Post Status Excerpt (No. 67) — What Does Professionalism Mean in WordPress?

Dan and Eric discuss their top picks for WordPress news stories of the week and the topic of professionalism. What is it — what does it mean for us in the WordPress community, and how does it relate to a healthy open source project and business ecosystem?

Estimated reading time: 38 minutes

We’re not afraid to let our human side show.

Erik Karkovack

In this episode of Post Status Draft, Eric Karkovack joins Dan Knauss to discuss their top picks for important topics and news stories in WordPress this week. Then they take up the topic of “professionalism.” What is it — what does it mean for us in the WordPress community, and how does it relate to a healthy open source project and business ecosystem?

Eric’s Top News Picks:

  1. WP-Optimize “Cheating” Scandal (WP Tavern)
  2. WebP in WordPress 6.1 On Hold/Being Reconsidered
  3. Now Offering $499 Websites

Dan’s Top News Picks:

  1. Unethical “GPL clubs” and “piracy” — and what we can do about it. (An emerging discussion in Post Status Slack and on Twitter.)
  2. Gravity acquires Gravity — Gravity Forms acquires Gravity Flow and Gravity Experts, product/service businesses in the Gravity Forms ecosystem owned by Steven Henty, Director of Product Development for Rocketgenius – the creators of Gravity Forms.
  3. Our spotlight on Jonathan Bossenger — and what he says (and personally represents) that touches our unique ideas about professionalism in the WordPress ecosystem here at Post Status.

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Dan Knausses: Hey, Eric, how are you doing?

Eric Karkovack: I’m good. How are you?

Dan Knausses: Not bad. Um, yeah, another, another week coming, coming down to, uh, to a close and assembling the, the stories that matter. We want to, um, get into our often jampacked newsletter and thinking about, um, weird camp coming up. And, um, I think everyone’s getting geared up for that.

Um, So what’s, what’s on the top of your mind this week, I wanted to kinda run through the top three, um, news stories of, um, the commentary issues, questions in the WordPress space that, uh, matter to you. And I’ve gotta got a few, two.

Eric Karkovack: I think the biggest thing that came out to me is that, uh, the whole WebP support in, uh, WordPress six point ones kind of being reconsidered at the moment.

Yeah. Thought that was, uh, a lot of community pushback on, uh, how they were going to implement it and kind of nice to see the, uh, leadership, uh, in, you know, the developers take a step back and kind of think things through again,

Dan Knausses: right. Yeah, that’s gone back and forth quite a bit. I, I got a little lost, um, keeping up and like, like you and your earlier writing about it.

I, I think a lot of us feel, boy that would turning that on by default, um, is, is not something we like is there should be. An option or at least, uh, I don’t know. I could see, I could see putting in a default for new installs or something like that, but for, to suddenly switch, um, potentially, um, everyone over from JPEGs or, or whatever, that’s, isn’t that the main sticking point.

Eric Karkovack: Yeah, basically it would take, um, what was being proposed was that if you uploaded a, a JPEG or a PNG file or whatever, uh, WordPress would automatically convert it to a WebP and use. And so there’s, you know, talk about, well, that takes up a lot of server resources. Um, WebP isn’t supported in every browser.

There’s like specific versions of safari that are a few years old that don’t, you know, uh, support it yet. And just all the files that it’s gonna create, cuz you know, WordPress creates three or four versions of every image you upload. And if it’s doing that again for WebP versions, You know, some folks on cheaper hosting accounts could run outta space.

Right. And then there’s the whole idea of, you know, WordPress is all about controlling your content and controlling your process. And to me, that’s kind of a, the oddity of it. It’s like, well, they’re gonna force you to use this format that by the way Google created and you know, yeah. Not everybody wants to use it.

I, I think, you know, having a check box makes a lot of sense, right?

Dan Knausses: Yeah, there’s, uh, I was looking at, um, working on, um, towards editing on the, uh, web Almanac, um, which a number of WordPress people contribute to each year for, um, CMS section of that. And, um, their data set where they compile, um, run a bunch of queries on a test population and, you know, see how many are using WordPress and Elementor stands out to, and, you know, WordPress is just.

Weighing the numbers are, are way out there. And you start to think about, um, the dramatic impact it, it would have with, um, Switching a format to, you know, suddenly becoming very heavily used, like, um, like WebP, which, which I’ve kind of been in favor of, uh, from a sustainability perspective, because end performance it’s, it’s generally faster and is gonna use less bandwidth and let’s storage.

But if you duplicate, you still have all those old JPEGs and you duplicate that. And yeah, you’re really adding a lot in that, in that respect, it’s not saving, uh, saving the planets and. Particularly well, um, but I haven’t seen that side of the discussion come up, um, on it, but I, I, uh, I know there are people who care about, um, just how much we’ve got in the cloud.

