“The Hippie Times are going to end at some point.” —Bob Dunn
In this episode of Post Status Excerpt, David has an honest and deep dive with Bob Dunn into the “versions” of the WordPress community — something Bob covered in a recent blog post that has gotten some attention recently. They discuss what each “version” was like, how money can make a community act differently, and how people position themselves, for better or worse, in reaction to changes in the community.
Also: David asks Bob if certain changes are unavoidable once a community gets to a certain size and asks what is missing from the WordPress community today that existed in the early days.
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David Bisset: [00:00:00] So as soon as I saw this particular post, which you did on November 23rd, it’s called, are we in WordPress community version 3.0, as soon as I read this, first of all clicked with me and I knew I was going to talk to you about it, but you start off. It’s a very simple post. It takes a minute to read it. If you are listening to this, now you should pull over to the side of the road, you know, stop watching your children.
Stop paying attention to the world. Take five minutes to read this and then come back to this because this is basically all we’re discussing. So I’m going to allow you to, in your own words, to explain, I think the easiest would be version 1.0,
Bob Dunn: you know, as I thought about this and I’ll just preface it a little bit.
This was after listening to Cory Miller and Josh struggle. Talk about the acquisition of pagely so I’ve listened to the podcast and they were talking about community. And I started thinking through, because I had thought about this before, so right away, I thought what version are, where app, because
David Bisset: and [00:01:00] version.You think version because we’re into software, right?
Bob Dunn: I even do a change log for my website. I’ve gotten into change logs. Cause I think they’re so cool. And they can be more than four erotic
David Bisset: I do change logs for my kids, but I mean, that’s another subject, but yeah.
Bob Dunn: Yeah. And I love that it’s so I thought, okay, the version, the first version is, yeah, it’s when WordPress, it was before my time, you know, cause I didn’t get into it till 2017, but I thought there was app time that WordPress was new and it was doing its thing.
It was you know, the little bit of glitter in Mullenweg’s Eye. And you know, that was it. It was just as simple as that version. 1.0, is those first few years as this kind of found its legs
David Bisset: that would cover the years from about 2004, I think to about 2009. Yeah. Based on yours. And I use 2004. I don’t know if anybody wants to go back earlier, but that’s when [00:02:00] WordPress 1.0 was released 2004 to 2009 was the first generation.
And I can tell you that I was, I came into WordPress maybe around 20, like encountering the software itself around the version when themes came out. So I’m a little fuzzy on that. I was three, 1.3, 1.4. Maybe I’m going to say 2005, maybe 2006, somewhere around there. And my dates could be off. So whatever I wasn’t in the community, I was just by myself and I really didn’t get into the community until maybe 2000.
So I am kind of in the middle of that version 1.0, because word camp Miami was started. Like we got together in 2008, me, John James Jacoby, who was down here and a few other people got together 2008 is when we started rearing up WordCamp Miami, there was no foundation or anything like that. So version 1.0 was there was no WordPress foundation.
There was maybe a couple of word camps going on at the end of 2009 work. Our first WordCamp Miami [00:03:00] would have been over by then, but we had no rules. We had people nationally would come because there were just so few word camps existing at the time. And you just expected the entire WordPress community.
It wa it was that where it’s like, are you going? It’s basically there’s nothing else to do for this month. Let me, let’s get, let’s go down to Miami. That’s how I remember the WordPress community at the time. I remember any of the big contributors. There were very few names that you associate with WordPress contributions.
There was mark Jake with um, he was a big name that you would talk about during contributorship at that time, but it was a really big pioneering days. I remember WP candy. I don’t know if you remember WP candy, Brian, I believe I remember they covered our first WordCamp Miami, and they were just a bunch of people typing on laptops in the back.
And I didn’t know that I, if I, man, if I knew him at the time. And our first work in Miami actually had a lot of people from the internet community involved like people, you would probably not no longer see it eventual WordCamps because [00:04:00] it was just generally about blogging customization. I did my.first BuddyPress talk, but it was just a room, maybe of 50 people listening to my presentation, but there was the WordPress community at a time that was just so new young, you would probably anybody you saw at that camper, the fewer there’s at that time, that was the WordPress community. In a nutshell, anyone else that was doing WordPress at the time was just fiddling with it. You could go up and literally ask someone about a core ticket and it would only be melt maybe a half a dozen people that you would go up to a recognize and ask about a core ticket.
And they were co and there wasn’t like a big committee back then, or a big, there was a team back then, but basically you’re the, most of the team was sitting in the same room as you. There was no com contribution. There are no contributor days or anything. The people were actually committing code, I think, to WordPress during the conference, during the talks.
So that’s how like fly by the seat of the pants. It was. So that to me was word, press version 1.0. [00:05:00] Everybody kind of knew everybody else. It was like one giant meetup. Yeah. And a lot of the rules, the red tape or whatever it is you want to call it just simply didn’t exist. Social didn’t exist. Social networking really didn’t exist.
Friendster, I think was the hottest thing in social media at the time. And then in the iPhone, didn’t come out 2007. One of the biggest things was just seeing your website on an iPhone or a mobile device back then, too. So that to me was version one. And thank you for allowing me to indulge you, Bob, because I thought you were part of that and I just didn’t see you because I’ve just taken it.
I’ve just assumed you’ve always been around. I’ve been feels that way. So version two, there is, so version two, according to your posts takes you from 2010 to 2018, and this is your Jen. This is your version, right?
Bob Dunn: Right. He is because when, so I started dabbling in WordPress in 2017 and. So I was coming from having run [00:06:00] a business, or I was still running a business.
I was in the, I think 15th year of it, a marketing design business. And I was looking at WordPress for blogging, for creating sites, you know, building sites. Cause I wasn’t a developer during that time. So I was involved with like the business community in those years, which was in real life.
You know, you lived in the community and you related with other businesses. And in the early around that same time, there was a online site called dot com and it no longer exists, but it was a very unique one of the first endeavors in bringing people online and it started in Seattle and it actually grew nationally and was a bit international and it did a mix of in-person and online events and you’d network and you’d, you know, comment and talk to each other on it.
