Barriers to Contributing

Small teams face frustrating barriers trying to make their contributions count

TL;DR: Small teams have common barriers to contributing to Five for the Future. Making efficient use of their time and team members is hard when tooling and communication can soak up the hours. Learning how to contribute — and keeping up with WordPress core — makes it hard to get started and sustain effective contributions. How much of this has to do with Trac/SVN and the Make WordPress Slack “firehose,” I wonder?

In Post Status Slack last month, Cory got a number of responses when he asked,

“As a manager or owner of a WordPress company (or a WP professional), what are your obstacles/frustrations/challenges for contributing to Five for the Future?”

A helpful pattern emerged in the responses, which I hadn’t considered previously.

Direction and Feedback Needed

Patrick Garman asked for clarity on what’s wanted and what’s actually being done for 5ftF. He also shared how tasking a dedicated staff member with a half day to contribute each week was far more effective than spreading it around his team on a totally voluntary basis. Sharing best practices for efficient contribution widely would be valuable.

A Sustainable Model of Contribution for Small Teams

Justin Sainton agreed that “sustainable” contribution for a 1-10 person agency needs a good working model, and he hasn’t found one yet. Barriers “include infrastructural issues” on both ends — the contributor and project.

Timi Wahalahti also spoke to time management challenges in a small 8-person agency.

Just Keeping Up Takes a Lot of Time

Thomas Maier noted the challenges of keeping up with the firehose of WordPress core communication and information:

Keeping up to date with something happening in a team I am interested in working in already needs more than 5% of my and my companies time. That’s the burden for us. I don’t feel that there is a chance to make contributions that count to the project that only need 1-2 hours per week. Assuming that publishing code on GitHub or blogging about solutions don’t officially “count.”

Trying to Make the Most of a Few Hours

Brian Coords also related to feeling like a few hours a week is not helpful or accomplishing much. He also opined that many employers might rather just donate money to a non-profit at arm’s length from any interested parties in the WordPress community.

One takeaway here for me is that learning/teaching how to contribute and keeping up with WordPress core is hard enough to make it feel like you can barely get to square one as a contributor with a few hours a week.

How much of this has to do with things like Trac/SVN and the WordPress Slack “firehose,” I wonder?

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