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What WordPress Teachs Us About Software Ecosystems

50 minute beginner seminar


WordPress is almost certainly the most successful piece of PHP software in the world. What's so special about this particular b2/cafelog fork from 2003? It turns out that WordPress's killer feature is also its hardest to replicate: its culture.

This talk introduces some of the deeply-ingrained cultural traits—heavy investment in the community and commercial support via an adjacent for-profit; BDFL (benevolent dictator-for-life) leadership model; and deeply conservative, cheerfully messy, and obsessively user-experience-focused approach to code—that have, together, made WordPress the outlier that it is. We’ll also discuss the downsides of these cultural elements, and how they’re at the root of some of the most popular critiques of WordPress.

You’ll walk away with a better sense of how WordPress’s strong and idiosyncratic culture has guided it along a 15+ year path to success, where we can go from here, and what lessons from the WordPress experiment you can apply to your own software projects and life.