And it grew quite a bit. Yeah, I’m not getting the whole story of that, but that was where I started to learn more about, or actually delve more into [00:07:00] the online community. WordPress just segwayed into my life easily. Cause I was already, you know, thinking community, you know, there’s some kind of community wherever you go, of course, open source is very different to me.
And it was very embracing and it was like, wow, this is cool. You know, people are so different because it’s not these chamber of commerce meetings. It’s just a different feel to it. And I, you know, me I just started diving into it and by 2010 I said, okay, Totally closed down our other business and I’m going to create this other brand that came up with Bob WP, which, you know, some people looked at me at that time said, you know, can I, why are you doing that?
David Bisset: It’s like getting a tattoo. Right? It’s like, listen, it seems cool now, but have you thought five years ahead?
Bob Dunn: And you know, I, when I [00:08:00] started WordPress I started WordPress at the age of 50. So I was kind of different, you know, I mean, I had a different perspective cause I was later on in life. So I was looking at something new and exciting.
And I think that time I look back at it and I didn’t realize it until later on in the years when I would talk to a lot of people that had been in the space at the same time. And I realized that they all were saying, yeah, you know, when I really got involved with WordPress was around 2009, 2010, or that’s when I started.
You know, there’s all the big, you know, Yoast, gravity forums, all these ones that started around that period of time. And it just seemed like it was a time I came in at a prime time where there was this open innovation in WordPress where people were doing a lot of stuff and things are coming out left and right.
And it was just, it was fascinating and themes were, you know, growing more and more. And [00:09:00] it just, I just dove into it and I thought I’ve got to get into this community because it’s just seems cool. I mean, the people, you know, who I’ve related to. So I think my first, I don’t know if I did a word camp in 2010 by now I was in Chicago in 2011 and I spoke at that and I, again, just went full force into it and went to these, the first word camp, I word camp, and thought, wow, this is really cool.
Being able to, you know, meet these people. And there was such a natural I don’t know what you want to call it, but everybody seemed together. It was like,
David Bisset: don’t worry, we’ll flesh it out. We’ll flesh it out because this is part of the reason why I want to get into this overall, because I mean, I don’t, you know, we’ll go into each, we’ll go into a little bit more depth on each one.
I was just trying to make, you know, for somebody who hasn’t read the post is not listening to me and reading this first. We have, so, and here’s also about that time period of two. When we say [00:10:00] version two was around 2010 right before 2010 is when Sandhills development. Awesome motive started 2009 is actually when WP beginner was launched by Syed.
So like we say, 2010. And I think that was a good cutoff time because I think in 2009, It needed a little bit of ramping up it didn’t and a lot of other companies too, I’m just picking -. It’s amazing Sandhills and Awesome Motive and WP beginner started around that time in late, I think, late 2009s.
So version 2.0, started in 2010. According to your post, it ran for about eight years, till 2018, which we’ll get to why in a second. And between that time, like I said, it’s when those companies that we, that the mergers that were acquisitions that we’re hearing about today from quote unquote, big companies, a lot of them got their start at the beginning of the 2.0 era.
Bob Dunn: Yeah, exactly.
David Bisset: And yeah, so I think that’s, that was a perfect time in your blog post to kind of, you know, make 2009, 2010, the next cutoff [00:11:00] point, because I think like earlier, when we just talked about everybody was just. If you had a problem with WordPress and people, weren’t really starting to build really good businesses around WordPress in version 1.0, if you were building websites and if you were making good money, you usually just a big, good agency or you’re just building websites.
But then 2.0 era started with the companies actually building commercial products with plugins or for tutorial sites. And that’s how I think, that’s how I saw reflecting back because I was too ignorant to realize what was going on at the time. How 2.0 started in that kind of, like you said, when you got into the game 2016, 2017 near the closing of that particular era, it was going full force by then.
I mean, there weren’t really a lot of acquisitions happening in this era. It was just a lot of businesses being created.
Right. And there was a lot of people that I’ve met that weren’t necessarily, you know, like. Doing the big business or doing the big [00:12:00] products, but they, I was still amazing. How many? Yeah, I started my agency around 2009, 2010.
So that, just that number kept coming back at me and I thought, wow, I made a lot of sense because it’s how I felt when I got into it. It was like, okay, something’s happened in here, you know, and I seem to got into this at a really prime point in time
that, that period too probably saw the biggest or maybe most noticeable jump in WordPress market share.
Also at the same time you had web 2.0, kind of take off in that same time period. So between the social between the boom and like the overall span of tech and I think this was when other competition from WordPress started to get a little further in the rear view mirror too. I think movable type was by this time period, probably.
Fading in terms, I believe, I can’t remember exactly when they changed their business model, but I believe it was early during this time period where you had this other, you had your choices in Joomla and Drupal were still very strong in this era, but they were becoming, [00:13:00] it was becoming the big three in terms of CMS.
As in, at that time they were all the top three, they were open source. So that’s and WordCamps to exploded. I think once we got to 2012, 2013, that’s when you saw a lot of first-time WordCamps, startup and WordCamp, I think by the time that WordCamp Miami got to its fourth or fifth year, that’s when we had to start coordinating with other word camps, you know, around the same time period to make sure we didn’t have the lap and all of that.
So, and we had buddy camps and we had our first kids camp, I think it was in 2015 or something like that. So by the time that happened, And I forget what WordCamp Arizona. I think I went to my first word camp in Arizona was working in Phoenix. I believe that was in 2013. Maybe. I don’t know.
I have to Google ice Luiz WordCamp and figure out what I’m really. I know. So that was 2.0, from 2010 to 2018. So Bob, when, tell us about what transition from version 2.0 to [00:14:00] 3.0 and your blog posts made you land on 2018.
Bob Dunn: You know, I think it was, there was a lot of, I mean, it revolved around, but we’re pressing was doing technically, I mean, you know, Gutenberg 5.0, all that stuff, because there was that huge shift at that point.
I think that people just started, I don’t know. The climate changed and how people looked at it. And there was a little bit more, you know, yeah, people were anti this or they were, you know, reluctant of this. And is this changing for the best? I feel like things were changing in WordPress that affected the community in a lot of ways positively.
