Open source is at the very heart of my business model and the ideals and philosophies of open source are ones on which I choose to run my business. While it’s difficult to say whether the failure of open source would have a truly negative impact on the success of Pippin’s Pages, LLC, it’s downfall would severely impact the flexibility and openness with which my team and I operate every day.

By getting out of our sea and exploring the many, many islands of open source, we expose ourselves to the wonderful educational opportunities that other projects present.

Last week, we had our first “Contributor Day Thursday”. As a team, we have decided to spend two hours every Thursday giving back to other open source projects. This includes WordPress, plugins and themes for WordPress, and any other open source project that we find suitable. Our team has a wide array of skills so we spread out our contributions accordingly. For the first contribution day, members of the EDD team did the following:

  • Answers support tickets on WordPress.org
  • Helped review themes for the WordPress.org repository
  • Submitted feedback, patches, and testing to WordPress core
  • Submitted feedback and began working on a patch for WooCommerce
  • Built and released a free add-on for WooCommerce
  • Submitted a patch for a bug on WordPress.org

Each week, every team member gets to pick what they want to work on and are then free to go as far as they wish with it.

WordPress and other open source projects are the very foundation on which we have built a successful business. While I’m sure we would all be doing just fine and working on something else without WordPress, it’s undeniable that WordPress has played a huge role in the shaping of our team, our business, and our friendships. It is only right that we spend at least a small amount of time giving back.

Contributing back to WordPress and other open source projects goes further than just “it’s right to give back”. Each week we spend countless hours working inside of our EDD fish bowl, going around and around in circles working on the same project(s) for weeks or months on end. We are in our support forums, our bug tracker, our source code, our site design, etc. When so much time is spent within our own projects, we tend to get consumed by them and forget about (or ignore) the tremendous amount of activity that goes on with other projects.

By getting out of our sea and exploring the many, many islands of open source, we expose ourselves to the wonderful educational opportunities that other projects present. We get the opportunity to see what the challenges other projects are facing and how their leaders are solving them. We get the chance to apply our skills to more diversified applications and to expand our own interests, relationships, and skill sets beyond the projects that consume us on a daily basis.

Of all things I’ve found that help us each grow as developers, support agents, designers, etc, contributing back to other projects is one of the best.

  1. Carolyn

    This is great, Pippin!

    Do you know what areas there are where a non-developer might contribute?

    • Pippin

      There are many ways!

      Some of the fastest to get into are support, documentation, translation, community, and training.

      The Make site has some great resources: https://make.wordpress.org/

    • Rachel

      Hey Carolyn!

      While I’m not Pippin, I can take a shot at answering you. 🙂 If you frequently use WordPress, a great way to contribute, as Pippin says, is to jump in the forum at wordpress.org and answer people’s questions. There are plenty of non-developer questions asked there on a regular basis. The other thing you can do is just help introduce and teach one or more people what open source is and perhaps how to use WordPress or other open source software. I find even just introducing friends and family members can help grow the community. Hope that helps!

    • Carolyn

      Yes, thank you both for the suggestions. I just signed up for the Making WordPress Slack account so I can lurk for a little while and get a better idea of where I can really contribute.

      I teach WordPress to beginners at in-person classes where I live, and have wanted to do a Meetup here for some time. (Recently, some new acquaintances have been pestering me – in a good way – to at least get together for coffee to talk about WordPress!)

      I just still feel like such a newb myself most of the time! 🙂 But I guess it’s time to dive in. I *know* there are a lot of others out there like me, who have websites because WordPress was developed, and have picked up a little basic coding here and there, but aren’t coders by any stretch of the imagination. We don’t really fit in any certain group (we’re not developers, we’re not beginners) and the things we need to learn have to be squeezed in among the other jobs we do. 🙂

    • Pippin

      One absolute truth I’ve found over the last 5-8 years: you always know more than someone, and that means no matter how much you feel you don’t know, you can help someone 🙂

  2. frank

    Thanks for this article. It opens up our eyes to being a contributor not just a user. I never thought of contributing since I don’t have the skill or knowledge about coding or anything like that, but I realize I can do other things.
    frank

  3. Paul

    Thanks for the article Pippin!
    I have put it in my agenda too.

  4. Hugh Lashbrooke

    This is great Pippin – really cool to see how dedicated you guys are to WP contributions. I’m working on hard on getting the same practices going at Woo 🙂

    I’m so encouraged by all these awesome companies dedicating so much time to giving back – makes me proud to be a part of the WordPress community and to be connected to all the awesome people in it.

  5. Emil Uzelac

    Great stuff bud and thanks for helping with theme reviews.

    If the team needs any assistance or have questions, let them ping me on the Slack channel #themereview

    Emil

  6. Dreb Bits

    Surprisingly, giving back might actually give something back to you.

  7. Jeff Yablon

    A comment:

    Pippin, you crank out some seriously great work. That statement stands on its own merit.

    But I found this post kinda offensive. IMHO, “open source” is about open exchange of ideas … period. So long as someone isn’t being rude or abusive, you owe it to them, “the community”, and especially yourself to keep communications and ideas flowing.

    And yet, you’ve blocked one of my accounts from following you/reading your updates on Twitter. Is that because you’re discussing state secrets, talking trash but want that to be only SEMI-public, or because you believe the tenets of open-source apply to only those who you believe it does, and only when you believe it should?

    I’m genuinely sorry if this sounds troll-like, but … here I am respecting your work and yet being blocked from following (some of) it.

    (Great piece, other than the hypocrisy, by the way!)

    • Pippin

      Hey Jeff!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Open source absolutely is about open communication an the sharing of ideas and everyone should have equal opportunity to take part.

      In regards to your comment about me blocking you on Twitter, that’s simple. You were rude, abusive and created far too much “noise” for my personal tastes. My Twitter stream is exactly that, mine. If I choose to remove someone from that stream of activity, that is my prerogative since it is my space and my space alone. Twitter streams are not open sourced and therefor do not follow any of the same guidelines that we like to see in open source development.

    • Jeff Yablon

      Pippin, thank you for responding.

      I’m blown away by the characterization of me (rather than those attacking me for having different ideas than they) as rude and abusive; I think if you go back and look I was anything but.

      OTOH: I’ll cop to my position at the center of the mess in question absolutely contributing to the “noise factor”.

      BTW: I’m totally in-line with the idea of blocking someone from showing up in your stream; but blocking someone from reading you? No way man; not unless you have something to hide. And that’s what Twitter “is” … (and to stay on point … ) what open source is about, too.

    • Pippin

      When I blocked you, I actually didn’t know it blocked you from seeing my posts. I’ll go back and see if I can fix that.

    • Jeff Yablon

      thanks, Pippin. I SO believe you; seven years in and I STILL don’t really understand Twitter!

      😉

    • Pippin

      Which Twitter name is it? I checked the WPHelpers one and that doesn’t appear to be blocked.

  8. Jeff Yablon

    Pippin, I’m re-posting this; it looks like it didn’t make it.

    It is in fact @WPHelpers, and if you look at s531852489.onlinehome.us/Clipboard01.jpg you’ll see it’s as I said.

    ahh, Twitter …

    • Pippin

      Unblocked.

    • Jeff Yablon

      … and followed. Thanks, Pippin.

      btw: I’m about to hit the publish button on a piece that talks about how confusing this stuff can be even for folks like us …

      see ya around!

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