That’s just junk and it’s taken cost in electrons, power every day. Um, so it, it will be interesting to see how that gets, that gets sorted out. Um, I’m sure more efficient formats are where we’re headed. um, so my, my, um, my number one pick is, is not really something that’s been tackled yet. I’m sure people are starting to write.

I haven’t, uh, I have to let things settle and think about a bit, but there’s a, there’s a big running discussion that started in two channels, two threads and, and, uh, post data is slack. Piracy G or unethical behavior with cloning, um, you know, G GPL clubs that get hold of a commercial license and crack, uh, WordPress plugins and, and so on, and then re resell this, uh, cheaply.

Um, that’s always been a thing. Uh, I think I remember that going on in ju. Um, there’s we all know the reasons why that’s a bad idea, hurts people’s businesses. There’s often malware that comes along as a payload with your free, cheap cracked software. Um, but this, at the same time, one of the big culprits here, um, was adding in some, adding in some new product that is sort of specialized at a niche.

And it’s not, you know, it’s not, uh, Cheap plugins are some quite high end things targeted at hosts. Um, so it’s a, it can be really devastating to some people’s business model. If, if it were, um, if it was costing them, their target audience, some people feel actually, you shouldn’t worry about this because the only people using it or kids or people who aren’t your customers anyway, um, but this one particular.

Hosting, uh, pirated, uh, GPL club. Where’s archives, spammed, a ton of people, including people who are in the middle of this discussion. Uh, just at that moment, um, got a lot of Twitter, DMS and, and other things, uh, straight at people who totally don’t want is going on. So, um, Allie Niman suggested, well, you know, one way we could come combat, this is go at the host and say, there.

Spamming. Um, there’s been some discussion of what could we do collectively to fight back and protect the ecosystem. Um, have you taken a look at those discussions or seen this come up in the past and have thoughts on it?

Eric Karkovack: Yeah. There have been a number of cases over the years where people’s plugins have been forked and stolen and, you know, resold that’s.

I mean, I, I wonder how many of those plugins are actually in product. Especially on high level sites. I mean, if you are a web designer who is, you know, partaking in something like that, uh, you know, clients may have these things on their sites and not know it. I wouldn’t think there’s a huge number, but yeah, I think Allie’s, uh, you know, Suggestion of going after hosting is, is, is a good one.

I think maybe it could go after payment gateways too. I know, like, especially PayPal has been rough on anyone. Who’s doing anything sketchy over the years. You know, if, if that’s gets reported, they may get their, uh, their payment gateway shut down, which, you know, could kind of cripple their ability to redistribute this stuff.

But yeah, I mean, I do think WordPress leadership should speak out on it. You know, I, I know that’s, I mean, it’s not just a WordPress issue. It’s, it’s a software issue. It’s an open source issue, but you know, just some sort of statement, you know, maybe even at word camp us about, you know, let’s protect this ecosystem.

Let’s make sure. You know, everybody’s playing by the rules and that we, you know, if we find someone who’s not, we should, you know, make, uh, everyone aware of.

Dan Knausses: Yeah, exactly. I’ve I’ve often thought, man, I wish there was some advocacy. I wish we had like a nonprofit or, or some collective where we supported, uh, advocacy for open source to both educate people who know nothing about it, the consumers and everyone else and just show, Hey, look, this is a professional space where people are making, living from small.

Freelancers solo people. Who’ve been at it a long time, basically family businesses, all the way up to, um, in the bigger, the bigger companies that are heavily by everyone else. It’s a, it’s a big family and, uh, they’re real people here. And if you, you support these products, it’s, uh, it’s hurting us. So there’s kind of that, um, The, uh, tending the collective governments, governance of an industry as a commons like this, an open source one there’s, there should be things that, um, outside of the project, even that, that people in, in the WordPress business.

Can do that would kind of be on the list of Eleanor Ostrom’s, um, things that healthy ecosystems, healthy commons do to, uh, to protect themselves where you, you find the bad actors and find ways to suppress and discourage that. And sometimes if they’re internal to the community, you wanna, you know, not completely.

Demonize them, but give some kind of carrots and stick so that there’s incentives to come back and be a good contributor. And you know, some host, straight anger, rage on the internet is just adding to useless stressful stuff. Maybe there’s a win in this and on the advocacy and education side. But, uh, I also threw out the idea that since the WordPress foundation does legal.

Defense of the WordPress trademark. Uh, this is like one step away. Suppose you had good citizens who are doing five for the future. Um, and they’re, they don’t have quite the means to individually defend themselves in the same way or they’re are there ways we could, um, pull together and help each other through, um, through that, through the foundation or something like that?

Eric Karkovack: Um, yeah, you would think there, there could at least be some sort. Guide to, uh, steps you can take, you know, I know they, they have lawyers working on their side, as you said, to protect trademarks and, and things like that. You know, even if it’s just general advice to come out and say, Hey, your, your, your, your plugin has been selling on the black market.