And in some ways people were a little bit reluctant and things were starting to get more into that mix of at, you know, not the boom, like it is now with the acquisitions, but. We were starting to see, you know, let me explain it this way. And this is kind of a strange way to [00:15:00] explain it. Maybe people won’t really get it.
I always say I used to work in the real business world and that was outside of WordPress. And I’m, it’s a little bit of sarcasm there, but it’s how, you know, regular business works, how it runs, how, you know, people get acquired corporations, all that stuff. I’ve dealt with it in the past. I felt like that was a time that WordPress matured and thus the community had to start to accept that in the sense of this is becoming big business.
Now, you know, this is becoming a bigger thing then. Sure. It’s open source still. There’s that community there’s everything that WordPress is, but now more and more people are taking note of WordPress more and more people are wanting to get into WordPress and it just. From the, around that time, I think it’s just as grown more and more that attitude, the you know, and it is it’s a [00:16:00] lot of people have pivoted or changed their mind on WordPress during that time.
And you saw more of that, I think, and maybe it always was happening, but it was just vocalized more as far as, you know, oh, I don’t like the direction it’s going now or, you know, I don’t agree with it. And the, and that was cool. That was fine. I mean, everybody’s got a right to, you know, do that. And also the other thing I think is this was when you think of all those people that started in 2009, 2010, that really started, this might be the moment they start thinking of different transitions as well, because they’ve been in it for a while and that transition may be do an acquisition. They may be getting out of the space entirely moving on with their life in another direction. However, so I think we saw that bunch of people that were so in our view and in our, you know, that we saw them a day [00:17:00] in and day out, maybe after, you know, this period of eight years or nine years or whatever, they were ready to start slipping things a little bit in their own business or how they approach WordPress or how they approach their business.
David Bisset: Well, we’re going to get into the community now more now that we know where, when we talk, we say version one, version two, version three, again, version one was from the beginning up to 2009 version. Two’s kind of like 2010 to 2018 when Gutenberg was launched. And then version three is pretty much present quote unquote, present day.
Right. And who knows we may talk about another version. We’ll see what. I’m going to open up our post status conversation we had in here, like a day or two ago too. But so let’s talk about the community a little bit in terms of, and it sounds like to me, when you, when we, both of us are kind of old timers a little bit we’re both remembering back when the businesses were just starting to get off the ground.
Would you define version 3.0 [00:18:00] as, as basically more commercial,
Bob Dunn: you know, in a sense it is, and it’s probably viewed as more commercial because of the nature of open source. So bringing bigger businesses, bringing the model of, you know, business growth, acquisitions, how normal, I almost say normal, but how businesses in the real world that exists and how they.
Get together and how they merge now. They, you know, whatever direction they go. I think it’s become a little bit more commercial, but I don’t know if that’s the exact word it’s because it’s, I think some people would say that I really think they would define maybe that and they would define it in the sense of a negative connotation to that commercial is become too commercial.
And that’s kind of in the eyes of the viewer, you know, before, [00:19:00]
David Bisset: let me play devil’s advocate for a second, because once money gets involved, it’s like, whenever it’s, how do I explain this? Like, if I have a good friend, I, and if I have a laptop, I’ll give him the laptop. I won’t sell him the laptop. Why?
Because he’s my friend and I, if there’s something goes wrong, I don’t want anything to damage that relationship. So when money comes into the picture, closer relationships tend to get a little bit more complex in my experience. That’s just my experience. So do you think part of the, and we’ll get into the good old days slogan in a second here, but do you think part of the resistance or part of the, maybe just general uncomfortableness of this new version that you call it is because it is more commercial, therefore money, you know, money hiring acquisitions, all of that is together.
So therefore when you go up and talk to someone at a WordCamp, or you don’t, you know, you have to be careful what you say. You have to be careful of how you talk outside of a conference room. You [00:20:00] don’t want to say the wrong thing or be viewed as this type of person, which makes it a little more awkward, which makes limits it a little bit of your freedom, which makes, again, goes back to you being a little bit more comfortable.
Do you think that has anything to do with some people reactions?
Bob Dunn: You know, I think you, I think that’s a. I think it’s pretty spot on because it is it’s, you know, there is that level of walking the thin line. Sometimes you don’t want to, you know, you maybe felt you didn’t have to walk that so much before you could be a little bit more open and now there’s too many buyers that could ignite, I think the money.
Yeah. When people see now, I don’t remember ever back the valuation or what you would think of, you know, we don’t know often what, how much these businesses are being bought for, but the reality is, yeah. Now we’re seeing that there is some tied dollar value to these businesses that have done amazing stuff for, you know, close to a decade or less.
[00:21:00] And yeah, that money kind of gets you like, whoa, you know, this is all feeling, not the same, you know, and it can be for some that it can be kind of a creepy feeling. You know, they feel like money is corporate and money is commercial and, you know, money talks and that’s what drives everything.
You know, lots of people are doing their businesses and that what drives them is to actually make a Duff to survive and have a decent life
David Bisset: or because, or somebody on stage talking about a certain subject because they have some sort of financial gain indirectly, perhaps, but even there. So sometimes I feel like some people don’t take, I’m trying to find the right words here.
And I swear, I’m not going to edit this part out because I want people to hear the awkwardness in this conversation. Exactly. It’s well, that person is doing that or broadcasting that because they have a business to run or their business is doing this in the WordPress space. And you know, that.[00:22:00]
You know, that can be understandable in other industries, but for WordPress, I think it’s kind of new if you’ve been around it a long if you’ve been in since version one or the early days since version two I don’t know. I’ve heard it. We’ll talk about offhand comments in a little bit, but I pieced together some of the comments from Twitter, some things I hear over my shoulder word camps and, you know, and it’s a very fine and respectable group still, but I know that, you know, I put on working at Miami for years and sometimes I get questions, like, why is this person on at this time?
Sometimes it’s purely coincidental often it’s purely coincidental, but I get asked, you have to be more conscious of that back now than you were 10 years ago. And because I think it all boils down to money and companies and expansion and all of that but, you know, and which kind of leads me to my next question for you, Bob, in terms of money, just, you know, even if you put money in.
You know, we’re both community managers not just with not just with me with [00:23:00] WordCamps, but you know, w my, my, my daughter and my wife, they hold other communities and I’ve seen communities grow over the years. I handle the local meetups along with a few other people too. I’ve seen things grow.
