The following guest post was written by Andrew Rickmann , who runs the Fun with WordPress site.
Not too long ago, there was trouble in the community at a nearby domain. Although it wasn’t the first time it happened, it will not be the last. However, it showed me that a large, distributed community such as WordPress needs more than just a leader or figurehead. It also requires a pool of evangelists. WordPress needs a voice from the community.
The voice of the community must be many things. First He should be respected for not only his coding skills or design acumen but also for his ability to see things from a rational, considered and balanced perspective. He must be able to tell when users are being treated unfairly by developers and when developers are correct in their expectations that users should go further to achieve what they want.
Secondly, while we shouldn’t rule out coding skills, he should be a user first, and a hacker last. He needs to be able to see the frustration that comes with a theme not working or following instructions that produce an error and not being able to fix it. Although this is an everyday experience for all users, some see it as a problem. We need someone who can simply say “I want this fixed “.
Third, he needs to be able to bring people together. He needs to be able to bring people together, whether it is Matt, the users, one user, or the whole community. However, he must stop a kerfuffle from getting out of control, remove the religious and emotional intensity, and get to the truth. If you want to put it another way, he needs to mediate.
And he will need a platform to do this.
Finally, of course, he needs to love WordPress and the community he serves. He must find new things interesting, but also care about the current state of the web. He cannot be an early adopter and move on to the next project quickly. He must use the mainstream every day to see the beauty in it and not become bored or hanker for progress.
So, what does all this mean in the real world? It rules me out in many ways. It is said that the best leaders are those who don’t want the responsibility of leading. I don’t know whether this is true, but I think it is in this instance. Our community has a person who didn’t intend to be a servant. He didn’t ask to be our voice. He just wanted to do what he enjoyed and make a living.
He built his reputation by writing and asking questions to people running WordPress. He also asked them questions we all had. He has always shown us great things about older developments and new developments. He confronted Matt and asked “ what the hell is going on. ” but, more importantly “ What’s your favorite cheese ?“.? He has made connections. He promoted the views of hackers and users alike. It was all self-deprecating and only one of us, the users, was affected by it all.
WP Tavern has already proven to be an excellent extension of this work. The very first post on this blog contains 33 comments. There are 50 members, 750 posters, and the forum was launched ten days ago. If you doubt that we have found our voice, please come along and join us. It’s only the beginning.