Here’s what you can do. Here’s some resources that would, you know, seem like at least the basic way to, to help.

Dan Knausses: Yeah. And I think it’s kind of a black eye for. Uh, for any, any business ecosystem, uh, people looking to get into it. Um, it may not understand quite what’s going on, but it looks if it looks like you’re laying down to predators, um, who have gotten entrenched it’s it’s not a good.

Sign for the healthiness of the ecosystem. And it, it would, um, definitely be good for morale to have some, some clear boundaries defined and say like, this is not okay in our, in our world. And we’re not gonna support this anyway and find what we can do to limit it. Um, over, I wrote about this a few weeks ago, because FIUs had on their blog.

A pretty long post about dealing with this. Um, and we’ve, we’ve done this before people getting courseware stolen. It can be content that can be all kinds of things getting ripped off. Um, When you, you may or may not have any intellectual property rights over it. If it’s, if it’s GP stuff, um, some is some isn’t.

Um, but they, they actually had some interesting, uh, case studies or, or people who, who didn’t fly off the handle, they would get, ultimately you’re getting support requests from people who have. This pirate did stuff. And sometimes they don’t know, um, what they’ve done or what situation they’re in. And someone had found that it was kind of a teachable moment where they could educate and, and convert some of these people into customers and say like, oh, okay, we’re not gonna give you support until you’re actually our customer.

And some people just needed that. They just needed the education, I guess. So, um, there’s maybe there is some win possible there. Um, All right. Well, what’s your, uh, what’s your next pick?

Eric Karkovack: Okay. Well, I have to go with the, uh, little scandal about, uh, WP optimize and the alleged cheating on, uh, performance tests by, uh, turning off all JavaScript.

Um, and when it’s, uh, under a, a testing user agent, I guess it’s, it’s able to detect that. Say okay. It’s GT metrics or it’s, uh, page feed insights. And in that case, we’re gonna turn off all of our, all of your site’s JavaScript to boost your score and make you feel good about yourself, right?

Dan Knausses: Yeah. So that got quickly compared to the Volkswagen scandal a few years back, and there may have been another manufacturer car manufacturer doing that when you hook the cars up to a, uh, Uh, emissions test, um, they, uh, turn the catalytic converter and filters on and rest of the time, uh, it, it’s not on and you get, um, better performance on the road.

And, um, I don’t, if it yeah, probably affects fuel economy. Right. Um,

Eric Karkovack: yeah, I think it was, I want to, I think it does. And then it also, I mean, the pollutants that came out of those cars on the road,

Dan Knausses: Way more than the legal limit. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Really bad. And so they had, it was a huge blow for the, um, for the brand, uh, a huge amount of distrust, uh, and, and a blow for what everyone, you know, probably was a really solid brand Volkswagen.

Um, the. The interesting. I, I remember I, this was a, when I was teaching writing last, um, there was a Corey doctoral piece about this. Well, it brought it in as an example, and he was talking about we’re dangerously going into a. A future where software can be so sophisticated, we don’t really know what it’s doing.

And we don’t even really know if the experience we’re having is software mediated with an there’s an algorithm that is manipulating the semi virtual experience we’re having. So is your, is your WordPress really? You know, what’s it doing? Uh, who’s it talking to, um, Are you, are you, when you think you’re doing tests, are you getting valid, um, results?

So to me, the trust issue is, is interesting. Um, how, how has the response been from, um, from the company that has allegedly this, this code in it that is sort of a cheater code on, um, op optimization tests.

Eric Karkovack: Yeah. So Sarah Gooding at the WP Tavern put. Article together that, uh, spoke with, uh, one of the lead developers of WP optimize.

And, uh, according to him, it was a code that was forked over from another plugin. And I have to plea ignorance on the name of that plugin right now. But, uh, apparently they were in talks to maybe, um, acquire this plugin. And at the time they decided to, um, kind of merge some code in there to make it, um, You know, to get ready for this big merger they were gonna have, which ended up falling through.

And then, um, it ended up that they forgot the code was in there. The deal fell through. And, um, they weren’t quite sure why the code was still in there or, you know, kind of pleaded ignorance on it. Um, but then Sarah also came up with a, an article the day after that, uh, kind of dug into it more where I guess, you know, this, the, um, the, the settings in this plugin are also a little bit up too, so they’re not, uh, completely clear on what they’re doing.

And so, you know, there’s, it, it, it may be not an intentional thing, but at the same time, it still doesn’t look very good. Right.

Dan Knausses: Yeah, it will be interesting to see how quickly and how well that that clears up. Um, yeah, I really care about the trust, the trust issues, and you know, again, kind of like the, the piracy, if, if you, if there’s a widespread perception of, we can’t trust.

Certain brands or theoretically any hypothetically anyone in the, in our ecosystem. It it’s a, that’s a really bad consequence where so much trust is at, at the core of making open source work. But in a sense, it’s open source working. Someone looked at the code

Eric Karkovack: yeah. It’s interesting that somebody was able to test that and found that what it was doing.