I’m also, I here’s a side note for you. I use apple pro I use apple products. I wouldn’t consider myself an apple super fan, but I’ve used apple products for a long time. Like since I was in high school. And I’ve done PC and windows over the years, but I mainly, I’ve mainly been an apple person, but I’ve noticed through the years, even before the iPhone came about, this was way before the iPhone apple came out with the iPhone when they were almost a bankrupt company, I’ve been with them.
But I noticed over the past decade as the company has gotten bigger, and this happens with other companies too, but in particular with apple, my experience they’ve gotten, people have gotten more outspoken. More bold in their comments and click baity to an opinionated and whether or not that some of that is based on truth and you know, apple like any other company is not perfect, but [00:24:00] it seems like the bigger you get, the more criticism gets thrown at you in, regardless of what I can’t think of a company that has gotten bigger over, you know, given enough time over the last 10 years, it has not had criticism leveled at them.
And I feel that once you get to a certain size from a community standpoint, not really from a business company standpoint market share, but that obviously has a factor into it too. Once you get to, once a community gets to a certain size and grows and you start to see bad actors just because maybe it’s the scale and it’s, and maybe when it’s smaller, they were always there, but there was just harder to see for them to blend into the mass.
For example, and we’ll take this, we’ll take this as an example, bad actors. What do you mean by bad actors? There’s always people that want to scam other people or users and in when the WordPress was in version one very few times, have you saw people trying to scam other people? Because the community was so small, right?
The, it didn’t seem to happen [00:25:00] very often. And in same thing for like apple and WordPress community, didn’t seem to be a lot of people trying to take advantage of trying to steal this. And, you know, cause you know, windows was the big one durability. You want it to target cause a lot of people used it.
I, so here’s my question for you. Do you believe that any community wants to reaches a certain size is going to have certain problems? Like not just bad actors that want to scan, but just critics that just maybe feel like they need to, they feel like their job is to probably call. Accompany once it gets to a certain size, what do you think about that?
Bob Dunn: Oh, I think that’s right on, I mean, is it’s so obvious because it’s like success breeds.
I don’t know if there’s actually a saying, but success breeds craziness or something
David Bisset: I’m gonna use that quote
Bob Dunn: yeah. Yeah. Success breeds crazy days because it does, the more you become the bigger you become, the more of a tar more touch points you have and [00:26:00] you become that target. You do. And more people are going to be attracted.
Cause there’s some people that they live for, that they live for the big names or the, they want to be in the limelight in that community, but in a different limelight as a backnet bad actor, because that is it just, you know, Reproduces itself is going to, it’s going to attract people and all it takes us, you know, a few to start it and more and more are going to enter it.
And that’s what know, I I’ve thought over the years is this is growing into what probably every community does grow into. It’s huge. How can we not avoid? I think of, I could step back to the time when I was, you know, not online. I was in a business community that was a real life community town.
And as that town grew bigger and bigger, more businesses moved in and there were more that early. [00:27:00] That were running businesses and we’d come in and they would always be there at whatever meeting or something criticizing something. So it’s not anything new. I think it’s very, I don’t want, I hate to use the word natural, but I think there’s no way around it.
I think with growth, you’re just going to, that’s going to happen and you have to know, the best you can do is it’s, you know, as, as long as we, and you don’t want to ignore, but you don’t want to, I want to fire.
David Bisset: Right. And I want to make a good distinction here because not everything I say, negative things about WordPress all the time, too.
In fact, I have created memes around certain things in WordPress. That’s still annoying me to this very day. And you know, you know, like the number of admin notices on a dashboard has gotten me more likes on Twitter than I probably know what to do with. So. What, one of the natural things that comes when you, when your community grows is [00:28:00] that there is more to criticize.
So there is, you know, it goes perfectly along with, yes, a lot of the criticism that’s leveled against WordPress is legitimate. And everybody has different viewpoints in they’re coming at it from certain angles. Somebody from this industry is obviously gonna feel stronger than someone who comes from this industry and so forth like that.
But I just think that part of this, I think what has been a staple I’ve I think in the version 3.0 is just the, has been maybe a little bit more cynicism than that I saw in the previous two versions. Exactly. Yeah. And as much, and like I told you, I think that comes with, I write that off as scale.
Like I said, when you’re dealing with. In terms of like, you know, they were just a bunch of people, friendly people helping each other out on forums and all of that back in the day, just like we were like in the very early days of WordPress. And now there are so many people and because I guess a lot of people [00:29:00] have so much writing on WordPress too, that sometimes naturally it does come off as well.
If my entire business of my entire life is running off of WordPress or companies like automatic that in my mind influence WordPress to a certain degree, then I should be the one or I should be in a position to say what I want or be critical of this or that in terms of leadership and ownership and all of that.
And I’m not saying leadership and ownership, isn’t a bad stuff in and of themselves, but it’s not something that we saw in previous versions of WordPress.
Bob Dunn: Right. And I think we also look at WordPress where it came along in the, in history. I mean, you know, short history, but we are, if you think of back from 2010 to now, how social has brought on the aspect of being able to vocalize yourself and it has brought out peoples that wouldn’t normally, you know, you would, I mean, I could [00:30:00] look back at again, I’ll go back to way back, you know, at a chamber of commerce meeting, we’re all sitting around in person, nobody’s going to jump up from different table to table say, Hey, you know, that business sure does suck.
Or, you know, why are they doing that? Or why did they buy them? Why is this all going on now? We’re to a point where we’re all
we all got an opinion. And we got to, we got a place to make that opinion. So that has grown just historically in technology. I mean, you know, that has happened.
So that then right along with it, WordPress has grown. So it’s almost like this. There are both on the same level. Yeah, more people are able to get online and say exactly how they feel are most people are not shy about doing it.
So what do you think here’s a thinking question for your Bible. What do you think the WordPress community has today that it didn’t have back in the early days?
Boy, that’s a, wow. That’s a good question. I think there’s [00:31:00] just more,
Wow. That’s a tough one because I think it has okay to two things. One is it has more voices in it and I’m not seeing voices as far as negative and positive and neutral voices. I’m talking about voices, worldwide diversity countries, all the different cultures that are coming in. I think that. Really has changed things. And I think it’s changed for the better obviously.
