14. So basically a month from today. It’s going to join the growing list of in-person events that are on the calendar. It will be in New York City but will also be live-streamed across the world as usual. Keep an eye out for additional updates about that for anyone who, like me, really looks forward to this particular presentation from our project co-founder every year.
Josepha Haden Chomphosy 08:25
And that is your small list of big things. Thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress briefing. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.