And I mean, I don’t know. I I’m, I’m not a huge believer in these metrics. Um, you know, they, I don’t wanna say they’re made up, but they’re, they are kind of made up and they don’t always reflect, I don’t think, you know, the actual user experience. Right. But, you know, I think any of these systems we bring out, somebody’s gonna find a way to cheat on them.

And if you wanna cheat on your performance test and get yourself, you know, a little bit of an ego boost by saying, oh, I scored a 99. You. And so be it, um, you, you are the one that kind of has to live with it, but I think the plugin should, at the very least be very clear about what they’re doing and you know, what it’s used for.

What’s good about it. And, you know, here’s how you shouldn’t use it. Um, which, you know, they apparently did not do in this case. Sure.

Dan Knausses: Yeah, it, it does pose again to me, like interesting questions about what could we do better as a community collectively to incentivize good behavior around performance. Can there be kind of a general working standard or guidance on for plugin authors and for users?

What, what we’re looking for? What makes afor, what, what’s the margin of, of a good performance plugin or just. I wish if you had details, when you’re down, you you’re in repo, how many queries does has add to your page? What kind of, what are the main dependencies here? Um, is there a quick way to get a heads up on that sometimes, um, before you in install something and then find out , um, all, all of, um, all of the work being done in performance core is, is really outstanding and.

I it’s probably wrong to think about it as this is just a core, that’s their problem. And this is a, a core thing. There’s, there’s a huge plug in ecosystem where, uh, testing and standards could be, um, a bit more rigorous and that it sort of came up a bit with a proposal from, um, uh, Felix aren’t to, um, um, look at to when, when plugins are submitted.

Um, To, uh, test specifically around performance and security, a little bit more rigorously.

Eric Karkovack: And yeah, I mean, we have, I mean, you know, where I live, we have, uh, energy star appliances, right. That means that they’re certified as being efficient. You know, maybe there’s a third party out there that can do that for plugins, or I don’t know if the word price folks would wanna do that necessarily, but, you know, we have, yeah.

You could have like some sort of, uh, certification system that says, Hey, this plug. You know, performs well and is lean and is secure. Yeah, of course that, you know, it’s hard with software because there’s no guarantees. Um, of course your refrigerator could break the day after you bring it home. But you know, things interesting to thank see if somebody would ever, uh, come up with something like that, that you know, and how legitimate it could.

Dan Knausses: Sure. Yeah, that could be really useful. Um, maybe if it was a consensus or amongst hosts who, you know, doing anything at scale, the, the, the performance, um, matters in dollars in significant dollars. Um, and yeah, we should think more about that. Um, my, my next pick was, um, Gravity acquires gravity. Um, the, uh, uh, gravity forms, um, uh, acquire G gravity flow and, uh, and the services, um, oriented.

Um, what was it name,

Eric Karkovack: name, uh, gravity experts. I think.

Dan Knausses: Yeah, gravity experts. Okay. Um, not too familiar with those, but these are, uh, product and, and services in the gravity forms ecosystem that, um, we’re are owned and were owned and developed by, um, one of, uh, gravity’s team members. Um, so that’s, that’s kind of an interesting story is I don’t, I’m not aware of anyone, anyone else building an E plug in ecosystem.

Around their product and working that closely where your employees are, are developed. Uh, I would assume, uh, encouraged to develop a product or service related to it on their own, and then maybe it really takes off and bring it back in into the, um, parent company. Um, Is that, is that something unusual they’ve innovated with it’s you’re not being taken over by a big, uh, a conglomerate it’s it’s the family you’re already

Eric Karkovack: in.

Yeah. I kind of think that’s interesting. Isn’t it? I mean, you do a side project based on your everyday job and then your boss essentially buys your product. It’s like getting a really good bonus at work. You don’t don’t really get that. So I, I, I kind of think it’s cool though. Um, you know, gravity forms, if you use it a lot, I mean, you notice there are tons of, you know, official extensions and they have a whole third party directory now and they go through and certify certain add-ons, uh, third party add-ons on their site that you can look through.

So, you know, kind of a neat thing. I mean like gravity flow. Um, allows you to really do some complex things with, um, what happens when a form gets submitted. You can tie it in with a bunch of third party services or have it do different things on your site. So I think that just is such a natural fit for gravity forms that, you know, why wouldn’t they wanna sell something that does that.

Right. Um, and then gravity experts is a service. That’ll do a lot of customization and. As I mentioned to you off the air, I think that, you know, they probably get a lot of customization requests through their support. Sure. Um, and I’ve actually just from my own experience, found their support to be awesome.

They tend to, I mean, they don’t mind sending you code snippets to use for, to achieve certain things. Um, this steps it up a whole other level. Um, you know, if you need customization services, well, we have that too. Um, you know, why not keep that all in house and you. And maybe some of the customizations they create could end up being products on their own too.