And again, kind of historically, you know, hopefully getting where there’s more, you know, things are a little bit more equal. I know they’re far from being equal, but
David Bisset: yeah, there’s a table, right. Everybody gets to come to the table and hopefully that table has grown in size with more chairs available to fit.
Bob Dunn: Exactly. Yeah. I think it’s that. And I think innovation, I think is just, I think people feel, even though sometimes we feel that it’s, there’s so much stuff go, you know, there’s so many plug-ins how can we do more [00:32:00] plugins? How can we do this? But again, naturally over time, I think we have a lot more at our disposal as far as.
Be more innovative with WordPress then, you know, back then, and that again is not necessarily the word press or the community is just how technology has evolved. So I think we, I think WordPress benefits from the time it’s in, because of everything that keeps turning and sure we there’s changes. And maybe some we don’t like, and some we do, like, I think, you know, in the end they’re still all going in the right direction.
And now those changes are technically within WordPress should hopefully reflect on the community and they feel like, okay, we’re going in the right direction because we got to continue to grow.
David Bisset: Okay. Was it, you said two things, was that both of them or do you remember?
Bob Dunn: It’s really, it’s kind of that feel of the community and the [00:33:00] diversity and that, and then it’s an actual, more of innovation.
I think the technology now we have the, I really feel like the opportunities are. More open to everybody in the WordPress space, even though, you know, we think it may be overcrowded. I think there’s still a lot.
David Bisset: Okay. So here, I asked myself that same question in the shower for unluckily for me, it was a 45 minute shower cause I wasn’t leaving until I got an answer.
I think the communication from the quote unquote, the source has gotten better over the years. Unless you heard Matt Mullenweg speak from a word camp or in his blog, sometimes you were a bit, a little bit confused in the very on maybe late version 1.0 early 2.0 days in terms of heck maybe even further on to 2.0 days, what was happening with the project or what was happening with the direction of WordPress.
And this was before Gutenberg. You know, there were improvements. You could talk to people on contribute, you know, charter contributors and all of that. And there were new [00:34:00] sites keeping up. But I think once we started getting into what you call the version three, once Gutenberg ramped up.
But I think, especially, I think maybe I’ll say six months, it seemed like six months after Gutenberg was launched. It seemed like the communication was improving. I think Josepha, I’m not sure when she became, she took her role and Incorrectly state her role here, because I don’t want to do that. But she is, she has acted like a director or a pro like an overall project manager.
I’m not saying that’s her role, but she’s been acting like that. She has been part of for a key part of the communication. Now for a while, in terms of trying to translate what the WordPress project is, the general direction of where it’s going. And, you know, Matt did do that to a certain extent, but I don’t think it was as often or as regular and as consistent as they’re doing it now with the blog posts and Josepha, and there’s even podcasts now with Josepha on them and so forth.
So for me the communication and the openness about especially about [00:35:00] core is what we, I think we have today that really wasn’t there too much in the early days, because there just wasn’t enough time to talk about it. Now don’t hate me. Oh, wait. There’s a podcast is still young here. I’m going to flip the question around.
So what do you think is missing today from the WordPress community? But one looks back in the early days and say, oh, wow, that existed there. Or I even missed that. Fill in the blank. I
Bob Dunn: need a long shower for that one.
David Bisset: This is going to be weird. Intermission music, but sure, sure. So by, so maybe stalling you a little bit here, you know, when you buy a car and you get that new car smell.
Yeah. Okay. So it’s gone and then your car can still be exciting. It can be wonderful. There’s that honeymoon period. But what, and I’m not pushing you into a negative or positive territory here, [00:36:00] but what do you think was existed in the early days that you can remember the works community that you don’t see.
That you don’t see today as much.
Bob Dunn: I miss a little bit of the and that I want to say it’s the warm and fuzzy feeling. Cause that’s not fair to say. It’s kind of a little bit of the tighter community that was there when I first got into it. And what I mean by that is, and let me give you an example.
This was very interesting and I get to bring up the, say the word smaller group. And I saw Matt Mullenweg in a different lens. At that event. He was walking around. I mean, it was a smaller group and he was really interacting with people and laughing. And he was kind of more in his element because he was with his eye.
Sounds weird with his peeps. I mean, instead of this huge, you know, multi hundred or a thousand person conference, and sometimes I [00:37:00] miss that. And it’s not an exclusive thing either, but those smaller times, I go back to a meetup. I remember the meetups I used to do in Seattle in the early two thousands.
We’d get like 70, 80 people and everybody was so happy and energized and it was fun. And you were meeting new people and there was this just constant energy that was going. And I think is just like probably anything in it’s younger. I mean, even us as humans,
David Bisset: every time you go to a WordCamp, you’d meet a ton of new people, a ton.
Bob Dunn: Yeah, you do. And I kind, kinda miss that and maybe it’s, you know, it’s just that smaller. I miss the meetups. Like they used to be. I, and I know that is just, I, and not even this put us COVID aside. It’s not even that it’s just that I miss that [00:38:00] smaller local community that used to thrive. I think a lot more, that’s got segmented and it’s been segmented just because of the growth and because of the community is so big.
And there’s so many people you’re meeting, you know, another countries across the globe. There’s a little bit of that I miss now, whether that could really come back. That’s the thing, that’s a big question. I don’t know if it’s really necessary to be needed, right. Again, but some I wish there was some way to still have those smaller groups and they don’t have to be, you know, WordCamps on, I don’t even know what they are, you know, and that would, of course would have to be, you know, when the time comes that you can actually do that, but there was something that was just a little bit different. That part of it, I miss, and I don’t know there was there was the energy, maybe that was it.
David Bisset: It’s kind of hard to put into words. You’ve attempted to do that two days ago. I’m going to share a link in the show notes for a slack conversation we [00:39:00] had. And I put up on purpose prior to this both Eric and Natalie said something about 2008, 2009, 2010. There was definitely. Definitely those were big years.
There was some generations based on what people came into the community and what they were doing there. And then you said something around 2010 or so was very generational. There was huge pivots in the space around space, around growth during that time. And then someone responded and says that time was very unique.
It felt like anyone with the ambition and drive could learn to create something special with WordPress. It wasn’t something reserved for only a small group of corporations. And it looks like Eric made that comment there. So I guess it was you know, it was a gold rush period, but not just to make money, but also to make like relationships.
And here’s the key when you said that earlier and forgive me if I’m mispronouncing your name. Dave is David Lutes who says, yep. The hippie times are over. And it’s not meant in a bad way. In my opinion, this is him still talking quote. It already has started a few years before Gutenberg, when more and [00:40:00] more sponsored contributors raised up.
Also people became paid from day one when they stepped brand new into the WordPress community. And like he said, it’s not bad. It’s an evolution. It’s got all the way to it’s. He says it’s all got gotten. Translating here, all gotten too big to handle, and I have tremendous respect for the pure volunteers out there.
So hippie times are over or according to Dave loots here. And we’ll put all of those links in the show notes. And by the way, just to remind you what you said, a response, you said you could be very well, right? The last decade could easily have pushed out three instead of two versions when you get down to the nitty gritty.
So, yeah. Wow. Yeah. Hippie times are over. So like I’m always never, I’m not that old to appreciate the hippie times of the sixties, but I’ve read about it enough and I can see where there was a time I’ve heard that phrase repeated elsewhere in terms of, okay, the hippie era is over and now I actually have to have a real job and a real business.
And that whole time of peace and love was great, but we were young. And [00:41:00] do you think maybe that’s part of what maybe is missing a little bit from WordPress
Bob Dunn: and it’s that, yeah, it is that time of having that. It a freedom. I mean, and especially if you had the experience of it, you know, if you did, you were, you came in at some point there, it is nostalgic and I’d love Dave’s, everything you said in there because it’s true.
It’s like anything. I mean, hippie times never, you know, except for some people that are stuck being hippies for their entire life or something they’re going to end at some point and they’re nostalgic and they’re good. And you probably know it, won’t go back to that. You know, you know that in your heart, but
David Bisset: seems like the harder you fight it.
Yeah. The change is inevitable. And I think for the rest of those, I think for the rest of the lifetime of WordPress, there’s going to be a healthy dose of criticism that follows it. So w so as WordPress grows is going to be scrutinized by some people for how it grows [00:42:00] and when the market share stops. Or there’s less contributions or something noticeable starts to slow down.
There’ll be another round of WordPress criticism problem. You know, like the apple is doomed or WordPress is doomed by probably those same people. Right. Do you think people should accept the generational changes in the WordPress community? Or how should they look at it?
Bob Dunn: Yeah, I think it’s really, I hate to say it’s both ways.
I mean, you got to accept it as globally. You got to accept that this is, you know, if he can’t be a bit flux flexible, then you shouldn’t be in any part of the tech space. You know, you got to have some flexibility and you’ve got to not become the old grumpy man and saying, this is how it was and why we’ll never be that way again, you know, so globally you need to accept it.
In your own community, because how we’re all defining communities is going to be different. How you define it. Maybe one way somebody else defines another way. Somebody may [00:43:00] have 200 people they think of as this is my WordPress community. You can still make changes within the smaller community that can blossom out into different ways into the bigger community.
I mean, you’re not, you know, if we’re talking WordPress community, every builder, then that’s a lot, every builder and user, then that’s an exponentially a lot. So I think that you can make small changes and I don’t think you should ever say, I’m just going to roll over. And you know, if I don’t think this is right, you know, you don’t have to nag and moan and groan on Twitter day after day, but you can fight.
Creative and useful ways to try to work towards, you know, if something really, if you think it needs to be changed, I would never say people should back down you know, unless it’s really detrimental to the community, then that’s maybe when you want to step back. Okay.
David Bisset: I, a lot of times the, [00:44:00] if there are people that rubbed me a little bit, the wrong way and listen, it’s be honest.
I mean, there are people that do that. It’s human nature, right? It’s not what they say is sometimes their approach to it. And I have a lot of experience sometimes working and talking with people because we’re cam Miami has allowed me to be like, sometimes I would deliberately put people in WordCamp, Miami lineups to offer those opinions.
And sometimes. It’s just their personal nature. Sometimes it is you know, I, if I run a, if I wanted to write a tell all book, just on what I know about certain people on working in Miami, it would be controversial. A lot of people probably wouldn’t like me, but that’s fine. But there are some people that like, feel their message is so important.
They, it boosts their ego or it boosts their, like, they feel like this message is so important. They need to get outside the lines to be able to tell it whether how effective that is or whether that strikes the right chords or not. I mean, go you do you, you know, that’s not really my, you know, I’m not in charge of WordPress messaging.
But you know, if you want to, if you [00:45:00] feel something so important that you communicate it, I mean, as long as you’re not hurting others, I mean, feel free to give it a shot, just watch on any reaction or reaction to that. But it’s also funny too, that some people, when we talk about the WordPress community, some people says I’m leaving WordPress, I’m leaving the WordPress committee.
Or they stop or stop using WordPress oftentimes in my experience, and this is over 10 years, this is not any particular case, but over the 10 years where people have said that you still see them on Twitter, or you still see them in the WordPress community, talking with the same people, almost like nothing ever happened.
And I, and sometimes I think these people, whether the legitimate reasons or not you know, they’re trying to make a statement. It says I’m leaving WordPress, but they’re not really leaving WordPress. WordPress is the community and of itself, regardless of like, maybe you’re not using the software or you put your pretty much, nothing else has changed.
So if you’re using it to make a statement, whether you’re using WordPress or not, congratulations, you’ve made. Or maybe you’re taking a break, you know, those people that make the big announcements, I’m taking a break from Twitter and they’re making a big hoo ha about it. Like maybe celebrities or something like [00:46:00] that.
And you’re like, okay, maybe you’ll be back. Okay. You know, once, once it’s died down or whatever, but I think some people like to have their cake and eat it too, where like, I’m making this big statement, but I can’t really, I don’t really want to leave the community because there’s some good things in it.