I think it would be a great way to kind of continue to grow their

Dan Knausses: business. Yeah. It’s a really, it’s a really cool thing. And I, I wonder if anyone else is, is doing that. It, it, it occurs to me. The advantage of it is, is that, um, your own in internal people know that product best, but there’s not really, if they’re already working for you there, there’s not.

If you budget and, and allocate like, Hey, go and develop, you know, blue sky, even, you know, go and build, uh, add-ons for this. Um, and, and see what we come back with. It’s a totally different thing. Um, the incentives are, are not there as if you’re, you’re building this as your own product and in if it’s good enough, um, it’s you, you gotta get it to the point of maturity and, and quality where a competitor.

Might actually want it or someone else might. And, um, then I guess you’re, you’re really establishing value in a, um, a clear and somewhat more neutral way while still totally being within this, um, sub economy, this E gravity ecosystem. It’s a smart, smart way to own and share it collectively and not smother.

Creativity and things like that. And yeah, I just don’t, there’s no other way to, um, to do something like that in the usual, usual way where some outside company would absorb something else. And then maybe the quality, you know, there’s just stereotype or fear the quality’s gonna drop off cuz it’s a different,

Eric Karkovack: yeah.

Usually we worry, even plugins get acquired, but not in this case because it’s, you know, the OG has it now, so we don’t have to worry about, you know, them. You know, making it less quality or, or not supporting it? Well,

Dan Knausses: yeah, it’s a fantastic model. I think others should seriously take note. There’s plenty of, um, plenty of other ecosystem plugins that, uh, have this potential for that kind of collaboration.

Um, good one. Okay. So yeah. What’s your, what’s your third?

Eric Karkovack: Pick. So my third one is that, uh, this week announce that they’re gonna start offering $499 websites to anyone who wants one it’s, uh, supposed, supposed to be done within four business days. Uh, they’ll give you a choice of themes or they’ll pick one for you, which is kind of interesting.

Um, you pick my theme. Um, I, I, I kind of wonder. Who the target is and what the strategy is here. Are they just trying to get you in the door? So that you’re kind of part of their ecosystem you kind of, uh, a different, uh, different strategy? I would think.

Dan Knausses: Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s interesting. I did write about this, um, because it was, I, I love it when, you know, we have, we have about a 10 year, um, backlog, uh, Back issues and, you know, things that have, uh, we can look back and see the history on.

And, um, I thought it was a further back, but it was just probably about a year ago that, um, did that for the first time where they introduced a premium, um, built with service, which this seems to be an add-on to that the, uh, part of. Same brand, but the, the initial one a year ago was, um, not supposed to compete with freelancers.

It was priced at around $5,000, um, as a baseline that seems to have come down in their FAQ. Now it’s, it’s around three. So there’s still this, this premium layer. And I think that was supposed to use, um, Agencies and people within the ecosystem to do some of this work. I’m not, we really haven’t got, I don’t think anyone has dug into that or gotten numbers.

We were very curious to, to see what, um, what might come out of that in, in terms of its success for and who’s how many sites are being brought into it. What that it’s, we’re, we’re very data poor. About the economics and details of the market. And that also made me think too, in this, in this story, that, um, is it, is that really competing or over the same piece of the pie or is there, is there so much there it’s not, um, not a, not a threat to.

So, so freelancers, small agencies, the way they, they might think, um, you can do very different things and I can see wants to, you know, continually expand at, um, where it’s easier to do that, where it’s always had more market share at the lower end of, of the market. Uh, but when you’re freelance, those, those are not necessarily the jobs you want.


Eric Karkovack: So I, I actually made a joke online that I would rather like farm up stuff I don’t want to do to them because at that price point I’m, you know, probably gonna lose money. So yeah, if they wanna take on that, that small stuff, that’s, that’s cool with me, but right. Um, it is kind of interesting to, to think that they’re going after that, that market too.

I. Right, but I think you’re right about, about them not wanting about a lot of people on the lower end, going to to start out because it is kind of managed

Dan Knausses: for them. Right. And as they pivot more and more to presenting themselves as, as a managed WordPress host, um, with. With that market in mind.

Um, you know, there, there are others already doing, doing this. Why, why let competitors have a, a free run at this? Um, they’re doing the same thing, now I’ll Hey, you can, uh, you can install pretty much anything in the repo. I, I think, and there’s a commercial ecosystem within there. You can buy Yost and everything else right from within there.

So as it grows, it’s not, you know, it’s not. The way to look at that is still ecosystem growth with opportunities for, um, plugins and services and other things like that. But, um, I also feel like we looked so much at the market share number and where it’s biggest is the, um, top 10 million plus active sites with WordPress installed.