Bob Dunn: exactly. And I think they’re trying to stand up there. They think that, you know, it gives a, it shows the side of their strength. They want everybody to think that, oh yeah, they’ve been there standing up for what they’re really, you know, they’ve kind of walking the talk. Finally, they’d been saying all this, but then like you said, you see, oh yeah, they’re still wandering around bed in there.
I still see them popping up here and there. And it’s like, you know, you’re just. Kind of toned down a little bit maybe,
David Bisset: and you know what that is within the right to there. Like I said, however you want to get that message out is however you do. But I just think that’s so interesting that the community of it itself is more, is stronger sometimes than the software.
Bob Dunn: Oh, it is. It is. And I think that’s what most, I [00:47:00] agree with you with a lot of people saying, you know, oh I’m going to leave the community, but you know, I couldn’t quite leave this part of it or this part of it. And they’re not saying they’re not literally saying that, but they’re doing that through actions.
You can see that they’ve gained a lot of great relationships with some people and they can’t let go of that. And that relationship in turn still connects him with WordPress. So they, and connects them with the community. So, yeah it’s interesting human. Nature’s
David Bisset: interesting. Yeah. And of course there’s always legitimate reasons.
Like if there’s, if you like, you’ve people have felt like legitimately they’ve been neglected, abused, all of that stuff. That’s not really taking care of that part cause that’s kind of a toll different, totally different ballgame. So yeah. So do you feel, so here comes, our, here comes as we close out this conversation, which has been fantastic by the way.
I think we only mentioned WooCommerce only a few times. I haven’t said it enough for something like WooCommerce to appear in a mirror or something like that [00:48:00] instead of three times, probably yet. But here’s the two remaining questions I wanted to jam with you about one. What do you think version four would be?
Has it happened? Is it happening now or do you think we’re not, we haven’t seen that yet.
Bob Dunn: You know, that’s weird because I know you had warned me that you might ask about that.
Yeah. And I have pondered on it a bit and I thought, you know, yeah, maybe I could have some, a wishlist of what I’d like to see, but you know, I think it’s going to be.
Where this commercial part we’ve talked about, becomes a little bit more leveled out. I think four is where we don’t get all excited and, you know, acquisitions no longer are like the biggest news in WordPress. They Almaz say they become everyday normal things and people will still talk about them.
But I think those moves that we’ve been [00:49:00] making to where we see that it’s becoming a bigger thing. And I also see that 4.0 is, and it’s already, maybe it is already happening. I see a lot of attraction even more so I’m more visibly from outside. Businesses, you know, that say, I want a piece of WordPress. I want a piece of WooCommerce.
I mean, I get this a lot through conversations and companies that reach out to me, you know, they want to get in on it. They want to get in on the action. So that’s almost like an, and however people view that, you know, that they view that as positive or negative is not really the point that, but I think that is becoming people are companies are being a bit more visible.
And I think this will be part of 4.0 is in their interest in WordPress where it used to be WordPress is [00:50:00] open source and you know, it’s not that big of a deal and stuff. And now it’s like, they’re flat out saying, Hey, we want in, how do we get in? We want to be, because
David Bisset: it’s like we said, it’s a little hot about the money.
Bob Dunn: Exactly.
David Bisset: Once you see these aquifers, I think, you know, like once you start seeing bigger acquisitions, they’re taking headlights now in tech crunch, all these other things, people are starting to, I guess, pay attention. Oh wow. There is money to be made here. So I’m yeah. I mean, I want to I, wouldn’t thinking about the same thing and I don’t have a year in mind yet.
Of course, if I did, I’d probably play the lottery or something, but what I see are four potential factors for version four, if you want to call it that, and maybe they all are playing. One, I think we’re in, I think we’re version three still includes the acquisitions craze that we’re going through right now, because I think the acquisitions, if you look back a little bit far enough after Gutenberg, I think launched. To me, it just seemed a lot more common.
It’s really exploded the last couple of years. I don’t think it’s over, but I still think we’re in the same general [00:51:00] time period acquisitions were happening before Gutenberg came out, but I think Gutenberg probably has triggered a lot of companies, smaller companies for, to be acquired by hosting companies and others because of the blocks, the themes and all of that.
And of course, we’re not even going to talk about theme, you know, WordPress themes at all, or we’re not even about WooCommerce or e-commerce, I’m not even going to talk about that stuff cause that’s too much. But I think if I was to guess what a version four would be, and this is commute, this it’s sad because I’m not talking much about the community.
I’m just thinking of the, community’s going to react to these things. And that becomes version for the community outside investments. How we react to that outside investments might mean more people coming in from the outside, even if it’s just from a business standpoint, but they would be part of the community.
I think too, it’s possible than an aversion for maybe near the end of that. We will see acquisitions, maybe become normal, more normal. But I think we’re also going to see market share eventually [00:52:00] level off. And that could be years from now. It’s going to be hard to calculate it because they’re shutting down Alexa, not that Alexa, the other Alexa next year.
And we don’t know exactly how we’re going to be able to determine them at the market share metric because we’ve kind of taken advantage and abuse it over the years. But I tend to see a general acquisitions being more of the norm market share, not as explosive as it used to be, because quite it’s kind of like apple.
It’s kind of, again, I go back to apple, they were selling iPhones one year. That would, their total sales of iPhones for one year would be all of the sales for the previous years combined. And they had that kind of explosive growth. Then it stopped because you couldn’t sell that many phones anymore. But look at them today.
They’re doing just fine. They’re doing just fine. So I think that’s going to be the way with WordPress. We’re going to see market share slowed down because quite far, I mean, whether it gets to 50% or not, I don’t care. It could be beyond that. It could be years from now, but eventually the market share has to slow down.
And then I’ll ask you a [00:53:00] question about market share in a second. I think acquisitions nor market share slows down. We’re going to get more, you know, outside investments. We’ll see those. And then I think matt’s master plan. Maybe I’m not sure what you would call this his plan of an open web.
If you looked at the acquisitions and I’m not sure if you had the read the piece by David Pierce yet on ma on mat, it was a click baity title. It was can Matt Mullenweg save the internet if you haven’t read it because it basically folk you would think, oh, it’s a piece about Matt WordPress and yes it is, but it goes along also the acquisitions automatic has taken over the past couple of years and individually by themselves were like, oh, that’s neat. They have this little thing. But if you add them together, Matt is slowly accumulating like a collection of these technologies and these corners of the internet that I think needs to be maintained as open, like a diary app and a photos on creative commons.