So it’s, it’s the bigger universe. And you assume that these are. People’s personal blogs and so on. But, um, because they’re not, it’s just by traffic, you know, they’re not in the top 10,000, but, um, when I did a lot more freelancing, a lot of the clients I had that were good would be established. Nonprofits, local governmental things, um, people with, with significant budgets, but they’re their traffic is they don’t care about it.

Number one, that much necessarily. Um, they’re not doing even doing much content marketing. Maybe they have a newsletter. They’re speaking to a very. Specific audience that may be numbered in the hundreds or the thousands. They’re doing a lot on social. So they would be considered in this low end of the market, but that’s, um, but by assessing their site by traffic, but it’s not a that’s completely a misnomer, then they would have no, no use for a, um, A hired site builder, even they need, they need an agency or, or someone with a capacity to do support in the hosting and a rather much more elaborate feature set.

Um, so that market, that market is always there. I, I, I think people forget that and you’re not gonna be killed off by the $500, four day service.

Eric Karkovack: No. And, and I mean, if they they’ve talked about, you know, wanting to compete with some of these proprietary systems like Wix, And I think that’s kind of the same market.

I mean, people that want to not spend a ton of money and maybe in this case, they don’t even really wanna build it themselves. They just want something up there and maybe as they grow, they go to something bigger. But to start out, you know, it’s not a huge investment and. You know, those are the folks that I think aren’t necessarily attracted to freelancers, not just cuz of budget, but because you know, somebody wants to try a blog.

Somebody wants to start their small business and with no guarantee of how long that’s going to last, you know, is that client going to still be there for you in two years? And if they are, you know, what’s the value. Are you getting so many support requests that you can’t necessarily deal with? So in that way, I, I, I don’t think this is a bad thing to kind of tie them all into that, that one service, uh, it might, it might be, you know, something more beneficial for them that where they can even leave at any time they want to.

I mean, the business goes belly up, you know, it’s, it’s not as tangled and messy as it might be getting away from an agency or a freelancer.

Dan Knausses: Yeah. And I’m, I much rather have them on, um, or anything in the WordPress ecosystem than WX. Um, which I still, man, I have a, I was in, I’ve had to use it again recently for a, a local nonprofit I’m, uh, helping out.

And, and I, I don’t like, I don’t like Wix . Um, and I’m just thinking like, if, as this organization grows and what’s needs, are it, it needs open source. It needs WordPress. It needs data security. Um, there. There are things that maybe they’re not in a position to pay for, but they’re at this point, but their success will get them into that at some point.

Um, and there as a, um, running your own business, that’s a kind of, you can only do that. You know, you, you can ask those questions and do the discovery and form the relationship and say, look, these are, these are the needs you really have. And, um, what’s. What’s really the best product or, or thing here. And sometimes that leads to long good relationships with, uh, a decent paying client who may get a lot bigger, um, in that budget at least.


Eric Karkovack: Absolutely.

Dan Knausses: Yeah. All right. Well that, that all kind of ties in kind of nicely, um, to the last thing, um, kind of our topic we wanna open up for kind of long term discussion and get. People engaged with, um, kind of a big central one for, for post status. And, and I think everyone working in this space is, is professionalism.

And what does it mean to be a WordPress professional? We say we’re the post status is the community for WordPress professionals. And that’s an interesting phrase that’s really kind of come into, I would say, in the last five to 10 years, um, widespread use in our community. And what does that, what does that mean to you?

Um, As an individual as a, and within the community and the, the business ecosystem, uh, to be a WordPress professional and professionalism in general.

Eric Karkovack: Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, WordPress professionals kind of interesting, cuz it started out as a small blogging platform, right. And people were using it as more of a hobbyist thing.

And then all of a sudden, you know, the theme and plugin markets kind of exploded and we. Using it as a full blown CMS and, you know, for all sorts of projects from, you know, the, the little tiny startups to enterprise. So I think the professionalism part of it is, you know, that there’s a lot of traditional parts to professionalism.

Like I, I think being polite and honest and, you know, hardworking and all those things come to come to mind, but then, um, it also meets kind of. The WordPress way. That’s a little bit more relaxed. I think that kind of reflects, I think that reflects on Matt Mullenweg a little bit. He’s not always, you know, the, uh, old fashioned stuff, shirt, CEO that mm-hmm , you know, gets up there and makes.

You know, grand pronouncements necessarily. Um, but it also, I think, reflects on, you know, the word camp culture of just kind of going come as you are. Um, but generally, you know, being kind to one another being open, uh, to discussion doesn’t always work out that way. But, um, yeah, I think it’s, it’s an interesting way to think about.

WordPress these days. I mean, cuz a lot of us make a living with it. Um, either full time or at least part of the time and you know, the ground rules that applied for other sorts of businesses over the years don’t necessarily, you know, apply here. Uh, it’s a little bit different kind of ecosystem I think.