And there’s analytics, statistics company that they acquired that I can’t remember the name of, but it’s like, he’s collecting almost one of each or automatic is collecting one of each of [00:54:00] everything. And I think that is going to change. Maybe it’s making the community more open source minded than WordPress minded maybe, but I think there’s a cat there.
There’s going to be some change. There may be an, a version four, maybe a version five. However you want to split it where we’re going to see, like we’re going to be so more fighting for the open source or the open web. And WordPress is just going to be part of that. In fact, I think didn’t Matt say that Gutenberg is going to be bigger than WordPress. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a state of the word. So if I had to guess that’s my version for, I don’t know, that’s it. And the
Bob Dunn: only other thing I’d add, and this is more around the people side of things. I’m really curious that by version four, if we will have a bigger turnover in who you really notice in the WordPress space.
I mean, we got all these people that I’ve, you know, kind of are the faces we’ve been around forever. We’ve seen them, is there going to be a new generation and a kind of influx of newer [00:55:00] people stepping up and taking over the roles in the bigger WordPress community. And some of the other people that have been in a while might be at that point in time.
And maybe again, we can’t get 4.0 will start, but will they be stepping back and maybe doing other things with their lives? And it’ll be this. This whole new kind of, even though each one has been a generation in its own, that might be a more pivotable generation. That with, when you look at the kids and what your kids are doing, I mean, what so many of them are doing that they could come in and just, you know, barnstormed the place and ,
, but you see it, like how many P how many original people of the original tech companies are still around Microsoft?
No bill gates has gone even his can’t remember his name now developers, guy has gone. The original owners are starters of Google aren’t there anymore. All of in fact, I think an apple of course, has a leader. They’ll probably transition like, like the only person left is Zuckerberg is still a [00:56:00] Facebook.
Everyone else has had one or two leadership changes. Very recently, Jack is no longer Twitter. So we’re seeing that, but also in the WordPress space you know, the advanced custom fields, Sandhill development these people that have been like the starters from day one, they’re moving on, whether they’re moving on retiring or they’re moving on to other projects or other companies through acquisitions is up for debate or whether it’s, they’re doing, but we’re seeing the same thing happen in the global tech community.
So exactly. So, yeah, I, wow. This has been a really deep conversation about community, but I didn’t think, but it was all because of your all because of your blog posts really. And that’s really
right. I wrote it and I wrote the, I titled it in a question because I thought, okay, this is just a little snap, a snapshot in my brain.
And I want people to think about this and I love that you did this. And I loved hearing on slack and hopefully, you know, this might. Inspire some some blog posts, cause I’d love to hear other ideas and stuff. [00:57:00] So, so, it did its job and that, that’s what I wanted it to do. Get people thinking about
David Bisset: it. I know I’ve taken too much of your time already talking about this.
It’s like, what else am I going to do? And we got to go out and do, let me direct you to one last thing earlier today, because I don’t plan enough far enough in advance for half of our conversations. I put up a Twitter poll and that’s going to run for another two days. So, while we’ve been talking about here, strangely enough, we’ve had at least 10 people vote on it and it’s only been.
Three or four hours since I put the vote up has been over 40 votes on it so far, but for a Twitter poll for me, that’s on a new year’s Eve. That’s pretty good. So I asked based on your post, where do people feel they belong in terms of what WordPress generation and I we’ve listed the version one version two, version three, and then whatever, if there’s other than replying, the comments nobody’s replied other yet.
So they pick one or two or three. So after 41 votes, let’s see, just making sure I got my numbers, right. [00:58:00] 41 votes. So 39% responded version one. This is 36% version two. So that’s 2010 from 2018 and 24% said two to 2018 and above for version three. Interesting. So it’s, you know, it’s only 40 votes if it was more evenly split between thirds the last time I saw it, but you are getting a little bit more.
A slightly older people are older versions. Yeah. So I just thought that was interesting. We’ll link to this in the in the show notes as well. So by the time you hear this recording, this poll would have ended long ago. It should be interesting to see what it ends up being. Yeah.
That’s fantastic. Was there anything else that we didn’t cover about that post that you think we should have?
Bob Dunn: No, I think we, we dove into a deep, yeah, we
David Bisset: killed, we deep dive and killed it, buried it. We used every part of the Buffalo. Yeah. Bobby could be
Bob Dunn: and now, everybody else can chime in and create their own posts and create their own tweets.
And [00:59:00] then talk about this. Yeah. Yeah.
David Bisset: You know, besides Bob, other than my wife, you’re the only adult I’ve spoken to in the last couple of days. Anyway. So maybe it’s nice to have a good conversation. We don’t have WordCamps anymore. This is the type of conversations I’d love to have. Right at word camps.
And it’s the parts that, that I miss the most, but we can still do them up to this point. And I’m looking forward to that time where you and I can sit together and talking you know what? Version three is coming to a close, or maybe we’ll say it probably a year after it’s happened. Cause you know, retrospect is Einstein sights, 2021.
Anyway, Bob tell us where people can find you or version two, but on the web.
Bob Dunn: Okay. I’m version two. Best place I hang out a lot of on Twitter, you can either @BobWP or @dothewoo depending on what you want to do. Bob wp.com is I’ve kind of revived that blog. I took all the WooCommerce stuff off and I’m basically just talking about community.
So these kinds of little thoughts come to me and that’s what I’m going to be putting there. And if you want [01:00:00] to, you know, again, woo commerce do the blue dot on.
David Bisset: Okay, great. Yeah, and like I said, check the show notes for this episode. We will throw Bob’s link to his blog post in there, specifically this Twitter poll that I did and a few other tidbits as well.
Bob, it has been awesome. Thank you very much for sharing all this thoughts with us. And I really hope this at least brings a couple of ideas and thoughts into people’s heads, not just ones that have come into the WordPress community recently, but also the ones that have been around with it since version one, maybe, or version two, we’ll see where the poll ends up.
Bob Dunn: Cool. Thanks, David. This has been a blast. Thank you.