Dan Knausses: Yeah. It, it definitely is. I, I think people hear that. That word and there’s sort of the, you know, the larger corporate stereotype of, um, well, there’s, there’s good thing. There’s good. Basic definitions of, you know, you show up every day, you do the, you do the work every day, no matter what, um, the basics of it, but there’s also the, um, the kind of the negative, um, connotations of professionals.

Um, In, in a more corporate scaled up space, that’s kind of lost the human and individual element, the personal element, and doesn’t have this kind of big family community of relations necessarily. And I, I mentioned to you a, a friend, um, Sarah Shelman. Who’s got a book. I think that touches this. She runs a, they do a lot with WordPress, but it’s a, it’s a social design agency.

They’re they’re anthropologists and ethnographers who try to solve, um, Largely institutional social problems and municipal governments and lend advice on, um, dealing with things like homelessness and, and, uh, why do helping institutions often they’re too bloodless and faceless and impersonal to help very real individual human problems.

And, uh, I got to know, I got to know her. And there are people last year. I’ll probably do it again. We’re working with, um, kind of post COVID recovery projects or city is, um, funding. Uh, we just listened to people’s stories and got them to talk about wellbeing and what that means for them. And, uh, it’s, it’s a very unusual kind of, wooy even kind of, hippie-ish, uh, weird thing that you don’t usually associate with government, um, bureaucracies doing something like that.

Individuals listening to each other and caring something about the experience and totality of each other’s lives. Um, you know, that might be good for good for people.

Eric Karkovack: We use more of

Dan Knausses: that. Absolutely. Yeah. And she, we were talking about professionalism specifically after this and she said, Yes. The, the dysfunctional form of that, that we try to overcome is, is the sense that you’ve got to create a mask of invulnerability.

And I think that there’s coinciding and even integral to word breast professionalism, WordPress professionals, and professionalism is that you can be known as a person who has. A full life and all these other things going on. And, uh, we talk about that and there’s, there’s not as much of this kind of informal or private segregation from the business side, especially, maybe on, you know, on those who’ve been in it a long time or contributors and, uh, small businesses and, and so on.

And that’s a, really, a really healthy thing for people. And it translates to a healthy community and I think a healthy. Business ecosystem, um, because it takes the edge off of straight hard competition, the tendency for towards paranoia and reaction and meanness, uh, especially on remote and internet stuff.

Um, I feel like that’s a, a big part of it. And when we, uh, Michelle Frette featured, um, ran, uh, or featured, uh, member spotlight for. The week and, um, well known to many, many people, Jonathan Boer. Um, who’s now at automatic as, um, working on training, which is a kind of newer and big thing there, um, impacting the, the community and doing code instruction.

Um, and he said some really good things that, um, I think define. Him and others as a, a good model of, of what professionalism is. And he, you know, there’s power to change lives and people finding, um, their footing in the community and in work here. And, um, what else was, was, was in here. It was just a very, there were very personal flavor to it.

Um, we’re not doing kind of faceless, um, Roles and cubicles here. A lot of people really value that freedom.

Eric Karkovack: Yeah. I mean, you can see it as you know, we’re not afraid to let our human side show, which I think is like really refreshing. I mean, if you look at a lot of the more traditional corporations out there, I mean, when do you see their leadership out there?

Like just being humans. Um, and of course it’s at a much greater scale, but, um, Just just even, even with, uh, Corey Miller, um, you know, talking about the struggles that he’s had and, you know, I mean, he’s a very successful person and you know, he, he and, uh, his family have done a lot in WordPress, but you know, he’s still ha not afraid to show some vulnerability.

I think that’s so important. I mean, did you don’t feel like you have to put up a facade? Um, you know, that’s one thing I’ve. Kind of felt comfortable with in the, in this, uh, community, is that if I’m having a bad day, I can say that on Twitter and, you know, still being thankful for what I have. I could still say, it’s not been a good day.

I haven’t done well. You know? Um, not every industry really accepts that and would, you know, applaud that. But I think ours generally does. And I think that’s something we should not take for grant.

Dan Knausses: Yeah. I, I, I really, uh, value that too. And, and agree with that. I think that, um, Jonathan and you, and I have probably been around this around the same period of time going back 20 years.

So we’re in the generation X category, um, where, um, yeah, we might have slack or tendencies, but I, I think it was still, it was still younger people and, and down to my kids’ ages, who. Really more comfortable with, um, not separating who they are in their private lives and you get messy, even, you know, politics and, and feelings about a variety of things that we don’t.

Um, you don’t have to pretend that doesn’t exist. It’s it’s a really, it can be a really fine line. You don’t there’s there’s oversharing. There’s there’s stuff it has to balance out, but yeah, somehow. When we’re healthy, uh, as a community advantages to work out. And Jonathan mentioned, um, post status is being a place that serves that by, um, not just you can go there for answers and social kind of hanging out and, um, Fun things and, and, and, uh, there’s always plenty of good humor, but there’s, he also mentioned having bigger philosophical discussions around business, open source and everything, WordPress related in a respectful and inclusive way.

And, um, yeah, there’s not, there’s no way to define, there’s no recipe for that, but we know it when, when we see it and that have being able to. Maintain a level of trust that comes from being real people to each other who care to know something and share things about each other. Um, and you know, the role that word camps play in that meetups for sure.

Um, mentoring becoming more of a thing, um, that we talk about and, and support. Um, it, it allows the hard stuff, the bad feelings, conflicts competition. In theory, and I think we’ve seen this happen. people can work, work it out. It takes the edge off of that and becomes, um, a way where I don’t know, pressure valve a yeah, it, it definitely performs, um, a, a healthy service to, um, a way to check in and, and maybe help each other maintain a, a healthy.

Community and, and business culture, um, that is, that is professional in our own, our own way. Um, and all the, all the normal ways you’d think about showing up, getting stuff done, being reliable and, um, the best you can every day, but also showing up as a, as a real person who values, trust and kindness and respect, um, between each other.

Yeah, the more of that, more of that, the better, but . Do you have any other, uh, thoughts on, um, on that topic or where we, where that could go, uh, hoping to pull more people into to discuss it? Um, since it seems, seems like one of those kind of pressures, commodities that, you know, it’s actually not an economic thing.

You can’t, you can’t buy.

Eric Karkovack: No, and it’s, I think it it’s good for your, for your own health, for the health of the community. And you know, when you can see others, whether you agree with them or not as, as a person, as opposed to, you know, sub distant object that you’re, um, at odds with, or you want to, um, or you’re competing against.

It, it does take that edge off a little bit. It lets you just kind of take a deep breath and you know, I mean, we see arguments just like in any other community, but what I don’t see is them becoming to the point where, um, at least in public where, you know, it it’s just incredibly toxic. Um, and usually if things do go bad, there’s always somebody else to come in and say, Hey, wait a minute.

Let’s, you know, take a deep breath, which. It’s just, I think refreshing, I, I, I wish, and I won’t go into it too far, but I wish we had, uh, you know, political leadership that could do the same thing we had, like, like, you know, a referee that could come in and voluntarily say, Hey, you guys don’t agree, but that’s okay.


Dan Knausses: tough. Yeah. And it’s there, it’s an ideal, we’ll never be perfect at. Um, and. Yeah, to take one example, I’m thinking about writing about, you know, one of the, um, a, a friend in, uh, uh, a country where democracy has been threatened and on the way and along a while. Um, and that’s very widespread. We’re all, we’re seeing a lot of, uh, difficult times for some of the, the, the key values in the project, in the community and the, in our own lives.

Um, and actually was. I think jailed and suppressed for things. He was blogging of a political nature on his WordPress blog in his, in his country. And, um, which you can imagine doesn’t a number on you, um, psychologically and, and socially. And then of course, like anyone else, especially your plugin or theme author, or something like that, you run into what feels like unfairness at some point in.

In the, um, in your work life, in the ecosystem of, um, how decisions get made, how, how things are handled. And, um, I, I feel for people sometimes when we’re not at our best, or even when things are, are perfectly fine, it’s not, everything is not gonna go your way all the time and it can feel oppressive or like people are not living up to, uh, levels.

Transparency or kindness as, as they should. And I try to think, yeah, you know, there’s people coming from a lot of different contexts where, um, you wanna be sensitive to all that, but there’s also, there’s also a need to kind of bear up with, we’re not always at our best. We’re not, everything is not consistent the way we think it should be.

Um, but. That means try harder. Don’t give up on it. Um, keep it’s it’s it’s hard for a reason. It’s not, uh, not something you can just take for granted. Um, yeah, and I wish there was more of it well said. Well, I look forward to, uh, clicking, publish on, on the piece you’ve written for us that touches some of.

Some of some of these things too, in the writing space that we both occupy and, um, the value that being able to write and talk well and respectfully and in an informed way, um, about things going on and in WordPress is really important. And I thankful for your steady part in it. I’ve, you know, read you for a long time.

This is, I think the first time we’ve connected face to face and, um, yeah, I’m glad. You’re here and that you’re there. doing what you do.

Eric Karkovack: Thank you. Thank you. It’s been, uh, it’s been awesome being here with you and, and, you know, I’ve been a post status member for several years now and, you know, I’ve just gotten so much out of it, just the connections.

And just as you said, the philosophical discussions that go on and it it’s, you know, it, it’s a little bit of everything and I, I think it, it’s a great representation of the community and as a.

Dan Knausses: Yeah, well, it’s the, it’s the members membership who makes it it’s the community that shows up and, and, uh, that we keep carrying each other along and, and bringing in new people.

It’s it’s great. But everyone, no one owns it. No one, no one can take full credit for it. We’re glad to have you here. So thank you. Thank you.

This article was published at Post Status — the community for WordPress professionals.

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